Saturday, December 03, 2016

Faire ***** crosses the street

(No names here; I don’t wanna get sued, nor let readers hit on this girl.*)
“Wait just one cotton-pickin’ minute,” I said to pretty ***** behind the counter at the new pharmacy in a supermarket I use.
(What ever happened to corner drug-stores, now that every supermarket hasta have a pharmacy?)
“Whadja do?” I asked. “Cross the street from your old pharmacy to this new pharmacy?”
“Wanna join me?” she asked.
“I know this girl,” I said to others checkin’ the place out. “Not too long ago she gave me a tetanus-shot at her previous pharmacy.”
“Depends,” I answered. “Perhaps the main reason I patronized the old pharmacy was because it has a drive-up.
My dog knew where she was, so I always took her.”
“I know where I am. Let’s get hopping. I’m entitled to a treat. Hup-hup!”
“I’ll switch if you can guarantee a dog-treat.
The hitch is you guys don’t have a drive-up. My silly dog equates all drive-ups with a treat — including banks.”
The girl is no more than 29. Pretty, but a little heavy on the eye makeup.
My wife, now gone, didn’t use it. I didn’t think she needed it, plus I’m sorta against it.
She mighta been by herself; that is, she was the pharmacist.
If so, “congratulations.”
“Ya walked away of national-brand store.
I bet working for them was madness. Sanctimonious jerks asserting their rank.”
I dealt with this myself, especially driving transit bus.
Once I walked into my employer’s mechanical department to report a bus that wouldn’t brake.
“I almost hit a guy! Full 100-pound application, and after maybe six seconds the brakes began to apply. Ya cover a lotta ground over six seconds at 50 mph.”
“Who are you?” I was asked. “Yer just a driver!”
“Yeah, and you’ll fire me if I crack up with lousy equipment. I blow 15 minutes to report lousy equipment, and ya pull rank!”
I had to walk out of the supermarket without switching to her new pharmacy. Not enough time.
The girl noticed. I think she was pleased I remembered her.
I’ll probably switch. -A) Nationally-branded companies can be ridiculous, -B) I doubt my dog will miss that drive-up: “A treat? Yippee;” CHOMP, and -C) I want faire ***** to know I’m with her; walking away from a nationally-branded company is worthwhile.
What I dread most is the possibility her pharmacy may bomb, and she’ll get the blame.
Or Wegmans will set up in that vacant lot across the street and put that supermarket outta business.

* None of my local friends are lechers. They’re the ones I e-mail blog-links to = my readers. As far as I know, this blog goes out over the Internet, so can be accessed all over the planet. I don’t want some prevert from Californy hittin’ on this girl.
• Wegmans is a large supermarket-chain based in Rochester where I often buy groceries. They have stores all over the Rochester area, and are even expanding in the east-coast megalopolis. But no store in my area — yet.

Friday, December 02, 2016

The extent to which I’m an artist

“You’re an artist,” a friend keeps telling me.
I never know what to say.
My parents always inferred I was rebellious and reprehensible, because I couldn’t worship my father, a Bible-beating zealot.
I wasn’t able to shut him down until after five years of driving transit bus. By then I parried so many crazies they made him seem angelic.
My Aunt May is an artist, sorta, and so am I. I’m not supremely confident; I ain’t Picasso. But I know I can do pretty good.
“You take great photographs,” my friend tells me.
I just e-mailed her a link to my most recent Monthly-Calendar-Report, and she apparently viewed it.
I have seven calendars, sometimes eight. To me they’re not calendars. What they are is wall-art that changes monthly.
Four are train-calendars (I’m a railfan), two or three are cars (I’m a car-nut), and one is classic WWII warbirds (propeller airplanes).
“Only four pictures are mine,” I told her.
That Calendar-Report has 18 photographs. Seven or eight are the individual calendar photographs. I scarf up others from Google-Images, or pictures I took myself, often long ago.
One of my train calendars is the one I did myself. Shutterfly does it, my photos placed in their calendar template.
The photos are train-shots my brother and I took near Altoona, PA, where the Pennsylvania Railroad crossed Allegheny Mountain. The railroad is now Norfolk Southern.
Many of the photos in that calendar are by my brother. Many are by me.
Try to convince a macho Harley dude he’s an artist. He gives me good stuff.
It just so happens the December 2016 entry in my calendar is by me.
My hotrod calendar-report also has a picture by me as an aside. I took it two years ago.
My ’57 Fuel-Injection Chevy is last summer. Follmer’s Trans-Am Mustang is 1970.
A friend in Denver, also a photographer, with whom I once worked, tells me my artistic input is choosing good pictures.
Out of the hundreds of photos my brother and I take, I hafta select 13 good ones — 12 months plus a cover.
Admitted there’s artistic input setting up a picture.
But all too many bomb. And some of our best photographs are scattershot — just shaddup and shoot!
The other artistic input is producing my calendar itself.
-Blue background = “NOPE! Hasta be solid red.”
-Snowflake background or stars? “What you been smokin’?”
-Multiple pictures above the month page? “NOPE; only one picture per month, otherwise it looks stupid.”
-Maybe this font = “NOPE!”
-I try another = “NOPE!”
-Finally “There it is!”
I’m drivin’ this here laptop = artistic judgment at play.
“If my name is on that calendar, it better look good.”
Same thing with a brochure I long ago produced for a local park.
“If my name is on that brochure, we ain’t usin’ no crummy Xerox map.
That brochure hasta be a class act.”

