There are a couple of things I would like to say before we continue with the
Sperry Car rememberances. First, these stories are coming directly from the
grey matter located below my hair to the keyboard. There is very little
editing. What I have endeavered to do is protect the innocent and guilty.
Some 27 years later I have certain memories that are very clear and others
that are not.
Second, I have an embarrassing habit of forgetting to use the spell check.
On the one hand I want to apologize for being lazy. On the other hand I am
committing this all to paper or, well cyber, but it is as much for my own
gratification as anything. As has been the case with the previous editions
of From The Archives, its no fun if you can not share it.
Third, I want to thank EVERYONE who has emailed me. There has been nothing
but encouragement and from a few of you, some mutual sharing of the
experiences that, for reasons best left unsaid, will not make it into the
public domain. I am a human and as such, I love encouragement.
Lastly, I want to encourage you all to share your Sperry car stories if you
have any. Also (remember this is being posted to several differnt lists) use
this a spring board to prepare your own "From The Archives". It makes us
all richer and after all that is why we have these lists....................
And now without further delay, Sperry Car rememberances Part 8
The Waterlevel Mainline was a very different environment to test on than the
Hojack. In a way I guess starting on the old RW&O was a good thing. It
allowed me to focus on learning the job with a minimum of distraction.
On the Waterlevel main there were at least two, sometimes three and even
four tracks. Other trains were moving FAST. There were no creamery sidings
here. This was the mainline. Well not many creamery sidings anyway.
Way back at the begining of this series I think I told you all about the two
Cats and one Onan engine that we had on board the SRS 145. Except that the
SRS 145 did not have the Onan. this meant that we tended to tie up not only
where there was water, but also where we could plug into electricity. I do
not remember exactly how it worked but we used to plug into the railroad's
power at most every tie up. It was after we got on the Waterlevel that we
began to use the tie ups where the camp cars had been the previous season.
That was because the two things we needed most, water and electricity were
available at every camp car location. And the railroad never removed either.
The tie ups on the Hojack were always someplace were we just plugged in with
a regular yellow extension cord.
On the Waterlwevel main we had tie ups on side tracks that were off the
mainline and in the middel of , well nowhere. The typical tie up had a
track, usuually well off the main a telephone pole and a water spigot.
Usually a very old water spigot. So that was the way we found our tie ups on
the Mainline. We basically jumped from one Camp Car tie up to another.
Part of the tie up proceedure was to hook up to the LIVE electricity on the
pole. This involved opening the eletrical box and manually inserting a pair
of wires into the knife switch and then hooking up the extension chord to
the wires. I looked Ivan in the eye and said I am not touching that. I
think Ivan was surprised that I just simply refused to do this. My
philosiphy, If you don't know what you are doing, do not do it.
We tested from Syracuse to Rochester and it was a little boring. pretty much
straight, no trees encroaching on the ROW, no deer and besides I spent
considerable time in the detector room. There was no foolin around nor
looking around in the detector room. You had a pencil in your hand at all
I take the siding once again. The "tape" of pale green paper coninues to
roll as the car moves forward. My recollection was that there was a chain
attached to the axel that had a gear on it to keep it moving at a steady
rate as the axel turned. When the carriage was lifted into the up position
a clutch disengaged the tape. I also recall something bout if you thought
you were going to deadhead any distance, you had to chain up the carraige so
that you could not acidentally drop the carraige.
Anyway you had the pencil and at every milepost you had to mark it onthe
tape. Apparently there were folks back in Danbury who did nothing but look
at the tapes. I think (but I can not remember for sure) that we marked the
defect (they were consecutively numbered) right on the tape by defect number
and type. For instance TD #134 and EBF 3 " # 135. The first is Transverse
Defect # 134. Once again it is my recollection and it is very hazy but a TD
went straight down through the rail while the EBF moved diagonally through
the rail, hence you measured it. So Engine Burn Fracture 3 inches.
Periodically we would meet the truck from Danbury and we would ship the
tapes back to Danbury.
So you sit on the stool (purposely uncomfortable) and looked out. You saw
the joint, you looked at the paper. You saw the sqwiggle. While the main was
all welded rail we would test track one westward then go back and test the
controlled siding which was always stick rail. I was a
busy guy back there.
There was one other thing that was very different on the Waterlevel. Our
pilot was an audio gage man. He could follow behind in the truck on the high
rail wheels. Or he could sit in the detector roomwhile a certain assistant
operator drove the high rail truck.
Chronologically (which is how I have been writing this) I am way out of
order but I will talk about it now as it is fresh in my mind. We were out in
the Buffalo area and as was the custom we enjoyed our evening one night, got
up early and prepared the car. our railroad pilot showed up in his railroad
truck. HHHHHHHHHHMMMMMMMMMMMM how do you get a Sperry car and the railroad
truck from point A to Point B when the railroad guy rides the Sperry Car.
Give the keys to Junior, tell him to get gas and meet the car somewhere down
the line. There are at least two problems with this game plan. Junior has no
idea where "Down the line" actually is nor how to get there. Second if the
plan needs to change there is no way to tell Junior about it.
So off Junior goes driving a truck that is much bigger than anything else he
has ever driven before and winds up on an interstate somewhere north of
Buffalo and tries to fly by the seat of his pants to follow the railroad.
How I ended up on the Niagraga Junction (at that time they were still
operating the E-10bs that is how I know I was in the wrong place) is beyond
me. But realizing that I was not on the Belt Line I eventually found an out
of the way grade crossing, backed onto the six foot well out of the way of
the tracks and with nothing else to do I closed my eyes. Well a couple hours
later I was awakened by a loud horn. It was the SRS 145. Thank goodness
because I really had NO idea where I was. The Chief was pissed off. Junior
where have you been ! ? Right here I replied, where have you been ? I am not
entirely sure. Maybe realizing that I had done just what he asked he did not
have anything else to say. The railroad truck had a radio but Sperry Men
NEVER used the railroad's radio (this will be important later on too). Only
Railroad men used the railroad radio. I think they may have tried to reach
me by the railroad radio being that they had not seen me for two or three
hours. Of course the railroad guy did not have the radio on and it had never
even occured to me to touch it. I Do not think I was 10 miles down the road
but the way the Chief reacted you would think I was AWOL for three days.
Maybe he was just pissed off that they caught me sleeping. But hey what else
did you want me to do?
I really thought I wa going to get much further on than this but here I am
not even on the Falls Road Branch yet.
Next edition, the caraige, the signal, Niagara Falls Yard office, the
football jersey and just maybe he GARDEN HOUSE INCIDENT.
TILL THEN GOOD NIGHT From the Archives !