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From The Archives Parrt 21

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  • joseph Klapkowski
    We left MILES and continued south. we came into a small town. I remember wondering what the heck kind of place this was where the railroad goes down the middle
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 9, 2006
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      We left MILES and continued south. we came into a small town. I remember
      wondering what the heck kind of place this was where the railroad goes down
      the middle of the street on its own right of way. We got to the mainline.
      Let me say that differently. THE MAINLINE ! There were four or more tracks,
      well ballasted, superelevated signaled and there was traffic. We were on THE
      MAINLINE! And we were facing WEST! That meant we were headed toward ALTOONA
      !

      As an aside I had managed to photograph every one of the ex New Haven FL-9's
      except the 5011 and the 5032. They were supposedly in Altoona. I was excited
      to say the least. Somehow being a Sperry Employee gave you a certain kind of
      immunity when railfanning, as long as it was low key. A lot of this end of
      the trip is cloudy for me or even forgotten. It was much busier. And we had
      to pay a lot more attention. Trains were moving all around us all the time.
      I believe we headed straight toward Altoona. There was some signal that we
      were supposed to give to the rear end when a train was coming on an adjacent
      track in the opposite direction but I have long since forgotten what it was.
      At one point we were testing the main and there were few defects, but those
      that we did find were pretty significant. I recall I was in the testing room
      and we came upon a defect that should not have been there. There was
      something back then called an Allegheny Joint. It was a field weld with a
      funny kind of bowed bar on either side. I think there were only two bolts. I
      recall having a debate about it, or rather Ivan having a discussion with one
      of the railroad guys. I think the idea at the time was they did not entirely
      trust field welds.

      Anyway i am in the testing room and we get a sqwiggle of the pens. No joint
      or anything but I look at Ivan and sense that something is not right because
      he looks puzzled. He says something like "Junor what's that ?"

      " I don't know, there is no joint."

      "Think we better stop?" he asks somewhat retorically.

      So we do the thing and as I back the car up he is already looking at the
      rail. He has that look that tells me I am about to learn something.

      "Junor, look here," he says. So I go over to where there is no joint and I
      kneel over the rail.
      "No look right there Junor" "In the weld."

      Sure enough the weld has pulled apart.

      Ivan calls the railroad guy down to inspect the pull apart. it is fairly
      unusual but welded rail is a relatively new thing. Anything that happens is
      well, new. The two rails just pulled right apart like they were not even
      attached to each other. Of course this weld did not have an allegheny join
      either so you could have taken a piece of paper and slide it between the
      ends of the rails.

      The railroad guy looked mystified. He did not know what to make of it. Ivan
      said well you better get a welding crew because bars are not going to do it.

      I think it was about that time that they decided to put the Sperry Car away
      for the day.

      I am up front. I get one to stop and see the carriage lights go out. I get
      three to back up. I pull on the throttle. I am looking in the rear view
      mirror. But I do not see anyone.

      Then I get four. I have never had four before. The phone rings. "Junor pull
      back on that throttle"

      I do. The speedometer starts to climb, 20, 25, 30, 35 I get four again. I
      pull back more. The speedometer goes to 40, 45, the phone rings. "Pull it
      all the way" Ivan says.

      Somewhere after 55 I stopped thinking. I am looking in there rear view
      mirror because I can not get comfortable with the idea that I am backing up
      so fast without seeing where I am going.

      We are on the main and the dispather wants his track back. So we are
      rumbling along backwards, at least to me it is backwards, and the Sperry Car
      is sort of jumping around a little bit. I am very uncomfortable to say the
      least. We go along for a good amount of time. Probably five or six miles.It
      is unnerving to say the least. We are going along and then i get a strange
      signal. At the same time the phone rings, "Slow down Junor." But they do not
      want me to stop.

      I put some air on, we begin to slow, 45, 35, 30, 25, I get four more which
      in Sperry parlance means whatever you are doing, do more of it. In this case
      slow down more.

      The chief calls again, "Junor we are going to stop behind a signal. When I
      give you one to stop stop past the signal".

      Here we go again with signals I think to myself.

      We go a mile or so at a greatly reduced speed and I get another four. We
      slow to 15, 10 I pass under a signal brige. Stop.

      Now I am looking at the mainline searchlight signals. We have an absolute
      red.

      The railroad guy is looking out the back door and after some time I see the
      switch go over in front of me. The dwarf goes yellow but the signal is still
      red. The phone rings.

      "Junor you have the signal." Remmebe I am not supposed to interpret signals.
      I decide not to mention it. From the tone in Ivan's voice there is some
      urgency with this move.
      I get the yellow dwarf, see the switch has gone over and proceed onto the
      adjoining main track.

      Now we have to do a see saw kind of motion from one main to the next, the
      back forward again so that we are on the extreme outsidemain tack. The plan,
      as I would learn later, was to pu us in on old side track just to the
      outside of the interlocking.

      We get to the outside main track. I am now past the signal and am taking
      instructions from the rear.

      I get three to back up. We are at this time basically fouling two main
      tracks. Don't ask me how, I do not remember the track setup but there was a
      great deal of pressure to get the Sperry Car out of the way. I get three to
      back up. I throw the reverser and pul back on the throttle (actually in may
      be push forward on the throttle).

      Nothing.

      The phone rings, "Junor go backwards! Pull back and lets go." What are you
      doing up there? Ivan demanded.

      "I am ," I replied, "Listen to this," I took the phone and hung it outside
      my window so he could hear the engine.

      The next thing I knew Ivan was coming through the door. "JUNOR!!!!!!"

      He sat down. He put the Sperry car into reverse. He hit the throttle. Te
      engine roared. The Sperry Car stood still.
      this was one of those increibily tense moments that niether Ivan nor I
      enjoyed.

      I had also never seen him in the engineman's seat before.

      "Junor, go get the bigest screwdriver you can find. It has to have a plastic
      or wooden handle!" The sense of urgency was not lost on me.

      When i returned he had the electric panel opened. "Put that screwdriver
      right in there!" He ordered.
      I did what he said.

      "Now don't touch anything metal!"

      I was alittle confused. But I did what he said. The Sperry car began to move
      backwards. We did another see saw manuver and got into a side track.

      I was then given the honor of replacing the offending electrical component.

      Just remember don't touch anything metal.............

      Whats in your archives ??????????????????
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