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lakota
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Posted: Jan 14 2020 at 4:38pm | IP Logged Quote lakota

..


    Mud Ringing   
                                                                              
    The engineer and fireman each have a valve to violently blow with full steam pressure
sediment from the two lowest parts of the steam locomotive boilers. This is done to expel
sediment buildup once or twice during a run and many call it ‘mud ringing’. The engineer
and I called it a ‘blow down’. The Childress Yard steam switch engines had to go to track
northwest of town to do blow downs because of the noise. As previously stated we also did
the sanding of the flues in that same area.
    All steam locomotives are equipped with safety pressure release valves to prevent boiler
explosions. One night getting ready for a lunch break when switching in the Childress
yard I built up the steam pressure up to snuff. I had the firebox nice and hot with a full head
of steam. We parked the engine and the crew and I were walking a block away toward
the café. Suddenly the pop-off valve blew. It was very loud but luckily it was only about
9 pm. It could wake up the dead in a cemetery. The switch foreman turned and ask me how
the hell I did that! The noise of the pop-off valve had nearly made me nearly jump out of
my jock strap but I told him I had a pull string in my pocket…

                                    Damage Free Coupling of the Cars.
    Coupling the locomotive into a rail car can be quite an art. Often the engineer can not see
the “joint” that is being made. The engineer must rely on hand signals or the ground
crew’s lanterns. It was deemed by the Santa Fe officials that an impact of over three miles
per hour could cause an excessive amount of damage to merchandise and equipment.
    One day at a grain elevator I was dropped into the siding riding five loaded grain cars. Back
then these were plane old boxcars with the lower half of the doors boarded up. The engineer
hit the throttle briskly! Before the cut of cars I was riding even entered the siding the
conductor yelled, “You better start setting some brakes now!” I managed to set two brakes
and was winding the wheel of the Ajax brake on the third when the six or seven mph impact
took place. My cut of cars hit a parked line of about twenty loaded grain cars. In order to
set these brakes the brakeman has to be in between the cars. I was setting this brake while
facing the direction the cars were moving. I was standing on the ladder, winding the brake
wheel with the right hand and hold a grab iron with the left hand. The impact only knocked
a little wind out of me.
     Next the rear brakeman who was a ‘Smart-assed boomer’ was now up on top of another
cut of
five cars to be dropped into the siding. I yelled a warning to him that it was down hill into
the siding. He yelled back “You do your #@%! railroading and I’ll do mine!”. Well it didn’t
go well for him when he hit the loaded cars I had set the brakes on. There was a very loud
crashing noise and a huge cloud of grain dust. I don’t know if he was still hurting after the
crash but he never looked me strait in the eye after that.
    The roadbed for most main line tracks is raised so the water will quickly run off and not
damage the roadbed or the wooden ties. The sidings… not so much. Speeds are restricted
in the low siding that become a little bumpy.

                                   Winter Time Railroading in the Panhandle
    The brakemen, conductors, switchmen and switch foremen have to put up with the
weather. One cloudy afternoon my crew and I was doing a bunch of car switching a little
east of Amarillo. Suddenly a what was known in Amarillo as a “Blue Norther” hit us. All
I had extra to wear was a blanket lined jumper with an add on hood. People in the “Land
of the Yellow Sky” (Amarillo) will tell you there is nothing between there and the north pole
but a barbed wire fence and all but one wire was down! Amarillo has much stronger winds
than the “windy city” brags about.
    But friends it wasn’t all bad. When the weatherman said a Blue Norther was coming
many grabbed their lawnmower and headed to the Canadian River. Just as the Blue Norther
hit one would fire a gun and all the frogs would jump into the river. Now if the guy with the
gun timed
it just right the frogs would hit the water just as the water froze. This left only the frogs legs
sticking out above the ice! Now it was time to start mowing. Yes sir, there aint nothing
as good as fried frog legs on a cold winter night
.
You folks are gonna have to wait till I find Grandma’s cast iron skillet.. Don S..



