Thursday, February 2, 2017

A Trip Over Tehachapi on SCX-BI

In January 2017 I was in San Diego for the annual Winter On Tehachapi TT/TO Operations event at La Mesa Model Railroad Club in Balboa Park.  I touched briefly on the Overview of 1950s LMRC Operations in my blog post a few months ago.  I know most of my modeling is SP related, but some of my posts relating to the operations will also include Santa Fe trains and operations, as they are inseparably linked to the SP operations of the pass.

Extra 4290 West with Dead Head Equipment consist at Winter On Tehachapi, January 2017.

On the first day of the two day event I worked at the East Staging Yard for 12 hours.  I didn't get a chance to take many photos, but Sunday I was able to work on the Hill Pool and took a train over the pass.

Waiting for the Call

The operations have many people working jobs that never involve touching the throttle.  One of those jobs is the "Crew Caller."  The Crew Caller works to keep track of the available crews for the Chief Dispatcher who coordinates the planning of trains 4-6+ hours in the future.

"Marking up" on the crew board is the first step to being assigned to a train.  When I marked up, I was about sixth out.  When a Crew Caller's on duty, crews wanting to get a train have to stay in the general area of the crew lounge or be sure the Crew Caller knows where they can be found.  One of the major elements that help this process is to know where you stand on the call order.  Every 10-15 minutes I would drop by the crew lounge and see where I stood on the board.

As a long time Operations Dept member at the club one aspect of the sessions is to train new crew members who will be qualified to run solo.  These instructional trips are made with a "Pilot" who is experienced who shows the "Student" how the operations work, filling out paperwork, reading the documentation and Timetable, in addition to helping the student learning the stations of the physical railroad.  Most of our solo crews stay with the title of "Engineer" during the trips.  The Chief Dispatcher sometimes calls trains with up to four engine to work to the train and help it over the summit at Tehachapi.  Usually on the large trains one of the crew also double as a "Conductor."  Students making their first trips are sometimes called "Conductor", sometimes "Engineer" mostly depending on style of instruction of the Piloting crew member.

A new prospective member B.A. McKenzie came to the session and was invited to work with me as the Pilot.  On paper, McKenzie would work as the Conductor, but in practice I would be covering the instructional aspects and McKenzie work the engine.

Taking the Call

The carbon copy of the crew call "soup ticket" for the SCX-BI freight train

The "Soup Ticket" or call slip instructs us what time to report for duty, which terminal, and the engine assigned.  The train we're assigned to is the Santa Fe's SCX-BI, Southern California Expediter.  The "BI" is the date symbol for the 29th day of the month.  The SCX symbol starts at Richmond California with cars to San Bernardino and Los Angeles.  Traffic was also interchanged at Stockton, Calwa, and Bakersfield.  The symbol is also one of the two lowest priority symbols over the Tehachapi Sub Division, and often instructions are issued to the SCX to pick up or set out cars along the way.

A second engineer is called for our 2-10-2 helper, ATSF 3854.  The Soup Ticket shows the helper being picked up at Bena and help us up the mountain to Summit.  Missing on the Soup Ticket is the Way Car (Caboose) that was assigned to the train, which was listed on our switchlist paperwork as ATSF 2035.

ATSF Yard at Bakersfield

Next, as we report to the Santa Fe Bakersfield yard office, the switch lists were handed over to us.

Page one of our freight's consist

The SCX arriving into Bakersfield set out four cars for the BK and BTX symbols heading to Kansas City and Texas.  The cars added were four general service cars and seven 'RD reefers for Southern California destinations.

Page two of our freight's consist

The SCX today has only been issued orders to set out one car at Mojave and no other work.  So, after the trip over the Hill, we can't forget about this last bit of work before we take the train to the staging yards of Barstow.

The Yardmaster at Bakersfield told us that the Hostler would move the engine out from the staging yard.  One area that the Santa Fe Yard is still lacking is the roundhouse and engine servicing area.  As of January 2017, the small staging yard of Landco is used to store all the road and helper engines.

Register Check

The Register Check is a major foundation stone that most crews forget to do properly.  As we have a few minutes until our engines are hostled out for us to the train, B.A. McKenzie and I head over to fill out our paper copies of our Check of Train Register tickets.

Check of Train Register tickets for us took two pages.

The Check of Train Register are filled out to prove that all sections of the last 12 hours of scheduled trains have arrived and are complete.  Any outstanding sections or late running scheduled trains will be shown during this check.

