Stories from Wayne Lovelace
This Page of Carknocker.com is for stories from Wayne Lovelace. He is a Retired Canadian National Railway, tractor trailer & heavy equipement operator. From reading his first story, I am of the opinion all Railroad Employees worldwide are alike, when it comes to mischief, and pranks. I think it might be a product of the simular invironments, all railroaders are subjected to in the course of their careers. What ever it is, I know we all will be more inlightened by reading about some of his experiances as a railroader.
Born in Kingston, Ontario, Canada October 1940 and lived outside of Kingston. As a young lad of sixteen, I got the moving bug I guess you could say. Never had been anywhere outside of the areas around Kingston, Ontario.
Took a first time ride on a train west, arriving June 1957 in Toronto, Ontario. Had two jobs from 1957 to 1964 but was not happy with my work. A friend of mine that I chummed around with worked for the Canadian National Railway as a truck driver in the express department. He had been after me for a couple years to come and get a job with the CNR. Made the move finally, got hired on as a truck driver in the Freight department. Every one can remember their first day on the job and I sure remember mine. December 28-1964. I was 24 years old. Cold has hell, snow on the ground, a brand new International 16 foot stake truck filled to the brim and a foot high pile of delivery bills. It was only my third time driving a truck, did not have a clue where I was going. I made a lot of U turns that day and never stopped till 3pm for a sandwich. That day was the start of the best job that I ever had in my lifetime.
After all most two years on straight truck, I wanted to do something different so I got trained and went driving tractor trailer for the express-freight department. After doing that for a year or so I bid a job driving tractor trailer for Intermodal. Same place, just in another area called CN Conport Intermodal. That was a great job hauling trailer trains and 40 footers, lots of overtime. It was a very big operation with approx. 30 CNR drivers at one time. Around 1985 all the challenge was gone for me I wanted something better.
Long story short I got training on Heavy Equipment to operate the container mobile cranes and overhead gantry cranes. For two summers I worked afternoons, Holiday relief for operators that had a bid job. The last seven years I worked a bid job on days operating the Clark mobile crane. Along with 12 other machines that we had at that time. I must say the last seven years of my working at the CNR were the best years of my life on the railway.
Over the years, you will hear people say they hate their job. Well I loved my job and could not wait to get up and go to work every day At the end of 1995 CNR went from government run to private run. Bought 25 of us out working at the Conport intermodal and moved everything to Brampton, Ontario half-hour west of Toronto. It is called Brampton Intermodal. As far as I know, it still has that name. December 28-1964------ December 30-1995---31 glorious years.
Thanks for reading my years at the Canadian National Railway, and I hope you enjoy reading the stories, that I may post on this page.
I worked the day shift from at that time was 8 to 4 on Heavy Equipment. My job during the day was to operate a mobile crane, a Clark toplift for loading and unloading containers from truckers to train or vise versa or truckers picking up containers loaded or empty to go where ever.
So I did my 8 hour shift and was asked if I wanted to work over time! Well overtime on our job during the summer was not just a couple hours! You had to work another eight hour shift because you were filling in for some one sick or on holidays. So now I had to work till midnight 12pm or rail time 2400 hrs. While working the shift you had two twenty min breaks plus half hour for lunch so straight 8 hours, they changed that for the 24 hour service that we had to do.
I had to operate the over head gantry crane for the over time shift. When you worked overtime you had to take what they gave you. So not knowing to me the afternoon shift decided to play a prank. Ok so you have to visualize this, the rows where the gantry crane ran were three rows of containers stacked two high then a railway track and then a pad for trucks to load and unload there containers, the crane ran up and down the pad over this area. During the lunch time some one took the shunt tractor and put it in the middle of the three rows and then a mobile crane put two containers in front one on top of each other closing it in so no one could see in the middle row. Well after lunch, the shunt truck operator came out and no machine! He got hold of the Superviser and they drove all around the yard looking for it but of course could not find it over the whole shift and I guess they got the CNR police in on it too. When I went back up in my overhead gantry crane after the break and was working my way up and down the area I see this shunt tractor in the centre line of containers. Well I kind of figured out what was going on and didnt say a thing because you didnt work that shift and you better keep your mouth shut. Start of next shift of course the operator that took over my gantry crane, sees it in the blocks and reports it on the two way so then they stopped looking and got it back. But as far as I know no one knew who put it there only the guys that did it.
This is only one of many, things that went on there. (we had fun while working)
This is a story of how I got around a problem while driving tractor trailer for CNR Intermodal.
When CN got into the delivery and pickup of Sea Containers in the seventies, They would buy all different kinds, and makes of tractors for the fleet. CN did not know in the early stages of hauling containers what they needed for power to do the job. They were the first to do it, and everything was all new to every one.
Just to give you an idea of what I am saying! Their first five tractors were White Freightliners. V12 Detroits with a thirteen speed transmission, they would just play with a trailer train, Consisting of two twenty foot containers loaded with 20 ton each. Only problem with this is they only got about 3 miles to the gallon pulling this kind of load.
When I started working for Intermodal the company started to make some changes with the fleet. They would buy maybe five or six tractors at a time, same make, and same model. They were doing this was to get a better deal on new tractors, also cheaper to only keep parts for one make, and less confusion for drivers to operate.
Around the early Eighties CNs fleet was mostly all International tractors. Each driver was assigned a tractor for their hours of duty. I drove my assigned tractor on days and another man drove it on afternoons. If I wasn't in on time for the afternoon driver, then he took what ever was there. Some guys didn't want any one driving their assigned tractors, so they would take the keys home with them. They would all so take the spare keys if they could get hold of them. So as I said, tractors at that time were mostly all the same make modal and year. If we came in, and our tractor for some reason was not available, we had to take another one for our shift.
No keys! I thought maybe there is a way, I could use my tractor key. I inserted my key into the door lock, while keeping pressure to the right, I jiggling up and down while pulling it out slowly, and presto the door opens. The same thing would work for the ignition, and the same key would work with every tractor of the same make and year in our fleet. Drivers never could figure out how, I was able to use their machine with no key! and I did not tell them.
Now one day, the unexpected thing happened. I was driving a different tractor on my day shift that day, and of course used my key to operate in all day long.
On my way in to the Intermodal yard I drove to the fuel pumps first, and filled the tanks up with fuel, and checked the oil before, I parked it for the day. I then continued on to the Intermodal yard and it was the end of my shift. The assigned driver for this machine was waiting for me. I just grabbed my things and jumped out. Told him oil and fuel was OK, and I left.
You guessed it I left my key in the ignition with engine running. Next day boss calls me in to his office to ask me what the heck I did to cause this problem for the afternoon driver. So of course, I am playing the dummy! I do not know what he is talking about.
Seems the driver stopped along the way some where to go in to a restaurant for a coffee. He turned the ignition off, got out and locked the door. Hmmm not a good thing to do with the wrong key, ya think! Driver had to call our garage to bring him out the right key, so he could carry on with his shift. I do not think that he was a happy trucker that day. The boss asked me what happened! My answer, I have no idea! The key worked for me. End of story. Hope you got a laugh out of another day in a railroaders life. Wayne