Posts by Bill Walker

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21) Message boards : Cafe SETI : The train thread (Message 1691275)
Posted 17 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
Since my Sunday has been rained out, I started searching the web for Canadian railcams. Haven't found any good ones yet, but I have found several sites with quality still photos. Including this interesting one of two classic SD-40s, taken a month ago in BC. Anyone remember the "which twin has the Tony?" ads?

22) Message boards : Cafe SETI : Beet's give us a caption #60 (Message 1691057)
Posted 17 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
And this is where little locomotives come from....
23) Message boards : Cafe SETI : The train thread (Message 1690915)
Posted 18 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
Love your pictures Vic. As a closet train spotter, I appreciate the rare markings and old engines and rolling stock you find. It is a big continent, and I can't get everywhere I would like to. That is what the Interweb is for.
24) Message boards : Cafe SETI : The train thread (Message 1690244)
Posted 20 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
Thanks for the details David. I hadn't realized US engines got shared on through trains, just like the rolling stock. And we still see Delaware & Hudson engines, rolling stock, and MRO equipment on the CP lines around here. I'm told they legally have to keep the name in use to maintain some track rights, on old tracks originally funded by the Canadian government.
25) Message boards : Cafe SETI : Sweet or Savory? (Message 1690099)
Posted 20 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
The local indigenous people around here made drinks and flavorings from the sap of just about any tree: pine, birch, etc. as well as maple. I've tried pine beer and birch syrup, I'll stick to maple thank you.
26) Message boards : Cafe SETI : The train thread (Message 1690098)
Posted 20 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
Bernie, the Canadian railways I'm familiar with have strict rules about who is qualified to run what engine. It is very unlikely that a CP engineer would be asked to sit in the cab of somebody else's loco. It is much less likely that a non-CP person would be in a CP cab.

Since my last post I talked to someone who knows the NS business here in Ontario. Those NS trains running on CP rails in Ontario have NS crews, but the crews are Canadians home-based in St. Thomas (just south of here), and they are trained to run on, and only run on, the CP line. There are probably other similar deals in place for particular routes.

To be more specific about some of the "stuff" can happen here: buying locos is a long term business, contracts are signed today for engines to be delivered over several years. The quantities contracted for are based on expected traffic volumes over a several year period. That is, at best, an educated guess.

By the time the engines are delivered, contracts have shifted, one mine has gone out of business unexpectedly and another has gone to triple shifts, etc. The railway companies get together, sign mid term and long term lease deals, and shiney new engines go to where the business is.

On top of that, there is the day to day "stuff" when one engine goes unserviceable, or a class gets a sudden recall notice. That is when you are likely to see the really old stuff dug up from a back siding somewhere and put back into service.

Leased or rented engines are almost never the lead engine, with a crew in it. As long as they have a standard MU fitment, the crew doesn't need to know much about the engine, or even get into the cab.
27) Message boards : Cafe SETI : The train thread (Message 1689898)
Posted 21 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
Bernie, up here in the North MU lashups are almost always driven from the front engine, and the front engine is almost always from the line operating the whole train. This is done because you want a local engineer driving, and you want all the communications equipment (voice and data) that your line needs at his command. This would make your photos a CP train. There are of course exceptions, but only when the leased/rented equipment has the right gear fitted out, or another line's engineer is familiar with the stretch of track. In Canada train crews generally only operate on a few hundred miles of track, trains that cover longer distances switch crews at regular intervals. The crews I talk to prefer this, since it means they get home at the end of each shift, even though the train may roll on for another few days,

As for the mix of markings in a single consist, it is all economics. Each line wants to own just enough engines, not too many, for their volume of traffic. When "stuff" happens (we use another word for "stuff" in North America) you do what you have to to keep the trains running. If your line can quickly come up with your own spare engine when "stuff" hits the fan, your accountants will tell you you own too many engines, and you need to look into leasing or selling some. If you have been following your accountants advice for some time, then when "stuff" hits your line you have to look elsewhere for motive power.

The last 5 years or so in Canada (and I think in the US) has seen freight volumes rise faster than the factories can turn out new equipment (combination of oil by rail and growth in bulk freight like ores and grains). All the lines are scrambling every day to put together something that runs. This makes for interesting times for the spotters, as some of your photos and Vic's photos show.

Vic is right, the MU interface is pretty standard, permitting one cab crew to run multiple engines (even different models) at the same time. The key is how the cab crew fits into the block control / track control used locally, and that usually depends on the gear in the front cab. From my work with Electromotive here in London, very similar looking locos can have very different equipment in the cabs when they leave the factory, depending on which line they are going to. Updates over the years only make this worse.

The NS regularly runs complete trains over the CP line south of where I live, this is the old "lake level line" that was funded by US railroads in the 1880s to bypass Pennsylvania mountains when connecting Chicago to the US east coast. I assume the NSF locos and crews are equipped and trained to run on what is now a CP track.
28) Message boards : Cafe SETI : Damn Ebayers :-) (Message 1689054)
Posted 23 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
An old neighbour of mine, who was an auditing accountant for a local government tax office, told me that they ranked potential investigations in terms of the ratio of possible government income to possible government expense. They started at the top of the list, and never made it to the bottom. I expect this is why, at least in this locale, most e-Bay sales, garage sales, etc. don't get investigated.

