September 1999

NY Central RR, Steam to Diesel

Back at the New York Central in the days when the steam locomotives were being replaced with the new diesel locomotives, our outside supervisor was having problems with the same old engineer every time he was assigned to his run.

Now most of the old road crews were very nice fellows, but every now and then a very cantankerous one would seem to delight in causing problems for the maintenance workers. The engineer would climb up on his diesel locomotive and refuse to leave town until the supervisor sent a man down to clean his water cooler in the cab. Most of the time they were cleaned before he came aboard, but it made his day to cause a delay and start trouble for the supervisor.

This particular supervisor was a very nice fellow and did not make a practice of smiling very often, and this engineer did not help matters that much.

After a long and hot day the usual call came, and it was the last straw for the supervisor—the time for action had arrived. He called for the electrician I was working with and told him to help him end the problem. The electrician was told to go in the back of the locomotive and shut it down and fix it so it would not start up until the word was given.

As the supervisor climbed the ladder in the cab, the electrician shut the unit down and fixed it where the fireman could not start it up again. The alarm bells were ringing and the firemen could not get it to start, and returned to the cab to inform the engineer.

About this time, the supervisor gave the engineer and fireman a very sad look, and asked them to look up toward the shop, where two steam locomotives were waiting to be assigned. "I think our only choice is to have this unit taken back to the shop and assign you two fellows one of those nice steam locomotives,’ were the next words from the supervisor. This old engineer had been running the new diesel units for some time, and the last thing he and the fireman wanted was a dirty old steam locomotive. About this time, the supervisor told the electrician to try one more time to get the unit running.

After about two minutes the engine started and the electrician returned to the cab and informed them he had found the trouble and had it repaired. The supervisor then gave the crew a very hard look and barked, "The next time I am called for a dirty water cooler, you will run steam! That was the last call for a dirty water cooler, and I think they would haven taken it even if the cooler had a live bullfrog in it.

And so it was at the old roundhouse.

Next: Band Organ Note No. 11, October 1999
Previous: Band Organ Note No. 9, July/August 1999

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