Saturday, May 31, 2008

Coyote Mt Frazier Slide Roundup

It seems as though major reconstruction of the Coyote Mountain Frazier Slide area has been completed, but a lot remains to be done to secure that unstable mountainside.

The Executive Vice President of Operations for the
Union Pacific Railroad delivers a complimentary address to his employees and contractors on the unprecedented recovery of the Willamette Pass Coyote Mountain – Frazier Slide, formerly known under Espee ownership as the Natron Cutoff. There are two video clips on that page as well.

Continued instability of the mountain interrupted recovery efforts several times. You may want to turn your sound down, vulgar language, but certainly
demonstrates the absolute instability of the slide area – very liquid, and why it all had to be scoured out between the upper and lower level tracks!

Unstable slide material was loaded into side dump cars, and “dumped” at Abernethy in creating a giant landfill!

As the line was rebuilt, so was the roadbed. Here is a clip of a
ballast train heading out from Eugene up to the mountain. Notice the second engine on the rear, to pilot the train back to Eugene.

Here be photos taken from a northbound
“Coast Starlight” - scroll down the page to see the photos.

Meghan Kalkstein of
KVAL-TV in Eugene Oregon gives an interesting review of the entire operation, and an insight into what it took to reopen the line.

Remember, “buffering” may cause some video clips to run herky-jerky; let the clip herky-jerk download, then hit “repeat” for a smooth playback.

For those of you just joining us, here is the complete coverage of this event on this blog:

“Big Time Trouble”
“Espee’s Natron Cutoff”
“Great Big Rollin’ Railroad”
“Amtrak Update”
“Coyote / Frazier”

I shot a few frames whilst away at WSU in Pullman, a few frames whilst stationed at Hamilton AFB, and after a brief hiatus, a lot of shooting whilst working at KATR AM in Eugene. My apartment was just across the Mill Race from the Espee, at the beginning of the Natron Cutoff.

I spent a lot of time up at Cruzatte, Fields, Salt Creek Trestle, and Beamer Ranch Road shooting mountain railroading, even making hours of stereo audiotapes. They’ve gone missing over the years, which is a true loss.

That was the last of my regular involvement in railroad photography, and so my intense interest in what was going on up on the mountain that I knew so well …

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Mikado!

Western Pacific Railroad 334, East Oakland, November 27, 1960. The family had gone down to the Bay Area to spend Thanksgiving with Uncle Al. And of course, no trip to the Bay Area would be complete without the obligatory train chasing.

We went over to East Oakland, and found this beautiful steam engine quietly sitting in the afternoon sun. She was cold, and being no one around, I couldn’t find out what her story was.

The Whyte notation for classifying steam locomotives by wheel arrangement was devised by Frederick Methvan Whyte and came into use in the early 20th century encouraged by a December 1900 editorial in American Engineer & Railroad Journal. Whyte's system counts the number of leading wheels, then the number of driving wheels, and finally the number of trailing wheels.

The 2-8-2 wheel arrangement was often referred to as a “Mike,” a slang form of “Mikado” which has an
interesting history.

Here’s a shot of her sister,
WP 333, working out of Portola California in 1938!

Western Pacific 334 is in storage in under the stewardship of the Western Railway Museum; near Rio Vista, California, not available for public viewing.

I received the following email today concerning her future:

Western Pacific #334 is part of the collection at the Western Railway Museum. Unfortunately, the artifact is not currently on public display. Our intention is to eventually move it to the newly completed Loring C. Jensen Memorial Car House, which is a publicly accessible storage and display facility. However, this is not likely to occur before the end of 2008. Thank you, Robert.
Best wishes
Phil Kohlmetz
Executive Director
Western Railway Museum
707-374-2978 x114

Railroad Stuff: Western Pacific Railway 334, built as a 2-8-2 Mikado by American Locomotive Works in 1929.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Twilight of the Gods - 1

Canadian National Railways 5149, Smithers Division, Skeena Subdivision, Mile Post 119.4, Prince Rupert, November 1, 1957. We had only been in Prince Rupert for less than three months. But within that time, I experienced one of my many life-defining moments, when I became a Ferroequinologist.

Robert Newton Lowry coined this word, in about 1948 while at the University of Virginia Law School and about to go to work for the Southern Railway. Paul Harvey’s “Rest of-the-Story” relates that the word ferroequinologist was picked up and included in the next large edition of Webster's Dictionary published about 1968.