Thursday, December 01, 2016

32-valve V6

“That motor has 32 valves,” my niece’s husband trumpeted.
“That’s not possible,” I said. “It’s a V6. Four valves per cylinder times six cylinders is 24 valves. That leaves eight valves who-knows-where.”
Shortly after my stroke, 23 long years ago, my Rochester niece, my only nearby relative, beside her mother.....
Married a guy older than her, nine years I think.
I don’t know all the gory details, but I guess he ran them bankrupt.
They had a daughter, my third nearby relative.
My niece lives with her mother in the house outside Rochester where that mother grew up.
After my niece married she continued to live with her mother, and hubby moved in.
All I remember is him showing me -a) the man-cave he built in the basement, and -b) his $50,000 Big Dog motorcycle.
He also strung outside Christmas-lights all over their house and property. Turn ‘em all on, and their electric-meter spun like a 78 rpm phonograph.
His man-cave was rudimentary. Plywood and drywall slammed this-way-and-that. I doubt it woulda passed code.
50,000 buckaroos for a motorcycle is something I don’t understand.
Mine cost about $6,000 — deduct $3,500 for trade.
The best part is his Big Dog wouldn’t get first gear. Navigate a tiny suburban driveway in second.
“150 horsepower!” he bragged. The engine was Harley V-twin based; perhaps 110 cubic inches or more.
Harleys use a knife-and-fork crank to avoid cylinder offset.
It can break.
I doubt it would hold together at the revs needed to generate 150 horsepower, probably over 8,000.
Not too long ago he bought my niece’s mother a new Ford Taurus — they’re available with a 24-valve V6.
He always bought Fords, a new one about every three months.
He showed the car to me, pointing to the ultra-thin tires on 21-inch alloy wheels.
“Them are 200 mph tires,” he bragged.
To which I responded — (cue Al Sharpton: “awful temerity and unmitigated gall and horrific audacity”) — “and where, pray tell, do you propose to do 200 mph?”
I doubt a 3,500-pound V6 Taurus could manage 200 mph; 140 maybe. For 200 mph ya need a much more powerful V8 in a car weighing maybe 1,500 pounds.
Ya also need a long airport runway for 747s, or Bonneville Salt-Flats.
I remember Car-and-Driver magazine trying to do 200 mph in a tricked-out, hyper-powerful Firebird, and crashing. At that speed a car takes off from the road and flies.
I felt later I shouldna been so hard on the guy. He probably had a difficult childhood like me: “reform-school for you, baby!”
Despite all his blustering, I refused to backdown.
“A 32-valve V6 is clearly impossible!”

• 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.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Monthly Calendar-Report for December 2016

UPS train (21E) into Portage. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

—“I don’t think you’ve ever been to the trailer,” I said to my railfan brother-from-Boston.
The December 2016 entry of my own calendar is westbound train 21E, the so-called UPS train, charging off the 1898 bypass into Portage, PA.
“What’s the trailer?” my brother asked.
“An abandoned highway trailer is parked trackside behind the Portage station. It’s a good place to shoot,” I said.
“It’s near where the 1898 bypass merged back into the original Pennsy main.”
That bypass is now the Main, but Pennsy’s original line through Portage still exists as a branch that serves Sonman coal loadout.
Sonman was once a mine. 63 miners died there in 1940 in an underground explosion — methane gas.
I say “so-called” because I get conflicting reports about the UPS train.
My railfan friend from Altoona, Phil Faudi (“FOW-dee;” as in “wow”) says 21E is the UPS train.
My brother insists there are others, like 21J.
All I know is Phil says 21E gets an additional locomotive, in this case three instead of two.
The train begins at Morrisville Yard in PA, near the Delaware River.
It heads west on the old Reading (“redd-ing;” not “reed-ing”) line to Rutherford, PA near Harrisburg. There it loads UPS trailers from all over the northeast, but mostly New York City.
The train is cross-country. Norfolk Southern hands it off to Burlington Northern Santa Fe near Chicago.
The train is premier service from Rutherford to San Bernardino near Los Angeles, but ends in Los Angeles.
The train is mostly trailer-on-flatcar, although often it has containers, sometimes doublestacked.
FedEx is also using the train.
We parked behind the trailer. It’s only a shorty, 25-40 feet at most. And only one axle.
I set up my tripod and telephoto — the picture is fairly strong telephoto.
Here comes 21E; our scanners told us it was coming, if not Phil.
Phil used to lead me around, but his wife has multiple sclerosis, so he stays home.
He monitors his scanner, and calls my cellphone to tell me a train is coming.
He gets Altoona at his house. In Portage we don’t — that’s the other side of the mountain.
Winter is coming; snow is between the tracks.
Soon it will cover the ties, so all that’s visible will be the railheads.
They might even have to plow. Snow can be heavy up on Allegheny Mountain.

