Thursday, October 06, 2011

Commuter rail service coming to Allegheny Valley?

One of the discussion points on the Pittsburgh Rail Fan net this evening was about a recent news story that a project was moving forward to carry passengers from Tarentum through Oakmont, Verona and make stops in the Lawrenceville-Strip District area.

I have been hearing about this project for years now and it never seems to get beyond the stage where some government official awards one half to one million dollars to some company to do a study on the feasibility of starting the service. I think we have spent enough money on "studies" to finance the service if the truth be known.

So while listening to the Rail Fan Net, held each week on the 146.880 mHz repeater at 09:30 local time, I did some Google searches and came up with the following two stories the latter of which seems to indicate that we may finally be reaching the point where this dream becomes a reality. Only time will answer this question.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Stop that train!

I have a discussion group on Yahoo for Pittsburgh rail fans and while it is doesn't have a lot of traffic on it I get some real "golden nuggets" from it every so often. One such item posted by one of the members recently was a link to an article about new air brake systems that are being developed that are a hybrid of pneumatics and electronics. It is a very interesting read if you are into the nuts and bolts of how trains function. I decided it was worth posting the link here on the blog.

IEEE Spectrum article "Stop That Train"

If you would like to join our discussion mailing list either click this link

Pittsburgh Rail Fans on Yahoo
or send email to to join.

A note of thanks to Larry AA3ZN for the pointer to this article.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Rail fan net on the HF bands

As you know we have a local Rail Fan Net here each week in Pittsburgh Thursday evenings at 09:30 local time on the 146.880 repeater. Please join us if you are in the area and enjoy steel wheels rolling on steel rails. Discussion of all things trains are welcome.

A local ham, KB3FCZ, sent me email with information on another Rail Fan Net that is on the HF bands. This has to potential to be a lot of fun. Join in if you can.

Just a note to let you know that there is another railfan net that JIM W3LZR from Dravosburg, PA told me about.

It is Friday night at 7:00 PM with the guys showing up as early as 6:30 PM. It is on 3.930 Mc. LSB.
Last night there were 10 guys on the net and except for Jim and I they were in Western OH and in MI.
Several of the guys are still working on the railroad and know a lot about RR.
It is called the "B and O and C and O net".

This was my first time on this band and it was a lot of fun. I had to hussle to get an antenna working
because my 10 meter dipole just did not do it. I opened the shield on the 10 M dipole and made it a long wire.

Here is a partial roster:

W8RRI and he IS a RR inspector!

Show up next Friday and join the fun.


Daniel Patton, KB3FCZ
Patton Radio Company
1149 Prescott Avenue
McKeesport, PA 15131-1531

Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year 2011!

Let me wish a very happy new year to all of my fellow rail fans out there in cyberspace!

I hope that 2010 has been a good year for you and that 2011 is even better.

Best wishes and many new rail fan adventures on 2011!

Monday, December 13, 2010

A great Christmas story

This was sent to me by a friend and considering the season I thought it would make a great blog entry for rail fans.

Here's a 'today' Yule story that occured last year ~ AND NOW, in time for the holidays, the best Christmas story you never heard.
It started last Christmas, when Bennett and Vivian Levin were
overwhelmed by sadness while listening to radio reports of injured
American troops. "We have to let them know we care," Vivian told
Bennett. So they organized a trip to bring soldiers from Walter Reed
Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Hospital to the annual Army-Navy
football game in Philly, on Dec. 3.

The cool part is, they created their own train line to do it. Yes,
there are people in this country who actually own real trains. Bennett
Levin - native Philly guy, self-made millionaire and irascible former
L&I commish - is one of them.

He has three luxury rail cars. Think mahogany paneling, plush seating
and white-linen dining areas. He also has two locomotives, which he
stores at his Juniata Park train yard. One car, the elegant
Pennsylvania , carried John F. Kennedy to the Army-Navy game in 1961
and '62. Later, it carried his brother Bobby's body to D. C. for
burial. "That's a lot of history for one car," says Bennett.

