Billings DepotI showed the Billings Depot from the other direction a few Tales ago so here is the view looking generally east. The former NP/BN depot now houses a model RR club. The separate building on this end behind the cabooses in the photo is the old Beanery. It now houses an upscale Pub. The building at the far end of the depot is the old Yellowstone Division office building. The track next to the depot is the passenger siding. This track was ripped out by the MRL years earlier but was re-installed a few years ago when the ill fated "Marlboro Train" was to call here. The track in the lower righthand corner of the picture is the WESTward main track. The pic was taken from the cab of my eastbound train running on the unseen EASTward main. The westward main used to have a jog in it that placed it right up against the concrete passenger platform and another concrete platform occupied the widened space between the two mains.
There are a couple of stories about this. One was when I had a Directors Special passenger train that was parked eastbound on the westward main. That jog caused a tense moment between me and the road foreman. There is a dwarf ABS signal just east of the depot that governs such eastbound movements against the current of traffic on the westward. My locos were sitting on straight track just west of that signal and it was green. But the 1st couple of cars of the 18 car passenger train were sitting on the afformentioned jog and the remaining cars were offset up against the platform you see here. When the division superintendant gave me the highball I got the train moving then put 'em in eight. The RFE had been in the 2nd unit. I was already up to about 25 mph when he came running up the catwalk and into the cab. He screamed at me, "What the hell are you doing? The train is coming out of a 10mph switch! You are going to get us fired". I thought, "Oh crap!", then instantly realized...no it isn't. He was confusing the jog with a switch. I told him to settle down that the entire train had been parked on the main line and we were not diverging through any switches. He sure was one nervous cat.
The second story is when I was westbound through here one night on a freight train. The eastbound Amtrak had been stopped at the depot on the eastward main. Rules prohibit a train from passing between a stopped passenger train and a depot so we had to watch out for this occurance. On this particular night we had just met the Amtrak at the end of double track 2 miles east of the depot so I boogied right into the depot. My frieght was still doing 40 mph at the station but I was braking hard for the 10 mph crossings up ahead. A baggage handler had one of those REA type 4 wheel baggage carts and tried to cross ahead of me from the center platform. He got it stuck on my westward main. Kahblooey! We hit the baggage cart and suitcases flew open strewing clothes and personal belongings all over the depot area and the nose of my loco. All right in full view of the passengers on the depot platform. After I got stopped the baggage handler started in on me and I gave it back just as good. I had broken no rules and it was he that had tried to beat my train across the track. I never heard anything from management about the incident.
Oakways really did say OWYI have heard it said many times that the BN's Oakway SD60s did not actually have the letters OWY anywhere. Yes they did. But it was inside the cab. All BN units had "loco type plates" affixed to the front cab wall above the windshields. These plates gave the loco number, Max & Minimum speeds, horsepower, dynamic brake type, and weight. The LMX and OWY units were no different to BN. Here are two shots of OWY's in the summer of 2000. No wonder the crews always referred to them as "O-W-Y".
Emory ShoesWhen I work the Sheridan yard engine the normal power is an SW1500, BNSF 3451, formerly the BN 305.
But every 90 days this loco has to be transported to Glendive for its FRA inspections. A replacement switcher is sent down for the week or 10 days the 3451 is gone. In August 2000 the replacement was the BNSF 3548. An old SW12 with paint so fresh it was still soft and very smelly.
Unfortunately it arrived with humongous flatspots on one set of wheels. Sheridan immediately fitted it with emory brakeshoes to grind down the flats. These shoes are shaped like a wheel, complete with flange. Here are a couple of shots of those emory shoes after I have used them for several hours.
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