Re: Deadhead rotary Donner
Date: 03-17-2012 - 11:49
Severe Duty Wrote:
> "...UP had not been exposed to a real sierra snow
> storm since the takeover. Last years storm was a
> serious wake up call..."
> Did they bother to ask anyone that had prior
> experience in such matters before taking over?
Funny you should mention that. The current superintendent in Roseville isn't from there and has no experience with Donner snow service. Prior to last year's big storms, he asked the last two remaining ex-SP Roseville operating managers who have decades of experience as engineers and Road Foremen of Engines on "the Mountain," to explain what SP's game plan was for snow removal. They told him that when X inches of snow was on the ground, SP would call out flangers. Then when X inches of snow was predicted on top of existing snow, SP would have the spreaders ready to go. And lastly, when X inches was predicted on top of that, SP would call out the rotaries. SP's goal was to keep ahead of the game, so the railroad stayed open. Whether it was because of the cost associated with running the rotaries or because of UP's entrenched belief that SP did everything wrong, he didn't call the rotaries last year until it was nearly a week too late, and when he finally did the results were predictable. This superintendent will retire in Apirl and be replaced by someone who's also not from Roseville, so it'll be interesting to see if any lessons have been learned. And those two operating managers I mentioned? One retires at the end of this month, the other next year.
The other part of the problem involved the maintenance - or lack thereof - that had been done on the rotaries. All of the Mechanical people who used to maintain them have long-since retired, and in the 15 years since the merger, UP never made an effort to replace them. A year or two ago, UP hired someone to work in the diesel shop who was ex-Navy and told his supervisors that he had had considerable experience with boilers and steam propulsion and that he'd like to work on the rotaries. They put him to work, and from all reports he did an excellent job doing what he could, but there was way more that needed to be done than he could accomplish, as was found out when the rotaries were used last year. The 209 did mostly OK, but there were a number of issues with the 211 that required reparing while it was in Truckee - not a great place to make repairs while having to crawl around in the snow. So it does seem that UP learned a little from all that, since they've committed to have two rotaries rebuilt by RELCO this year and the other two next year.