The Train Thread 2

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David S
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Message 1712606 - Posted: 14 Aug 2015, 0:32:10 UTC

Here's a fascinating 46 minute video of Chicago's 75th Street Tower in action. It was an "armstrong" tower, meaning all the switches and signals were operated by the towerman throwing levers. Some of them would have been for electric signals, but most were either switches or manual semaphore signals. I won't bother to repeat the history given in the description on the youtube page.

However, to give you some geographical context, I offer this Bing Maps view of the crossing. From there, if you scroll the map west, the BRC crosses the former Grand Trunk Western (now leased by CN to CSX) at Hayford, then angles northwest to reach Clearing Yard. Also to the west, NS/Metra angles southwest to/past Landers Yard, former Wabash, now used by NS for intermodal. Going east, BRC and NS/Metra connect with a series of switches; Metra trains headed downtown have to get across the BRC here to turn northward at 74th St.

Back at the crossing, CSX goes north to its 59th St. intermodal yard and south to Forest Hill Yard, which I get the impression isn't used for much anymore.

For broader history and more geography lessons, I suggest you go to this great page about rail junctions on the south side of Chicago and scroll down to the section about 75th St. - Forest Hill. This may well put more questions in your head, so move on to Pullman Junction, then skip down to the section on the Chicago & Western Indiana / Belt Railway Corridor (or maybe you should read that before Pullman Jct., since a train going east at 75th would traverse this section before reaching Pullman Jct.).

After that, you may want to skip back one page in the site's hierarchy and read up on Hayford and maybe also Dolton (pronounced Dawlt'n). You will also find the other pages on the site interesting, but they have no immediate relevance to this video.

Finally, I should note that Metra recently kicked off an effort to raise funds for a pair of projects in this area. One would elevate the CSX tracks over the others at 75th St. and the other would elevate Metra over the BRC and NS, and over the former C&WI at 74th St., connecting it to the former Rock Island line. Trains would then go into La Salle St. Station downtown instead of Union Station.
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Message 1712766 - Posted: 14 Aug 2015, 9:29:43 UTC

Well, Armstrong towers doesn't ring any bells over the pond, but a number of our old mechanical lever signal boxes now have heritage status, and quite rightly too. When I get a minute I will watch your video.

UK Boxes
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Message 1712880 - Posted: 14 Aug 2015, 16:11:59 UTC
Last modified: 14 Aug 2015, 16:12:11 UTC

This week's barn update.
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Message 1712882 - Posted: 14 Aug 2015, 16:14:52 UTC

How much is the Barn costing?
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Message 1712883 - Posted: 14 Aug 2015, 16:17:35 UTC - in response to Message 1712766.  

Well, Armstrong towers doesn't ring any bells over the pond, but a number of our old mechanical lever signal boxes now have heritage status, and quite rightly too. When I get a minute I will watch your video.

UK Boxes

Yep, same thing. I wish there were still enough of them in the US and Canada to warrant saying "fewer than 500." I also wish more of them were preserved and restored when they're taken out of service. Most are demolished very quickly.
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Message 1712885 - Posted: 14 Aug 2015, 16:19:10 UTC - in response to Message 1712882.  

How much is the Barn costing?

You might think I'd know that, but I don't. I'll see if I can find out tomorrow.
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Message 1712904 - Posted: 14 Aug 2015, 17:00:13 UTC - in response to Message 1712883.  

Well, Armstrong towers doesn't ring any bells over the pond, but a number of our old mechanical lever signal boxes now have heritage status, and quite rightly too. When I get a minute I will watch your video.

UK Boxes

Yep, same thing. I wish there were still enough of them in the US and Canada to warrant saying "fewer than 500." I also wish more of them were preserved and restored when they're taken out of service. Most are demolished very quickly.

That's sad, since it's a part of our history too.
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Message 1713260 - Posted: 15 Aug 2015, 5:40:03 UTC - in response to Message 1711716.  

