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In reply to NickD :

That's interesting, I thought the FRA regulations applied when they connected to the national rail network. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/9/22 7:11 p.m.

In reply to Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) :

Grade crossings also can put you under a certain level of FRA jurisdiction. That actually just happened down to the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad. They were running their Durbin Rocket trips out of Durbin with an ex-Moore-Keppel 2-truck Climax.

Because it was some really remote territory, there were no grade crossings, so it wasn't under FRA purview. The Climax was operating under West Virginia state boiler inspector approval, and apparently it had some really dodgy boiler work some point in time. The state leaned on one inspector to approve it, and he retired instead, and the second inspector approved it under the condition that the pressure be limited to 100psi. They ran it that way for a bunch of years, but when the repair the bridge over the Greenbrier and connect the D&GV to Cass Scenic Railroad (D&GV now runs Cass), then it will fall under FRA jurisdiction. The Climax would need an FRA inspection and according to those in the know, it would take a while new boiler to make it legal. So, in preparation, they shipped the Climax to Cass and trucked over their Heisler to handle Durbin Rocket services in preparation for when the bridge is fully ready. The Climax meanwhile sits all tarped up, with an uncertain future.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/9/22 9:38 p.m.

Aside from the botched boiler repairs by a certain now-defunct contractor, the other thing that brought about Moore-Keppel #3's end out to Durbin is the very nature of Climax locomotives. Of the three geared locomotive types, the Climax is the slowest. The 5-mile roundtrip that they were running took 2.5 hours, and the new longer Cass-Durbin run will be 14 miles one way. A trip behind a Climax (or really any geared locomotive) wouldn't be feasible, and so they'll be using an ex-Buffalo Creek & Gauley 2-8-0. The Climaxes were also noted to ride absolutely terrible, and are prone to developing frame issues.

The reason they used it was that it was fairly light, at only 55 tons, and that Climaxes were known to be the best at handling rough track. The line out of Durbin was the old C&O Greenbrier Branch, which had long been out of service. The track conditions were pretty decrepit, so a lightweight two-truck Climax was a logical choice. But now, as the track has been rehabilitated and the length of the trip is increasing, it makes less sense.

Of the three geared locomotive types, the Climax is the rarest and my favorite. Cass Scenic Railroad does have a really rare 3-truck that they got operating fairly recently. There are only 3 surviving 3-truck Climaxes and Cass' is the only one that is currently operational.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/10/22 1:19 p.m.

If you ever see a piece of equipment that is tagged "Do Not Hump", this is why:

This is an ex-PRR Congressional Service stainless-steel parlor lounge car, believed to be the George Washington. Reading & Northern purchased it fairly recently from a private owner through a broker, and was having it shipped by Norfolk Southern. According to the broker, the car was a complete car in excellent shape. Sadly, I'm using the past tense for a reason. This is a photo of it as it arrived in Decatur at the tail end of a double-stack a couple days ago, which are the last known photos of it in good shape.

And this is how it currently looks.

To be pedantic, this wasn't run through a hump yard, it was actually "kicked" but the end result was the same. By kicked, I mean a technique of flat yard switching, where you get the locomotive up to speed with a cut of cars and then, rather than move all the way down the siding and coupling them on, you uncouple on the fly, apply the brakes on the locomotive and let the cars coast on momentum and couple themselves. A hump yard uses a hill in the yard, rather than a locomotive, to impart momentum. 

Some yard crew at NS kicked 6 cover hopper cars into this poor passenger car, and the result is what you see. The coupler pocket is blown off the end of the car, the end of it smashed into the covered hopper and crunched the end of it, and photos from the broker showed damage to the interior furnishings, with stuff tossed everywhere and broken glass. The broker has been out to look at it, and in his opinion, the car is toast. He said while repairing the stainless steel skin would be enough of a pain, the broken coupler pocket casting is a nightmare to repair and he has serious concerns about the condition of the frame after that hard of an impact. Even if it is repaired, it might have long term underlying issues. I read an account of a gentleman that brokered a sale of a couple old PRR P70s to an operation down in Florida, and despite being marked, CSX ran them through a hump yard and blew the coupler pocket off one, derailed another, and mangled the vestibules and steps. He ended up going down to Florida to help the new owners band-aid them back into operable condition. When he went down a few years later, after the operators went out of business, to see if the cars were worth saving and reselling, he discovered that the condition of them had worsened from operation and that ends of the cars were nearly falling off, and had them all scrapped on the sport. 

You can see that on the ends of the car are explicit shipping instructions, so this is definitely on an NS crew. There's insurance for this sort of stuff, but that doesn't change the fact that this car might not be repairable. And then Class Is use these sort of incidents to hide behind and go "See, this is why this sort of stuff shouldn't be shipped over our rails" in an attempt to ban these kinds of moves. No, this is why you shouldn't be operating skeleton crews who are overworked and understaffed and being screamed at to keep car velocity up (thanks PSR).

