Wednesday, April 26, 2017

1944 was a good year.....

 Hello there and welcome to a non-Jeep blog. I hope you will enjoy this as much as the Jeeping blogs, but today was somewhat of a different adventure. The Union Pacific released a bit of news saying that their steamer 844 would be out on a run and would be passing through Box Elder County and stopping in Ogden overnight. We, the public, were invited to come check it out. So, naturally, I did. This is not the biggest of their steam engines, fact is, it's the smallest of the 3 surviving engines. But don't let that fool you. This thing is anything but small. 
 This particular train was delivered in 1944 for use on high speed passenger trains here in the west. It pulled some famous trains of the time including the Los Angeles Limited, Overland Limited and the Challenger. The news release gave out vital info of the train but left out the top speed. Lucky for us that the Union Station in Ogden has the younger brother of the 844 on display. According to that display, these trains would do 110 mph. That is a lot of speed. Oh, how much fun would it have been to ride on this train. Even better, how much fun would it have been to be the engineer?
 Looking in the cab, there are 2 seats with controls in front of both seats. No one was hanging around to answer any questions so I can't say if you can drive from both sides. The bloody thing is so long that in order to see whats ahead of you, you would have to hang your head out the windows quite a ways. 
 As you can see, there are a ton of valves and gauges and levers and....... looks damn complicated to me. But you have to admit....  it would be a pleasure to learn how to run this thing. A few people up here took their drones out and captured it coming down the tracks. It is so impressive. If you click on the link above to my web page, you can go from there to my youtube page and watch a video of the Union Pacific's 3985 Challenger I took 20 years ago. Oh hell, lets just add the link here.
 This thing is big. I am standing on the platform looking down on the guy. The wheels on this beast are 80" high. The overall length oh the engine and tender is just over 114'. The combined weight is 454 tons. The engine is powerful. To get that much weight plus a host of passenger cars up to 110 miles per hour..... wow! 
With all the moving parts associated with getting the power to the track, the train requires a ton of upkeep. Every moving joint has to be greased often. The fotos don't show just how many grease spots there are or how much grease is flung everywhere. 
 The connecting rods here above have got to be strong as anything and probably weight over a ton a piece. Just out of the foto there are two mechanics working on something that required their attention. An interesting sight, not included in these fotos was that one of the cars it was pulling was a mobile machine shop. There was a welder, a small crane and a metal lathe all set up and ready to run. I guess when what your driving hasn't been made in over 60 years you have to learn how to make it on the fly. Its not like you can go to your local CarQuest store and by a new part.
 The tender of 844 is huge. It holds 23,500 gallons of water and 6200 gallons of fuel oil. For this trip, there was actually a second tender coupled behind the original to keep it fueled and watered. With the diesel engine replacing the steam engine, water stops are few and far between anymore. It would be quite interesting to run out of fuel or water on a good will trip like this one.   
This last foto is one about the American way of doing things. If you click on the foto and look at it up close you will see that there are rivets everywhere. This engine was built in a time of true manpower. Each one of those rivets was placed there by a man or woman who took pride in their job. These things were not built on an assembly line by robots. They were built by American men and women by hand in an age long past. Their commitment to quality still shows today. This train is awesome! Jeep on my friends.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A tail, or a tale, with a twist.

 Welcome to another adventure out to the wild west desert of Utah. The Devil's Playground is full of unique geological formations. I am thinking that the name came from the fact that it is hotter than Hell out there in the summer and the fact that the formations are truly bizarre. Young Wyatt, a nephew, is glancing up into the odd shaped cavity of the rock. If you go back a few years, and I think it was on my Yahoo blog, there is the same foto except its Samantha and she is stuck up in the top. I dared Wyatt to climb up into it but then I remembered that he is accident prone so I withdrew my offer. 
 Throughout the whole area, there are formations that leave you wondering how they came to pass. The above foto shows how weird they can be. How long did it take to erode away the rock to leave this type of result? The area is notoriously dry so it can't be from any running source of water. This leaves us with rain and wind and snow. The big question is how long did it take, and what determined the odd shapes? 
 Back to the first foto. If you enlarge it on your screen, you will notice 2 distinct cobblestone patterns going up the rock. What's really odd is the fact that it is on the front, and then goes inside the hollowed out part and its also on the "roof" for lack of a better word. This cobblestone pattern is all over the place out there. I have pointed it out before in previous blogs, but the fact that it is there is mind blowing. You can actually see on some of the formations that the rocks in the cobblestone look like they were placed there with careful thought, almost as if they were a cobblestone street at one time. Hundreds of rocks, laid with precision. It is mind blowing. 
 I took our guests to one of the mines that is out there. This one was worked in the 70's and still has a lot of junk laying around. I did not do very well in planning this quick trip. Well, I did but I planned wrong. With all the rain we have had and how it was 2 weeks ago out there I figured we wouldn't even be able to make it up to the mine. I was wrong. So, being wrong led to me not bringing my good flashlights. No good flashlight means you can't go into the mine and explore. Damnit. I guess I will just have to break down and buy a really good one and just leave it in the Jeep. I have been in this mine before, but due to physical issues I didn't make it very far. Oh well, I guess that just means I will have to go back and do it again. Sux to be me, Not!
To finish the trip, I took Wyatt to persons house who has way too much money. As you can see, these are not your usual horses you would find in most barns of the west. In fact, you probably would only find this somewhere deep in the African Savannah. Why have a good Quarter Horse when you can own a pair of Zebras. To each his own, I guess. Jeep on my friends. 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

