Tales From The Cab !

watash Feb 18, 2001

  1. Jim Wiggin

    Jim Wiggin Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Sometimes I wish I could have lived back in the days of these heavy steam engines pulling a string of passenger cars, those new AmTrak Genesis engines don't do much for me. The first time I saw one, I thought it looked like a Ford Aerostar ;) Those streamlined steamers of the 30's had a style all there own.
  2. NSBrakeman

    NSBrakeman E-Mail Bounces

    I heard an old saying once...and it kinda goes like this...
    "Anyone can run a diesel, but it takes a man to run steam"

    No offense to anyone here! I myself am a diesel man...poo poo! Hahaha :rolleyes:

    Dave :D
  3. watash

    watash Passed away March 7, 2010 TrainBoard Supporter In Memoriam

    I probably resemble that remark, NSBrakeman! HA!

    50/60 years ago there was no such thing as streamlining, except on a boat hull. I guess no one thought about it too much when everything was ornate or ruggedly made to last. The more solidly built the longer it would last. If you wanted a box, the store clerk might show you a box made from Pine wood, but when you said I want a better box, he would go get one made out of Oak. If you were going to go out on the western plains to live, you wouldn't dream of asking for a cheap strap iron waggon axle, you would want the solid cast iron axel. Your wife would not want a thin sheet "tin" skillet either, she would want something that she knew was going to hold up even if the waggon broke away and rolled down a mountain. Her skillet would still be able to fry up something to eat.

    It was the same way with steam engines, the more rugged they were, the better your chance of living through a wreck. The steam engines was like a hot rod car, best I can compare it. You really got close to "her", and took good care of her, because she was yours for as long as you are an engineer! Nothing at all like that with the diesel engine, it isn't yours, it is about as important as a Taxi, once you are out of it, you wouldn't think of it, it is just a thing, someone else is responsible for it, its of little value to you.

    You could feel a steamer "breathe" as you could feel your wife breathe sitting beside you. You got to know and understand her rythums, her moods, and if any change in her sounds, smells, or how she felt, you knew instantly and started looking to see if there was trouble brewing! The steam engine is exactly the same! She even rewards you, she will give you a big thrill like no other, when you least expect it!

  4. Jim Wiggin

    Jim Wiggin Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I think it Ironic, if you look at today's society we keep hearing about recycle this and that, but we are not doing this at all. As Watash said, when they built a steam engine, they built it to last! They were made to work, and work they did. The products of the industrial age will outlast many of todays products. Most things nowa days are dispossiable. First cardboard throw away cameras, then cell phones, heck even some cars now! :eek: I went to my local electronics store for a new phone, my third in 5 years! I asked the guy if it would work as good as my WWII era, rotary dial die-cast phone. The sales rep just looked at me as if to say, what is a rotary? Chances are 20 years from now (if the telephone companies allow it) I could still place a call with ole reliable. Seams funny that my dad's 61 Willy's Jeep still runs like an ox, but his newer 4X4 has rusted into the ground :( It was a different era back then, stuff was built to last. I don't think we are a people of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, but rather Neglect, throw out, re buy. Makes me appreciate the older products and generation a lot more.
  5. Rule 281

    Rule 281 TrainBoard Member

    <blockquote>quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by BNSF7173:
    ... I don't think we are a people of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, but rather Neglect, throw out, re buy. Makes me appreciate the older products and generation a lot more.<hr></blockquote>

    Unfortunately, that same mentality applies to how our people get used (abused) everywhere. Current corporate wisdom is to get rid of everyone before they can retire and hire a shiny new kid for less money. And they scratch their heads wondering what happened to company loyalty. :(
  6. Charlie

