Long ago at Cassandra Railroad Overlook. (Photo by BobbaLew.)
— The July 2016 entry of my own
calendar was taken ten years ago.
It's eastbound freight on Track One about to go under Cassandra Railroad Overlook ("kuh-SANN-druh;" as in the name "Anne").
It's climbing the west slope of Allegheny Summit, coming off the bypass built by Pennsy in 1898. It's threading the gigantic rock cut next to Cassandra.
The original railroad wiggled through Cassandra.
2006 is before I started chasing trains with Altoona railfan Phil Faudi ("FOW-dee;" as in "wow").
It's also before my wife died, but I had my radio scanner then.
If the sun is out, anything eastbound through the cut has to be at the exact
The sun is shining directly into the cut.
Any other time the cut is in shadow, and a train is lost.
At that time I wasn't as conscious of lighting as I am now. Nor did I understand my scanner.
All I understood were defect-detectors, and the parade began.
My wife and I were fixin' to leave, but "Norfolk Southern milepost 253.1, Track Three, no defects."
We sat back down; westbound approaching.
Then "Norfolk Southern milepost 258.9, Track One, no defects."
Back then the detector was at 258.9; now it's at 258.8.Here comes another;
then another, another, and yet another. We couldn't get away.
A railfan doesn't leave if he hears a train coming.
And anything eastbound is run-eight; assaulting the heavens
They're climbing The Hill.
So now if the sun is out, my brother and I time it to be at Cassandra when inside the cut is lit.
And we are much more cognizant of what we hear on the scanner.
I can thank Faudi and the Station Inn radio-feed for that.
I listen to that radio-feed over the Internet here at home.Tiger-shark! (Photo by Philip Makanna©.)
—Another fabulous photograph by photographer Makanna.
Only this time it’s not the P-51 Mustang
It’s one of the triumvirate of WWII warbirds, the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk
, the Lockheed P-38 Lightning
, and the Mustang.
Perhaps the Bell P-39 Airacobra
should be considered too. But that was mid-engine so it could shoot a cannon through its propeller hub.
Does that make it a fighter?
The July 2016 entry of my Ghosts WWII warbirds calendar
is a P-40 Warhawk painted in the famous Flying-Tigers
The Allison V12 was water-cooled.
It needed an intake for its radiator.
That radiator scoop was painted to look like shark’s teeth.
Claire Chennault’s American Volunteer Group of Army and Navy pilots defending the Chinese against the Japanese painted their P-40s with this shark’s teeth scheme, the Flying Tigers.
They were the only defense against the Japanese after Pearl Harbor; and had presidential imprimatur.
I’ve seen this Tiger-shark scheme on many airplanes — even a lowly Piper Cub.
But the P-40 is what looks best.
I’ll let my WWII warbirds
site weigh in:
“The P-40 fighter/bomber was the last of the famous ‘Hawk’ line produced by Curtiss Aircraft in the 1930s and 1940s, and it shared certain design elements with its predecessors, the Hawk and Sparrowhawk.
It was the third-most numerous U.S. fighter of WWII. An early prototype version of the P-40 was the first American fighter capable of speeds greater than 300 mph.
Design work on the aircraft began in 1937, but numerous experimental versions were tested and refined before the first production version of the P-40, the Model 81, appeared in May 1940.
By September of that year, over 200 had been delivered to the Army Air Corps. 185 more were delivered to the United Kingdom in the fall of 1940.
Early combat operations pointed to the need for more armor and self-sealing fuel tanks, which were included in the P-40B (called the Tomahawk Mk IIA in the U.K.).
These improvements came at price: a significant loss of performance due to extra weight. Further armor additions and fuel tank improvements added even more weight in the P-40C (Tomahawk Mk IIB).
Curtiss addressed the airplane’s mounting performance problems with the introduction of the P-40D (Kittyhawk Mk I), which was had a more powerful version of the Allison V-1710 engine, and had two additional wing-mounted guns.
The engine change resulted in a slightly different external appearance, which was the reason the RAF renamed it from Tomahawk to Kittyhawk.
Later, two more guns were added in the P-40E (Kittyhawk Mk IA), and this version was used with great success (along with their mainstays, the earlier B-models) by the Flying Tigers in China.
Some additional models, each with slight improvements in engine power and armament, were the P-40F (with a 1,300 horsepower Rolls-Royce Merlin engine), the P-40G, P-40K (Kittyhawk Mk III), P-40L, P-40M and finally, the P-40N, of which 5,200 were built, more than any other version.
While it was put to good use and was certainly numerous in most theaters of action in WWII, the P-40’s performance was quickly eclipsed by newer aircraft, and was not considered one of the ‘great fighters’ of the war.” BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM! Double-headed Deks on Pennsy’s Shamokin branch. (Photo by John Krause ©.)
— The July 2016 entry of my Audio-Visual Designs black-and-white All-Pennsy Calendar
is how it was on Pennsy during steam’s final years.
Two I-1s Decapods (2-10-0) are slamming past Weigh Scales, PA on the Shamokin branch with a Mt. Carmel ore train. Two more Deks are pushing on the rear.
