Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Baffle Them With Bullshit

Figures don’t lie, but liars figure.

The Secure Fence Act of 2006 (H.R. 6061) authorized construction of 700 miles of fence. Passed with bi-partisan support and signed into law by 43.

Was ‘partially funded’, whatever that means.

Under 44, billions were allocated for various Homeland Security scheme involving a fence, immigration enforcement, etcetera. WSF asks the question, where did all that funding go? Damned if I am smart enough to use my limited computer skills to answer the question. Cynical me bets much of it ended up in untraceable offshore accounts.

Along comes 45 wanting to spend $5 billion and the Deep State/Democrats (hard to tell where one starts and the other ends) are aghast. Why?

Does 45 plan to actually build fence as opposed to increasing already bloated bureaucracies? Less bloat exposes the inhabitants to more accountability for their misfeasance/malfeasance and expense accounts.

 How dare he? 

No funding for juicy consultant contracts? No funding for in depth ‘studies’? No lavish conferences? Without all the ingrained kickbacks built into the current ways of government business whole sectors of the economy will suffer. Next thing you know the deplorable taxpayers might get more than a token return on their taxes.

This rant is at a macro level. Let’s go to a micro level. Living in the Seattle area 1974-1997, I was involved in politics and became friends with a cynical individual who described himself, in private conversation, as the mayor’s ‘bagman’.

 A bigger, better bridge to West Seattle had been an ongoing ‘goal’ for better than thirty years. In 1978 the drawbridge over the Duwamish was rammed by a freighter and damaged. Finally a new high rise bridge was built in 1984.

 My friend the bagman over drinks one night said,

“Now we’ve built that damned bridge, it hardly pays to be in politics”.

Is this the problem with building the wall?

Sunday, February 17, 2019


This is a long blog and will take some time to peruse.

Drjim, http://every-blade-of-grass.blogspot.com sent me an email with a simple question regarding a steam engine train schedule. Opened a floodgate, much like me asking him about radio equipment on the USS Iowa where he was a volunteer for many years.


My fascination with steam locomotives started as a wee lad during the Korean Conflict. My father had been hired as a section gang laborer (later became a foreman) for the old Denver and Rio Grande. We were living in Pinecliff, CO  along the main line from Denver to Salt Lake City. The sight of three steam locomotives in tandem pulling two miles of rail cars loaded with military equipment up the steep grade was awe inspiring. Behind would be two more steam engine ‘helpers’ to get the construct to Moffat Tunnel. 

The coal smoke would linger in the steep valley for seemingly forever.

 Once through the tunnel, the train was in the Colorado River drainage and it was all downhill until past Grand Junction, CO.

A slight discourse on articulated locomotives. To achieve pulling power size matters. After a certain length, negotiating curves becomes problematic. The solution is to build two locomotives as one hinged in the middle. The usual wheel configuration is guide wheels at the front, driving wheels in the middle, and load bearing wheels under the cab. As an  example, the D&RG 3600 series Mallets were configured as 2-8-8-2. 

The Union Pacific Railroad operates what they call a Heritage Fleet.

The most commonly seen steam engine is the UP 844 which pulls the annual Cheyenne Frontier Days special Cheyenne-Denver-Cheyenne in August.


Drjim had asked about a good viewpoint I had mentioned previously.

  Not real large by steam engine standards, the UP 844 is still powerful. The  diesel-electric coupled behind the UP 844 is there to provide braking assist.

The UP steam engines are maintained and rebuilt in Cheyenne. Occasional tours are conducted, and I have been on one.

You start at the train depot museum, worth a visit all it’s own.

From there you ride a trolley to the shops.

You see steam engines in various states of repair. 

Some of the machinery is probably unique now, but once common.

There are different diesel electrics.

Though rare, some blizzards require rotary snow throwers/blowers to open the tracks.

The current project the steam shop is working on is the UP 4014 ‘Big Boy’.

The goal is to have it operating and on display in Ogden, UT during the 150th Golden Spike Anniversary at Promontory, UT.

The ALCO 4000 series were, arguable, the largest steam locomotives operated in North America. Several survive as display pieces.

When the UP brought back 4014 to Cheyenne I watched from near Tie Siding, WY. The video camera was on a tripod. Once started, I left it running and took other pictures with a Canon EOS alongside the tracks.. It was snowing lightly which appears like static on the video.

I was once asked why all the flatcars. The crew needed to build a temporary track from the Pomona, CA museum to a spur line. After taking what they needed with them, the extra was left for future maintenance needs in California.

There are other operating steam locomotives scattered around the country. Most are small or narrow gauge. An exception is the Santa Fe 3751 which may not be operational at this time.

Colorado visitors have a choice of steamer experiences. The best known is the Durango and Silverton and the Cumbers and Toltec in Southern Colorado. Along I-70 West of Denver at Georgetown is the Georgetown Loop Railroad which operates Shay type steam engines.

 Shays use a geared system to power the drive wheels. Not much for speed but hell for stout on steep grades.

At Golden, CO is the Colorado Railroad Museum. They run a short loop with both steam and a ‘Galloping Goose’ derived from pre WW II Buicks.

Off road enthusiasts have an opportunity to drive various old Gold Rush days narrow gauge right of ways over and around the Continental Divide scattered around the state.

For historians, Colorado has a lurid past history of stock swindles involving building, or not building, these  narrow gauge railroads.

For those of you who have made it this far, I hope you found your time investment worthwhile. Thank you for your readership.