• Remote Control Locomotive

  • Discussion of present-day CM&Q operations, as well as discussion of predecessors Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA) and Bangor & Aroostook Railroad (BAR).
Discussion of present-day CM&Q operations, as well as discussion of predecessors Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA) and Bangor & Aroostook Railroad (BAR).

Moderator: MEC407

  by soolinexec
Interesting. I can see above that Joe is very opened minded and eccepts change and knows how to grow. I get the feeling he is in the high tech crowd. Good place to be. I am not going to tit for tat on comments that lead to impasses. They lead to no solutions, only temporary comprimises. As for so called talk the talk, walk the walk, been there, done that. Retired Colonel, U.S.M.C 29 Palms, Ca.

For all those out there who engage in complaining, negative thinking and looking for ways to increase the size of your wallet, you need a change of thinking. Look around you, businesses are behind the scenes answering the call: If you can't or won't do it, we will find someone else who will. Canada is a prime example. They have a great sense of accomplishmenet and their society does not whine no wheres near ours does. Be careful, they maybe called upon more than you think. And that includes bringing in other foreign help because we as Americans, are always wanting more and more. Spoiled society if you will. We are never satisfied. So if your businesses out there are not floating in the black but plowing in the red, look at those fingers when you go to point it at someone. One is pointing at them, but 3 are pointing back at you. You best stop thinking only of you, but who you work for. Do what you always do, get what you always get. If you don't break them paradigms, you are destined to fail. I really feel the biggest problem your having with RCL is change. Put it this way, if your health is so so, I would advise changing your life style and get in shape for the outside work thats bestored upon you. Sitting in a cab all your life can get a bit comfy I agree, but it can shorten your overall health status. Personally, I think you should adopt health assessment standards before you take on RCO. It's obovious you are going to encounter more physical activity.

  by Realityrail
Oh get a life!

Would you run a freight train with less than a five man crew?
We use two or one man today.

Would you run a freight train with no caboose?

Would you run a passenger train at over 100 mph with only a driver, or a freight train in the same territory with only one driver?
The UK does it---EVERY DAY.

I have worked freight trains at night, and would rather be the man in charge of the movement by RCL to insure my own safety.

One man crews? What the heck does the conductor do on a run through freight? He distracts the driver with small talk!

The winds of change are a blowing. MM&A has chosen to be creative, not backward.

You don't like one man crews? Well guess what? McDonalds is hiring cashiers so apply now!
  by soolinexec
Well put realityrail. Bottom line: Stop turning your backs to technology. It is designed to make your job safer, productive, and if your savy enough, creative! Take a hard look at what that beltpack has for you. Believe it or not, it is looking out for you. If you fall down and become incapacited, the beltpack steps in and shutsdown everything for you and alerts someone of your situation.

As for all the long hours people are working out there, my thanks. As for a solution to your concerns about long hours and seven days a week, what is your suggestions?

1. Get more trained help to relieve us for more time with our families and vacations.

2. Just pay us more.

Make your choice.
  by soolinexec
By the way, congratulations to those who dared to take this design on and turn up the system to it's completion. Knowing the complexity those systems have electronically and mechanically, that's 1 hell of a feat to smoothly bring on line. Hell, most railroads have a department devoted to just RCO's. Excellent picture of your caboose. I saw the GPS antenna. They lock up pretty quick don't they? 1 good thing about the Cattron system is you can run up to 10 systems in 1 yard, and never have to worry from interference. They use master timing from GPS satellites. Nice.

  by sandpvrr
Hello soolinexec, RealityRail, and all,
I am most definately in the 'high tech' sector, computer and network technician by trade. (Anybody hiring?)
I have found, especially in my field, those that don't accept change and continuously improve themselves are left behind. Heck, I used to think Windows 3.11 was the best thing ever. (anybody even remember it?)
Speaking of the Cattron system, it does use the GPS timing as mentioned, and what I'm hearing is that it works extremely well. I believe I understood that the system uses Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) to split a single radio frequency into channels so that multiple RCLs can opperate on a single frequency without confusing each other.
All the comments I've heard about the workmanship in the RCL have been outstanding. My own personal observations indicate the caboose to be second to none.
Evidently, the issue that was thought to require a special chip of software for the system was solved by relocating a small piece of hardware, and reports indicate that this fix occured in Derby Shops, without outside help. As I said to one of my friends - 'Give Derby the time, the man power and the money, and they will startle the world.'
cya, Joey
  by robc
Hi Joe:

Pretty damn close on the TDMA. It's actually called STS, Syncronized Time Sharing. A fancy word for a precise time slot where a beltpack can transmit and receive messages. The whole sequence has about 10 windows so 10 beltpacks can share 1 radio channel. There is no slowing done either when you add on more RCL's in a yard. They all have their own window to work in.
No.2 VB-2 coming along nicely. It looks like the first one with a few changes in the piping arrangements. Outside instead of inside.

