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Mike Davis
  • 23, Male
  • Rohnert Park, CA
  • United States

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Mike Davis's Discussions

what did miss?
4 Replies

I'm back after an unsuccessful 6-week attempt to join the USCG and I'm curious to know what I missedThanks, Mike DavisContinue

Started this discussion. Last reply by Dave S. Nov 1, 2014.

Train store in Eureka, Maybe.
9 Replies

After high school i will be going into the Military for 4 to 8 years, after which i am going to try and get a railroad job, if i'm unsuccessful I had an idea to try and open a model train store in…Continue

Started this discussion. Last reply by Jeff Maurer Mar 18, 2014.

SMART or dumb crossing plan?
23 Replies

read this personal opinion is that a level crossing is…Continue

Started this discussion. Last reply by Chad Gustafson Nov 24, 2013.

NCRA/SMART dividing line
10 Replies

Where is the dividing point between SMART and NCRA, I have heard Healdsburg as well as Cloverdale.The info I have heard for the longest time is that SMART owns the tracks from Healdsburg south and…Continue

Started this discussion. Last reply by Gus Campagna Nov 11, 2013.


Mike Davis's Page

Profile Information

How did you learn about the NWPRR Network?
I heard from someone who was takeing picturs of No. 1922
Favorite NWP locomotive or piece of rolling stock, if you have one?
SD9 4423, I have an HO scale version and NCR3804

I just saw their "new" GP9 painted in beautiful SP Bloody nose and I have heard the they are getting a GP40-2 that is currently at Mare island.

GP9 #1922 was from the Burlington Northern.

Mike Davis's Photos

Mike Davis's Blog

concrete ties 2

4 car of concrete ties due Thursday, don't know times

Posted on May 29, 2012 at 8:41pm — 8 Comments

concrete ties

The first car has arrived on the CFNR and we will be picking it up tomorrow around 10am with an estimated delivery time to Santa Rosa of between 4 and 5pm, however when 1922 made a trip to Windsor last December I was told would arrive between 4-5 P.M. and it ran through Penngrove around 3:30. I would expect it as early as 3 P.M.

Posted on May 23, 2012 at 9:33pm — 9 Comments

Railroad history paper.

I just won a chance to go to state history day with my historical paper on the Transcontinental Railroad. To go to state I have to improve my paper by adding sourches and information. If anybody has friends, relatives, books, and connections I could tap into for information, please post and contact me for information.


Mike Davis

Posted on February 26, 2012 at 8:36pm — 4 Comments

Swing Bridges

I know of the 2 swing bridges of Black Point and Petaluma and the lift bridge at brazos and have a couple of questions?

1. How do they get to the Black Point bridge? by boat I assume.

2. Do the have to walk to the top of the Brazos bridge to operate?

3. Any other moveing bridges on the NWP, either working or nonworking?


thanks, Mike Davis

Posted on November 17, 2011 at 11:59am — 24 Comments

Comment Wall (40 comments)

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At 2:33pm on June 1, 2014, Cory W Swank said…

Yeah I used to be a regular operator on his railroad. It has been several years since being active as I moved to Nevada for a little while. I have two boys now so trains in general are not getting as much of my attention as they used to. (Although they love trains already too so this may change). John has open houses from time to time if you make your way up to the foothills.

At 7:15pm on May 28, 2014, Cory W Swank said…

Yes indeedy, I have known John for about ten years.

At 1:24am on November 5, 2013, Emilio Galo said…

Oh sorry, LOL

At 11:21pm on May 22, 2013, Jordan said…

Locomotive technicians go home every night, but there are only so many places where those jobs are located. For big railroads in NorCal, UP's main shop is in Roseville. They have a smaller one in Oakland, and I think Stockton too, not 100% on that though. BNSF's only NorCal engine shop is in Richmond. Amtrak has one as well, in Oakland. Caltrain has a medium sized shop in San Jose. The point is that there are not very many locations where these jobs are located, and therefore not many opportunities.