The ultimate macho-machine! (Photo by Dan Lyons©.)

—Here it is, the car all the little boys in their 50s and 60s lust after.
The December 2016 entry in my Tide-mark Classic-Car calendar is a 427 Cobra, model-year 1966.
Cobras were AC, a British sportscar manufacturer.
Back in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s car-guys became aware of swapping the engine in a British sportscar, usually to hot-rodded Detroit-iron.
MG-As or Austin-Healeys with the new Chevy V8.
Racer Carroll Shelby from Texas wanted to install Detroit-iron in a British sportscar, and AC was interested. It’s sportscar was the AC Ace.
He wanted to compete with Chevrolet’s Corvette.
Shelby negotiated Ford’s new small V8, 260 cubic inches. The first AC Cobras were 260.
Shel was in the car-biz. His AC Cobra went to 289 cubic-inches when Ford increased the displacement of its new V8 yet again. It started at 221.
And AC Cobras were being raced.
Next step, to make Cobras extremely competitive, was a Big-Block motor, like Ford’s 427 NASCAR side-oiler engine.
Those first Big-Block Cobras were undriveable. Way too much motor in a flimsy chassis. And gobs of torque.
The car had to be redesigned. The frame was strengthened with bigger tubing.
Stuff your foot into any 427 Cobra and hang on for dear life! That motor could bend things.
A few years ago I saw a 427 Cobra at a car show.
“Is it actually a 427?” I asked the owner.
“No it’s not,” he replied sheepishly. “It’s Ford’s new 4.9-liter 32-valve.
The 427 was sick. I had to replace it.”
NOT fuel-injection. (iPhone photo by BobbaLew.)
Reminds of a ’57 Fuel-Injection Chevy I recently saw.
“Why ain’t the hood open?” I asked.
“Because it’s no longer Fuel-Injection,” the owner said.
“I had to install a crate-motor.”

It’s a Hemi! (Photo by Scott Williamson.)

—There are three 1932 Ford models the hot-rodders love. The three- and five-window coupes, and the roadster.
The December 2016 entry in my Oxman Hotrod Calendar is a Deuce five-window coupe.
A three-window.
The Milner coupe from American Graffiti, a five-window.
A roadster.
Three-window coupes have three windows beside the windshield. Five-windows have a small window behind the door-post, making five total beside the windshield. Roadsters are not convertibles; their top does not retract. It can only be removed.
I prefer the three-windows.
The three-window pictured is fabulous. Mainly because it’s yellow, my preferred color.
It was advertised at $39,500; I expected a lot more.
The car-body was fiberglass, which I can accept if it’s finished well.
Supposedly it’s drivable, and reliable. With a blower? I’ve seen such, but that’s not Granny’s car = start it and forget it.
Everything I’ve pictured looks drivable except the calendar-car.
The early Hemi was incredibly heavy, those gigantic cast-iron heads.
They were called the Hemi because of their hemispherical combustion-chambers, valving on each side.
The Hemi was the pinnacle of Detroit-iron, introduced in 1951, replaced after 1958.
They breathed extremely well; valving 90° from the crankshaft, whereas most V8s had their valves in a row parallel to the crankshaft.
The intake-valves could be aimed at the intake manifold, but so were the exhausts.
Standard V8s aimed both valves at the intake-manifold, since they were all in a row.
Exhaust therefore had to navigate a contorted passageway to get back over to the exhaust-header, if it was outside the head. (Most were.)
Unlike standard Detroit V8s a Hemi needed two rocker-shafts on a wide cylinder-head casting. Which is why they were so heavy.
Heavy as they were, drag-racers like Don Garlits, loved the Hemi; it could be extremely powerful at speed.
NASCAR racers got a second iteration during the ‘60s: Hemi heads on the Chrysler B-block. It was so dominant NASCAR outlawed it.
I have a tee-shirt depicting a Hemi-powered hotrod. “It’s a Hemi,” it says.
There was my caption.
The calendar-car also appears to have Hilborn fuel injection, a racing application. How does one handle such a thing on the street?
I bet ya need to manually spray gasoline in the injection mouths to get it started.
I shoulda asked. (Photo by BobbaLew.)
I did come across a cherry three-window a couple years ago at a local car show. Chevy SmallBlock with triple deuces.
The only things wrong were -a) its color, and -b) it mighta been auto-tranny.
The blown yellow three-window was auto-tranny.
I shoulda asked.

Looks like 1969.

