Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Ferrovian Hephaestus-Aka Railroad Jedi

Courtesy of Frederick Manfred Simon.

December 1, 2017

Being a shortline railroader means that one must be a master of many trades. What was it Yoda once said so succinctly and poignantly? “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” Here, my colleague Jeff Wall, like a Jedi Knight doing battle with a Sith switch stand cuts a truculent switch lock as scintillating sparks slice through the scene like so many lasers. In no time there’ll be a new lock installed, and order will be restored in the Eastern Washington Gateway galaxy – for the moment.


Friday, March 19, 2021

"Almira Anthology"

Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.

January 4, 2018 and July 14. 2017

A collection of images I’ve made over the last year in Almira: specifically of the Almira Farmer’s Warehouse Blacksmithery filled with wondrous ferrous homo sapiens artifacts has given rise to my first photographic anthology. Except for the weathered, just wide enough for a horse-drawn freight wagon doors, it’s contemporary aluminum-sheathed anterior is still colorfully adorned in Christmas spirit where “Glenn” toils during the day. A good-natured deadpan wheat farmer and metallurgical Hephaestus. ¶ It’s been on my cerebral bucket list for a while now: I just didn’t know how the “shot” would go down. Always wondering if I’d manage to get the image I’d envisioned. Until tonight. ¶ We’d worked through the darkness and our service time was dwindling when it was decided to tie our train down east of the east crossing in Almira adjacent the CWGG crib elevators where the platform used to load 40’ grain-service boxcars remains. Near where the once prominent two-story depot and water tower stood and, until very recently, some of the oldest rail on the line – 1889 56# – had been replaced. It’s an unusual location to tie down, I might add. Making this scene a rare capture. ¶ I hadn’t yet thought that this was the perfect opportunity to bag that yet un-had image. But as soon as we rounded the corner of 2nd and Main to head home, where abandoned anachronistic brick buildings with unique facades still stand tall though noticeably crumbling under the increasing weight of years and lack of gentrification, I said: “That’s it!” and turned back. With the townfolk undisturbed by our presence peaceably resting in the smallest hours of the 4th day of the year and regardless of the ugly three hours into the day temperature, I quickly set up, framed and voila! The result was much better than I had envisioned. Not to mention: Who would have ever thought there'd be a Johnny Reb tunnel motor from the land of cotton working on the “CW” in the wheat belt of the Union?

Thursday, March 18, 2021

NIWX 328 On The WER

Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.

February 19, 2020

It was a long day, but I got to play with the NIWX 328, a former MRL/SP SD45 rebuilt to a Dash-2. What a beast and what a blast and she still runs and feels like a Cadillac.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

“The Right Stuff”

Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.

August 14, 2019

She was leaking, water, badly. No outward signs of where. Only a hairline break at the neck of an intercooler water pipe. Too small to be the true culprit. Jeff Wall, Washington Eastern’s hands-on “locomotive healer” and autodidactic extraordinaire, and I change it out anyway and send her on her way. Next day: more investigating. Jeff’s gut feeling: “Gotta be inside the engine … shut ‘er down.” Long-hood doors are opened exposing her all-too-familiar blackened-oil-streaked 10,000 cube 645 prime mover she previously received from a donor unit. Those round hand-hole (inspection) covers, unmistakable. Off they come. Airbox covers are first, and just as quickly there’s a shout from Jeff’s right-hand-man, Steve. “Foun-dit!” Indeed, he did. It appeared a cylinder liner was weeping water, profusely. Not good. But most likely a cylinder head gasket. We hope. “Take ‘er to Davenport. She’s done for now.” There Jeff and I dive straight away into the task at hand. Tools are readied. Not just any ol’ tools, but TOOLS to pull the hulking EMD “Diamond Five” P/N 9556060 head! But off comes her jewelry first: rocker arms, fuel and oil lines, injector, etc., and finally the four 2-¾” crab nuts torqued to 2400 foot-pounds that keep the incredible compression in check (note the well-oiled torque specs in his shop shirt pocket). Jeff, like Thor Mj√∂lnir, wields the massive NAPA-supplied impact wrench into place and waits for the air compressor to build air as the relentless August sun beats our backs like a seasoned blacksmith his anvil while our faces absorb the sun’s stream of hot punches: thermal radiation emitted by the tons of sun-soaked steel. The pungent-heavy odor of engine and diesel oil, sweat, and spilled, spoiling wheat hangs like a dead man in the sweltering air. Red-faced, arms and hands and elbows greased, tensing every muscle from head-to-toe he unleashes the pneumatic wrench. It jumps, jolts, and jerks, but he’s got an iron grip on it as its internal hammer pounds the anvil in deafening staccato cracks and soon the stubborn nut gives and spins lose. The process is repeated three more times and with the test-cock removed the head is popped loose, slipped off of the cylinder liner studs and out with a forklift. It becomes immediately clear that the head gasket is shot. In short order, after some cleaning, the new Master Packing made with DuPont Viton gasket is carefully guided into place. Some additional inspections and cleaning are carried out to ensure all is well and the disassembly steps are reversed. In an hour’s time, the 40-year-old former “Fast-Forty” (nee-UP 8079, ex-UP 3588), retired some two decades ago by Uncle Pete, is ready to take water, crank up, and go back to work hauling grain, thanks to all-American git ‘r dun spirit, and trusted vendors like NAPA and Master Packing. It's what the Right Stuff is made of. 