If you work as a carman (car repair) they are located at pretty much every decent sized yard. A lot more locations than engine mechanics.

Track workers are away from home about as much as train crews, and it's very gruesome backbreaking work, even with all the technology today.

Shortlines have better schedules for quality of life, but don't pay nearly as much as Class 1's. Most will only hire train and engine crews with experience though.

If you are a people person, I would suggest Amtrak. While many of their runs require overnighting, it's usually just for one night and with them being a passenger carrier, you always know when you're going to be working. Also a lot of their runs return you home everyday anyway. I should point out though, that they, too have an extra board, but I hear one doesn't spend nearly as much time on it than with the freight carriers. As I said though, you have to be a people person, as you'll be taking/selling tickets, helping people board, making announcements etc. rather than riding on the side of freight cars, throwing switches, applying handbrakes at 2 AM in the rain. That's for conductors and brakemen though, engineers have little interaction with the public, but are alone in the cab, which can be a good or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it. The main reason I haven't gone to Amtrak myself though, is that freight pays better.

At 9:26pm on May 22, 2013, Jordan said…

Impossible, no. Very difficult, yes.

You're going to be spending more time away from home than at home, and you'll be on call 24/7, but you probably already knew that. If you're young with low seniority like me, you'll be working on the extra board for a few years (no less than two years, rarely more than ten). This means you can be called for ANY train that needs a crew member, provided you have your legal rest. After a while, you can move into pool (road) service, which is better than the extra board, but you still don't know when you'll be working. You have to put in YEARS before you land a job with regular hours (yard jobs, road switchers, certain locals). You can't plan anything personal because you may be called to work. This is WILL effect your relationship with friends/family. I have called the terminal and found out I was like ten spots down on the call order, went to a friend's pool party/took my girl to dinner etc. only to get a call telling me that two engineers are too drunk to come to work, one has a flat tire, and someone farted in the crew room and everyone is running around throwing up and they'll need me to come in. The railroad basically owns your life, at least for the first part of your career. We have a whole bunch of divorcee's working here.

Another thing to warn you about is that when you're new and at the bottom of the barrel, you're the first one cut when there's a downturn in traffic. This means you either:

a)sit at home and don't get paid


b)go to a terminal where you can hold a job

I've had to do both. I've spent a total of close to a year on furlough, and I've also had to chase my seniority around. I've worked out of Stockton, Bakersfield, and now Richmond (which is where I started in the first place), but I'm still very low on the extra board. If your significant other doesn't like to move frequently, you might be in for some trouble. I know a UP guy who's worked out of San Luis Obispo, Roseville, Oakland, Klamath Falls, and Sparks all in one year!

Oh, and about that whole being away from home for long periods of time, there was a derailment in Tehachapi Pass this week, and a lot of Richmond guys were held at their away from home terminals (Stockton and Fresno) waiting for traffic to resume. Some stayed for over four days. I'd likely be there too if I weren't at home all week due to illness.

But yes, the point is, maintaining a relationship is possible, but you really have to work at it.

At 6:17pm on May 21, 2013, Jordan said…

One buffer car between locomotive or occupied caboose and hazmat empty, five buffers for loads, when train length permits. For example, a road switcher with three cars can carry a hazmat load as one of those three, just no closer to the power than the second car. Same rules apply to road freights and locals. Road switchers and yard jobs must follow these rules too, if they venture out on the main line. A yard job moving hazmat loads in the yard for instance, only needs one buffer.

Unoccupied locomotives are treated the same as occupied ones. DPU sets need buffers as well.

Certain unit trains, such as unit ethanol trains, only need one buffer between the power and the hazmat, even when loaded. If more than one non-hazmat car is available, they must all be used as buffers despite this rule. For example, we run unit ethanol trains into and out of Richmond, each usually running with two buffers. If the loaded westbound is using a rear DPU, which it usually does, one buffer must ride the rear with it separating it from the train. The other buffer stays up front. If there is no DPU, both buffers are required up front. Eastbound empties only require one buffer behind the power, and the second one is often left on the rear even with no DPU.