—Behold, the reason Jerry Powell bought me this calendar.
Jerry is my niece’s boyfriend. He’s a car-guy like me. He got it for me as a Christmas present.
The December 2016 entry in my Jerry Powell “Classic-Car” calendar is a Boss-302 Mustang, 1969 I think.
It has headlights where a 1970 has fake vents.
To me a 1970 Boss-302 Mustang is the most desirable collector-car ever made. I imagine I told Jerry that once.
But I wouldn’t buy a Boss-302. Its motor is too much a race-motor.
I prefer a 1970 351 Mach 1. Same car, same motor detuned, so more civilized = streetable.
Ford’s Boss-302 was their counter to the Penske (“Penn-skee;” as in “ski”) Camaros, early in Sports Car Club of America’s Trans-Am series.
The Penske Camaros had Mark Donohue as lead driver.
The 1969 Penske Z28 Camaro driven by Mark Donohue.
Pony-cars, e.g. Ford’s Mustang, the Chevrolet Camaro, Pontiac’s Firebird, the Plymouth Barracuda, the Dodge Challenger, and even AMC’s Javelin, all raced the Trans-Am.
They were all factory teams.
For 1970 AMC attracted Penske/Donohue away from Camaro.
People like me were upset. Money skonked Chevy’s fabulous V8.
Boss-302 Mustangs were entered by old NASCAR car-owner Bud Moore, and Moore applied his considerable savvy to the Boss-302.
He wasn’t the driver. He had Parnelli Jones (“parr-nell-eee”), who won the 1963 Indy 500, plus George Follmer, a sportscar racer.
The trick to getting any solid-axle American sedan to handle well, is getting that rear axle to stay put.
A simple Hotchkiss rear-suspension, the rear axle on two parallel leaf springs, is a disaster at speed.
The springs flex, and steer the axle some other direction than the car.
Locate that axle with trackbars and a Panhard rod, and the springs don’t flex. The axle is held straight ahead.
Many years ago in 1969 I attended a Trans-Am race at Bridgehampton Race Course out at the end of Long Island.
Jones had the pole, with Follmer second, and Donohue perhaps third in a Penske Z28.
I hiked to a long downhill curve just after the start-straight. It would be a rolling start, the cars two-by-two.
Jones and Follmer sailed over the top of that curve, which was blind, at 165 mph, side-by-side, Jones leading.
That’s goin’ to my grave.
The red-and-black paint scheme on Follmer’s 1969 Boss-302. (Photo by Sam Attal.)
Follmer’s mustard-yellow Boss-302 (1970 Bridge Trans-Am). (Photo by BobbaLew.)
Down the hill they charged. At bottom trackbars and exhausts scraped the pavement. Sparks flew!
Follmer eventually won ahead of Donohue who lost his brakes. Jones dropped out with mechanical problems.
The mustard-yellow car pictured is Moore’s second paint-scheme.
The first ones I saw at the Bridge were 1969 models, and have a red and black scheme used on Moore’s earlier Cougar Trans-Am racers.
To me, Moore’s Boss-302s were the best cars in the series, even though I’m a Chevy-man.

Not a Tiger-Shark! (Photo by Philip Makanna©.)

— The December 2016 entry of my Ghosts WWII warbirds calendar is a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk.
Thankfully it’s not painted the Tiger-Shark scheme.
Seems like every P-40 I see is painted a Tiger-Shark.
The Flying Tigers paint-scheme. (Photo by Philip Makanna©.)
That giant radiator-scoop invites shark’s teeth; which look good on a P-40, but not much else.
I’ve even seen shark’s teeth on a military Piper-Cub.
As if such an airplane were a threat to all-and-sundry.
It wouldn’t take much to shoot a Piper-Cub outta the sky. They don’t even have guns.
Most P-40s had the water-cooled Allison V12 engine.
The Flying Tiger squadron was Claire Chennault’s 1st American Volunteer Group (AVG) of the Chinese Air Force, comprised of pilots from the U.S. Army Air Corps, Navy, and Marine Corps. They were recruited under presidential authority to defend China against the invading Japanese.
The Tigers trained in Burma. Their first combat was shortly after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. America was unable to bomb Japanese cities until the B-29, flying from China, long after Pearl Harbor.
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 ‘30s and ‘40s, 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, where they were designated the Tomahawk Mk I.
Early combat operations pointed to the need for more armor and self-sealing fuel tanks, which were included in the P-40B.
These improvements came at price: a significant loss of performance due to the extra weight. Further armor additions and fuel tank improvements added even more weight in the P-40C.
Curtiss addressed the airplane’s mounting performance problems with the introduction of the P-40D, which was powered by a more powerful version of the Allison V-1710 engine, and had two additional wing-mounted guns.
Later, two more guns were added in the P-40E, and this version was used with great success (along with their earlier mainstays, the B-models) by General Claire Chenault’s American Volunteer Group, The Flying Tigers, in China.”
Right after Pearl Harbor, the Curtiss P-40 was all that was available, so Chenault engaged P-40s rejected by Britain.
Chenault trumpeted a new sort of air-combat, dogfights wherein enemy fighters, attacking Allied bombers, were shot down.
But it wasn’t the dogfight tactic of WWI = a single fighter-plane strafing a single enemy fighter.
Multiple fighter-planes attack the single enemy fighter, and thereby have more success shooting it down.
So the “Tigers,” flying antique fighter-planes, had much success shooting down Japanese planes, which were more agile, and faster.
The Tigers made it possible for America to believe it was possible to defeat the Japanese. And that was shortly after Pearl Harbor, when the Japanese were a colossus.
Unfortunately the P-40 was not the later P-51 Mustang, which was more powerful, faster, and more maneuverable. A P-51 also had much more range.
The P-51s could stay with long-range bombers from England over Germany. A P-40 couldn’t.