The tower-operator has just hooped up orders to the rear crew of the lead Deks.
Steam-engines can’t multiple like diesels.
Each steamer required a crew.
The Mt. Carmel ore train was always heavy; iron-ore being delivered to Lehigh Valley Railroad
in Mt. Carmel, PA. The ore was destined for Bethlehem Steel’s furnaces.
The ore was probably delivered in ships to Pennsy’s giant unloading facility in Philadelphia. From there it was delivered up to Northumberland, PA for the Shamokin branch.
Pennsy enginemen referred to Deks as “Hippos,” since they were so big and heavy when developed, which was 1916.
The Decapod is the Pennsy Consolidation (2-8-0) maximized:
a gigantic boiler on a 2-10-0 frame, essentially a drag-engine.
Almost all the engine weight is on the drive-wheels, and they are only 62 inches in diameter — mere pie-plates — nowhere near the 80 inches of a boom-and-zoom K-4 Pacific (4-6-2).
The I-1 Decapod is riddled with compromise.
With drive-wheels that small you can’t effectively counteract side-rod weight. The heavy side-rod assembly, and counterweights, pound the rail as the drivers rotate. They also slam the cab up-and-down.
Take a Dek past 50 mph and you were slamming the crew. Crews hated ‘em.
It’s also hard to imagine the Decapods were at first hand-fired.
Coal demand of a full-on Dek was so high even two firemen couldn’t keep up. The Deks were the first Pennsy steamers with mechanized stokers — and Pennsy loathed “gizmos.”
The Mt. Carmel ore train was a final stomping-ground for Pennsy steam.
Another was the old Northern Central
across NY up to Sodus Point on Lake Ontario.
Deks were used there too; heavy coal trains up to Sodus Point wharf.
The Dek is an old design, not as modern as steam-engines in the ‘30s and ‘40s.
But it was very sell suited for torturous railroading like the Mt. Carmel ore train.
Northern Central was also torturous, especially up to Penn Yan.
The last steam-engine used on Pennsy was a Dek, coal to Altoona in late 1957.Stacker in the outback — it’s all about setting, dudes. (Photo by Mark Shull.)
—Another Mark Shull picture.
Shull has had six pictures in the Norfolk Southern Employees’ Photography-Contest calendar.
Many include flowers — this one blooming morning glories.
At least someone knows the importance of setting in a train picture.
The July 2016 entry in this calendar is a Norfolk Southern doublestack through the rural outback of NC.
Red farm-implements are in the picture as well, primarily an ancient plow to the right.
The pile of stones is a fireplace, probably once part of a house.
An old railroad rail was used as a pot hanger.
I wonder if I see Photoshop© here? Like Shull increased the color saturation of that plow?
It almost seems too red.
Photoshop can do that; I rarely do it myself.
Apparently the plow was just painted — perhaps even for this photograph.
So it’s hard-to-say: Photoshop or not.
The lead locomotive is a General-Electric Dash9-44CW
road unit, 4,400 horsepower.
In my observation the GEs are more likely to be used on intermodal trains, and the EMD
SDs on heavy unit-trains, like coal or crude-oil, or trains of corn in covered hoppers for an ethanol plant.
Unless a doublestack is extremely long and therefore heavy, it may go over Allegheny Mountain near Altoona unassisted. A heavy unit-train usually gets helpers, sometimes a double-set (four units), Norfolk Southern’s SD40E
A heavy unit-train may get three or four helper-sets; two units per set. That’s in addition to the road units pulling the train.
My guess is photographer Shull also used multiple exposures as the train passed. I do it myself, and probably would have picked the same frame.Maybe not.
I might have used a frame or two earlier.Helpers attached at Altoona. (Photo by Jim Buckley.)
— Altoona, PA; nexus of the mighty Pennsylvania Railroad.
The July 2016 entry in my All-Pennsy color calendar
is two Alco diesels being attached to a passenger train in Altoona to help it up The Hill.
Altoona is at the foot of Pennsy’s greatest challenge: Allegheny Mountain.
Altoona became the location of vast marshaling yards, plus shops and facilities for building and maintaining locomotives and cars.
Altoona is mid-PA. About the only natural resource around is coal.
Altoona seems out in the middle of nowhere. A bustling city in the rural outback, whose only outlet was the railroad.
It’s interesting to consider if Altoona would exist if the Pennsylvania Railroad had followed the route of the original cross-state canal.
The canal diverged at Petersburg to face Allegheny Mountain at Hollidaysburg.
Instead the railroad continued northwest toward Tyrone (“tie-ROWN;” as in “own”), then turned south down the valley toward Altoona.
The railroad crossed Allegheny Mountain in pretty much the same location as the State Public Works System, which also used railroad to cross the mountain.
Allegheny Mountain couldn’t be canaled.
Perhaps part of the reason for Altoona was to hook up with Public Works’ railroad at first.
That hookup continued only a few years, until Pennsy completed its own
Pennsy’s original alignment over the mountain is still used, including mighty Horseshoe Curve
, the trick to get up the mountain without insanely steep grades.
Altoona was originally a couple farms the railroad purchased. As the railroad grew and succeeded, Altoona became a focal-point.
