Railroad Humor

This E-mail was received from our good friend & customer in Germany - Hubert Wetekamp

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through my pike, Not a steamer was stirring, not even a Mike. My yard tracks invitingly empty and bare, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there. The diesels were nestled all snug in their sheds, While visions of DCC danced in their heads. While I, in my blue-and-white engineers cap, Had just settled down for a long winters nap, When down in the train room, there rose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. Away to the basement I flew like an ace, Tripped over the cat and fell flat on my face. I stifled a curse meant for Chessie (the cat), And I muttered to no one, "I meant to do that," When what to my wondering eyes should appear, But an HO-scale sleigh and eight Preiser reindeer, With an engineer driving, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick More rapid than GG-1's, onward they came, And he blew a steam whistle and called them by name: "On Athearn! On Lionel, Kato and Walthers! On Kadee and Micro-Trains, Atlas and others! To the top of the mountains of Hydrocal plaster, Now dash away, dash away, dash away faster!" As dry leaves that behind a new Genesis fly, When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky, So in through the window the coursers they flew With the sleigh full of trains, and St. Nicholas too. And then, on my roundhouse, I saw on the roof The prints in the dust of each HO-scale hoof. As I drew a deep breath, and was turning around, From beneath the bench work, St. Nick came with a bound. He was dressed like an engineer from head to foot, And his clothes had that fine smell of ashes and soot; A bundle of trains he had flung on his back, And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack. His eyes - just like marker lights! Dimples, how merry! His cheeks like a Warbonnet, nose like a cherry! His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, And his beard was so white, it would please Phoebe Snow. He puffed on a pipe as he refilled its bowl, And the smoke, it smelled just like bituminous coal. He had a broad face and a belly (I found) That shook like a tank car with wheels out-of-round. He was chubby and plump, and I wanted to shout, "Yes! The mans got a route the UP can't buy out!" A wink of his eye as he passed near the door Soon gave me to know I'd have freight cars galore. He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work. He filled all my yard tracks; then turned with a jerk, And leaving an airbrush he'd found on eBay, And giving a nod, he returned to his sleigh. He pumped up the brakes, blew two blasts on his whistle, And away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight, "HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL! KEEP 'EM ROLLING! GOOD NIGHT!" Author Unknown.

This was received via E-mail from a family member here in Florida

Does the expression, "We've always done it that way" ring any bells...

The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number.

Why was that gauge used?

Because that's the way they built them in England, and English expatriates built the US Railroads.

Why did the English build them like that?

Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.

Why did "they" use that gauge then?

Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.

Okay! Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing?

Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that's the spacing of the wheel ruts.

So who built those old rutted roads?

Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (and England) for their legions. The roads have been used ever since.

And the ruts in the roads?

Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.

The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot.

And bureaucracies live forever.

So the next time you are handed a specification and wonder what horses ass came up with it, you may be exactly right, because the Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war horses.

Now the twist to the story...

There's an interesting extension to the story about railroad gauges and horses' behinds.

When we see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory at Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs might have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track is about as wide as two horses' behinds. So, a major Space Shuttle design feature of what is arguably the worlds most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horses behind. ...and you thought being a HORSES BEHIND wasn't important!

This E-mail was received from one of our customers in Pennsylvania - Don Stump

This is a squawk sheet left for the Engine shops by a train crew.

(P) Dynamic brakes don't work at any speed. (S) This locomotive not equipped with dynamic brake.

(P) #2 traction motor seeping oil. (S) #2 traction motor seepage normal - #1 #3 and #4 motors lack normal seepage.

(P) Something loose in cab. (S) Something tightened in cab.

(P) Evidence of leak in crankcase. (S) Evidence removed.

(P) Alternator volume unbelievably loud. (S) Volume set to more believable level.

(P) Locomotive dances up and down when brake applied at 89MPH. (S) Could not reproduce problem in enginehouse.

(P) Dead bugs on windshield. (S) Live bugs on order.

(P) Parking brake cause throttle lever to stick. (S) That's what its there for.

(P) Engine missing. (S) Engine found under hood after brief search.

(P) Locomotive handles funny. (S) Locomotive given verbal warning to be serious.

(P) Radio hums. (S) Reprogrammed radio with the words.

This E-mail was received from one of our customers in Florida - George Landon

This is an example of job related Stress:

The Engineer says to the Firemen: " If that is the last piece of coal you have in your hand, you may want to consider keeping it as a souvineer of your last job."

This E-mail was received from our good friend & customer in Germany - Hubert Wetekamp

A man who had spent his whole life in the desert visited a friend. He'd never seen a train or the tracks they run on.

While standing in the middle of the RR tracks, he heard a whistle, but didn't know what it was. Predictably, he's hit and is thrown, ass-over-tea-kettle, to the side of the tracks, with some minor internal injuries, a few broken bones, and some bruises.

After weeks in the hospital recovering, he's at his friend's house attending a party. While in the kitchen, he suddenly hears the teakettle whistling. He grabs a baseball bat from the nearby closet and proceeds to batter and bash the teakettle into an unrecognisable lump of metal.

His friend, hearing the ruckus, rushes into the kitchen, sees what's happened and asks the desert man, "Why'd you ruin my good tea kettle?"

The desert man replies, "Man, you gotta kill these things when they're small."

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