    Charlie TrainBoard Member

    On the subject of steam locomotives, most railroads in the steam era,had the locomotives built to perform a specific task, ie switching,
    coal or ore drags, passenger, fast freight, branch line service etc. They were built well for
    the most part but they were still amortized just
    like any other piece of capital equipment. Since
    so many of them were built for hard work, they
    naturally lasted for a long time. Carrying my
    point a little further, the diesel hydraulic locomotives, which worked remarkably well in
    Europe, were a total failure in this country.
    The technology was not suited to the roadbed
    conditions or the service requirements of the US
    What causes me the most discomfort about our
    "heritage" steamers is that so many of them are
    sitting out in the weather in any number of communities throughout the country, rusting away
    in sad neglect. Many groups or individuals would
    probably like to obtain these engines and give them the care they deserve, but it is a case of
    stubborn civic pride that East Punkinpatch wont
    part with their "pretty engine" My heart goes out
    to the tiny handful of volunteers who are actually
    restoring the machines. I am hoping sometime soon
    to have the time to join a group and be a part of
    restoring history.
    The late, great O.Winston Link said it best in the
    title of one of his books, "Thunder on the Blue Ridge". It is a real spine-tingling, hair raising,goose flesh prickling experience to watch
    a steam locomotive pass you working hard, feeling the ground shake, the stack bark, the rods clank.
    To stand next to one at rest and hear it purr,hum,
    rumble,hiss and pop is something that few people
    can appreciate. The moan of a distant steam loco
    whistle still sends chills down my spine and triggers a myriad of childhood memories to replay themselves in my minds eye.
    Bless all you museum folks, keep up the work and
    the faith!

    C [​IMG]
  7. sillystringtheory

    sillystringtheory TrainBoard Member

    Can you imagine how much a steam locomotive would cost if it were to be manufactured today and what it would look like? Lets see....Air bags and shoulder restraints for the crew, Covered with sticker such as, "WARNING,HOT, DANGER OF BURNS" on the firebox. " DANGER, COAL DUST HAS BEEN FOUND TO KILL LAB RATS IN THE STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA" on the tender."SHOVELING COAL CAN BE INJURIOUS TO YOUR BACK" on the coal shovel. SOUNDING WHISTLE MAY CAUSE HEARING LOSS" in the cab. I can see it now, Boiler covered with sound insulation, colored in an environmentaly friendly shade of green. Radar on the nose to be able to spot specific, endangered animals on the tracks, hooked up to an emergency stop system. 9000 miles of plumbing, pipes, scrubbers & catylitic converters required by the EPA to meet future clean air standards.
    The good old days are just that gentleman..... The good OLD days.
  8. watash

    watash Passed away March 7, 2010 TrainBoard Supporter In Memoriam

    That was THEN, OLD, OBSOLETE,ALMOST FORGOTTEN, and not appreciated today. We did the experimenting, development and hands on work, and devoted our lives so you can look foreward to what your Highly over-paid Highly educated Management know-it-alls have decided is best for their pocket books. Their decision is to have you pay taxes so they can furnish you the ultimate in rail transportation. I had to design some of it just before I retired.

    Eventually you will be allowed to ride, if you are approved as worthy of the expense to the government, which depends upon how much you contribute to the gross national profit.

    Then you will of course have to pas your physical to make sure you will not carry any communicable desiese to your destination, not require medical assistance during the trip. You will be allowed to die in route, however, because your carcase will simply be shunted into the re-cycling bins to be rendered down for organs, fats, and other chemicals, rather than being wasted by simply contaminating the government's dirt property.

    Then if OK'd, you will be allocated a pod where you will be restrained in fireproof gas bags. You will have a choice, sleep, or listen to music interspursed with political propaganda. For an extra charge against your estate, you might be allowed to watch some type of training movie to keep you up to date and increase you value to the government while in route.

    Should you have any personal needs, just remember, you were sworn in at the start, that there will be no such requests, needs, nor provisions of that sort allowed, under sec.29987.2667.2.03 of the cleaner smog act.

    You will not have to worry about your engineer, fireman,or conductor making a mistake, or dying while you are in route. Why? Because there is no such person on board. The Rail Transit Modules, Passenger Type, (and Commodity Type), will be totally under robotic control from start to finish. You will not have to rely upon human judgement or mistakes at all. Everything will be typed into the master control console by an 18 year old GED on food stamps, so you have nothing to worry about at all.

