Saturday, January 7, 2017

Two New Buttons.

Two new buttons have been installed in the "right margin" of the Blog:

The first new button enables you to learn for yourself the status of the World's Largest Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) Bertha. She's been totally out of the news, which is good news, and is gaining on the North Portal up at Harrison Street.

The TBM has been shut down for the holidays, and is scheduled to resume mining on January 11th. The "Where in the World is TBM Bertha?" contains a cornucopia of links related to the SR99 Replacement Project. WSDOT has been extremely generous in sharing information to the public.

The bright yellow stacks are the tunnel exhaust outlets from the tunnel ventilation system.  The South Portal building also houses offices of tunnel administration and operations. Also seen in this shot is the "ring yard" where the tunnel ring segments are staged for transport through the new tunnel up to Bertha.  Also seen in this shot is the arches of Centurylink Field, where the Seahawks just beat the Lions, 26-6.

An identical facility is located at the North Portal.



Balloons Over Bertha

From time to time, a cluster of balloons is attached to a street sign, indicating where Bertha is located.

This photo was shot December 14, just before Bertha was shut down for the Holidays. She is an estimated 170 feet (52 meters) below the cluster.

The second new button links to a "Heritage Roster" of Chicago, Milwaukee, St Paul & Pacific Railroad. I've been lugging this roster around for many years, and decided to share it with you.

Students of "The Road" should find it helpful in that it contains a ton of hard to find information relating to the Milwaukee's electric power numbering and renumbering.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas 2016

Twenty-Sixteen! An unwonted year to be sure ...

I was really dreading this Christmas Eve, as my faithful companion of almost 10 years, GingerSnap, passed away right at my feet last Christmas Eve.

Through an inexplicable series of events, triggered by my one and only sister, I became companion of another Papillion.  "Penny" has been with me going on five weeks.



The challenge of taking a photo with no outside assistance

I set up my Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS60 on a tripod, and took several test shots to establish my field of view. Then came the challenge of triggering the camera, with a squirming pooch in hand and a floppy Santa hat, compose myself  and "smile," inside a 10 second envelope!

This was the first shot fired after the rehearsal. Penny licked my face! All the stars and spirits came into instant alignment, and I captured it on a 10 second timer delay!


Penny is an elder lady. We are going through the testing of borders; limits. She is experiencing culture shock, (she had three other critters in her old home,) and she is experiencing strange sounds, surroundings and smells.

I have discovered much about myself I had never paid attention to. I'll leave that up to you to decipher.



With an odious presence beginning to cast his shadow over the land, I was looking for an "uplifting message" to share with you.

I ran across this piece in Trains magazine, which reinforces the Spirit of who we as a people truly are!  (Click the photo to enlarge and read.)




Sunday, December 18, 2016

E-7 Roll Out: Train of Tomorrow

Whist perusing through my modest negative collection, I ran across a handful of photos taken back east, including Boston & Main and New York Central. Notes on the negative envelope indicate they were shot in 1958, but no mention of who snapped the photo.

I have no idea how these came into my possession. I was 15 at the time, and we were living in Prince Rupert. The only thing I can think of was that I must have done a negative swap with someone I met through the advertising section of Trains magazine.

EMD NYC 4034 was an E7A, 2,000 hp (1,491 kW) passenger locomotive:

• Built 3/1949
• SN 6245
• Following NYC PC merger, became PC 4034.

Penn Central went belly-up July 21, 1970. Government formed Conrail to keep passenger and freight moving, but like her sister "B" unit below, doesn't show up on Conrail roster. If you know the disposition of these two units, please share with me.


EMD NYC 4112 was an E7B, 2,000 hp (1,491 kW) passenger locomotive.
• Built 2/1948
• SN 4857
• Following NYC PC merger, became PC 4112. Same fate as 4034.


Train of Tomorrow 

On the brighter side of the E7 story, General Motors went off script, and decided to show the public their new 2,000 hp passenger locomotive, towing the first dome cars to enter rail service.

As the legend goes, a vice president of General Motors was impressed with the view from the cab of an E7. He challenged his technical staff to design a "car with a view." Working with tekkies at Pullman-Standard, the Astra Dome was conceived. 


