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Once again, The Flip-Side Principal...

Discussion in 'Metal Heads' started by EL MASKO, Jan 14, 2002.


    EL MASKO Elite Member

    Joined: Jan 30, 2001 Messages: 4,733 Likes Received: 0
    Okay. Last week I'm driving by the yard and see the same NIMS w/PUZL throw next to it on a BN covered hopper that I had caught last year to the month. Same side of the yard and same place. Then today, I caught a MUTZ simple on a Southern. But when I caught it last year it was rolling on the main line going south. And from the side it was on at my bench spot I figured that it if it were roll past my spot, it would still be on the same side. What are the possibilities that if both of those freights went from here to Kalamazoo (just an expression) at two different times, that they end up on the same side they were on almost a year ago to the month?
  2. fr8lover

    fr8lover Guest

    i dont know of any real scientific reasons, and i really dont know exactly what youre talking about. but in my experience ive seen a few reasons why cars roll back to the same place repeatedly. 1. if they are in your town for a specific reason, layup or load/unload and takeoff, they may come back for the same task over and over. 2. some cars ive seen tend to stay regionally, or end up in the same region at certain times. ive ascertained this by seeing lots of different cars ive caught in one town close or semi close to the same place.

    i think of it like this, you saw them a second time after a year, but how do you know those cars dont pass through every certain amount of time. if that doesnt make sense, i mean...they may end up on a short line then attach to a main for delivery and end back in your neck of the woods...

    if its at a factory, i always saw the same cars come back for filling (at a steel factory) leave and come back (sometimes) after a few months. its all the luck of the draw of what needs to come back and what doesnt.

    i rambled and probably missed the point completely, im sure ese or cracked probably can give you the real reason.

    EL MASKO Elite Member

    Joined: Jan 30, 2001 Messages: 4,733 Likes Received: 0
    No it's not the fact that they are here again...But they are facing the same way as before.
  4. Cracked Ass

    Cracked Ass Veteran Member

    Joined: Oct 24, 2001 Messages: 7,898 Likes Received: 47
    I'm not sure if I understand your question properly. Basically, a year later, most of the small reasons that could be more than coincidence have evaporated, and you have your basic 50% chance that the car will face the same way. What you've described is a hopelessly unremarkable occurrence.
    You might have seen those same cars several more times and not known it, because they were facing the other way and there was nothing on the flipside to remember them by.
    Understanding travel patterns of different car groups helps. I learned a lot from frequent tracing. I'd trace cars I didn't paint, just to find out where they were headed, then check up on them for months. A bunch of patterns emerged that I wasn't expecting. After a long time, by a mixture of research and osmosis, I could pick out almost any car in my yard and know where it was going off the top of my head, and any car I couldn't figure out was therefore very interesting.
    One of the most common patterns was that of the big shipper with a half dozen or so big customers. The big shipper is in Randomville, Kansas and has customers in Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, Pittsburgh, and Detroit. They have a fleet of cars, NOT necessarily leased or ending in "X", which are based in Randomville, get loaded, go to one of those five cities at random, unload, and return empty to Randomville. They can stay in that pattern for years. Therefore you'll only ever see those cars in one of those six cities or in transit between those six cities - nowhere else. The routes are like spokes on a wheel, and they always return to that central hub. If you're near one of the customers, you might see the same car go by a few times on repeat trips to the same customer. If you don't see that car for a long time, it's probably been going to some of the other four customers by luck of the draw for a while.
    Here's where I originally tried to make a point about the Flipside Principle: if a car is in the pattern I described (or a simpler one: one shipper, one customer, back and forth and nowhere else), the trip it takes will probably look identical every time. Every time this car loads in Randomville and heads to Detroit, it's coming from the same dock, getting pulled by the same switcher, getting made up into the same train job, often sitting in a block of cars in the same part of the train as usual, rolling through the same towns, facing the same way, rolling into the same receiving yard, parking at the same end, etc. all the way to the Detroit customer and back. If it got turned around on the way, and it takes the EXACT same route back, it will wind up facing the same way on its return. (This is true - verify it with a model train set or with a pen & paper diagram if you don't believe me.) Trouble is, the route back may not be exact: at Yard X, loaded cars don't turn around, but empties coming from the opposite direction get sent down a siding off a wye and turned once before being put into the train back to Randomville. Or sometimes the receiving yard is so crowded that overflow trains get put in a storage yard, which is at the end of a wye which will turn the car once.
    OK, I went on too long - rephrase your question if I didn't cover it right.
  5. Cracked Ass