But I digress.

One afternoon, whilst watching the hostler sand and water CNR 5149, he said to me “You better shoot them while you can – their days are numbered; about a month!”

I remember hurrying home for my camera and grabbed this photo of CNR 5149 as she snakes off the engine service lead toward the varnish, First Class 196, daily except Sunday, for evening run up the Skeena River.

It will be a long lonely night through the sparsely inhabited vastness of northern British Columbia to meet the CNR main line at Redpass Junction on the Tete Jaune Subdivision, almost 700 miles from here.

What is significant about this photo is, that it is probably the last photo taken of this locomotive in Prince Rupert. Within days, steam left with 196; 195 came in with a pair of diesels.

The Skeena Subdivision was 100% dieselized.

Locomotive Stuff: Canadian National Railways 5149, built as a 4-6-2 (Pacific) road class J-4-f by Montreal Locomotive Works, July 1920, boiler number 62002. Haulage Rating 69/38%, 70” drivers (J). Scrapped May 1960.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Morphing an SW 1200

CNR 1275 + 1277, Smithers Division, Skeena Subdivision, Mile Post 119, Prince Rupert, August 26, 1958. There has been a lot of activity this summer, with a major re-ballasting project over the entire Skeena Subdivision. And with school out for the summer, my part time box boy job at Three Boys Market leaves me plenty of time for photography!

SW1200’s – modified for road service - SW1200RS’s, were fitted with branch line Flexicoil trucks, oversized number boards fore and aft, and full m.u. wiring.

They were originally assigned to passenger service, displacing steam in the closing days of 1957. But the wild ride on a short wheelbase – a mere 22’ between boggie centers - got them new assignments as fancy yard engines and other assorted duties.
I rode on this class engine several times on First Class 196 and 195 up to Terrace. They ran long nose forward, cab to cab. Riding in the second cab was like being on a Disneyland thrill ride, watching the lead cab rocking and rolling, with full pitch, yaw, and lurching! I regret not having a movie camera.

The Prince Rupert Extension was treated as a branch line, hence the installation of reduced capacity fuel tanks, and EMD Flexicoil Trucks. Flexicoil Trucks were considerably lighter than Blombergs, and lacked the lateral stability of the Bloms. With the reduced track speeds weight saving Flexicoils were considered a good trade off to save locomotive weight. As time went by, the Flexicoils were done away with.

CNR 1275 and 1277, just barely 2 years old, are set up for push-pull operations working with a re-ballasting crew. Running nose-to-nose like this, the engineer has excellent visibility, very desirable when working with ballasting crew on the ground.

The dynamic duo is returning from duty shuttling Western Air Dump cars out at MP 112 to MP 119. They will be serviced and tied up for the night. You will note that 1275 has straight stacks, whilst 1227 has “Spark Sentry” barrel spark arresters.

Well, Canadian National converted many SW1200RS’s to SW1200RM’s that resulted in a Geep that ran through the hot air cycle in a clothes dryer, collided with a switcher in the process! Many units were equipped with BeltPak remote control capability.

Railroad stuff: Canadian National Railways 1275, built as an SW1200RS by General Motors Division, London Ontario, road class GR-12k, 1,200 hp, September 1957, serial number A-1171. Rebuilt in 1987 as an
SW1200RM by CN shops, incorporating the hood, main generator, cooling fans and traction motor blowers from a GP-9 and re-engined with a 12V-645C.

Canadian National Railways 1277, built as an SW1200RS by General Motors Division, London Ontario, road class GR-12k, 1,200 hp, September 1957, serial number A-1173. Retired 1983.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Boxcars Go to Sea - Alaska Steamship

Alaska Steamship Company, Trainship "Alaska III." Alaska Steamship began freight and passenger service to Alaska back in 1894. Under intense pressure to compete with the Seattle – Whittier Hydro Train barge service initiated in 1953, and the Prince Rupert – Whittier “CN AquaTrain” service initiated in 1962, Alaska Steamship Company purchased a Japanese-built rail car carrier, The “City of New Orleans.”

Being the third Alaska Steam vessel to carry the name “Alaska” she was correctly referred to as the “Alaska III.” She had a capacity of up to 56 rail cars, completely protected from the rough waters of the Gulf of Alaska.