A souvenir brochure (14 MB .pdf) relates how the concept for the train evolved.  The Astra Dome featured the same heavy laminated window panels, found in warplanes. (See "Preserving the Moon Glow Car," listed in the Addendum, shows how the windows were salvage.)



The cars were semi-permanently coupled, with fairing to emphasize "streamliner of the future," and assigned lyrical names.

• Dome coach named "Star Dust"
• Dome diner named "Sky View"
• Dome sleeper named "Dream Cloud"
• Dome observation lounge named "Moon Glow"


At the head end, General Motors demonstrator locomotive, E7A, EMDX 765. (Shown here in the static display mode, note the discretely placed head protection entering and exiting cab!)

• 2,000 hp (2 x EMD 12V-567A)
• Built 4/19/1947
• SN 4147
• To Union Pacific 988, 4/1950
• UP converted to E8 specifications, 2x EMD 12V-567B, 2,250 hp, (1,678 kW), 1964.
• To Amtrak 417, 5/1971
• Amtrak converted to E9 specifications, 2x EMD 12V-567C, 2,400 hp, (1,790 kW), 1974
• AMTK 417 shows up again in a scrap yard.

Salvaged, sold to a private individual, and now residing at the Danbury Railway Museum in Danbury Connecticut. (There never was a "4096"; the number follows the roster of E's in the New York Central fleet.)

The "Train of Tomorrow" cars and matching locomotive were painted a silverish shade of blue, with stainless steel fluted panels bolted on to give the train an added taste of modernity.


Completed in May, 1947, GM dispatched it on a transcontinental tour, announced to the public with a two page spread in Life Magazine, June 16, 1947.

• The "Train of Tomorrow" began its tour of the US and Canada on June 3, 1947, ending in Chicago October 30, 1949.



• The "Train of Tomorrow" traveled 65,000 mile, covering 28 states.



• An estimated 6 million visitors rode or stood in long lines whilst on static display. I have not been able to verify this; but I ran across a photo of the train with a Pullman-Standard green baggage car attached. This to carry baggage of passengers on some press runs, as no Astra Dome baggage car was conceived!

• General Motor's invested US$1.5M to build the Train of Tomorrow, in 1947. Today, the project would cost GM US$16M plus change. The U.S. dollar saw inflation at an average rate of 3.50% per year between 1947 and 2016.

New Life on the Union Pacific 

The entire "Train of Tomorrow" was purchased by Union Pacific in April 1950. Following re-paint, the locomotive and cars went into service between Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington on schedules 457 (northbound) and 458, beginning on June 18, 1950.

The train never received a "name." It was part of the GN, NP passenger pool, and generally consisted of:
•  E7A EMDX 765 renumbered UP988
• Baggage, mail, express cars.
• Five or six 48 seat chair cars.
• Train of Tomorrow domed cars, bearing UP numbers (See Don Strack, Addendum, below.)
• Northbound, a sleeper car from the Chicago to Portland "City of Portland."

Round trip fares:, expressed in 1950's US$:

• Chair cars, $6.84.
• Dome coach "Star Dust," $9.49.
• To ride the dome sleeper (referred to as "suites") $15.65, which also included access to the domed club/observation car, "Moon Glow."

And according to a report in the Oregonian, that was $2.64 less that riding a DC-6 between PDX and SEA.

Of the four original domed cars, only the observation club car "Moon Glow" escaped the cutter' torch. Seen here, having been pillaged by scrap hunters, in Ogden Utah, 2011.


But there is a happy conclusion. The Union Station Foundation in Ogden has established a plan to salvage this priceless piece of railroad history.
 

Addendum
• Don Strack, UtahRails.net, provides a rich history of each car to its final disposition
• Ric Morgan has written "Train of Tomorrow," considered by many as the "essential" history of the train. Available through Abe's Books and other outlets.
• General Motors "promotional short," shown in movie theaters.
• "Inspection" Train of Tomorrow.
• "Preserving the Moon Glow Car" Domed observation/club car, Train of Tomorrow.
• "Moon Glow Restoration" Removing components to safe storage.
• "Riding Train of Tomorrow" Black and white, no sound, but great views inside Astra Domes!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Seahawks F40PH NPCU!


