• RCL stuff

  • General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.
General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.

Moderator: Robert Paniagua

  by UPRR engineer
Any questions on what its like to "run the box"?
Last edited by UPRR engineer on Wed Apr 20, 2005 3:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

  by LCJ
I've been told by a few that it's better than leading an engineer around.

  by UPRR engineer
Well its pretty much like having a crappy engineer.

  by LCJ
Well said! That reminds me of something someone (a crappy engineer) said to me early in my career, "I get paid just as much as a good engineer."

  by SteelWheels21
Here's a few things I've experienced on the remote job I have:

--Battery falls out of the box whenever you bump into something. This pisses off the guy who has control of the box every time, because the operation stops and you both have to recover your brakes before you can start again.

--Having EIGHT grade crossings blocked for almost 30 minutes (not to mention tying up both tracks of a busy mainline) when you get a comm loss or some kind of Fault message you aren't familiar with and can't override the system. One guy walks 20+ cars, shut 'em down, re-link and cross your fingers.

--Setting off the "Man Down" feature because your tilt-time extend button doesn't work.

--Setting off the "Man Down" feature and not knowing it because one of you turned your box off while the box was tilted. We had the yard channel in Portland tied up for over 20 minutes while we were at beans one night because we had no idea that the alarm was going off. Boy were the yardmaster and MYO pissed.

--Trying to spot cars at industries with a motor that has a 17 SECOND lag time between the time you select the speed and the time the motor loads up and goes.

--Picking up random "ghost" EPD speed controllers and having to override the system when you're 2000 feet from the actual pullback track. This is even better when you're on the lead engine but the engine you're linked to is the second engine and the walkways aren't connected.

--Having the box in full "stop" position and cranking up the independent and auto brakes, and still making that joint in excess of 4 mph. Any joint you can walk away from is a good one, an old head used to tell me.

--Being a big guy and trying to squeeze behind the console of some units to cut out the brakes. I have learned to welcome the 1400 numbered units, but loathe the 1300s. My vest looks like I've been attacked by a Tiger with all the rips and shreds from getting caught on whatever happens to be sticking out.

--Trying to ride the point on a loaded lumber car and control the box at the same time. After the 3rd or 4th time of accidently knocking the brake lever on, you just get off and walk the shove. Saves a lot of time.

Running the box isn't as bad as some here would have you think, but all in all a real live person would be much better obviously. I believe we are starting to finally see the wear and tear taking its toll on the equipment, as our stuff is getting bad-ordered on a pretty regular basis now.

  by LCJ
That's quite a picture you painted there. Sometimes (well, most times) I'm very glad to not be doing that stuff anymore. Technological advances can certainly have their drawbacks -- especially after the equipment gets some rough hours on it.

Ring the bell!! Post #300!!

  by UPRR engineer
Running the box isn't as bad as some here would have you think, but all in all a real live person would be much better obviously. I believe we are starting to finally see the wear and tear taking its toll on the equipment, as our stuff is getting bad-ordered on a pretty regular basis now.
Running the box isnt bad, all the problems doesnt makes it suck. Being a good switchman with a good hog, and then going out there and trying to kick the crap out of the cuts and move alot of cars is what makes it suck. Like you said, the delay time and trying to get the switch engine to slam on the brakes like a good hog does is the bad part. Havent you unhooked the bottom of the box yet to get the box to quit sounding the tilt alarm :-D

Have you tryed to dump rock or re-rail cars with the box? Its really fun. :wink:

  by SteelWheels21
Haha, rerail cars with the box? For the number of times box jobs have put cars on the ground here, I can honestly say I've neither seen or heard of that being done. Sounds interesting though.

Yeah, a few times I haven't hooked the bottom of the box to the vest, but the managers are just itching to write tickets and give levels here. Negating a safety appliance is pretty serious IIRC. We got FTXed last night in the pouring rain by a new manager. Of course we put on the dog and pony show for him, but he still got my foreman for insufficient distance between cars (it was BS but Scott only got a warning, no ticket). He probably wouldn't have caught something like the box being unhooked, but you never know with these guys, especially the new ones.

  by UPRR engineer
It's fun to tell the carman that there is no "take it ahead easy "and that "the unit is gonna jump to the 8th run to try to move at couple or 4 when the cars are doug-in.
Last edited by UPRR engineer on Wed Mar 30, 2005 12:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

  by PChap
Just started my 4th week on the RR, still working yard jobs or locals, but so far it's been my experience that the box is way slower than working with an engineer. Having said that I'll be RCO training as soon as they'll let me.

