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    ]

    On a similar note: A few years back I had taken my kids out of the car and went up close to the tracks so they could get a good look at the train going by the crossing.

    Hanging off the side of one of the cars appeared to be a chunk of guard rail material. It protruded about 6-7 feet off the side of the car. We were not that close but close enough for a good scare and afterthought.

    It looked a bit springy, I suppose at high speed it may have laid back against the car. But in town at lower speed it sprung out. Good for taking ones head off.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dualkit View Post
    When I was a kid I was taught not to play on or around train tracks. I don't even trust rural crossing signals, I always stop and look both ways like I am driving a school bus. Most of the trains in my area are loaded with coal, rock, sand or gravel and probably barely hitting 25 mph, they also seem to me rather long. If you catch the front end of one at a crossing be prepared for a 10 minute wait till it clears the tracks.
    That would be a train over 4 miles long. Maybe you are impatient and should rethink that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sauerkraut View Post
    Its quite simple, Dick around on the Rail Roads right of way, repeat (Rail Roads right of way) and Die..
    Starting a fight with a choo choo you lose..
    Loaded rail cars can weigh as much as 200,000 LBS. 100 to 150 of them with 2 to 5 locomotives
    is a lot of weight to move and stop.. It takes time and distance.. The 1 mile number is a good rule of thumb..
    Most of the deaths are someone trying to beat the train at a crossing driving around crossing arms..
    Like the comedian said You Can't Fix Stupid..
    Current gross weight limit is 286,000 lbs.

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    Not to derail the thread. But some talked about "Darwin theory". Driving in St.Louis today past a college campus under construction. Would you believe they had a worker with orange vest and flag help the students across the construction entrance. If a 18 to twenty something can't cross by themselves let Darwin have them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scottl View Post
    IMO the situation is not too different from the people who pull too close in front of trucks on the highway. There are numerous PSAs warning how dangerous that is due to the greater stopping distances of trucks but I still see it nearly every highway trip. Car passes truck and then changes lanes only a car length or two in front of the truck. If anyone in the line of cars has to hit the brakes hard either the car gets crushed or the truck rolls over trying to avoid hitting it.
    My favorite story on that theme is about a friend who was driving on Lindbergh Road in St. Louis County. Before the Outer Belt, Lindbergh was a main north-south corridor and not nearly up to the traffic. Said friend saw a line of stopped cars ahead and let off the gas, no sense burning fuel to rush up and stop. The clown behind him was outraged at him slowing, leaned on his horn, and finally whipped around him----------and rear ended the car stopped ahead.

    One thing I remember about the old race driver I used to go on bike trips with was how far ahead he looked. We would come into a small town and way down the street there would be a "This lane right turn only" or whatever, sign. He would be in the correct lane blocks before the decision point. He never cut in front of anyone. Maybe that is part of the reason he lived to 93.

    Bill

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    When I was 9 or so ,we lived in Rome ,NY.Down by the Rome Cable plant there was a rail yard hat had quit a few tracks.One of them was cut through what looked like an old slag heap.The top was a few feet higher than an open top car and only a few feet from the tracks.One of the older kids told us that if we jumped when the cars came by we would land in the sand wouldn't hurt a bit.Just be sure to jump when the car coupling came by and when you hit you will land in the sand.I doubt they were going over 10 mph.
    I tried it and my landings weren't to hot so I gave it up.

    As I got older I started thinking that I never remember that dipshit jumping in one of those cars.

    Locally the city is putting concrete medians approaching the RR crossings which I thought was a good simple idea and will probably dissuade some dummys from trying drive around the crossing arms.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tubeguy View Post
    ]

    Hanging off the side of one of the cars appeared to be a chunk of guard rail material. It protruded about 6-7 feet off the side of the car. We were not that close but close enough for a good scare and afterthought.
    Broken steel strapping is especially bad for that. Also brake shoes. Railroad brake shoes easily weigh ten times what an auto brake shoe weighs, occasionally rattle loose as the train goes over rough track, and bounce along the track either under or next to the train.

    People always get pissed when I stop my car fifty feet back from the gates, but I have my reasons.

    Dennis

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    One of the greatest sounds in the world.. Empty coal train running on the track behind the shop..
    When it gets into town towards the east, it usually slows down, and then all the empty coal
    cars (giant bass drums) start slamming into each other... Starts off to the east, and
    then heads right past the shop off to the West and around the bend..

