Wednesday, September 20, 2017


King Coal in PA. (Photo by Willie Brown.)

—The October 2017 entry in my Norfolk Southern Employees’ Photography-Contest calendar is a Norfolk Southern coal-train near East View, PA.
East View is in southwestern PA, not too far from huge Bailey Mine. It may be Bailey Mine coal.
The photographer, Willie Brown, has been in this calendar before. Usually a picture of a Norfolk Southern coal-feeder to the main. He’s from Powhatan Point, OH, and there are coal-mines near there.
He’s an engineer, and usually his pictures have been SD-40 coal trains on a line from a mine. Usually his pictures were in Winter = snow.
It’s nice to see something other than his feeder trains. The engines all appear to be GE road power. 7667 is an ES44DC, 4,400 horsepower.
Coal comes in different types: coal in powder form for generating electricity, and “metallurgical” that has contaminants that enhance steel-making.
There also are other types for industrial use.

Monday, September 18, 2017


Constant readers of this blog know about a week-and-a-half ago a virus infected my computer.
That virus has since been exorcised, and Apple’s “El Capitan” operating-system installed.
My operating-system had been Snow-Leopard, what came on this machine. My computer is about eight years old, antediluvian in the ‘pyooter world.
I was advised it was unsafe to fiddle the Internet with an operating-system so old.
Made sense to me, since I never click anything. Some website surreptitiously installed the virus.
The operating-system upgrade brought various hairballs, one being my e-mail, local to my machine, only worked one-way. It sent but wouldn’t receive.
I harassed my ‘pyooter-guru first. He suggested it was better to ask my Internet-service-provider (ISP) = Spectrum, previously Time-Warner Cable.
DREAD; phonecalls are the bane of a stroke-survivor, especially one with slight aphasia like me. It can make communication difficult: stoney silences as I struggle to get words out.
I called Spectrum. A girl ascertained they were getting my e-mail, but my machine was blocking it.
She gave me the 800-number of Apple tech-support. DREAD again; another phonecall. In this case to a large corporation that might put me on hold. “We value your call. Your wait will be three hours. Please hold during the silence: BOOM-CHICKA-BOOM-CHICKA-BOOM-CHICKA-BOOM-CHICKA!
Not what happened.
I was referred to a girl almost immediately, and surprise-surprise; she spoke like a normal human, not some far-away Indian whose only command of English is “we’re deeply, deeply sorry.”
We set up a way of her viewing my screen. “See my red arrow?” she said. “Click that button!”
I guess Apple can afford to be human.
This certainly wasn’t the local hospital, where my question got batted around in circles, including to where I began.
It was my e-mail settings. El Capitan had clicked off “Allow anyone and everyone, including evil-doers.” (Actually it was “Allow insecure identification.”)
At this point my fellow college classmate, who drives a Windows PC, would weigh in: “Yer takin’ yer life in yer hands, Hughes. Why not cow-tow to my vast ‘pyooter wisdom?”
PRIORITIES MAN! I need my e-mail to work. It junks a lot already = spam-filters galore. I’m not yet being monitored. No antenna-festooned Transit-vans outside with binoculared goons inside radioing the NSA.
“No idea what we did,” I told the techie.
Now the ultimate test. I called my brother in northern DE.
“I need an e-mail,” I told him.
“DING!” It worked.

• I had a stroke October 26th, 1993, from which I pretty much recovered. Just tiny detriments; I can pass for never having had a stroke. It slightly compromised my speech. (Difficulty finding and putting words together.)


Friday, September 15, 2017

Master Tech car show

My friend and his cherry ’62 Impala SS. (iPhone photo by BobbaLew.)

My fellow widower friend, slightly older than me, purchased a new (for him) car to display at car shows.
It’s a 1962 Chevrolet Impala SS two-door hardtop. Four-barrel 327 SmallBlock with PowerGlide tranny.
He also owns a 2010 Camaro to show.
1962 is the year I graduated high-school.
It ain’t a ’57 Chevy — what is it about ’57 Chevys? Especially when 1957 is the first year Ford outsold Chevrolet in eons.
But a ’62 Chevy was desirable, unlike the ’59, which I consider the worst-looking Chevrolet ever made.
His Impala is mostly stock, although he had Master Tech completely rebuild the front suspension, and switch to disc brakes.
Disc brakes are something I would do, since drum brakes were terrible, and about done in 1962.
A friend had a ’56 Chevy in which he installed a newish 350 SmallBlock. It of course had drum brakes. He beat a 383 RoadRunner, but couldn’t stop afterwards.
Master Tech is a garage that works on street-rods, mainly late ‘60s and early ‘70s muscle-cars.
Every year they put on a show of street-rods, plus anything else that shows up.
I guess it’s to promote their services. I attended last year.
So in I went with my dog on-leash.
Keep the monster from stealing hamburgers and ice-cream cones from little children.
Many of the cars I usually see at car shows were there. The lemon-yellow “Advance-Design” Chevy pickup (’47-’54) SmallBlock four-on-the-floor, the maroon-and-creme ’52 Pontiac sedan-delivery, even that ratty ’56 Caddy back from last year.
Plus many souped Mustangs, old and new, and rumpita-rumpita Camaros. “No peeling out leaving,” a sign said.
Late ‘50s rock was playing.
Rather than bore you with useless verbiage, I’ll post the pictures I took:


