Old 08-16-2010, 06:23 PM   #1
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Default Conductor Calls us in as a Suspicious Vehicle

I thought some of you guys might appreciate this - Dan K and I got called in by a conductor yesterday while we were chasing their train. After the initial report that included a description of what we were both wearing, along with the make/model/plates on our vehicle, I figured it'd come up when she checked back in with the dispatcher and had my phone ready to record the conversation:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ottergoose/4895691941/

We never set foot on RR property, and were getting our shots from the shoulder across fields or from the street at some rural grade crossings. Apparently the DSLRs and big antenna weren't enough to give us away as foamers.
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Old 08-16-2010, 06:37 PM   #2
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Laughed my ass off.
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Old 08-16-2010, 06:45 PM   #3
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But you guys aren't even a vehicle! LOL Interesting audio though to say the least. Almost makes me want a scanner to hear what the gys out of Cayce say about me.
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Old 08-16-2010, 07:06 PM   #4
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that is what you get for shooting a plain wedgie
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Old 08-16-2010, 07:22 PM   #5
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We never set foot on RR property, and were getting our shots from the shoulder across fields or from the street at some rural grade crossings. Apparently the DSLRs and big antenna weren't enough to give us away as foamers.
That doesn't particularly matter - I know some of the railroads periodically lecture the crews on reporting people near the tracks, people using cameras or any other "suspicious activity". In an environment where RR officials like to play "gotcha!" with crews on rules violations, etc. some crews find it "safer" to just call in stuff that common sense would dictate that you ignore because you never know who's watching or what trouble it could get you into if you don't follow the rules, etc. I think it'd be amusing if they followed some of those directives to the letter just to make it obvious how stupid they are - like every train reporting every foamer sighted in Fostoria for example. One day of that and the officals would probably be like "Ok, Ok, enough already, cut it out!" It'd probably bog down radio com enough to slow down everything through town that day.

One of the more amusing 'incidents' along these lines was when a certain Ohio non-class 1 called a couple of us in and didn't know how in the world to describe my car (Silver Subaru Baja) ultimately calling it a "Grey truck-thing" and also mis-reporting the color of our cloths - no plate numbers since we were perpendicular to the tracks. On top of that, we left that spot (laughing) right after that to chase the train, so good luck finding us! Kind of like random encounters with cops or security - it goes with the territory and generally doesn't result in any problems if you're not doing anything wrong.

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Old 08-16-2010, 07:41 PM   #6
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That's funny. You should have gotten out and waved with your scanner in hand. lol That would have made that employee feel real stupid. "They're hiding the vehicle" LMAO!
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Old 08-16-2010, 07:43 PM   #7
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I had the cops called on me before, they accused me of being a copper thief.
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Old 08-16-2010, 07:47 PM   #8
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That's funny. You should have gotten out and waved with your scanner in hand. lol That would have made that employee feel real stupid. "They're hiding the vehicle" LMAO!
After we were away from them for a bit (there was a portion that wasn't good for shots), the DS asked if we were still around. They said "no, I think they've got a radio on us."

It was getting pretty cloudy, so the future encounters at grade crossings were focused more on nodding, grinning, and giving big, friendly waves. I wanted to blow them kisses, but Dan suggested otherwise.

If they were worried about rules, you sure wouldn't know it:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/23527415@N07/4896008582/
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Old 08-16-2010, 07:52 PM   #9
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Someone made a interesting point on the last photo you linked -- that when they called it in, they didn't mention you guys were taking pictures, at least not that I recall.
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Old 08-16-2010, 07:58 PM   #10
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Most crews don't mind railfans...a few might make fun of us at times, but that comes with the territory ("Why are you out here chasing trains when you could be out chasing women?"). Calling the cops on us is an extreme that most of them won't go to, at least if you're not doing something blatantly stupid like standing in the gauge of an active mainline. For stuff like this (calling the cops when you're well away from the tracks on public property), most railroaders view it as pretty low...I wouldn't be surprised if the engineer was shaking his head the entire time while the conductor went about this crap. Just like our hobby though, there are all kinds working for the railroad...
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Old 08-16-2010, 11:17 PM   #11
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so far i've never had a bad interaction with cops they're always friendly and allow me to finish my current business and are simply wondering what i'm up do, i explain, they're satisfied and leave. Though one cop said there were multiple complaints about a kid taking pictures and thought it was from me, but since im not in that area often it wasn't. It was the result of some other kids doing less than smart things while railfanning that ruin it for the rest of us.
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Old 08-16-2010, 11:54 PM   #12
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They still use track warrants? Thought the whole NS system switched over to track authorities
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Old 08-16-2010, 11:55 PM   #13
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I have had a sheriff question me about what I was doing and finally since I wasn't doing anything bad he just had to leave. He still thought I was loony though.
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Old 08-16-2010, 11:57 PM   #14
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They still use track warrants? Thought the whole NS system switched over to track authorities
NS Triple Crown between Chicago and Minneapolis is via UP.
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Old 08-17-2010, 04:37 AM   #15
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Love the audio clip! Very humorous! Thanks for sharing.

