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Messages - Wayne Laepple

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Work and Events / Re: Coupler Capers in Mt. Union
« on: November 22, 2017, 12:01:28 AM »
To those members asking why I/we have not gotten more parts from the EBT:

It's not just all that simple. It took almost two years of asking every couple of months to get Mr. Kovalchick to turn loose the couplers. To be completely honest, I do not have a clue why he suddenly agreed to do business with us. He does not "give" anything away. Everything is a game with him, and he holds all the cards. Perhaps at some later date, I will again approach him and inquire about grab irons and other hardware, but until I/we get the 10 couplers safely moved to Sheepscot, I am lying low.


Work and Events / Re: Coupler Capers in Mt. Union
« on: November 20, 2017, 01:01:08 AM »
I have only one thing to say about Moxie AND Cheerwine: BLEAH!

Work and Events / Re: Coupler Capers in Mt. Union
« on: November 18, 2017, 10:54:08 PM »
Well, yes. There is that. Perhaps I should forestall any such hue and cry by writing a pre-emptive post.

Work and Events / Re: Coupler Capers in Mt. Union
« on: November 18, 2017, 04:19:37 AM »
Here are a couple of photos. Some of ther others may post additional views later.

First one shows the first coupler we freed. We decided to leave the remainder under the cars until they can be removed, in order to make the small parts less attractive to thieves.

Second one shows Nick Hovey torching off one of eight bolts to free up the coupler.

Work and Events / Re: Coupler Capers in Mt. Union
« on: November 17, 2017, 09:52:38 PM »
Yes, indeed. All it took was a can of Moxie! Seriously, we assembled at the Mount Union yard at about 9 a.m., and we got right to work. Rick Rowlands and his pal Nick Hovey did the bulk of the torch work, and Nick took great pleasure in whacking the couplers with the 20-pound sledge to drop them down free of the car. Phil Marshall was indispensable as fire watchman, and with his loppers and tree saw cleared the way. John Kokas was everywhere, carrying various tools from place to place, helping to untangle torch hoses and moving the torch cart and keeping us on our toes. I scouted the area and located the cars from which we extracted the couplers. We freed all 10 couplers before 1 p.m.

The next phase will take place in the next week or two, I hope. The EBT men will use their backhoe to move the couplers to a central location, and they will be loaded onto a rented truck. I hope then to pick up the castings for the Jackson & Sharp passenger cars trucks from a nearby foundry, and everything will come to Maine sometime in December. Anyone want to volunteer to be a co-driver?

Photos coming soon, I hope.

General Discussion / Re: Amtrak to Wiscasset (and Rockland) in 2018?
« on: November 17, 2017, 12:12:27 AM »
I just dug out my December 1953 edition of The Official Guide, and here's what I found. Two daily round trips Boston to Rockland. No. 55 left Boston at 2:25 a.m, Portland at 7:05 a.m., Brunswick at 8:00 a.m., arrived Rockland 10:25 a.m. Train 57 left Boston at 4:40 p.m., Portland at 7:20 p.m., Brunswick at 7:58 p.m. and arrived Rockland at 9:30 p.m.

From Rockland, No. 52 left Rockland at 7:50 a.m., Brunswick at 9:48 a.m., Portland at 10:35 a.m., arriving Boston 1:15 p.m. No. 56 Left Rockland at 4:20 p.m, Brunswick 6:33 p.m., Portland 7:10 p.m. and arrived Boston 10:10 p.m.

In addition to these two trains, there was also a Portland-Rockland round trip leaving Portland at 8:48 a.m., Brunswick at 9:31 a.m. arriving Rockland 11:25 a.m. The return to Portland left Rockland at 5:20 p.m., Brunswick 7:13 p.m. and arrived Portland 7:55 p.m.

In addition, the Guide shows three daily round trip buses between Rockland and Portland. There were also connecting trains to New York from Portland, but no direct through trains. At that time, there were still daily trains from Portland to Bangor, Farmington, Calais, Vanceboro, and even Montreal via St. Johnsbury.

Here's the bottom line, Joe. If you really want to concentrate on trackwork, you have to assemble a crew of four or five guys who are willing to show up early and do trackwork to the exclusion of anything else that comes up at Sheepscot. You have to have a dedicated schedule that is inviolable except for heavy rain or some major crisis, and you have to stick to it no matter how much hassle you get from others. You have to be willing to start early so you can get some good track time without any interruptions, and you have to stay late so you can wrap things up after the last train has run.