This all-aluminum hotrod has a souped FlatHead Ford V8. (iPhone photo by BobbaLew.)

Another souped FlatHead — this in a Model-A pickup. The radiator-surround is classic ’32 Ford. (iPhone photo by BobbaLew.)

(Ford’s FlatHead V8, 1932 through 1953, was the foundation of hot-rodding. Lots of performance parts became available, FlatHeads were cheap, available, and responded well to hot-rodding. Even stock they were sprightly. They could be fiddled by backyard mechanics.)

More-or-less what I wanted all through high-school and college: a ’55 Chevy. Although I preferred the two-door hardtop; this is a two-door sedan = a “Post.” (iPhone photo by BobbaLew.)

I think this is a ’40 Olds. It had a tiny medallion saying “5.7 powered.” Perhaps a 350 SmallBlock? I never found the owner. (iPhone photo by BobbaLew.)

On top of the motor — a Dodge 440 Six-Pak — was the rusty housing of an old Electrolux canister vacuum-cleaner. It contained carb filtration I guess. (iPhone photo by BobbaLew.)

Shark’s teeth! A bone-stock 1949 Buick Sedanette. Even the straight-eight motor. (iPhone photo by BobbaLew.)

Old drag-racer, a ’63 Dodge stationwagon. Next to it is that ratty Cadillac. (iPhone photo by BobbaLew.)

SuperBird, the Winged Warrior Plymouth produced for Richard Petty to race in NASCAR. Dodge debuted its “Daytona,” a Hemi-powered car with similar bodywork, the wing and aero nose. Plymouth and Petty wanted in too. VIOLA; Plymouth’s SuperBird, also Hemi-powered. A Dodge Daytona managed slightly over 200 mph qualifying at Talladega. Cars like this, and the 426 Hemi, were eventually outlawed by NASCAR. Sure, buy groceries with a 200 mph car. (iPhone photo by BobbaLew.)

It seems hot-rodding is dying. Hundreds of cars, but most people attending were oldsters.
Highways are so crowded ya can’t stretch out a car any more. Cars are becoming little more than pillar-to-post. Self driving even.
The youngsters were fiddling their Smartphones. Our president is a late-night Tweeter from his Great White Throne.


Thursday, September 14, 2017


“BEEP!” screamed this laptop.
“Oh well,” I thought; “Nothing new — this thing is always beeping unknown sounds at me.”
I disregarded it, as I always do.
It went further. Something overtook my screen = a virus had been detected.
“I thought Macs never got viruses,” my doggy-daycare lady said. Viruses (“Viri;” whatever) are supposed to be “Windoze,” written by fired Microsoft programmers.
“Well I got one,” I said.
“So I’m currently without my favorite toy. TV; are you kidding? No Oprah for this kid!
Turned it over to MacShack and my ‘pyooter-guru there, to straighten out.”
We’re also gonna install Apple’s most recent operating-system, “El Capitan,” I think. Replacing what came on this computer. My laptop is seven years old = antediluvian in the ‘pyooter word. (I was running Snow-Leopard, geeks.)
Supposedly this new operating-system is better at keeping out website viruses, which is from where my virus must have come — since I never click anything.
No wonder it’s so slow. Even scrolling throws the spinning soccer-ball at me — Apple’s equivalent of Bill Gates’ hourglass.
MacShack has since called saying my rig is ready to pick up.
That was much earlier than expected. I was expecting to climb the walls for a week, chop that mountain of cardboard in my garage for recycling, maybe even open mail and reconcile my credit-card.
I’d rather sling words/fiddle photographs; but I need a computer to do so.