    Its such a neat sound.. Other trains slowing down aren't as cool as the sound of the empty coal
    cars.. BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM 120 times...

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    A thought on "darwin" ....

    Yes, one really can argue that a certain class of fool should not further participate in the gene pool. But that's not how the parents and grandparents of that person will feel, they have an effectively infinite stake in preserving such people. What's more, to some level, "society" has a huge stake in maximizing the number of effective participants. And so yes, people too stupid to follow construction crossing instructions might be in need of real world education, but societies that fail to protect them long enough will collapse. (And if you hang around modern high school students you will realize they've had zero exposure to all manner of fundamental things...)

    This is also why there's so much pressure (which I personally take a dim view of) for things like seatbelt and helmet laws. "Society" (at some level) as a very vested interest in you remaining alive, and most people (really), add net value, even if they're too stupid to put their seat belts on. The arguments about the social costs of health insurance for such people are largely irrelevent - it's about the loss of their participation in the political economy.

    But of course what serves "society" at the level of large country, "society" at the level of say a county, and "society" at the level of who you know - those can be very different...

    So evolutionary forces ("Darwin") can behave in ways rather more complicated that you might think....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobw View Post
    Its such a neat sound.. Other trains slowing down aren't as cool as the sound of the empty coal
    cars.. BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM 120 times...
    When I'm sitting at a grade crossing (staying well far back too) and I hear that,
    it's not "neat".

    Rather, I'm worrying I'm gonna start seeing the cars starting to accordion
    zig-zaging towards me, as they just jumped the track.....

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    I have heard that especially with the old locomotives it was common practice to use that effect to make starting up easier. Because rolling friction is less than starting friction, the technique is to stop in a manner that bunches the cars together, then front cars are rolling by the time the coupling slack to the rear cars is taken up.

    Another factoid- according to the Transportation Data book, when moving heavy loads no other form of transportation comes close to rail's cost per ton mile. The closest is barges, and they cost about twice as much. You don't want to see the cost of airfreight. A steel wheel on a steel track with roller bearings is about as good as it can get. That low friction available for braking has a huge payback.

    Bill

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    Indeed, something like 400 or more ton-miles per gallon of fuel has been quoted recently. Low friction, controlled track slope, it makes a difference.

    Every long train, especially the coal trains, seems to have at least one or two wheelsets with a chip out of them that are banging along the track. It does make you think about when it is going to start making real trouble. And then there are the tracks that are bending down right at a bolted joint (there are still some) due to lack of support from the ballast.

    Seatbelts are different from choice-based Darwin forces. I have no idea how anyone can confidently control a car when they are sliding around in their seat. Seat belts are, to me, not for protection, but a part of the way the car is controlled. Without them, you have people clutching the steering wheel as a support, and not a means of directing the vehicle, in cases of bumpy roads, etc.

    Not so sure about helmets.... For M/C riders, the helmet seems to be a way of preserving a person who is so damaged that they can never again participate in society. In some ways it could be kinder to let them not wear helmets..... That depends on how cold-blooded you are about it, I suppose. The weight of some helmets seems like almost enough to wring a person's neck by itself, I sometimes wonder how many broken necks they create.

    I do know of cases where the person was actually not much injured, and the helmet kept them from smashing their head on the road, so there is a point.

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    When i was little i remember my dad telling me he had a friend in college who lost a leg trying to hop a train. A decade later I found out this story wasnt true. It did keep me from ever trying to hop a train though.
    Anyways, i lived in a small town in Iowa for a year that had 2 sets of tracks running through it and would average 40-50 trains per day in the summer. Mostly hauling coal, automobiles, and shipping containers. They averaged 55 mph and were so long they would stretch from one small town to the next. Sometimes they were heavy enough to shake things in my apartment 1 block from the tracks. They were big fast trains and not something to play around.

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    I grew up in a water stop town between the north bound and south bound tracks.
    Trains aren't transportation, they are forces of nature.

    A runaway car is damn near silent.

    We didn't even have bells or lights on the grade crossing I walked on the way to elementary school.