However, Alaska Steamship was unable to legally operate the ship from Seattle to Whittier because of the Jones Act restrictions. The Jones Act—the U.S. cabotage law requires that all waterborne cargo transported directly between points in the U.S. – in this case, Seattle and Whittier, must be shipped aboard vessels built in the U.S., crewed by American citizens, and owned and operated by American companies.

To work around the Jones Act, Alaska Steamship registered the vessel in Liberia, and created a Canadian subsidiary – Alaska Trainship Corporation - and began rail trainship services from Delta Alaska Terminal, near New Westminster, BC to Whittier. The
Delta Alaska Terminal was a major interchange between the Great Northern Railroad and Canadian National Railways.

In August 1967, whilst negotiating heavy fog in Queen Charlotte Strait, the trainship “Alaska III” collided with Northland Navigation Company's freight and passenger coaster The “Northland Prince.”

The “Northland Prince” sustained a 20-foot gash in her bow and six of the 90 passengers aboard received minor injuries. The “Alaska III” received lesser damage, also above the waterline, and both vessels were able to proceed to repair yards under their own power.

The “Alaska III” made 500 round-trips carrying up to 56 rail cars on each voyage between 1964 and termination of service in 1974. On January 16, 1971, Alaska Steamship announced it was going out of containership business. The Alaska Steamship owners at first retained their Alaska trainship service from British Columbia to Whittier; but in the end, even this was sold in 1974 to Crowley Maritime.

Crowley continued to operate the trainship – competing with their Alaska Hydro Train service out of Seattle, for about two years, at which time the “Alaska III” was relegated to being a floating machine shop up on the North Slope.

Be sure to read the other entries in this series:

Boxcars Go to Sea Oct 6, 2007
Boxcars Go to Sea - CN "AquaTrain" - Mar 20, 2008
Boxcars Go to Sea - Vancouver Island - Nov 8, 2008
Boxcars Go to Sea - "M/V Corbin Foss Burns!" - Feb 28, 2009

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Lidgerwood

Canadian National Railways 50515, Prince Rupert BC, August 28, 1958. Back in those days, there was a lot of activity at the Engine Servicing Facility. The engine house always had activity with machinists and mechanics doing this and that – except on the weekends. There were a pair of hostlers for fueling and sanding.

There was always something happening on the RIP tracks (Repair In Place.)

And there was a modest collection of MOW – Maintenance of Way – equipment on hand including a rotary plow, wedge plow, Jordan Spreader, and this ma-moo, the Lidgerwood.

When a powerful winch is needed, work crews could depend on the muscle-bound “Lidgerwood,” simply a rail mounted winch. I never got to see it in action, but it was always included in a wreck train.

Being steam driven, a Steam Generator Car would have to accompany any assignment. And there were many of them in the three years we lived in Prince Rupert. The size of the gears hints of the pulling power of this machine!

Here we see Canadian National Railways 4409 leaving Prince Rupert with a wreck train. Work consist includes a steam generator car (behind locomotive) to power the Lidgerwood 50515, which can be thought of as a very powerful steam powered winch, useful in yanking locomotives up an embankment on the Skeena River.

The wreck occurred in a Permanent Slow Order section, limiting both passenger and freight to 15 miles per hour. But according to Engineer Allister Maisonneuve, there was a heavy mist coming off the Skeena River, which shrouded the main line.

Lidgerwood was a continuation of Speedwell Ironworks of Morristown, N.J. The company, which included John H. Lidgerwood, Jr., opened their doors as Lidgerwood Engineering in New Jersey, in 1873. They engineered, designed and manufactured a
wide range of mining, construction and logging equipment, making their mark on the building of the Panama Canal.

Here are excerpts from the 1873
Lidgerwood Catalog. I neglected to get the builders plate information off this unit, but then give me a break – I was only 15 years old when I took this photograph!

Lidgerwood Manufacturing is now part of a larger entity – Superior-Lidgerwood-Mundy Corporation.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Delivery Day at Fort Fraser Station!

Canadian National Railways Fort Fraser Station, Smithers Division, Nechako Subdivision, Mile Post 94.3, October 25, 1959. I have just turned 16, and the family is moving back to Seattle, after spending three fascinating years in Prince Rupert. See "In the Beginning."

I am taking my last shots of Canadian National Railways as we journey eastbound on Trans Canada Highway 16, from Prince Rupert to Prince George - in those days a harrowing experience. Most of the "highway" was dust and gravel in the summer time, mud and gravel and snow in the winter.

