WinterWinter weather can make railroading difficult. Snow and ice freeze switches. Walking through snow to check trains for defects or make an airbrake test becomes a real chore. Making MU connections on locomotives is especially difficult as they become encrusted in ice.
The short days also makes photography difficult as I am not on trains very often during the short daylight hours and when I am it may be overcast.
The first picture is of my second unit, BNSF 6935, as we go to work at Laurel. It was 11:00am but still only 11 degrees F. Note the bottom step of the BN unit. You must be extra careful when climbing about locomotives in the winter months because icy walkways and snowpacked steps can easily cause you to fall and perhaps injure yourself.
The second photo is of the rear end of the same unit. Its steps are also snowpacked. If I had to pick up another unit it would be a long drawn out affair. MU electrical jumper cables get stiff when cold and it can take two men to wrangle them around into position to plug into an adjacent unit. Couplers get ice packed and the pins won't drop when you try to make a coupling. Those MU hoses will have to be thawed before they can be connected. Note all three MU hoses on the left side are frozen into a solid ball of ice. The MU valves located behind the steps get encrusted under several inches of packed snow and ice. They must be chipped out using a hammer and chisel then thawed. Crews often use fusees to thaw frozen valves and airhose couplings.
A coal train passes through Parkman, WY as snow continues to fall and drift. Melting snowflakes on the windshield distort and reflect the red signal lights.
During a momentary lull in the storm we meet a grain train at Aberdeen, Montana. When the rails are covered with snow like this a train can be surprisingly quiet even at speed and sneak up on you.
While in the hole at Dunmore, MT to meet two eastbounds I snapped these pics of the coupling between my 7th and 8th units. Those reflective yellow bands on the C44 really shine from the camera's flash. The bright white circles is the flash reflecting off close up snowflakes.
This close up of the above shot shows the spare knuckle attatched to the rear of the C44 on the right. Lugging one of those around and replacing is a hassle in any weather but in weather like this is a real pain. Luckily conductors don't need to worry about such things when they are working with me. ;-)
Finally, not a winter shot per se, but a night snap of two of the BNSF's AC C44s. I had just brought in the Centralia coal empties and doubled them over in Sheridan yard. While walking away I turned to take this shot. When Heritage II painted units first began appearing I was intrigued by these views of them. Several HII units might be parked in the dark on the Shilo wye or a roundhouse lead and you can't see them. A headlight on dim is too weak to light the units themselves but as it sweeps across them the yellow trim bands suddenly light up in the darkness, brightly reflecting even a dim headlight.
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