Tracks and Trails (the video)

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GrizzlyGuy
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Postby GrizzlyGuy » Wed Jan 23, 2008 7:35 pm

trainman wrote:Wow GG. That is amazing. You are LIVING proof (thankfully) to the saying "be careful, the light at the end of the tunnel might just be the train coming at you."
I suppose so, I just wish that I had known back then about that whirling spot light thingy they put up on the engines. I imagine it is there to warn idiots like us that A TRAIN IS COMING. Crimeney, I didn't know, and had I known... I could have saved Brian and I a whole lot of nightmares. Flashlight, I thought. Duhhhhhh..... :oops:

Just so you know I'm not anti-train and just anti-hike-into-trian-tunnel, one more train story.

Fast forward two years from the last story. Now we're juniors. Me, Brian, Paul (another train tunnel veteran who made it out) and Jeffy (fellow electro-geek, wasn't at the tunnel) are living in an off-campus apartment. We couldn't afford a good apartment, so we're in one that is right next to the tracks. Maybe 1/2 way between the SLO train station and campus.

We liked trains and used to hop onto the side of a boxcar now and then to speed up the walk down to campus. Trains moved real slow at this point, they weren't far from the station.

So one Friday night, Paul and Brian had gone home for the weekend. Jeffy and I are studying (GEEKS!). We all had our fake IDs at this point (another long story) and had heard from some older frat boys in a college bar that there is a real cool bar on the other side of Cuesta Grade at Santa Margarita. This is where they add/remove engines for the trip over the grade. By "real cool", the frat boys said it was a real working man's bar, mostly train folks, with a shuffleboard and they served Coors long necks.

I was a little home sick at the time. My home town is full of loggers. I figured loggers and train men would be pretty similar, so I say "Hey Jeffy, let's catch a freighter to Santa Margarita and check out that bar". Jeffy says he has to study, has 8 papers to write, 4 midterms, and {yadda, yadda, yadda}. So I ask Jeffy if he'd at least drive up there and pick me up later. He says he will, if he can drive my car. Hmmmm.... I'd never let him drive it before, but I said YES. I dumped the books out of my day pack, tossed in a light jacket and my 2m ham radio, and watched TV until I heard a train.

An hour or so goes by, and sure enough, I hear a freighter coming out of the station. Out to the tracks I go. It was a moonless night and I was hoping for a flat car so I could kick back and watch the stars. No such luck. A bunch of engines, a bunch of boxcars, and a whole mess of "hopper cars" (is that what they are called?). Each hopper car was piled full of beets. Yeah, beets. Just beets. Nothing but beets.

Oh well, I hop onto the second-to-last beet car and away we go. Wasn't as bad as I thought, the beets made for a nice 'configurable lounge chair'. I'm sitting pretty at beet-top. :-)

I call into my fellow radio geeks on our campus repeater, tell them what I'm up to, ask if they want a play-by-play. They say sure. Radio geeks were all at the library studying, so any bit of excitement is good stuff for them.

The train starts accelerating as it goes through campus. Under the overpasses, out through the ag unit, and now we're coming up on California Men's Colony (prison). I broadcast what the prison looks like: bright lights, razor wire, 1 armed guard strolling in the courtyard. The radio geeks are eating it up, none of us had actually seen that prison before.

Now we're going up Cuesta Grade. I know there is a tunnel up there somewhere. Pretty soon the whirling light on the front engine lights up the tunnel entrance. I call out the play-by-play. I am calm. Happy. It's one thing to be walking through a tunnel when a train is coming, another thing entirely to be ON a train heading for the tunnel. Or so I think.

Then I hear this strange sound. Sounds like softball batting practice for our team. Squishy things being smacked by something hard.

I look forward, and see.... beets in the cars ahead of me being knocked off the cars by the top of the tunnel entrance. CRAP! NOT AGAIN!

I make like a gopher, and I'm digging down into the beets as fast as I can. I must have pitched off enough beets to serve beet salad to a whole town. Dig, dig, dig. If forgot all about my pack and the radio. Just dig, dig, dig.

