June 2000

Mexico, Sweet Loco

The time has arrived for another trip to good old Mexico to service our organ in a waterpark on the outskirts of Toluca. Unlike Mexico City I feel half way safe in that area and if I have good luck and hit the green light everything should go well.

For you who have never traveled to Mexico I will explain how the customs inspection works there. First you have to wait your turn until the inspection line you are in is clear of the previous person at which time you walk up to a post with a large button. You are required to push the button and see what color light comes up. The colors are at random and you just have to hope it comes up green instead of red. If you are lucky and get the green light you are ushered through and on your way. If it comes up red be prepared to open up everything for inspection and possibly pay custom charges on anything they see fit to collect on. I have only hit the red light one time and the agent looked at my tool kit and passed me on with no problems.

Wish me luck. If the customs don't get me the water will and Montezuma's revenge will take over.


One warm summer night I reported for work on second shift at the Bellefontaine N.Y.C. round house and immediately noticed a great difference in the air. At that time we had mostly steam and a few diesel locomotives that usually filled the shop with a nasty blend of coal smoke and diesel fumes. On this night things were different and a very nice odor was in the air.

After walking past several stalls loaded with steam locomotives we came to one which had just been sent in and noticed it was covered with a white substance. We determined this locomotive to be the one generating the very nice change in the air. It was later learned that someone paid a hard price for the sweet odor in the shop. Our foreman told us the train hit a shave cream truck at high speed and covered the front of the engine with broken bottles containing many sweet smelling items.

During my stay at this location I was witness to many things hit by the giant steam locomotives and most of the time they came in with little damage but it was a different story for the auto or truck involved.

At another time a diesel locomotive hit a truck hauling half round brass castings about the size of baseballs. The heavy plates on the engine were beat up and the front door was caved in but the locomotive came in under its own power with no injuries to the crew. An engineer told me that the thing he feared most was colliding with a gasoline truck with a covered wagon type diesel.

There were cooling fans mounted on the top side of the locomotive to cool the engine and if they hit a gas truck with the fans running it would pull the raw burning gasoline in the locomotive and there might be no way out for the crew to escape.

Then there was the story told one time to agitate a grumpy old engineer and it did the job very well. Several engineers were standing outside one day when an employee came up and asked if they had heard about the collision of a steamer and a circus train.

When they all said no the employee told them the investigators were looking through the wreckage when they discovered a dead gorilla. The first investigator turned to the second one and said" With that silly grin on his face and those heavy calluses on his bottom I think we can rightfully determine this was the engineer."

And so it was in the old round house.

Next: Band Organ Note No. 18, July/August 2000
Previous: Band Organ Note No. 16, May 2000

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