Members of the National Football League Seattle Seahawks team are involved with many facets of fans lives here in the Pacific Northwest. From outreach initiatives with youth, hospital visitations, football camps, and many other community interfaces, including fans up in Vancouver B.C!


This is yet another example of the Seahawks lining up behind another worthy cause, what I call the railroad/human interface, protecting human lives from tangling with rail traffic. AMTK 90250 with a beautiful Seahawks vinyl wrap.

The Seahawks Amtrak Cascades service operates between Vancouver, British Columbia and Eugene, Oregon.


A significant realignment of the BNSF/Amtrak corridor will open in 2017 affecting rail traffic between the Puget Sound and Columbia River. With that change, high speed rail will be running through communities that haven't seen a train for years. More about that alignment later.


In conjunction with that alignment, the Amtrak Cascades/Seahawks partnership will formally launch the "Stay Back from the Tracks" safety campaign, with Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin will serving as spokesman.



Baldwin and the rest of the Seahawks organization will work with WSDOT and Amtrak Cascades to drive down the number of train-related fatalities and injuries by creating better awareness of rail safety for people to be more cautious and alert when around trains, tracks, and crossings.


The train safety campaign is partnership between the Washington State Department of Transportation -WSDOT, the Oregon State Department of Transportation - ODOT, Operation Lifesaver, Amtrak Cascades and the Seattle Seahawks.

Safety campaigns are being expanded in Washington state to try to keep more people away from train tracks. The efforts come after a record number of pedestrians were killed by trains across the state in 2015. 27 pedestrians were killed by trains in Washington state in 2015.

About one-third of the deaths were the result of suicide. Other factors contributed to the rest, including people trespassing on railroad property, people not paying attention to their surroundings, the weather, and distractions from technology like cell phones.

The Seahawks Amtrak Cascades service operates between Vancouver, British Columbia and Eugene, Oregon.


Railroad Stuff:  Some readers will recognize AMTK 90250 as an F40PH NPCU - Non-Powered Control Unit. This unit began life as AMTK 250:

•  Built as F40PH (F=full width cab, 40=3,000 hp, P=passenger, H=HEP, "hotel" power, supplying electricity for heat and light to the passenger consist.
•  Prime mover: EMD 16-645E3, 3,000 hp (2.2 MW), turbocharged.
•  Out shopped in 1977.
•  SN 777001-20.

(You may have picked up on one of  Electro Motive Divisions hair pulling inconsistencies. "40" for a 3,000 hp motor. Why not F30PH?)

Rail fans often dub this non-powered locomotive a "Cabbage Car." The Cabbage Car story follows.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Believe it or not, this is the 10th Thanksgiving for Oil-Electric. The notion of writing a Blog running this long, was something I never planned. It just happened!

Coming from a long career in audio-visual communication, I got frustrated with the Worlds Number One Posting site. It’s fine for their website model. But that format just wasn’t the right fit to allow me to “express” myself.

I was airing my frustration to someone who recommended “Blogging” as being the perfect outlet for my creativity. I discovered a Blog is whatever you want it to be. Self-publishing made simple!

And I get to screen - approve - the photographs!

Now, almost 800 articles "in the can." Life events resulted in a slow down.  But many interesting articles " are in the oven."

My sister and I were brought up to celebrate Thanksgiving every day, not just during the official holiday. One of the many things I am grateful for is this Blog and cadre of faithful readers.

The Blog is the perfect outlet for sharing my modest railroad photo collection. Several readers have asked me if I have a “favorite” photograph. Yes I do. While it isn’t dramatic, it evokes a rush of memories and feelings about my early days of “railroading.” And it captures for me, the essence of three years living in Prince Rupert. (1957 - 1959)

Realizing I only had only a few months left before we move back to Seattle, I begin to focus on capturing "memory shots."

This was my favorite spot, out at Pillsbury Point, south of the Government Grain Elevator, where my Dad's rail barge was processed. You can see the lead down to the barge bridge in the foreground.


I was 14 years old when I snapped this shot south of Prince Rupert, at Mile Post 118.5 on the Skeena Subdivision, with my hand-me-down Kodak folding 120 camera.


I title this photo, “Running Out the Slack.” It was taken in late evening, August 4, 1959. Fourth Class Freight 922 drifting eastward out of Prince Rupert with 9700 tons. Pulling at a slow speed, 567C’s issued  an anxious, raspy exhaust. Those V-16's were anxious to pull!

