Train foamer videos
August 2, 2012 1:46 PM   Subscribe

I DID IT! I FINALLY CAUGHT A HERITAGE UNIT! (UP 5009) is a rail enthusiast video that inspired responses culminating in the Double Trainbow (caution: horns / screams).
posted by stbalbach (74 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hah, I had a toy train that looked like that.
posted by odinsdream at 1:48 PM on August 2, 2012


***This video is dedicated to all the Foamers around here who wern't so lucky getting this today. ;)***

God, sometimes I love the internet so much.
posted by griphus at 1:50 PM on August 2, 2012 [8 favorites]


Those who are thusly excited by trains might enjoy Danny Boyle's 1996 film Trainspotting, a fascinating documentary about the function and conformation of trains in Boyle's native Wales.
posted by koeselitz at 1:53 PM on August 2, 2012 [81 favorites]


"Within the engine ranks, the trains enforce clear hierarchies and mirror the class rigidity of their aristocratic masters. "Steamies" are better than "dirty diesels," and the number of tenders a train commands are his marks of distinction."

From a Slate article about the ideology behind Thomas the Tank Engine, "Thomas the Imperialist Tank Engine".
posted by The River Ivel at 1:55 PM on August 2, 2012 [7 favorites]


I need a cigarette.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:56 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think inspired responses is a little too bold, perhaps.
posted by kbanas at 1:57 PM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Fat Controller would be cross!
posted by Mister_A at 1:57 PM on August 2, 2012


As a person who inexplicably enjoys almost everything about trains, I still, for the life of me, don't understand trainspotting.
posted by schmod at 1:59 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I DID IT! I FINALLY GOT A CHANCE TO TELL MY TRAIN JOKE!!!!

A man and a woman who had never met before but were both married to other people found themselves assigned to the same sleeping compartment on a trans-continental train.

Though initially embarrassed and uneasy over sharing a room, they were both very tired and fell asleep quickly, he in the upper bunk and she in the lower.

At 1 a.m., the man leaned down and gently woke the woman saying, "Ma'am, I'm sorry to bother you, but would you be willing to reach into the closet and get me a second blanket? I'm awfully cold."

"I have a better idea," she replied. "Just for tonight, let's pretend that we're married."

"Wow! that's a great idea!" he exclaimed.

"Good," she replied. "Get your own fucking blanket."

After a moment of silence, he farted.
posted by growabrain at 2:00 PM on August 2, 2012 [171 favorites]


I love to drive up into the mountains of the Cajon Pass and listen as trains go by in the middle of the night. There's something very moving about the haunting whistles and the feeling that you're witness to a rapidly vanishing part of the American landscape. I don't have the proper railfan's extraordinary attention to detail, but I have certainly felt the emotional impetus behind it.
posted by mykescipark at 2:03 PM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


I love the part at 0:58 where he says "Uh, all right", he sounds if not defeated, slightly stricken with ennui. It is as if his entire life led up to this moment, capturing a heritage train on camera, and it kinda sucked. Such a poignant metaphor for life.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:04 PM on August 2, 2012 [10 favorites]


First of all, my toddler enjoyed this post an awful lot.

Secondly, when my toddler went train-crazy, we contacted some local foamers who post foamery things all the time on local blogs, and they all enthusiastically gave us the best places and times to go trainspotting locally. We went out to a recommended spot in a rural area, where we spotted a looooooong BNSF intermodal with an ORANGE* engine going 60 mph and my toddler almost fainted with delight. (All the other times we've accidentally spotted trains, they've been going slow city speeds in city areas with lots of crossings.)

Anyway, I never knew I'd want to trainspot but it's pretty much the highlight of my kid's month when we do.

*technical train-type term
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:05 PM on August 2, 2012 [16 favorites]


I live in a small town in North Dakota, a couple block from the RR tracks. The whole town is about 5-6 blocks from the tracks. Plus, we're on the line that runs from Seattle to Chicago. Let's just say freight traffic is HEAVY. If this dude spent a week here I promise he will never want to see another fucking train for months.
posted by Ber at 2:06 PM on August 2, 2012 [11 favorites]


Are the subsequent videos parodies? Because they sound less enthusiastic than the first guy.
posted by mrnutty at 2:07 PM on August 2, 2012


I just remembered the word for that shaky hand-held camera style seen in the original and the parodies:

Shitty.
posted by Mister_A at 2:13 PM on August 2, 2012


I just remembered the word for that shaky hand-held camera style seen in the original and the parodies

Does a style count as a style if it's just, well, what it is? That's like saying you hate that live-recording sound they use in those live recordings.
posted by Think_Long at 2:16 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Trainspotters are odd birds. Decani, who now drives trains for a living, reports that they get so familiar with them on the platforms that they have little nicknames for many of them. I believe one is called "Twirler" for the way he constantly whips around looking for the next engine.
posted by idest at 2:17 PM on August 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have a 3-year-old who is going to be SO happy tonight.

