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Brand-New B-Boats at Beaumont

January 22, 2010

SoCal railfans pretty much have it made, even though I didn’t appreciate it enough when I lived there. One of the neatest things is the ability to easily chase EB trains up the mountain passes as they leave the LA Basin. You bide your time until you find something chase-worthy. Then it’s on!

It was a typical hazy day in Southern California on Aug. 5, 1988. I was driving to work in San Bernardino about 7:30 in the morning. My route took me via I-10, which conveniently took me along SP’s West Colton Yard. Most days there wasn’t anything notable on the main, but this morning was the exception.

Factory-fresh  SSW B40-8’s 8043 / 8041 / 8042 / 8040 had just started pulling the LAMFF. The LAMFF was SP’s hottest EB train. It was the eastward equivalent of the MBSMFF.

Brand-new power, decent light – the perfect railfan set-up. Just one problem – I was on my way to work. What to do?

Duh! Chase the train! In short order, I found a pay phone in Redlands, told my boss that I had an emergency (It was true!) and would be a little late.

I was behind the LAMFF as I got on San Timoteo Canyon Blvd. Even though the train was battling the nearly 2% grade, the 4.0 HP/Ton ratio assigned this shooter allowed it to make a steady 40 mph.

I finally was able to get ahead of the train at Hinda, MP 557, a mere 21 miles after I saw it at West Colton.

The LAMFF is in run 8 at Hinda, CA on Aug. 5, 1988

Brand-new power putting out this amount of smoke indicates the engineer has the throttle wide-open. Notice the thick SoCal “air” in the background.

A quartet of brand-new Cotton Belt B40-8's approach Beaumont, CA on Aug. 5, 1988

As the train approached the top of the hill, the engineer throttled back to transition to dynamics. This allowed me to get ahead of the train easily for a shot at the first of two big curves on the approach to Beaumont, CA.

By this point I’m more than an hour late for work, and I’m a good 30 miles away from San Bernardino. But I’m chasing a good-looking train, the haze is behind me and I have plenty of film.

What to do???

To be continued…….

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