December 2004 Negative Reinforcement

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December 2004 Negative  Reinforcement Powered By Docstoc
					                                     December 2004
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                                  All contributions used with gratitude!!

From the Editor’s Desks

   •   December is the time of year that most of our members celebrate one holiday or another.
       Many of our members have contributed to this month’s edition of Ramblings. The editors wish
       to thank all of you for your efforts in making the newsletter a success, and wish you a healthy
       and happy new year. Keep those submissions coming!

   •   Here at NERR, we’re celebrating a number of new things for the new year: Brian’s NEAWOS
       (that’s the North Eastern Automated Work Order Search system for the uninitiated) has now
       been integrated into NETS, new work orders have been made available, Ramblings has a new
       column and the hiring freeze has been lifted. We’re sure you’ll welcome our new engineers
       with open arms (and for those of you who are new: Ramblings is our newsletter which is
       updated on a regular basis at A monthly email – this one – is
       sent to all members containing all of the month’s information so that you can be sure that you
       didn’t miss out).

   •   Wishing you a safe and happy 2005,
       John and Cedric

29 December

   •   Here is a story from another of our RW railroad men , grpabear (ID# 119, MJ Hess):

  John and Cedric have both asked for some stories from my Railroading days.
  'Though I'm like most Rails, I love to tell long tales, and I'm quite full of BS in my
  own right. I'm also a little uncomfortable re-telling stories in such a public forum. I
  know the carriers do not have too keen a sense of humor. But be that as it may,
  here's a story for you I like to call

                        Negative Reinforcement
  In the early 1980's, I owned a regular assignment on the eastern end of my
  seniority district that ran across southern Minnesota. It was a nice little night job
  that had an extra engine turn in the rotation versus the two ground crews who
  worked every day. So I worked two 12 hour days (one out and one back), then had
  24 hours off before coming back to work at 0130 on the fourth night.

  We were really no more than a glorified way-freight, handling tonnage to an
intermediate terminal and connecting with a southbound transfer run to Mason City,
Iowa. We setout most of our train, swapped power, switched the yard, & spotted
some industries before continuing eastward towards our away-from-home terminal,
doing as much way-freight work as possible with out dying. The next night we
reversed the process. The track speed was fair (30mph), the terrain challenging ( 5-
1% grades and 1-1.9% hill ), and power was adequate. We had all second-hand
equipment in the forms of ex-BN SD45's and Southern SD24's that had their
turbochargers and dynamic brakes removed and reclassified as SD18's. These units
worked quite well together - the SD45's performing best between 20-30mph and the
SD18's working best under 15mph, which covered all our needs. An added bonus
was that some of the SD45's still had operating dynamic brakes.

So one frosty January night, we are ordered about 0100 at our away-from-home
terminal. As we are discussing our train orders and the work to be done en route, at
the yard office, we see we have a chance for a quit (tie-up early before we go on
overtime), because we have a straight shot to our home terminal. An early quit is
quite rare for us but does sometimes happen if everything goes just right. We face
that possibility tonight, but for our train size. We are over tonnage for the 1.9% hill
which is rated at 2 horsepower per ton. Standard Operating Practice is to try the hill
and, if we stall, double to the first siding on top of the grade (we don't reduce
tonnage). We don't really want to screw around on the hill because we all want this
early quit. So we agree to let the power decide for us.

As we leave the river bottom, we encounter a small 1% grade, which is 3 miles long.
If power does really well on this hill, I may decide to tackle the hill to save time. If
not, we stop at Stockton, the last town near the base of the hill to cut and double to
the top. My call either way. I sure wish the SD45 wasn't in the lead but nestled back
against the train, where it wouldn't slip as much. Well, to make this part of my story
shorter, the SD45 slipped like crazy, and I had problems making 16 mph on the
smaller & shorter of the two hills. We have to double.

I drop the head man off at Main Street and pull the prearranged cut pass him. Now
SOP from this point is for the head Brakeman to make the cut and then find a safe
place to ride, preferably inside a cover hopper end well. This gets him out of the
wind (remember it's January and about 10 above) and gives him a nice stable place
to ride the 7 miles up the hill.

My head brakeman finds a nice hopper end to ride. So he signals me to take off, and
I pour the coals to her as fast as possible but not so fast as to knock him off the car.
Before too long I'm doing the speed limit in my run for the hill. I enter a long
sweeping right hand curve at the base of the hill and then out under a highway
overpass on the other end of the curve. As I come out the other side of the
overpass, I see an obstruction about an 1/2 of a mile dead ahead of me. It's a
1500+ lb bull that's grazing just on the right of way nearest to my side. Damn!
There goes our early quit!!

I can't stop without hitting him, and If I spike the air, I could knock my brakeman
off his perch or maybe tear something apart, and then we end up tripling the hill! So
I lay on the whistle and bell, even flash my headlights to get this damn bull to move
just a few feet from the tracks.

Well, he acts as if he doesn't have a care in the world, but he does seem to be
moving. Oh SH*T, he's crossing the tracks for the other side. This is going to be a
mess. The bull is definitely moving, but I'm getting closer, too. Will he clear? I'm
thinking out loud to myself: "Keep going, you sob, or you'll be on the menu at
McDonald's next week."

I stand up to see what's happening, but the nose of the engine is in the way. I can't
see. I feel more than hear a slight thump over the noise from all the engines, the
bell & the whistle. Did we hit him or just graze him?

Can't stop now, I'm starting to lose momentum. The lead SD45 is slipping, but the
SD18s are coming into their own. I got other things to occupy myself for the next 30
minutes. So I call the head brakeman to watch for any sign of the bull as we
continue up the hill. The brakeman sees nothing, but it's dark, and I'm sure he was
more concerned with hanging on and keeping warm than looking for any damn'

After stopping at the siding switch, the brakeman unlocks and cleans the switch so
we can put away this half of our train in the siding, and I inspect the head end
power. There are no signs of a collision with the bull, but the fireman's side of the
front snow plow, the knuckle & drawbar, the air hose & angle cock are all covered
with what appears to be fine hair that was sticking straight out in the moonlight. We
set out the cars and change ends to return to our train.

On the return trip down the hill the trainman and I are looking for a possible
wounded animal in the ditch. We found nothing! As the train charges up, I call CX
tower and report a possible livestock hit. Tower said that the Track Jockey would
look for the animal on his morning patrol, and we can fill out any paper work at our
home terminal. The rest of the trip is uneventful, and we did get our early tie-up.
There was no paper work to be filled out for the claim's agent when we tied up. But
we would most likely hear more about the incident should the owner claimed we
killed his prize bull.

On my next trip east, I had a new head brakeman who was covering off the extra
board. As we start down the 1.9% grade, I'm telling him about my last trip and our
hitting the bull just outside of Stockton. So he come over to my side as we slow and
start to search the ditch for any signs of the bull.

No bull, but wait! What's that grazing in the field? It's the damn bull! I had a hold of
the whistle for the next crossing and for some odd reason, I don't know why, I blew
two short toots. That damn' bull's head came up like a shot, and he took off running
full bore across the field for the gate to the stock pen. It was the funniest sight to
see that huge animal, who two nights ago had no desire to move very fast at all,
moving like it was running in the Kentucky Derby. Do you suppose that, after that,
the farmer wondered what was wrong with his bull every time a freight train came
thru town?

How's that for Reinforcement??? Well Pavlov had his dog, and I had my bull, and
McDonald's did without."

 •    Bison Rail System - an announcement from Dan, Director of the Central Division: "This is
     working towards becoming a true subsidiary within the NERR. Unlike the others,
     the BRS is still attached to NERR and part of the entire system.

     It is called Bison Rail System due to BRS having separate side business
     adventures such as Bison Rail Narrow Gauge (BRNG), Bison Rail Transit, and a
      few others surprises being added onto it.

      Bison Rail System will still improve upon the Bison Rail in the Midwest on
      Midwestern routes and continue those services. The Blue Mountain sub-division
      has been sold, and the Frisco - Fort Smith sub-division was added to continue
      towards a more mid-western feel.

      I encourage the CT Engineers to join the BRS - Paulo is taking in a limited number
      of new applicants to start with. What will be unique is that after all of the CT
      engineers who want to join are processed, it will open up to the rest of the
      engineers at the NERR to have the chance to join and run on a Narrow Gauge
      route as well as others.

      We are trying to bring you a complete package. You have the NERR being just
      that - the best VR out there. Also, you have 2 excellent payware VRs for the more
      serious engineers. You also have a couple of other VRs such as FBL and OVS to
      enjoy, and now you have a VR subsidiary inside the NERR itself.

      BRS will have some trains and work orders that will not be displayed at the NERR
      itself. We will still try to utilise most of NERR equipment to get the most out of
      them in revenue. Our main agenda is to Have Fun."

28 December

  •   Announcement from Paulo, CEO of the Bison Rail System: "The Bison Rail System
      is now accepting applications from engineers meeting the following requirements:

      1. Be a member of NERR/CT division;
      2. Be active on the callboard; and
      3. Have a minimum of 20 hours logged on the callboard.

      If you meet the above requirements do the following steps:

      1. Go to the forums at Bison Rail and register with the same handle you use in the
      NERR forum.
      2. Send an email to with your NERR Callboard handle
      and a password for BRS.

      The number of available positions is limited."

  •   Need some reading material? Read these books, and when your family ask you what you
      are reading about, you can say, "Oh it's just a murder mystery novel." That way, you will
      convince them that you don't spend all your time thinking about trains!

         o    The Necropolis Railway: A Novel of Murder, Mystery and Steam - Andrew Martin.

         o    Murder on the Railways - short stories by Agatha Christie, Roald Dahl, Maeve Binchy,
              et al.

         o    Railway Detective - Edward Marston. Description from "First in a
              new historical mystery series set in nineteenth century London. A robbery
              on the London-Birmingham mail train takes Inspector Robert Colbeck into
              the heart of the seedy dens of the "Devil’s Acre". In 1851 England, the
              London to Birmingham mail train is robbed and derailed, injuring the driver
              and others aboard. However, further investigation proves the seemingly
              simple robbery to have been impossible. Inspector Robert Colbeck knows
              this is a case that won’t be easily solved. He is faced with the question of
              how the robbers got into a safe with two keys that were secure at opposite
              sides of the country. To get to the bottom of the mystery, he enlists the
              aid of volatile former policeman Brendan Mulryne behind his
              Superintendent’s back to search out the criminals in the notorious Devil’s
              Acre, a cluster of gambling dens in the shadow of Westminster Abbey.
              However, it may turn out that Mulryne can create more trouble than he
              can cure. Things get even more complicated as the beautiful daughter of
              the injured train driver, Madeleine Andrews, comes to Colbeck to provide
              information, unwittingly drawing the attentions of the crooks. When prime
              suspects begin to disappear and he learns that there was more than just
              money on the train, Colbeck realizes that he is dealing with the most
              driven and powerful criminal he has faced in his career. As the very
              citizens he is trying to protect begin to be affected by this mastermind,
              Colbeck must join Mulryne in a race against time before all the evidence is
              efficiently blown away. The Railway Detective is an action-packed dip into
              murky 1850s London. Full of twists and with memorable characters, this is
              a mystery that will surprise you at every turn."

27 December

  •    Taz's second article is now available - click on the link above to the right. If you want to
      read his first article, there is a link to it at the top of the Taz's Tales page. The articles contain a
      number of photographs, and they take a minute or two to open.

  •   NEAWOS - another new facility added to it. Brian announced today that: "There is now
      an equipment search function within NEAWOS. It allows you to enter in any wag
      or eng files that you are lacking, and it will show you which file to download. This
      will replace the equipment files located in the work order zip files. There will still
      be a list of equipment, but it won't contain the web page links."

26 December

  •   We hope that you all had a happy Christmas - the postings in the NERR forums from a few
      people certainly show that was the case. Now you just have to successfully make it through the
      next test - New Year's Eve!

  •   There are a number of MSTS routes that are now installed using spanned zip files ,
      especially the newer ones from the file library at You can tell these by the fact that a
      number of the downloaded files have the .z?? extension, e.g. file03.zo3, fileo5.zo5. Some
      people have problems installing them successfully. The following three installation methods
      will end up with a good install of the route. Note that you will need WinZip 8.1 or newer -
      version 8.0 or earlier or the WindowsXP Wizard will not work properly with spanned files.

  o   Collect all the files into one temporary folder, so that the folder contents are
      <filename>.zip, <filename>.z01, <filename>.z02, ..., <filename>.z?? (last file).

  o   Extracting With WinZip: Use Version 8.1 or later. Select "<filename>.zip" and then unzip
    into your MSTS \Routes folder. The other files, "<filename>.z01" to "filename>.z??", will be
    extracted automatically; don't touch them.

o   Extracting With Winrar: Use Winrar 3.10 or later. Select "<filename>.zip" and then
    extract into your MSTS \Routes folder. The other files, "<filename>.z01" to "filename>.z??",
    will be extracted automatically; don't touch them.

o   Extracting With Route-Riter: Use Version 4.2.36 or later. Select the MyZipp option under
    the General Utils tab, tick the Fullpath option, then choose Open Archive in the files menu.
    Select "<filename>.zip". This will then list all the files in the grid. From the Extract menu,
    select Extract All, and choose your MSTS "\Routes" folder as the destination. The other files,
    "<filename>.z01" to "filename>.z??", will be extracted automatically; don't touch them.

•   Another route at today - "The Milwaukee Road , Rocky Mountain Division,
    Fourth Subdivision, and the Northern Pacific (MRL) line from Lothrop, MT to
    Paradise, MT, and the former NP Wallace Branch from Haugan, MT to Wallace, ID,
    are all included in this simulation ... The main route is the Milwaukee Road, about
    110 miles from Alberton to Avery. Secondary routes are the Northern Pacific (or
    Montana Rail Link) from Lothrop, MT (across river from Alberton) to Paradise, MT
    (junction with Evaro Hill line), and the Wallace Branch." The download is 8 files, each
    of about 22Mb.

•   The third set of information from our members about how they celebrate Christmas was
    about the gifts:

Best gift received in recent years:

    •   Annual pass to Disney World from my wife.

    •   Microsoft Train Simulator

    •   It's difficult to say. I like them all. Probably MSTS from my daughter.

    •   My sister-in-law bought me the entire Ring cycle (not LOTR - the movie,
        the set of four operas by Richard Wagner). She actually got it for her dad,
        but he already had it, so she gave it to us. A very nice and unexpected

    •   One of the coolest gifts was from my son and his friend; I received a Palm
        100 palm pilot, which I use to keep me current with birthdays and

    •   Best Gift I have received in the last five years has been a healthy life,
        family, and a peaceful life thanks to the efforts of many people in this
        Great Country I call Canada....

    •   I think the best gift I had was when my son and his wife came in from
        North Dakota and celebrated Christmas with us.

    •   As far as gifts is concerned we do not usually give each other gifts at
        Christmas. In Holland we have an institution called "Sint Nicolaas". His
        birthday falls on December 5 each year, and at that time everyone buys
        gifts. The Sint Nicolaas tradition is similar to Santa Claus but much older
        and is
        especially for children.

    •   6 grandchildren.
   •   Last year I received some train excursion videos - "The Rockies by Rail",
       "The Coast Starlight", "The American South by Rail", and "The Canadian
       Rockies", which is my favorite because they actually talk to the engineer
       of the VIA train "The Skeena" and show some cab shots. Then he takes
       them to some often-visited spots that he goes to. It is very personal and
       shows the way life is for those that live along the route. Of course all of
       the videos do, but I like the layout of "The Canadian Rockies" best. Then
       of course, I can't forget all the clothes I have received, as that is usually
       the only time I get new clothes.

   •   Two-fold answer here...last year after my cancer surgery, my daughter
       was able to be with us...that was the best. Second best was the year
       previous, when she gave me MSTS.

   •   Hard to answer - don't get or give many, as we have too many things
       now! Each gift is special, as it comes from someone special.

Best gift given in recent years:

   •   Annual pass to Disney world to my wife.

   •   Hand-written card (affordable, and women love it - at least mine did).

   •   My second daughter was born 15 Dec and came home on 23 Dec with her
       mother - that's maybe the best present I can think of.

   •   My lady likes to collect puzzle boxes. I was able to find a particularly nice
       one designed like a wrapped present in various shades of wood. She has
       treasured it ever since.

   •   This is a tough one, but the best that I can think of is a large box full of
       crossword puzzles for my dear wife who just loves crosswords.

   •   I really don't know. I usually just buy gifts for my wife and she takes care
       of buying all the rest.

   •   My brother-in-law is an extreme fan of Nascar car-racing, and likes Dale
       Earnhardt and Bobby Labonte. It has been hard to find anything that he
       doesn't already have, and that we can afford to get for him. But last year
       we finally found some fabric that had the Number 3 car and a pictorial of
       Dale on it, and some Number 18 material as well. We gave the material
       to a friend who made it into pillow cases. He was totally surprised and
       loved it.

   •   I like buying gifts for my wife - things like kitchen appliances, brooms,
       mops, lawn mowers, pruning shears, hammers, pliers, ... In my dreams!!
24 December

  •   Just for something different, we have a tutorial for you on how to produce and post
      screenshots from MSTS for the NERR forums - click on this link to read it. It will take a
      minute or two to load, as there are a lot of screenshots in it! If you find any errors or major
      omissions, please let me know. At the end of the month, it will be moved to another part of the
      website. It will also be made available to the WCN program participants. (Thanks to Alan, ID#
      53, for the first suggestion to do a tutorial on this topic.)

  •   If you have a few spare minutes today, and you like a chuckle, you might enjoy the following
      true story from an old Australian railwayman:

                                       Crib Time
   When working trains home from barracks, crews either ate leftovers from the
   meals prepared in barracks or, in most cases, would cook a real beaut' barbecue
   on the shovel. The shovel would be placed in the fire-box until it was red hot
   and, when withdrawn, it was hosed down with boiling water before cooking on it.

   Steam engines, when working hard, had an enormous appetite for coal and air.
   So that when the driver opened the regulator and the fireman opened the
   firehole door, it would create a huge sucking effect as the air was pulled in
   through the open door - the suction was enough to pull the coal off the shovel.

   One particular trip, the fireman was firing the dreaded all-night pick-up train
   from Werris Creek to Muswellbrook (north-west of the MSTS 'Coals to Newcastle'
   route in New South Wales, Australia) up the Hunter Valley on the homeward

   Arriving at Murrundi, halfway home, the train was placed in the loop - eight
   hours on duty and starving!

   The dispatcher said that the train would be in the loop crossing the mail express
   and fast freighters, and it would be there for about two hours.

   The fireman immediately set to work. It wasn't long before he had a beautiful
   meal of steak, bacon, eggs, chips, and tomatoes - all sizzling on the shovel, just
   about ready to eat. The aroma was mouth-watering! Unbeknown to the fireman,
   the shunter (switcher) came up and asked the driver to move ahead a couple of
   engine lengths. Without uttering a word, the driver leant over and opened the
   regulator full throttle, because the engine's hand brake was on. The last the
   fireman saw of his beautiful meal was as it disappeared down to the front of the

   There were a few words expressed of some strength, considerable variety, and
   with much venom - it was 2.00am, and there were no shops around, and
   certainly no open ones! It was the last of the food.

   The crew were relieved five hours later, and the fireman was ready to eat
   anything in sight.

   (I can relate to this story. My uncle was a fireman on the steam locos in Central
   Queensland in the 1950s, and I remember the size of his crib when he went on
   duty. Those guys worked very hard and built up a huge appetite!)
•   A new set of work orders for the NERR Chippewa Valley sub-division from Dan (ID# 10,
    dandy1) - 6 of them, representing most of a day's work on the sub-division.

       o   The first work order starts at 9.00am, and the briefing note reads: "You were
           shuttled over to the industrial park to run a 44-ton switcher. You will be
           switching out cars, and we suggest you use only loco brakes, unless you
           add 5 minutes to each connection for hoses, etc. Exchange the gondolas
           on Industrial 3 and Industrial 2. Exchange the boxcars on PDM Bridge
           1,2,3 with the 13 boxcars at the stub end. Exchange the Boxcars and
           gondolas on EC Industrial #1 with the Boxes on EC Industrial 5 and
           gondolas on Philips Scrap. For an added challenge, try using only cab views
           for all connections and set-outs. It is possible, since the connections and
           set-outs are on the engineer side of the cab. Also you may have to use EC
           Industrial 4 to use as a holding area while moving cars about. This W/O
           will end, when you place the 44-tonner at the end of EC Industrial 4, near
           the buffers."

       o   The last 4 work orders involve shifting grain cars around the Rodell - East Yard area of
           the sub-divison, using a Bison Rail EMD GP9. The final briefing note reads: "You are
           back from exchanging the grain cars and heading back to the Chippewa
           yards. First though, you will need to connect those Nagy Hoppers from the
           Titanium mine that the local road crew has moved for you. (1) You will
           need to drop your grain cars before the switch to Rodell Silo. (2) Follow the
           reverse points to connect to the Nagy hoppers. (3) After you connect to
           the hoppers, make sure you just go pass the switch points, BUT NOT PASS
           the signal. Picture of this comes with the package. (4) Reverse and
           connect to your grain cars and proceed onward to the Chippewa Yards. (5)
           Work order will end at the Chippewa Yards automatically."

•   A new series of work orders for the Frisco - Fort Smith sub-division from Dan (ID# 10,
    dandy1) - 14 of them, covering a full day's work. Now you will have something to do on
    Christmas Day!! The series is called "The start of a busy day" - a very appropriate title.

       o   The first work order's briefing notes read: "Follow the reverse points to pick-up
           all the cars on Monett 6 but be careful, passenger train coming through on
           the East-West Track. Your consist: 6 NE Grain-loaded, 13 BN Boxcars-
           loaded, 4 USA log cars-loaded, 3 NETankers-loaded. Continue forward, and
           throttle up, going to have a work out to Butterfield. Set out the 4 USA log
           cars at Southern Telephone Co. Pole Yard. BE ADVISED-Tamper working in
           that area. Continue onward to Butterfield Feed Mill - Pick up 3 boxcars on
           Butterfield Feed Mill 1. Pick up 3, 2bay hoppers on Butterfield Feed Mill 2,
           and Set out the 6 NEGrain on Butterfield Feed Mill 2. BE ADVISED - Feed
           Mill sits on top of a hill. After the pick-ups and set-outs, continue onward
           to Butterfield and stop before the road crossing, just before it turns back
           into a single main track. MUST STOP, because of a northbound."

       o   Work Order #2: "As soon as the Northbound freight passes, you will be
           heading down to Garfield with a set-out at Seligman. At Seligman set-out
           the 3 CN Boxcars and the 3 William's airslides at Fawver & Co. Siding. This
           feed mill and Butterfield split the load for better rates. I have included a
           picture in this package that shows the placement of these cars. After the
           set-out, you will be headed to the Garfield Team track, where another
           freight and passenger behind you will need to clear before you can
           continue on. You must stop on the Garfield Team Track before it converts
           back to a single main."
            o   Work Order #14: "Finally, the last segment for the day, is taking your train to
                the Monett yard, where this W/O will end automatically. Enjoy the
                moonlight as your day, doing road switching, has come to an end. A start
                of a busy day, has come to a close, and Bison Rail thanks you."

And the 3rd to the 13th work orders will keep you just as busy! So go and climb into your Bison Rail
EMD GP18, and have fun with this series. I've run a couple of them; they are well done.

23 December

    •   Announcements from Brian, our Supervisor, Maintenance of Way:

            o   "The Blue Mountain sub-division, part of the Central Division, has been
                sold to a class 3 railroad who plan to develop it. It was found by NERR that
                the route was not a revenue generator, did not have any large industries
                to keep it up, and needed additional track work. We will still have trackage
                rights for all current work orders, but no new work orders will be

            o   "The Frisco - Fort Smith sub-division has been added to the Central
                Division. Division Director, Dandy1, has plans for the use of the sub-
                division using the Bison Rail equipment. In the coming days, several work
                orders will be finalized and put into production, as the Central Division and
                Bison Rail view this sub-division as a major revenue generator."

                        Frisco – Fort Smith Subdivision
    Description: A model of the Fort Smith Subdivision of the Frisco railroad running
    between Monett, Missouri and Fort Smith, Arkansas.

    Installation Method: Self Installing .exe files. You must have all of the default
    MSTS routes installed first.

    Size of Download: five 21 MB files.

    Size of Installed Route: 560 MB.

    Fantasy, Prototypical, or Freelance: Prototype.

    Freight or Passenger: Freight.

    Era or Genre: 1970.

    Location: The Ozark Mountains of southern Missouri and north-western Arkansas.

    Length of Mainline: about 130 miles .

    Length of Branches: about 6 miles.

    Number of Branches: 1 Rogers, Arkansas, to Bentonville, Arkansas.
Number of Sidings: Lots.

Number of Yards: 6.

Mixture of Dual and Single Track: Single track mainline.

Level of Trackside Detail: Complete and as accurate as possible.

Amount of Scenery Completed: 100% complete.

FPS Specs, with qualifiers: Unknown Beta testers report about 30FPS on various

Add-In Track Sets: None required.

Tsection.dat file used: Default tsection.dat.

Payware or Freeware: Freeware.

Known Problems: The Great White Void affects the northern quarter of the route.
Use the Great White Void work-around if you are running a train and encounter
the problem.

Where it can be downloaded: At

•   Another new work order for the Full Bucket Line from David (ID# 45, Mont Denver Gold).
    In this one, you are driving a C30-7 pulling a local freight consist from Yonder to Fort Fairfax
    in heavy traffic in the early evening. It should take you about 1 hour 10 minutes, according to
    the briefing notes.

•   Other Downloads page: Route-Riter version 6.1.70 update files.

•   News item from Bob (ID# 126): "Fans of Werner Mueller's Lehigh Valley Route will find
    a very nice model of the steam Engine 'John Wilkes' and a passenger car set to go
    with it over at the UKTrainSim site. The cab view is aliased to the Scotsman for
    the moment, but a new cab view (and interior of the passenger cars) is promised
    soon. Not for NERR activities (of course), but must admit I'd be tempted if a
    suitable passenger activity presented itself. The files are
    and It's been around for a while on, but it is still
    worth a look!"

•   The second set of information from our members about how they celebrate Christmas is
    about the food and drink that they enjoy:

    •   Traditional pancake breakfast. No special meals. Drink eggnog. (Florida,

    •   Christmas Day Turkey. (USA)

    •   Okay, let's talk about eating. Well you need to be Portuguese to
        appreciate all the good things we have. Starting with sweets and ending
        with great traditional meals. One of those (it's the most common) is cod
        fish, with potatoes and cabbage, boiled in water, and covered with olive
        oil. About sweets: we have lots, but I cannot translate them - "Filhoses",
       "Bolo Rei" (a sweet bread), "Rabanadas" (Portuguese Fried Toast), etc.

   •   Some extra stuff for dinner but not that much. (Heemskerk, The

   •   We make a gingerbread house every year for our Christmas Eve party.
       Sometimes it even doesn't collapse on us! (Chicago, USA)

   •   On Christmas Day we have turkey breast, (problems with ham -
       allergies), apple pie, pumpkin pie, and hot chocolate. (New York, USA)

   •   What do we not eat at Christmas!!! After going to church on Christmas
       Eve, we all return home and have something warm to drink and a few
       little sweets. Then about 9'ish we sit down to a Sea Food smorgasbord -
       just lots of good fresh shrimp, lobster, smoked salmon, crackers and

Christmas Morning, before the rush to the Tree, I have prepared the night
before: Grapefruit, cut, sugared and with a maraschino cherry (green or red) on
top of each.

Then after the Gifts are opened, we're back at the table for a breakfast of
Poached Eggs served on English Muffins, with Canadian Back Bacon and a
smothered in a rich creamy sauce (Eggs Benedict). Served with fresh-ground
French Roasted Coffee, and Orange Juice for the smaller set.

This helps keep the hunger pains away till later on in the afternoon, when we sit
down to a traditional Canadian Dinner of Roast Stuffed Turkey, Heaps of Mashed
& Creamed Potatoes with homemade Gravy, sides of sweet potatoes, turnip &
marshmallows, peas. Cranberry sauce, fresh baked buns with butter, a nice red
wine, coffee and if any room is left, a few home-baked sweets. Later on in the
Evening, Drinks of Egg Nog for the House. And the best thing, is next day -
Toasted Bread and Turkey Sandwiches. (Canada)

   •   We have a big dinner on Christmas Day, usually consisting of Turkey,
       Ham, etc. with a Carrot Cake and an old-fashioned stack cake for dessert,
       washed down with iced tea. (USA)

   •   With the entire family, we eat a 5 course dinner on either the 25th or
       26th. The date depends on children's obligations to the in-laws. Meal
       starts with crab cocktail, then turtle soup. Main course with 3 kinds of
       meat (hare or rabbit, turkey and guinea-fowl). The accessories cover
       various types of potato, 3 different vegetables and usually a salad. The
       dessert is ice cream, fruit salad with cream and a heavy British-type trifle
       pudding. We finish up with coffee and chocolates. We drink red and/or
       white wines. (The Netherlands)

   •   On Christmas Eve, we usually just have cold-cut sandwiches, and my
       Grandpa makes ham salad and peanut brittle. On Christmas Day, we go
       all out with a ham cooked over a spit by my Grandpa (he won't eat it any
       other way), a turkey, vegetables and the like, and stuffing with mashed
       potatoes and gravy, devilled eggs, oh, and of course cranberries and
       yams (which I could do without, but traditions is traditions). The
       strongest drink we have on hand is Pepsi, Dr. Pepper and some just have
          plain old Milk. (USA)

      •   Usually on Christmas Day. Normally it's a turkey (stuffed), mashed
          potatoes, cranberries, boiled carrots. If my Mom-In-Law is down, then we
          also have squash (not me - I hate squash). No alcohol - diabetic...dang!

      •   We don't have anything different on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day,
          we have ham and eggs (fried or poached) for breakfast with toast - I cook
          this one. And champagne - that sets the day up well!

   We have a late morning tea - just biscuits (cookies) or cake and tea/coffee.

   Then we rest/sleep/talk/play cards until late afternoon - until the hottest part of
   the day is gone. Then we have cold chicken and ham with cold salads (potato -
   old family recipe, coleslaw, tomato, beetroot, onion, corn, cheese, lettuce, ...).
   This is followed with cold Xmas pudding with custard, cream and ice cream! Then
   we rest until late evening, when we have a small supper - just in case there is a
   small crevice not quite stuffed full with food.

   Then we have leftovers for some days. (Australia)

22 December

  •   A new work order for the Full Bucket Line - from David (ID# 45, Mont Denver Gold):
      "You are the Helper crew to assist an Eastbound Coal train from Dyken's to
      Dunktown." You are driving an AC6000CW (the big beastie!) late in an autumn afternoon.
      The work order should take you about 1 hour 20 minutes, according to the briefing notes.

  •   A week or two ago, I sent out an email to a bunch of NERR members and asked them what
      they did with their families and loved ones to celebrate Christmas , if they did celebrate that
      day. This is what some of them said:

      •   We sing with the choir in the Christmas Musical presentation at church.
          We attend Christmas Eve services, and we exchange greeting cards and
          gifts with friends and family. (Florida, USA)
      •   We get together with family, then I run my live steam locomotive on New
          Year's Eve - "The Midnight Run". (USA)
      •   As you maybe know, Portugal is a country where the majority of people
          are Catholic by religion, and we have lots of traditions to celebrate
          Christmas. Normally it's a season of family reunion, and so the big cities,
          like Lisbon and Porto, lose a great number of people, because they go to
          their birth places to join their parents. At midnight on 24 December, we
          have a celebration at Church, called in Portuguese "Missa do Galo". After
          that, and usually in the small towns in the interior of Portugal, in the
          square near the church, we have a great log burning, and the people stay
          there for a few hours - remember that in Portugal it is Winter. (Portugal)
      •   We go to church, have all the 5 children and 2 grandchildren over for a
          brunch and a drink, and that's it. Oh yes, there is a tree and lights too.
        (Heemskerk, The Netherlands)
    •   We have our big family party on Christmas Eve in the evening. There we
        exchange presents, drink eggnog, and have fun. Christmas morning, my
        wife and I set out presents for the kids under our tree, who wake up good
        and early to see what they got. We then go to church and spend the rest
        of the day relaxing and playing with our new toys. (Chicago, USA)
    •   Our Family celebrates the birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ - the real
        reason for the season! (New York, USA)
    •   On Christmas Eve, we will go to an Evening Church Service with the
        family and friends to celebrate the Birth of Christ. (Canada)
    •   The family exchanges gifts on Christmas Eve, and then the little ones
        (grandchildren & great-grandchildren) empty their stockings on Christmas
        morning whenever they get to the house. (USA)
    •   We decorate the house with a Christmas tree and other Christmas
        attributes like plant & flower settings with candles, etc. We send out
        Christmas cards to family and friends. We usually have our children and
        grandchildren over for a get-together on either the 25th or the 26th. We
        do not celebrate Christmas Eve (24th). (The Netherlands)
    •   The church I belong to has a Christmas dinner called a Progressive Dinner
        every year about 2 weeks before Christmas, usually on a Saturday
        evening. What this consists of, is several families in the church sign up to
        host a particular portion of the dinner (appetizer, main course, salad,
        dessert, etc.), and everybody goes from house to house to visit and eat.
        It allows us to not only have a full meal, but to visit in people's home on a
        more personal level. Then there is of course the traditional get-together
        at my Grandma and Grandpa's house on Christmas eve to have supper
        and let the kids open gifts, and then we have a large dinner on Christmas
        day. (USA)
    •   Me personally, not much. I help my bride decorate the tree and wrap
        presents. My health limits my activities quite a bit. (USA)
    •   We usually celebrate Christmas with my wife and 3 kids (22, 20, 16) at
        my mother-in-law's place on the Gold Coast - she's getting too old to
        travel much. We usually drive down (about an hour's easy drive) on
        Christmas Eve. We open presents on Xmas morning, before breakfast.

