On October 14th I took the Sheridan yard job after the regular engineer retired. The photos on these two pages represent a typical day on this job but they were not all taken on the same day.
My new steeds. Here are the two switch engines at Sheridan on November 10, 2003. Not nearly as fun to run as the SP&S 700 4-8-4 or even an SD40-2 but these are much more suited to the task at hand. The one in BNSF paint is the 3448 and the one in BN paint is the BNSF 3451. The two units respectively are the ex-BN 302 and the ex BN 305, just 4 numbers apart. Both are SW15s but that is where the similarity ends.
The 3451 is the regular Sheridan switcher. It has been specifically equipped for this job with ditch lights (on the front), a speedometer, and an Event Recorder. These items were added many years ago after a crew was charged with speeding but they had no speed indicator. These three items also permit the 3451 to travel at track speed when we go out of town to switch various industries. Without these items the FRA limits a unit's maximum speed to 20 mph.
The 3448 has none of the above items. Thus we must run at a "guestimated" 18 mph or so whenever we go out on the main. When traffic is heavy the dispatchers are reluctant to let us out between trains if we can only go 18 mph so sometimes work goes undone. The 3448 has also lost its Flexicoil road trucks somewhere along the years and is now equipped with rough riding AAR switcher trucks.
Another difference is that the 3451 was once a dual control locomotive with controls on both sides of the cab, the 3448 was not.
Normally there is only one switcher at Sheridan but every 90 days the 3451 has to be towed on coal trains to Glendive, Montana for its FRA 92 day inspection. During this time a replacement unit is sent down for us to use until the 3451 returns. The 3451 can make its inspection trip up and back in about 4 days but often we have to cajole the power desk to get it back. This photo was taken just after it returned to us thus both units are present. The 3451 is pointed the wrong way for this job and we will have to turn it or the turntable before starting our work.
Schultz CoalSchultz Coal is a truck operation located on a short spur off the sawmill lead. Coal is trucked from unit train strip mines in the Decker, Montana area and transloaded into rail cars for shipment to small electric power plants, colleges, and industries.
In the photo below we have pulled the two loads out and have picked up the two empties we had left on the sawmill lead. Now we are shoving the empties to their spot under the conveyor in the background for loading later in the day. The two loads will be taken to the yard proper and placed on the appropriate eastbound or westbound pickup track.
Wyoming Sawmills, Inc.We are approaching the sawmill to pull the bulkhead flat loaded with dimensional lumber and the woodchip load beyond it.
We have just spotted an empty woodchip car at the chip loader.
L & LHaving picked up a bulkhead flat of lumber and a woodchip load at the sawmill we stopped on the way out to the yard to pickup up a couple of loads of raw logs from L & L. All of these cars will go into yard track 10 for the M-DENBIL to pick up and forward west to the MRL at Laurel. We will have to bring three empty log bunkers back over to spot for L & L. This track also gets inbound loads of drill pipe and an occasional car of fertilizer.
Zowada BrothersHere we are stopped on the main line at East Sheridan Yard awaiting a signal to proceed. On the mainline in the distance a westbound coal train is just departing ahead of us. To the right of the signal a set of SD60M helpers is departing the house and will run light east to find a coal train. A coal empty train is waiting on number one track for us to get out of the way so he can depart eastbound. When we get the block we will run down the main about one mile to the Fort Line switch then go up the Fort Line a half mile to spot this empty gon at Zowada Brothers scrap metal. In bright daylight this signal is hard to see when you are so close because it is aimed around a sharp curve for trains coming off the 1.6% grade of Sheridan Hill.
Page 2 shows a yard engine trip out to Kiewit.
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