    It will be absolutely impossible for any kind of a misshap to occur, because all the lessons learned since the sinking of the Titanic, has provided the utmost in safety, guaranteed by your faithful government, which you voted for, including her husband "Slick".

    Vacations will not be allowed. The nonproductive time you would spend away from your assigned work station, would not be profitable.

    Don't laugh, it is probably being recorded right now! "YOU CAN TAKE THIS JOB AND SHOVE IT ! " :D
  9. watash

    watash Passed away March 7, 2010 TrainBoard Supporter In Memoriam

    GeeWhiz folks, I didn't mean to stymie all future tales! Sheesh! Here's one I'll lay on you for our Lady Sunshine and the other girls:

    I better mention that this might be a bit fictional, since it is one version of a roundhouse tale, as I remember it.

    It seems there was a lady who was known as Tillie the Tooter, because in the late 1800's almost all women were ladies. Most were respected and expected.

    They were very feminine, all lace, feathers, big hats, hat pins, corsets, high button shoes, and every kind of frilly outfit you could emagine, and they bathed in perfume. Except those hardy souls who were taken West that became the salwart supporters of their men out on the plains and mountains in the wild country. Now they were not expected to be equal to doing the amount of heavy labor their men did everyday, but there were some who could and did. Not all of them were raving beauties, but there were a few who were referred to as a handsome woman. That meant, she may not look like a dance hall queen, but she was stout, and willing to work all day right beside you, and would cook a good supper afterward!

    As the story goes, there was an engineer on one of the rail lines called Stumpy. Not only because he only stood a smidgin over five feet straight up, but because he was born close to Wet Stump, Arkansas, just a day's walk north west of Seven Devils Swamp, and everybody knows where that is.

    Well Stumpy met Tillie and he liked her because she was kind and didn't laugh or make snide remarks to his face, when she stood near on to six good feet and was so well blessed that if she was too close she couldn't even see him in front of her. In fact, that's how they met, she turned around and stepped on his foot, because he was down under her line of sight, if you get my gist. Its told that gal packed twin 45's, and poor old Stumpy was a yellin' like a hungry calf! Tillie turned side-to and looked down, and picked Stumpy off the floor and set him up on the counter, and appologized hugging his neck til he nearly suffocated. (I just felt so-o-o-o sorry for him!). Tillie took Stumpy home and soaked his foot in Epsom Salts and wrapped it up all cushie like, and took care of him that whole weekend.

    Come Monday, she helped him get up in the 4-4-0 and offered to come along on his run. He decided that was the kind of girl he could get along with right peaceable like. So they met every time he got back to town.

    What made Tillie famous was not how she was built, but how the Town was built. At the corner of a canyon where the rails made a curve to start up grade through that canyon, was where a water tower and wood pile was built to service the engines for the long climb to the pass several miles up in the mountains beyond. People moved in, and the whole town had grown up around that curve.

    As time pased, Tillie would occasionally ride up grade with Stumpy and get off close to her father's ranch, sometimes riding back into town on the return trip, so she became familiar with Stumpy's engine. On occasion he would let her run it just for the fun of holding her close while she studied the track ahead, and stuff. She got pretty good at it. This was unheard of for a woman in those days of the link and pin couplers! That was man's work, far too dangerous for a mere girl to do!

    Well, long story shorter.....

    Time passed some more, and sidings were installed, and other engines were kept there as helpers, and for repairs.

    Tillie learned the whistle signals, and one day she heard the repeated three long cries echoing down from the canyon from a runnaway engine coming down! Tillie ran to the nearest engine, and pulled the whistle cord, repeating the emergency call. Men came running from everywhere to see what was the commotion! The only enginemen there at the time started moving engines and cars back incase the advancing train derailed. There were not enough men to get all the engines out of the way in time, so Tillie threw one of the engines in reverse, and backed it up and shoved some cars deep into a siding, then ran back and brought another engine in, and threw the switch to give right of way on the main line threw town, while the other men finished moving engines. By blowing the whistle, Tillie had given the town those few minutes of precious time to prepare its self for whatever happened next!