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Posted: Jan 20 2020 at 1:44pm | IP Logged Quote lakota

..


My "Train of Thought" was Slightly Distracted For a Moment
 
                                                                              
    I am a history buff. History can help you foresee the future. Often history
TV programs omit some important details even getting some wrong. Except
for one nearly hidden fact the U.S Navy could have lost the important battle
of Midway during WW-II.
   Being low on fuel the leader of the flight of SBD dive bombers was about to
give up searching for the Japanese aircraft carriers. He spots a lone Japanese
destroyer speeding toward the Japanese fleet and heads in that direction!
    If the squadron of SBD dive bombers had not caught the Japanese aircraft
carriers in a compromising condition and their fighter air cover down. The battle
well could have been lost.
   I often wondered why was the Japanese destroyer was alone maybe 40 miles
from the fleet it was supposed to protect?

    Long story short! The Japanese destroyer had been depth charging an
American submarine for two hours.


                     
  The keel was laid in 1927 for the USS Nautilus V6 and it survived many
missions during WW-II. During the major naval battle at Midway Island
the Nautilus played an important role. After launching torpedoes at a Japanese
battleship the Nautilus was attacked for two hours buy a Japanese destroyer
using depth charges. The sub being under water could not report the position
of the Japanese Fleet. Failing to sink the Nautilus the Japanese destroyer
at a high speed headed to catch up to the Japanese fleet with it’s four aircraft
carriers.

  This is the Japanese destroyer that lead the American SBD dive bombers
to the Japanese fleet and it’s four aircraft carriers. Thus began one of the most
decisive naval battles in American history.
  Later the Nautilus carried Carson’s Marine Raiders on search and destroy
missions attacking Japanese troops on islands in the Pacific. The six inch guns
on the Nautilus were used in support of the Marines and on Japanese shipping.

   I have another piece on history to correct later. It is about a fighter pilot
that misidentified enemy aircraft, got several wounds and shot in the face
with a bullet lodged in his brain.

But for now stay tuned… it is back to Railroad History.. Don S..
BTW,… We found a picture of a long lost family member (lost before WW-II) pictured on
the V-6. We looked up the history of the V-6 and sure enough, both had survived WW-II!



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Posted: Jan 23 2020 at 2:50pm | IP Logged Quote lakota

..


 The primary job of an engineer is the safe movement of the locomotive.
                                                                                
               
    One evening we, the crew of the Borger Bullet arrived at the Borger yard. We had a four unit Santa Fe 100 Class FT Diesel.
          These diesels were almost twice as long as our usually assigned 2-10-2 steam engines.


                                                                        Photo hosted by imgur.com
    The EMD FT is a diesel-electric locomotive that was produced between March 1939 and November 1945, by General
 Motors' Electro-Motive Corporation (EMC), later known as GM Electro-Motive Division (EMD). The FT was equipped
with a 16-cylinder version of the 567 (later 567A) series engine developing 1,350 hp (1,010 kW) at 800 rpm.  This was a
supercharged (Roots-blown) two stroke 45 degree V type.
    All wheels were powered under each diesel unit. These "covered wagons" locomotives had a wrap around frame covered
with sheet metal. The 100 class cab-less units had their own separate hostler operating controls. The long end of the
cab-less freight units had had a big vat full of concrete. The passenger units had steam generators.   
    The first units produced for a customer were built in December 1940 and January 1941 for the Atchison, Topeka and
Santa Fe Railway and numbered the 100 class. These were the first diesel-electric locomotives ever produced
with dynamic braking.
    As a brakeman my biggest gripe about the FT diesels was the seat provided for the brakemen. It took a constant effort
to keep from sliding off this "jump seat". With the coming of the later 200 class F-7 diesels this seat was replaced by
a comfortable captains chair that rotated. Of coarse none of the locomotives I worked on back then were air conditioned.
The steam locomotives didn't even have heaters!... Not that they were in need of a heater.
    BTW,... In the light yellow stripe in front of the cab steps and above the leading wheel you might notice a capital F. This
 was discussed previously and it is there to note the front of the locomotive. However the rear most unit also has a capital F.
The cabless units would be numbered 131-A & 131-B The Cab units would be 131-C (cab) and 131-L (lead). The train order
might state locomotive 131-labc depending on the direction the units were facing for the trip.
   
