The Rail Philatelist January 2000 Newsletter
Volume 4 …………… PRICE $1.00 (10 ISSUES FOR $8.00)……………. Number 10 January 1, 2000Dear Fellow Rail Philatelist:
Welcome to the New Millennium (even if it may still be a year away!). Hope no Y2K bugs bit you. (I’m printing this Dec. 31, 1999 just in case). Time for the perennial mailing list purge. If your envelope has a RED DOT, this is your last mailing since it means I haven’t heard from you in any meaningful way in ten months or more. Get the new millennium started right by sending in your orders. The Y2K bug has struck me as I speculated in the November issue - I’ve had a couple new issue service cancellations by long time customers, a few customers wrote in to cancel the newsletter/pricelists and another has offered me his extensive collection (over 11,000 different train stamps and souvenir sheets plus a few hundred covers and showpieces.) So, those of you who are still with me, get your want lists together - I should be acquiring some scarce stuff for you. And there are now openings in my premier new issue service for those of you who want to keep up.
DECEMBER TRAVEL: The California show trip started well December 2 with good train watching most of the way. Nine trains between Colorado Springs and Raton, NM, all SB (BNSF EB)) except a local setting out cars in the Trinidad, CO yard and an autorack climbing the pass as I descended. Just south of Raton I heard AMTRAK 24 West (the lead unit on todays Southwest Chief ) getting track warrants so I knew I wouldn’t see any other trains on the line to Albuquerque and I probably wouldn’t catch it at 70 mph. It was a boring drive past Santa Fe with nothing on the scanner so I was pleased to see the Chief approaching from the left as I came to the I-25 overpass. I actually went over the center of the train - 4 Genesis locos, a baggage car, eight Superliners, nine express boxcars and five Roadrailers. Saw it again briefly 10 minutes later as the road and tracks came back parallel, then it pulled ahead. Thought I heard AMTRAK 2 East asking for clearance as I stopped for gas in Albuquerque. Saw another nine trains between Albuquerque and Gallup, NM, all EB except a pair of locos heading into Gallup in the dark. At Holbrook, AZ about 8PM, I heard a dispatcher telling a train crew he might have to change them to the other track because he had an EB “Silver Bullet” leaving Winslow. My first thought was another AMTRAK but there isn’t one scheduled that late. Saw two trains in the dark between Holbrook and Winslow but the only thing I can say for sure is that neither was a passenger train (loco lights only). Does anyone out there know what a “Silver Bullet” is? Saw (?) a total of eight trains in the dark between Gallup and Flagstaff plus 10 more roared by my motel room, horns blaring for the crossing, while I typed this and prepared newsletters for mailing between 9:30 and midnight - The Chief came thru at 10:09 PM with the same consist as earlier. Heard at least six more during a prolonged period of semi-wakefulness from 3:35 AM until I finally got up at 6. Saw a couple more stackpacks while getting ready for the day and the EB SOUTHWEST CHIEF as I left for breakfast. Passed six more trains between Flagstaff and Seligman, AZ where I turned off I-40 to follow old Route 66 to Kingman, AZ for the first time ever and was rewarded with three trains I would have missed on I-40. There were five more between Kingman and Needles, CA but I was a minute late catching an EB manifest on the Colorado River Bridge - it had just cleared the approach as I got there - probably as close as I’ll come to seeing one on the bridge. Saw eight more as I followed Route 66 from Needles to Ludlow - the most interesting was an EB 40 unit Roadrailer composed of trailers from Swift Trucking and another company with a small oval logo I didn’t recognize. Another six trains from Ludlow to Barstow including a UP local waiting at Daggett Junction. Just east of Daggett, a front-end loader was pushing a string of hoppers at a gravel loader. The Barstow station seems fully restored but has big “For Rent” signs out front - such a beautiful building! Pulled in behind the Toyota dealership and walked up the hill to see what was going on in the Barstow yard - not much. The yard seemed filled with cars but only one of the CF-7/slug sets was moving and it was running light. An EB stackpack started moving as I left. I still haven’t figured out how to get a good view of the locomotive service area except from Main Street and there isn’t a place to pull over there. As I continued west on Route 66, I passed a WB with empty TOFC cars, then another with empty stackpack cars - they must unload them in Barstow and then take the empties back to LA and Long Beach (or maybe they just store empties in the Barstow yard until needed). Saw a couple more trains on the way to Victorville including a pair of UP Geeps working the South West Portland Cement plant along with their blue geep (they also have a red & yellow geep with LARGE “SWPC” on the sides). Four trains passed