Think I'll leave the sound off, though.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 2:19 PM on August 2, 2012


I really like how the 1989 Heritage Unit Guy talks about how he missed out on the 1996 and 1995 and "1988 is still in the area". Something tells me things would sure be a lot easier if these fellows were able to get ahold of the rail company's daily orders, but I guess that'd take all the fun out of the hunt.
posted by Spatch at 2:21 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


If only there was a website that tracked all of these heritage units for you.
posted by ckape at 2:22 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


With that level of excitement expressed about "catching" a heritage unit, I fully expected the engine to fall into a rough pit covered with leaves 20 feet further on.
/disappointed.
posted by Catch at 2:24 PM on August 2, 2012 [10 favorites]


Decani, who now drives trains for a living, reports that they get so familiar with them on the platforms that they have little nicknames for many of them.

And track them, in little notebooks?
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:24 PM on August 2, 2012 [9 favorites]


And track them, in little notebooks?

There's the old chestnut "Trainspotters are pathetic. I've counted 29 today."
posted by Spatch at 2:26 PM on August 2, 2012 [22 favorites]


This is exactly how I felt the first time I saw the CTA Holiday Train pull into the station.
posted by theodolite at 2:26 PM on August 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


I know "trainspoters" as railfans who go Railfanning.
posted by EJXD2 at 2:30 PM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


And track them, in little notebooks?

I actually suggested that to him as I thought it would be hilarious to start a site called "Trainspotterspotting."
posted by idest at 2:32 PM on August 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


Some of the things I love about taking a train to and from work every day on one of the older active rail lines in the country is (a) I GET TO RIDE THE TRAAAAAIN!!!, (b) that I get to ride on the Thomas Viaduct, and (c) I get to wave back at the regular clutches of friendly foamers who haunt the rarely-used St. Denis stop, because of the way it's set up for particular good trainwatchin'.

Give me an awkwardly earnest enthusiast any day over all the cynics. Life is too short for embarrassment. I don't take too much time to learn all the ins and outs of bogie configurations like my genuine trainspotter pal from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, who visits occasionally and takes me out to hold his number notebook while he's marveling at the odd configuration of an engine's rotary discombobulator module, but when I'm at my cabin, where the train runs through my yard, I do run out of the house and wave like a little girl at almost every train. Trains are neat.

Plus, I sound exactly like this guy every time I see a Panhard 24BT on the road.
posted by sonascope at 2:34 PM on August 2, 2012 [9 favorites]


Ber: " If this dude spent a week here I promise he will never want to see another fucking train for months."

Amen to that.

Almost every day, I row boats off in a secluded corner of Washington DC that almost nobody knows exists. It's a serene escape to the hustle and bustle of the city. The road is overgrown, and there are no homes or offices in either direction for about a mile.

However, wait a few minutes, and you'll realize that the serenity is only momentary. It's at times the loudest fucking part of the city. Because there are no homes or commercial buildings nearby, not only are there no noise restrictions -- the city goes out of its way to funnel any sort of loud activity into this tiny area.

There's a huge freight train about every 15 minutes; usually with 2-4 locomotives, to give a sense of the scale. An absolutely astonishing amount of the east-coast's rail traffic actually crosses directly through DC. Instead of stopping this practice due to the obvious security risk that it is, they're actually working to more than double the capacity through the city, despite there being almost no direct freight customers in the area. They also use the same track for shunting, so there's even more activity/noise. (Not to mention the nearly-constant maintenance that CSX seems to perform on that track.)

Every helicopter in the city flies about 100 feet above ground directly over the site. It's pretty much a continuous stream of low-flying military choppers. Ambulances drive across the bridge with their sirens at full-blast, even when there's no traffic ahead. DC water is using the area to dig a series of huge fucking holes so they can begin digging a massive tunnel under the river. The gas company also does a ton of digging in the area for some reason, and they're using all this construction as a reason to replace the sewers as well. The prison is nearby, and they test their siren at every opportunity. It's got to be the most well-tested siren in the world.

It's almost ridiculous how loud the place can be when all of those things are going on at once. Weirdly, if you time things right, it's also the quietest part of the city when all of the pilots, engineers, and construction workers are on their break.
posted by schmod at 2:40 PM on August 2, 2012 [8 favorites]


ok, so what's the difference between a "railfan", a "trainspotter", and a "train foamer"?