Chase
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Old 08-17-2010, 04:52 AM   #16
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Nick, you shouldn't look so suspicious.
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Old 08-17-2010, 05:47 AM   #17
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The last time I was called in was because another crew called another guy who was trespassing in, so the train that had just passed us called us in to save their backs. The Sheriff's office was the one to respond, but the reporting officer (a seargent) looked more annoyed that the railroad wasted his time to call us in. He took my friend and I's ID"s and was going to run them, but changed his mind and said we were perfectly fine where we were.
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Old 08-17-2010, 08:56 PM   #18
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I had the cops called on me before, they accused me of being a copper thief.

Why, were you picking pennies off the ground?
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Old 08-18-2010, 02:26 PM   #19
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We got called in once by a CSX crew. 2 sheriff cruisers showed up, we weren't on RR property so he proceeded to tell us how dangerous it was near RR tracks. Afterward he asked where we worked and we told him "For the railroad." The defeted look on his face was classic. "I guess I just wasted that lecture, didn't I?" They left and just told us to be careful.

Another time I was called in by a lady doing yard work who said I was sitting on the tracks drinking beer. Cops showed up, saw I was drinking a Pepsi in my truck, rolled his eyes and went to tell her I wasn't doing anything illegal. Again, wasn't told to leave.

Most bizarre was being followed from one town to another by an overzealous limo driver who tried to tell us we were shooting in a sensative area and said he'd notified 3 police departments of what we were doing. We'd been shooting near the site of a closed and flattened steel mill and not on thier property. I'm sure his vigilance saved lives-or at least that's what he believed. We never saw or heard from any law enforcement on that one.

Reminded me of something I saw on WW2, where they said the problem wasn't as much the Gestapo coming after you as it was the people turning each other in right and left. Funny how little that's changed.
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Old 08-18-2010, 09:24 PM   #20
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We got called in once by a CSX crew. 2 sheriff cruisers showed up, we weren't on RR property so he proceeded to tell us how dangerous it was near RR tracks. Afterward he asked where we worked and we told him "For the railroad." The defeted look on his face was classic. "I guess I just wasted that lecture, didn't I?" They left and just told us to be careful.
I was reported once for sitting outside a interlocking on a United States Steel Shortline. I had visited the spot many many times before, and the crews enjoyed our presence.. One day, we go as if it was an any old day, and set up at our usual spot, 30 feet away from the closest track ( abandoned ) and the active track was 50 feet away! A light set rolls out, the crew gives us a few blasts of the horn and everything.... The train rolls around the bend and the scanner plays ( we had missed the train calling us in but picked up the reply ) - How many kids were there? We had done nothing wrong, and never returned to the location again. Such a shame, because what are 2 kids with video cameras pointed at trains going to do?

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Old 08-18-2010, 11:55 PM   #21
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This is one of THE BIGGEST reasons I want a scanner, but I never have been able to get one. Any donations? jk.
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Old 08-19-2010, 02:28 AM   #22
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This is one of THE BIGGEST reasons I want a scanner, but I never have been able to get one. Any donations? jk.
Mine stopped working, and all it does is sit there and make buzzing noises like a bee is trapped in it. It failed in February. I still seem to find the trains. I'd suggest looking around at a model railroad swap meet, as I've seen a number of them for sale (cheap) at train shows.

Keep in mind the coming FCC narrowband changes, which will make most existing scaner models obsolete.
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Old 08-19-2010, 02:41 AM   #23
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Mine stopped working, and all it does is sit there and make buzzing noises like a bee is trapped in it. It failed in February. I still seem to find the trains. I'd suggest looking around at a model railroad swap meet, as I've seen a number of them for sale (cheap) at train shows.

Keep in mind the coming FCC narrowband changes, which will make most existing scaner models obsolete.
Check places like Radio Shack...blah, or even Ebay. You can pick up a cheap new scanner retail for $100-150. Cheaper than that on Ebay.

As far as the narrowbanding, the scanners won't be necessarily obsolete, but they won't pick as well as they do now. You may have started to notice this on some Class 1's already. The locos/hi-rails are still receivable, but they sound very low volume if not muffled.
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Old 08-19-2010, 07:49 PM   #24
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As far as the narrowbanding, the scanners won't be necessarily obsolete, but they won't pick as well as they do now. You may have started to notice this on some Class 1's already. The locos/hi-rails are still receivable, but they sound very low volume if not muffled.
That's because many of them don't take the mics out of the holders...when you're a couple feet from the mic talking in your normal voice while in the cab of a locomotive at 60 MPH, not much gets through...that and it's not uncommon for mics to not work at all.
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Old 08-19-2010, 08:29 PM   #25
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This is the scanner my dad uses (picked up for $75 at a truckstop):

http://www.scannermaster.com/Uniden_.../01-500882.htm

I personally find the operation a little long-winded compared to mine (a predecessor of this one), but the reception with the stock antenna seems to be just as good. Does the job, as do many others.

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