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/10/22 4:46 p.m.

Saw this one coming. Adirondack Railroad F7A #1508 was spotted at the west end of the yard at Utica with the Adirondack lettering and reporting mark painted out and replaced with LTEX, which stands for Larry's Truck and Electrical. Larry's is a locomotive dismantler, rebuilder, leaser, and scrapyard out in Youngstown, Ohio. Supposedly FP10 #1502 is also headed to Larry's as well. No word on what their ultimate fate will be, whether they'll be parted out or repaired or sold. I know #1508 was taken out of service back in '17, but was returned to service this winter and has run intermittently, at least as recently as Easter. I saw the #1502 operating last fall on the Thendara-Otter Lake trips, but haven't seen it operate since. I hope they don't get cut up or parted out, but the bodies were starting to get pretty rusty, and on a F-unit, they are a unibody design, unlike the body-on-frame construction of a GP/SD.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/10/22 8:22 p.m.

Not to be one of those people who think that everything should go to IRM, and realizing that IRM has a finite amount of space and resources and labor, Adirondack Railroad FP10 #1502 would still make a lot of sense to end up there. While it spent time on both MBTA and Metro North and ended up on a tourist line in central New York, it originally started life as Gulf, Mobile & Ohio F3A #884A. GM&O operated in Illinois but is a railroad that doesn't have much representation in IRM's collection.

It doesn't much resemble an F3 anymore but that is because it was rebuilt by Illinois Central into an FP10 for MBTA. So, again, another Illinois connection there. But I did see this grim remark from a volunteer at Adirondack on Facebook: "The new MLWs are replacing the F units because both of the Fs need more repairs than they're worth, or rather we can afford. Do you not recall that #1502 needs a whole body swap?" So apparently the rust on #1502 is even more extensive than it looks.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/11/22 6:35 a.m.

Another set of photos of #1502 and #1508 with the LTEX reporting marks. Also going with them to Larry's Truck & Electroc is ADIX #2007, which was one of the ex-Metro North FL9s that the Adirondack bought for use as parts donors. They had a handful of the FL9s, but never used them, and I remember them parked on a siding on the Mohawk, Adirondack & Northern in Rome when I was in high school. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/11/22 10:56 a.m.

Adirondack #1502, with the two RS-18us, passing behind the liquor store in Trenton in 2017. It had just been repainted out of the Metro North silver, blue and red (they had painted over the red with more silver in later years)

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/11/22 10:59 a.m.

#1502 at the ex-New York Central depot in Holland Patent.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/11/22 11:52 a.m.

Adirondack #1508 at Thendara in 2013. It's funny how the railroad road sign to the right uses a generic F-unit for the symbol. That's Adirondack #9411 poking it's nose into the shot on the left. That's an Alco S1 that they purchased and have all nice and shined up in the new Adirondack look, but mostly sits around at Thendara or Utica. It runs, in fact according to one of their crew it has the nicest-running 539T he's ever encountered, but has needed some work on the electrical system, a new governor, and a few hard-to-find gaskets.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/11/22 12:05 p.m.

The ghost of the New York Central in 2004. Adirondack Railroad #1508 and #8223 side by side at the ex-NYC depot in Thendara. Sadly, there was bad blood over the lease of RS-3 #8223, and so the lease was not renewed a few years back. The last I saw it, #8223 was sitting at Utica yard with a capped stack and new reporting marks, waiting to be moved to a new location. And now the #1508 is being sent to Ohio to a fate unknown.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/11/22 3:56 p.m.

The #8223 is the machine that I am most bummed about leaving the Adirondack. For starters, I love RS-3s and they look really good in NYC lightning stripes. But also, the #8223 had been there from the very beginning, and it was also historically accurate, since New York Central assigned RS-3s to the Adirondack Division after they dieselized. Adirondack does have another ex-NYC RS-3, the #8255, which there are actually records of operating on the Adirondack Division, but it only saw a little use in 2017 and 2018 and has been undergoing work at Thendara ever since.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/12/22 12:49 p.m.

There's talk of a portion of Southern's famed Saluda Grade being turned into a hiking trail. The last time an NS train ran over the 4.7% grade was in December of 2001, and they severed the line from their system in 2003 by placing mounds of dirt over the tracks and disconnecting the rails at mile posts 26 and 45. They also have turned off the signal system and removed the arms on the grade crossings. NS has inspected and maintained the right-of-way since placing the segment out of service, removing fallen trees and spraying herbicide on encroaching vegetation, but there are at least four unrepaired washouts between Saluda and South Carolina. They sold off from milepost 1 (Asheville, NC) to milepost 26 to Watco, who has operated that segment as the Blue Ridge Southern Railroad, but the actual grade remains in NS ownership and out of service.