Now that I have my rig back, with its new operating system, various hairballs appeared.
-1) GG-1 #4896 is no longer my desktop picture. It’s that gigantic Yosemite rock-face. Back to 4896 some day.
-2) Some things are different. “Save-as” is apparently no longer a word-processor option. I thereby lost my entire “Railfan Overload” word-processor file. (At least it’s still up at BlogSpot.)
-3) No e-mail. It won’t download. (At least my iPhone does.)
-4) No idea how to access my picture files. “El Capitan” has some new photo-app, and I’m hoping it can preview all the piks on a chip, folder, whatever, like my old Adobe “Bridge.” “Bridge” and my ancient Quicken-2003 no longer work under El Capitan. That stupid Quicken folder is still on my desktop = there must be some way of opening it (engage guile-and-cunning).

• The virus was “adware.” An ad I could kill was appearing on websites. It was running a “script“ which slowed everything.
• Bill Gates was the founder of Microsoft.


Saturday, September 09, 2017

Railfan overload

Them weeds don’t stand a chance. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

“How many times ya gonna write down that train-number?” I asked my brother as we chased trains around Altoona (PA).
“Ya already wrote it twice,” I said.
My brother looked at his log and sheepishly put away his pen.
At which point his coworkers reading this blog start razzing him.
“Boy, he really skewered you,” they will say. “Read you like a book.”
Unlike me — I ain’t that interested — my brother keeps track of every train we photographed. We’ll photograph a train, and at some point, like before or after, the engineer identified the train as he called out a signal on railroad-radio.
E.g. “590 on One, 238, CLEAR!” 590 is the train-number (even-numbers are eastbound), “One” is Track One (eastbound over the mountain), 238 is the milepost, also the signal location, and the signal aspect is “clear.”
We’re monitoring that on our railroad-radio scanners.
His coworkers are making a mistake. I prefer a supremely confident managerial type helping me chase trains.
I’m 73 = not young. I can’t charge up-and-down the railroad like him — he’s 60.
I also can’t make decisions on-the-fly.
Sometimes I hafta hold out for a place I wanna photograph. Retired bus-driver = ornery as Hell.Siddown and shaddup! As long as I’m drivin’ the bus, I’m captain of the ship!”
Anyway, we have a good time. “Here we go again.” (And of course it works both ways.)

Wednesday, August 30th
(My brother alone.)

#1070, an EMD SD70ACe, Norfolk Southern’s Wabash Heritage-Unit, ducks under the old Pennsy signal-bridge at Summerhill. (Photo by Jack Hughes.)

Helpers on 16N push uphill past Carneys Crossing. (Photo by Jack Hughes.)

Helpers on 39Q push past venerable Alto Tower, now closed. (Photo by Jack Hughes.)

Westbound 11J (all auto-racks) approaches 17th St. overpass in Altoona. At right is 16N. (Photo by Jack Hughes.)

Thursday, August 31st
(My brother alone, before I arrived.)

Westbound 51M, a grain-train, exits MO interlocking. (Photo by Jack Hughes.)

SD-60E #6969, a Norfolk Southern rebuild with Crescent-Cab, approaches Cassandra Railroad Overlook. (Photo by Jack Hughes.)

Eastbound M4G passes through Altoona, after going into emergency due to its FRED pulling off. (Photo by Jack Hughes.)

11J (again) on Track Two passes Altoona’s Amtrak station; the stacker on Track One is 26T. (Photo by Jack Hughes.)

Thursday, August 31st
(Both of us [I arrived].)

Norfolk Southern #1069, an EMD SD70ACe, their Virginian Heritage-Unit, leads 20T past Altoona’s Amtrak station. (Photo by Jack Hughes.)

60N, a loaded westbound slab-train, passes Altoona’s Amtrak station. The train is all gondolas loaded with heavy steel slabs being transferred to a rolling-mill. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

Two SD40-E helpers are on the back of 38Q after descending The Hill. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

Friday, September 1st
(Both of us.)

-First stop: Plummers Crossing railroad east of Tyrone (PA).

Westbound stacker 25Z blasts Plummers. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

Trash-train 62Z heads east at Plummers. The purple containers are for trash. (Photo by Jack Hughes.)

-Second stop: Railroad-west of Tyrone.

38Q, a mixed, bounds through the curve toward Tyrone. (Photo by Jack Hughes.)

The engines of 39Q depart westbound on One from Tyrone. (Track One is normally eastbound, but becomes westbound in the morning so Amtrak’s eastbound Pennsylvanian can use Track Two to load. Two is right next to station-platforms.) (Photo by BobbaLew.)