The train was going slow enough that I managed to dig down to a level where I felt safe. Into the tunnel we go, a few beets above me get whacked. I am basically relaxed. There are Coors long necks at the end of this rainbow. I chuckle.

Then I start finding it hard to breathe. I'm coughing, gagging. Once again the idiot, I forgot that there were several diesel engines up ahead. And I'm just a few feet from the top of the tunnel. Dohhhhh!! I keep digging. This time looking for air pockets. I find a few, but not really enough.

By the time we come out of the tunnel, I'm in a daze. Weird high going on. Must be the fumes.

My next recollection is the train slowing down. Huh? What happened to the rest of the grade? I have no idea. But the train is slowing down. I climb out of the beets, see some lights, figure we must be rolling into Santa Margarita. My pack is still sitting half-buried in the beets. Happiness.

There were enough lights coming from the town that I could see we were going through a flat, grassy field. The frat boys said that sometimes the trains just slow down here, but then continue on to Oakland without stopping. So I figured I better jump. I do. Mostly just for dramatic effect, I do one of those tuck-and-rolls like you see in the movies. :-)

All good. I dust myself off, head to the bar, start downing the Coors long necks. I have probably the best single bar night of my life. The train guys are cool. Just like loggers. We play shuffleboard, buy each other Coors, grand ole time. The bartender yells 'last call!", I say goodbye to my new Train friends, call Jeffy on the pay phone, and he's there in something like 25 minutes. Bahstud, he probably had my car up to 90 to get there that fast.

Oh well. What a night. I LOVE TRAINS! :lol:
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Postby trainman » Thu Jan 24, 2008 6:59 am

GG,
Great train story. People raised around trains always have cool stories like this. In Utah, we used to throw rocks at the caboose windows on a slow coal drag going by the house, then run like crazy.
My train story is that I was born and raised in a town named after a Train.
Helper.
This is the extra engine/s they put on the end of a train to help push it up over a mountain. From Helper to Soldier Summit the elevation goes from 5200 ft to 7200 ft in about 20 miles. Thus the Helpers.
Also, I can buy The Station Agent on ebay pretty cheap. What do you think?

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Postby teejay » Thu Jan 24, 2008 8:03 am

Jeez after reading GG's stories, my feeble attempts at using a door and a skateboard as a means of getting down a steep paved road seem like childs play.

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Postby GrizzlyGuy » Thu Jan 24, 2008 1:10 pm

trainman wrote: My train story is that I was born and raised in a town named after a Train.
Helper.
This is the extra engine/s they put on the end of a train to help push it up over a mountain. From Helper to Soldier Summit the elevation goes from 5200 ft to 7200 ft in about 20 miles. Thus the Helpers.
Also, I can buy The Station Agent on ebay pretty cheap. What do you think?
Well that sure does explain you being the Trainman! I didn't grow up around trains like you did, and I think that's why I was interested in them during college. I never did (still don't) understand why sometimes the extra engines would be in the front, other times in the back, sometimes even in the middle, etc. Seems like it would be best to put them on the back as pushers like you say, as that would at least save the train occupants (livestock?) from some of the exhaust fumes in tunnels. But maybe it all comes down to convenience in slapping them on the train. :?:

I'm thinking you're going to like that movie. If you buy it and don't like it, I'll buy it off you, as I think it would be fun to watch again.

Sorry teejay, coming down a steep paved road on a door and skateboards sounds way too dangerous to me! :lol:

I wasn't there, but my cousin and his friend tried something like that once, but they used an old couch instead of a door. They fished it out of the dump above town. Fortunately the road was curvy, so they'd just "crash" the couch at each turn before they got up too big of a head of steam. He said the couch cushions were practically like having air bags. :)
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Postby trainman » Thu Jan 24, 2008 7:32 pm

I don't know why they put the helpers in the middle or the end. It may have something to do with the length of the train. The longer, the more likely to put one on the middle. I am going to be involved with an attempt at world record for the longest model train. It will be so long, that there will have to be several helper engines located throughout the train. It should be interesting.
Ill buy the movie, and see what happens. If it's about trains, I probably will like it.

