Sunday, June 25, 2006

My new office

Here's a view from my new office... Kinda' nice, huh? That's the Cheat River and those are the tracks I'm working on. It's the 115 mile West Virginia Central line that runs through the Monongahela National Forrest. Great places to fish and camp throughout!
This is the view from behind my desk... I have to do the windows soon. The housekeeping department is lax...
Here's one of three high-tech air conditioning units in my office. Nothing but the best for Ranger Tom!
This is the Ballast Regulator I operate. It weighs 20 tons, is powered by a 250 HP Duetz diesel and on a good day I'll use 80 gallons of fuel. Between myself and the tamper who's working along with me we'll use up the 250 gallon tank in three days. Not something you'd want to commute with. I'm getting a workout with it too. The tank has a hand-crank for a pump. Try pumping 80 gallons of diesel by hand...
And here's my desk. No room for a coffee cup! The things I have to suffer through!
I hope you've all enjoyed. More pictures coming soon! I finally got all my stuff out of storage down in Athens and now today I have to start unpacking everything. Now that I've got my own computer and connected to the internet I'll be spending most of this afternoon catching up an all of your blogs... Stay tuned, I do have a lot to write about. I may try to post daily but with the hours I'm working I might not be able to.
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Saturday, June 17, 2006


Well, here I am again at the public library... I'm going back to Athens next week to get the rest of my stuff including my computer so I'll be able to post more often and not be timed. I only get an hour and there's only two computers.
Nothing much else to talk about except long hours at work. We've got 20 miles to regulate and tamp but the main problem is the 20 miles aren't all together. They're spread over about 70 miles of trackage and both machines aren't exactly speed demons. My regulator's top travel speed is about 8 miles an hour... So the majority of our time in the morning and afternoon is travel between where we're working and the siding where we 'tie up' our machines at night.
I've taken a bunch of pictures and will post them next week... Views from my 'office' and a once-in-a-lifetime "Kodak Moment" I think you'll all enjoy. I have my camera with me every day at work now and have been taking bunches of pictures so look forward to more stuff shortly!
there's a few other little things I'm really itching to talk about... I'll post more about that later too... I'll just say right now my usually uncanny ability to read people from first impressions failed me this time concerning the owner of the railroad. Things aren't all that rosy between us right now and I don't know why. I promise I'll write more about that later but right now I should just keep my mouth shut. I'll leave you with this as a teaser, remember Bill Clinton's style of management... Or should I say 'micromanagement'... And lack of a grasp of priorities...
Until next week!
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Saturday, June 10, 2006

I'm Back!!!

Thank you all for the nice emails... I miss you all! I've been working 60 to 70 hours a week and haven't gotten the time to get to the library. By the time I get home everything was closed in town. So here's the skinny in a nutshell...
I got here all right and settled in, and after a week I was talking to the owner and president of the railroad and he was telling me of all the track work that needed to be done on the 123 milw main line that the operate the New Tygard Flyer passenger train and local freight trains. The contractor who was doing the work I was told had the ballast tamper there but they were looking for a regulator operator... This is where I step in. I regulated ballast before when I was a crewman on a the ballast cleaner two years ago. He made the suggestion that I take the job temporarily until that work gets done.
So I worked for the Durbin & Greenbrier Rail Road a total of one week. I'm now working for AmTrack maintenance of way (not to be confused with Amtrak) operating a ballast regulator. (Pictures soon!) and the funny thing about it is I'm making a really obscene amount of money doing it... I'll put it this way, I make more an hour now that I did in a day at my job in Athens, and my weekly paychecks still have commas in the amount after taxes. Too bad it'll only last until the summer is over...
I also found a really nice apartment here in town and I'll be moving in tomorrow. I expect to head down to Athens next weekend to get my stuff and I should have phone and internet at my place in a few weeks. There's no cable internet available so I'll have to go with DSL for now. I'll miss my really fast cable modem!
Thanks again for all the nice emails, I promise I'll get to answering all soon! I miss you all too!