Crankcase ExplosionI got the H-KCKPAS yesterday, January 11, 2002. Before it got to Sheridan the lead unit of three SD40-2, BNSF 6872, suffered a crankcase explosion east of Clearmont (45 miles east of Sheridan). It blew the valve covers off and blew both dipsticks out of the block as well as other damage. The train could not make it up Ulm Hill with the two remaining SD40s. Two SD60M helpers were shoving a coal train up the hill ahead of the H train and would normally go through to Sheridan (30 miles from Ulm) and then to Parkman (25 miles west of Sheridan). The dispatcher told the helpers to cut off at Ulm and go back down the hill to get on the point of the H train. The coal train proceeded down the west side of Ulm Hill helperless. It managed to roll over the steep but short grade at Dutch, junction with the Dutch Sub, then through the sag at Wakely. But being helperless it promptly stalled on the backside of Sheridan Hill.
When the H train caught up it stopped and the helpers cut off then once again coupled to the rear of the coal train. They pushed it over Sheridan Hill and the coal train stopped in town for a crew change. The MACs on the coal also needed fueling.
The helpers again uncoupled and went back east to get on the hapless H train then pulled it to town where I got on it. Although the helpers were on the point they would be cut off when we got to Parkman making the dead 6872 once again the leader. Call me a wimp but I like heaters in the winter time. So we had to switch the 6872 to the rear of the consist.
We changed crews and I pulled the train down to the west coal siding switch to swap the power around. We cut off the first 3 units (the two SD60M helpers and the dead 6872) and set the 6872 over to the siding. I then took the helpers back to the main and coupled up to the remaining two SD40s. The photo below was taken at that time.
I then took all 4 units back into the siding and picked up the dead 6872 on the rear of the consist. The second photo was taken at that time.
I then pulled all 5 units out of the siding and backed onto our train. After making a complete air brake test we departed. Five hours and 25 minutes on duty at departure.
The coal train followed us out of town. But since we had their helpers we chugged right up to Parkman and they had to stop at Ranchester to await the return of their helpers so the helpers could once again get on the rear of the coal train.
Fun and games.
Oakway OdysseyLate on January 8, 2002 a trio of Oakway SD60s left Cicero, IL leading 3 other units on the Z-CHCLAU (Chicago-Laurel, MT). They were the EMD 9007-9011-9058.
I don't know what they did on the 11th but at 5:45am on January 12th I got them at the Laurel roundhouse. I was called for the Billings coal empties and the three matched blue & white EMDs were its power. We ran light to Billings to pick up the train. I did not get an opportunity to photgraph them that trip. Once daylight arrived we were non-stop and it was overcast.
On the 13th they again passed through Sheridan on the Billings coal loads returning to Billings. Unfortunately that train departed Sheridan just minutes before I drove up to the depot. Missed again. I got a Centralia coal train with three unmatched MACs instead.
On the 14th I was called at Laurel for the M-BILDEN. That is the Billings-Denver, our local. But it really originates at Laurel yard. It is called the Billings-Denver only to distinguish it from an M-LAUDEN that operates down the Greybull side of the mountains. Our power was the same three EMDs we had on our last trip out of Laurel. This time we also had two SD40-2s trailing. This time I also made it a point to get a shot of them while we were momentarily stopped at West Sheridan waiting for two trains ahead of us to change crews.
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