Chesterton camera alert!

Word is that a pair of CP steam locomotives, 1238 and 1286, are being moved (on flat cars) from Staunton, WV to Winnipeg via Chicago. Last report was at Enola, PA. I wouldn't be surprised if these loads have a speed restriction, so it could be couple days or more before they get here.

I'll be at the museum tomorrow, so I won't be able to post updates here even if I get them.

Last I heard, they were either still in Conway Yard near Pittsburg or they had somehow made it in record time for a speed-restricted dimensional load all the way to the destination in Winnipeg without anyone seeing them anywhere en route. I have it on good authority that they have been cleared for all weight and size restrictions on Metra-owned trackage that they will need to traverse.

Latest word is they departed Conway Thursday night and got as far as Motor Yard near Cleveland. No one saw them during the day, but they could be hidden behind stack trains. Just have to wait and when they move again. I'll be at the museum and unable to monitor postings.
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Message 1714510 - Posted: 17 Aug 2015, 16:20:14 UTC

AMTK 654 is on train 6 today. Currently about an hour late out of Ottumwa. If it stays like that, it should go by the MH camera by shortly after 3pm CDT.

The Facebook thread I was following for the CP steam locos jumped the shark of sarcastic intolerance of unjustly inferred stupidity and is no longer a source of info. I'll see if I can find it elsewhere.
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Message 1714532 - Posted: 17 Aug 2015, 16:55:08 UTC

My Day Out With Thomas went about as I expected it to. At about 25 and 55 minutes past each hour, the Thomas conductor would call the dispatcher for orders. The dispatcher would tell him that at :00 or :30 (as the case was), Thomas was authorized to depart, go through the west wye to Jefferson St., return to the west wye and call for orders. The conductor would repeat it back and the dispatcher would say "that is correct." Then the Thomas Helper (i.e., the engineer in the diesel at the other end of the train) would repeat it back and the conductor would say "that is correct." That was my cue to get off my butt and go throw the switch (after looking down the track to make sure the dispatcher had put out the orange cone to stop the streetcars) so that Thomas would go down the west wye. Then, per the rules, I would walk 15-20 feet away from the switch. As the diesel passed, I would follow it back toward the switch and throw the switch back, then go back to my chair or the diner or wherever I felt like going (making sure I didn't cross the track in front of a streetcar).

It was hot and humid. Our weather station recorded a high of 93F, and I think the dew point was around 68. In mid-afternoon, a light thunderstorm came through that brought the temperature down to 75F, but it went back to at least 83 when the sun came out again, and then what little wind there was died off. I managed to keep adequately, if not properly, hydrated. Stepping into the diner or office a few times helped. It's supposed to be only low 80s next weekend.

Thomas has minimal facial animation: his eyes periodically move from looking forward and down to left and down, and his mouth opens and closes. Percy is more advanced: he plays recorded messages and his lips move in sync with his words. I'm not sure what his eyes do; I didn't see enough of him. The conductor of Percy found that the emergency brake valve was not very effective for making controlled stops, and after the first couple of trips the engine crew handled almost all of the braking. I think the same happened with Thomas. Percy's conductor had to get an assistant to run the audio system because it's mounted on the right side of the cab and he was using the valve on the left so he could see the platform.

The dispatcher told the 1630/Percy crew that they had the railroad from the depot east until 6pm, so he did not have to issue them orders each time. I'm not sure how far Percy was going, but it was also running on 30 minute headways, on the 15s and 45s.

Now that I know how easy it is to be conductor of Thomas and Percy, maybe I'll do one of them next year. But, as switchtender I can go find AC if I need to. Have to think about that.
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Message 1714584 - Posted: 17 Aug 2015, 18:02:57 UTC - in response to Message 1714510.  

AMTK 654 is on train 6 today. Currently about an hour late out of Ottumwa. If it stays like that, it should go by the MH camera by shortly after 3pm CDT.