General Discussion / Re: Amtrak to Wiscasset (and Rockland) in 2018?
« on: November 14, 2017, 10:56:53 PM »
One report I read mentioned a single daily round trip from Boston to Rockland. Currently, the earliest Saturday/Sunday departure from North Station, Boston is at 9:25 a.m., arriving Brunswick at 12:45 p.m. It will take another two hours, at least, to run to Rockland. Two hours to get back to Brunswick to make the current 6:25 p.m. departure to Boston, arriving at 9:50 p.m. That would allow at most a 90-minute layover in Rockland. I'm not sure many tourists would want to take that ride unless they were planning an overnight stay in Rockland. On the other hand, that schedule might allow about 3-1/2 hours in Wiscasset (and Sheepscot).

General Discussion / Re: Joe Fox at his day job...
« on: November 14, 2017, 01:32:48 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!

A couple of thoughts on track maintenance, if you please. The first train of the day is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. So if a track gang can get out to a designated work site between Sheepscot and Alna Center by 8 a.m., they have two hours plus to work before they have to clear up for the train. If a crew is doing spot tie work, it is not necessary to spike up individual ties before the train passes. For example, in order to clear up for the train, any track-mounted equipment would either return to the North Yard lead or take the siding at Alna Center in the clear 10 minutes before train time while a few people stay behind to spike.

After the northbound passes, work can continue, or other tasks can be done until the southbound run passes, depending on the location of the work. This sort of routine requires advance planning and setting up work limits so the train crew knows what to expect and it is incumbent on the foreman of the track gang to be constantly aware of the time so the train is not delayed. This is how it's done every day on working railroads all over the country.

If it were me, I would concentrate working from the center of each area between sidings toward the sidings, i.e., Sheepscot Mills and Rosewood, so that as work proceeds, the distance to the siding, whether it's Sheepscot, Alna Center or Top of the Mountain, is progressively shorter. After the last train of the day has run, take the tamper out and tamp each new tie inserted. The rule of thumb used on most railroads when hand tie changing takes place is one tie per hour per man, i.e. a four man crew should be able to change out four ties per hour. With mechanical assistance, better production should be achievable.

It may take some experimentation to get all the pieces to work well together, but it can work. As stated above, planning and coordination are what makes it all work.

I appreciate John Kokas' suggestion of a couple of three-day mid-week work sessions to concentrate exclusively on track work, specifically tie renewal and surfacing. With some advance scheduling, I'd make an effort to get to Maine for at least one such session.

General Discussion / Re: Amtrak to Wiscasset (and Rockland) in 2018?
« on: November 13, 2017, 11:06:51 PM »
To my way of thinking, it would make a lot more sense to extend the Brunswick trains to the state capital of Augusta rather than to Rockland. There are certainly more people in Augusta who could use the service, and some of them are influential in state politics. Making the 50-some-mile run to Wiscasset in under two hours would be a real stretch, while Augusta is 33 miles.

Whimsical Weirdness and Foolery / Re: OMG! You can get Moxie in PA......
« on: November 11, 2017, 11:09:28 PM »
BIll B. -- What? No Cheerwine?

Whimsical Weirdness and Foolery / Re: OMG! You can get Moxie in PA......
« on: November 11, 2017, 06:13:59 PM »
The Catawissa Bottling Co. is a step back in time. It's a very small operation owned by several members of the same family, and all their employees are related somehow. The equipment used for bottling is antique, to the point that they have to make their own parts. In addition to bottling Moxie, they also produce Big Ben's sodas, most notably birch beer in a variety of colors. Indeed, during the nation's bicentennial back in 1976, they sold cases of mixed red, white and blue birch beer. Big Ben, by the way, was the grandfather who started the business in 1926 and developed the formula for the birch beer. They've been at it since Prohibition, so they know what they're doing, and unless things have changed recently, if you buy soda by the case, that case is wooden! I think they finally gave up on returnable bottles since most folks apparently couldn't be bothered to return them. The bottling is a sideline for them nowadays; most of their effort is in wholesaling and distributing soda and beer to taverns and other retail outlets.

The discussion of track construction vs. track maintenance has been going on for years. Let's just agree that building new track is way more fun than replacing ties, raising joints, tightening joint bars and cutting weeds and brush. Mechanization of that work will help but it goes only so far. So we need to figure out how to make those maintenance tasks more fun.

The side elevation and other plans for the Portland Co. WW&F hopper car were on this forum at one point, but I can't seem to find them now.

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