We're using Employee Timetable 9, supplement 2, effective Dec 21, 1952 for the operations.

We started with Eastward First class trains, followed by the Westward First class trains, then the Eastward 3rd class trains.

Eastward Tehachapi Sub page of ETT9, S2

Refer back to these two images during the following trip to see how the trip unfolds.

Westward Tehachapi Sub page ETT9, S2

I instructed B.A. McKenzie to include everything on this check because we do not know what the Dispatcher will be authorizing our train.  If we are authorized as an Extra, then we will need to know about the 3rd class trains, while we do our work.  Special Instructions for the Tehachapi Sub do not require an Extra to clear schedules other than First class trains.

Getting on the Road

As of 1:20AM all of the trains that should have arrived at Kern Jct. had.  We went back to the Santa Fe yard at Bakersfield to get on our train.

ATSF 140LAC approaching Kern Junction, with the interchange tracks to the right as we cross Sumner St.

We pulled out of the yard with our 36 car train and headed over to Sumner St. where the Dispatcher held us until 2:15AM to run as First 802.

At 2:18AM a proceed signal is displayed by the Towerman at Kern Jct. for us to pull up to the tower and catch our orders as we head out of town.  We receive our Clearance and Train Order No.5 at Kern Jct.

Clearance for First 802 at Kern Jct. with Order No. 5, Dec 30, 1952

The Clearance issued to us shows that we will run as First 802, scheduled to depart Kern Jct at 2:15AM, displaying "Green" signals.  This provides for the Dispatcher to run a Second Section up to 12 hours late on our schedule.  The one order we received is Order No. 5, which is shown below.

Train Order No.5, Dec 30, 1952

Reading our orders, we have a "Care Of" order that the Dispatcher wants to "Mail" to a train that is stuck between open Train Order offices.  In this case we are ordered to hand off the mailed order to Extra 4290 West at Walong.  It did strike me a little weird that the Dispatcher would mail an order to us at Kern Jct. for a train that is stuck 45 minutes away, but our's is not to reason why, just to do and... well, hopefully not die!

The order we carry gives three westward Extras right over Second 802, so not really our issue as the three Extras are not given rights over us on First 802.

Operator D.F. Willoughby at Kern Junction as we depart with waycar ATSF 2035 rolling by in front of the tower.

There was some confusion before we left about the care-of order being pulled, and then returned to us again.  Hopefully they gave us the right orders.  The orders we had issued and cleared to leave with tell us that there are at least three extras (Extras 6202, 4290, and ATSF 212 West) out there, but as we're a Third class train, they should be in the clear for us at various points along the way.

On the Road

2:27AM - Magunden

Our waycar 2035 charges by as ATSF 3518's headend brakeman lines the crossovers for its return to Bakersfield.

Just out of Bakersfield we see the Extra Arvin Turn working the night shift on the branch at Magunden.  Santa Fe used small and medium steam engines on the branch during the 1940s and early 1950s.  After we pass, ATSF 3518 will return to Bakersfield with a string of loaded reefers from the potato packing sheds on the branch.  The regular Arvin Road Switcher crew will be back on duty at Arvin about 6 hours for the day shift.

2:32AM - Bena

On the way out of Bakersfield we're scheduled to meet No.447, the westward Overnight express train heading to Bakersfield and Fresno.  Instead we reached Bena and the end of double track without meeting the Second Class train.

Arriving at Bena, First 802 stops next to the small company village.

While the head end crew waits for No. 447, the rear six cars of the train are cut away and our helper engine, ATSF 3854, moves to couple up.  The rear end crew takes a few minutes to lace up the air hoses and we do our brake test.

ATSF 3854 coupling to the rear of the train, before pulling forward to the forward section.

Engineer H. Paar will handle the ATSF 3854 with his own DCC throttle to help get our train up the mountain.  This requires skill and focus to shove the right amount on the rear of the train without buckling it or "string-lining" the cars around the curves.

A Bit of Train Watching

3:19AM - between Ilmon and Bena

SP 4185 leads No.447, the Valley Overnight, westward between Ilmon and Bena.

No.447 is late getting to Bena, so during the hour or so wait the head brakeman walkes over the bridge in hopes for a good shot of No.447 approaching Bena.  SP 4185 didn't disappoint with the shot above, charging along as she rolls off the hill towards the start of the Double Track into Bakersfield.