(Sorry railfans; what remain are not that good this month.)

Easier than usual. (Photo by Robert Malinoski.)

—The December 2016 entry in my All-Pennsy color calendar is a Pennsy I1sa Decapod (2-10-0) pulling an ore train past tiny Halifax, PA. So it says......
Pennsy crews hated the Decapods. They rode rough.
But they were incredibly powerful, especially for a locomotive designed when it was.
The Dek was designed in the ‘teens, a 10-drivered Consolidation (2-8-0).
Most of its weight was on its drivers. The only wheels not pulling were the two on the pilot truck.
The Dek was designed because Pennsy’s freight-engines at that time were strapped. The L1 Mikado (2-8-2) and Consolidations (2-8-0).
Deks were so big crews called ‘em Hippos.
The Dek was also Pennsy’s first try at coal-stokers. Even two firemen couldn’t keep up with the coal-demand of a Dek.
I did a GoogleMap search for Halifax, and found it’s on the Susquehanna River south of Northumberland.
I can’t tell which way the train is going; loaded ore usually goes north toward Northumberland.
But it looks southbound.
I did all kinds of poking around with GoogleMaps and StreetViews. The train is also into the sun.
In GoogleMaps the railroad is west of town. And there’s the town east of the railroad.
The railroad is the old Pennsy line on the east bank of the Susquehanna. In GoogleMaps the river is near the railroad. But I can’t get a view of both railroad and river.
I also can’t conceive of iron-ore moving south. Usually iron-ore was unloaded from a ship at Pennsy’s huge Philadelphia terminal, and then moved by train up to Northumberland.
There it became the oft-photographed Mt. Carmel ore train, two Deks up front, and two more pushing. It went up Pennsy’s Mt. Carmel branch for interchange with Lehigh Valley Railroad, destined for steel mills in Bethlehem, PA.
It’s captioned an ore train, but also may be returning empty to Philadelphia.
I see that often at Allegheny Crossing, loaded coal trains headed east, empty westbound.
Pennsy had later steamers more powerful than a Dek.
But for difficult terrain the Dek was perfect.
The only remaining Pennsy Dek, #4483. (Photo by Chris Galka©.)
For that reason many hung on for years, especially in hilly PA.
The last steam-powered train on Pennsy in 1957 was led by a Dek: coal into Altoona (PA).
Only one Pennsy Decapod remains, #4483, stored unserviceable near Buffalo NY. It’s a veteran of heavy coal trains up to the wharf at Sodus Point, NY.

The Southern Railway Heritage-Unit leads. (Photo by Eric Johnson.)

—The December 2016 entry in my Norfolk Southern Employees’ Photography-Contest calendar is Norfolk Southern’s Southern Railway Heritage-Unit, #8099, leading a doublestack in Larimer, PA.
I looked in GoogleMaps. Larimer is near Pittsburgh. It’s probably the old Pennsy main toward Allegheny Crossing.
It became Conrail after Penn-Central went bankrupt.
So did the New York Central Water-Level route across NY. Water-Level because it more-or-less paralleled the Erie Canal — and Hudson River.
Conrail broke up and sold in 1999. Most of the PA railroads went to Norfolk Southern, and New York Central across NY went to CSX.
West of Buffalo and Pittsburgh, PRR and NYC went this way and that. Mainly to Chicago and St. Louis.
Norfolk Southern has both Pennsy and New York Central Heritage-Units, as well as and Penn-Central and Conrail.
There are 20 Heritage-Units, new locomotives painted the schemes of Norfolk Southern predecessors.
Norfolk Southern began as a merger of Southern Railway with Norfolk & Western in 1982. There also is a Norfolk & Western Heritage-Unit.
Norfolk Southern expanded quite a bit when Conrail was sold.
At first Conrail was going to CSX, but Norfolk Southern entered the fray.
The end result more-or-less reflects what was intended years ago: New York Central going with Chessie, and Pennsy merging with Norfolk & Western.
That didn’t happen. Merger of Pennsy with Norfolk & Western was scotched, and Pennsy merged with New York Central, forming Penn-Central, which soon went bankrupt.
Conrail was formed by the government to save northeast railroading, including many other northeast bankrupts.
Conrail eventually privatized, becoming successful enough to attract CSX — and Norfolk Southern.
Many other railroads were components of Norfolk Southern. Erie, Central of Georgia, Monongahela, Nickel Plate, Delaware Lackawanna & Western, and Reading for example. Some had been part of Conrail.
All have Heritage-Units.
Railfans keep track of Heritage-Units. They even have websites.
How many times have my brother and I been joined at a photo-location by a fan chasing a soon-to-appear Heritage-Unit?
We’ve photographed quite a few: Virginian and
Illinois Terminal
for example. As well as 8102, the Pennsy Heritage-Unit.
The Heritage-Units are nothing special. Just a fancy paint-job on a new EMD SD70ACe,  or General Electric’s ES44AC.
Norfolk Southern got a gold-mine getting Pennsy’s old Juniata (“june-ee-AT-uh”) Shops near Altoona. It was probably intentional.
Many surplus locomotives from other railroads or leasers await rebuild at Juniata Shops.
The SD40E and SD60E are both Juniata rebuilds.
Juniata has also built various experimentals, battery-powered and natural gas.
And their paint-crew is having a field day, although the SD70ACe Heritage-Units were painted by EMD.
It’s December; we need a snow-picture. Photographer Johnson supplies same, heavy snow near Larimer, PA.
Except it looks like February to me. Too much snow.
A lucky shot. The Southern Railway Heritage-Unit is leading.