As much as I hate the whole rail-to-trail initiative, I really don't see a better option for Saluda. The 4.7% grade that makes it so famous, also makes it so difficult to operate. NS isn't going to return it to service unless they absolutely had no other option. Any short line would struggle to be profitable operating over it. I mean, consider that this is a line that has sidings for runaway trains to be diverted down, and N&W #611 was only able to pull 5 passenger cars over the hill unassisted. You would need a lot of locomotives with good dynamic brakes, and you would still chew through traction motors and brake shoes left and right. There was talk of a passenger excursion operation trying to buy it, but again, that's really demanding territory to try and operate excursions over and turn a profit. 

There are now three nonprofits seeking to buy a segment and convert it into a trail. Now, this was tried back in 2011 and NS refused to sell off the portion, so its certainly not a done deal. But

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/12/22 12:57 p.m.

Southern Railway SD35s, with high noses and set up for Long Hood Forward running in true Southern fashion, grind their way up Saluda. The sheer amount of sand lining the rails is an indication of just how grueling and difficult it was to climb.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/12/22 1:08 p.m.

Taken from the cab of the third diesel helper assisting N&W #611 from Spartanburg, SC to Melrose, NC. From Melrose, 611 would tackle Saluda Grade and after arriving at Melrose, #611 was cut off and the diesels took the train, less five cars, on to Saluda, NC.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/12/22 1:31 p.m.

N&W #611 arriving in Saluda, NC after having just brought five passenger cars over the grade by itself on October 25, 1992. The running gear is a ghostly white from sand that was ground to a fine dust.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/12/22 3:12 p.m.

Norfolk & Western #611 on an early run after it's 1981 overhaul, crossing a kudzu-laden fill outside of Birmingham. The #611 was overhauled at Southern Railway's steam shops at Irondale, Alabama, the same place the Bill Purdie kept Southern #4501, #630 and #722 and Savannah & Atlanta #750 running. A weird detail that gets overlooked is that N&W president Robert Claytor sent it to Irondale to be overhauled and run in the Southern steam program, which had been launched by his brother Graham Claytor. By the time the extensive rebuild was done, Southern and N&W had merged and it operated under the Norfolk Southern steam program, replacing Southern/C&O #2716, which had been sidelined by firebox issues. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/12/22 3:38 p.m.

N&W #611 on display at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in July of 1966. The #611 was wrecked in 1956, which was probably the ideal time, because N&W was still fairly committed to steam at the time and was willing to overhaul but meant that she was still fairly fresh off overhaul when she was retired in 1959. After retirement, the #611 was used as a stationary boiler at the East End Shops in Roanoke, the same place where it was built, until the boiler ticket expired in 1962. Rumor is that O. Winston Link was quite serious about buying the locomotive off of N&W if they didn't donate it, but Robert Claytor over at Southern somehow convinced the notoriously anti-steam president of N&W, Stuart Saunders, to donate it to Roanoke. Peaking over the cab of #611 is an SM-65 Atlas ICBM that is on display at VMoT. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/12/22 4:30 p.m.

#611 at Cook Springs, Alabama with one of the first excursions it ran from Birmingham-Atlanta. You can see the mix of older heavyweight passenger cars, which were done away with after the Great Dismal Swamp derailment in 1986. After that, Norfolk Southern did away with all the old heavyweight cars and open air cars and required alignment control couplers.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/12/22 5:01 p.m.

Crossing the Tallapoosa River just east of the Alabama state line. While N&W was a big user of auxiliary tenders, they were behind the As and Y6s, not the passenger power. The #611's auxiliary tender was not one of those original N&W canteens built from old Z1 tenders, but was actually built out of an L&N M-1 "Big Emma" Berkshire. It was used behind #611 until 1987, when it was donated to Indiana Transportation Museum for use with NKP #587. It was replaced by another canteen, also built from an L&N "Big Emma" tender that had previously been used behind Southern #4501, T&P #610, CPR #2839 and C&O #2716 previously, and was auctioned off in 1995 and is now used behind Milwaukee Road #261. The tender #611 uses today is a third L&N "Big Emma" tender that was converted for use behind C&O #614 and was purchased in 1987 for use behind N&W #1218.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/13/22 12:04 p.m.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/13/22 12:05 p.m.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/15/22 11:06 a.m.

Crossing the ex-Virginian Railway bridge at Narrows, Virginia. Prior to 1962, the electric locomotives belonging to "The Richest Little Railroad In The World" hummed across this bridge.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/15/22 11:57 a.m.

At Cook Springs, Alabama hauling freight while on a ferry move from Irondale to Atlanta for an excursion. The N&W Js were not designed for freight service, they were designed to replace the aging E-series Pacifics and K-series Mountains in passenger service. But late in life, the last three remaining Js were sometimes pressed into the occasional freight run.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/15/22 12:00 p.m.

Crossing the Cumberland River at Burnside, Kentucky.

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