-Third stop: Gray Interlocking.

22W approaches Gray-Interlocking toward Tyrone. Gray is where the long signal-controlled siding toward Altoona begins = Track Three. Slowly the vestiges of mighty Pennsy disappear. That old signal-bridge is DOOMED. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

21J approaches Gray after leaving Tyrone. It’s passing 22W on Track Two. The third unit is the Norfolk & Western Heritage-Unit. (Photo by Jack Hughes.)

-Fourth stop: The Route-53 overpass railroad-east of Cresson.

21J approaches the Route 53 overpass. The third unit, #8103, a General-Electric ES44AC, is the Norfolk & Western Heritage-Unit. (Photo by Jack Hughes.)

21J continues west of the Route 53 overpass on Track Four. Tracks Three and Four are on the original Pennsy alignment. Tracks Two and One are on the New Portage Railroad alignment, which Pennsy got for peanuts when the state gave up. One and Two aim at New Portage Tunnel, and come together at AR. The fifth track is Main-Eight, storage. Often eastbounds get Track Two. (“Never before have I seen a mainline with five tracks!” my brother exclaims.) (Photo by BobbaLew.)

-Fifth stop: Toward MO-Interlocking.
(“MO” are old telegraph call-letters for a tower once there, as are “AR” and “MG.” MO-tower guarded an interlocking near the summit.
An old Pennsy branch to Clearfield switched off at MO. That branch is now operated by Corman. A large ethanol plant is in Clearfield, so NS delivers unit covered-hopper trains of corn for Corman to deliver.

Doublestack 23Z exits MO interlocking. (Photo by Jack Hughes.)

64E (unit crude-oil) heads past Cresson toward MO. #6317 is one of two SD40-E leading helper-units. (Loaded crude gets helpers for The Hill.) (Photo by Jack Hughes.)

-Sixth stop: Signal 254.3 railroad-west of Lilly in the town of Plane Bank declared by a know-it-all, all-knowing, knower-of-all-things (not my brother) to be “Plane Blank.” You get to it through Lilly, but it’s not actually in Lilly.
(Our light was going away.)

294 heads toward Lilly after ducking under the old Pennsy signals at 254.3. (Photo by Jack Hughes.)

Only the rear SD40-E helper-set on the back of eastbound 76N. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

-Our final stop was to turn toward the overpass in Lilly, but our light was about gone. I’ve shot there before, and it never works.
Same results. Nothing worth flying.

Going home Saturday, September 2nd, I decided to try two other locations.

—Built 1888-1890, later expanded 1924-25, mighty Pennsy built giant shop facilities in Juniata just north of Altoona.
Juniata Shops still exist, and are a main reason Norfolk Southern wanted the original Pennsy line across PA when Conrail broke up and sold in 1999.
All one has to do is look. Hundreds of Union Pacific castoffs await rebuilding in Juniata Shops. Norfolk Southern could rebuild and overhaul its own power, plus castoffs from other railroads for its own use.
All the Heritage-Units were painted at Juniata. Experimentals are built there. Upgrades are made to older power. It’s a gigantic facility in central PA, area that would otherwise be rural outback.
A monument to Pennsy, who made so much of Altoona. Overhaul and manufacture of steam-locomotives in Altoona proper, testing, then Juniata Shops.
I’ve seen those shops in photographs: the north face with its many tracks leading to a turntable.
I checked my Google satellite-views: Sixth Street south of Eighth Street bridge over the Rose Yard crew-change point.
We decided to check it out; YOW-ZUH! Right next to the turntable, and no chainlink. Fencing of vertical rods about five-six inches apart. I could poke my camera between the rods.
It was night, so we decided to shoot it the next morning. But in the frenzy of charging about, we forgot the Shops.

Juniata Shops. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

—The other location was tiny Fostoria, railroad-east of Altoona. It’s little more than a place to live, except the railroad goes smack through it.
The main road crosses the tracks at-grade, and next to the grade-crossing is a large signal-bridge for the three remaining tracks — the railroad right-of-way has room for four.
Tracks One and Two are at left, and rightmost is the signal-controlled siding, still signed as Track One per Pennsy, but for NS it’s Track Three. NS One and Two are signed as Two and Three with Pennsy’s numbering.
Since all tracks are signaled both ways, it has six signals, and Pennsy’s old targets are used.
Over-and-over I’ve shot that signal-bridge, but it never worked. I decided to try wide-angle right below the signal-bridge to put those signals up in the sky.
I tried that a few weeks ago, but Fostoria is morning light.
Fostoria was our first stop Friday morning (9/1), but a crew was there rebuilding the grade-crossing. I couldn’t shoot.
They finished that afternoon — we heard it on our railroad-radio scanners. Tracks had to be closed so the guys could work.
So I thought I’d try Fostoria Saturday morning (9/2) on my way home.

