Training Day, p. 2


Knowing of my interest in trains, Tom asked me if I would like to accompany him last Saturday for the hour's drive up to Portola to help work on the diesel. Although he may have known of my loco-motivation, Tom was apparently unaware of my mechanical ineptitude. Normally, I need to make several trips to the hardware store before I can change a light bulb. My workshop dyslexia often causes me to measure twice and cut three times.

Tom Gray, on the other hand, thinks nothing of taking on the job of repairing numerous systems on his newly-painted locomotive, from its twin 600 HP Cummings diesels down to its wheel trucks.

It was therefore the ultimate in male bonding experiences when Tom handed me a giant-size ratchet wrench and explained how to detach some pneumatic hoses underneath the locomotive. Lying on my back, with tons of cold dirt-encrusted train engine inches above my head, surrounded by the dank aroma of aged grease may not sound appealing to most folks. But some of you may understand.

Tom's double-ended yard diesel was built in 1942, and some of its locomotive-size bolts had not been loosened since then. Even with copious squirts of penetrating oil it took both of us putting all our weight on a long extension of the giant wrench handle to get them to give. Eventually we were able to remove all the bolts connecting the engine from its wheel trucks. Next week a derrick will raise the locomotive off its trucks so that the wheel bearings can be replaced.