2 states, 6 counties, 11 hours, 400 miles and a lot of mud

 Welcome to the first real adventure of 2017. Spring and winter have been fighting over who should be visiting at this time and today winter threw a few good punches with a dusting of snow below 6000 feet and a ton of rain for everywhere else. This battle has been going on for over a month. We have had temps in the 70's and below freezing all in the same week. Welcome to Utah. I decided to hit the trail today regardless of what Mother Nature decided to and enjoy it come what may. I was joined by Kirt and we left home and headed west, right into the storm. As we motored out to the Devil's Playground, we encountered a very weak rainfall and by the time we got to Snowville, there was sun. The puddles in the road let me know it had rained and the snow level was down lower than it had been in weeks.  
 As we started off road going west into the playground, the road became somewhat of a mud festival. I hardly had any traction and there were mud holes everywhere. Some were fairly deep and they made the ride so much fun. We finally made it to the area and got out and took some fotos. I know most of you have seen my previous posts and fotos I've taken of the area, but who cares. Some might not have seen them so here they are.  
 As you can see, the little yellow Jeep got quite a bit of mud on it, but it never had a problem. Fact of the matter is that I only used 4 wheel drive on one really nasty section of the road. For the rest of the trip it was strictly 2 wheel drive and a lot throttle. It was a blast. I am almost sad that I didn't take the GOPRO out with me this time, but, we would have had to clean it every 20 feet. Oh well, not a big deal. You all will just have to take my word on it that is was a blast, and only the beginning. 

 We crossed over the mountain using the same pass that the early pioneers used on their way to California. Emigrant pass is part of the old trail that persons heading to California used on their long trek across the desert. We followed it till it hit the main road then went west to the Lucin area. 
 Now, before I go on, I must explain that we have had a ton of moisture this year. So much so that there has been a lot of flooding going on. At Lucin, a flood of water came down through the area and wiped out an important section of track. The "water" ran through a culvert 7 feet in diameter and until this year, it worked perfect. As you can see, there is no culvert to be seen. All of the snow and rain made for a hell of a flood and wiped it out. The interesting thing is that there is still water running from mountains down through this area. I have never seen water running through this area yet there is now a 25 yard "riverbed" complete with a tiny river. 
 Another oddity is the fact that the pond at Lucin is damn near bone dry. There is a tiny puddle but that's about it. The government sign says that the pond receives the water from a pipeline to the north. With all the water we have had, I can't quite figure out why its dry. Who knows, maybe the feeder pipeline has broken or been destroyed by the major flood. Again, no idea. 
 Next stop on the tour was the Sun Tunnels. They sit in the middle of nowhere on a very fine layer of sand. The road to them was freakin' slippery and being alone I chose not to get close to them. If you get stuck out there it would be a long wait for someone to come pull you out. After leaving the Sun Tunnels, we headed south on the road to Wendover Utah. I have never been down this road so it was all new to me. 
As it was like the roads before, this road too was a fun, mud bogging adventure. Some parts were dry while other parts were a mud bogger's dream. The little yellow Jeep had no problems going through all this mud and before we knew it, we were at Interstate 80 and Wendover, Utah. The sign above tells how the emigrant trail system went through the area we were driving through. The road we followed damn near matches the route they had taken. This area of Utah and the west desert is full of history form days gone passed. I can't imagine how it would have been to be driving a covered wagon on my way to California. I will say that, today, was a great day to be out there exploring. We did see some roads that need to be explored in the future so we will be back. We did a late lunch in Wendover before heading back home. On our way home though, Mother Nature let loose with the rain and hail. From Samantha's house to back home here in Tremonton, the skies opened up and rain came down by the buckets. So much so that it washed the Jeep, which sucks because a dirty Jeep is a great Jeep!
Jeep on my friends!