The train-number is 591. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

People ask why I keep coming here. TRAINS MAN! Wait 15-25 minutes and one shows. Mind-bending frequency.
Anyplace else, and I’ve visited other railfan pilgrimage spots, there can also be incredible frequency — Cajon Pass out of LA is comparable = here comes another!
The old Pennsylvania Railroad was a major conduit of trade between the midwest (and west) and the east-coast megalopolis = the northeast.
The other major conduit was New York Central across NY state. The famed Water-Level Route, since it paralleled the Erie Canal — sometimes right next to it. (CSX now has it.)
Pennsy didn’t have a canal to parallel; what it had instead was Allegheny Mountain across the state, which couldn’t be canaled. In the early 1800s Allegheny Mountain was a barrier to trade with the nation’s interior.
Pennsy had to surmount Allegheny Mountain to get to the midwest. The old Pennsy was therefore a mountain railroad.
Norfolk Southern, a successor to Pennsy, is still a mountain railroad. The line across Allegheny Mountain is the same route John Edgar Thomson laid out in the 1840s.
Helper locomotives are still needed to conquer the mountain, and anything climbing is throttle-to-the-roof = WIDE-OPEN!
Descending is maximum braking to stifle runaways; and helper locomotives stay on so they can add dynamic braking.
As a railfan, it’s thrilling. My brother has visited other railfan sites, yet none are as exciting. I’ve visited some myself = ho-hum also.
They have heavy train-frequency, but no throttle-to-the-roof. Before our most recent chase, my brother visited a railfan site in OH. But it wasn’t as thrilling as Norfolk Southern’s old Pennsy line across Allegheny Mountain.

Reflections on M4G.

Sometime during our chase my brother asked if I ever heard of “04G?”
“No,” I said. “Sure it wasn’t ‘M4G?’ ‘M’ would be a second section of 14G.”
“It was ‘04G’,” my brother said emphatically.
A few minutes later we heard “M4G” call a signal.
“That’s it!” my brother said. “It’s M4G!”
“Uhm, a few minutes ago you loudly declared it was ‘04G’,” I noted.
I can hear the razzing all the way from Boston — to which I’ll add the following:
“Negatory, dudes. He’s my brother. We have a jolly-good time.”
“Tried to tell ya! Too many cars for 14G, so M4G runs ahead as a second section.”
Beyond that M4G had problems.
Its FRED (Flashing-Rear-End-Device) that monitors train-line air pressure at the rear of the train, fell free, bouncing along behind the train.
It caught in the loop-track switch at AR, and pulled out, dumping the train into “emergency” (full-stop braking).
Now the railroad was blocked atop The Hill until that FRED could be put back in place, air-line for train-brakes reassembled.
That took a while.

• Norfolk Southern has 20 recent locomotives painted the schemes of predecessor railroads = the Heritage-Units. “Wabash,” “Virginian,” and “Norfolk & Western” are all predecessors — I’ve seen many others. They’re all regular road locomotives.
• “Alto” Tower, now closed, was the last operating tower on the mainline from Pittsburgh. The railroad is now dispatched from Pittsburgh. “Alto” was closed June 16, 2012.
• A “Crescent-cab,” made by Curry Rail of Curryville, PA, for Norfolk Southern, is a new cab for older locomotives. The “Crescent-cab” is not made by standard locomotive manufacturers.
• #6969 is also known as “the love-engine.” (This reiterates “the barcode engine,” #1111.)
• An “interlocking” is where railroads cross at grade, and/or crossovers or switches are at play. Everything is “interlocked” so signals display “stop” to avoid conflict — and so routing won’t conflict.
• Atop The Hill (Allegheny Mountain) the railroad had a “loop-track” to circle helper locomotives back down the mountain. It’s not used much any more, since helpers often stay on; helping hold back the descending train with dynamic-braking.


