Sunday, July 12, 2009
1. What is that “thing” on your trailer?
That is a Railroad Motorcar, sometimes called a “Speeder”. Smaller models, like this one, were used routinely to inspect the many miles of track for defects. Larger versions would carry half a dozen workers and pull a few trailers loaded with spikes and tools, to handle track maintenance.
Use of motorcars has been phased out over the past couple decades in favor of Hy-Rail vehicles, which are standard road vehicles with retractable guide wheels that can operate on road or rail. Although these “speeders” have a top speed of only about 30 m.p.h., they were so nicknamed because compared to the manually powered pump cars they replaced, they were much faster.
2. What do you do with it?
Motorcar owners belong to several clubs which obtain permission from railroads to operate on their tracks. These clubs are under the organizational umbrella of the North American Rail Car Operators Association (NARCOA).
With permission of the railroads, members operate their motorcars on excursions ranging from one day to over a week in almost all parts of the U.S. and Canada.
Many of these excursions are in remote and very scenic areas that are impossible to see from the highway and thus provide an experience not available by other means of transportation.
3. How do you get permission to use your motorcar on a railroad track?
We rent the tracks for our outings from the many small railroad companies which have taken over former branch lines of the major carriers (as well as some large railroads in the U.S. and Canada). Often smaller railroads operate trains only on weekdays, so a group of motorcars on a Saturday or Sunday does not cause the coordination problems the larger lines would have.
We have developed an excellent reputation within the rail industry for our attention to safety through operator training, self imposed safety rules and mechanical standards for our motorcars. We know that our operation must be viewed as a positive experience for the railroad to invite us back year after year.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
I was so happy to get a 4 day break and to enjoy it on the lake with warm sunny days. We had some great sunsets which the XYL took many pictures of. I was fixated to the radio and all of the DX I was hearing. With a noise floor of S1 it did not take a strong signal to hear it at my end. I even heard Malaysia, which is a first for me from any location.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
This was the first ever DX holiday I had ever been on, not to mention my first trip to Hawaii. I was very fortunate to have an Elecraft K2 at my disposal. It had the built-in tuner, SSB board and lots of CW filters. Our trip included 9 days on the Island of Molokai, and 4 days in Maui. we met many great people while on Malokai, includuing Don Bordon NC6A. Don and I have become good freinds and continue to email one and another. Don will be visiting us in Vancouver July 11th, 2009. I can't say enough good things about holidays and portable ham radio fun.
Kualapuu Cookhouse Entertainment
We drove every inch of the ilsand of Maolokai, and in some cases hiked to see some of the sites. My XYL even rode a donkey down the side of the mountain to visit the unique and formerly forbidden village of Kalaupapa. The residents of Kalaupapa have set the rules, including one that stipulates no visitor under the age of 16 is allowed here. During the decades of isolation, newborn infants were taken from parents and removed from the settlement, placed with relatives or in orphanages to prevent the babies from catching the disease. They feel, 'Why should other people be able to bring their children down here when ours were taken away at birth?' " The remaining patients know today's tourist drill well. We were told they usually retire behind the curtains of their homes in the late morning when the tour bus pulls in, and remain there until it drives off in the early afternoon. A requisite stop was St. Philomena Church, which was central to Father Damien's ministry at Kalaupapa before he contracted leprosy and died here in 1889.
NC6A & VE7HJ