my usual Cleghorne Road spot on Cajon Pass as I ate my Carls Jr. 99c “Famous Star” and relaxed for a half hour before tackling the LA traffic (I always try to spend at least a half hour on Cajon before driving into LA). Traffic wasn’t bad at all and I saw three BNSF locos running light near March AFB plus a couple AMTRAK “Coasters” as I unloaded for the show at the Del Mar Fair. The best thing to be said for the show was that I had good conversations with a couple old customers. Art Dominy, a retired Navy chaplain and railroad silverware expert, enlightened me concerning railroad chapel cars used by three major religions at the turn of the (last)century. Among the many train items that Herbert Lyon brought me to sell for him was a large black & white photo similar to Japan #1191 with a D52 Steam Loco but passenger rather than freight. He had affixed 57 train stamps in the matting around the picture. It was quite attractive and I considered keeping it for my stamp room, but a young woman came by three times (alone, with her daughter, with her mother) before buying it for her son’s room. Maybe he’ll grow up to collect train stamps! Sunday I leafed thru most of the 60 National Railway Bulletins I purchased earlier in the day. Saw a UP autorack WB as I entered Yuma, AZ Sunday night, and then, another first, as I watched a UP stackpack crawl by WB as I ate my Cracker Barrel breakfast there Monday morning ( the only CB I’ve found with a train view!). Saw four more WB trains between Yuma and Gila Bend and an EB stackpack at Casa Grande - and unlike my last trip across that route, all but one were moving! Spent the rest of Monday and all day Tuesday at Molnar’s Stamp and Coin in Scottsdale, AZ going through Joe Molnar’s souvenir sheets and S-Z boxes - found about $1000 worth of train stamps to add to my inventory but nothing particularly exciting. Actually, the visit was somewhat depressing. Despite a well designed and well stocked shop, both the stamp and coin business have been off significantly the past six months. Some of it may be attributable to the messy divorce from Helena, Joe’s wife and business partner, still in progress, but Joe feels most of it is due to the Internet so he is getting a web page built. There were only a couple minor retail sales made during the 12 hours I was in the store and no one brought in anything to sell (that is the real life blood of most stores). Joe, Gary and Harry were all working up material most of the time I was there rather than waiting on customers as all four of them had been during my visit about the same time last year. Tuesday night I drove back up to Flagstaff and saw another string of stackpacks from my motel window and part of the WB SOUTHWEST CHIEF before an EB stackpack blocked my view - it had four locos, one baggage, eight Superliners and an unknown number of express boxcars and Roadrailers. A light snowfall made for a sporting drive west Wednesday morning. I-40 hadn’t been sanded so there were several cars off the road before I ended up in a traffic jam caused by a jack-knifed 18 wheeler. Several truckers spent the time putting chains on their rigs. I was in the jam 45 minutes before the state police showed up. Fortunately, there was a wrecker for big rigs in the jam just behind me. He managed to make it around the mess and had the jack-knifed truck straightened out about the time the police showed up! We crawled along at speeds that didn’t even register on the speedometer for the next thirty miles until the roads were clear again. The slow pace gave me a good view of the Grand Canyon Railway’s shop area in Williams where several steam and diesel locos are stored. I hear the State of Arizona is planning to build a new railroad museum there in the near future. The trip back to LA was pretty much a repeat of the one described above in terms of the number of trains (and lack of activity in the Barstow yard - maybe they work at night there?). Got to Victorville in time to check into my motel and watch five trains from the downtown park before going to church (It was a Holy Day.). One of them (a UP) set out a covered hopper and three bulkhead flat loads of lumber that were still sitting in the same spot Friday evening - hard to make money that way! Victorville is building a new transportation center for train and bus passengers that will be opening about the time you read this - there hasn’t been any shelter for the AMTRAK passengers up to now even though the trains both come through in the dark (10:30 PM EB and 5 AM WB if they are on time). Thursday I spent the day on Cajon Pass as outlined below. Friday, I spent a couple more hours there watching trains and was tempted to stay all day. At 11 AM I drove down the mountain and into Glendale for a stamp and coin show. It was mostly coins but I did find five dealers to buy from - a couple hundred dollars worth of train stamps and railroad stock certificates. Then, I drove back up the Pass and watched trains until dark! The show in Costa Mesa turned out very well. Not only did I have a couple New Issue