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Monthly Train-Calendar Report for September 2017

Stacker 26T charges through Altoona. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

The September 2017 entry in my own calendar is eastbound Norfolk Southern doublestack 26T passing through Altoona (PA).
I was tiring of this location. It seemed like every time I arrived my brother had already set up there.
It’s under a street overpass, one of at least four in Altoona. Trains are so frequent, road-crossings at grade would be unsafe. Plus traffic would be snarled.
The railroad divides into express tracks and drag tracks through Altoona. 26T is on the express tracks. The drag tracks are visible at left.
Heavy coal extras usually get the drag tracks.
Anything on the drag tracks is in-your-face. The express tracks are a ways away.
I’d already shot this location many times, so what to do this time?
I cranked a lotta telephoto, and aimed west down the tracks through town.
The background is always messy. Visible is the roofed pedestrian overpass from Altoona’s Amtrak station to Railroaders Memorial Museum.
Altoona was once the basis of Pennsylvania Railroad’s operations. Shops were there, plus facilities to test and build locomotives.
Altoona is at the base of Allegheny Mountain, Pennsy’s biggest challenge when it was built in the 1840s.
If I crank telephoto that pedestrian bridge is less a distraction.
“26T, 238; One; CLEAR!” on our railroad-radio scanners.
“I see lights,” my brother says. It’s 26T miles away curving onto the long straight through town.
Here it comes! Under 17th St. bridge next to venerable Alto Tower, now closed. Then the roofed pedestrian bridge, then the unroofed overpass also toward the museum.
Around the bend it charges, headed east toward Rose, probably for a crew-change.
Click-click-click-click-click! Multiple shots — one has to be right. This is probably second or third to last.
The railroad is now Norfolk Southern. But it’s still Pennsy to me. It’s Pennsy’s railroad, and I’m a Pennsy man.

Way to go Mr. Shull! (Photo by Mark Shull.)

—The September 2017 entry in my Norfolk Southern Employees’ Photography-Contest calendar is a Norfolk Southern freight of auto-racks near Madison, NC.
Photographer Mark Shull, a Charlotte (NC) Roadway Shop supervisor, has been in this calendar before. He’s one of the regulars. Another is NS conductor Roger Durfee of Cleveland.
But what I’ve seen of Shull is not that inspiring. Shull always had the May flower-shot. Extravagant color perhaps a little over-saturated with Photoshop. (I’ve done it myself, but ya can’t push much.)
He hasn’t always been flowers. Once he shot an NS freight passing a large cornfield. That cornfield filled the foreground. He had to get the farmer’s permission.
Once he photographed a train on tracks across from a pretty bungalow. The bungalow was his background. He asked the homeowner’s permission — the owner probably got a reprint.
No way could a railfan like me live in such a house. Sleep would be impossible.
This time he snagged a really good one; the kind I encounter occasionally.
I look in my viewfinder, and why did I never see this?
The train looks like solid auto-racks. Enclosed excessive-height cars with two or three floors inside. —Two for trucks.
My brother and I see auto-racks often at Allegheny Crossing.
A solid auto-rack train is light.
100+ 120-ton coal gondolas will need help over Allegheny summit.
But not auto-racks.
The train pictured has two locomotives. I’ve seen auto-racks with only one. And that’s to take on Allegheny Mountain, although it may need help.
My guess is photographer Shull, like me, is doing multiple shots. Where would we be if not for multiple shots?
Shull has the locomotives right where they belong. I’ve done it myself. Bam-bam-bam-bam-bam! One has to be right.

Can there be an All-Pennsy calendar without a GG-1? (Photo by Fred Kern.)

—As I’ve said many times, can there be an All-Pennsy calendar without a GG-1?
The September 2017 entry in my All-Pennsy color calendar is Tuscan-red GG-1 #4912, pulling the Congressional Limited through Frankford Junction in north Philadelphia in 1952.
P-5 freighter #4788, followed by 4792, passes going the other way.
Pennsy’s GG-1 was the best locomotive they ever had. To me the GG-1 is the greatest locomotive of all time.
My family moved to northern DE in 1957. I began seeing GG-1s often, and most times they were doing 80-90 mph!
Pennsy’s New York City to Washington DC electrified line, now Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, went through northern DE.
It was still stick-rail, 33 feet per section, but 143 pounds per yard, and maintained to the hilt. A GG-1 could put the pedal-to-the-metal.
A GG-1 could crank 9,000 horsepower to railhead. That’s incredible! Current diesel locomotives are good for 4,400 horsepower,
9,000 horsepower was temporary. At that rate traction-motors overheat.
But it could be applied long enough to rocket a train out of a station.
In 1959, at age 15, a neighbor and I travelled to Philadelphia to pursue railfaning.
We returned via Pennsy’s Congressional, which by then had coaches.