I get that a railfan maybe doesn't actively look for particular trains but is more of a general enthusiast, but of the latter two?
posted by modernnomad at 2:41 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love the part at 0:58 where he says "Uh, all right", he sounds if not defeated, slightly stricken with ennui. It is as if his entire life led up to this moment, capturing a heritage train on camera, and it kinda sucked. Such a poignant metaphor for life.

Affective forecasting
posted by Jpfed at 2:41 PM on August 2, 2012


EJXD2: "I know "trainspoters" as railfans who go Railfanning."

In my mind, I'm imagining that these people are trainspotter-spotters. Meta-trainspotters, if you will....
posted by schmod at 2:42 PM on August 2, 2012


Foamer is kind of a derogatory term; it's because they get so excited they foam at the mouth. I worked at a model train shop in high school that was two blocks from a busy freight line and we had engine catalogs "foamers" would come racing in to check them whenever there was an unusual or exciting engine.

These days it seems to have been adopted by enthusiasts as a self-deprecating term; it's not so rude as it used to be and can be affectionate.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:49 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I know "trainspoters" as railfans who go Railfanning.

I've been a bit confused by the talk of trainspotters and foamers but as far as I know railfans aren't looking to see particular trains, like old heritage trains.

My father and my brother are huge railfans. Because I have the faster computer, they installed software on my laptop that enables them to track the movements of trains in realtime. Trainwatching on a Saturday night gets them so excited. We also plan vacations around it. If we're staying in a hotel I try to find one near train tracks. Recently in Virginia we were in this ratty motel room BUT not 20 feet outside our door there were tracks. The only problem we ever had was being surrounded by police cruisers in Chicago because "what are these black people doing by the railroad tracks". Thank goodness none of us was using a camera at the time.

I am not a railfan although I do like the feeling of a giant train rushing past me. It's so powerful. It's also nice to picnic by tracks.
posted by Danila at 2:52 PM on August 2, 2012 [7 favorites]


As I am often wont to say, I grew up in the middle of nowhere, just outside of Springfield, Oregon. In the early 1980s, lumber was still strong in the area, and at the Springfield-Mohawk border (to the east) was a major lumber processing place where logs were delivered by train and sawed into planks. Other freight travelled on the trains too.

We had two bus lines: one that went down Hill Road, crossed the train tracks, and went up north to the Marcola border before turning around. Depending on which kids were in school each year, we had to go closer to Marcola, which meant crossing the train tracks a second time, picking up a kid, turning around in his parents' driveway, and then crossing the tracks a third time. The other bus line started on Marcola Road closer to Springfield, and went up smaller streets to the east, never crossing the railroad. About half the elementary school was on each bus (as mentioned, middle of nowhere).

Freight trains are long. They also go only slightly faster than a school bus filled with a couple dozen elementary schoolers who are only too delighted when they can watch a train go by from up high and ask both the engine and the caboose to blow their horns. Bus drivers, however, are less amused.

Our favorite days were the ones where we'd hit the morning freight train at Hill Road, we wouldn't go fast enough to beat it past the Marcola crossing, then after we'd picked up the kid with the huge driveway and turned around, we'd find out the train had backtracked and stopped at the previous crossing. And the caboose, which was manned by the same guy most of the time, would be waving at us giddy, shouting kids while sounding the horn and our poor beleaguered bus driver thanked him for moving the train so she could deliver her own cargo to the elementary school.

An hour and a half late, just before first recess :D
posted by fraula at 2:55 PM on August 2, 2012 [7 favorites]


Man. If you ever need to explain "nerdgasm" to anyone, just bring up those videos.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:06 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Because I have the faster computer, they installed software on my laptop that enables them to track the movements of trains in realtime.

!!! Details please.
posted by mykescipark at 3:06 PM on August 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've never been a real railfan or anything but I did enjoy reading up on and riding the L a lot when I lived in Chicago.

One of my favorite things to do was to snag the seat right at the head of the head car that gave a great view of the track on the Purple Line. I was always sad that due to a different configuration of seats, this wasn't possible on the Red Line. Would have loved to see what the tunnel portions looked like.
posted by kmz at 3:08 PM on August 2, 2012


schmod probably the bottleneck is crossing the Potomac, and building new right of ways for track. BTW do you row near the New York Ave crossing of Anacostia River?
posted by stbalbach at 3:10 PM on August 2, 2012


"Foamer" was my new word today.
posted by jsavimbi at 3:18 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Would have loved to see what the tunnel portions looked like.
I used to do the same thing riding on the subway. When I was on a line where the front car had a door at the front of the car I would press my face against the window and cup my hands to peer out into the dark. This graffiti is new, but there has been some type of graffiti on that line right before crossing over the Manhattan bridge for as long as I can remember. There is actually stuff to see down there. Narrow tunnels sometimes expand into huge caverns. Off in the gloom there are lights, access doorways and sometimes even people. A few times due to service interruptions I was on a train that seemed to pull into an abandoned station or siding.