This is the third station on this site. The staff at CNR Fort Fraser placed an order for coal to keep the station and quarters warm, and today is delivery day! Yup, the coal is being shoveled right onto the platform!

Fort Fraser Station, with a 60 car siding, was located at the eastern end of Fraser Lake, established in 1806 as a North West Company fur trading post by the explorer Simon Fraser, it is one of present-day British Columbia's oldest permanent European-founded settlements.

Railroad Stuff: Canadian National Railways Floor Plan 100-421B.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Sperry Rail Service 131

Sperry Rail Service 131, Endako BC, Mile Post 0, Telkwa Subdivision, 1954. Here we find eastbound SRS 131 in the hole for a westbound movement. Upon careful examination of the photo, we can discern the white signal flags on head end, farthest from camera, indicating she is running on train orders running as an “extra” off the timetable.

Upon further examination of the photo, we can see there is a technician working on one of the induction shoes, where the magical “induction” takes place – introducing a heavy current into the rail to set up a magnetic field, which can be analyzed to find flaws in the rails.

This negative is more than 50 years old, and the silver coating is shedding, yielding a mushy photo. There is an additional 120 negative in this set, given to me by a technician on SRS 136 – see previous blog entry – but it is too far-gone. I spent an hour on it this evening, pulling out the power of SilverFast AI, hoping to get a usable photo. Even this shot is borderline!

While I only have the year these photos of SRS 131 were taken as opposed to the photos I shot in Prince Rupert of SRS 136 in 1958. This photo of SRS 131 was taken on the Telkwa Subdivision. Several days later, as she continued eastbound, she was “nailed” whilst waiting in the hole for a passing freighter at
Aleza Lake on the Fraser Subdivision, when a boxcar derailed and slammed into her!

See previous entry - SRS 136 – for a host of links to Sperry and other related web sites.

Railroad Stuff: Sperry Rail Service 131, built by St. Louis Electro Motive Corporation as Leigh Valley 27 in 1925, serial number 1376134, and acquired by Sperry in October, 1941.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sperry Rail Service 136

Sperry Rail Service 136, Prince Rupert, May 1958. What a thrill for a young man such as I to be able to see and explore the Sperry Inspection Car jammed full of fascinating equipment!

This rail flaw detector car uses the “
induction method” to identify cracks and flaws in the rail. An electric curent is passed through the rail, setting up a magnetic field around the rail. A pair of searching coils was suspended at a constant distance above (but not in contact with) the surface of the rail to detect any deflection or variation in the magnetic field caused by fissures within the rail.

Results are recorded by a series on pens on a strip recorder, the resulting patterns alerting on-board technicians of potentional flaws, with a dye spread on the suspected trouble spot.

The car was completely self-contained with a bunkroom, galley, and inspection room chock full of fascinating electronic equipment.

I was further treated to her return visit in June of 1959! Here is the story of her sister, SRS 131 getting slammed by a derailment up at
Aleza Lake several years earlier!

Railroad Stuff: Sperry Rail Service 136, built by J.G Brill as New York Central M11 and acquired by Sperry in 1948. Original power was the 220 hp Winton 106A.

Official Sperry Rail Service website; “Unofficial Sperry Rail Service” website; photo roster.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"Spark Sentry" Spark Arrestor

Canadian National Railways 1277, Prince Rupert, August 26, 1959. According to S.M. Huston, a Southern Pacific mechanical officer, the SP seems to have done more than any other road to research the problem of exhaust sparks.

Mr. Huston was quoted in the June, 1960 "Railroad" magazine “exhaust spark emission occurs at high load and believe to be due to the burning and dislodging of carbon deposits in the exhaust passages.”

I believe these to be "Spark Sentry" spark arrestors, jointly developed by Standard Oil Company and Southern Pacific. Open to discussion. What is undeniable is that exhaust gasses spin in a uniform cyclonic manner within the horizontal manifolds, where they rotate until they burn out or disintegrate. And they are ugly!

Furthermore, these devices are found only on Canadian National Railway locomotives. They were installed on  SW1200 (Shown here are SW1200RS) GMD1 and GP9  series locomotives.