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Postby trainman » Fri Jan 25, 2008 5:52 pm

GG,
I bought the movie today. 8 bucks, used at a FYE store. Do you have these stores in CA? Big CD and video store.
I'll look at it sometime this weekend.
I'll let you know.






i

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Postby GrizzlyGuy » Fri Jan 25, 2008 6:42 pm

Cool! I hope you like it, Trainman. If not I'll buy it off you since I don't think we have FYE stores out here anyway. :wink:
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Postby Vulcan » Fri Jan 25, 2008 7:04 pm

trainman wrote:I don't know why they put the helpers in the middle or the end. It may have something to do with the length of the train. The longer, the more likely to put one on the middle. I am going to be involved with an attempt at world record for the longest model train. It will be so long, that there will have to be several helper engines located throughout the train. It should be interesting.
Ill buy the movie, and see what happens. If it's about trains, I probably will like it.
Hey Trainman what scale HO ?
I had a large train set here for a few years. The building was 24 ft by 48 ft that I used for the train setup. I still have a few things left :) not to much and some cool books. I sold most of it on e-bay. I sure wish you luck and hope you get the record :thumbsup:

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Postby hemingray » Fri Jan 25, 2008 8:54 pm

Well, GG, I just caught up with your great train stories. I guess we won't try hiking the "big hole" (Tunnel 41) under Mt. Judah real soon? It's only 2 miles! I've been through the old line (Track 1) in a pickup just after they picked up the rails (but the ties and plates were still in place). It was weird with the signals still in place. I'd like to take an ATV ride thru it sometime tho.

As for riding, the only freight I've been on was from Portola to Winnemucca on an empty trailer flat. It was a blast - better than an Amtrak observation car. We knew the engineer on the train (who did not endorse our little trip), but he picked us up in his car, took us to town so we could get a bite to eat, and dropped us at the station. We rode the 3rd unit back to Portola - a nice treat.
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Postby GrizzlyGuy » Fri Jan 25, 2008 9:22 pm

hemingray wrote:I'd like to take an ATV ride thru it sometime tho.
I'll go with you Dave, as long as you let me cry on your shoulder as needed. :lol:

You lucky dawg, you did your freighter ride in style. Even had a chauffeur. :roll:

Hey Trainman, when you guys do your world-record model train attempt, one piece of advice: keep your fingers out of the tunnel when the train is running! :lol:
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Postby trainman » Sat Jan 26, 2008 4:58 am

Vulcan, I play in G scale. This is also called largescale or a Garden Railroad. I have about a half acre of woods behind my house, with over 500 ft of stainless steel track. Here is a picture I took yesterday after our big(?) snowstorm. I can hear GG laughing all the way back here.

Image

GG, The longest train record will be the last week in April, in Scottsdale AZ.
I have a busy weekend, but will try and view the video and let you know what I think.

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Postby hemingray » Sat Jan 26, 2008 6:35 am

That's awesome - anyone who can run a plow on their backyard railroad has reached The Ivory Tower! Is that brick to scale? ;-)

Ever think of doing a rotary plow? 8)

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Postby trainman » Sat Jan 26, 2008 7:14 am

There are people who have built rotary plows. I will see if I can find a video. I can push up to maybe 4-5 inches, and it is really fun. The brick is 1:1. It helps keep the plow down.

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Postby Ken » Sat Jan 26, 2008 9:10 am

LOL..that's cool. I thought it was fake snow, till I read the post. trainobsession.com our sister site. :)
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Postby KaTz » Sat Feb 02, 2008 6:53 pm

GG since this with trains came up I remember back yrs ago this guy close to home had a train in his yard I ran upon it once again

well to make a long story short i was out and about today and i found the place once again

i also found him on-line and thought you might like to read about him

let's hope this link takes you there he is in Farmington Utah



http://www.sssrr.ssshortlineleasing.com/rail-yard.htm


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