No.447's schedule is usually fulfilled running the VMW (Valley Manifest West), which is the LA-Fresno branch of the Overnight L.C.L. system of trains.

I snapped this lovely shot of SP 4185 meeting the ATSF 140 set with the Bena tank in the back round.

At 3:22AM, with No.447 out of the way, we have a few minutes to get to Ilmon before No.60 is scheduled to arrive.

The brakeman grab this shot as he scrambled to get over track side to re-board the FT set!

3:25AM - Ilmon

As First 802 heads into the siding at Ilmon for No.60, starting to close on us from the rear.

My camera had a bit of trouble capturing a clean shot of First 60 passing Magunden

Somehow there was a minor mix up, we're not told that No.60 was carrying green flags as it rolled past us at Ilmon.  We lined the switch to follow No.60 out at of the east end of Ilmon and make the run to Caliente.

No. 60 is the West Coast, I will be covering it's consist in more detail at some point in one of my Modeling a Consist series of posts.

3:41AM - Caliente

As the station comes into sight, we see the train order board is set for us to pick up orders.

Stopped Order Board at Caliente as the ATSF 140 rolls up to it.

The orders we pick up at Caliente are as follows:

Clearance from Caliente Dec 30, 1952 to First 802 for Order No.6 and No.7.

Ok, the Clearance shows two orders; No.6 and No. 7, let's see what the orders say.

Order No.6, Dec 30, 1952

It seems that due to some mix up we didn't get Order 6 at Bakersfield, and **FIRST** 60 didn't tell us that they're carrying GREEN flags!  *Sigh*  Well, at least we're on First 60's markers coming out of Ilmon, so we're not in any danger there as the Second 60 was 30 minutes behind the schedule of No.60, still a bit of "Yikes!" factor there.

Order No.7, Dec 30, 1952

Hmmm, looks like the knot at Walong with Extra 4290 West got sorted out.  We're ordered to take the siding for the three extras (SP 6202, ATSF 212 and SP 4290 West) at Cliff.  That should work nicely as Second 60 should be on us around then, maybe we'll have to go to Rowen.  If we're out of time though, we might have to "stab" Second 60 and wait for them to catch us so we can see their orders and move on their time to Rowen.  Have to see how the timing works out.

Well, best get on the move out of Caliente ahead of Second 60!

3:56AM - Allard

The dead heading Pullman consist of Extra 6202 West at Allard and a slightly confused crew looking at their orders.

A surprise met us at Allard, literally!  Waiting in the siding is Extra 6202 West with her train of dead heading Pullman sleeping cars heading towards the Valley.  They're supposed to meet us at Cliff... Ooops... well, thankfully no one got killed.

4:01AM - Bealville

First 802 rolling into Bealville

Having no issues as we charge up through Bealville at 20 MPH.

4:08AM - Cliff

Things were a bit busy at Cliff as we met Extra 4290 West with a SP DHQ of food service and coaches and Extra ATSF 212 West following hot on her heals with a freight.

Earlier in the day, waiting for our call, I shot this photo of the Extra 4290 West stuck at Walong.

4:20AM - Rowen

With the two final meets with the Extra 4290 West and Extra ATSF 212 West out of the way we head into Rowen siding to be passed by Second 60 running 30 minutes late, per Order No.6.  It's a Rose Bowl Special with four F-units and a P-10 class Pacific helping it on the point!

Second 60, running 30 minutes late, passes First 802 at Rowen at 3:32AM.

No.55's time is also approaching, so we plan to stay at Rowen for it as well.  However I capture this scene of No.55 meeting Second 60 at Woodford.

No.55 meets Second 60 at Woodford at 4:41AM, one minute late.

No.55 is a westward "Passenger", which was once called the Tehachapi before it lost its name.  I cover the Consists of SP Mail Train, the Tehachapi, in my blog.

4:53AM - Woodford

First 802 rolling to a stop in Woodford siding

Again, with traffic cleared for us to move, we slide into the clear at Woodford to water our steam helper and for Third 60.  It's approaching 5:01PM and our helper engineer needs to go, I take over the helper at that time.

ATSF 3854 cuts away and backs down to take water at Column No.1 at Woodford.

About fifteen minutes pass at Woodford watering the helper and waiting for Third 60 to show up.