                        Dodging a Bullet on the Borger Bullet in Borger
    As the train slowed down I bailed off and ran ahead to line a turnout into the Borger yard receiving track. There was no
flip-flop derail at this upper end of the track. The crew at the rear was responsible for lining the turnout back to the mainline.
As we approached the down hill end of that siding I got off on the engineer’s side of the lead unit. Then gave him a stop
sign as the rear unit approached.
    After uncoupling the train I gave the engineer a move forward signal. This as always meaning move forward and
stopping for any obstructions. I got on the foot step of the rear unit as we moved forward. Meanwhile the fireman had
flipped off the derail and switched the main line turnout were we could enter the main line.
    As the rear diesel unit passed the derail I jumped off and flipped the derail back on the track. I then started running
up to the main line turnout. The engineer suddenly whistled three short blasts on the diesel horn and started backing up
briskly. I gave the engineer big stop signals but he didn’t stop until the rear diesel unit had ran over the derail. I heard a
bang~bang, … bang ~bang as the rear diesel bounced and came to a stop with all four units in the clear of the main line.

    It was then I saw what had happened. A switch engine pulling a big cut of loaded gasoline tank cars was coming up hill
around a curve and had the right of way over our diesel. I ran to see what damage was done to the track and the rear diesel.
It had backed back over the derail without damaging the track and was still on the track!
    The principle of the derailing devise was that it only worked in one (normally down hill) direction. The derail guides
the flanged wheel up, over and off the rail and that pulls the wheel on the opposite side off the other rail. When backing
over the derail the wheel flange on the opposite side will stay on the track.
   After inspecting for damage I flipped the derail off the rail while the fireman lined us out of the siding. I realigned the
derail. With our diesel units sitting on the main I realigned the main turnout. I gave the engineer a ’high ball’, hopped
aboard the rear unit and off we went.
    We parked the 100 class diesel, signed out on the federal sheet, and went off to eat supper. The next day we turned the
four unit diesel on the wye then headed back to Canadian with no problems.

Please folks,… do not report this. It was over 65 years ago!  Don S..



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Posted: Jan 27 2020 at 1:44pm | IP Logged Quote lakota

..


           Work Trains 


    When I got called to be a crew member of a work train I never knew what to expect. One
of the physically most demanding was the ballasting work trains. Ballast was being added to the
track. We had a cut of two bay hoppers loaded with crushed rock. Once arriving at the proper
place the track crew put a wooden railroad tie in front of the rear most truck’s front wheels. The
Track foreman would say OK lets do a walking speed about 3 mph. I’d signal the
engineer and we would start off. The track man would slightly open one of the doors in the bottom
of the hopper. As we moved along the wooden tie would spread the hump of ballast in the middle
of the track out to the edges. If the ballast was coming out too fast or slow he would have me signal
for more or less speed. When the hopper emptied out we’d stop and start dumping the next hopper
in line. The fun factor of this fun in the Texas sun diminished by the square of the foot per mile!



                                                                                 Photos hosted by imgur.com
                                  Getting Out the Big Hook
    This work train, for the most part I just had to stand round. In fact as I took these photos
the wrecker crew didn’t want our (see 1st photo) GP- 7 coupled up to them! I believe this baggage
car was from a San Francisco Chief that had to set out the car. I believe a wheel bearing bit the dust.
  