An experiment that more-or-less failed. (Photo by William A. Raia — courtesy Joe Suo Collection©.)

—Only one of these was built.
The engine is not a piston-powered steam-engine. It’s powered by a steam-turbine.
The December 2016 entry of my Audio-Visual Designs black-and-white All-Pennsy Calendar is S2 #6268 (6-8-6), powering through the many tracks in a Chicago junction.
Many eastern railroads terminated in Chicago, many at union stations (multiple railroads).
Those railroads crossed each other willy-nilly. This junction had 26 diamonds, some through turnouts (switches).
Dispatchers had to keep trains from plowing into each other, 150+ trains per day.
A turbine powered steam-engine was an attempt to harness ship steam-turbines to railroading.
I’m not sure why only one was built, but I think it used a lot of coal.
The drivers are connected by side-rods. Look carefully and you’ll see the steam-turbine between the second and third drivers.
Pennsy built a number of experimentals. The glitzy S1 (4-4-4-4), styled by Raymond Loewy (“LOW-eee”), was an experimental.
It wasn’t very successful. It had HUGE 84-inch drivers on a long unhinged frame. (Pennsy’s E6 and K4 use gigantic 80-inch drivers; 72 inches [the size the M1 used], are six feet.)
It wasn’t articulated — a duplex = eight drivers with four pistons on a single frame. That’s Baldwin Locomotive Works’ solution to rail-pounding heavy side-rod weight.
With its gigantic driver wheelbase, it needed straight railroad. Use in PA was impossible.
Give it straight railroad, and it could easily top 100. Speed-records were alleged at over 140 mph. Pennsy was fined for 156 mph.
It was soon taken out of service — not enough engine weight on the drivers, which led to slippage and resultant damage. With its long rigid driver-wheelbase, it couldn’t handle curvature. The desire was to replace Pennsy’s aging K4 fleet, but it was too hard to operate.
It only operated between Chicago and Crestline, OH; the straight racetrack it needed.
It also was displayed at an “American Railroads” exhibit at the 1939 World’s Fair.
The S2 also preferred straight track, lines in Ohio and Indiana.
Like Chrysler’s gas-turbine cars of the ‘60s, I think the S2 was fuel-hungry starting from stop. Do that often, and you’re guzzling fuel — in this case coal.
Give it a long enough distance to cover, and it will be economical. Gas-turbine cars were the same.
Stop-and-start often, and the piston steam-engine wins.
Steam-turbines were great for a ship. Distances covered were vast — hours and hours at constant fuel consumption.
Turboprop aircraft work as well, cruise for hours at constant minimal fuel usage.
Pennsy was trying to continue coal use. Various experimentals were tried, but dieselization was winning.
Side-rod steam-engines pound the rail, and do not supply constant drive-torque like a diesel-electric.

(Yr aging Fthfl Srvnt is considering cutting back to just his four train-calendars, in order to avoid getting so far behind with other duties.
I get seven or eight calendars, four train, one propeller airplane, and two or three car calendars.
[To me they’re not calendars. They’re wall-art that changes monthly.]
Previously I blogged them all. Grass went uncut, unopened mail piled up, laundry went undone, my bed was never made.
With increasing age I often hafta nap, plus I have a dog who loves walks, especially through woods in a nearby park.
Occasionally my Monthly-Calendar-Report has been late. Other topics don’t get blogged, including daily madness worthy of blogging.
I could do it previously, but my wife died.
A friend commented I seem drawn to conspicuous consumption of carbon, especially hydrocarbon.
-Railroad steam-locomotives = coal.
-Cars and hotrods = gasoline.
-Propeller airplanes = gasoline.
-And now diesel railroad locomotives = diesel fuel.
Conveyances motivated by exploding carbon activating throbbing pistons.
Lots of other duties await.
Calendar-Reports are fun, but they gobble time.)