You may be surprised to learn that “spark arrestors” are not optional in many jurisdictions. In British Columbia, with railroads routinely running through remote areas where a spark induced fire could be wildly out of control before being discovered, spark arrestors were not an option.

Indeed, here is the text of Washington Administrative Code, Title 332, Chapter 332-24, and Section 332-24-005, to whit:

(g) Locomotive spark arrestors for use on logging, private or common carrier railroads operating on or through forest land must meet the performance levels set forth in the Association of American Railroads (AAR) Recommended Practice, "Standard for Spark Arrestors for Non-Turbo Charged Diesel Engines Used in Railroad Locomotives."

As with all locomotives operating on the western extension from Red Pass Junction to Prince Rupert, Flexicoil trucks – for lightweight rail operation – were gradually replaced with Bloomberg’s as rail was upgraded.

Railroad Stuff: Canadian National Railways 1277, built by General Motors Division (GMD) at London Ontario, as an SW1200RS, road class GR-12k, 1,200 hp, in September 1957, serial number A-1173. Retired 1983 (?)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Coyote / Frazier Slide Update

Just received an e-mail from Ms. Zoe Richmond, Union Pacific Media contact:

At this point we are still working a restoring the track. it's not open 100 percent yet. We still do not have an estimate on when the work will be completed.

Zoe Richmond
Director of Media
Union Pacific

It's been four months to the day since this incident began. Union Pacific has placed 700,000 TONS of rock into this gash in the mountain to stabilize the mountain.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Mile Post 116.5

Smithers Division, Skeena Subdivision, Mile Post 116.5 near Barret Rock, September 10, 1959. My days in Prince Rupert are numbered. The family is moving back to Seattle in November.

One of my buddies and I are hiking out of town to watch and photograph the McWilliams Multiple Tool Air Tampers. They’ve made about two and a half to three miles in a week, heading eastbound two ties at a time!

Anton Daily (on the left) and I both worked weekends at Three Boy’s Market as box boys. Since September 10th 1959 was a Thursday, and we were both 16, either school had not commenced, or we hiked out to the reballasting crew after school. Sorry, I can only recall so much detail!

At any rate, setting my camera on a tripod, and scrambling up to get into the frame, I save a frame of my history. Like tourists who always pose with their backs to some landmark, Anton and I are not looking at the ballasting gang, but out towards Barret Rock, at the entrance to Prince Rupert Harbor.

Barret Rock holds a fond memory for me – and Anton and our buddy Ron Dolphin! We determined to hike out to explore the World War II site of Fort Casey. Fort Casey was a harbor defense site, with big guns and a submarine net closing off the roadstead into Prince Rupert.

We had heard it was infested with ghosts of American Soldiers who were stationed there during WWII. But undaunted, and with my fierce Scotch terrier, Maggie, we struck off on Labour Day weekend to camp and explore.

Hiking down the CNR line in a steady down pour (Prince Rupert receives about 8 feet of rain a year) we made the site about three in the afternoon. There were two levels to the site. Water level on the railroad right of way, and the upper level on a bench about 100 feet above the rail line.

We located a bunker with a 1” thick steel door, in which to stash our camping gear and supplies, a door we could NOT close, no matter how hard the three of us tried.

In the gloomy relentless downpour, we spent a couple of hours exploring fort’s upper level grounds, now overgrown with trees and brush. We had heard that under certain circumstances, you could hear the crack of a bat and the cheer of the crowd on the long abandoned baseball diamond!

With flashlights, we explored the concrete gun emplacements (guns long gone), control and living bunkers, and climbed down long ladders deep into the ammunition magazines.

We were having a ball. It was really neat. And we had it all to ourselves. This was not on the list of tourist sites, known only to locals. We had just descended into a very dark and deep magazine when suddenly we heard a very loud and metallic slam of a thick steel door!

And Maggie, way up above us, began barking hysterically!

We scrambled up the ladder out of that dank dark magazine, and got Maggie calmed down. We decided since it was getting into late afternoon, we’d gather out equipment and food, and figure out were to spend the night.

We got back to the bunker where we had stashed our stuff, and found the door we could not budge – shut!

There was no wind, only rain. There was no explanation, and there was no doubt that we were “concerned.”

We descended down off the bench to the track level and found a large concrete structure next to the tracks and about 50 feet from the beach. We determined this must have been a powerhouse, because of the two foot steel risers, that must have been diesel engine bases. It had a double wide steel door, and an opening at the back wall, which must have been for the exhaust manifolds.

