Saturday, September 29, 2012

Oil at Oink Joint

After pizza at Larrys this evening, Mrs. L4T and I had half an hour to kill. A drive to Verndale and back were trainless until we reached Wadena, when an eastbound tipped us off with a headlight. We reversed course and raced to the Oink Joint Road crossing. I thought there might be some glint but there was nothing but backlight.
And then we headed home. What with buying a house, starting the process of getting settled, working 5 days, driving back to Wadena, loading the Escape with model railroad paraphernalia, and getting ready for a 6 AM Monday morning flight to Michigan for work, railfanning has been sorely neglected lately. At least I got a shot for the week.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fighting Traffic

The title is kind of a tease. The traffic referred to is not on steel rails, but instead on Interstate 35 in Duluth. After work today, I drove over to Duluth, and spotted the rear end of a train leaving Rices Point yard. With no place I needed to be, a short chase seemed like a no brainer. That was until I saw the traffic jam the interstate was. I grabbed the first exit I saw and headed for the city streets. Finally arriving at the overpass near the paper mill, it turned out the delay had not prevented a nicely lit shot of a pair of GP's with some empty (stone?) hoppers heading into Mike's Yard. Not exactly what you would call Staples Sub scenery.
And that was that. I sure was glad that the delay on the interstate (due to bridge work on the Blatnik Bridge) didn't prevent me from getting the shot.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Old Days

One of the great blessings of my railfan "career", if such a thing exists, has been the willingness of Mrs. L4T (that's my wife for those of you who have always wondered) to humor me by tagging along on "train hunting" expeditions. We have explored nearly every inch of the Staples Sub together, and she has gotten to the point where she occasionally sees the train before I do. She even questions why I am taking a shot from time to time, commenting that "the light is no good here". We've been great friends as we cruise up and down Highway 10, always on the lookout for the distinct pattern formed by a headlight and a pair of ditchlights.

With an impending move to the Twin Ports just a few weeks away now, something Chris Muller posted on Facebook today inspired me to check ATCS, and sure enough, the westbounds were lined up all the way to Gregory. Mrs. L4T and were out the door with visions of GEVO's and ACe's dancing in our heads.

My first move was east. It seemed a good bet we could catch the leader of the pack the other side of Verndale, but he beat us to the punch and surprised me just outside Wadena. If not for the glorious consist of new BNSF covered hoppers I would have passed, but these cars called for a u-turn and chase. The slow order near Bluffton allowed us to just beat the train to a crossing.

Hoping to beat something to Staples, we once more headed east, and this time made it almost all the way to Aldrich before a Z train sailed around the corner. Once more we were ready.

The action was pretty steady at this point, as the next train was approaching Dower Lake when we got there. This time is was a crude oil empty, led by a GEVO. You might also notice a blur of color in the distance that will come into play a bit later.

But the interesting unit was third out. For the third or fourth time I got the H3 painted 8987, an SD70MAC. The paint sure holds up nice, as this is at least two years old.

One of my goals for the day was a shot from the new overpass in Staples. Alas, it was not to be, as the final westbound was passing the depot as we neared the parking area. Plan B took us back to the Dower Lake crossing, where we captured a manifest with lots of oilfield traffic, including pipe, sand cars, and empty tanks. I even noticed an ADM car placarded for crude oil in this train.

This thing got me excited. I wonder what it hauls and where it hauls it?

The treat of the day was next. A manifest train sat on Main 2, sans power, just west of the Dower Lake crossing. It was only a few minutes when the power for the train ran back west from the yard. It was great to see a 4 unit set of SD40-2's "leading" this power as it backed up onto the train. What a sight! I hollered "Nice Power" to the conducter as he passed by and got a smile and wave back.

After getting the air pumped up and the train underway, we were able to swing by the Staples yard and shoot three more classic EMD's sitting at the west end, including a fairly uncommon GP40. Second one I have seen this week, the other was in Superior.

And so you have the story from today. We probably won't get many more chances to fan the Staples Sub, but I'll always remember this one and the day Mrs. L4T once again brought me luck!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wednesdays with Dan (The GP Edition)

Once again this evening Dan M. was kind enough to drag me along on a local railfanning outing. This one turned out to be heavy on GP's although we didn't photo each and every one.

Actually the GP theme of this evening started to emerge even before I met up with Dan. On my way to supper with a former colleague, I spotted the UP switch job working in Superior and shot him just north of Belknap. Since I was in a hurry there was no time to wait for better light, so this shot will have to suffice.

After supper and a call to Dan, we headed out after 6 and promptly spied a pair of CN units at BNSF's Superior engine terminal. Since they both had 6 axles and were built by GE they don't fit the theme of this post, so no picture.

The radio brought news of a BNSF job at the Peavey elevator, and off we went. Sure enough it was a good decision as my old friends the 2765 and 2801 were tied on to a long string of grain cars coming out of the elevator.

News of a transfer from Duluth provided our next target. When Dan asked if I shot backlit I told him heck yes. After seeing the shots it was a good thing he asked. Here comes yet another pair of GP's, this time led by a freshly painted unit that probably still smells new. It likely won't stay that way for long, though, given the sander dust rising from the tracks as the engines move a heavy train into Superior.

Fresh paint called for a better lit shot, and sure enough Dan had just the location. The light barely held on as the pair swung into the Superior yard. That lead unit sure is pretty.

Oh and I almost forgot the day's oddity, this time some kind of scale and warehousing car tucked away back near the CHS elevators. You just never know what you might find, if you are looking in the right places.

A couple more GP's, this time CP, were at Rice's Point, but the light had pretty much given up by them. Finally it was off to the depot, for a report on the prototype and modeling events of the past week in the Twin Ports area. A good evening, for sure.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Some Superior Shots After Work

After work today I decided a swing by the BNSF facilities in Superior was in order. (All of you with your Virginian photos must have inspired me.) To give you an idea of what Superior is like, the first of these shots was taken at 4:18 PM. The last was shot at 4:28 PM. And yes, the same day. I also passed on a CP train that wasn't very well lit, and another unknown train that I heard blowing for a crossing but never saw. In addition there were 3 other GP's and a pair of Dash 9's at the engine terminal I didn't shoot.

But first up, at 28th Street, an SD40-2 is headed south with a cut of cars while a pair of GP's rest. Interestingly (to me at least), I also saw these two engines on my way to Superior last night. They were just west of Home Depot in Baxter with a string of gondolas. It was strange to the 2801 leading and the 2785 bringing up the rear, as if it were a DPU. I figured they were headed into the spur at Baxter.

Next I decided to head up to the engine terminal and see what was happening, but before I made to 21st Streeet another SD passed me going south. Since it had nice looking paint I decided to shoot it, even though the nose is not well lit.

There was something going on with an ACe at the terminal. I don't think it was good news after looking up the website on the side of the van.

A lone GP sat on the short engine track, tempting me to try shooting it, so I did. And now I'm posting the photo.

I was going to post one more shot of the people working on the ACe, but decided not to. And now I have made a post for September. Hopefully my wild life will soon begin to settle down so I can get back to posting a bit more regularly.