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Second Thanksgiving gig

My Aunt May (at left) was the oldest at 86. That’s Gary at the other end. (iPhone photo by BobbaLew.)

(Second Thanksgiving gig for me.)
“I wonder who it will be this year?” I thought to myself as I cruised down the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Every Thanksgiving my cousin Gary holds a giant Thanksgiving gig for all-and-sundry, namely relatives.
He lives in south Jersey — not far from my brother in DE.
Last year it was my Uncle Al, Gary’s father, my Aunt May’s only husband.
He was all bent over and barely able to walk, but no walker.
He had come with his second wife Carol, who has since become a friend of my Aunt May.
Gary is one of two children by Al and May.
His wife is named “Bette.”
My cousin David, who lives near Washington DC, would be unable to attend — he usually does. He would be in Illinois with his significant other and her parents to celebrate Thanksgiving.
David is the only child of my Uncle Rob, my father’s brother.
I met David last year, first time in eons, and he walked just like my Uncle Rob.
My father and Uncle Rob are all gone. My Aunt May is the only one left — she was the youngest.
Getting to this gig means a long motor-trip for me. From home to my brother in DE is about seven hours = five-and-a-half hours driving, the rest widdle stops, lunch, etc.
Down to Williamsport on I-99, etc. Then across PA on I-80 to the Northeast Extension, then down to I-95 into DE.
Not too bad, mostly limited-access expressway. But traffic near Philadelphia.
I stay with my brother in DE, then drive to my cousin Gary’s.
This year it was Gary and Bette themselves.
Gary had a heart-attack in the hospital and almost died. It was lucky he was in the hospital.
I may not have this right, but he was there for an operation against cancer.
A lot of his pancreas was removed, along with his prostate (I think), plus other stuff.
(My prostate was also removed.)
All this prompted question whether there would be a Thanksgiving at Gary’s this year.
But they changed their minds and pulled it off.
Bette e-mailed me they both had health-issues, “So what were yours?” I asked.
“Depression,” she said reservedly. “I don’t wanna talk about it.”
Of course not. Depression is a no-no in our society.
I get this all the time.
“How ya doin’?”
“Okay I guess.”
“Whaddya mean ‘I guess’?”
“My wife died. I’m not a bundle of joy.”
“What a stinker,” they mumble to themselves.
“I take Venlafaxine,” I said; “but am about to try stopping. Venlafaxine is a generic Effexor®. My doctor prescribed it a few years ago because I was weepy.
We’re gonna try stopping because it might be making me tired.”
“I take (whatever),” Bette said, and that was the end if it.
This Thanksgiving gig may have done her good.
Part of the reason I do this gig is to socialize. I’m told I need people.
Thanksgiving can be a distraction from continual sadness.
The other reason is my Aunt May.
Aunt May is the unwanted Depression baby, always excoriated by her mother.
We both have tortured childhoods; May was unwanted, and I was “of-the-Devil” to both my parents. Although I think in later years my mother was saddened I was lost.
So May and I always share a very good time, recounting our dreadful childhoods, etc.
May was 13 when I was born — soon to be 14; I’m 1944, she’s 1930, the depth of the Depression.
“I dragged all the way down here just to see you laugh,” I kept telling her.
And I had her laughing: wise-cracks, snide remarks, that’s my Aunt May.
“Oh, a wise guy, eh?” (Three Stooges.)
“Don’t get smart!” (My mother.)
And “Will you stop making me wet my pants?” (Me.)
As a result of my prostate removal I’m slightly incontinent; worse at first.
“Next time I see you, I’m wearin’ a diaper!”
My Aunt May seems fairly solid, and even my Uncle Al seemed slightly better.
I sat next to Al, and “Do you remember me?”
He looked at me and said “Well I’ll be darned.”
“He recognized me!” I shouted. Alzheimer’s, dementia, multiple strokes (I think), but he still recognized me, probably my voice.
His voice was my Uncle Al, a crumpled mess, but him.
His pants fell down taking his coat off. “I’d help, but it’s so hard for me to get up. Others beat me.”
Gary and Bette’s Daniel was there with his cute young fiancé, whose name I can’t remember. Apparently they will soon marry.
My wife always cried at marriages: “Those young kids have no idea what may happen.”
I tried to say the same, but fell flat.
I bet Daniel/fiancé work out okay. They don’t get the parental disapproval we got = “They’ll never last a year.”
Um, almost 45.
But they have no idea what may happen. With me it was my stroke, and now I’m the last one standing.
Madness, jealousy, bad craziness. I hope he can make her laugh.
I used to tell a young friend at the newspaper “Marcy, yer gonna get married some day. Whatever ya do, make sure ya marry someone that can make ya laugh. Do that, and yer in it for the long haul.”

