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General Topics => General Discussion => Topic started by: Stephen Hussar on September 18, 2017, 11:46:54 AM

Title: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: Stephen Hussar on September 18, 2017, 11:46:54 AM
This past Friday evening I caught our own Joe Fox running PanAm's "POED" (Portland to East Deerfield) run, as he passed through Andover, MA.
At 7,800 feet long, Joe was already at Lowell Junction when the end of his train passed by me! Powered by 2 4,000 HP former CSX GE C40-8's.
(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4439/37321986195_905a3eb18a_b.jpg)
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: Carl G. Soderstrom on September 18, 2017, 05:20:24 PM
Go Joe

Thanks Stephen
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: Bob Holmes on September 18, 2017, 10:59:50 PM
WOW, love it.  Great to see Joe in his regular work environment.  Thanks Stephen.
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: Ira Schreiber on September 18, 2017, 11:11:04 PM
Look ma, no hands.....
I hope his fireman is watching the track ahead.   lol
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: Joe Fox on September 19, 2017, 12:19:44 AM
Lol. You guys are too funny. For those who don't know, heres a brief story on how I got where I am today......

In April of 2005, I had to do a community service project for school, and decided what better place than the WW&F, which my family and I had ridden at least 4 times prior. So in doing so I met Dana, James, Jason, Zack, Dwight, and many others. Of course we already knew Fred from past visits as he was our conductor or brakeman many times. After a long 10 hour day of track work, we continued to come back every few weeks through out the years.

After High School in 2008, I took another step towards my dream and got a job at Conway Scenic with the help of experience I already had from the WW&F, only to find out later that the OM and our current CMO knew each other was a big help I am sure. I did track work, conductor, fireman and engineer up there until the fall of 2012. During the summer my path would soon take one more serious leap towards my career of choice.

By September 2012, after passing pre hire tesring, I began my career with Pan Am. Leaving many friemds behind was hard, but this was what I wanted to do. Starting off as a conductor trainee, then moving up to brakeman and conductor. Seeing many neat places and learning a lot of new stuff. In 2014, I was then promoted to Engineer, and after completing the required tests, have now traversed about 80% of the system.

All of this was done with the help of the guys at the museum, and Conway Scenic. I am still very much a part of the museum, as time and work permits, and none the less have not forgotten where my story began. ;)
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: Ira Schreiber on September 19, 2017, 01:18:51 AM
Great story, Joe.
Thanks
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: Steve Smith on September 19, 2017, 01:20:51 AM
Stephen and Joe. What a great post! Thank you so much.
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: Bill Baskerville on September 19, 2017, 12:26:36 PM
Joe,

Goes to show you that some dreams come true.

It iooks like your WW&F experience helped you at Conway and subsequently at Pan Am and I know all your experiences have helped the WW&F.

Bill
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: Joe Fox on September 19, 2017, 12:50:59 PM
That they have. Thank you to the good track guys I had a chance to work with at Conway, that knowledge has now carried over. Its nice to share experiences with others as well as knowledge. Every day we learn something new, and I am pleased to be able to continue to use most of the things I learned years ago on a weekly basis in some form or another.
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: Gordon Cook on September 19, 2017, 04:03:16 PM
You go, Joe!

7800 feet is an awful lot of train. I can't imagine being at Alna Center and having the last car in my train at Sheepscot.  Must be interesting and a challenge, especially on Pan Am's track.

I trust you manage to stay a little cleaner than in 9's cab. :)
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: Stephen Hussar on September 19, 2017, 06:24:30 PM
Here's Joe making the return trip on Saturday afternoon with more power and an even longer train (110 cars). Photo taken at Shawsheen St., Andover, MA. The internet says this C40-8 was built in July of 1990...99 years newer than WW&F No 9, which Joe was running the very next day. I love that.

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4403/37188047871_cf5e461c47_b.jpg)
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: James Patten on September 19, 2017, 08:33:56 PM
Don't forget this is also his night job (sometimes).  Those ex-CSX engines are probably better/more reliable power than he's used to.
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: Stephen Hussar on September 19, 2017, 09:42:43 PM
Those ex-CSX engines are probably better/more reliable power than he's used to.
I think Jason might take exception to that statement ;-)
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: Bob Holmes on September 19, 2017, 10:25:00 PM
Joe, you're living a dream I've had for as long as I can remember.  Enjoy and please share your experiences and stories with us from time to time.
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: Bill Sample on September 19, 2017, 11:00:51 PM
I really enjoyed reading this thread - Joe you will have to write a book on your experiences someday.   
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: Joe Fox on September 20, 2017, 02:13:19 AM
I have some interesting stories in the few years I have been a railroader, but I am not sure any are really book worthy. One day I got a train over the road with a blown high pressure gasket, just barely though. Or the time when we had to use steam to save the day. There are a few more stories I might be able to think of, but those two are the most interesting in my opinion.
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: John McNamara on September 20, 2017, 02:32:32 AM
Or the time when we had to use steam to save the day.
Inquiring minds want to know.....
-John M
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: Bill Baskerville on September 20, 2017, 11:21:30 AM
Dito what John said.......
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: Joe Fox on September 20, 2017, 11:41:27 AM
One of my first days as apprentice fireman, the "sisters" (two f units) had air compressor problems which took the normal valley train engine off the valley to go assist the notch train. While sitting in front of the station with steam, two other engines were attempted to be started but with dead batteries they would need to be charged for at least an hour.