customers show up, one for both days, the other Sunday (on his birthday!), but there was lots of other activity as well. The trip home didn’t have as many trains but it was still an adventure. After watching a couple trains while eating breakfast at the Carl’s Jr. in Kingman, AZ (another first!), I noticed that my transmission seemed to slip as I went up a hill. After gassing up at the Flying J there, I took old Route 66 to Seligman and was rewarded with a couple more trains but also noticed the transmission slipping again on a couple hills. Back on I-40, there is an almost 18 mile continuous climb up to Williams which I took slowly. After cresting the hill the “Transmission Oil Temperature” light came on for about a minute, then went out. There isn’t a real service station in Williams but I stopped to check my transmission fluid. Unfortunately, in the Previa, the place to check the transmission fluid (and fill the engine oil) is under the drivers seat. With the car loaded, I can’t push the seat back enough to get access so I drove on to Flagstaff, hoping to find a Toyota dealership. Instead, I found an AAMCO transmission shop. I walked in and asked if they knew anything about Toyotas. The guy said that he could do a $39.95 test to see what my problem was but “the light coming on couldn’t be caused by just a low fluid level”. I was tempted but the office was so grubby and disreputable looking that I decided to take my chances on the road. I was on pins and needles the rest of the way, babying the van up the hills, particularly Glorietta and Raton Passes. You never realize how many big hills there are until you are not sure your car can climb them! Made it home without any further problems. Tuesday I unloaded the van completely and called the Toyota dealer. Maybe I should have left it loaded, because they couldn’t find any problem other than the fluid level was a quart low! We’ll find out when I travel the same route for the Anaheim show the first week of January. I’ll be driving with my fingers crossed!
A DAY ON CAJON PASS: Thanks to a suggestion from Richard Grey,dba BIG TRAIN SOUND, instead of my usual Cleghorne Road spot, I drove up to an overlook just west of the summit. It was a beautiful spot - the double track main line passed about 50 feet directly below me and I had a panoramic view of the entire pass. Trains spent about eight minutes in my field of view climbing or descending the pass; there was also a great view of the old Southern Pacific line from LA to Palmdale and North. Richard indicated that there wasn’t much BNSF traffic Wednesday because a welded rail train was working the hill but I had a great train watching day on Thursday, Dec. 9 - 37 trains during my eight hours at the summit, 26 BNSF, 11 UP including 4 on the old SP line. Traffic was evenly balanced with 18 EB and 19 WB but there were strings of five WB and four EB mixed in. There were ten stackpacks, eight TOFCs, four autoracks, ten manifests (general merchandise), three helper only movements (there were helpers on five other trains), one 99-car loaded coal train (WB) and a Maintenance of Way train. The MOW was an empty welded rail train and provided some excitement as it raced to the summit. The track with the steeper grades is usually used for the WB downhill run while the gentler grades are used by the EB since the tracks separate at several places because of the rough terrain. After a string of five straight WB between 2 and 4 PM, I noticed two more holding on the downhill track just East of the summit crossovers. A fellow railfan from Minnesota who had shown up about 3 PM taking pictures and I asked each other what was going on - we soon found out. Looking West, we saw a train coming up the “down” track and another on the “up” track, still about eight minutes away. We watched intently as the two climbed side by side, separated by 100 yards or so. It turned out that the empty MOW train had to really work it’s two “blonde” Geeps up the steeper grade to beat the manifest with its four units on the point plus two helpers to the crossings. The MOW made the crossover from the “down” track to the “up” track just three minutes ahead of the manifest! A similar race occurred about an hour later between a TOFC and an autorack with the TOFC winning by about five minutes. Seems to me they are cutting those crossovers a little close! But that’s what CTC (Centralized Traffic Control) is for, I guess. During my latest two trips from Flagstaff, AZ to Victorville, CA, it seemed that a majority of the BNSF locomotives on the “hot shot” trains sported the new orange “Heritage” paint schemes rather than the traditional SF “Warbonnet” red and silver so I kept track during my day on the summit: 36 Heritages, 32 Warbonnets, 5 Cascade greens, 18 blue & yellow “blondes” and 4 others (LMX, LRC and Montana RAILINK). This isn’t the 60% I would have predicted from my casual observations but it does show that the “Warbonnents” are being displaced rapidly. And, now, with a BNSF - Canadian National merger who knows what paint schemes will evolve.