Thanks to everyone for sharing these snippets of insights into your life with us.
Even though we are spread around the world, celebrating Christmas is usually a
time for being with family if possible.

In most places, It's also about eating - as you will read tomorrow!

•   New route: The North Coast (version 2) sub-division has just been added to the South West
    Division. The takeover negotiations were successful - we finally beat them down to an
    acceptable figure. This sub-division will go North from Mount Oliver in the Full Bucket sub-
    division. Now we need some work orders for it to make it another of our profitable routes! The
    route details, as shown in the Route Specification forum, are:
Description: This route is based on a railway in Northern California, the North
Coast Railroad, later operated by the Northwestern Pacific. The railroad
connected the San Francisco Bay area with the Northern California city of Eureka.
This route contains the stretch of track starting from the south at Willits and
ending north beyond the city of Eureka. The railroad passes through
mountainous terrain along the Eel River and also serves several small cities and

Installation Method: Unzip,, and
into the ROUTES directory and run Installme.bat. If X-Tracks is not installed, add
250 m radius curve track sections (see readme.txt in route).

Size of Download: 4 ZIP files, about 30 MB each

Size of Installed Route: 400 MB

Fantasy, Prototypical, or Freelance Operations: Prototypical

Freight or Passenger: Both

Era or Genre: 1970s-1998

Location: Northern California, USA

Length of Mainline: 161 miles

Length of Branches: 14 miles

Number of Branches: 2

Number of Sidings: 21 passing sidings

Number of Yards: 4 small yards

Mixture of Dual and Single Track: All single track, with passing sidings

Level of Trackside Detail: Sidings, platforms, mileposts spaced at least one every
4 miles

Amount of Scenery Completed: 100%

Activities Provided: 4

Non-Default Consists or Rolling Stock Required in Activities: (NCR
GP9) and (CCT GP7) - download from

Add-In Track Sets: 250 m radius curves

Tsection.dat file used: Tsection.dat in (included with route), or any
version of the standardized tsection.dat

Known Problems: Track database boundary causes "Great White Void" problem
when traveling northbound at one point.
    Where it can be downloaded:

21 December

    •   Yesterday, we announced that the NERR has added the Clinton Subdivision route to the
        NERR Network. There are two versions of the route. The NERR will be using the version that
        the route's developer, Craig (ID# 191, CraiH), has enhanced for the P&A VR. It is available
        from the Route Downloads forum at the NERR. If you have already downloaded the earlier
        version from, you can keep it or archive it, but the activities developed for the route
        will be for our version. Our apologies for any confusion and inconvenience that this might
        have caused.

The route installs to a folder called P&A_Clinton_Sub. It does not overwrite any other Clinton Sub
routes you have installed. Craig says that: "The biggest difference in the P&A (NERR) version is the
addition of distant and intermediate signals, which I think smoothes the flow of traffic on the
mainline. I also deleted the signals in Cedar rapids, changing it to a dark area, as is prototypical. I also
removed most of the signals at the exits to the sidings on the main. The changes may make it a bit
more challenging to set up AI traffic at Clinton, but it's also prototypical."

    •   The President of the vLEU , Mr Ken Patterson (ID# 276, speedy), has issued the following
        press release:

             "I would like to take the time to announce a new Representative to
             the vLEU, Mr. Derek Varner (ID# 154). He is fairly new to NERR but
             has a desire to help in any way he can. As most of you know, the
             vLEU is fairly young as well, so he is getting in on the ground floor
             as would anyone else have done. He will be your voice at the vLEU
             Panel meetings that will start up soon so be sure to get in touch
             with him about what you would like to see for those that are
             involved in the Union with NERR. I will, as well, be in those Panel
             discussions along with a few members of the Management here at
             NERR. Make him feel welcome, and watch for him in the forums at
             the vLEU (and here) making new announcements and so forth on
             our progress. If there is anyone else interested in getting involved,
             let me know. I could still use 1 or 2 more Engineers. Thanks for
             your time, and be sure to make Derek welcome.

    •   A new set of 5 work orders for you: Mixed intermodal runs between Las Vegas and
        Montgomery - 1 for the Raton Pass route, 1 for the Chippewa Valley route, and 3 for the
        Monon route - about 11.5 hours of work (almost $350 for your Christmas pay!). It is a main
        line run, with some limitations and some AI traffic and some other activity. They were
        developed by Antonio (ID# 110, antoniomiranda).

    •   Concluding the saga of my participation in the Diesel Certification Course :

    I have a confession to make. I finished the final 8 activities two weeks ago. They
    caused me no problems. By now, I understood what the program designers
    expected of me - always a good thing to know when you are doing a program of
    study and testing! The activities were really rather enjoyable, serving to
    reinforce the driving and switching skills that the first 12 activities had taught
  me. So, although they did get a bit more difficult, they were still fun to do.

  But now for the final examination - 40 questions again from the NORAC rule
  book! And the password for the test is impossible!! Thanks for the rise in pulse
  rate and blood pressure! I printed out the questions and started to work out the
  answers. This was an important test - pass and I get the certificate; fail and I
  have the embarrassment of having to throw myself on the mercy of the
  examiners (and report my fall from grace to you, the readers!)! And the pass
  mark is 32 out of 40 - 80%.

  I have been working on that test on and off for the past two weeks. I have not
  been brave enough to submit it, just in case. But today, I bit the bullet! One last
  run through the answers. Open the test website. Put the answers into the
  screen. Check one more time that I had put the answers in the correct places -
  how terrible it would be to miss a question and put the right answer in the wrong
  question! The Submit button stares back at me from the bottom of the page. I
  finally click on it. And it's all over now, Baby Blue! (with humble apologies to Bob

  The joy of having broadband is that things happen faster over the internet. That
  is usually a good thing. But before I even had time to wipe my fevered brow, the
  corrected test came back on the screen. I know from the first test that the wrong
  answers are shown in red. I don't care about the correct ones in green! I scroll
  the mouse rapidly down the page.

  One red one marks my mistake! I pass! Oh happy day!

  So now I've finished. My heart beat is back to its normal rate. I can relax. Piece
  of cake, really. Don't know why I didn't do it months ago. Everybody should have
  to do it!

  Bring on the next one. Oh no, it's the steam certification course! Aaarrggghhh!
  I've got to learn how to drive those smoke-belching monsters!

  Back to square one! Up goes the pulse rate again. Thankfully, the course will not
  start for some weeks yet. I can enjoy life for a while. As Claude would say, time
  for a beer or seven - or even for a nice red wine. Maybe an Aussie shiraz.

20 December

  •   Another new service for you starts today. All new work orders produced for the NERR will
      be listed here as well as in the relevant NERR forum, so that you do not miss anything. There
      are some really top quality work orders almost ready to be posted to the NEAWOS, just in time
      for you for Christmas! Now you will have something to do on Christmas Day - I'm sure that
      your family will be pleased! Please remember that the listing of new work orders will probably
      be a minimum of 12-24 hours behind the posting in the NERR forums. So if you are really
      keen and want to be the first to run the new ones, you will need to watch the forums!

  •   So here is a new set of 4 from Eric (ID# 150, buttercup) for the Ohio Rails route - click on
      this link to the NEAWOS to download them. The briefing for these work orders is: "Mt
      Ephraim logging has had its problems this past week. First they had problems
      with their switcher. There was no spare to put up there, so they have had to
      depend on the local to provide their switching. Then they had problems with the
    entrance turnout and track. They have managed to get the empties they had into
    the logging areas using a skidder. They couldn't, however, move them once they
    were loaded. The turnout and entrance track have now been repaired, but they
    won't get the switcher back for a few more days. Another problem is that this
    morning Mt Ephraim is scheduled to get a lot of empty hoppers and need to get
    the yard cleared of the logging empties that have built up due to the track
    problems at the logging area."

•   Here is a new set of 4 work orders for the Melbourne-Ballarat route from Gary (ID#100,
    GaryH) - click on this link to the NEAWOS to download them. The work orders involve
    shifting full and empty grain cars across the route. Together, they make up a complete turn;
    that is, at the end of the 4th work order, you will be back at the start of the 1st work order - so
    you can keep doing the sequence over and over, just like in the RW in the grain harvesting
    season. The set of 4 will take you about 6 hours to complete.

•   Here is a set of 4 work orders (I detect a pattern emerging here!!) for the North Eastern
    Corridor and the Newark & Jersey City routes from Scott (ID# 120, Scott_Aus) for the
    "North Easterner", the NERR's regular passenger service covering all the routes in the North
    East Division. The set will take you a bit over 4 hours to complete. The briefings are:

        o   "Our objective in this first of the series of work orders is to perform the
            switching duties to bring this passenger consist together. We need you to
            have the consist – in the correct order - parked in the Wash Track at
            Wilmington East yard, by 4pm, so the cleaning shift coming on roster has a
            train sitting ready to clean up for tomorrow’s run."

        o   Work Order #2: "It’s 7am, you are fuelled up and collecting your
            passenger carriages and moving your train to Philadelphia, ready for the
            8am service departure. Traffic is getting heavy as the NE corridor is in the
            peak hour service window, so you are a lower priority for access. You will
            need to pick up your engine at the Engine Shed, pick up your consist at the
            Wash Track before heading out to Wilmington, where you will pick up your
            cleaning crew and dining car crew. Once the crews are on board, you are
            off to Philadelphia Track 2, so the passengers can climb aboard and be
            ready for departure at 8am. The maximum operational speed of the
            AMD103 is 103mph. Notch 4 will keep you at a nice 96-98mph."

        o   Work Order #3: "It's 7.56am, your passengers are boarding, ready for the
            8am service departure. Once you get the all clear, head out towards the
            connection point to N & JC."

        o   Work Order #4: "It's 9.30 am on the Newark and Jersey City Route, having
            travelled from the NEC 4 route. It's a fairly straight forward run with one
            stop at the Erie Railway Passenger Terminal. One thing to note: this work
            order has a strict turn out speed of 15mph. It's not a high speed route, so
            anything above 15mph on a turn out and you're going to have the purser
            after you for spilling the passenger's coffee!"

•   Brian, our NERR Superintendent, Maintenance of Way, has just announced that the Clinton
    Subdivision has been added to the North West Division of the NERR. It connects to the
    Dual Fictional route through Ada, to the Seattle route at Wantachee, and to the Whitefish
    route at Sandpoint. It runs south of, and parallel to, the Seattle Subdivision.

•   Brian will also be releasing news of two new routes to be added to the NERR Network in
    the next few weeks. The NERR decided that they would be good revenue-earners for our
    engineers, so we have been pursuing the takeovers vigorously in past weeks. He will also
    announce the sale of one of our less-profitable routes. The negotiations to conclude the sale
    have been underway for some time, so our undercover reporter tells us. You will know as soon
        as we do!

    •   There has been some cosmetic activity on the VASM website in the past week, but no news
        of any impending re-opening.

19 December

    •   Other Downloads page: Route-Riter version 6.1.67 (update files).

    •   Paul Gausden has released version 1.4 of his popular Shape Viewer program. This new
        version has some new features and new utilities. It is also actually a smaller download than the
        previous version - and that is something that is not seen very often these days! Click here to
        view the download page (not on this website) - with lots of screenshots. You must have Directx
        v9.0 or higher to use this program. 3DTrains have produced a track base that can be used in
        Shape Viewer - it uses their forthcoming ScaleRail texture. Click here to go to the 3DTrains
        utility download page.

    •   There are currently 27 rookies going through the induction program at the WCN with
        Dan, and at least 6 have graduated in the past week or so. He tells me that over 520 people
        have started the program, and that about one-quarter have successfully graduated to the
        NERR as engineers. It is an excellent introduction to MSTS and the basic things that engineers
        need to know how to do at the NERR. It also requires the ability to follow instructions and do
        tasks in a particular sequence. Dan and his team do a great job for the people who join us and
        for the whole NERR.

    •   The longest rail tunnel in the world is currently
        the Seikan Tunnel - at almost 54 kilometres (33.4
        miles) in length- joining the islands of Honshu and
        Hokkaido in Japan. It will be overtaken by the
        Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland in about 2010-
        2015 (if the schedule stays on track - about 40%
        completed so far) - it will be about 57 kilometres long.
        The Seikan Tunnel is slightly longer than the Channel
        Tunnel connecting the United Kingdom with France.

        In 1954, a typhoon sank five ferry boats in Japan's
        Tsugaru Strait and killed 1,430 people. In response to public outrage, the Japanese
        government searched for a safer way to cross the dangerous strait. With such unpredictable
        weather conditions, engineers agreed that a bridge would be too risky to build. A tunnel
        seemed a perfect solution. Ten years later, work began on what would be the longest and
        hardest underwater dig ever attempted.

    •   The tunnel was completed in 1988. The volcanic rock beneath the Tsugaru Strait was too
        unstable for boring, so engineers had to blast out most of the tunnel across a major earthquake
        zone with dynamite, using about 2,800 tons of explosives. 168,000 tons of steel was used in
        the construction of the tunnel. Each of the twin tracks inside the tunnel is built with three
        rails, so that both narrow-gauge and standard-gauge trains can be handled. The railway track
        runs 787 feet below the surface of the sea, making it the deepest railway line in the world.
        During construction in 1976, tunnel workers hit a patch of soft rock with disastrous results.
        Water gushed into the tunnel at rate of 80 tons per minute. It took more than two months to
        control the flood. No lives were lost.

There are two passenger stations inside the tunnel (Yoshioka-Kaitei Station and Tappi-Kaitei Station),
both of which are museums detailing the history and function of the tunnel.

Three stories high and 800 feet below the sea, the main tunnel was designed to serve the Shinkansen,
Japan's high-speed bullet train. Unfortunately, the cost of extending the Shinkansen service through
the new tunnel proved to be too expensive. In fact, air travel today between Honshu and Hokkaido is
quicker and almost as cheap as rail travel through the tunnel. Despite its limited use, the Seikan
Tunnel remains one of the greatest engineering feats of the 20th

    •   How's this for a New Year's party?!:

A multimillionaire has booked 'The Ghan' luxury train from
Adelaide to Darwin to celebrate New Year with 200 guests.
Entrepreneur Robert Gerard, who is the 49th richest man in
Australia, is believed to have paid about $US400,000 to
charter the train for the 3000km trip.

Mr Gerard's charter train, which will have about 20 carriages, is expected to leave
Keswick station in Adelaide on New Year's Eve and be near Coober Pedy at midnight. The
train will then run on to Alice Springs and Darwin. The guests will fly home on
commercial flights from Darwin airport.

The train will have only first-class accommodation - twin, single and deluxe sleeper
cabins. It is also expected to include the chairman's car, which sleeps up to eight people
and has a private dining room. The one-way Gold Kangaroo fare is normally $US1450 per

A full train has about 40 carriages and can carry about 500 passengers plus staff.

11 December

    •   Other Downloads page: Route_Riter v6.1.63.

    •   Over the next week ,without any new items here, you will find plenty of interesting
        information at the following websites. They will provide you with lots of reading and viewing:

             o - 5 websites in 1, including webcams and feature articles.

             o   The Railroad Network - forums, articles, photos, links.

             o   Rail Pictures - over 76,000 photos for the railroad fan!

             o   Interesting railroad websites - a long, long list of links to all sorts of railroad websites.

    •   Our first interview for this month is with our very own Bob Artim , our Founder. Bob was
        also the very first person to be interviewed in our newsletter - you will find that issue on the
        Archives page (link to the left).

  1(a). Where do you live? How long have you lived there? What are the three best things about where you
  Ambridge, Pennsylvania, about 20 miles north of Pittsburgh. Have been there about 5 years now. The best
  thing about Ambridge is me, my wife, and our cats live there. I pay $275 a month rent for a small house
  with 2 lots. That's actually why I live there. Ambridge is pretty run down as with all the other small towns in
  this area; when the mills closed, life changed. However I will be moving in December/January to a town
  called Beaver. My boss owns a condo there and offered it to me to live in for free until I save some more
  money to buy a house on some property. So I'll get to live in a 3 story condo that's 6 years old and only pay

  1(b). Have you moved around much in your life?
  Yes. I have moved a lot. I am also tired of moving. One more move to the condo and then to my house -
that's it. I am 49, and I bet I moved 35 times. Being married 3 times affected that a lot, too.

2. Do you, or did you, have any RW connection with railroads, for example other family members? Do you
have an interest in RW railroads? When did your interest in railroads start?
All of my family's older generation were "mill hunks": they worked for US Steel or J&L. No one was
associated with the railroad. I like trains; I think they're neat. It amazes me how they stay on the tracks. All
that weight on 2 skinny rails, going fast. I started playing with trains before I can remember. At Christmas
time there was always a train layout under the tree. Grandpap used to go hog-wild and run the track all over
the house and suspend it from the ceiling! So everywhere I went at Christmas time, there was a train to play
with. As I got older, I wanted to play all the time, not just at Christmas.