The Facebook thread I was following for the CP steam locos jumped the shark of sarcastic intolerance of unjustly inferred stupidity and is no longer a source of info. I'll see if I can find it elsewhere.

Thanks for the info, I will be watching the 6, of course I will not post any boring pictures or info.
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Message 1714592 - Posted: 17 Aug 2015, 18:13:48 UTC

[Mel Blanc voice]
Train leaving on Track 5 for Anaheim, Azusa and Cuuuu-ca-mon-gaaa!
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Message 1714601 - Posted: 17 Aug 2015, 18:22:13 UTC - in response to Message 1714584.  

AMTK 654 is on train 6 today. Currently about an hour late out of Ottumwa. If it stays like that, it should go by the MH camera by shortly after 3pm CDT.

The Facebook thread I was following for the CP steam locos jumped the shark of sarcastic intolerance of unjustly inferred stupidity and is no longer a source of info. I'll see if I can find it elsewhere.

Thanks for the info, I will be watching the 6, of course I will not post any boring pictures or info.

I see 6 lost a bit more time, but made it up again. I stand by my earlier prediction.

Latest intel on the steamers is that they were still in Motor Yard (which used to serve a Ford plant) in Macedonia, near Cleveland, yesterday. No one has reported them moving today that I can find.
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Message 1714996 - Posted: 19 Aug 2015, 1:15:08 UTC

Hey Bernie, you weren't by any chance watching MH late Monday morning (Chicago time), were you? Mark himself went out and got some shots of the Cardinal going around the wye... with the Iowa Pacific consist of the Hoosier State attached to the back end.

The Hoosier State runs four time a week. For a single train set to cover that, it has to deadhead north on Mondays and south on Tuesdays. The contract with CSX does not allow for it to run separately, so it has to be attached to the Cardinal. The first week, it missed the connection and the southbound train was buses instead.

You'll want to watch for that next week.
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Message 1715165 - Posted: 19 Aug 2015, 7:22:34 UTC - in response to Message 1714996.  
Last modified: 19 Aug 2015, 11:21:31 UTC

Hey Bernie, you weren't by any chance watching MH late Monday morning (Chicago time), were you? Mark himself went out and got some shots of the Cardinal going around the wye... with the Iowa Pacific consist of the Hoosier State attached to the back end.

The Hoosier State runs four time a week. For a single train set to cover that, it has to deadhead north on Mondays and south on Tuesdays. The contract with CSX does not allow for it to run separately, so it has to be attached to the Cardinal. The first week, it missed the connection and the southbound train was buses instead.

You'll want to watch for that next week.

What you mean with 4135 on point




And 4137 on the other end



Plus the 3 cars?





I had wondered why it was being towed behind the Cardinal, seems a very cumbersome way to get a train from A to B when it can do it on its own.

Still I suppose it doesn't cost any more. I noted that all three locos were running as it passed the camera.

So where does the Iowa get stabled when not in use?

I have not seen it on the wye before so I assume as it is double ended it doesn't turn.

Oh and just so I can mention Amtrak, this was on the other end ;-)



PS Almost forgot. A pair of "old friends" snuck passed the MH Tower cam yesterday






Yep CNW 8701 and 8646, light engine. I have seen them several times in the past few weeks. and always together. Using the Heritage Units web site I can usually tell when they are due! I assume that they will be kept in the CNW paint until they are "retired".

Be nice if a heritage group could save them and actually restore them, though I suspect that would be a bit of a big job.
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Message 1715212 - Posted: 19 Aug 2015, 9:05:07 UTC

That Iowa Pacific stuff was nice to see, perhaps these guys have an answer?

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Message 1715443 - Posted: 19 Aug 2015, 18:43:25 UTC - in response to Message 1715165.  