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    Quote Originally Posted by StinkyDan View Post
    When i was little i remember my dad telling me he had a friend in college who lost a leg trying to hop a train. A decade later I found out this story wasnt true. It did keep me from ever trying to hop a train though.
    Anyways, i lived in a small town in Iowa for a year that had 2 sets of tracks running through it and would average 40-50 trains per day in the summer. Mostly hauling coal, automobiles, and shipping containers. They averaged 55 mph and were so long they would stretch from one small town to the next. Sometimes they were heavy enough to shake things in my apartment 1 block from the tracks. They were big fast trains and not something to play around.
    Back when I was in my early teens one of my idiot friends decided it would be fun to hop a freight. I wasn't keen on the idea but it was either join them or face a long walk home alone. The idiot who came up with the idea slipped and nearly fell with a leg under the train. The third kid, who was very strong and fast, caught his arm and pulled him back up onto the train. Getting off was not so easy when we realized this train was heading out of town and probably wouldn't slow down that much again for miles so we bailed out as it slowed for a curve. I wound up with a nice gash on my knee from the gravel roadbed. Now we were quite a ways from home and wondering what to do. So, ... we hopped another freight back to Boston and jumped off as it slowed coming into the yard. We walked to the subway and barely had enough between us for the fare. We were all dirty from the adventure and got funny looks from other passengers. It took a little creativity to explain my torn blue jeans and cut leg back at home.

    Whenever I hear people talk about hopping trains all I can think of is "WTF are you thinking?". Much more dangerous than it looks in the movies.

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    When it gets into town towards the east, it usually slows down, and then all the empty coal
    cars (giant bass drums) start slamming into each other.
    That's the slack "running in".

    Each railroad car has fore/aft play designed into the couplers - from one to two feet or more per car. This design allows a train to be started one car at a time, otherwise heavy trains could never get moving.

    An earlier post is correct, current maximum weight per car is 286,000 pounds (load and car together). So, a typical 100-car coal train weighs about 14,300 tons. A 6-axle locomotive weighs 425,000 pounds, so a pair is 425 tons.

    It's freaking amazing that 2 engines weighing only 425 tons can get 14,300 tons of train moving, and depending on territory run up to 70mph!

    Of course for longer trains, or mountainous territory, more engines will be added, often in the middle or rear - called "pushers" or "helpers" depending on the railroad.

    So yes, most freight trains take on the order of 1/2 mile or more to stop, even under emergency stop conditions. Which are frowned upon by the railroads, as this can not only flat-spot many or all of the trains wheels, but can derail a train also.

    There are several losers in a grade crossing "accident": the family of the deceased, but also the train crew, as all they can do is put the train in emergency and hold on. It is one of the few occupations in the world where killing someone while working is somewhat common.

    A friend is a locomotive engineer for Norfolk Southern in NC, and at age 45 he has 16 fatalities on his record. He's a great guy and realizes it's part of the job, but lots of train crewman never return to work after the tragedy of killing someone.

    ToolCat

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    "Up to 70 mph !" ?

    Try again.

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    Freight locomotives in North America are geared for a maximum top speed of 70 mph. This gearing allows the best performance between low-speed pulling power and top speed.

    It's interesting that each axle only has one electric traction motor, so there are only two gears - one on the motor and one on the axle.

    Of course passenger trains are much shorter and lighter, and thus are geared for higher speeds.

    BNSF and UP run their double-stack container trains at full throttle in much of the territory out West - called throttle position "Run 8". Even at that, many of the trains are so long and heavy they can't get up to 70mph.

    Railroad territory in much of the East is so hilly and curvy, that a locomotive's top speed is never tested.

    ToolCat

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    Quote Originally Posted by cnctoolcat View Post
    Freight locomotives in North America are geared for a maximum top speed of 70 mph. This gearing allows the best performance between low-speed pulling power and top speed.

    It's interesting that each axle only has one electric traction motor, so there are only two gears - one on the motor and one on the axle.

    Of course passenger trains are much shorter and lighter, and thus are geared for higher speeds.

    BNSF and UP run their double-stack container trains at full throttle in much of the territory out West - called throttle position "Run 8". Even at that, many of the trains are so long and heavy they can't get up to 70mph.

    Railroad territory in much of the East is so hilly and curvy, that a locomotive's top speed is never tested.

    ToolCat
    Heavy rail here never hits 70...on the other hand they blew through my town at 50 when I was growing up.
    We had six engines at each engine, and six in the middle.
    They don't have caboose any more...but it used to be fun to wave.

    We had regular drivers that had distinctive whistles.

    I found a crate of railroad torpedos when I was ten or so...still have both hands...got lucky.

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