  by mick
What does a conductor do on a through freight?
Last edited by mick on Tue Apr 15, 2008 5:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

  by sandpvrr
Hello All,
Personally, I think the conductor on a through freight provides all of the things mick mentioned, as well as a second pair of eyes to watch the track ahead. This is particularly important on the Searsport branch, with numerous reverse curves.
Most RRs are hiring, very true. For that matter, Guilford Rail System is hiring, and they only want experienced crew members.
Techie train nuts? Well, I've worked my fair share of long hours and low pay myself - my previous job was commission based, and I often worked for 12-14 hours a day, and believe me, I had my fair share of bad days.
High turnover in the first 60-90 days in the Railroad business is nothing new, its just now the industry needs more help, and frankly, I have found amongst people in my age group a lower or perhaps nonexistant work ethic, as compared to generations past. Individuals (I like to think myself included) have extremely high work ethics, but in general terms they seem to have slid. Frankly, if you don't have a high work ethic, and a 'I'm going to do this come heck or high water' attitude, you won't survive in the railroad business.
Have fun all!
cya, Joey
  by soolinexec
Techie train nuts quitting. Sounds like wishful thinking to me. The reality is, as railroads finally figure out that there business is moving into the high tech arena, they are making better business decisions which involve these " techie nuts". Sometimes it take a while longer to tackle the good ole boy clubs, these so called" closed shop" mentalities but sooner or later, they will be the forefront of the workforce needed to sustain operations. Your further ahead embracing rather than resisting.I wouldn't bad mouth them to loud. there is going to come a day when you will need to call them on the radio to recover a unit from more than just a low main reservoir or a brake pipe problem. Get the picture or do I need to break it down further?

  by sandpvrr
soolineexec and all,
According to an article I read on the SD70ACe - the primary gains in effeciency to meet TIER 2 emissions standards were done within the computer software. Also, per the November issue of Railway Age, a computer worm strangled CSXTs signalling and dispatching computers. People like myself would have been called in to fix the mess. Also per that issue of Railway Age, the electronics in both EMD's FIRE (Functional Integrated Railroad Electronics) and GE's Consolidated Control Architecture (CCA) engine management systems are constructed on a Windows XP and a UNIX based operating system, respectively. What this means is that the railroad industry will be relying on high tech people like myself to maintain everything from crossing gates to 6000 horsepower locomotives.
The next generation of advancement in locomotive technologies will probably be the system wide implementation of real-time locomotive monitoring systems - essentially the power control department will be able to read everything from the fuel gauge, to the oil pressure, and the hours since serviced for every locomotive on their railroad, and do that as its happening.
GPS (Global positioning system) has already found its way into the Cattron Theimeg RCL system we've been talking about, but it is also found on locomotives. UP even advertises that you can follow the 3985 (UP's last operating Challenger steam locomotive, and the largest operating steam locomotive in the world) from your computer with GPS location, right through their website.
With that kind of technology, it is very easy to see a future when a shipper pulls up a website and enters a car number to see where his shipment is. That is the kind of real time information the 'Just in time' manufacturing we are doing in this country now requires.
At the root of it all - computers, and maintaining them, computer guys like me.
cya, Joey

  by sandpvrr
Hello All,
Just to keep the thread alive - the RCL is still kicking!
http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?photo ... bydate%3A1
Crews report no major issues, a very few minor glitches - and I assume the experience gained will go into VB-2, and make that a better unit.
Have fun all!
cya, Joey
  by robc
Pretty Interesting day in Millinocket yesterday with the VB-1 remote control locomotive. The manufactuer Cattron Theimeg Corp. sent some of their team to Millinocket to film the Caboose style RCO in action as it went through it's paces in startup, switching, emergency stop demonstrations, and shutdown. Also, other representatives from Railroads where there to look at the results of brainstormed ideas that went into the RCO's design concept. One major advantage is being built inside a caboose gives the RC concept a major advantage over being built in a locomotive.

The Caboose also has it's own stand alone power for inside lights, outlets and External Power hock for shop power hookup.

This can also be used as a rolling HQ for whomever is operating the system at the time. The " VB-1" worked perfectly. If you want to discover new oceans, you gotta leave the site of land!!

  by sandpvrr
Hello All,
Wonderful news! Robc - can you provide any insight into the progress on the second RCL? I have been assuming it will be 'VB-2', is that accurate?
Also, any word on the training program? The last MM&A newsletter I read on the subject mentioned that 'we will provide training for any employee who is interested' - or words to that effect. Any takers?
cya, Joey
  by robc
Hi Joe:

The VB-2 is almost done. Dave & Dave from Derby shops and I are working out a qlitch that uses an RS-485 9600 baud serial port communications bus that"talks" to all the A / D modules from
the main microprocessors to the air control subsystems being Independent brake and train brake. This is 1 smart computer. If you loose comm to any one of these modules, it shuts down and / or will not recover from a penalty.

Also, I am installing a Spectra Radio instead of a regular radio in the mandown radio system. Better display and DTMF pad for dialing up radio systems in fringe areas up North. Another upgrade is a bigger AC Inverter to take on more loads inside the buggy, and gauges to monitor all airlines for easier troubleshooting.

We also are installing a dual data link antenna system for better coverage with long cuts to prevent fades and RF Comm Loss penalties. It gets better. Dare to be Rare!!! Hope I kept it in plain english....
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