3. Are you a model railroad person? If so, tell us about your involvement - past and present.
Yes. I like HO, mostly because I can still see it . Bigger gauges are too expensive; smaller gauges are,
well, too small. I have 2 4x8s connected in an "L" shape up in the attic that I play around with from time to
time. Once I get my permanent home, things will be different. I like to build kits. Nothing from scratch, but
I use several kits to make one unit sometimes, or put several together to make different things. I am a "kit
basher". Anyway, I have been collecting and building things for several years now. They are all waiting for
a home. I like to build little dioramas that can be added to the layout as space allows.

As a kid, my dad fixed up my attic for me by laying down 8 sheets of plywood. One of my friends and I
scrounged everywhere we could looking for people's old stuff and made a Railroad/Race car set up using
HO cars and trains. We played up there for years.

4. What hobbies did you have before MSTS came along?
I build models of all kinds - ships, planes, cars. My favorites are 1/35-scale Armor. I like the Japanese
Tamiya company for my models. Then I make them real. I add lead weight to scale them. I add talcum
powder to the paint, so the guys clothing looks like cloth. Then enter them in contests.

I played with ESTES rockets for a few years - build 'em, fly 'em, crash 'em.

My friend and I built 2 fleets and had our own Pearl Harbor.

We built balsa wood airplanes and had the Battle of Britain.

I was always building something.

5(a). When did you start with MSTS? Why did you start? Tell us some of your good and bad experiences
with MSTS before VRs.
I started 3 weeks after it came out - only because I didn't know it was out for 3 weeks. I got it, fired it up,
thought it was cool, got on the 'net and started looking for trains and stuff. Found, found the
library, subscribed and started collecting. Found the 'Heard It On the Wire' page and saw that ACR had a
VR. What's that? Went to check it out and joined up. Played with TS for 15 minutes and joined a VR.

5(b). What part of the VR world do you enjoy the most - running trains, doing work orders, or ...?
I enjoy most of all, all the nutty people that are doing this with me. I like painting trains, and even more so
since I discovered I can do the photoreal thingy. I like making work orders, not especially running them, but
writing them. Testing them, making them work. Then hearing about how someone else liked them or not. I
have fun with the web site and programming NETS and well, I am the boss, so I get to do whatever I want,
when I want!

6. Why did you get involved with VRs? What other VRs were you with before the NERR? Any good
experiences? As I said, I joined a VR within minutes of knowing one existed and within hours of owning
MSTS. I had been playing with Flightsim and was looking over a bunch of VAs, and I played war games on
several sites that used a ladder ranking system. So I figured a VR would be along the same lines. However,
things were a bit different with MSTS. VAs needed a trip report entry system, a web site, some planes and a
schedule. A PIREP is pretty basic info. A schedule can be made by going into Flightsim's planner and just
plotting places, then recording it and making a chart. Then you post it, and your members go fly it. In the
war games, you played the canned scenarios for a score: more score - higher rank. You could not make
scenarios, so you played with what you had.

A VR needs a website, a timeslip system, a route, a lot of trains, and a never ending supply of work orders.
Work orders that have to be written one by one.

Be nice if I could just say: "Someone take load of boxcars to so-and-so siding in Explore mode", but it
doesn't work that way.

Before vNERR I was with ACR - Atlantic Coastal Railway. I joined and waited and waited and waited.
Then I inquired, and someone got me processed, with an apology. Everything was new, and it was two 14
year-old kids playing around with MSTS. One kid's parents had a few bucks and set up a web site deal for
them. The other kid liked being called a COO but never really did anything. He was in charge of processing
the newbies. They had an idea of using the NEC route to do passenger service, much like an airline. They
had 3 activities and a set of skins that you could use to overwrite the default ACELA with that had ACR on
it. They had a schedule for AMTRAK on the NEC and hoped to make activities using this schedule. Then
they discovered writing activities was a time-consuming and not easy-to-do project. At ACR there was a
Callboard of employees that kept track of their hours like a virtual airline does. They needed a volunteer to
enter the numbers in the web page. I volunteered. I was called the HRD - Human Resources Director. I got
to process all the new applications, welcome the newbies, assign them a number and get them started. I got
to enter their time on the callboard and tally it up. While doing this I kept adding more columns to the
callboard, showing more and more info, then I started doing monthly totals.

Work orders were needed. So I opened up the AE and started doing the AMTRAK Schedule. By the time I
finished the south-bound schedule, I had no desire to do any more passenger runs to make the north-bound
schedule. Running from one end of the NEC to the other at different times, stopping at each station, started
to get dull. It's a 3 hour run at high speed - that's it!

So I decided to make some freight work orders. Short 30-45 minute ones that played on from the previous
one. I was knocking them out at 1 a day, and they were a hit. But then we needed more trains to do freight.
So I opened up Photoshop and pull a TGA file in. I was turning out a new piece everyday for about 2

The NEC default route is not very good for freight. So I wanted to use Marias Pass also. Turmoil began. I
was essentially taking over ACR. We started talking about programming a timeslip system to automate the
drudgery of tallying timeslips, and I started writing NETS. The ACR guys had another programmer working
on something else that I didn't know about. They decided to make a sub-division using the Marias Pass and
call it the Great Northern Railroad, not Railway. ;) I was in charge of the Kalispell end and started writing
work orders for it and painting trains just for it. This meant I wasn't doing any NEC stuff, and focus was
attempted to be redirected to that route. But too many engineers were looking for something else to do
besides drive an ACELA or HHP from Philly to DC.

So it was time to leave. They were holding me back.

7. Why did you start the NERR?
I needed to be able to do things without the restriction of someone else's ideas. I wanted to play trains and
not worry about the semantics of purchasing virtual tickets with virtual money and other what-not that was
cool but totally useless. I needed to get away from the teenage mentality that I was associated with.

8. When you started to set the NERR up, how did you plan what you did? What was the sequence of things
that you did?
After doing time at ACR and attempting to get GNR going, I knew what was needed. People who were like
me; who liked trains and computers and who didn't have to worry about what their parents had to say. I
knew some good usable routes were required; ones that could be virtually connected so a virtual world
could be made.
MR (Martin Roberts) was working the GNR with me. He had me paint some trains up, and he started
looking at the coupler-breaking thing that plagued us in the beginning. Wayne was playing at ACR. He
started writing work orders, but the "kids" were not following through. He was starting to realize he was
wasting his time. Jim was attempting to help out the early MRS VR (I think it was MRS, anyway). They
thought they would exploit us by charging to join their VR, and Jim said "No way" and ventured over to
ACR just at the time I was getting ready to leave. Cedric had been writing some news articles for me, as
back at that time we used FSINN to post news to the virtual airline community. The ACR CEO must have
started feeling left out of the loop at this point and decided all correspondence would go through him first.
He wanted to proof Cedric's work. I quit asking C for articles then.

While waiting for something to happen with the GNR, I started making the NERR web site. I laid out the
structure. Picked the colors. Made the logo, set up the forums and got everything functional. Forms had to
be made for timeslips and applications. Someone had to receive them, and they had to contain pertinent
info. I had 9 routes laid out to go up the east coast and across Canada. Made some maps and showed some

I then started painting some trains. Lots of trains. 10 coal hoppers, 10 loggers, 10 of this and 10 of that, all
with different road numbers, and dirty and clean and faded and not. I painted 5 of each engine, same way.

I made a few activities, 10 I think. Then I sent an email off to MR and Jim and Wayne and said; "Go here
and look at this; tell me what you think". Within a few days we all kissed ACR goodbye and started making

First thing was to cut down the quantity of stuff. 10 of each was way too many. 5 of each engine was way
too many. We decided on 2 of each engine. 1 of each piece of stock, unless it was a dedicated unit train
piece, like the coal hoppers and grain hoppers, then it was limited to 3.

MR wanted to adjust the brakes and other things in the engines, including putting FRED lights on
everything. So he developed the NERR Standards and made all NERR trains the same or the same
proportional values according to their physical dimensions.

Jim started writing work orders. Wayne is a RW engineer, so we constantly asked him how do they do this
and why is this and... All the real world railroad stuff at NERR is from Wayne's experiences.

I. You need a theme. NERR's is continuity; everything connects.

II. You need a web site. A good dependable server. No free ones, no popups, no malware, just a web site.

III. You need people to help you. A VR would be a hard to do as a 1 man operation. If you did, it would
have to be small, very small. Or you would have to be retired.

IV. You need your own trains, or at least be able to have some for downloading. I like everything to be "in
house". It just makes it easier for your members. If you (as an engineer) get frustrated because you spend all
your time looking for stuff over the internet, you won't stay very long with the VR.

V. You need a good route or routes. Pretty scenery is nice. Locations that are familiar are nice also, but can
you write a functioning work order for the route using AI trains and passing paths without getting Mexican
standoffs and crashes and all the other bad things we know about.

VI. As with anything, you have to put time into it. The more you put in, the more you get out. The more
people you have putting in, the better. Essentially a VR is a team effort.

9. How did you find the early members of your Admin group - MR, Jim, Cedric, Wayne, Brian?
Mentioned MR, Jim & Wayne above. After the 4 of us started getting things ready, I got a hold of Cedric
and showed him what we were doing and asked if he wanted to write for us. He became the Editor-in-Chief
of the Roundhouse Ramblings. Brian was one of the first people to get an Engineer of the Month Award.
Shortly after seeing how interested he was in everything, I asked him if he wanted to help out. He did and
hasn't stopped yet.

10(a). Where / how did you learn the skills in the areas of painting, skinning, coding (e.g. NETS, web
pages), modelling? Did you have any background in the area of graphic arts or computers?
I am self-taught in all of that, except I can't model yet. 3D Environments make me dizzy. The only
background I have is that in high school I took mechanical drawing one year and drafting the next. I went to
a Vo Tech school my Junior & Senior years and took Civil Construction - that's drafting, surveying,
architectural work, blueprints, steel & concrete design and bridge development. I was #1 in my class and
had a full scholarship to Carnegie Mellon University but joined the Marines and went to Vietnam instead.

10(b). Do you think that your background in the military helped you to set up the NERR? (We seem to have
a lot of ex-military people as members - by Australian measures, anyway.)
MR, Jim & Wayne were in, but I do not think that had much to do with it. I think it is more that I did not act
like I was the boss or owner or CEO. I don't have to be in charge; I don't know everything. So my military at
best, helped me to work with people, not for them or for me. Together as a team.

10(c). What do you do in the RW? - job, hobbies, vacations, spare
I carve cemetery memorials - tombstones - monuments whatever
you wish to call them (check out a photo essay at the NERR
forums). That's my job. I have a model railroad that I am
dismantling for the move. I play wargames and fly on my
computer, along with train-sim.

I collect coins to a small degree. I have all the pennies and nickels
back to 1900, only missing the "rare" coins. The U.S. Mint has been
producing "State" quarters. I have all of them from all 3 mints.

At present I am renting my home, but when I owned one, I had a                Bob sandblasting granite.
garden that produced some vegetables - tomatoes, radishes, onions,         Click the photos to see a larger
carrots, parsley, cucumber & peppers. I grew strawberries in                           version.
another part of the yard. I like flowers. I built flower boxes around
all my trees and sidewalks, and anywhere there was dead space, and
planted flowers. I had a 90-foot driveway trimmed on both sides
with 5 rows of a different color and size of flower. I can grow
things. I have 4 cats. 2 are like dogs, they get a lot of my attention.
Another is a lap cat, she fights for attention, and the other is dumb
as a rock - he I just worry about. But I give them some catnip, and
then we go on a mouse hunt. I buy small cloth mice, stuffed with
beads. They come a dozen in a pack. We must have 80 of them, but
we can never find them. I lift up the couch and chair in the living
room, and they help me locate the mice, under the fridge, under the
microwave, under the sink, under the bed, under everything. Then
we pile them up in the middle of the room, and they attack them, or
I toss them around and in a few minutes they are all gone again.                The artistic outcome.
Funny thing is, some of the cats have a favorite mouse. A particular
color or texture or chew marks or whatever they are thinking that makes it their favorite. When I pull out a
favorite, their eyes light up and off they go, flipping and grabbing the fake mouse.

11. How has your role in the NERR changed over the past 2+ years? When you started the NERR, is that
what you thought would happen?
Yes my role has changed a lot. I started it with an idea, found some good people to help me, we got it going,
and more people joined in. Each started and some are still doing separate projects that connected to the
whole thing. Essentially it was my VR when we started. But when the other ideas started coming in from the
3 other guys, it also became theirs. As we grew, the engineers were also allowed a say in things, and it
became theirs. NERR went from me making a place to play to a living entity. No, I never expected that. I
don't think anyone did. We made the rule of two work orders a month to stay active. I do not think there was
ever anyone who only did 2 for the month. We had 10 work orders when we opened the doors and figured
we were good for 5 months, since you only had to run 2 a month. Two days later it was, "Are there
anymore? I ran all those already." If you make the activities, they will run them. Good or bad. It doesn't
matter. That's all you can do with train-sim, run work orders. It's like sex, even bad sex is good.

12. What future changes do you think might happen in the NERR?
With the help of Brian and a few other people, I hope that the NERR will be completely automated. We are
programming several addons to the NETS environment. We are making the WCN for new engineers a self-
paced, self-help program. The same thing is going to happen to our training academy. By setting up visual
aids and walk through scenarios, anyone should be able to apply, go through orientation, become an
engineer and go through the training academy without asking anyone anything, Right now we have a team
of people dealing with new engineers and training. This team of people could be doing other things besides
overseeing students and new hires. The way I see it, you have to own a computer to play train-sim and get
on the 'net. You are most likely using your CPU for other things as well. So it all boils down to how well
you can follow instructions. If you can follow them, you will get into the NERR. If you can't, then maybe
you should be doing something else. Our application and WCN process does not require rocket science to
understand. Too much time over the years has been wasted trying to help people that do not wish to learn to
help themselves. There 250 names on the callboard, but I have over 700 in my notebook, and that was
before NETS. I have no idea how many have come and gone since NETS. You are going to be able to come
and have fun at NERR but not at the expense of others. This I feel has to change and the automation I hope
will do this.

13. Where do you think that the NERR will be in 3-5 years' time?
It will still be here. Whether it will still be using MSTS, I don't know. If MSTS is still runable on systems in
3-5 years from now, we will more than likely be up to 2,000 work orders by then. If people still keep
making new routes, and interest in general is still going for MSTS, NERR will still be using it.

14. If there is a new train simulator in the next couple of years, how do you think that will affect the NERR?
How do you think the NERR should respond to the new simulator?
If a new simulator comes out that is better, we would go that way. When we can't use MSTS any more, we
will have to use something else. I think we will welcome it with open arms, but then again Trainz is still
there and we haven't done anything with it yet.

15. Why did you start the P&ARR? Where did the name come from? How did you choose that area of the
USA and those routes?
I started P&A so I can do some things that I can not do at NERR. If I tried to implement some of the P&A
ideas at NERR, it would just piss a bunch of people off. At P&A, you know what's happening when you
come in. It is a whole different ballgame. I don't have to worry about pissing anyone off at P&A, because it
is different and it is the way I am doing it.

I chose those routes because Jim over at GL&A beat me to the other ones. I didn't
want to use the same ones as him, so I took all that was left. I don't have a
particular interest in the West Coast – I was stationed there for a while – no real
interest in going back.

16. What do you want to get out of the P&ARR for yourself that the NERR does not
now give you?
P&A puts me back in the action on the ground floor. At NERR I am just observing and
giving a push here and there from time to time.

17. Where will the P&ARR be in 3-5 years' time?
The same place NERR will be, online and having fun only on a smaller scale.

18. You have produced a lot of the trains and activities for the NERR. Have you ever thought about building
a route? If you did build a route, do you have an idea of its location / area / era - fictional or prototypical?
If you have no interest in route building, why not?
I have started 5 routes. Finished 0. Lots of work and time goes into route development. I don't have the time
to do it. I started modeling the Conway Yards here at home. At one part it is 180 tracks wide. 180 tracks
does not work in MSTS; it bogs down too badly. I have reworked the MP3.1 route and extended it
fictionally. I purchased the original Tehachapi Pass (the developer's edition) and started adding scenery to it.
If you want to play with the route editor, you can't be doing anything else; it takes all your time.

19. What is your favourite existing MSTS route - payware and freeware? Why?
I really don't have any favorites. The ones we use at NERR are all good; that's why we use them. At P&A
half are commercial routes, and they are excellent. I chose several freeware routes to go with them that are
of commercial quality. Whichever one I am driving on is my favorite.

20. Your favourite locos - RW and NERR and P&ARR? Why?
Same as with the routes. I don't have any favorites. I drive 'em all.