    The runnaway was out of the mountains and they could see it winding its way along the side of the canyon wall in its mad dash toward eternity!

    Suddenly someone mentioned they just didn't feel old Stumpy was going to be able to make it this time, this would be his ride to Glory!
    They started warning everyone to get out of town, because Stumpy was going to wipe out most all this town when he comes rolling off the town curve!

    Hearing that remark, Tillie grabbed one of the firemen she saw, and nearly threw him bodily up into the nearest engine, and started the engine up the canyon line to meet Stumpy's runnaway before it could kiil every man woman and horse in the county!

    She jammed the Johnson bar in full reverse, and yanked the throttle open just enough to keep from spinning, and started throwing wood in the firebox. The fireman started for the throttle, and Tillie grabbed him and gently explained that if he didn't continue to feed HER engine, he was going to burn in Hell before he got there! He nearly emptied the tender before he drew his next breath!

    Tillie took her engine up as far as they felt it safe, then shut it down, and started back down to try and allow Stumpy's train to close up against hers. It was touch and go for a bit, but Stumpy saw what Tillie had in mind and tooted his understanding as if he had whispered, "I Love You in her ear!"

    Stumpy gave them a bang when he caught up, then signalled for reverse, and Tillie began to center the Jonson bar and open her throttle until she felt her wheels slip! She made adjustments until Stumpy's engine could match, and that was all they could do.

    The curve was coming on fast and they didn't seem to be slowing fast enough, but Tillie hung in there, blasting the three longs over and over, so the town folk could hear how close they were getting.

    They leaned into the curve with flanges shrieking, wood began to slip sideways in the tender, and Tillie had to hang onto the throttle to keep from sliding right out into mid air! She shot a quick glance back at her little Stumpy, but he was right there grinning from ear to ear! Man what a woman, Stumpy was so proud of her, he wanted to climb over his engine and hug her big bull neck! She was going to help him make it afterall!

    Both engines and some of the cars tilted enough to raise the inside wheels off the rails, and set fires all around that curve. They were nearly half a mile down track before the speed really began to deminish.

    When the trains finally came to a stop, everyone froze in place. The only sound was the swish of steam, and the crackle of hot steel cooling in the high mountain air. They were down, and alive, and the town folk were beginning to put out the grass fires along their path of desperation.

    Tillie was shaken, Stumpy was hopelessly in love, and the fireman was still throwing wood into Tillie's firebox!

    And, dear ones, and all, that is how Tillie became forever known as Tillie the Tooter, and had saved a town by slowing Stumpy's runnaway just enough to hold the rails, and yes, they were married, and lived happily a number of years together.

    I hope you enjoyed this tale as much as I did the first time I heard it around the cook fire in the roundhouse. :D

    [ 16 January 2002: Message edited by: watash ]
  10. 7600EM_1

    7600EM_1 Permanently dispatched

    I swear your some story teller! Had me on the edge of my seat and enjoying it! HA! Thats some story, But its the second time I've heard it but. The first time I heard it was no where near as good as what you just put into words on a monitor screen compared to the first time I heard that is was verbally said!

    Anyway, I never did get to ask you but, did were you an Engineer at one time???? If you were and all what loco did you engineer in? I won't say drive like most would think to but you did not "drive" steam locomotives! HA! Anyway, if you engineered in more then one... What loco was your favorite.. Reason I ask is because you have this umm way that kinda reminds me of my grandfather... and he was an engineer.... For the Baltimore and Ohio....
  11. conductordave

    conductordave E-Mail Bounces

    If you guys and gals like cab stories you should read the book SET UP RUNNING. It is about the life of a PRR engineman from1904 to 1949.

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