BEIJING 1999: PRC customer Hua Ren’s train exhibit won a VERMEIL at the Beijing 1999 World Philatelic Exhibition. Congratulations to him! That’s the highest train exhibit award at an International I’ve heard of in some time. I’m honored to have helped him, however slightly. Anyone else need some specialty items for an exhibit? I have everything from die proofs, specimens, imperfs, etc. to help your exhibit catch the judges eyes.
STAMP OF THE MONTH: Vatican City #1117 shows Kosovo refugees walking along railway tracks, a scene repeated all too often in the 20th Century. According to the Scott Catalog, proceeds from the sale of the stamp are to be used for the benefit of victims of the fighting in Kosovo but they didn’t designate it as a charity stamp. Let’s pray that wars and man’s-inhumanity-to-man can be eliminated in the 21st Century! Incidentally, Vatican City has a railway as the photocopies from my Atlas Editions LEGENDARY TRAINS show. Scott #773d contains an aerial view of the station and tracks.
RAIL THOUGHT OF THE MONTH: “Next time, try the train”. An old Southern Pacific slogan used at Railfair 99.
RAIL FACTS AND FEATS: Using AMTRAK’S “All Aboard America” $299 ticket, valid for a month, James J. Brady of Wilmington, OH traveled through 442 (out of 498) stations over 21,485 unduplicated miles of track (out of 23,000) Feb. 11 - Mar. 11, 1984. (Sounds like a great trip!)
JOHN’S CABOOSE: John Azzaro’s Christmas card had a picture of his green Burlington Northern caboose on the front plus another with him and his “crew” on the platform, and these words printed on the back: “Like most boys of my generation, watching freight trains was a passion and catching rides a dream come true. Now, a lifetime later, when I had a chance to buy a caboose and set it up as my home office, how could I resist? For the past 150 years, the last car on a freight train was the office and home away from home for the conductor. This caboose serves similarly as a place where I can sometimes work away from the “main engines” of our GREAT SPEAKER! offices and still be connected. Here is a day when the “crew” came to visit. ...” Thanks, John - seems like an ideal office. I’ll have to look for one. And thanks also to all of you who sent such colorful greetings for the Holidays - sorry I don’t have space to acknowledge them all!
May all your signals be green,
COME SEE ME AND MY INVENTORY AT ONE OF THESE SHOWS THIS MONTH:
JAN 8-9 GREAT
AMERICAN TRAIN SHOW ANAHEIM
CONVENTION CENTER ANAHEIM,CA
JAN 29-30 GREAT AMERICAN TRAIN SHOW ALAMEDA COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS PLEASANTON,CA
SORRY, NO NEW ISSUES THIS MONTH. THAT
MEANS THERE WILL BE A BUNCH NEXT MONTH!
WE ARE MAKING CHANGES TO OUR SERVER THIS MONTH SOME OF YOUR LINKS TO OUR PAGES MAY NEED TO BE SET UP AGAIN.
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