Monday, March 15, 2021

"Hartline In The Morning"

Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.

May 15, 2019

Unusual, eh? It sure is Hartline at 0122 on the morning. Scott Rohrig and I had just finished our run and tied down. Couldn't resist not getting the thinly veiled moon and 3910 with the iconic Hartline elevators recorded. 

Sunday, March 14, 2021

"The Challenges are Many and Great; The Men are Few but Greater."

Courtesy of Frederick Manfred Simon.

July 11, 2020

"The Challenges are Many and Great; The Men are Few but Greater."
The time has come to turn a new page. This past Thursday was my last day (night) working on the CW Sub (Washington Eastern and previously the Eastern Washington Gateway). Deborah and I will be leaving for Duluth where I have accepted the position of Operations Manager of the North Shore Scenic Railroad and a new adventure awaits. I will miss running on the CW and more so, my fellow crew members and friends, though the memories will always be close to my heart and in my mind. Being involved in this historic 100-mile railroad and the eccentric group of individuals, who have come and gone as well as remain, has given me the privilege to make and become close friends and brothers-in-arms, and I will always be indebted to them for making the near four years of working on the CW an indelible, life-changing, priceless, experience. In fact, I fulfilled a childhood dream I never thought I would; the dream of becoming a Railroad Engineer. I thank you one and all for your camaraderie through thick and thin, in and through circumstances, conundrums, and calamities that would have had most anyone else turn and walk away; for staying the course when all seemed for naught. We made it work. We overcame, we improvised, we adapted. We, few good men, together, have been privileged to write a chapter in the storied history of the CW. Hopefully, others will do the same, and that the CW will continue to survive and prosper. Indeed, "The Challenges are Many and Great; The Men are Few but Greater." A motto I developed for the EWG, but now, more than ever, in light of recent global developments, seems applicable and needed in every facet of our very existence, as humans and humanity. Indeed, we need Deus ex machina!
To quote from Whitman and the movie Dead Poet’s Society, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life? Answer. That you are here — that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.” That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?” 
Alas, although I was slated as the conductor on the second section of the HM09 on my last day, the position I originally hired on as with the Eastern Washington Gateway in September of 2016, Ted Curphey kindly offered me “The Seat.” At first, I was reluctant, but I did take Ted up on the offer and am glad I did as it was Ted who noticed the Neowise Comet on the eastern early dawn (03:30) horizon at Odair as we were setting out a storage car. I saw it as a sign. A sign that one should never forgo once in a lifetime opportunities, like hiring on with the EWG, like taking the Seat when it’s offered, like memorializing a mercurial comet. So I insisted we tie down briefly and record the event of my last run, the comet, and Ted having noticed it and suggesting the angle of capturing it, a capture among so many more that are, priceless, once in a lifetime moments that I am so thankful to have been able to document and preserve. Images that will rekindle fond memories and offer a glimpse into the CW and those who made the CW what it was and for future generations to behold and imagine what it was like during our time.
“Ad Astra! . . ."

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Thursday, March 4, 2021

1928 Stratford Orchards

Standing at the big house still standing near Stratford today.