21(a). If you could make one or two changes to the NERR right now, what would it/they be?
I would make people use their real names instead of handles. I always hated handles. Some have one handle
on the callboard, another in the forums, another in their signature, then some have other handles on other
systems. You can't figure out who is who without a scorecard sometimes.

If I would have known all I had to do was make some work orders using payware equipment and people
would have bought the stuff needed, I would have made the VEB - Virtual Extra Board for NERR. But now
we have P&A and GL&A using payware. The impression we got from all our polls was that the majority
were not interested in purchasing anything.

21(b) If you could make one or two changes to the VR world right now, what would it/they be?
Make it a common rule to not mix politics and religion with trainsimming. Keep your religion to yourself
and your politics as well. Other changes would be to eliminate some people from the scene entirely.

22. What irritates you the most?
People who think they have a better idea and insist that it is the only idea, and yours is worthless. If I would
have insisted my way was the only way, there would be no NERR right now. It would be where MRS and
ACR, vBNSF, vCONRAIL and all the other wanna-be VRs are. Dead. People come to NERR, they do not
even run 1 work order or download 1 train, and they tell me "this should be this way, not the way you have
it", on their first post to the forums. Then when you disagree, you are "no good", "blind", "Don't want things
better". Yet they are disagreeing with me from the get-go. If I return their same remarks in disagreement,
then I am really no good. It would be like me coming in your home and telling you your paint on your walls
should be 3% darker to enhance your lifestyle. Then when you disagree, I go ballistic, and we become
enemies. Over what? A lot of people keep forgetting this is a game. Sometimes I am really glad I make

In the other world, there are the people who come in to buy a monument and want "The Biggest we have" to
show their status in the cemetery, and then the people who buy the smallest possible marker and want
everything on it, and the people who are in a hurry and need their marker by "x date" for their Beloved
Whoever that died in 1948.

24. What is your favourite type of work order? Why?
No favorites here either. Sometimes I like to play passenger train driver and go from station to station
keeping up the timetable, and sometimes I like to switch in a yard and build a train, sometimes I like to
drive the train I just built.

25. What do you believe have been the greatest successes in the MSTS world and the NERR? Are there
things that you would like to see developed in the future, either in the NERR or outside it?
I don't know. I would have to say that the greatest success is MSTS itself. They gave us a simulator that we
could add to, and we have been doing nothing but adding to it since day 1. The greatest success of the
NERR would have to be the fact that it is still alive and well and growing. It has had bad servers, and idiots
terrorizing it, and bad servers, and more idiots trying to change it to their way, and bad servers, did I
mention bad servers? Look at it now. Even people who hate it are amazed it is still alive.

26. How can the ordinary NERR member contribute to its continued success?
Keep doing whatever they are doing. Each engineer contributes in their own way, whether they realize it or
not. Even the guy who just runs the work orders and never says anything in the forums is contributing to the
success of NERR. That's what NERR is - a place to play with trains for free. All you have to do is be a civil
human being, and you can play there too. As long as people are playing, they are contributing.

27. What else would you like to tell us about yourself, your family, your ...?
I hate birthdays as they are just another milestone to remind you of the successes you have not made yet.

  •   NORAC (Northeast Operating Rules Advisory Committee) - they produced the RW rules
      book that forms the basis of the NERR training course certification tests. The following
      article describes the history of the evolution of the rules.

      Modern railroad dispatching systems and movement controls have evolved by trial and error
      into a two-tier system of centralized dispatching and trackside signaling. But while the
      physical means of controlling traffic narrowed to a few types of lineside signal equipment —
      semaphores, position-lights, searchlights, etc. — the colors and arrangements ("aspects") they
      presented, and the messages ("indications") they conveyed, continued to vary enormously
      from railroad to railroad (and from country to country, in fact).

      This was no problem as long as train crews stayed on their home territory. But as railroads
      merged, split, and spun off new short lines, and tenant operators such as Amtrak and regional
      commuter systems came into existence, train crews could find themselves on several different
      properties in the course of a working week.

      The creation of Conrail in 1976 out of the remains of half a dozen bankrupt railroads only
      made things worse. It was hard enough to rationalize the systems of the constituent
      companies, let alone interact with other operators over the dense Northeastern U.S. rail

      After several years, the situation had become intolerable. Training costs were getting out of
      hand, because crews had to qualify separately on each line over which they might operate.
      Having to consult half a dozen rulebooks increased enormously the potential for a disastrous

      At the urging of Conrail's Allen Fisher, representatives from six railroads — Conrail, Amtrak,
      Metro-North, New Jersey Transit, South-eastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, and
      Delaware & Hudson — met in Newark, New Jersey, in January 1985, to find a way to bring
      order out of the confusion. Like most first meetings, this one ended with little more than an
      agreement in principle to develop a common rulebook, and a date for the next meeting. The
      representatives at the meeting comprised the Northeast Operating Rules Advisory Committee
      — NORAC for short, which would become the name of the common rulebook.

      Eight railroads were represented at the second meeting, in May 1985: five of the original six
      (Metro-North had withdrawn, and remains outside NORAC), plus Providence & Worcester,
      Long Island Rail Road, and Boston & Maine. The members created a formal committee
      structure, established some general goals, and elected officers.

      NORAC's was not the first attempt to rationalize operating rules. Most Western and Midwest
      U.S. railroads were using a common rulebook called the General Code, while Canadian roads
      adhered to their own Uniform Operating rules. With these models as a guide, NORAC set itself
      the following goals:
      - To develop a uniform set of rules for train movements, protection, and communication.
      - To prepare a common training program so that crews could take one course that would
      qualify them to operate anywhere in NORAC territory.
      - To establish general norms for employee conduct.
      - To rationalize traffic controls and speed limits as much as possible without causing massive
      capital expenses to rebuild signalling systems.

      The first section of the rulebook was put into effect on January 1, 1987; the rest came out over
      the next year. The book includes a glossary of terms, rules of conduct both general and job-
      specific, rules for using radios and telephones, and inspection procedures. But most of the
      book deals with the movement and protection of trains.

      NORAC's achievement is most striking in the section on signals. The wide variety of position-
      light, color-position light, and searchlight signals presents more than 150 aspects, but they
      reduce to only 15 principal indications, which in turn conform to just four in-cab signals. Track
      types, speed limits, and movement controls have been similarly codified.

      Originally, NORAC defined three principal types of train control: automatic block, manual
      block, and voice. An automatic block system (ABS) is governed by track circuits, and can
      accommodate all kinds of automatic controls, including CTC and automatic train stop
      equipment. The manual block (MBS) and voice control (VCS) systems were both governed by
      NORAC's well-known Form D, on which a conductor records the instructions given by the
      dispatcher. In essence, Form D is a directly transmitted train order. The difference between
      MBS and VCS proved to be negligible, so the fourth edition of the rule book, released at the
      beginning of 1993, combined the two into a single "Form D Control System" (DCS).

      These rules govern operation on main lines, defined as those with some form of block control
      system. On "running tracks," yard tracks, and other lines that typically see only one movement
      at a time, the member railroads may use any convenient means, including simple voice
      dispatching by telephone or radio.

      NORAC has now firmly established that its rules enhance safety, reduce costs, and promote
      operating efficiency. Even roads that don't run over NORAC territory, such as tourist line New
      Hope & Ivyland, have adopted the NORAC rulebook for its simplicity.

                      (This article was derived from an article by Martin Graetz in "Trains")

10 December

  •   Trivia for the day:

          o   Walt Disney's uncle was a railroad engineer.

          o   For the railroad sequences in the 1963 movie called "The Great Escape", which starred
              Steve McQueen, a railroad engine was rented, and two condemned cars were
              purchased and modified to house the camera equipment. Scenes were shot on the
              single rail line between Munich and Hamburg, and a railroad representative was on
              hand to advise the filmmakers when to pull aside to avoid hitting scheduled oncoming
              trains. (Source:

          o   How would you go if you had to announce some of the following railroad stations - all
              of these are in India: Venkatanarasimharajuvariapeta on the Arakkonam-Renigunta
              section of the Southern Railway (the first station after Renigunta towards Arakkonam.
              Some other stations with long names are Indragarh Sumerganj Mandi (on the Kota -
              Sawai Madhopur line), Tiruchchirapalli Palakarai (near Tiruchchirapalli), Acharya
              Narendra Dev Nagar (near Faizabad), Baba Bakala Raiya (on the Jalandhar -
              Amritsar section), Anandatandavapuram (near Mayiladuturai), Fatehabad
              Chandrawatiganj (near Indore), Tondalagopavaram (near Vijayawada),
              Mullagunnathukavu (near Trichur), Giani Zail Singh Sandhwan (between Firozpur
              and Bathinda), Narayana Pakuriya Muraila (between Howrah and Kharagpur), and
              Tondalagopavaram (near Vijayawada).

9 December

  •   So what is NEAWOS? It's another innovative addition to our internal systems for managing a
      VR, developed by one of our own Research and Development team!!

      If you click on the Divisions link on the main website page's menu, it will take you to the
      Divisions' page. Then you can click on anyone of the Divisions and then on the Stations link -
      and then you will find out what NEAWOS means. It is the latest addition to the NERR
      automated VR system. In the words of the developer of this new facility, Brian Element (ID#
      7): "With over 725 work orders currently available, I felt that it was becoming
      difficult to find what we are looking for. So with Bob's blessing I started working
      on NEAWOS. NEAWOS allows an engineer to do different types of searches
      in order to find the types of work orders that he is interested in running.
      Currently there are 5 search functions:

      1. Search by name of work order - so if you know what you are looking for you
      can go directly to the work order and download the file.

      2. General work order search. This allows you to search on the following:
      a) Division / Route
      b) Subsidiary
      c) Operations
      d) Locomotive or type of locomotive
      e) Season
      f) Developer
      g) Length
      h) and start time

      You can also be very specific. So using the above you could look for a work order
      by 'elementb', on the east metro route using the BQ23 and running in summer
      and starting between 6 and 7 am.

      3) View the most recent work order. This is useful when you want to view
      what has most recently been added. Currently there is an option for the last 5,
      10, 15 and 20, but if need be I can expand this.

      4) View by location. You select a route, and this would show the departure and
      ending locations for the work orders within this route.

      5) Search for multi-part work orders. You can decide if it is a continental
      (which covers multiple divisions), within a division, or within a route. It will
      display the work orders related to this, so it becomes easy to find the next work
      order in a series.

      The detail description is the same as before except now it contains additional

      When viewing the summary information (after you have performed a search), you
      will see a column called links that can have up to 4 icons. The icons represent the

          o   Train - takes you to the detailed info for that work order.
        o   Arrow - Allows you to download the work order.

        o   Files - if this work order is part of a set of work orders this will take you to
            a screen that will list all the work orders in the series.

        o   Telephone/Answering machine - You can leave comments and or hints for
            any work order. If the icon is a telephone, there are currently no
            comments; if there is an answering machine, someone has left a comment.
            All comments are moderated and must be approved before being posted,
            so if you leave a comment, it might take a day or two to show up. When
            posting a comment, you will get an email with a copy of your comment.
            Also, comments can only be left by NERR engineers, so you will have to
            enter your NETS id and password when leaving a comment. Comments will
            also be displayed at the bottom of the detailed descriptions.

    So this is the beginning - I have more stuff planned.

    Now I would like help from the engineers. As I had to put 727 work orders into a
    database, I am sure that I have made errors along the way. If you find anything
    that is incorrect, could you please post it in the NETS forum so I can make the
    necessary changes. I know of a couple of errors in there now that I will be fixing,
    but as you download items let me know if you find anything that does not look

    So now that you know what NEAWOS is, you can click here to go and try it out for yourself.

•   Last month, we published a long list of words that are part of railroad slang - with an
    explanation for those who are experience-deprived. Let's have a look at some words and
    phrases from the opposite point of view. How many words and phrases do you know that have
    been derived from railroad practices or procedures or slang? Can you add to this list?

                           •   All steamed up
                           •   Brownie Points
                           •   Derail
                           •   Double-header
                           •   Featherbedding
                           •   Fireman (Engineer trainee)
                           •   Getting Coupled
                           •   Go off the rails
                           •   Hell of a way to run a railroad
                           •   Hell on Wheels
                           •   Highball
                           •   Hog Head (railroad engineer)
                           •   Huff and Puff
                           •   Jerkwater Town
                           •   Mainline
                           •   Make the Grade
                           •   On Track
                           •   One-track Mind
                           •   Railroaded
                           •   Real McCoy
                           •   Roll Boxcars (twelve in dice)
                           •   Roundhouse Punch
                           •   Run out of Steam
                           •   Sidetracked
                                 •   Standard Time
                                 •   Station Wagon
                                 •   Tank Town
                                 •   Timetable
                                 •   Whistle-stop
                                 •   Wrong Side of the Tracks

8 December

    •   What is a slug? A slug (example - the closer of the two
        vehicles in the photo to the right) is a vehicle designed to
        help move trains. It has traction motors and added weight
        (or "ballast") but no cab or diesel engine. The electric
        current for its motors is provided by an attached standard
        locomotive fitted with cable connections to feed electrical
        current to the slug. Without its own power source, a slug cannot move by itself and is not a
        locomotive in the strict sense of the word.

        Click here to view a web page on Southern Pacific EMD Yard Slugs. This photo shows a
        Norfolk Southern yard slug. Click here to view one railfan's page on slugs.

        Slugs enable a more complete use of a locomotive's power output than would otherwise be
        possible. A locomotive has more power than it can use for tractive effort at low speeds. At a
        certain point, the result of the application of more power is to make the wheels slip. A greater
        tractive effort can be achieved by spreading the power over the additional wheels of a slug.

        Slugs are most effective at low speeds. Since their introduction in the 1940s, they have been
        used extensively in hump yards, where entire trains must be moved at a walking pace during

        The basic elements of a slug are:

            o   traction motors (most slugs are four-motor units, although at least three railroads
                have operated six-motor slugs),
            o   a hood to house blowers for the traction motors and other electrical gear,
            o   added weight (usually a large block of concrete) to enhance traction,
            o   m.u. connections,
            o   receptacles for traction current from the mother unit,
            o   brakes,
            o   sanders,
            o   steps,
            o   handrails, and
            o   headlights.

        Slugs have road numbers, which sometimes include letters to distinguish them from
        independent locomotives.

They are generally built by remodelling existing locomotives, although some railroads have built them
from scratch, as have General Motors and General Electric. The process of changing a hood unit into a
slug usually involves altering the hood to a lower profile - they do not need full-height hoods because
they have minimal on-board equipment needing protection. Low hoods also aid switching; the crew on
a slug's mother unit can see over them. Sometimes the desire to economize during the conversion
results in the full hood, and even the cab (with windows blanked over), being retained. Carbody units
like F7s kept their shape when converted into slugs, as their design uses the full carbody for structural

The name "slug" is derived from the early use of such units in very slow-speed yard work. General
Electric's name for its slugs of the 1970s (built as new units) was MATE (Motors for added tractive
effort). In the same period, "TEBU" (tractive effort booster unit) was Morrison Knudsen's term for its
slug design.

The advent of high-horsepower diesels led to the development of slugs for road use in 1970. While yard
slugs are useful up to about 12 mph, road slugs cut out at 30-35 mph, when the mother units need all
their power for themselves. Refinements to the basic slug concept include fuel tanks connected to the
mother unit's tank (making the slug a fuel tender), dynamic brakes, and control cabs.

CSX's 131 units (rebuilt from GP30s and GP35s in 1988-1991) are by far the largest road-slug fleet.
They have fuel tanks, dynamics, and they have retained their cabs Outwardly, their appearance is little
changed from their days as locomotives. The only way to tell that they are slugs is that they lack hood
doors, radiator grilles, rooftop fans, and exhaust stacks, and they have additional electrical and fuel
connections to the mother unit.

                                   3 December

                                       •    Bill Prieger (ID# 269), a long-serving engineer, and one
                                           of our newer members, has agreed to write a column for
                                           Roundhouse Ramblings. He will be writing about his
                                           experiences as an engineer in the RW, both stories from the
                                           engineer's seat and information about train operations in
                                           the RW. The title of his column, "Old Heading", is
                                           explained in his first article. We know that you will enjoy his

Bill is also very interested in any stories and information that other members would like to send him
about their experiences on the rails. You can contact him through the forums or the crew callboard by
email or PM.

    •   I have just run a couple of P&A activities on the Whitefish 5 route . What a scenic area that
        route runs through! The area near MP1353 includes a beautifully-landscaped valley on the side
        away from the river, and seeing the area around Leonia made me itch to go bushwalking up
        the narrow valley leading away from the river. The route developer did a great job of placing
        the vegetation to complement a spectacular piece of landscape. The activities are part of a
                                   series of 4 that Bob (ID# 1) has developed for his P&A RR. They
                                   involve shifting full and empty lumber cars and, so far, have been a
                                   pleasure to run.