                                                The Washout
    The big washout happened east of Shattuck Oklahoma very close the town of Gauge. This
was a prime part of Tornado Alley. A washout is a major problem for the Santa Fe. Important
freight trains would have to be rerouted. I was part of the work train crew. The track was
still there but it was hanging unsupported. The fill below it was washed away and beyond it
about 40 yards it was supported by a wooden trestle. The work train had many cars carrying
‘rip-rap’. The cars had very large rocks in them. The rip-rap loads were pushed out onto the
unsupported rails.
    The track gave away under the heavy load. The Track foreman was un perturbed. Next
he had us push about five more loaded two bay hoppers with rock loaded cars in to the water. At
this point our crew was up against the ’Hog Law’, our time ran out and we were sent back to
the hotel in Shattuck.
    After breakfast our crew went to the depot to see what was happening. While there we saw
a flat car go past loaded with pre assembled track work. Model railroaders call it ‘Snap-Track’.
This could only mean the washed out fill had been plugged up and was about ready for new track
to be laid. They would line up a crane followed by a flatcar with the snap track and push them
out to the end of the track. The crane would grab a piece of the snap track, swing it out to the end
of the track and lower it into position. The track crew would then bolt up the new track and the
crane could then be pushed up to the end of the track to lay another snap track. But our crew wasn’t
there. Our Crew was soon notified to dead-head back to Amarillo.

    Through the last century many freight cars have been sacrificed and dumped into washouts, mine
cave-ins and sink holes. It seems in order to cut the loss in freight revenue the expense of
losing the freight cars is the lesser evil.
    I have not researched snap track. It has been the standard track in most toy train sets. I did see
in a movie that the French were laying snap track to deliver supplies to the trenches during WW-I.


OK, you folks can now snap out of the track of boredom, but “I‘ll Be Back“..  Don S..

BTW,... I don't know why the photos are so large. But it's nice that the old
fold up camera did that well. The negative size was 2.25  3.25 inches.
 


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Posted: Jan 31 2020 at 2:12pm | IP Logged Quote lakota

..


                The Santa Fe Shattuck Branch

 
    The Shattuck Branch local in Oklahoma ran about 100 miles westward to Spearman Texas. The Santa Fe tracks did
 continue on to Etter Texas meeting with the Santa Fe tracks headed to Colorado. Spearman was as far west as this way
 freight worked. The locomotive was always a Santa Fe GP-7. I never saw another train on this part of the
line.


                                                                         Photos hosted by imgur.com
Unlike the FT and the F-7 EMD Locos with the ‘car body’ wrap around frames the GP-7 had a flat frame with cab and hoods
fastened above. The Santa Fe received the most GP-7s at 224 plus the 5 cab-less that were made. The diesel engines, were
similar to the FT locomotives but up graded to1600 hp. The dynamic brake systems were optional.

                                       These “geeps” were easy to work off of.
    The engineer was from nearby Gauge Oklahoma. He was a German descendant and believed in a style of religion with
reincarnation and being a vegetarian that one would see in India. However it had a German sounding name. He was well
versed  in many religions. The engineer gave me books to read and we had great discussions on religious subjects. It
is a fact that one must be smarter than those they judge!
    The conductor that ran the Shattuck local was from Canadian Texas. His nick name was Hog. Hog was just the opposite!
Hog had his bad points but I totally respected his ability. He hired onto the Santa Fe in the 1920’s. It is said he pulled off
a lot of shady shenanigans. But these were not part of my personal experience.
  
   One Monday while driving to work in Shattuck a 125 miles from home my ‘50 Caddy blew half the tread off of a rear tire
at 80 mph. I had to go back to retrieve a hubcap and fender skirt. I stopped at Hog’s home in Canadian and borrowed a
spare tire from his wife. He had already left for work and she knew who I was. The next Saturday evening I bought a new
set of tires with 88 old silver dollars I’d saved up. It’s all I had. It would be worth a fortune today! Did I mention I
once sold a 1909 svd penny for a few cents. I also spent a double stamped 1955 penny.

