This Should Not Have To Be Said

Anything pertaining to railfanning in Michigan.

Re: This Should Not Have To Be Said

Unread postby Saturnalia » Thu Jan 24, 2019 6:08 pm

tadman wrote:If a civilian were to observe a blatantly obvious defect like a wheel off the track or flames, calling the 800 number or 911 is about the only thing one can do, right?

Call the 1-800 number is what you should do if you ever think there is an obvious issue. However, be careful that you don't call in any "maybe" defects - crews HATE having to walk back for a "sticky brake" which isn't really an issue.

Rollby inspections are generally looking for the obvious - shifted loads or loads with straps flying around, dragging equipment and wheels which are locked up and not turning.

In my experience last summer in the field at a Class One, there was no particular procedure beyond looking for these obvious issues. To begin I wrote down the leading engine in my job briefing handbook, then scanned the train making sure all the wheels were turning and nothing was amiss with the lading or dragging on the ground. I also liked to count the cars so that I knew how many from the top any defect might be. I never saw any issues. Afterwards it just takes a quick jump up into the section truck and call the train crew on the radio - with that engine number you marked down - and let them know they looked good on the rollby.

My only observed defect in years of railfanning was an applied handbrake on Q327 departing Grand Rapids. The last car in the train was used as a yard skate (to kick cars into a track and not roll out the other end) and wasn't released. By Jenison it was sparking and definitely not turning. A quick call to the 1-800 number with the location, train ID and defect location and within 5 minutes the RN was calling the crew to get them stopped so the issue could be addressed, which was simply to release the handbrake and give it a rollby once back underway to make sure the car was still safe to transport - now with huge flat spots!
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Re: This Should Not Have To Be Said

Unread postby R.E.A.P.E.R. » Thu Jan 24, 2019 7:40 pm

kckorienek wrote: This happened last week in Lansing, the railroad police were called, and unfortunately, those that did it left before they could get there.


How did you find out about this incident?
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Re: This Should Not Have To Be Said

Unread postby PatAzo » Thu Jan 24, 2019 10:54 pm

Saturnalia wrote:,,,crews HATE having to walk back for a "sticky brake" which isn't really an issue.


It's part of their job. U.P. GCOR says employees doing a roll by must inspect for any defect including sticking brakes. I'm looking at a 2010 BNSF air brake rule book that has a section on sticking brakes that says "Stop the train as soon as possible" and if necessary set the car out.
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Re: This Should Not Have To Be Said

Unread postby Saturnalia » Fri Jan 25, 2019 12:57 am

PatAzo wrote:
Saturnalia wrote:crews HATE having to walk back for a "sticky brake" which isn't really an issue.


It's part of their job. U.P. GCOR says employees doing a roll by must inspect for any defect including sticking brakes. I'm looking at a 2010 BNSF air brake rule book that has a section on sticking brakes that says "Stop the train as soon as possible" and if necessary set the car out.

Allow me to clarify...I did have further intention with regard to "sticky brake": that it is an issue that a railfan may consider to be a brake problem that isn't.

Yes, locked up brakes are obviously an issue. However brakes which are just barely rubbing due to ice/cold weather operation are not really grounds for a stop and walking inspection. However this has not stopped railfans from calling in "sticky brakes" that were really only rear-end brakes still releasing in cold weather - just enough to touch the tread, but with the wheels still readily turning - which upon inspection, were then fully released because by then the air was fully recharged.

My point is you'll generally know what a real defect is. Locked up wheels and most other defects are fantastic sights of sparks and noise. Do report defects, but also be careful about jumping the gun about it as well. There have been cases of railfans calling in typical flat spots. Don't go looking for defects or inventing them: they will find you!
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Re: This Should Not Have To Be Said

Unread postby MQT1223 » Thu Feb 14, 2019 8:13 pm

I remember a few years ago, 2014 I think. Me and someone else were chasing 1225 on the back to the brick excursions and someone was heard trying to communicate with the crew over the railroad frequencies. The friend had a cheap scanner that did the job nicely and in the middle of the chase these random guys pop onto the feed. At first we thought it was some kind of overlapping chatter or interference until we realized Ttey were trying to get a reply from whoever was in the engineers seat at that time, either Barney or Kevin. They did not respond back.

These guys were asking/demanding for additional smoke and whistle for what I assume was a video depending on their location. I believe this was documented about 2-3 times before they gave up and nothing was heard from them again. Later asked one of the crew about if they had heard anything on the radio, after a few minutes they came back and confirmed that unidentified person(s) had indeed used a restricted channel to attempt to contact the crew in the cab of the locomotive. No one was ever caught and the return leg of the trip did not have any further incidents of the sort.

Makes me wonder why some public radios are able to even pick up that channel. Has there never been a way to make it so that only some radios will work on a restricted channel? If its not intended for the public then they should only be allowed to listen in and not broadcast.

Not at all familiar with radios or scanners in general so hopefully my question isn't too confusing.
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Re: This Should Not Have To Be Said

Unread postby justalurker66 » Fri Feb 15, 2019 12:20 am

The radios used by police, fire and railroads are mass produced. They are programmed for the purchaser's licensed frequency when purchased but radios and the programming software are available outside of the authorized retail channels. Which means it isn't hard for a person to get their hands on a radio that will transmit on any frequency in a band and the software to program it for whatever frequencies they want.

Producing a radio that could only be used by a segment of the marketplace (such as police only or railroads only) would not be cost effective. There are some laws that block reception of certain bands but in a world market often a radio sold in the US is also sold worldwide where those laws do not apply - so the way the radio is blocked is often able to be defeated.

We have laws in the US that explicitly allow personal use of a scanner. Railroad frequencies are not protected from eavesdropping. One can also listen in to police frequencies as long as one isn't committing a crime (listening itself is not a crime). Some states limit portable scanner use.

For more information , check with the FCC ...
https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/in ... unications
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