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-   -   "Informed" or, "Luck of the draw" railfan? (http://www.railpictures.net/forums/showthread.php?t=9639)

TheRoadForeman 05-02-2009 01:10 AM

"Informed" or, "Luck of the draw" railfan?
Which type of railfan are you? The type that makes a hundred calls and checks the internet for the trains running in your area or, the type that just goes out and waits for whatever comes their way?

JimThias 05-02-2009 01:44 AM

A little bit of everything.

ssw9662 05-02-2009 01:44 AM

I definitely fall into the "informed" category. I will not go railfanning without first checking my sources to see what's going on in the area. For me there isn't much of a point in heading out unless I have a good idea of what is coming and what engines I may see.

bigbassloyd 05-02-2009 01:45 AM

The thrill of the hunt here.

I don't know what's running until I hear the scanner crackle to life.

Loyd L.

Joe the Photog 05-02-2009 02:17 AM

I'm 95% luck of the draw with the exception of the NS Fs or something else really special coming through the area. Even then, I don't do the scanner bit so I'm still LOTD. When you start getting too much into figuring out what may be where and when, all the fun is sucked out of the day for me.

BarrySr 05-02-2009 02:29 AM


Originally Posted by Joe the Photog (Post 88505)
...When you start getting too much into figuring out what may be where and when, all the fun is sucked out of the day for me.

From inception of railfanhood ~1976 up until 1989, (1-informed). 1989-1995, mix. Post marriage and family, DEFINITELY (2-luck of the draw). If something comes, great! If not, no biggy; I'd just as much be having fun with the family, life's too short.

Christopher Muller 05-02-2009 02:52 AM

I wish I was "informed", but I generally go out for a hunt.

mwtstormchaser 05-02-2009 02:55 AM

It all depends...if I'm just going to my local spots it's luck of the draw. If I'm going on a railfan trip where I'm driving hundreds of miles and looking for shortlines and industrial locomotives I do a ton of research to give me the best chance possible to get what I came for.

Andrew Blaszczyk (2) 05-02-2009 02:58 AM

A little bit of both. I guess it depends on what you would consider railfanning based on schedule. The local Conrail lines always run the same days (with some exceptions) at the same times. It makes planning my day or week a lot easier when I can get to the yard 5 minutes before something leaves. Mainline stuff is mostly luck of the draw with the exception of a few heads up notices on forums or via texts.

trainmaster_1 05-02-2009 03:20 AM

I'm both, Class 1 stuff, I check my crystal ball to find out what trains have for power and what's en route or ordered and maybe a call to the wise guy to find out where one train with a really nice consist or power is at, as well as doing some research. Short line's is by luck of the draw and by times and patterns.

John Ryan 05-02-2009 03:32 AM

Seldom informed, frequently clueless. I'm less-clueless if I go railfanning with someone else. When I'm on my own, I take Doris Day's approach; "Que Sera, Sera." It seems to work well for me.

Ween 05-02-2009 03:54 AM

Back in ND, I was informed when I asked, but I never wanted to abuse the privelege; I didn't want to be a pest. I was super informed when I had access to BNSF's ODIS system...that was awesome. And equally cruel when it went away. But, man, what a resource! BNSF should make that a pay for access type deal...they'd earn a mint!

Since the move to CO, it's mostly blind luck with a little information thrown in now and then. I had some local railfans' help nailing down the ex-DRGW unit's schedule in town and I get info on UP 1989's movements (mostly after-the-fact), but for now, it's I-Get-What-I-Get when I go out. If there is something special moving, it'll pop up on the public railfan resources around here...

Aleks Stefanovic 05-02-2009 05:10 AM

Wouldn't be without my ATCS. I may not know what is coming but I know when something is lined through my hometown. I also monitor a live internet feed east of me which gives me about a 40 minute advance warning of when someone is not only lined but I can see them pass through the area and when they hit the Junction as they start up the hill towards me.
I also monitor a live scanner feed from that area as well as from a base unit at home. Never leave home without a scanner and if I'm going to spend the day railfanning in an area where I can use my ATCS set-up in the car I go with that gear too.

John Fladung 05-02-2009 05:48 AM

I wish I was informed more of the time but usually it's just luck and hit and miss. I don't mind though anytime spent trackside is time well spent.

A Siebold 05-02-2009 06:25 AM

I'm mostly subject to pure luck. I find a site which looks interesting and when I can get out of the office I take a book, writing tools and my laptop and stake out the location until something comes along. If I'm lucky I can manage an hour or so at a time without being called back for something. I'm working on one site now... three days at about an hour and a half a day... I know there will be a train one of these times! And I hope it will be southbound for the best picture.


Freericks 05-02-2009 06:46 AM

Sometimes I'm well-informed, sometimes I'm just out there...

And the funny thing is that sometimes when I'm well-informed I still blow it because the train shows up earlier or later than promised, and sometimes when I'm just out there I hit it because something no one knew about shows up in front of my camera.

Chase55671 05-02-2009 07:28 AM

I'm a bit of both. It kind of depends on when I'm railfanning as well. If I'm hoping to get a train at a specific location on a beautiful sunny day, I'll try to get a general idea as to what is moving in the vicinity of that location to see if it's even worth it, but if I'm just headed out for a day of local railfanning, I don't try to get informed as much, although I still like to have a general idea. I've always got the laptop which is always monitoring two railroad streams (covering a distance of around 30 miles or so), and I'll monitor the streams the night before to predict as to whether or not they'll be running anything during the day.

If I just happen to be out and about in the local area on a nasty overcast day, I usually just stand trackside for a bit and see what's going on. I don't even bother bringing the camera with me most days if I don't see at least a little bit of sun.


Wizzo 05-02-2009 01:03 PM

Generally informed these days via the Internet as its usually only worth going out if there is something special around.

If the light is very good I might chance my arm and see what turns up though.

htgguy 05-02-2009 01:41 PM

Well my job "forces" me to spend a lot of time on the road, and I can select the routes I travel from place to place. So for most of that time I am flying blind, with just a scanner to alert me if everything falls into place. Anything I get while working is a bonus.

At home I will monitor the scanner if I might be going out, and watch message boards. I have started using ATCS which in my location gives me a good heads up when trains are coming from each direction, but not what they are. Combine with internet radio streams and you can get an idea of what is coming. So I guess I am informed when I choose to be.

Sometimes I don't want to mess with all the tech, and just want to spend time trackside. It's easy to suck the fun out of railfanning by trying to be too informed, for me at least. Of course that's easier for me to say, when I will almost always get a couple of trains by spending an hour along the Staples Sub. If traffic was lighter my view would be different I am sure.

khalucha 05-02-2009 02:59 PM


Originally Posted by bigbassloyd (Post 88504)
The thrill of the hunt here.

I don't know what's running until I hear the scanner crackle to life.

Loyd L.

Ditto for me.

Cinderpath 05-02-2009 03:29 PM

Usually clueless, I am after lighting and weather effects for photography, with great light, great photos can be taken, trains or no trains. For me it is more about the photography of the railroad as a whole, and less about trains. Since I have taken this approach it seems like my luck has gotten better anyway. Besides, I like the idea of the surprise.

trainboysd40 05-02-2009 04:05 PM

I used to be informed, up until CP changed up their website so I couldn't access lineups anymore. Now I sit with a scanner for hours on end and hope something comes =(

larrikin01 05-02-2009 04:35 PM

I'm a PC rail fan the way I am a TV sports fan.
We have two main lines running north/south. Amtrak and Tri-Rail service in SE Florida so we know the schedules. 1 mile east of that we have freight service, the only time the trains run there is when I'm in a hurry to get somewhere:lol:
There are overpasses for Amtrak line. F.E.C./CSX is street graded.

Most of the freight service is during the night-to be honest is nothing to write home about. Hoppers with sand and aggregates and some reefers or propane. It seems most of our produce and grocery comes in on trucks form other parts of the state-a pity.

woody_k 05-02-2009 05:08 PM

Luck of the draw for my shooting unless someone tells me of a heritage unti coming into so cal then I plan for the shoot.

TAMR159 05-02-2009 09:51 PM

Thanks to friends, I can get a line-up and operations info on pretty much any railroad in the area, making my life a lot easier...though I've gotten to care less and less about what's on the train and more about the shot itself. Yes, the train may just have yet another CSX GEVO leading, but it's a train nevertheless, so I'll shoot it...and besides, if I screw up the shot, there's usually another train with the same power right behind it. So, yes, I am informed, but I only need to know that there's stuff moving - I just don't see the point in going berserk and chasing a pair of BNSFs halfway across the state (nothing wrong with that, whatever floats your boat - it just doesn't do it for me [anymore]).

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