And yes, I was also surprised at a government agency being so logical.
29) Message boards : Cafe SETI : Life imitates art (Message 1689053)
Posted 23 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
Fans of 2001 A Space Odyssey will love this. SpaceX attached a camera to the aerodynamic shrouds on its last Falcon flight, capturing the view from the shroud as it tumbled back to earth after being jettisoned.
30) Message boards : Cafe SETI : Damn Ebayers :-) (Message 1688203)
Posted 26 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
Don't you have a tax exemption based on 'casual income'
in England? Here if you derive your living income from
any activity, (work, business, trust fund) then any extra
income from say a lotto win, or selling stuff on the internet,
there is no tax charged.

Licensed lotteries are "taxed at source" in Canada, meaning whoever runs the lottery pays taxes on the winnings before handing out the prizes. Therefore there is no need to report your winnings as income. Once you start earning interest on the winnings that is taxable.

Odd job earnings are very much taxable income, there is a line on the annual tax form for "tips and miscellaneous". Unless a big portion of your income is tips (like a waiter/waitress) the government doesn't track these too closely. But they could, if they decide they don't like you.

Not sure about Internet / garage sales, need to look into this.
31) Message boards : Cafe SETI : The train thread (Message 1688201)
Posted 26 days ago by Profile Bill Walker

That's an intriguing vehicle.
Is it still propelled by the main driving wheels?

The ones I am familiar with keep a good portion of the vehicle weight on the rubber tires. Gas, brake and gear shift work as usual, you don't have to steer. They tell me braking is only slightly reduced compared to the same vehicle on the road, hence my observation about safety at crossings.

The local rail companies love these, because they are so much cheaper than running a full loco, and they have the flexibility of switching to the road when needed (like when it is time for Timmies). Around here all the daily track inspections are done in a hi-rail pickup truck. The ones in Canada are all radio equipped, and operate under whatever form of block or track control the local line is using.
32) Message boards : Cafe SETI : The train thread (Message 1688079)
Posted 26 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
It is quite common in Canada for hi-rail trucks to not trip crossing alarms. I always figured this was for two reasons: one - these trucks often stop near the crossing to work on signals (or to go for donuts), and you wouldn't want the gates down and bells ringing for all that time; second, these trucks can easily stop on the tracks, which makes a hi-rail truck crossing a road no more risky than any other uncontrolled intersection. And we have lots of those in rural Canada.

33) Message boards : Cafe SETI : The train thread (Message 1685576)
Posted 29 May 2015 by Profile Bill Walker
This is the best I've found so far Chris, even if it is a little out of date.
34) Message boards : Cafe SETI : The train thread (Message 1685574)
Posted 29 May 2015 by Profile Bill Walker
Google finds lots of cab shots of North American engines. Keep in mind that each owner can have very different cab layouts, some are going for "glass cockpits" these days. Still looking for the rest of the interior. Here is an F40.

35) Message boards : Cafe SETI : Things I wish that all people who work with the public knew... (Message 1682099)
Posted 21 May 2015 by Profile Bill Walker

Rule #4 The customer is not always right!

Maybe so, but if you want to keep dealing with the customer you need to be VERY careful how you tell them this. Right or wrong, the customer pays your salary. They are allowed to make mistakes, as long as the check clears.

I spent several years watching German salesmen tell North American customers they were not just wrong, but obviously stupid, if they didn't want to buy the German helicopter in place of the French helicopter. Only the Germans were surprised when the French helicopter company bought out the German company.
36) Message boards : Cafe SETI : OTUS? (Message 1681907)
Posted 20 May 2015 by Profile Bill Walker
I'm old enough to remember when LOL meant Little Old Lady.
37) Message boards : Cafe SETI : Things I wish that all people who work with the public knew... (Message 1681906)
Posted 20 May 2015 by Profile Bill Walker

Rule #1. The terms "sweetie" or "dear" should NEVER be used to address any person older than 14 years of age.

I think that may be a regional thing. In Canada women over 60 often call everybody dear, especially other women. No disrespect is meant, or taken. Now, if a 20 something calls me sweetie or dear in just the right tone, then a great deal of disrespect is obviously meant.
38) Message boards : Cafe SETI : The train thread (Message 1680041)
Posted 15 May 2015 by Profile Bill Walker
I was amazed at the specs for the wheels of these new Acela 64 locos. Do they wear in use by 3" or is that after skimming in the factory refurb?

1,117 mm (43.98 in) (new)
1,041 mm (40.98 in) (worn)


It is a combination of wear and re-skimming. Mis-use of brakes can lead to flat spots, impact with objects on the rail can cause nicks and dents, all these are removed by skimming. My understanding is that the "worn" dimension is the allowable minimum after skimming. Below this, the wheel must be replaced.
39) Message boards : Cafe SETI : The train thread (Message 1678878)
Posted 12 May 2015 by Profile Bill Walker

PS to my knowledge, there is still a shortage of available freight locos so some you see may look old and tatty but if they run, they will be used, doesn't really matter about the cab if it is a trailing unit.

According to recent quarterly statements from both CN and CP, their growth at present is limited by how fast they can acquire new engines and rolling stock. So, yes, a lot of beat up old stuff seen on the rails these days.
40) Message boards : Cafe SETI : The train thread (Message 1678800)
Posted 12 May 2015 by Profile Bill Walker
Is it a reasonable question to ask, that why do the American railways have to shunt so many of their locomotives all over the place all the time. Is it just to keep the train spotters happy, or are they just incompetent?

Locos get moved to and from factories, overhaul facilities, and various end user facilities. It is a big continent, so these places can be quite far apart. There are also seasonal needs (like getting all the grain off the Canadian prairies each fall) that see locos leased and rented in a bewildering mix. Once you have paid for the right of way, and are running a train anyway, the incremental cost of dead heading a loco is pretty small.

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