Hazmat cars cannot be place next to open top cars (hopper, gondola) whose loads extend higher than the car itself. They may not be placed next to a car with a running internal combustion engine, such as a reefer. They also may not be coupled to loaded flatcars, with the exception of intermodal equipment and autoracks (autoracks count as flatcars). I've actually run a unit ethanol train with an (empty) autorack as the lone buffer. Of course, if said intermodal equipment is carrying a running refrigerated trailer, or if the cars inside the autorack are running for some strange reason, then it's out of compliance.

Keep in mind that many tank cars, even while loaded, may not be considered hazmat, even though they may carry placecards for other things, like flammability. These cars can be, and commonly are, used as buffers for hazmats. It looks illegal has hell, but it's not.

At 6:09pm on April 1, 2013, Jordan said…

It's complicated, another engineer on another board puts it pretty well:

"It all depends on where you work, what job you work, and what contract agreement you work under. There's locals, yard jobs, road jobs, extra board, hostlers. Just a ball park figure.......yard job is going to be around $55k/year. Local around $72k/year, extra board about the same and road jobs the same up to around $150k for high mileage runs. There is NOT a set salary and it varies widely across the system because we have so many different agreements. One depot may have a run that is only 120 miles long that pays around $225-250 a trip there and the same about $500 for a round trip. Another run may be 360 miles and pay $500 up and $500 back. The above pay is just an estimate on what the "starting" pay would roughly be. We're paid by the trips we make, not by the hour. If we make it those 120 miles in 2 hours.....we still get the same if it took 8 hours. After 8 hours is overtime but that varies system wide as well as to when it starts....some places are 9's a complicated system but the numbers above are pretty close. Good luck"

Just to further add on to what he said, the yard jobs and locals pay less than road jobs but have set schedules and get you home every night, and as a result tend to be held by older guys with more seniority. But everything else he said is pretty much spot on.

At 4:46pm on April 1, 2013, Jordan said…

Well, shortlines tend to have a better working environment but pay less. I can't speak for the NWP, but most shortlines will only hire experienced railroaders as they do not have elaborate training programs and budgets like larger railroads do.

BNSF has its share of problems and bureaucratic nonsense typical in a large corporation, but is a fairly decent company to work for. Expect to be called into work at any time and be away from home for several days at a time.

UP I hear is a mess, and not that good of an employer. Again, you're on call 24/7. I'm qualified on their trackage, and have to deal with their management as a result, and its very apparent that morale is low and the place is run like a circus.

Amtrak pays less than the freight railroads, and they have their fair share of problems in management, but you have a better chance of landing a regular schedule and you won't spend as much time out in bad weather as you do working freight. Also, a lot of the crews working out of Oakland and Sacramento are foamers, whether they want to admit it or not. They have got to have the most railfans working for them than any other railroad I've seen. I was thinking of working for them recently, but decided to stay with BNSF, at least for the time being.

Remember though, no one is likely to hire someone with little to no work experience. If you want to work for a passenger carrier, you should have experience in customer service. For freight, something where safety was a big part of the work environment. Amtrak will hire conductors with no previous railroad experience, but usually only hires experienced freight engineers. If you want to work passenger, you might also want to try Herzog Transit, they operate ACE and Caltrain.

At 7:58pm on December 30, 2012, Jim McCarter said…

Mike   The photo I found of 3800 and the steamboat were proffessional photos that I no nothing of their origin. I do know that it was a 2-8-8-4 called AC9 type which were few on SP. My dad said AC9 units came into El Paso shop and they were all impressed with them. I don't know if 3800 was one of them. I just came accross the photos in a mixed container of his old photos. That same photo of 3800 can be found on search Southern Pacific 3800

At 7:10pm on December 28, 2012, Jim McCarter said…

Mike  Thats ok, and thank you for responding, Thanks for your photos as well   Jim


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