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Danny puh-LEEZE!

I was at the Burger-Bar at the Canandaigua Wegmans the other night, eating out with my friend.
Wegmans is the giant supermarket chain based in Rochester, NY, where I buy some of my groceries.
The head-honcho is Danny Wegman, son of Robert, who managed Wegmans earlier.
Robert is dead; Danny probably in his late 50s or 60s. (He’s 68.)
Wegmans pretty much owns the Rochester market, and is expanding throughout the northeast.
The Burger Bar is a recent addition to the supermarket by Danny despite his father’s protests. “We’re a supermarket, not a restaurant.”
But it’s a successful addition. Most all Wegmans have restaurants, usually a buffet with prepared foods.
What I say to my siblings throughout the northeast is “Wegmans is coming. You guys are doomed.
Yer local supermarket better get hopping, or it will become toast. Hup-hup!”
My friend ordered a simple cheeseburger. “Organic grass-fed local beef,” it said.
Oh, fer cryin’ out loud!
“Want fries with that?”
“Plain or seasoned?”
“What’s the seasoning?”
“A delicate blend of organic herbs and spices, mostly sage from our organic farm.”
I gagged!Danny, will you stop?”
I then said “I had an uncle Herb once,” but it fell flat.
Yesterday I went to Wegmans to buy groceries.
I needed an apple. I only buy one at a time, because they are so big I can only eat half.
I looked for Honeycrisp, and there they were under a sign.
“Tart and tangy,” it said; “tree-ripened in glowing sunlight,” etc, etc.
All I want is a single apple. Your silly fiddle-de-dee won’t convince me to buy more.
The Canandaigua Wegmans is near Canandaigua Lake. Danny lives in an estate along the lake.
He runs his unmuffled four-engine 454 40-foot Cigarette up and down the lake.
If a recent Ferrari is parked in the supermarket parking-lot, that’s Danny.
Whoa dude! You got some flunkie slingin’ this stuff at your palatial offices?
Reminds of a video of “The Kid from Brooklyn” about Starbucks.
I’ll leave out the torrent of F-bombs.
“What’ll it be sir?”
“Chocolate lotto, carmelo lotto? I don’t know what kinda place yer runnin’ here, honey, but all I want is a hot cuppa coffee and a piece-a pound cake.”
“That’ll be seven dollars.”
“What’s it made out of, liquid gold?”
Is that what the world is coming to? A few extra bucks for useless verbiage?
“Tart and tangy” my foot!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


“Brock Yates, 1933-2016,” said my most recent issue of Classic Car magazine.
I suppose at my age (72) I should expect things like this.
Just last week I attended the viewing of a dear friend who like my wife was killed by “The Big C.”
Yates was not a friend, but had a HUGE influence on my life.
Back in late 1962 when I began attending college I still subscribed to Hot Rod Magazine.
One day I picked up a discarded copy of Car and Driver magazine at the laundromat and became hooked.
Car and Driver was much more literate than Hot Rod, which seemed aimed at high-schoolers.
Yates and David E. Davis were the major domos, Yates an editor I guess, and Davis the head-honcho.
Car and Driver seemed interested in Detroit-iron; it didn’t badmouth it.
It was sorta like me. Sportscars and ferrin cars were nice, but so was the 409 Chevy and hotrods.
(That’s my You-Tube 409 link.)
I’ve subscribed to Car and Driver ever since; that’s over 50 years.
I also subscribed to Road & Track a while ago, but dropped it.
Car and Driver had better writing.
Yates was involved with Car and Driver a long time, more a contributing writer in the end.
He was finally booted for costing too much. But the magazine remains what he and Davis set.
Maybe 10 years ago I actually met Yates. He lived nearby in western NY in the town of Wyoming.
He bought and restored an old mansion, part of an apple plantation I think.
That’s Yates in the trousers. (Photo by BobbaLew.)
Rochester public-TV was doing a program on restored classic housing.
They did a program on Yates’ restoration, and scheduled a party at his estate.
“I’m a long-time constant-reader,” I told Yates.
He thereafter poo-pooed Car and Driver. This was after he was canned.
Yates was no longer on Car and Driver’s masthead, and Car and Driver is better now than it was recently.
But that magazine remains him. —And Davis.
What a joy it was to find good writing that reflected my interest in cars.
Now we’ll see if Car and Driver says anything. I hope they do.

• My wife of over 44 years died of cancer April 17th, 2012. I miss her immensely. Best friend I ever had, and after my childhood I sure needed one.
• I attended Houghton College (“HO-tin;” as in “oh,” not “how” or “who”) in western New York, from where I graduated with a BA in 1966. I’ve never regretted it, although I graduated a Ne’er-do-Well, without their blessing. Houghton is an evangelical liberal-arts college.