That hole was open, but we located steel panels and blocked it off. The double wide steel door had latches, which we could lock. So, we had a secure place to stay overnight.

We ventured over to the beach and scrounged enough dry driftwood under big logs, to cook our dinner and keep us warm through the night.

Things rapidly deteriorate. The initial fire for hot dogs and beans went well, but it soon became apparent that the damn structure was filling with smoke! So now we open the steel doors, and pull the sheet steel away from the hole in the wall, so we can breath!

Now there is an earthquake as 922, the east bound time freight passes by at 45 mph, about 20 feet from us! And now the damn dog starts barking!

We kill the fire, and wait for the air to clear enough to close the steel doors, and plug the hole in the wall with out steel sheet. And get the damn dog shut up.

It’s dark, cold, and now a new sound – occasional thumps on the ceiling! We finally decide that it must be gravel sloughing off the cliff behind us, landing on the roof. Now the three of us argue about the .22 rifle we have, and how not to accidentally shoot each other!

We finally fall off to sleep, each of us in between the concrete engine mounts.

“BANG!!!” the loudest frigging noise I’ve ever heard, as the 1” thick steel sheet we have covering the exhaust hole clangs to the floor!

Pandemonium! The damn dog barking her head off, flash lights darting here and there. Each of the three of us yelling, “What the f--- was that? What happened”?

Stuffing our gear into out sleeping bags, in a continuing downpour we strike out up the tracks toward Prince Rupert and safety, dragging our sleeping bags behind us, with Maggie romping around, barking her head off!

Just up the track, lights. It was the two story wooden structure we had past on our way to Fort Casey, and a haven from the ghosts we had narrowly escaped!

“Bang bang bang” on the door, and by and by, an elderly, kindly older woman cautious opens the door.

Over a cup of hot chocolate, we recount the day’s events. The woman explains to us that she and her husband are light keepers for Barret Rock Light, and another light I cannot recall now at the entrance to Prince Rupert harbor, managing the lights by radio signals.

She is home alone, but her husband is due any time now, coming from a doctor’s appointment up at Terrace. In time, the rumbling of a locomotive gets louder, and the westbound passenger train grinds to a halt. And very soon thereafter her husband appears in the door.

It takes a while for all of us to get to up speed, and my companions, Maggie and I, spread out our sleeping bags in their enclosed back porch. It takes a while for me to drift off to sleep, fighting off images of “Hansel and Gettel!” I am having visions of– that my buddies and I are out of the frying pan into the fire!!

In the morning, after a neat breakfast, and hearing stories of light keeping on the BC Coast, we head back to Fairview Terminal, where my Mom and Dad are waiting for us.

Wearily, we climb into the car with Maggie happily wagging her tail. My Dad turns around to us and asks, “Did you have a good time?”

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Prince Rupert Update

It's been interesting for me to follow the development of the state-of-the-art container facility in Prince Rupert. We lived there from 1957 through 1959, and the City was powered by the fishing industry, logging, and the Pulp Mill at Watson Island. That was an extremely specialized facility, manufacturing stock that would become x-ray film. One of my train chasing buddies, and oldest friend, Mike, worked out there as a process engineer.

But I digress.

Yet more feedback concerning Prince Rupert’s World Port, which I covered in detail last fall. This time, a Port of Seattle official expresses concern over the impact the Asian - Prince Rupert- Canadian National connection may have long term on the Port of Seattle.

In recent business news article in the Seattle P-I, Port of Seattle Seaport Managing Director
Charlie Sheldon said, “the port considers Prince Rupert a major threat.”

I’ll bet there are a lot of college students studying this model in their international business classes!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Return to Samoa

Hammond Lumber #15, Samoa California, September 1966. My late Dad worked for Foss Tug & Barge (now Foss Maritime) and for a while worked on a rig hauling lumber barges from Humboldt Bay to Hawaii.

Wandering around the Georgia Pacific lumberyard, he found this beautiful 2-8-2, parked in limbo. She was fired up occasionally to relieve the diesel units.

Eureka and Samoa – both on Humboldt Bay, were thriving lumber towns with a rich history.

This view shows the “ghost” of the former Georgia Pacific round house in Samoa.