                          Don't forget that the P&A RR and the GL&A RR are both part of the NERR
                          rail network. If you are interested in running some of the payware routes,
                          consider joining one or both of them. Joining those VRs is free; you just need
                          to buy the routes and payware equipment that they use. Bob (ID# 1) runs the
P&A, and Jim (ID# 4) runs the GL&A. Both VRs are for serious engineers, rather than MSTS novices,
as the focus is on running the routes, not on teaching people how to - more support of that sort is
available here at the NERR.

    •   You will soon hear more from another NERR network subsidiary - Bison Rail . This is the
        name taken on by the Central Division of the NERR and used for activities and equipment
        used within the boundaries of the division. They have developed a range of activities using
        their own equipment in the brown and gold livery. You don't need to join - as an NERR
        engineer, you can run their activities as part of the NERR NETS. And just as a piece of trivia:
        BR = Bison Rail = Best Railroad = bons rapazes in Portuguese (means 'good guys')!

The following article was published in the June 1921 edition of the Rock Island Magazine, produced by
the Rock Island Railroad:

                     Our First Woman Passenger
  Written By: William T. Shine, Accountant, Valuation Department

  A Little barefoot girl in a soiled gingham apron, with her hair in a single braid down
  her back, and a face not overly clean, stood earnestly watching a gathering of
  railway officials at the south end of the Chicago terminus of the Rock Island Railway
  at Twenty second street, early in October 1852.

  The construction work on the new railroad was a familiar sight as she played by the
  new trucks or carried lunches down to her brother, who was foreman of the
  construction gang. But this was an occasion of special note. The road had been
  completed as far as Joliet, and today a crowd of workmen was gathered to watch the
  special train that stood waiting to take the officials on the inspection trip.

  The crowd opened as President Farnam stepped through, swing on the car and
  turned to give the signal. Just then his eye fell on the little girl in gingham. "Wait a
  minute." he said as his eyes twinkled, "the only lady present! Let her have the honor
  of being the first woman to ride on the Rock Island Railway."

  Her brother, foreman of construction was on the train and made frantic attempts to
  render his sister more presentable, with doubtful success. The changing panorama
  was intensely interesting to the little girl. Accustomed to the flat sameness of the
  outlook about her home,, her eyes feasted on the woods, rich with autumn coloring,
  the stretches of swaps near the tracks, and the open sweep of prairie beyond, and
  more marvelous still, the bands of dazed and awestruck Indians that watched the
  great monster invading their dominions.

  Several stops were made, where their arrival was received with rejoicing. The
  jubilant officials were more than pleased; their promise that the first portion of the
  Rock Island Railway would be completed by Christmas, had been kept to the letter.

  When the reached their destination, a great banquet was spread and a place was
  reserved for the little girl right next to Mr. Farnam and beside her brother. Looking
  down the long table, she saw the platters heaped high with meats and salads, great
  bowls of luscious fruits and cakes and goodies of more kinds than she ever dreamed
  there were in the world. Breathless she gazed, momentarily expecting to awaken
  from her dream. While all was a memorable day for her (and she recalls to this day
  every detail of it) still no part of it was quite so near fairyland as that wonderful

  Today, that little girl is a great-grandmother, and the small railway she rode over
has grown into a great system, linking together fourteen states. The distinction of
being the "Rock Island's First Woman Passenger" belongs to Mrs. Mary Quaid Emery,
81 years of age, who resides with her grand daughter at 5916 South LaSalle Street,

The Rock Island and LaSalle Railroad Company was incorporated February 27, 1817,
be a special Act of the Illinois Legislature to construct and operate a railroad from
Rock Island to the Illinois and Michigan canal near LaSalle. On February 27, 18xx,
the name was changed to the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad Company with
authorization to continue the projected railroad to Chicago via Ottawa and Joliet. It
was not until August 1866, that the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad Company of
Illinois and the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway Company of Iowa were
consolidated and formed the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway Company of
today, commonly referred to as the consolidation of 1866.

On September 6, 1851, a contract was let to Sheffield and Farnum to construct the
entire line from Chicago to Rock Island. Work was commenced on April 10, 1852,
and on October 10th of that year, the first passenger train was operated between
Chicago and Joliet. The Joliet Genesco line was opened on December 19, 1853, and
the Genesco-Rock Island and LaSalle Railroad Company and the Chicago, Rock
Island Railroad Company before this time. One of the first foremen engaged, who
later became superintendent and finally sub-contractor, was Jerry Quaid, Mrs.
Emery's oldest brother.

Although the snows of eighty-one winters have whitened her hair, Mrs. Emery has
retained remarkable control of her faculties, possessing an unusual memory; vividly
recalling names, dates and facts with unquestionable accuracy. She comes from a
long lived family. A sister died recently at the age of ninety-one and a brother at

Mrs. Emery was born near Kenosha, Wisconsin in 1840, the youngest of a family of
seven; three brothers, Jerry, Dennis and Andrew Quaid, were in the employ of the
Rock Island at various times. Jerry was one of the first; Dennis, a yard master, was
killed on duty at Harrison street in 1885 after twenty-three years of service. Mrs.
Emery has three children, who, with her husband and great grandchildren, all reside
in Chicago. Mr. Emery, who is eighty-six, was a city fireman during the Chicago fire.

In 1847, Mrs. Emery's father, reputed to be wealthy, drawn by the Chicago "boom"
then at its height, disposed of his property near Kenosha and moved to Chicago,
locating at Fourteenth and Clark streets. He built eight two-story frame houses,
which he later rented to the new Rock Island employees. Little Mary Quaid, as she
was then called, was almost daily at the construction camp at Twenty-second street,
near by, to visit her brother Jerry.

"My mother died before we moved to Chicago," said Mrs. Emery. "My brother Jerry
lived with his family near Clark and Twenty-second streets. I was very fond of him
and spent most of my time there. Mr. Farnam was a big, kindly-hearted man with a
heavy beard. He and I were the best of friends. He was in active charge of the field
work, and with his horse and buggy, he would cover the progress of construction
daily. Often, I was invited to accompany him, and I seldom refused. He was very
kind to me, and sometimes jocularly, threatened Jerry that he was going to kidnap

"Chicago at that time was a big, struggling town rather than a city. The 'Main
Street', where all the stores were located, had not yet moved from Lake to State
Street. South and North, the residences were scattered irregularly, with stretches of
open prairie between. The gold rush of 1849 had not subsided and there were many
strangers. The prime interest in those days was to get a job, and wages were
secondary. People had to work and luxuries were few".

Mrs. Emery's four score years have seen many profound changes, and she holds
decided opinions on the tendencies of modern life. "People of today", she says, "are
pleasure mad, because they have found life too easy. They live too fast, eat too
much , and go too much, so they have not time for recreation or to make friends.
The lesson they must learn, is Moderation - Moderation is everything!"

 •   The following information is derived from an article in Trains magazine (written by Paul
     Schneider). It is not intended to be a comprehensive history of locomotives in the U.S.A.
     but rather an introduction to the topic:

                       Who Built the Diesels?
The following paragraphs list the major diesel locomotive-building companies in the
U.S.A. and provide some information about them and their products.

American Locomotive Company

For some years after World War II, the American Locomotive Company was the #2
diesel builder in the U.S.A.

The company, based in Schenectady, New York, began producing its first diesels in
collaboration with General Electric and Ingersoll-Rand in 1924, using its traditional
name, the American Locomotive Company.

From 1940 to 1953, Alco and GE combined their locomotive sales branches and
marketed their products under the Alco-GE name. For simplicity's sake, any
locomotives are called "Alcos."

North of the border, Alco's Canadian subsidiary was the Montreal Locomotive Works
(MLW). In 1979, it was acquired by Bombardier Inc., which marketed refined
versions of several Alco designs until its exit from the locomotive market in 1987.
They are frequently called "Alcos" as well. Bombardier's later designs, on the other
hand, are considered unique, and the Alco label is usually not used.

Alco was considered innovative in its field. In pre-World War II years, when the
Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific asked for a locomotive for branch-line service, Alco
added road trucks and a short hood to a 1000 hp switcher and created the RS1, the
first diesel road-switcher.

Alco's 1500 hp RS2 - the RS1 increased in size - was produced three years before
rival EMD produced its similar 1500 hp - the GP7. Other Alco innovations include the
first mass-market six-motor unit (the RSD4) and the first use (1966) of an A.C.
alternator instead of the conventional D.C. generator. Alco also pioneered
remanufacturing in 1965 when it produced four Milwaukee Road RSC2's with
upgraded components.
Alco quit the new locomotive market in 1969.


Baldwin was the generic name for diesels produced by both the Baldwin Locomotive
Works (BLW) and Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton Corporation (BLH). BLH was the outcome
of a 1950 merger. Baldwin did not ever achieve the success of Alco or EMD, which
was the #1 builder in the 1940s and 50s.

Like Alco, Baldwin formed a close relationship with its electrical supplier,
Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Co. After some experimentation, Baldwin
launched a line of standard diesel switchers in 1939. Road diesels were built starting
in 1945, immediately after the end of World War II. They quickly became much
more profitable.

BLH left the market in 1956.

Baldwin specialised in building special order locos, such as

   •   a bidirectional, high-horsepower locomotive for slow-speed transfer service (a
       twin-engine, 2000 hp, centre-cab called the DT-6-6-2000).
   •   a huge 3000 hp passenger unit - the DR-12-8-1500/2, commonly known as
       the "Centipede."


Electro-Motive was the #1 locomotive builder until the early 1980's.

It began as the Electro-Motive Corporation (EMC), a gas-electric car design company
purchased by General Motors in 1930. In 1941 EMC and its subsidiary, Winton
Engine, which supplied the diesel engines for EMC switchers, were merged into
General Motors Corporation. They became the Electro-Motive Division of GM.
Products of Electro Motive Corporation are known as "EMCs" and Electro-Motive
Division as "EMDs". In 1988, GM shifted all new locomotive assembly to London, in
Ontario, Canada. This left EMD in the U.S.A. to build diesel engines and other
components, which are then sent to London for final assembly.

GM locos are basically standardised, utilitarian, but rather elegant. Certainly those
words describe many of GM's products:

   •   GP7s, one of several GM non-turbocharged, four-motor road-switchers known
       as "Geeps";
   •   the streamlined E-series six-axle passenger diesels;
   •   the businesslike NW- and SW-series switchers; and
   •   the angular GP and SD models introduced after 1964, usually called "second
       generation" diesels, because they were the first built to replace older diesels,
       rather than steam locomotives.

Although GM's market share dropped to second place behind GE in 1983, GM
locomotives remain a fixture on today's railroad scene.


Fairbanks-Morse's entry into the North American locomotive market was the result
of two companies that were a part of the FM group. One was a railroad supply firm
that produced pumps, track cars, etc. The other was a supplier of non-railroad diesel
and gasoline engines. A version of their opposed-piston engine was used to repower
old gas-electric cars. The engines made a distinctive booming or drumming sound
that were unlikely to be confused with anything else. The company started building
locomotives in 1944.

All FM yard units and road-switchers were produced at FM's Beloit (Wisconsin) plant
until 1949. All FM locomotives were built at Beloit from 1949 until FM left the market
in 1963.

If FM's were not maintained properly, they had a tendency to smoke - thick, whitish-
blue clouds. FM switchers and road-switchers were characterised by boxy lines and
long, tall hoods.

Probably the most famous FM is the Train Master, a 2400 hp six-motor unit built
between 1953 and 1956.

FM has now almost vanished from the railroad scene. Not a single road-switcher unit
survives in service in the U.S.A. or Canada. A few switchers survive on industrial
railroads and at military installations.

General Electric

GE, with Ingersoll-Rand, produced a range of switchers in the 1930s using engines
supplied by IR and Cooper-Bessemer.

GE, in partnership with Alco from 1940 to 1953, produced a centre-cab switcher, the
44-tonner, so named because it weighed in at 88,000 pounds. This was the biggest
one-man locomotive possible under a 1937 diesel agreement that prevented the
railroads from operating any diesel over 90,000 pounds without a fireman. GE also
produced a 70-ton model (for branch lines with restricted axle loadings) and a 95-
ton model (a beefed-up 70-tonner).

GE's switcher range eventually expanded into the "1974 line", consisting of three
models between 600 hp.. (SL80), 800 hp (SL110), and 1100 hp (SL144) - all
designed as industrial units. GE also tried to promote the SL144 as a Class 1 railroad

Alco and GE separated in 1953, although GE continued to supply Alco with electrical

During the 1950s, GE investigated road diesels leading, in 1959, to introduction of
the U25B. The U stood for Universal, the 25 for 2500 hp, and the B for four-motor
trucks. The U25B was a serious challenge to the two surviving diesel builders - EMD
and Alco. The U25B helped GE to become the #2 producer, pushing Alco down to
third place, where it would stay. The U25B's higher horsepower and centralised air
system prompted EMD to meet the challenge with its 2250 hp GP30.

In 1983, GE finally moved to the #1 market spot, and the rivalry between the two
continues to this day.

GE continually improved the appearance of their locos. While the shape of the EMD
diesels hardly changed from the GP35 of 1964 to the introduction of the wide-cab
         SD60M in the early 1980s, GE's U-series diesels from the same period (often
         referred to as "U-boats") went through several external changes. Most evident were

              •   windshields (one-piece at first, then split);
              •   the size of their short hoods (long at first, then drooped, then short and
              •   the size and shape of their radiators (from the U25B's uncluttered lines to the
                  flared, bat-wing-like radiators found on later U33 and U36 models); and
              •   road trucks (beginning with the traditional AAR Type B truck and changing to
                  GE's own FB2 "floating bolster" design).

         The variations in appearance continued with the squared-off car body lines and
         flared radiators on its Dash 8 series. Flared radiators are also a characteristic of GE’s
         AC4400s and 6000s.


         The sixth major diesel builder, Lima-Hamilton, did not indulge in changes in design.
         That is mainly because Lima, as it is usually called (pronounced LIE-mah, not lee-
         mah), was not around long enough to make many changes.

         Lima entered the domestic diesel market in 1947. It merged with engine-maker
         Hamilton and produced its first switcher in 1949. When Lima merged with rival
         supplier Baldwin in 1950, the fate of Lima diesels was sealed. In 1951, only a year
         later, all Lima locomotive production ended - the models did not live on at all.

         All Lima locomotives were constructed at the old steam loco shop in Lima, Ohio.
         Engines were produced at the Hamilton factory in Hamilton, Ohio.

         The company's products did not stand out in the crowd. The four switcher models
         (750, 800, 1000, and 1200 hp) looked like squared Baldwins or elongated Alcos. The
         sole four-motor road-switcher model (1200 hp) resembled the Alco RS1. A double-
         engined 2500 hp centre-cab loco looked just like the Baldwin model, but squarer.
         Perhaps it is only the rounded corners on their windshields that makes them

         Limas, like FM's, were not best-sellers. Lima sold zero locomotives to a railroad west
         of Kansas City. The St. Louis-based Wabash line was the furthest west they were
         used. The only places where you will see Limas today are on a couple of short lines
         and in museums.

2 December

  •    New Page : On the news website, you will find a link to a new page containing a glossary or dictionary of
      railroad slang terms. The first material on the page is taken from last month's Roundhouse Ramblings lists
      contributed by Bill Prieger (ID# 269). The list will be added to from time to time as new material is found or

  •   Other Downloads page: Route-Riter V6.1.57 + the new language packs for Train Store V3.1.
•   Time Slip Statistics for November 2004 – some interesting trends starting to emerge from the data:

                                          August     September         October         November
          No. of active engineers           124          109              112                105
        No. of time slips submitted         795          772              716                721
          No. of NERR time slips            652          606              643                561
                Total hours                 1443        1264             1234                1569
       Average hours per time slip          1.8          1.6              1.7                1.6
               Total Revenue              $43,290     $37,296           $37,014          $35,079
      Average revenue per time slip         $54          $48              $52                $49

•   Work Order Statistics for November 2004 for the top 26 work orders:

    NEWC-1-Grainmove          Diesel      Freight     1:00          Bob Artim           52      1 (1)
       NECV-007-03a           Diesel      Freight     0:45           elementb           51      2 (2)
        NENE-KA-001           Diesel      Freight     2:45       Kevin Arceneaux        47      3 (3)
       NEWH-100-01            Diesel      Freight     1:18            GaryH             44      4 (4)
       NECV-007-03b           Diesel      Freight     1:30           elementb           40      5 (7)
       NEFB-100-05A           Diesel      Freight     0:50            GaryH             39      6 (5)
        NEER-110-01           Diesel      Freight     1:00       Antonio Miranda        38      7 (5)
       NEWH-150-01a           Diesel      Freight     0:30          buttercup           38      7 (7)
        NEFB-045-01           Diesel      Freight     1:30      Mont Denver Gold        38      7 (7)
       NEWH-100-01a           Diesel      Freight     2:15            GaryH             37     10 (11)
       NEWH-150-01b           Diesel      Freight     1:35          buttercup           36     11 (10)
        NENE-018-1a           Electric   Passenger    0:30        Gary Gardner          35     12 (16)
       NEWH-150-01c           Diesel      Freight     1:20          buttercup           35     12 (11)
       NENE-163-01a           Diesel       MOW        1:10            Stumbl            35     12 (23)
        NELV-260-01           Diesel      Freight     1:00        Intelvet - Jim        34     15 (11)
       NECV-010-BR2           Diesel      Freight     0:20           Dandy1             34     15 (-)
       NEDF-109-X01           Diesel      Freight     1:50        Robert Reedy          33     17 (14)
       NEMM-110-01            Diesel      Freight     1:40       Antonio Miranda        33     17 (15)
       NEWH-100-01b           Diesel      Freight     1:00            GaryH             32     18 (23)
        NEFB-045-02           Diesel      Freight     1:50      Mont Denver Gold        32     18 (20)
       NENE-105-03a           Diesel      Freight     1:30       Manuel Pinochet        31     19 (16)
       NEWH-150-01d           Diesel      Freight     3:20          buttercup           31     19 (20)
       NEFB-100-05B           Diesel      Freight     0:50            GaryH             31     19 (16)
       NEFB-123-01a           Diesel      Freight     1:45           Hiemdal            31     19 (16)
         NECV-007-04            Diesel       Freight    1:30            elementb            31     19 (-)
        NECV-010-BR1            Diesel       Freight    0:40             Dandy1             31     19 (-)

•   In September, there were 12 work orders which were at the bottom of the complete version of the above table -
    they had 0 runs completed since the NETS started in January 2004. Now there are 6: NEMP-KA2002, NEMP-
    KA2003, NEDF-Christmas-Eagle, NESE-XMAS-EAGLE, NEFB-LTP101, and NEWC-Xmas-Train. Most are for
    old versions of the routes. Others have been withdrawn.

