Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

The Thumper

For the past week or so, the "little BNSF" local job that serves industries in the Fernley area has been tying up at night in our small two-track yard rather than going back to Sparks. This means that the crew has to be driven to Fernley, work the industries (which stretch from the USA Parkway industrial park to the west out to the Fernley industries to the west), then tie back up on the "House Tracks" and be driven back to Sparks. I suppose it makes sense to the railroad. For now, they have only a single locomotive, BNSF 7687, a six-axle road unit demoted to local service, rather than the usual pair of four-axle units.

Another consequence of not making it back to Sparks is that there's nowhere for the unit to be fueled, so just like they have to use a contractor to bring the crews here and back, they also have to have the fuel brought in, as we saw yesterday morning as we were heading to Reno.

Old Thumper Getting Fueled

Again, this must make sense to someone, and I suppose if we asked the crew, they'd tell us why it's happening, but I don't like bothering them.

Lisa and I call this locomotive "Thumper." Because of the cold weather, the locomotive idles all day and all night. (Generally speaking, locomotives have to idle in freezing weather lest they freeze. As I understand it, they don't use anti-freeze, just water, so they have to keep running. Some have systems that will let them shut down if they're not too cold and will automatically restart them when it starts getting cold again.) It burbles and thumps and hisses, sounding at times like a old fashioned steam tractor like those we use to see at the Great Oregon Steam-Up at Powerland north of Salem. Lisa decided to shoot a video of it to show what a noise-maker it is.

This is obviously not an action shot, but besides documenting this grumbling unit, it let me get some practice in editing video from the Panasonic P2 in Adobe Premiere on the new computer. I'm pretty happy with the result, especially after I figured out that lowering the bit rate down from the default of 16 to 0.5 mbps did not change the apparent video quality, but reduced the size of the file from around 300 MB to only 18 MB. Compile time for the 3 1/2 minute video was less than twenty seconds. I need to go back and re-do some of the WSFS Business Meeting videos to see how long a 3-hour meeting takes to compile and how much smaller it is when we don't use the defaults. It certainly will speed up the uploads, and given that YouTube re-optimizes the videos anyway, there's no real reason to use the higher bit rate.

We like trains, but the erratic rumbling of this particular unit gets to be a little annoying at times. But it won't be here forever, as units have to rotate out at least every 90 days for regular inspection, and I assume that means taking it to Stockton on one of the "Big BNSF" jobs when the rotate power in and out of Fernley.
Tags: bnsf, trains

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