From what I understand, Hammond Lumber #16 is down at the
Chelatchie Prairie tourist railroad north of Vancouver Washington. She was originally built for the Crossett-Western as number, 10, which it had when it first began hauling logs in 1929 out of Wauna, Oregon.

Railroad Stuff: Hammond Lumber Company #15, 2-8-2 built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1916, boiler number 43563 for Mason County Logging #15 at Bordeaux, Washington, thence to Humbird Lumber Co. No.4, the locomotive was purchased by Hammond Lumber Co. December 7th 1941 and renumbered No. 15.

Hammond Lumber Company #16, 2-8-2T built by American Locomotive Company, delivered in March of 1929, it had a long lumbering history, spending fourteen years in Oregon with the Crossett Western Company. Now a static display in Shelton, Washington.

Monday, May 12, 2008


May 12th. Just confirmed that the former Alaska Railroad cab unit is still part of a diner in Yakima. The young woman I spoke with informed me of another attraction – the Merci Car – on display in the Yakima Greenway.

Also, the Union Pacific has finally opened the Natron Cutoff, closed since January due to the Coyote Mountain or Frazier Slide. Some remarkable statistics on this costly event.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

ALCo with a Broken Nose!

Great Northern Railroad 310, Interbay Yard, Seattle, December 1960. Starting to get a little nervous about graduating in six months, and heading off to college. As much as I loved hanging around the railroad, it’s not in the cards.

Anyway, grabbed my camera and ran up to Interbay to see what’s cooking. Found this FA1 with a broken nose!

Tough to find anyone around on the weekends. Finally found a hostler working outside, and he said that from what he understood, this unit clipped a caboose that wasn’t far enough into the hole, down at Castle Rock. He didn’t offer up anything more, and I knew better than to ask!

If it was a wooden caboose, kindling. But GN ran a fleet of steel cabooses. Loved to have seen what she looked like!

Railroad Stuff: Great Northern 310A, Built by ALCo as a FA1, 1,600 horsepower in April 1950. Serial number 77017. Spared the Big Sky Blue, and traded in 1966 for a U28C.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Alaska Rail Road 1502

Alaska Rail Road 1502. Date and Location of photograph are unknown. Why oh why didn’t I take a moment to put some information on the back of the picture?

The Alaska Rail Road was unique in that its very existence required an umbilical cord to the Lower 48 in the form of rail barges. Plug “boxcars” into the Google Search box on the right margin to bring up previous articles detailing this vital link. And watch for two more articles now in production, bringing this activity up to date!

Turns out this lady had a
colorful history on the ARR!

I don’t know how you feel about this ending, but I am sickened to see a mighty locomotive reduced to a
circus sideshow. I think had Americana displayed her in her original blue and yellow Alaska Rail Road paint scheme, I would have felt much better about it.

By the way, Alaska Rail Road 1502 has been immortalized in HO scale –
DCC ready – for your layout!

Railroad Stuff: Alaska Rail Road 1502, built by General Motors as an F7A, 1,500 hp, built December 1952, serial number 17711. Retired 1985.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Track Gang #2 McWilliams Multiple Tool Air Tamper

Canadian National Railways 408, Prince Rupert BC, September 1959. A massive re-ballasting of the CNR Skeena Subdivision had been going on for some time. I was sixteen years old, and we were just months away from moving back to Seattle.

What a racket these machines put out, with the revving up of the huge air compressor, and the “pffit-pffit pffit-pffit” air exhausts from the rams and vibrators.

Re-ballasting was a three-step process. First was the laying down of new ballast to rail height, spread and profiled with a Jordan Spreader. Next the track leveling gang came along, lifting and leveling the rail, as described in the previous post.

Finally, the ballast is firmly tamped between the ties with the McWilliams Multiple Tool Air Tamper.

Manufactured by Railway Maintenance Corporation of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, this machine is dominated by a large Canadian Broomwade air compressor and storage tank.

Using compressed air, two sets of tongs are driven down on each side of a tie, and vibrated for about 5 seconds. Then with a sharp report of exhausts, the tongs are lifted, and the monster moves ahead two ties, and the process repeated.

Air Tampers 408 and her sister, 409, advanced at this mind boggling snails pace mile after mile. The had advanced just over two miles in the five days between the first set of photos on September 5th and September 10th!

Every now and then, the operator climbed into the machinery to adjust the tongs. The trailing Air Tamper is dragging a trailer that carries the crew’s tools, and rails used to move the machine off the main line. Looking carefully at the front and back of the machine, you can see two pistons that force a bar down onto the rails, lifting the machine clear of the rails.