•   There are 16 work orders that have been run only once since January 2004. Why not go and run some of them -
    give the developer a small Christmas present of some royalties! They are: NEFB-E01-EB, NEMP-KA2005,
    NEMP-KA2006, NELG-026-06S, NELG-026-05a, NEPR-088-15a, NEPR-088-15b, NEPR-100-03C, NEPR-100-
    03D, NEOW-088-10b, NEMP-Xmas-Eagle, NEBM-018-06, NEHN-018-10, NEDF-026-23H, NESR-110-04, and
    NEFL-018h. Remember that some of them might have been withdrawn or might be for old versions of the routes
    - check them out first.

•   And a few more bits of railroad slang:

                                         Railroad Slang
    •   Engineer - hogger, hoghead, driver
    •   Engineer trainee - piglet
    •   Conductor - Ram-rod, conducer, 'The Brains', skipper
    •   Fireman - Bakehead
    •   Brakeman - brakie, pinner, pinhead, baby lifter
    •   Yard Master - yard goat, dinger
    •   Yard crew - yard rats, hostler
    •   Car inspector - car knocker, wheel knocker, car toad, car tonk
    •   Dispatcher - dipsnatcher
    •   Track worker - Gandy Dancer, snipe
    •   Passengers - peeps (short for "people")
    •   Switchman - iron bender
    •   Railroad detective - bull, cinder dick, pussyfoot (in plain clothes)
    •   Railroad executive - Brass Hat
    •   Locomotives - hogs, lokies, power, motors
    •   Caboose - hack, crummie, brain box
    •   Switcher engine - goat
    •   Mainline - main, iron, high iron, high rail
    •   Switch - turnout
    •   Cut - string of cars
    •   Train order - flimsy
    •   Vandals - little terrorists, munchkins
    •   Semi-trailer - pig
    •   "On the high iron, let the big dogs walk" - the caboose is over the switch and on the
        mainline, so open the throttle all the way on the locomotives.
    •   "All black, well stacked, goin' down the track clickity-clack" - the train looked good on the
        visual roll-by inspection.
    •   "Pull the pin" or "let's pull the pin and roll" - "uncouple so we can get out of here" .
    •   "Highball it out of here." - Proceed at maximum permissible speed.
•    "Double the hill" - the train is split in half to get up a grade.
•    "We are on the ground!" - the train has derailed.
•    "Mosey Speed" - when you approach the limit of your track warrant and have not received a
     new warrant, you mosey up to the limit prepared to stop.
•    "Grip" - Trainman's suitcase.
•    "Dead Head" - A railroad employee travelling as a passenger.
•    "Drag" - Describes the movement of a heavy train, such as a coal drag.
•    "Dump the air" - Emergency application of the air brakes causing a train to stop abruptly.
•    "Dog chasing" - A crew change out.

    1 December

       •   The new column will be starting in a day or two. The past editions of Roundhouse Ramblings
           are now available in PDF format on the Archives page - use the link in the menu to the left.
           The November edition has been emailed to all engineers; if yours did not arrive safely, please
           let us know. It was a rather large file and may have caused problems with your ISP policies on
           the size of attachments.

       •   Week 4 Test - Diesel Certification Course:

       xanadu - poem and password! Poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and password
       for the Week 4 Test in the Diesel Certification Course. What do they have in
       common? Not a lot - the poem talks about a "stately pleasure dome" and " a
       damsel with a dulcimer" - not many of either of those things in the NERR!

       Anyway, back to the VW. I did the three Study Guide tests, using the NORAC
       document as a reference, and did reasonably well on them - no 100% scores for
       me. But looking over the questions that I had answered wrongly, I wondered
       what would have happened if I had been in charge of a train worth, I guess,
       several million dollars and come up with the wrong decision based on my wrong
       answer! Maybe we should make the pass mark on that test a perfect 100% - for
       those who do the test in the future of course - can't possibly make it

       A small suggestion to those of you who are thinking of joining the course next
       time - print out the study guide tests and do them offline first, then go online
       and put in your answers. There is a time limit set by the quiz hosting facility,
       even though there is no time limit imposed by the NERR Testing Centre - can be
       very frustrating!

       I have to admit that I HATE TESTS! I felt quite a high degree of nervousness as I
       submitted the 40 answers for the Test. You can re-do the study guide tests
       several times if you want to, but you get only one chance at the certification test.
       If you do not get the required 80% to pass, then you have to 'negotiate' with the
       Course Managers to get a second chance.

       But I did it. The best thing about the way that it is set up is that you get your
       score immediately you submit the answers. There is no long waiting period while
       an examiner marks your paper and sends it back to you. For better or for worse,
       you know your fate almost as soon as you finish the test. Yippee, I passed, and
quite comfortably. I admire those who scored 100%, but I passed, and that's OK
with me.

Only 8 more activities and 1 more test to go. And what do our examiners have
as the password for the final Test at the end of week 8 - impossible! They have
warped senses of humour!

•   Other Downloads page: Train Store v3.1 is now available. There have been a long list of
    additional features added and improvements made to this very useful utility. This is the list as
    posted in the NERR forum:

1. There is facility to add Loose Stock and even AI Traffic to Explore
with. In the Easy Explore page it is now possible to select the Loose Stock
and/or the AI Traffic from any Activity in the Route, and have it run in Explore
Mode. (The results are dependant upon suitable starting conditions e.g. choosing
a starting point which is in the middle of a set of Loose Stock will obviously not
work). AI Traffic will start at the times which were originally set in the Activity,
but are unlikely to run to completion unless it is on simple non-conflicting paths

2. Support for RailDriver. If RailDriver is being used, there is a facility to
automatically start Raildriver (instead of MSTS) when launching an Activity or
Explore session. (Because of MSTS limitations this is not functional with the
Explore Mode with Loose Stock and AI traffic).

3. Check for System Restore Activity. If System Restore has been used, it
can sometimes create duplicate sets of MSTS folder structures. If this happens
and the user does not detect it, then a large number of files can be placed in the
incorrect folder structure. Train Store now detects such duplicate folders on start
up, and will refuse to run until the condition is rectified. (The MSTS System
Restore Recovery Utility which is also available, allows for very quick recovery
from this problem without the effort of renaming large numbers of files by hand).

4. Additional Consist Filtering is provided in Easy Explore. In addition to
the existing Consist filtering which is available in Easy Explore, it is now possible
to filter to restrict the Consists to those which are 'used' in the Route. (i.e. used
by Activities)

5. Stock Item List, Consist List and Path List Views are Available. Under
the Consists, Stock and Path menu sections, there are new items to allow the
user to view the complete list of Consists, Stock Items, or Paths for the

6. Stored/In Use Information is visible in lists. Items in Consist, Stock Item
and Path lists, are now highlighted if they are In Use. When the Immediate
Unstore feature is used, the highlighting is updated so that the current state is
always visible. The user can change the highlighting of the In Use items to suit
their preference.

7. Additional Checks for deleted items in lists. If the underlying item for an
entry in an Explore Mode Consist list, a Maintenance Mode Consist list, or a
Maintenance Mode Stock list has been deleted, on opening the list the missing
items are reported, and the user has the option of removing any or all of the
affected items from the list.
 8. 'Where Used' Reports are available on the complete installation.
 Additional Where Used report facilities have been added to provide a complete
 report for all items in the installation. There are three flavours: Used Items,
 Unused Items, and Complete Report. The Where Used facility now reports back a
 complete dependency trail up to Activity level.

 •   A handy hint from Mal (airartist, ID# 229):

 I am so thrilled about this little "tweak" that I discovered almost by accident in
 my attempt to get more smoke out my steam locomotives! Here's what will
 really make smoke belch out of any steam engine;

 1. Open your steam locomotive engine file.
 2. Scroll down to the "steam special effects" section.
 3. StackFX
 0 5.05 0.648
 0.08 = This last set of numbers set to this 0.08(or close to my numbers) and
 save this change!

 I'm sure a lot of you know about this "MOD", but I'm also sure a few of you
 don't! I noticed most of the default last digits are usually in the 0.28 thru 0.3

 P.S. It's a good idea of course to make a backup before making any changes!

 I hope this helps a few people, because I really like the added smoke!!! Please
 let me know!

                                                               From Train-Sim forum

            Claude's Corner
     by Claude Thibault, NERR Engineer #23

Article #5 - 11 December 2004
Rugby explained to North Americans…… at last! Been looking at the game for a
month. I think I now understand and am able to explain it. To play Rugby you need
2 teams of 15 players and one ball. Each player must be at least 7 feet tall and
weigh over a ton. Now, the object of the game is to finish the game….. alive! That’s
al! The last man standing, breathing on his own, wins the game. The calendar of
games is dependant on how fast the players are released from the hospital. The
following is the vocabulary of the game as taken from the official site of the “Rules of

Dead means that the ball is for the time being out of play, or that your opponent is
blue and not breathing.

Defending Team means the team in whose half of the ground the stoppage of play
occurs, in other words, the people to kill.

Kick. A kick is made by propelling the ball or opponent’s balls with the leg or foot.

Drop Kick. A drop kick is made by letting the ball fall from the hand or the
opponent’s balls fall…. Period!

Punt. A punt is made by letting the ball fall from the hand, can also mean the
smallest player on the opposite team.

Mark. The name of the guy who owns the ball.

Line Through the Mark - scar left on Mark’s stomach after being trampled by the
other team.


There are 3 kinds of people on this planet….. “Those who know about
computers”, “those who don’t know about computers” and “those who don’t know
they don’t know about computers”. Now of course there are sub-categories. Like in
the “those who don’t know” class you have the “those who don’t give a damn about
computers”, but that’s another story.

Now you can’t have in the same group; ‘those who know” and “those who don’t
know they don’t know”. These two groups are completely incompatible. You have
one or the other but never do you have both. Now here at NERR we’re lucky to have
some “….that don’t” and some “….that do”. And, believe me, we have the cream of
the “… that do”.

Now the only problem with those computer-whizzes is that they don’t really
understand how the minds of the ones “that don’t” work! Since I’m of the “that
don’t” group, and since I have this platform, I will take it upon myself to explain to
the “do”s how a “don’t” ‘s mind functions. (At this point, if you are getting mixed-
up, take a crayon and make a drawing.)

You see we, those that don’t, talk in a language that is more than 20 years old. Be it
English, French, Spanish or whatever, we do not, I repeat, do not, understand the
 meaning of any word that has a dot (.) in the middle. To us 'config.sys' is gibberish.

 Let me give you an example. A few weeks ago I had a computer problem, so I went
 to my number one source for computer-problem-solving…… that is the NERR forum.
 I stated my thing: “Can anybody out there can help me? While doing an activity, I
 got the following message: “Cannot proceed because the whatapair.bob file is in
 conflict with your baconfat.yek.” Now of course, after only a few minutes, I got an
 answer: “No problem Claude, open your whattheshit.pew and change the comma in
 the 34,567th line to a dash/dash and your guezundeit will read all your
 freekinblastin.hlp programs.”

 Now after reading this, and as my face fell on my keyboard, my nose somehow hit
 the f4 key and this, because of the application I was running, caused my system to
 crash. Re-boot, log in to NERR and, oh my God! I got an argument going! Something
 about the baconfat.yek that should be replaced by baconfat.yek ver.2.5. It was
 fierce, 3 pages long, none of us “don’t” guys dared to post. It lasted 7 hours and
 then, Bob posted a message about a new caboose and everybody turned around and
 all was forgotten.

 And me, well, since I re-booted, my problem was solved….. this time. The point I’m
 trying to make here is this: guys who “know” please be patient with those who
 “don’t”. Don’t forget, you could find worse.

 True story no. 1: In the first days of the FAX machine, Joe Boss gives secretary a
 letter to FAX. Joe tells secretary that this is an important and highly CONFIDENTIAL
 document. Secretary puts the document in an envelope, seals it and faxes it.

 True story no. 2: When television started, people would take a bath and change
 their clothes to watch T.V. because they were sure that the people in the T.V. could
 see them! This is called progress-lag. Some of us just don’t follow!

 Time for a beer or seven!

 "Don't miss next month: American football explained to Europeans...... at last!"

              From The Left Side of the Cab
                   (aka Taz’s Tales)
                       by Jeremy Levish, NERR Engineer #9

Article #2 - 27 December 2004

                      Preservation 101...The Human Element
I think that it is only fair to warn you that you're about to read one of those "semi-
editorial" pieces that I warned you about in my last article...

Have you ever read something that made you say "Wow! They really hit that on the
head!"? I had just such an experience a couple of weeks ago when I read an editorial in
the magazine Classic Trains. The editorial was entitled "Left-hand men" and was written
by the Classic Trains editor, Robert S. McGonigal.

In his editorial, Mr. McGonigal mentions that nearly all of the stories told from "The Days
of Steam" by railroad men are most often told by firemen and not the engineers. To
quote Mr. McGonigal, "As one still learning the ropes, the new fireman is somewhere between the
elite fraternity he aspires to join and the rest of us who merely look up in wonder; he's thus in a
good position to explain one world to the other. Also, whether they end in success or failure, a
fireman's first trips are formative experiences seared into memory the way challenges in school,
athletics, or war might be for other young men. By the time a man became an engineer, on the other
hand, he'd 'been there, done that'". He mentions several other reasons as well...Everything
from the "unique status of the fireman, particularly a young one paired with a veteran engineer"
to "cold arithmetic" and the fact that most engineers tended to be "senior employees"
who were in their 40's, 50's, and 60's...There just aren't that many of them around any
more to tell their stories. However, it is the "cold arithmetic" that I'd like to address...

We, the railfans and "train enthusiasts", have a vast body of knowledge about "what"
has happened in the railroad industry in the past 100 years or so. Indeed, some of the
"what" and "how" has been documented very well by folks like the locomotive builders
and the various railroads themselves. One of the bigger items that we lack is the
"who". I mean, look at any railroad museum anywhere around the world, and you'll see
locomotives and cars that are preserved in one state or another...Hopefully, at a
minimum, the decay process has been arrested so that the various artefacts aren't lost
('cause once it's gone, it's gone forever). Sometimes, there are stories or narratives that
go along with a particular piece of equipment that describe its function or purpose, and
sometimes there are folks at these museums that can interpret the equipment, often
telling stories that they may have heard or read. It is these stories that add "life" to an
otherwise static piece of metal or wood.

One of the things that is often missing is the story of the people who actually worked
with the equipment. As these folks grow older and eventually die, the stories that they
often have to tell are lost with them. The same thing is true of our veterans of World
War II (...and I believe that all of the various nationalities of the members of NERR have
someone in their not-too-distant past who served in some capacity, even if it was "On
The Home Front" during "The War"...). So, the question is really one of: "What can we
do to preserve these stories?"

That's a very difficult question to answer, but there is some hope. There are quite a few
stories from engineers and fireman, although not nearly enough. Such items as "stories
from the road" and "the everyday life of an enginemen" do exist and as of late, there
have been quite a few new books published that document some these things. Folks like
Al Krug, and his "Tales from the Krug" website, document some of the things that are
happening in this day and age, and some railroad museums have started "oral history"
programs to document some of these stories. And these stories aren't limited to the
engine crews alone. The museum that I regularly volunteer with, the California State
Railroad Museum, has started a program of interviewing folks that worked at the
Southern Pacific's Sacramento Shops complex...everyone from pipe fitters and boiler
makers to carpenters and Maintenance of Way workers. In the grander scheme of
things, these are all important additions that answer the "who" questions with regards to
those folks who actually performed the work. When was the last time that you heard a
story told by a mechanic or pipe fitter or carpenter, or how about a story from the guys
that actually built the locomotives and cars? They are indeed starting to be collected and

    Southern Pacific No. 1000 is seen here, circa 1940, in the Oakland Coach Yards with an
    unidentified crew.

