The Tool Car Story

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Milepost 1229


Back at Milepost 1225, I shared the building of my tool car.  Some of you have asked how it came that such a rig was built in the first place.  Well, here’s the story behind the story… or as Paul Harvey used to say, “And now, the rest of the story…”

Some people are just simply unlucky.  You really can’t hold that against
them but you want to be careful when around them nonetheless.  It seems that Slim & Charlie were switching the small yard near town and had a little more work to do than usual.  So while they were normally working with cuts of 3-4 cars, this particular day, those cuts were a little longer… in the 6-8 length category.  Because of this, they had to encroach upon the main just a little a few times when they were performing their tasks. 

Well, Charlie had just pushed a string of cars down the approach track and, due to the extra length of the string, had to go out onto the main by a car length or so. Dutifully, Slim was at the back of the train and had properly protected its rear when he noticed the streetcar coming into town.  So, he picked up his flag and headed up the track (and up the hill) towards town just to make sure that the streetcar stopped in time. 

Unbeknown to either Slim or the streetcar driver, some of the local juvenile hoodlums thought it would be funny to grease the rails and watch the streetcar slide down he hill towards the yard.  You guessed it… when Henry “Highball Hank” Huntsman pulled up to the station, he applied the brakes just a bit too late and overshot the mark.  The wheels hit the greased rails and it was all over!  Slim was waving his signal flag frantically but there wasn’t a thing Highball Hank could do. 

From the cab of the locomotive back in the yard, Charlie could see what was happening but couldn’t do much about it either.  He frantically tried to move forward but only spun the wheels on the locomotive.  Highball
Hank ran to the back of the streetcar and braced himself for the impact.
Fortunately there were no passengers on the car at the time as the streetcar crashed into the last boxcar sitting on the main.  About three to four feet of the boxcar was mangled as was the front of the streetcar. 

Well, there was a lot of finger-pointing and table pounding but in the end, it was determined that sometimes, stuff just happens.  The hoodlums were never found, Highball Hank got a slap on the wrist (he was the superintendent’s brother-in-law) for travelling too fast and things settled down a little afterwards.  Management took one look at the mess, especially the old wooden boxcar and simply said “Scrap it all!” 



Now “Artie” the shop foreman didn’t see wreckage but rather opportunity so he had his boys drag the stuff to the shop area for the time being.  When word came down a few months later that management wanted the shop boys to “put something together…” for the guys at the mine spur to run back & forth into town, Artie saw his chance.  He cut off the mangled end of the boxcar then grafted the other end of the streetcar on the front.  Some old traction motors and a diesel generator for power, a few windows, vents and other necessities and the rig was ready to go.  Ironically, the next number up on the equipment roster for the mine was “13!”  It seemed appropriate, so it stuck.

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!




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