"Takin' Twenty" with the Virginian Brethren, by Skip Salmon

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Apr 14 20:31:56 EDT 2011

What is a torpedo machine?

Mike Weeks
Greenville NC

On Thu, Apr 14, 2011 at 7:18 AM, NW Mailing List
<nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org>wrote:

> Last night I had the pleasure of "Takin' Twenty" with seven of the

> Brethren and Friends of the Virginian Railway. Raymond East reported the

> passing of VGN Yard Brakeman Felix "Susie" Shrewsberry. He was know for

> being extremely clean, after working a shift. "Susie" once bought a new car

> and took some friends and relatives with him to Florida. Upon returning to

> Roanoke with the ash trays full, "Susie" decided "to trade it in on a new

> one", Wis Sowder said.


> We discussed the 2010 Norfolk Southern Annual Report. Of course the

> Brethren had to compare the VGN 1959 operating ration in the 50% range

> compared to NS 2010 72% range. (NS 72 cents to make a dollar versus VGN 50

> some). They liked the NS vision statement: "to be the safest, most

> customer-focused, and successful transportation company in the world".


> The Jewel from the Past is from March 24, 2005: "The subject of mechanical

> forces 'flagging' work on motive power when they were really needed for

> service was brought up. Walter Grigg remembered once a Federal Inspector

> cited an engine for having too much slack between the locomotive and the

> tender, and shop forces were suppose to make necessary repairs. When the

> inspector found the repairs not made the next day, when the locomotive was

> back in service, the mechanical man was transferred. It was reported that

> some shops had certain personnel that would make 'pencil' repairs when asked

> to do so."


> Passed around was a photo of VGN AG #907 for the Brethren to identify the

> location. All agreed that it is Norfolk. This photo will be added to the N&W

> (and VGN) Historical Society Data-base at the next work session. Raymond

> East recalled firing the #907 and commented "it was a privilege to fire

> her". Also passed was a drawing H-1245 that our friend Eddie Mooneyham

> showed me at the last work session. It is a Tidewater Railway drawing of the

> use of a torpedo machine used with a crossing gate for use by trainmen of a

> lumber train, who use the gate to protect lumber roads crossing the then

> Tidewater. The torpedo machine was to be placed at least 2,000 feet from a

> lumber road crossing. This drawing is dated March 16, 1906.


> Also passed around was an email from our friend Bob Cohen from Maryland

> showing damage to a track by a remote controlled engine that was left

> powered up. There is a distinct grinding of the profile of a locomotive

> wheel in 12 track locations in the photo. Glen McLain brought up the demerit

> system that the VGN used when employee messed up like this. He once got 30

> demerits (100 got you dismissed) for not recognizing that an H. L. Lawson

> box car was "just sitting" for about a week and not returned. Landon Gregory

> said that an agent would get 10 for letting a mail sack get wet in the rain.

> He said that one agent got 10 for posting the incoming arrival time for a

> passenger train wrong, but when he spotted a flat wheel on a passenger train

> and reported it, he got only 1 (one) merit for that... Ken McLain told of a

> clerk named Flannigan, who did not get demerits, but a "chewing out" by the

> Superintendent for using too much language when reporting derailments. When

> the next one occurred, he just reported "off again, on again, gone again,

> Flannigan".


> Glen McLain told a story about a man who was taking his wife, who was

> pregnant with twins, to the hospital when his car went out of control and

> crashed. Upon regaining consciousness, he saw his brother, a relentless

> world-class practical joker, sitting at his bed side. He asked his brother

> how his wife was and he replied "Don't worry, everybody's fine and you have

> a son and an a daughter. But the hospital was in a real hurry to get the

> birth certificates filed and since both you and your wife were unconscious,

> I named them for you." The brother said I named the little girl "Denise".

> The husband, relieved said "That's a very pretty name! What did you come up

> with for my son?" The brother replied, "Denephew."


> Time to pull the pin on this one!


> Departing Now from V248,


> Skip Salmon




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