    SP 1000 was SP's first diesel locomotive. Originally EMD demonstrator 804, the
    locomotive was sent West by EMD to demonstrate its capabilities to both the Southern
    Pacific and the Western Pacific (the WP received another demonstrator, the number 906
    about a month became WP 501 and has been preserved by the Feather River Rail
    Society at Portola, California). This locomotive survives today and has been newly acquired
    by the CSRM from Holly Sugar for whom she had worked since January of 1968. (Photo
    courtesy of the CSRM archives)

So, there's a question that I'd like all of you who are reading this to think about..."Is this
important?" If you answered "No", then there is no need to read the rest of this
paragraph. However, if you answered "Yes", then I have a small favor to ask of you. If
you are not already a part of a railroad historical (and/or technical) society or a member
of a railroad museum or preservation effort, then I'd like to humbly ask you to become a
member of one (or more) of these organizations of your choosing. The cost of joining
one of these organization varies. Some ask as little as twenty dollars a year...Other ask
that you volunteer a small amount of your time (usually in the neighborhood of a couple
of hours a month) in a given year. These organizations are attempting to save a "piece
of history" to the best of their abilities and deserve your consideration. By the way, for
those of you who do not live in the United States and may be thinking "Fat lot of good
that does me living here in [-- country where you live --]", these types of
organizations probably exist in your country as well to preserve your country's railroad
heritage. Even the biggest of the big (or the best of the best) of these organizations
cannot survive without your continued interest and support.
I sincerely hope that you'll consider this request for the new year. May you and your
families have a very happy holiday season and a safe and happy new year!

From the left side of the cab,


             Showing off...Cylinder cocks open, whistle blowin', and belchin' smoke!
              Photo taken at Miller Park, Sacramento, California, December 2003.
              (Photo courtesy of the Sacramento Southern crewmember, Bob Ress)
                                 Old Heading
                         by Bill Prieger, NERR Engineer #269

Article #1 - December 2004

Midnight Run
John H. asked if I would be willing to do some "Old Heading" (tell some railroading
stories and nuances of the craft) for the Roundhouse Ramblings news letter. Well you
know John, how can you turn a kind grandfatherly face like that down, and an Aussie
mug at that? Seriously though, John is one of the nicest guys I've ever met, and he's the
perfect fit for the Roundhouse Ramblings. I was honored to even be asked to contribute
something back to the NERR community. I spent several days pondering on what to
share. Do I tell a story of one of my many interesting runs, or do I share some more RW
railroading tips, or just do a "did you know?" informative format? So I decided to take all
three and just rotate between them, or on some instances tie two of them together in
one article. So here's the first instalment of a 2-part story from one of my not-so-fun

I was working the "relief engineer's" position for a two-way run between Albany, Oregon,
to Toledo, located on the Oregon Coast. The one and only customer at that end of the
line is a cardboard paper mill. The run started at noon out of Albany, ran westward
toward the coast over the Oregon Coast range and then meandered for several miles
along the banks of the Yaquina river. The train out of Albany was comprised of several
loaded chips cars on the point, followed by some loaded boxcars of scrap paper, with
several cleaned dedicated empty boxcars ON THE REAR to be loaded with huge rolls of
brown cardboard stock at Toledo. The rear car, believe it or not, was a repainted ex-
Southern Pacific caboose occupied by the conductor. Our NERR GNX 9 caboose is very
similar to what I had on my train that day. The caboose was needed because, until the
late 90's, all the dragging detectors ON THAT LINE were of the light variety, as opposed
to "talking" draggers found on Class 1 Railroads. This required someone to ride the rear
of the train to visually see if the detector had been activated.

So you had everything in one run - some high speed track, slow speed mountain grades
and gentle water level grades, big train 5 ex-ATSF GP39-2 locomotives and some poor
sap riding the rear. Oh, one more thing. Both the Conductor and Switchmen were women
(no disrespect intended). Things can get kinda moody, if you know what I mean.

Our trip over to the coast was uneventful and smooth sailing. The trip back, on the other
hand, was anything but that! To start things off, the length and weight of our train out of
Toledo was right on the edge of what these units could pull up the 8 mile 2% or steeper
grade. A heated discussion ensued at the depot as to how many cars we should take with
us. Finally, everybody looked at me to make the choice, which was to put the three large
pieces of our train together and go, or do we make the Toledo switch crew go out and
chop-up some of the train. What to do? Hmmm. The way I looked at it, if we made them
lighten the train, we would not make it back before we "died on the law". This would
mean the day crew that was to take the train on to Eugene yard would have to
"Dogcatch" us, and that would make it questionable for them to get back to Albany. Thus
the Night Switcher would not have cars to build their trains with, and so on. I had a
reputation for getting my trains back without "dying" - especially questionable trains like
the one presented to us that that night. Be damned if I was going to take the heat for
screwing the next three jobs down the road.

I took out my trusty calculator and did some math. We had about 2.2 hp/ton. This, I
knew, was right on the border of what these babies could pull on dry rail. Our TPAD
(Tons-Per-Axle-Dynamic) was way up there around 360 to 380 tons. So we were on the
limit. But it was fall time which meant the rails would be covered with leaves in some
places on the hill, usually around the flange oilers as there the rail is sticky from the
grease. Also, there was the threat of rain showers that evening as well. So I decided,
'What the Hell!' We were doomed if we left cars at Toledo and doomed if we had to
double the hill, so I said, "Let's take 'em and what happens, happens."

We got the train together, air-tested it and got out around 6:30pm. That gave us around
a 1/2 hour cushion to get into Albany without dying. About 2 miles out of TOLEDO, I
performed my usual rolling brake test. As soon as I hit about a 12psi reduction, the train
"Bigholed". "Just great," I thought, not only did I bite off a big chunk taking the thing,
now I got a big train with a "Dynamiter". Well, per our railroads SSI (System-Special-
Instructions), a UDE (UnDesired-Emergency) required the train to be walked to make
sure all the wheels were still on the rail. There went my 1/2 hour cushion just walking
the train. At that point I had 2 choices to make: start cutting the air between cars and
make reductions until you narrow it down to the culprit, a one hour job at least, or take
the train and use the "Dynamos" only. I told the girls to make it quick, "If we're on the
rail, we're gonna go."

We got to the bottom of the hill, and the track speed at that point is 20mph, and it drops
to 12mph halfway up the hill due to sharp curves and a steeper grade. I hit the first right
hand "horseshoe" curve at about 24mph, as I knew this curve would scrub the overspeed
off quickly and let me start the hill at an even 20mph. By the time we hit the 12mph
section halfway up the hill, we were down to 8mph. My conductor, now riding the head
end for the return trip, was starting to verbally doubt my sanity for taking a train this big
out of Toledo. I tried to be reassuring, but I don't think she was buying it - neither was I
at that point. So I relied on some of the old-timer stories and tricks that I had been
taught by the Ex-Class 1 hoggers I made student trips with. One being - working a little
"jam" to control wheel slip if the sand doesn't hold ('jam' = loco brakes). That kept us
going at a snail's pace of 2 to 3mph. Between the engines barking, the turbos whistling,
the flanges screaming on the sharp curves, and my conductor squeaking, my ears were
getting a full workout. Every time we'd get up to 5 or 6mph, we'd hit a greaser and lose
our momentum.

We were down to our last greaser before the top. As luck would have it, it was on the
sharpest curve and the steepest section of track. As soon as the second engine hit the
greaser, it broke loose and went into massive wheel spin. Normally the engine's
computer, primitive by today's standards, would kill the power to the traction motors,
thus stopping the spinning wheels. For some reason, this engine's anti-slip feature did
not do its job. Sparks were flying, the grease was smoking up a good sized plume, and
within seconds we were stalled. At this point the Conductor was standing next to me
screaming something about my ancestors and telling me that I was going to go make the
cut and tie the 15 or so handbrakes to hold the second section on the hill while we take
the head 15 cars up to summit siding. I asked, or rather shouted at the Conductor to go
sit down and informed her that while we were stopped, that didn't mean we were out of
all our options.

I told the Switchperson in the crummy to grab onto something and hang on. When the
train spun out, I had to grab a good 20psi of train brakes to keep the train from rolling
back down the hill. What I did next I'm sure had both crew girls thinking I'd lost my
mind. I started shoving the train back down the hill slowly. Since all the empty chip cars
were on the rear, the train nicely bunched up and stayed bunched, even on the steep
grade. At the same time I left the sanders on and laid down a good layer of grit, and
about the time I had shoved the train back about 800ft to 1000ft, I let the train roll to a
gently stop. Again the rear empties kept the train up nicely as we rolled to a gentle stop
and radioed back to Jennifer to brace herself for a good hit. I put the reverser in forward
and started throttling up. As soon as I counted about 10 cars worth of slack, I released
the train brakes and floored it. Using jam to control the wheel spin and prevent train
from breaking in two, I got the thing rolling, one car at a time, as opposed to starting the
whole train at once in a slack stretched configuration. Since I had laid down a good sand
base on the rail, the grease from the flange oiler was no longer a factor and we were able
to cruise right on through and creep our way to the top.

By now the traction motors were smelling a little pungent as I had used up the short time
rating about 2 miles back on the hill. According to the Train Brake & Handling rules,
you're supposed to stop the train for 20 minutes and run the throttle in Notch 4 so the
Blowers can cool down the traction motors. Since time was an issue here, I let the train
crest the hill at 2mph and coasted with the throttle in Notch 6 with the reverser
centered. As we gained momentum, I throttled down, put the reverser back in forward,
and proceeded to set up the Dynamos for the downhill 18 mile run. This side of the hill
was a series of stairsteps down from MP 628 @ Summit to MP610 just out of a town
called Philomath, as opposed to the steady climb we had just wiggled our way
through. Now, as I'd mentioned earlier, the 5 units I had were part of a set of 17 that we
had acquired from the ATSF. Each of them had their own little idiosyncrasies. Some were
great loaders (responsive to throttle adjustments), some great pullers, one that would
put you to sleep waiting for it to load up and one, the 2317, that required all the ground
crew to wear rain gear all the time when yard switching, as it rained oil every time you
really worked it. My point engine was the 2304, freshly painted the WP safety orange-
yellow and black. I had used this engine a few times in local switching and flatland
branch line work, but this was the first time I had it on mountain grade territory.

As I stated in part one, our TPAD was right up there near the limit. By the time the train
got to around 18mph, I was close to maxxed out on the Dynamos. They held, and the
speed stayed right around 18mph. "Piece of cake", I murmured to myself. I relaxed back
in my chair for the first time in about a hour, left hand resting calmly on the Dynamo
handle, admiring the full moon's gleam off the rail head in front of us. I'm happy because
we're going to squeak in under our Hours-of-Service allocation. Even the conductor was
composed again after her earlier rantings and was reading something (for the record it
was the Timetable - off the record, I think it was one of her Harlequin romance
novels). About a minute into our peaceful harmonious existence, a large crackling sound
emitted from under the front truck. The Dynamo needle drops to zero, and our lead unit
stretches out abruptly away from the coupler with the second unit. Uh oh, now that's not
good! By the time I realized what had happened, our train's speed was passing 20mph
(Max track speed). I could tell from just the one slack nudge that the rest of the
locomotives were still working their Dynamos. By the time we hit 24 mph, I had already
calculated in my mind that we were above 450TPAD. Damn, there's no way 4 units will
hold this train back! 27mph, time to do something! I applied about 21 psi of jam, just the
under the Dynamic Brake pressure switch. Easy, easy, if I stay just under 23 pounds
engine brake pressure, the Dynamos on the last 4 units will stay working, and maybe I
can slow our rapidly increasing descent. It help some, but now we are approaching
29mph. I had used up all the tricks I had up my sleeves - nothing left up there but hairy
armpits. Reluctantly I went for the Train brake handle. I knew anything over a 6 psi
brake reduction would trigger that damn dynamiter. If the train Bigholed on these
curves, I knew we were gonna splatter all over the landscape! I yelled in the radio for
girl in the Crummy to hold on tight. No answer. The head conductor started heading for
the door when she saw me reach for the train brake handle. She may have been a
young conductor but even she knew things were bad! PPPSSSSSHHHHHHHH. I bled off 4
psi of airbrake, Bighole. PPSSSSSHHHHH, 2 more pounds........nothing yet. Pssst,
one more..... the needle stopped climbing at 31mph. By this time I could actually feel the
locomotive wheel flanges trying to climb the inside edge of the railhead as we barrelled
around the tight curves. This was holding, but we needed to slow down, and soon. I
yelled at the conductor to crouch down behind the water cooler and hold on. I went for
the brake handle to get more air. There was nothing else left to do. We were Dogmeat
any way you looked at it.

Just as I grabbed the brake handle - mentally I was sticking my head between my legs
and kissing my @$$ goodbye - I heard a crackling noise again. The dynamo needle
floored to maximum amperage, our unit slams back against the second engine sending a
massive shockwave back thru the train, and the speedo needle starts dropping.
30....28...25...23...21....19!!!!.... and still dropping!!!! My young Padiwan Conductor
looked at me from around the cooler. I smiled back at her and pointed my finger to the
roof of the cab and looked up.

Then I realized Jenny was on the rear of the train, and I hadn't heard a word from her. I
called back, "2304 head end to caboose, over." Nothing. "2304 Headend to caboose,
over." We waited a little longer. Suddenly the radio burst with the most aggravated flurry
of ranting and cussing, ranting and cussing, more cussing. Dang, a sailor would have
blushed by now. I calmly asked her to look out the back and see if there were any cut
marks on the ties. She answered no. I asked if she was alright? This was followed by
more cussing and yelling, but finally she said she was only bruised a little. She said as
she slid past the bathroom, on her butt, she could see water flying out of the toilet. She
asked, "What happened?" I let Dana explain to her everything that occurred up here.

Now came the question on everybody's mind. Do we keep going or stop and tie the train
down and take the lead unit to a point where someone else could get on and relieve
us. None of us wanted to park and run; we'd made it too far. We agreed to press on.
What else could go wrong, right? I released the train air and let the train climb back up
to around 16mph. To make an already long story short, this same scenario with the 2304
happened 2 more times before we got to Philomath, although in both those instances the
speed never got above 25mph.

To say we were frazzled when we reached our destination point at Ashahr Siding, just out
of Albany, was more than the truth. We could see the lights of the Crewhauler at the
other end of Ashahr. Yeehaa, we'd made it! I radioed back to Jenny that the Crewhauler
was waiting for us and that we had made it with 5 minutes to spare. I blew the whistle
for the last crossing coming into Ahsahr, Dana was standing next to me complimenting
my train-handling abilities and the fact the we made it back in one piece and all on the
rail at that, when suddenly, pissshht, pow, the train Bigholes for no reason, and we
screeched to a halt. The radio lit up with more cussing and yelling and something about
flying up against a wall and tripping over something, and God only knows what. When
the radio finally quits ranting, the Switch crew calls and asks if everything's alright? I
could hear the other 2 switchcrew members chuckling in the background. I informed
them that this Piece of $#%* just dumped again, and that it was their problem now. I
shut everything down, grabbed my grip and started walking for the ride. When they got
to me, they informed us that they had been done switching for some time and that it was
most entertaining listening to our radio conversations on our descent from
Hell. Apparently, one of the Head Honcho's that lives close to Albany heard our
conversations and told the switch crew to park the 2304 next to the Roundhouse when or
if they got it back, so the Officials can download the event recorder. Great, I saved the
train not once but 3 times, made it back before "dying on the law", and these buttheads
were going to call me on the carpet for it.
About three days later, I was running a local with my Road Foreman buddy, and he
pressured me as to what happened that night. He informed me that the MOW
department head was pushing for a one month suspension for speeding with the train. I
asked him if anyone had looked at the dyno readings on the event recorder? He said all
they looked at was the speedo readings, as they knew nothing about train handling. It
just so happened that we were on the 2304 that day, and I asked him to sit and run a
little. We were going on 40mph track with about 15 cars. I told him to put it into Dyno
mode and work it. He did and just like clockwork, the thing pucked and this time almost
got a knuckle. I smiled, he frowned, case closed. When he reported to the president what
had really happened, and after talking with the rest of the crew, I got a "Happy" letter in
my personnel file and my paycheck envelope.

So, the next time MSTS throws you a curve and does something totally ridiculous, like
freezing up, or breaking knuckles, or derailing for no reason, you can smile knowing that
RW railroading is not much different at times.

I'll be back next month!

                                     Rick's Rantz
                    by Rick Foss (silvermeteor), NERR Engineer #42

    •    Rick’s Rantz will return.

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