I hate it when a box operator tries to throw a switch and the box starts squealing. And I really hate it when they do a man down test without announcing it, that scares people that don't know what's happening.

  by UPRR engineer
I dont wanna make anyone get in trouble. New hires dont start kicking cars like this. Im just asking. There is a chance you might put cars on the ground.

When you guys are running the box do you ever stand on the brakes then slam it to stop when you kick cars? When RCL first showed up there were retired ex-MOP's training us, "consultants" if you wanna call them that. Pretty good guys mostly but they just spoke "canac" most of the time, and using the independent override is a no no, or not what canac thinks is the best way to operate a RCL. My style of running a switch engine was to get it up to speed and then coast, so when i started RCL and would go from 10 straight to coast then start playing with the override to control my speed they started to flip out, no big deal, anyways, so then i figured out that if i put it to 10, jammed the brakes on and slam it to stop the goat would stop faster, like it would if there was a hoghead up there. (for those that dont know, if you were to put it to 10 then to stop it feathers the brakes, independent override on full keeps the brakes at max) When i started kicking like that the guys really started to get upset. Train handling and all that good canac handbook stuff started pouring out of there mouths and onto the lead. I didnt stop doing it. One thing that tends to happen when you run like that is that you forget to release it and you get a brakes dragging message over the radio from the locomotive. This happened to me quite often LOL. After i was an offical RCO, the trainers went to the switch engine on the other end. At about the 30th brakes dragging message i got, i heard "GET OFF THE GODDAMB INDEPENDENT OVERRIDE" over the radio. Pretty soon after that i got good at taking it off after i stopped.

  by UPRR engineer
You guys ever do a no "vig" stop? go down the lead put it to couple, stand on the independent, throw the switch or drop off the helper, back to 10 and release the independent? If your not quick you will get a brakes dragging, the goat does try to move after a second or two, but in most cases just a foot or less. When i use to show new guys this stuff they looked at me like i was crazy or something and i would have to tell them that ive tryed everything a guy to do to one of these things. What really got new guys going was me teaching them to kick cars like i did. Jamming to stop with the brakes on thing. "OK put it 7...10 now... jam the brakes on... slam it to stop and get the pin without tripping and killing yourself.
Last edited by UPRR engineer on Thu Apr 21, 2005 12:06 pm, edited 3 times in total.

  by SteelWheels21
UPRR...I do the "No Vig" stop, but I just put the thing in Coast B1 until it comes to a stop, then do my thing before ramping the speed back up. You are correct, the instructors HATE seeing people use the Indy/Auto brakes, they condition you to control your speed by ramping up or down.

Another cool one that you can do if you have to kick cars but only have a short section of straight lead to let them go on (or if your motors take a long time to load up)...set your indy to "Full", take it up to 15, wait for the motor to load, then kick the indy off. Warp speed in a much shorter period of time. It's hell on the brake shoes, but they get changed every 24 hours anyway so I don't care.

  by UPRR engineer
I use to stand on the brakes like that to pull heave cuts with too many brakes on the other end. As a hog and then as a RCL. After about six months i really started getting sick of having to wear my RCL vest. I was always glad to have students, and if we only had one, the helper and i would take turns every other day.

Steelwheels, do you still wear your vest when you have students, or has that not happened yet? I never did, first time a trainmaster saw me with students with out mine he asked "what are you gonna do if something happens to him"?...."guess will be coming around then" He didnt like that too much.

  by SteelWheels21
I haven't worked a job yet with a student where I've given up my box instead of the foreman (I'm not foreman qualified yet). Basically I become a bobblehead at that point, it's all about the student getting his box time. Ride the point, throw the switches, get the coffee, whatever. I doubt I could get away with not wearing my vest, they get antsy out here if you put on a raincoat OVER the vest if it starts raining on you mid-shift.