    Many way freights crews on local freight trains went out bound one day and return the next day. These crews would
line up and do some of their Saturday switching on Fridays. Another trick was picking up east bound cars on Friday while
headed west so they wouldn’t have to stop and do it on Saturday when headed east. By so doing they reduced the
hours they had to work on Saturday and got to have a somewhat longer weekend.

    I spent Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights in the caboose while in Spearman. When the crew was ready for
breakfast there was a nice grill with a bar where we sat and watched the cook clean a spot off so he could cook our
vegan engineer’s food on. Me, Bacon, eggs and pancakes... I was a growing boy! And Hog was on the ‘See Food and
Reach Diet’. The trains first stop would be eastward to Perryton Texas.
    One week end while assigned in Shattuck Oklahoma I couldn’t afford the drive 125 miles home and back.  There was
nothing to do in Shattuck and I’d seen a good swimming hole by the tracks. I tried to put my ’50 model Cadillac on
the rails (there were no trains on that track on Sundays) to go nine miles to the swimming hole. But the tread width of the
tires were not the same as the track. I didn’t go swimming that day! I got assigned on the Shattuck local several times.
It was a beautiful small town that rolls up it’s sidewalks at 6 pm and did not unroll them on Sundays!

The railroads have put many automobiles and trucks on the rails. These vehicles were equipped several ways with
flanged wheels to keep them on the track.

Coming up in the future I’ll write about the Chevy that could, without flanged wheels.
Mental activity is like the flanges that keep the mind on track. Your brain is like a muscle, use it or lose it. Challenge the
brain, don’t let it just wander around.
I’m sure some folks can tell writing is a challenge for me.. Don S.. 




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Posted: Feb 03 2020 at 2:05pm | IP Logged Quote lakota

..


        The Etter Switcher
 
 
    It will be hard for me to ever forget the Etter switcher. I wrote of it in the second
post of this thread. This switcher was an out and back in one day. The track runs
north from Amarillo all the way to the A.T.& S.F. in Colorado. At Etter it tied in
with the C.R.I.& P. but the Santa Fe was operating on this trackage that the
eastward ended up in Shattuck Oklahoma.


                                                                        Photos hosted by imgur.com
    The Tracks north to Etter were being up graded during my tenure. I caught the
work trains as usual from off the extra board. The Alco RSD 4-5 hood unit was
the usual assigned locomotive. Although not quite as good as the GP-7s in some eyes.
And in spite of disgorging a huge puff of diesel smoke when applying the throttle it
did alright. The Alco diesel engines did knock and clatter. My first trip on that Alco
I ask the engineer if it was about to throw a rod! He just laughed…
 More at the Alco than me I think.

                        The Etter Switcher’s First Stop North of Amarillo
    There was a gravel loading operation that we had to switch on the way out and
pick up the loaded cars on the way back. North of the Canadian river was the Excel
Helium plant. We jokingly had the argument as to whether a helium car would be of
lighter weight once it was loaded for shipment. The Big smelter plant north of Excel
was the time consuming part of the run. As ever a miserable 4 to 7 hours each trip
I made. Each car had to be weighed empty and again when loaded.

    There was large oil refinery just east of Etter that caught fire and made the
national new for several days in the late '50s. On one Trip on the Etter Switcher we had, of all
people the Conductor nick named Hog. He was mentioned in a recent post here. Hog
told the crew to take the train back around the wye back to the Santa Fe tracks and
he would meet us at the Etter depot. As we got close too the depot I spotted Hog
walking out of a meat market. He was eating something out of  a white paper wrapper using 
his fingers. The engineer said he gets raw hamburger.

     By the time the Etter Switcher gets to Etter the train is on short time to get back to
Amarillo. If you wanted to eat anything during this trip you better be brown bagging it!
I learned to carry two cans of Chef Boy-ar-Dee. One of spaghetti and one of raviolis.
I had to eat it cold many a time.

Ummm, UUUmm,… Gotta find my can opener and spoon.. Don S..
Yuck? Now wait a minute,… After 8 straight hours of hard work a growing boy needs…





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