Steel rails are laid under the small wheels, and allowing the machine to be move laterally away from the tracks. I didn’t get a chance to see this being done, but that is one heavy piece of machinery that you don’t want to have it get away from you and land in a ditch!

This is
train order country – no radios. So everyone has to be reading not only from the same hymnal, but also the same hymn!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Track Gang #1

Track Gang, Prince Rupert, September 5, 1959. All summer long, maintenance of the main line has been taking place on the Skeena Subdivision. Out at Kwinitsa, major repairs were taking place on a short bridge, with pilings being replaced, and new ballast was being laid.

Re-ballasting began with a locomotive set working a short string of Western dump cars, discharging new ballast onto the track, to be spread and profiled with a Jordan Spreader.

Next, this colorful gang of workers comes along with their track leveler. The machine grabs the rails, and two pistons are driven down between the ties, lifting the ties and rail up out of the old ballast.

A track gauge – the white beam lying across the rails has a big glass leveling bubble. By maneuvering the two piston rams, the rail can be leveled.

This crew seemed to be Eastern European, speaking broken English. But I soon discovered that friendly nods and smiles were reciprocated in kind. This was a fantastic adventure for me, a mere lad of 16 years old.

I had taken a photography class at the Civic Centre, and was really trying to concentrate on composing my shots. Being on a slim allowance, I shot black and white film, and had learned how to do my own processing at the Civic Centre photo club.

I was lucky to have had this experience, as in two months, we were moving back to Seattle.

This crew has a long way to go! Behind them two McWilliams Multiple Air Tools, will finish the job, firmly seating the gravel ballast around the ties.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

200th Posting! Krauss-Maffei Camera Car!

SP 9010, Oakland California, April 1966. I had just over a year left in my USAF enlistment at Hamilton AFB. From time to time I'd drive over the beautiful San Rafael - Richmond Bridge

to visit my Uncle who lived in Oakland. Hang out, drink a cool one, watch some football. Once in a while, we'd go down to to the SP Oakland engine facility to see what was cooking.

Wow! A couple of Krauss-Maffei ML-4000's! My early indoctrination of never going anywhere without my camera paid off!

In 1961, the Denver & Rio Grande Western and Southern Pacific each ordered three ML-4000 diesel-hydraulics, from Krausse-Maffei AG of Munich. Southern Pacific re-ordered 15 units in 1963, represented by SP 9010. D&RGW, fed up with maintenance issues, threw in the towel and sold their initial order of three, 4001 - 4003, to the SP in 1964.

This so-called “Greenhouse Cab” configuration, often referred to as the “road switcher cab,” housed two Maybach MD-870 water-cooled, 4-cycle V-16’s. Each engine was connected to a hydraulic transmission, supplying mechanical shaft drive to the bogies, as seen in this diagram. Converting metrics to US, some insist horsepower was only 3,450, not 4,000.

It was rumored that engine crews were uncomfortable about sitting just above the spinning drive shaft between the motor and transmission!

Years later, we find the Europeans have embraced the diesel-hydraulic drive system big time. Take a look at this detailed explanation and animation, complete with smoking engine! I would consider the diesel-hydraulic drive system mechanical nightmare, as compared to the diesel-electric drive system - what do you think?

Krauss-Maffei dates back to 1838, when Joseph Anton von Maffei founded the first locomotive factory in Munich. The take-over of the J.A. Maffei Company by Krauss & Company in 1931 created Krauss-Maffei AG with company headquarters in Munich-Allach. The first military products were developed in the 1930s.

Amongst other equipment, the company delivered more than 6,000 half-track trucks. In 1963, the German Ministry of Defense selected Krauss-Maffei as prime contractor for series production of the LEOPARD 1 main battle tank, which was later, followed by the GEPARD self-propelled anti-aircraft gun and the LEOPARD 2 main battle tank.

Following the merger/acquisition model, Siemens AG owns the company now. The mechanical nightmare mercifully came to an end after six short years, with all units ending up on the scrap heap in 1967. Well, not all of them. SP 9113, nee SP 9010 shown above, was given an unusual reprieve! She was converted to "Camera Car" - a platform for shooting films to be used in locomotive training simulators.

See also "What the Heck was That?"