Then it was decided to run steam on the valley train to Bartlett ahead of the notch train which was still disabled at Mountain Junction. It was an interesting run to Bartlett and there were more people out taking pictures than on the advertised steam run to Bartlett for Railfan weekends.

If we didnt have steam ready to go, there wouldn't have been a trip to Bartlett. It was a great first day for me on steam, and added to my first year of experiences on the full size stuff.
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: John Stone on September 20, 2017, 11:15:06 PM
I'm glad to see those 7500's went on to a new home with a good hand behind the throttle! I've always liked the standard cab as opposed to the wide body format. The fellow who was my conductor for many years in assigned service said that the 7500's had excellent "sleeping cabs"! Do they still have the horn valve you can quill, or did they get the solenoid?
 
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: Joe Fox on October 08, 2017, 08:42:03 PM
Another favorite memory of mine reverts back to "job briefing" and why they are so important.

One day when running a tourist train in NH, we were on our return trip about 3 miles from the station when I heard a sudden loud air hissing noise coming from the engine room.  After telling the conductor we would be stopping so I could check ot out, we slowed and came to a stop at the bottom of the last big hill before the station. I opened the doors and realized we had blown a gasket on the compressor and time was critical as we were losing air pressure. The conductor and trainman walked up to the engine, just in time for me to get back in the seat and tell them we had to go. So the conductor told me ok to continue back to the station. Thinking they got off between the first and second car, I throttled up rather quickly. I glanced back and saw them still walking by the train and thought, oh this isnt good and applied the brakes and began throttling down. (We had already increased to 8mph) The trainman jumped on, and the conductor was running trying to catch the last step. He made it, but his radio fell off his hip. After we stoped again and he got his radio, we continued back to the station with the bad air leak. By now the engine resevoir had dropped to 110 pounds. We got the train up the hill, across the 3 whistle crossings in good time, but the challenge was yet to come. Going over the final crossing before the station the bell quit working. As you enter the station theres a slight down hill grade at the beginning of the yard. Air pressure had now dropped low enough that the train brakes had began to apply. By the time we stopped at the station the brakes were dragging so bad that I had the engine in Notch 5. The brake pipe had been reduced from 90psi down to 77psi. Not only did we arrive 1 minute late, but none of the passengers really knew what was going on. (Before someone fires off that running with the train line lower than intended pressure is risky, let me explain how it works. On a short train, even the slightest air leak will apply the cars. The only thing to be aware of is that once the brake pipe pressure drops below 50psi the brakes may begin to lose effectiveness. Below 45psi and an emergency brake application can no longer be made reliably.)

After doing a power swap, we left on the next trip about 14 minutes late. Knowing how to make up time on rough track will come in the near future.
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: Paul Uhland on October 09, 2017, 03:00:27 AM
Nice  to know how a pro uses his experience, intelligence, and with a little luck, smoothly makes a possible disaster into a "no problemo" outcome.  ;)
Way to go, Joe..   
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: Joe Fox on October 09, 2017, 09:44:39 PM
That was one thing I valued the most from my training at Conway. Was learning the experiences of the guys who trained me, rather it was running machines, track work, or being on the train. Many of my mentors have passed on, but I think of them often and value the knowledge they shared.
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: Joe Fox on November 11, 2017, 09:34:31 PM
Knowing how to make up time on a scheduled run was one I learned from my ex Maine Central and BM engineers at Conway. The Maine Central engineer taught me how to run to Conway, which had no schedule in between the two stations, so he taught me on schedule and no speedometer such as steam or the f-unit 4266, you go by the point at this time, this point at this time, etc. And if you need to make up a little time, you can do so in the smoother points, and easier done while traveling uphill. In my previous story, we left for the 1:30 Conway trip at 1:49, 19 minutes off schedule. So doing the best I could do and not make people feel uncomfortable we arrived at Conway at 2:08, a mere 13 minutes off schedule. With a quick run around, and set and release on the last car we were off at 2:15, now just 12 minutes off schedule. Again doing the best possible we arrived back at North Conway at 2:36. The trip back always seemed quicker which made making up time a bit more difficult.

On the 2:30 Bartlett run we departed at 2:45, and with track being a bit smoother to Bartlett I was able to get right after it. We arrived at Bartlett at 3:15, only delaying the notch train by 6 minutes. Not bad at all.
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: Joe Fox on November 11, 2017, 11:12:10 PM
Another huge aspect of being an engineer is knowing what is needed to keep an almost tonnage train moving in less than ideal conditions. Sometimes theres nothing you can do, but it still sucks to call up and tell the dispatcher you have stalled.