At 5:07AM SP 4292 leading Third 60 races our helper, ATSF 3854 slowly moving to recouple to the train.

Just as the ATSF 3854 finishes taking water, Third 60 comes into sight.  After a short air test we're under way again.

5:11AM - 4th Crossing

4th Crossing Bridge of Tehachapi Creek at 5:13AM.

First 802 snakes its way up the mountain curves several interesting photo opportunities present themselves, like this one above at 4th Crossing of Tehachapi Creek.

5:16AM - Walong

Here B.A. McKenzie watches as the head end of our train ducks into Tunnel 10.

Not much happened at Walong as we just rolled along.

5:20AM - Marcel

Again with the major passenger traffic cleared out and no other freights near us we cruised along.

A long view of First 802 rolling through the uncompleted scenery of Marcel

5:22AM - Tunnel 14

B.A. McKenzie watching ATSF 140 heading into the West Portal of Tunnel 14.

Sudden heavy snow fall between Tunnels 14 and 15.... or wait, just new plaster mountain sides.

5:22AM - Tunnel 16

Tunnel 17, 16, and 14 with First 802 spread out through the uncomplete tunnel scenery

It's good to see the scenery on the layout moving along to get the four upper tunnels for our trains to peak-a-boo through.

5:25AM - Cable

Some of our other crews looking at our train exiting Tunnel 17 approaching Cable

5:28AM - Tehachapi - KI

ATSF 140 rolling into Summit

We met a set of ATSF Light Engines West (LEW) waiting for orders at the west end of Tehachapi No.2 siding and a freight waiting on No. 1 siding.

5:30AM - Summit

We stopped and dropped our helper, ATSF 3854, at Summit Siding.  Things got a bit busy as I shuffled several other helpers around at the Summit Wye.  I moved it west to Tehachapi No.2 and coupled it to a pair of Geeps to head west to Bakersfield.

First 802 was on the move as soon as they finished their air test on the rear section of the train once the helper was cut out.  Double Track main tracks between Tehachapi and Mojave allow us to move with the traffic flow and not worry about any opposing trains.  No.58 was still about 15 minutes behind us at Summit, so on we rolled.  I was still busy with dealing with the helpers between Summit and Tehachapi so wasn't able to get any photos during this time.


I did have a chance to grab this quick shot of No.58, the Owl, charging through Cameron.

No.58 with two AC's at Cameron

 I cover Modeling the Owl's (Part 1) 1946-1950 in my blog from last year.

5:57AM - Mojave Yard

Trains stacked up waiting for No.58 to clear

We did beat No.58 to Mojave, as we pulled in we headed into the yard to drop our one car set out.  ATSF 239 was already in the yard with the N-34-BI waiting to leave.  An SP freight held the No.1 track as well.  We signed into the Train Register that we'd arrived, the time was 6:10AM, we'd been on duty about four hours, twenty-five minutes so far, and still had to do several more moves and run the train to Barstow.

Our one setout, UP 454629, a plain XM for assignment to loading by the Agent at Mojave.

After No.58, the Owl, departed, we asked the Mojave Operator for the APB block between East Mojave and Sanborn (the first siding on the ATSF line to Barstow.  The SP Yard engine was busy at the other end of the yard, so we have make the setout from near the rear of our train.

The ATSF 239 was going to follow us out of Mojave, so we held the authority on the APB block and departed after picking up the rear of our train and making the air test.

Tying Up

Our train tied up in the Boron Staging yard at 6:45AM after about five hours on duty.  Not a bad trip over the Hill, a few delays but nothing too bad, meeting eight trains plus several more at Tehachapi waiting for clearance kept us busy checking the time table.  Four to five hour trips are about average now for trains over the model of Tehachapi Pass.

First 802, ATSF 140, rolling between Bena and Ilmon.

I hope you enjoyed the insight into the trip of the SCX-BI as First 802 across the Tehachapi Sub Division.

Jason Hill

Related Links:
Overview of 1950's TT/TO Operations at La Mesa Model Railroad Club

Modeling the Consist of the Owl, 1946-1950

Modeling SP Mail Consists, Nos. 55 & 56, Tehachapi Mail

Links to Robert Bowdidge's Blog about Train Orders:
"Operating at Tehachapi"

"Lessons Learned at La Mesa"

"Training Wheels for Train Orders"

1 comment:

  1. Another great post Jason! That trip was definitely out of the ordinary. Too many close calls.


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