Much of Altoona’s railroad facilities no longer exist — in fact, the railroad is no longer Pennsy.
But the challenge of Allegheny Mountain is still there. Helper locomotives have to be added.
Alco’s FA units — FB is the cabless B-unit — weren’t as successful as EMD’s F-unit
s, the locomotive that dieselized railroading.
Part of the reason the helpers are Alcos is because Pennsy’s demand for diesels was so large
EMD couldn’t fill it.
Pennsy had to dieselize with unreliable orphans, like Baldwin
, Pennsy’s main supplier of steam locomotives when it couldn’t build its own.
A Baldwin diesel might cripple and block the railroad.
Alcos were pretty good, and supposedly more fuel-stingy.
I notice the passenger train has EMD power, probably E-unit
Most of the buildings pictured are now gone.Bread-and-butter. (Photo by Dan Lyons©.)
—A columnist in my most recent issue of Classic Car
magazine, August 2016, bemoans the fact no one seems interested in collecting the most basic bread-and-butter cars.
The July 2016 entry in my Tide-mark Classic-Car calendar
is a 1961 Ford Falcon
Futura, a most basic bread-and-butter car.
What people collect are Mustangs, the ’57 Chevy, Model-As, and muscle-cars.
If they’re loaded they do classic Packards, Duesenbergs, Auburns, and Cords.
The Mustang is little more than a re-bodied Falcon. Shove the firewall back to give it the long hood and short trunk of a sportscar, but underneath is a Falcon.
People complained the Falcon was totally unsporty. At least the Mustang tilted toward a V8 with four-on-the-floor.
| 1963 Falcon Sprint.|
Before the Mustang the Falcon could be had with the same V8 and four-on-the-floor later available in the Mustang. It was called the Sprint.
Someone had one when I was in college, and I lusted after it.
But I was smitten by Chevy’s SmallBlock.
The Futura model was Ford’s first feeble attempt to make the Falcon sporty. People were comparing Chevrolet’s Corvair to Porsche.
The Futura had bucket seats, a center console, and floorshift for manual transmission models.
My neighbor-friend’s first car was a Ford Fairlane two-door, ’63 I think, 221 V8 with four-on-the-floor. He later traded for a Mustang.
Ford’s 221 Small-Block was a copy of Chevy’s SmallBlock, better late than never, and was later enlarged to 260 and 289 cubic-inches. It could even be said Ford’s Boss-302 Mustang was a variation of the 221, but it had different cylinder-heads for better breathing.
The columnist had a point. No one seems to be collecting the bread-and-butter cars. Ford’s Falcon, Plymouth’s Valiant
, Rambler’s American
, and the Studebaker Lark
They seem to prefer Chevrolet’s Corvair
, which was totally unordinary,
and ended up being much more than el-cheapo bread-and-butter.
Yet here we have evidence to the contrary.
— The July 2016 entry in my Jerry Powell “Classic-Car” calendar
is a grand
It’s not identified. I think it’s a ’54, but it could be a ’55. Both look the same, so I’m always confused.
My sophomore year in college, ’63-’64, I roomed in the house of a guy who owned a green ’55 Cadillac four-door sedan.
He worked in the college kitchen, and his wife’s parents lived next door in a trailer.
His house was on the town’s outskirts.
Every Sunday morning he’d pile his family and his wife’s parents into that Cadillac, and parade serenely to church.
I roomed in a room next to their bedroom, and every Sunday afternoon after church they’d leave their kids with the wife’s parents, repair to their bedroom, lock the door, and go at it;
yells and squeals.
It was part of my education at that hyper-religious college.
One night it was snowing profusely, a blizzard.
The guy suggested I drive his Caddy to a local pizza shop in town for pizza.
I was dumbfounded.
“Sy,” I said; his name was Sy.
“You think the world of that Caddy, and it’s snowing terrible. What if I crack it up?”
He sent me anyway, so off I went, plowing serenely through the blizzard.
It steered like the Queen Mary, slow and ponderous.
Back on the main highway I goosed it. It began a big slow drift.
Everything was so majestically slow, the drift was easy to control.
I steered into it and continued forward.
No wonder the guy loved it. It was so big and heavy it seemed friendly.
And there was no denying the class it exuded.
So here’s Sy’s car again, only this time it’s a convertible.
I can still picture returning from the south Jersey seashore, top-down Cadillac convertibles full of yelling, beer-swilling teenagers passing us.
We were on an arrow-straight two-lane through the pineys
, where Caddy convertibles full of degraded, beer-sodden youth could easily pass.
With Caddy’s new overhead-valve V8, introduced in 1949, a Caddy driver could shake his fist at the heavens.
My father passed judgment, as he loved to do. “Bound headlong fer Hell, I tell ya! Tsk! Tsk!”
So what does this Caddy do now?
Probably parade a bare-shouldered festival-queen atop the back seat in a strapless gown.
Cue Ma Kettle: “Too bad she couldn’t finish her dress!”
(“Jerry Powell” is my niece’s boyfriend, a car-guy like me. He gave me the calendar as a Christmas-present.)
Labels: Monthly Calendar Report