(Please disregard the switcher.) (Photo by BobbaLew.)

Pictured is our train, the “Congo,” approaching Philadelphia’s 30th Street station.
26 cars pulled by a single GG-1.
We quickly boarded the last car, then left.
Once on the main, the engineer put the hammer down!
Within minutes we hit 80 mph, then 90.
No wonder my grandfather was impressed.
He rode the Congo, and it blew him away.
From then on, every time he saw a GG-1 express on that electrified line: “must be the Congressional,” awe in his voice.
Quite a few GG-1s were saved. Best is #4935 at Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.

#4935. (Photo by Tom Hughes.)

It was repainted the cat-whisker scheme, five gold pin stripes, as first applied by industrial-designer Raymond Loewy at the behest of Pennsy.
4935 is Brunswick-green, how most GG-1s were painted.
4912 is one of the few Tuscan-red GG-1s, and it’s still cat-whiskers.
By the time I arrived in DE, most GG-1s were no longer cat-whiskers. A wide single yellow stripe replaced the pin stripes.
But it still looked pretty good — it followed the original striping. I only saw one cat-whiskers.
4896, long ago scrapped, is the picture on this computer’s desktop.

#4896. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

4896 is the only GG-1 I went through, at Washington Union Terminal in early 1966.
That desktop picture is the only photograph I got of 4896. I saw it many times, but only snagged one photograph.
Those steeple-cab P-5a’s (there were both steeple-cab and box-cab versions — all GG-1s are steeple-cab) were supposed to become Pennsy’s electrified engines.
Electrification on PRR predates the GG-1.
But the GG-1 was so successful the P-5s were regeared for slower freight-service.
I didn’t even know they existed until I started seeing them.
The GG-1s lasted many years. —I used to say to an old high-school railfan “When the last GG-1 is retired, we’ll know we’re getting old.”
They were developed in the ‘30s, yet a few lasted until 1983 assigned to New Jersey Transit. Steam locomotives might last 30 years; diesels maybe 20.
No GG-1s are operable. They had transformers filled with PCB-based fluid, found to be cancerous.
Those transformer casings were drained and filled with sand or concrete.

2-8-2 L-1 Mikado maneuvers Freight Advance S-81 north of Catawissa, PA, in 1946. (Photo by Robert Malinoski©.)

—In 1946 I was two years old. Pennsy was dieselizing, but steam-locomotives were still in use. Which means I was lucky enough to see ‘em in actual revenue service.
The September 2017 entry of my Audio-Visual Designs black-and-white All-Pennsy Calendar is a 2-8-2 L-1 Mikado maneuvering cars of an Advance Freight in 1946.
In 1946 our family lived in a small Philadelphia suburb in south Jersey, just north of Haddonfield, an old Revolutionary War town. —I remember a cemetery with headstones dating back to the 1700s.
Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines, a 1933 merger of Pennsy and Reading lines to counter too much parallel track toward south Jersey’s seashore, went through Haddonfield.
PRSL was still using steam locomotives, usually Pennsy or Reading, although PRSL had a few of its own.
PRSL was why I became a railfan, and “dirty old steam-engines” (my mother) were the reason.
My father would take me by bicycle trackside in Haddonfield to watch the PRSL steamers.
I was thrilled!
Free entertainment! (My cheapskate father loved it.)
The locomotive engineers were whistling for grade-crossings in Haddonfield, but my father claimed they were whistling at me!
I’ve been a railfan ever since.

Where it all began — the EXACT location. (Photo by Robert Long©.)

