Since starting the new job I've only told you the good things. Well, the machine I operate is what you'd call a POS, or "Piece Of Shit".
When I started working on it I've had nothing but trouble with it. Running crappy, stalling out in heavy stone, just plain anemic. Something with a 500 HP diesel engine should not stall out in the rock I'm working with even though the railroad did lay way too much ballast in most places and I've had to waste almost 80% of it. The thing that pisses me off over that is the president of the railroad doesn't seem to care because it's not his money paying for the ballast rock. It's the state of West Virginia's money... In essence, my fucking money.
Yes, the state's tax-dollars are being wasted big-time and no one seems to care. And when I voiced my opinion about the amount of stone being put down I was told that apparently I didn't know what I was doing... Not by AmTrack, the contractor I'm working for, but by the railroad. If Amtrack had a problem with my work I'm positive they'd have fired me weeks ago considering the amount of money they're paying me. Even the tamper operator I'm working along with said they laid far too much rock.
But I'm the fucking idiot and don't know what I'm doing.
What the fuck.
But I digress.
I was saying the regulator I'm working with was a POS. I had been telling my supervisor for a few weeks that it was getting worse every day and he just kept giving me different things to try. Some worked for a while, some didn't. They didn't want to send a mechanic down from Hagerstown, MD if we could fix it in the field. From a business standpoint I could understand the rational, but it still wasn't helping me any. I was already three weeks behind schedule and falling farther behind every day. No matter how good the money is we still had a deadline and couldn't drag it out indefinitely. We were supposed to be finished Friday with this and we're not even half way done, all because of the breakdowns with my machine.
All I wanted to do is do a good job for them.
So this past Monday I break down but good. I'm working around the milepost 51 regulating and the machine just stalls out on me. No biggie you say? Well, MP 51 is smack dab on the middle of Cheat mountain, seven miles from the nearest road. On top of that it's pissing down rain so hard I can't see twenty feet in front of me.
Also, we have no radios (which I've been screaming for since we started) and no railroad pilot in a highrail pickup with us (FRA regs require it) so I had to walk out seven miles in the pouring rain to find the tamper operator.
I finally found him several miles below me and we went back to my machine to see if we could get it to run. No dice. It was deader than dogshit. We had to then travel out on his tamper back to where we could get cell phone service to call the railroad... Unfortunately, they had a scheduled passenger train running the next day right through where my machine was blocking the main line with no siding where they could pass me.
So we had to leave it that night and meet the railroad's Track Master the next morning early to see if we could get it started. After about three hours we finally got it fired up and had it moved onto a siding so the train could get by. If we couldn't, the railroad was going to bring up a locomotive to drag it to a siding. The would have great, but the problem with that is it has air breaks. If any of you are at all familiar with air breaks, when the engine isn't running there's no air in the tank, so the breaks would be applied the whole trip. Have any of you ever sat near where a train is going by and heard a bang, bang, bang, bang as one of the cars pass? Well, that bang is caused by the breaks being applied at one point while the car was moving creating flat spots in the wheels. Not a pleasant ride, I'll tell you.
By Wednesday, an a new battery, alternator, fuel conditioner, air filter... It finally turned out to be what I suggested three weeks ago.
A clogged fuel filter.
So the last two days, Thursday and Friday, I've been working my ass off, running the balls off my machine to catch up. I did a week's worth of regulating those two days and didn't get home both days until 10 PM instead of the usual 8 PM.
So, now everything is running peachy. For now.
Like I told the tamper operator Wednesday, I don't care how good the money is at this point, I'm ready for this contract to be over and done with.
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden