Hi-Hood and Hi/Wide - 7-11-16

Today's railfanning outing began with a problem: the typical Broadcastify radio feed I use as a scanner was offline. There was a second feed, which claimed to cover the B-Line from Manassas to Delaplane, but throughout the evening I was getting VERY spotty coverage, with enormous blank spots in the area immediately in either direction from where I was. I could hear the Defect Detector at milepost B19.7, 39.4 on the Washington District, and even milepost 64.4, which I'm not even sure is on the B-Line! However, the DD immediately west of me at MP 10.1 was not heard, nor were any trains departing the crew change point at Bristow. This meant a lot of last-minute cursing as I would race from my truck to my tripod, desperately setting up a shot and pressing record, having the camera steady just in time for the second horn blast for the crossing. I really ought to invest in a proper scanner. Anyway!

The evening started out slow, with train 12R strolling by at around 6pm, a good two hours after I arrived. My wait was rewarded with a brand new ES44TC on point, and a Hi-Hood GP38-2 in fourth! What a treat! I was eager to share the interesting motive power list with my fellow railfans, but found that I was ignoring the actual train in front of me for the phone. Thankfully, I always capture the full runby on film, well...pixels.

After the manifest's passing, I noted that the switch was now lined for the siding, with an approach aspect on the signal. The crackling of the scanner answered my curiosity with an "054" coming East, having just met 12R at the Allison/Irby siding. A fellow railfan up the line observed that this train was really poking along; so slow that my camera battery ran out before the whole train could go by! 

Frustrated, I shifted down to the opposite end of the siding; the crossing at Balls Ford Rd, or railroad location "Wellington." 054 wasn't visible from the end of the siding, and calls from the approaching 214 it was scheduled to meet with weren't picked up by my scanner. After fussing about tripod placement and shot planning, I ended up getting so enthralled with my new book (Steam's Camelot: Southern and Norfolk Southern Excursions In Color by Jim Wrinn) that I forgot all about the fast-approaching 214 until the crossing bells started up! I had the camera steady by the second horn blast, and managed to decently document the Union Pacific leading engines on 214, with extra horn blasts from the engineer! Given that I do not readily learn from my mistakes, I proceeded to make the exact same mistake with 054 (though in my defense, I was expecting the Hi-Wide to wait for another train to pass) in that I got wrapped up in my book and just barely managed to get my camera steady before it rolled by! At least this time I was able to film the entire train; one D9W, a 20-axle Schnabel car, several loads of pipes, and a well-maintained caboose.

Given that the last two trains of the evening were a ways off, I broke for lunch, and then awaited the meet of 36Q and 203. Just as the sun was setting, I could see the lights of 36Q creeping around the corner in the siding. They came to a stop, and dimmed. Minutes later, 203 roars under US-29 and knocks down the clear signal on the main. A "Tri-clops" SD60M was leading, although it wasn't very apparent in the dark. Then, as soon as the last trailer of 203 was out of sight, 36Q fired up and TORE out of the siding, and I mean TORE. It's not often I get scared standing next to the tracks, but the train had definitely reached track speed by the time the rear marker was flashing away, into the moonlight.

Please enjoy the videos of today's trains, subscribe to my YouTube channel if you'd like more, and as always, thanks for watching and/or reading!