1: sometimes less power means more power.
2: in cases of extreme wheel slip, even sand won't help so you need to use a little engine brake to help provide a little resistance to the wheels.  The only time this doesn't work is if you have engines dead in tow or not providing power, as it makes more pull on the engines.
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: Steve Smith on November 12, 2017, 02:51:25 AM
Joe, your comments re wheel slip reminded me of a visit a fellow railfan and I paid to the east end of the Hoosac Tunnel--around 1996 or 97 I think....not sure. Just a few feet inside the tunnel there was a humongous gouge ground out of one rail. We had no straight edge or rule to measure the depth, but our conservative estimate was 1/2 inch. No train came so we didn't hear what it sounded like when wheels encountered it, but I suppose the bangs were pretty loud. We wondered how long it would take a slipping wheel to grind a gouge that deep. There was a Pan Am section gauge working just east of the tunnel, and we asked if they knew when new rail had been laid there the last time. They didn't know, but thought it had been some years back.

I've written Pan Am, but it may have been long enough ago that the name was still Guilford.
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: Joe Fox on November 12, 2017, 04:01:01 AM
Believe it or not it doesn't take long to leave even a slight indintation. A train in notch 8, and a sudden stop can cause wheels to let go and spin uncontrollably. Which at night can make for one very interesting display of sparks.
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: Steve Smith on November 13, 2017, 01:19:25 AM
Joe, you wrote:
Quote
A train in notch 8, and a sudden stop can cause wheels to let go and spin uncontrollably.

Does that mean PanAm's diesels don't have automatic wheel slip control?

As all can see, I'm very ignorant about...well, a lot of things, but diesels in particular. I hope John McNamara will forgive me. ::)
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: Bill Piche on November 13, 2017, 02:30:50 AM
Believe it or not it doesn't take long to leave even a slight indintation. A train in notch 8, and a sudden stop can cause wheels to let go and spin uncontrollably. Which at night can make for one very interesting display of sparks.

Reminds me of the time right after they put the concrete floor in the roundhouse at Conway Scenic. The rails in the new floor were higher than the ones that were in the old brick\dirt floor and the table hadn't been shimmed on that end yet.

You had to have a good rolling start going into the house to get over the bump. I found that out the hard way my first day firing with the new engine house floor when I was putting the engine away for the night by myself. After the tender went up fine, the first set of drivers hung up and were effectively chocked by the lip. Rather than roll forward and back again I first tried a little extra power and ended up leaving 6 shiny spots on the table rails. They're probably gone now but they were a reminder of my shame for the rest of that season.
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: Joe Fox on November 13, 2017, 10:45:44 AM
Lol. It happens to everyone Bill.

And Steve, they do have slip control, but if it takes off at a steady rate the slip control just thinks the engine is going very quickly and will not drop the amperage. Then theres times when you have a small wheel and larger wheel because one axle got turned and the other did not, that you get constant wheel slip.
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: Keith Taylor on November 14, 2017, 12:12:45 AM
In Conrails NJ Division Superintendent’s office was a piece or rail on display. The engineer on the third trick humper at Allentown had fallen asleep while humping a train. The retarder operator grabbed the train with the retarders and stopped the train’s movement forward. By the time the crew had walked to the engine close to a mile from the top of the hump....the engine had burned through the rails in eight spots. When I say burned through the rails...not only the head of the rail...but halfway through the web of the rail!
It took a crane to pull the locomotive out of the holes it had dug. It didn’t do the heat treating of the wheels a bit of good either!
Keith

Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: Wayne Laepple on November 14, 2017, 12:32:48 AM
On a railroad I worked on, the line ran along a river for most of its length, and it was under and near trees. Especially on cool fall mornings, the combination of condensation and wet leaves on the rail set up any unsuspecting engineer for trouble. You'd be rolling along in the third or fourth notch and suddenly notice the speedometer was showing 35 mph and you were slowing down. All eight wheels of the engine would be slipping on the leaves without tripping the wheel slip relay, and you often had to come to a complete stop before you could gain control of the spinning. Sometime, even with sand, it was very hard to get moving again. on more than one occasion, I had to have the conductor stand on the front step and hold a switch broom on the rail to sweep the leaves away and give us half a chance of making forward progress!
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: Joe Fox on March 12, 2018, 06:02:30 PM
Heres a few video clips of a loaded slurry train I was on. 56 cars, 7300 tons.

https://youtu.be/ptfXeKwusFU

https://youtu.be/O9frtvFFVIs
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: Bob Holmes on March 12, 2018, 10:50:48 PM
Joe, why is limestone slurry valuable (or not)?
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: Mike Fox on March 13, 2018, 12:20:12 AM
Used in papermaking Bob. They haul the unit train to South Portland, then the cars are sent out to the mills throughout Maine on seperate trains
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: Wayne Laepple on March 13, 2018, 01:00:35 AM
I believe the limestone slurry is used in manufacturing coated papers, such as those used in high-end magazines and books. Publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian and even Trains used coated paper, which holds inks better than plain pulp paper.
Title: Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
Post by: Joe Fox on March 13, 2018, 01:36:06 AM
That is correct. Some of these cars will go to Rumford to be rolled into giant gloss print for things such as Ocean State Job Lot ads, and many other things. At one point the mill in Rumford had the National Geographic contract, but that has since been contracted out to China.