Thank you, Bernie.
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Message 1715516 - Posted: 19 Aug 2015, 21:04:56 UTC
Last modified: 19 Aug 2015, 21:09:56 UTC

Over at the Railstrean forum I have a thread called "Skies and things"

Which while it can feature a train if there happens to be one passing it is mostly to do with the amazing skies and weather that seem to happen in the "Midwest" possibly caused by the great lakes.

So here is today's post.

The first train I saw at Chesterton today was nothing special, however the sky was pretty spectacular.



A bit different a little over an hour later when the 29 went through.



Could almost be a different place!!

Another PS, 8701 and 8646 went passed twice today, first heading west with a consist of empty well cars and then back east again light engine.
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Message 1715698 - Posted: 20 Aug 2015, 2:57:25 UTC - in response to Message 1715165.  

Hey Bernie, you weren't by any chance watching MH late Monday morning (Chicago time), were you? Mark himself went out and got some shots of the Cardinal going around the wye... with the Iowa Pacific consist of the Hoosier State attached to the back end.

The Hoosier State runs four time a week. For a single train set to cover that, it has to deadhead north on Mondays and south on Tuesdays. The contract with CSX does not allow for it to run separately, so it has to be attached to the Cardinal. The first week, it missed the connection and the southbound train was buses instead.

You'll want to watch for that next week.

What you mean with 4135 on point




And 4137 on the other end



Plus the 3 cars?




Yep, that be them.


I had wondered why it was being towed behind the Cardinal, seems a very cumbersome way to get a train from A to B when it can do it on its own.

Still I suppose it doesn't cost any more. I noted that all three locos were running as it passed the camera.

So where does the Iowa get stabled when not in use?

I have not seen it on the wye before so I assume as it is double ended it doesn't turn.

The IPH train runs north on Sunday morning, sits in the Amtrak yard (or just in the station) for a few hours, then goes south Sunday evening. The Cardinal runs north on Monday, and the IPH train has to deadhead with it so it can run south again Monday night. Then it runs north Tuesday morning and deadheads south on the Cardinal Tuesday night. When it arrives in Indy (any day) a crew from a local IPH short line takes over and moves it to their yard for servicing. Then they bring it back to the Indy station for the Amtrak crew to run or attach to the Cardinal. It runs north and south on Wednesday and Friday.


PS Almost forgot. A pair of "old friends" snuck passed the MH Tower cam yesterday






Yep CNW 8701 and 8646, light engine. I have seen them several times in the past few weeks. and always together. Using the Heritage Units web site I can usually tell when they are due! I assume that they will be kept in the CNW paint until they are "retired".

Be nice if a heritage group could save them and actually restore them, though I suspect that would be a bit of a big job.

Ah yes, I heard they were in Canal St. Yard today. I wouldn't be surprised if IRM gets at least one of them when the time comes. It is a bit surprising how long they've stayed in service.

Speaking of IRM, it has been revealed this week that we will be getting something from rather out of our geographic area (hardly the only such item in our collection). It's an electric locomotive originally built for the Virginian Railway, which merged with the Norfolk and Western. I believe they sold it to the New Haven, which became Penn Central and then Conrail. It's been just sitting for many years (CR quit using electrics in about 1980) and now it's on its way to the museum in Altoona, PA, where it will get a cosmetic restoration before it comes to us. There is talk that we may try to make it operate, which would surprise me somewhat.
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Message 1716078 - Posted: 20 Aug 2015, 19:44:55 UTC
Last modified: 20 Aug 2015, 19:53:46 UTC

Just a quick one today

More F40PH but of the cabbage variety!

This long train came down the wye today, with a mixture of odd cars and in the middle was



90219 along wtih P42 #33 all of that was actually attached to the Cardinal, so all became clear, it was a move from Beech Grove, Amtrak's maintenance facility.

Also this PV came in on the 49 from NY



Yes famous Cripple Creek Sheriff Railcar, so famous in fact that everyone seems to have heard of it yet no one seems to know it's history.

All the other private varnish I have seen I have been able to find some history, not this one.

Perhaps David can fill in the blanks!!
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