That evening, my son Byron came over from Audubon and stayed with us so we could get an early start on a trip to Ottumwa and some train-watching on Saturday. Saturday morning we were joined by Mark Van Wyk, an HO modeler and friend of mine from Urbandale. We headed south from home along the UP Trenton Sub. As we neared Chariton, we heard a BNSF eastbound, with BNSF 5827 leading, discussing their pull up Whitebreast Hill. They'd gotten down to 6.2 MPH and were worried that they would not be able to make Albia Hill. This discussion continued as we paralleled them toward Albia on Hwy. 34.
We'd called Julie to learn that Amtrak was about an hour and a half down. Ottumwa Sub. dispatcher KRS had several westbounds in the picture and had already sent two of them down the hill to stop at Halpin and wait at the crossovers for the Zephyr. 5827's crew announced that they would stop at MP 323 and wait on the passenger train to come around them on Main 1, so that they'd have a good run before starting up the hill. However, KRS announced that he was, "ready for you now", so they continued on Main 2 at track speed. We got to Halpin, the start of CTC at the bottom of the hill, just as 5827 came through at 8:13 This was a distributed power NCUX/BN tub gon train with BNSF 8934 on the rear.
Before we went on into Albia, I got a shot of the first westbound, with BNSF 4368 and 4300. They had a cut of fuel oil cars in front of MPWX empties. The second westbound, led by BNSF 9989, slipped by us, but we saw the rear end of the GSNX tubs stopping on the hill a few minutes later. We drove on out toward Maxon while 5827 ground up the hill. The crew kept the dispatcher and other trains advised as they climbed, reporting a low speed of 1.8 MPH before the meter started back up. We met them at a gravel road crossing about a mile from Old Maxon. By now they were moving well along, and the rear unit came by us at about 8:45. Later, a westbound at Ottumwa donated a unit to this train.
Everyone breathed a short sigh of relief and a following load came into the CTC at Halpin to start its climb. Unfortunately, this train, which hadn't had trouble on Whitebreast, lost a traction motor cooling fan on the rear unit and stalled just short of the "Packing House" crossing at 9:00. After some discussion, the power was pulled off of the westbound at Halpin and run up the hill to help. The load, MBKX tubs with 9957 in the lead, was on the move again at 9:50. We watched the train, with crippled BNSF 9900 and helpers 4300 and 4368 come by the "double crossing" before we started on over to Ottumwa. The westbound's crew reluctantly donated the 4300 to the rear and waited in the clear east of Maxon for No. 6 to pass.
At Ottumwa, Byron and I dropped Mark off at the Quincy Mall train meet and went across the river to see the Zephyr come through. The passenger train showed up at 11:15 with this consist:
AMTK 56 and 153They were underway again at 11:33. The detector on Agency Hill reported the passenger train at 52 axles.
Transition Sleeper 39006
Sleepers 32097 and 32072
Sightseer Lounge 33048
Coach-Baggage 31044 (Smoker?)
Two Xpress Trak Reefers
Byron and I met Mark for lunch and then went back to the mall to check out the train show. The Great River Club HO modular was present and, as usual, had a number of very nicely done sections. I took a number of pictures of them:
Motel cabinsNumerous layouts were in operation, including just about every scale, Z, N, HO, O and G. There were also some locos in 1 1/2" to the foot scale there from the Iowa Model Steam Engineers.
Dari King restaurant
Grain elevator complex
Grain elevator complex
Byron and Mark waited patiently while I finished my shopping and then we drove back over to Maxon to catch some more BNSF traffic. At 2:25 a DEEX load came up the hill with BNSF 5773 leading and BNSF 9844 shoving on the rear. It was fairly comfortable in the car, 36 degrees and sunny, but a strong south breeze made it rather chilly standing out in the open. A CEFX empty arrived at 2:30, pulled by BNSF 4193 and 4045. While we waited for another train that we knew was working its way up Albia Hill, I checked out the remains of a broken rail that had been recently replaced in Main 2.
The last train of the day was an eastbound freight with a set of old SD's, BNSF 7061, CSX 8159 and BNSF 8045. The detector just east of Maxon reported this one with 360 axles as we headed back toward home.