It was on this stretch of track where freighters began "winding up." The last rays of sundown reflect off the stainless steel grills of the lead unit.

CNR 9116 was built by General Motors Division (GMD) in London, Ontario.  She was out-shopped in November 1952. Her assistant, CNR 4807, rolled off the erection floor at GMD in October 1953.

When the crew car clears the yard lead, the conductor will signal the engineer with two short blasts of the communication whistle. The engineer responds, sending two long blasts into the evening. The anxiety of the motors changes to a commanding roar as the throttles are nudged in steps to run eight. Time Freight 922 has cast off into the darkening wilderness, along the Skeena River to Pacific, 118.5 miles to the east.

A trainman gives me a friendly wave.  They were used to seeing me with my camera. He pulls up the cupola window.  The crew car gently rocks from side to side down the line. Gradually, the sound of the working V-16's fade.

There is a chill in the air. I pick up the pace walking between the rails toward home. I wished I had worn a jacket.

Only the sounds of ballast crunching beneath my feet and a "CAW!" from the leader of an unkindness of ravens, as I approached them, feasting on grain at the government elevator.

I realize how much I am going to miss Prince Rupert ...

Related Posting:  "Boxcars Go to Sea."

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

10th Anniversary!

This month marks the 10th anniversary of Oil-Electric.

Early Blog headers
It all began when a friend of mine - Kurt in Seattle - exchanged horror stories concerning the dreaded "screeners" at an upscale railroad web site, noted for calendar grade pictures and squeaky clean locomotives, whipping along under white puffy clouds floating in an azure sky!

Both of us knew better.

Lighting can be a challenge, especially when the damn freighter just happens to pass by at high noon. And unless the locomotive reeked of Dupont-Imron, dirt, dust, oily smudges and questionable substances could be seen on the front coupler. And dreary rain soaked days are common in the winter.

Trainman (Indian sweater) and Conductor re-connecting after pickup in Williams Lake

I had a decent run on that web site. They loved my one-of-a-kind PGE shots from the 1950's and '60's. But then I detected a disturbance in the Force.

I began to receive cranky comments about "wordy photo descriptions" and nit-pick's that one screener would allow, whilst another trashed. It was then that I met Kurt.

He told be about a new "self publishing" platform that allowed total editorial control over posting photographs and as much "yackety-yak" that I could come up with. It was called "Blogger."

 I began to get the "hang of it;" fonts, formatting, hyperlinking and dealing with photos. I posted my first Blog article on October 6, 2007.

The Blog allowed unlimited "words," but the best part?  I get to "screen" the photos!

The Blog was advertised as a "Railroad Blog." But every now and again, I would derail and present material on other issues I found of interest. The big derailment came in May, 2010. The Deep Water Horizon was poorly explained in the newspapers and regular suspects, cable and over-the-air television.

Deep Water Horizon lead me directly to Vale in Brazil, with several articles written about the Iron Ore Heavy Haul. That led to the Saldanha Heavy Haul Ore trains in South Africa. And who can forget our exposé of Shell Oil retreat from the Arctic, not once, but twice!

It was about that time that I changed the "mission" statement for Oil-Electric to read, "While my core interest remains unchanged, I have changed. Therefore, from time to time, I present subject material that I find absolutely interesting; hopefully you will too!" 

The absolute zenith for me over the past 10 years was being able to see "up close and personal," the first and second largest dry tow vessels in the world, the Dockwise Vanguard and Dockwise Blue Marlin, moored next to each other, in Port Angeles, retrieving Shell's junk yard fleet. That was a thrilling experience!

I've made some wonderful contacts — folk who eagerly shared photos and information that enhanced my presentations.  Even made contacts with people from my past who stumbled over Oil-Electric. And the hundreds of hours spent in researching topics have given me a world class College education!

I took an emotional hit last Christmas Eve with the loss of my best friend and constant companion.  GingerSnap absolutely loved road trips. Many a night when I would pull an all-niter,  she'd raise her head off her bed in the corner, and shoot me that "Really, Dude?" look.

If you enjoyed the first 10 years, stay tuned for the following!