We’d go back to Haddonfield’s passenger station where the trains stopped. I was terrified of thunderstorms, but could stand right next to a panting steamer.
Notable is the L-1 Mikado is the same boiler and firebox as Pennsy’s famous K-4 Pacific (4-6-2) passenger engine. It’s the K-4 boiler/firebox on 2-8-2 underpinnings.
Both the K-4 and the L-1 were developed at the same time, 1914.
Pennsy was hot for standardization.
Many earlier Consolidations (2-8-0) were also built as Atlantics (4-4-2). Later Consols (H-8 through H-10) are also the G-5 4-6-0 commuter engine, and also the E-6 Atlantic (4-4-2).
The K-5 4-6-2 Pacific (not successful — only two were built) was the gigantic boiler/firebox of the I-1 Decapod (2-10-0). Plus the M-1 4-8-2 Mountains were also the boiler/firebox of the Decapod, although with an added combustion-chamber.
I don’t think I ever saw anything other than Consols on PRSL. South Jersey railroading wasn’t very successful. About the only freight-traffic was around Camden across from Philadelphia.
East of Camden was nothing. Except for shipping produce, and serving small farm-supply outfits. There was sand-mining, but that’s not coal or heavy industry.
Haddonfield did have a small coal-supply for residential heating. The only freights I saw were Consolidations delivering loaded hoppers to that coal-supply. The hoppers got shoved on a trestle to dump into trucks below. And by the late ‘40s coal-heat was withering away.
The main traffic was only in Summer: Philadelphians to the Jersey seashore to escape city heat.
Peak traffic in summer meant south Jersey’s railroads often had to use rented power and equipment, plus pay heavy overtime. Pennsy and competing Reading used to race to the seashore, sometimes exceeding 100 mph through south Jersey’s Pine-Barrens.
PRSL came about because Pennsy’s line and Reading’s Atlantic City Railroad served many south Jersey seashore points, and also had parallel lines to Atlantic City.
Auto-travel was also replacing train travel, and distances in south Jersey were short. To the seashore from our house was about 50 miles = fire up the Chevrolet.
At the turn-of-the-century train travel to “da showah” was a viable option. By the ‘50s, as roads were improved — and the state was doing it — train travel to “da showah” fizzled.
PRSL was response to the failure of south Jersey railroading.
But I did see steam locomotives in actual revenue service. I remember a rusty K-4 pulling a horse-track race excursion in 1956.
The last steam-powered train I saw was in 1957: a Consol powered peddler-freight heading east out the railroad toward Atlantic City. I saw it from a Piper Tri-Pacer at maybe 1,000 feet; first time flying.
Pennsy quit using steam in late 1957. Here we see a 31 year-old L-1 Mikado still in revenue service in 1946.
It’s more than I saw. PRSL wasn’t serious. Railroading in south Jersey filled the need before auto-travel and trucking.
The old Pennsy (PRSL) line to Atlantic City remains, now operated by Jersey Transit. Although I think Conrail Shared Assets delivers coal to Atlantic City’s power-plant, and may own the railroad.
Shortlines own some of the other ex-PRSL railroads.
Into Camden through Haddonfield is now the extremely successful PATCO rapid-transit. It’s below grade through Haddonfield, so my beginning vantage-point can’t be repeated.
PATCO goes into Philadelphia over a much earlier rapid-transit that used what is now called “Ben Franklin Bridge.” When built it was called “Delaware River Bridge.”
My uncle claimed he built that entire bridge single-handed with only a toothpick (“Marcy, it’s everywhere”).
My paternal grandfather claimed he was first across that bridge in his ’34 Packard when it opened in 1926. (Ditto).
The caption is unclear. It says “maneuvers” instead “leads.” —#1799 may be a yard shifter.


Monday, August 28, 2017


For the past couple days I have been “unsubscribing,” hoping to staunch the my torrent of junk e-mails.
This laptop’s e-mail program junks 20-30 e-mails per day; SLAM! Into junk! Then into TRASH; then into the ground!
Two steps (if already junked): first trashed, then deleted entirely. Takes maybe 30 seconds.
But my iPhone doesn’t junk anything. I suppose I could get an e-mail app that did.
What I do instead is “edit.” Click to trash, then in the trash! Takes maybe a minute.
Then maybe once per week, delete trash into cyberspace. 10 seconds.
“Unsubscribing” is irksome. At least a minute per unsubscribe.
Often it’s the same unsubscribe for each junk e-mail. Enter my e-mail address, often automatically, then unsubscribe.
Others are more difficult. I hafta enter my e-mail address manually, or figger out “unsubscribe;” usually deftly hidden in tiny type. Sometimes it’s in the graphic.
Then there are those that demand I explain why I have the awful temerity and unmitigated gall and horrific audacity to not want their daily blessing. “Fill-in required.”
Usually I go legit, saying “I didn’t subscribe.”
Occasionally I become a smarty-pants saying “not interested.”
That is, not interested in yer bikini-clad, balloon-breasted floozies on glittering unmuffled Harleys. Usually they’re brandishing AK-47s.
Fodder for Tweet-Prez.
I and my wife (deceased) upgraded our windows maybe 7-8 years ago. Warranted for life. Why should I wanna upgrade my windows again?
Yesterday I opened a junker and was hit with a scantily-clad screen-height tart with eyes made up like coals.
Can she discuss philosophy? Would she even wanna? (“Kant.”)
20-30 “unsubscribes” is 20-30 minutes. I’d rather do something interesting, but it’s getting ridiculous.