He and Vivian wanted to revive a tradition that endured from 1936 to
1975, during which trains carried Army-Navy spectators from around the
country directly to the stadium where the annual game is played. The
Levins could think of no better passengers to reinstate the ceremonial
ride than the wounded men and women recovering at Walter Reed in D. C.
and Bethesda , in Maryland . "We wanted to give them a first-class
experience," says Bennett. "Gourmet meals on board, private
transportation from the train to the stadium, perfect seats - real hero

Through the Army War College Foundation, of which he is a trustee,
Bennett met with Walter Reed's commanding general, who loved the idea.
But Bennett had some ground rules first, all designed to keep the focus
on the troops alone:
No press on the trip, lest the soldiers' day of pampering devolve into
a media circus.
No politicians either, because, says Bennett, "I didn't want some idiot
making this trip into a campaign photo op"
And no Pentagon suits on board, otherwise the soldiers would be too
busy saluting superiors to relax.
The general agreed to the conditions, and Bennett realized he had a
problem on his hands. "I had to actually make this thing happen," he

Over the next months, he recruited owners of 15 other sumptuous rail
cars from around the country - these people tend to know each other -
into lending their vehicles for the day. The name of their temporary
train? The Liberty Limited.

Amtrak volunteered to transport the cars to D. C. - where they'd be
coupled together for the round-trip ride to Philly - then back to their
owners later.
Conrail offered to service the Liberty while it was in Philly. And
SEPTA drivers would bus the disabled soldiers 200 yards from the train
to Lincoln Financial Field, for the game.

A benefactor from the War College ponied up 100 seats to the game - on
the 50-yard line - and lunch in a hospitality suite.
And corporate donors filled, for free and without asking for publicity,
goodie bags for attendees:
From Woolrich, stadium blankets. From Wal-Mart, digital cameras. From
Nikon, field glasses. From GEAR, down jackets.
There was booty not just for the soldiers, but for their guests, too,
since each was allowed to bring a friend or family member.
The Marines, though, declined the offer. "They voted not to take guests
with them, so they could take more Marines," says Levin, choking up at
the memory.

Bennett's an emotional guy, so he was worried about how he'd react to
meeting the 88 troops and guests at D. C.'s Union Station, where the
trip originated. Some GIs were missing limbs. Others were
wheelchair-bound or accompanied by medical personnel for the day. "They
made it easy to be with them," he says. "They were all smiles on the
ride to Philly. Not an ounce of self-pity from any of them. They're so
full of life and determination."

At the stadium, the troops reveled in the game, recalls Bennett. Not
even Army's lopsided loss to Navy could deflate the group's rollicking

Afterward, it was back to the train and yet another gourmet meal -
heroes get hungry, says Levin - before returning to Walter Reed and
Bethesda . "The day was spectacular," says Levin. "It was all about
these kids. It was awesome to be part of it."

The most poignant moment for the Levins was when 11 Marines hugged them
goodbye, then sang them the Marine Hymn on the platform at Union
"One of the guys was blind, but he said, 'I can't see you, but man, you
must be beautiful!' " says Bennett. "I got a lump so big in my throat,
I couldn't even answer him."

The Levins and their guests are still feeling the day's love. "My
Christmas came early," says Levin, who is Jewish and who loves the
Christmas season. "I can't describe the feeling in the air." Maybe it
was hope.
As one guest wrote in a thank-you note to Bennett and Vivian, "The fond
memories generated last Saturday will sustain us all - whatever the
future may bring."
God bless the Levins.
And bless the troops, every one.
GOD Bless The American People
And The American Spirit

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lets Talk Trains

LIVE from SilverRails Country, in LaPlata, Mo., Nathan of Kansas City will be hosting live at the Grand Opening of the SilverRails Gallery and Memorial Library.

Please join us as we will have a number of special guest, possibly including some of the featured artist and photographers who have their works displayed in the Gallery. Please join us!

Please join us at 10AM (Pacific time) on Saturday at> for the show.

And at> for the live chat room (which starts 15 to 30 minutes before show time. Please join us as this is your show! The call-in number for the show is 646-716-7106.

The LTT calendar for hosting shows has lots of openings. Please help make Let's Talk Trains informative and diverse in content. An email to is how to start. You will receive well-illustrated and helpful guides, advice and connections to other LTT Team members. This show is of, by and for us, fans of trains. You can help by sharing your knowledge, points of view and experience with the rest of us.

Again, start by emailing to>.

The LTT Team


Monday, March 08, 2010

The worlds luckiest track inspector

This guy had to have God watching over him when he went to work this day. If you don't believe me just watch the video. I had to look at it several times just shaking my head. I would have left right then, stopped at a church to give thanks, then went and played every lottery that I could find.