    Cracked Ass Veteran Member

    Joined: Oct 24, 2001 Messages: 7,898 Likes Received: 47
    And by the way the correct spelling is "principle" for what you meant. "Principal" as a noun refers either to the school headmaster, or the amount of money you started with before things happened to it, like interest or investment losses or gains. "Principal" is also used as an adjective to describe that which is primary or foremost.

    EL MASKO Elite Member

    Joined: Jan 30, 2001 Messages: 4,733 Likes Received: 0
    Thanks for the insight Cracked. I need some site's for independent leasers such as ACPX ECUX RTCX. Been looking for the longest time. Also for anyone interested, I have a manual/book of every railroad reporting mark and its coresponding company/leaser. If nayone is interested, I'am selling them for $10.

    Tanks for corekting my spelding.
  7. Ski Mask

    Ski Mask 12oz Loyalist

    Joined: Apr 11, 2000 Messages: 11,114 Likes Received: 209
    why pay for somthing that gets outdated quickly, and is available freely on the net?
    ACPX belongs to Amoco canada, so you could look at the amoco site for info. ECUX is Exxon's reporting marks. RTCX is Union Tank Car company(the marks originally belonging to Republic Tank Car company, explaining the choice of initials). RTCX may be all over the place, but amoco and exxon will be running between their own facilities, and those of their customers.

    When it comes to private lessors, you won't find much useful info (if any) on the websites. Think of them as banks (many of them are) and the cars as just another product they offer. They don't give a shit who runs them or where, its strictly a financial venture for them. They may have 8 million pages on the leasing options available to you but they don't have any info on how the people who are leasing them choose to operate them.

    EL MASKO Elite Member

    Joined: Jan 30, 2001 Messages: 4,733 Likes Received: 0
    I knew what they stood for. The private leasers are what I'm talking about.
  9. Average White Railfan

    Average White Railfan Senior Member

    Joined: Jun 2, 2001 Messages: 1,120 Likes Received: 0
    hey ese i got your pack about a week ago (sent u an email) ill be with you soon with some fliks worth sending. thanx.

    thanks for that breakdown cracked. especially the yard overflow. there is a lay-up over here where occasionally the cars come back flipped. but i think (and it now makes sense) they get flipped on there way back as empties like you said.

    any idea on why the rr spends so much time flipping engines? ill bench for 4 or 5 hours sometimes. in that course of time ill see them wye off at least half a dozen engines? seems like if they want a particular one to play the dummy they can do that in the yard with some simple switching.?
  10. Cracked Ass

    Cracked Ass Veteran Member

    Joined: Oct 24, 2001 Messages: 7,898 Likes Received: 47
    I used to wonder the same thing. I don't know all the answers on flipped engines, and I see more of it than seems necessary. But I have heard workers/railfans noting that number such-and-such is shaky on the brakes lately, or there's a nasty stench in the cab of #855 so they put it in back, and other minor technical problems that make one engine a more logical frontman than another. Add in logistics, like the yard 200 miles away is short on power and needs an extra 2 engines added to the front of train MVRPTO, or they're adding a second run by a switcher down the Whateverville branch because the customer needs some cars spotted, and the fact that some engines are "slave" engines, and you have enough ingredients for some helter-skelter engine moves.
    And figure since I don't know the whole story, one other reason we haven't heard of yet, mixed with the ones above, would probably account for the rest.