When I was older, but still young enough to be stupid and not worry about jail, I would open the window to the back conductors booth from the outside and jump through into the conductors booth. We would ride for hours in the back conductors booth, looking out the giant windows and listening to the radio from the dispatchers and smoking cigarettes.

There is all kinds of stuff down there, this video shows a beautiful abandoned station that can no longer be used because it is too curved.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:27 PM on August 2, 2012 [7 favorites]


!!! Details please.

Here it is: ATCS Monitor:

ATCS Monitor allows you to graphically monitor train traffic on railroads that use the Association of American Railroad's Advanced Train Control System (ATCS) Specification 200 protocol, Wabtec (ex-Rockwell Collins) Advanced Railroad Electronics System (ARES) protocol, Union Switch and Signal Genisys protocol, and Safetran Supervisory Control System (SCS-128) protocol.
posted by Danila at 3:37 PM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wabtec (ex-Rockwell Collins)

Aside: they're the people who built the inflight entertainment systems in a lot of planes. Well, the old ones with the TV-resolution screens, and their own slightly odd range of games. Qantas and British Airways flights had them (though the Qantas A380s have something newer).
posted by acb at 3:48 PM on August 2, 2012


Oh man, I used to see railfans all the time on the train to and from school. Oakland Jack London Square is lousy with them because there's a UP railyard and Amtrak railyard right there. I was seeing heritage units regularly the last three years (and 94,000 miles!) of train travel. Too bad I never clued in to paying real attention to them. (Mostly I tried to listen in on the conversations of High Speed Rail wonks and policymakers as they commuted to the Capitol. Or stared out the window while avoiding doing my homework.)
posted by oneirodynia at 3:52 PM on August 2, 2012


Saw this the other day and just loved it. I so enjoy the pure enthusiasm of someone about a specific niche thing like trains. It's so infectious, and pleasing.
posted by lazaruslong at 4:18 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


What is a heritage unit?
posted by goethean at 4:31 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


A heritage unit is a modern locomotive that is given a historical paint job. Specifically the Union Pacific heritage units are given paint jobs to look like a locomotive belonging to one of the railroads that was merged in to Union Pacific over the years. (Norfolk Southern has a similar set of locomotives. Amtrak just changed paint schemes a lot so those heritage units are all just old Amtrak schemes.)

Old locomotives that never got repainted don't count, nor would it count if a railroad just started bringing back the old scheme wholesale
posted by ckape at 4:43 PM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Weirdly, 20 minutes after I read this thread, the "Double Trainbow" clip appeared on local Canadian channel "Global TV" (Toronto) during their crappy "news" segment. Now, I had been under the impression that the Double Trainbow was a mockery of the the first clip, but GlobalTV presented sans-context as "a guy who is really into trains".

It was.... odd. If there are any GlobalTV producers reading, are you lifting stuff straight from MetaFilter?
posted by modernnomad at 4:44 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


One of the model trail forums I am on just posted a link to some MSN site which was also hosting the Double Trainbow clip as if it were not a parody, so I guess it is just catching on in a way the original never did. (And it is a parody, I doubt even that first guy would react like that to seeing museum pieces at a museum.)
posted by ckape at 5:09 PM on August 2, 2012


Railfans are an interesting bunch. I don't go trackside much, but I work for a company that contracts to do signal engineering for the railroads. If I do my job right, when I finish a project, I don't hear about it again until it goes into service, and even then I may not hear about it. But if I get curious, I can almost always track down some railfan site where there's photos and status updates.

I also enjoy using ATCS Monitor from time to time. The communications between the field equipment and the office aren't encrypted, so where the railroad is using RCL (radio codeline) anyone with a radio and the correct software can listen in. There's a huge network of volunteers who decode the messages to figure out which address belongs to which location, and what each bit in the message means. They also host monitoring sites that capture that communication and stream it to the internet. It's strangely satisfying to open the program now and again and watch a location you programmed and tested operate in real-time, thousands of miles away.
posted by yuwtze at 5:18 PM on August 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


A heritage unit is a modern locomotive that is given a historical paint job

Ahh, so it is the train equivalent of a throwback jersey.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:45 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Shall we bring up bus spotting yet?
posted by crapmatic at 5:48 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wake me when Railfurries becomes a thing.
(That was fun to watch, though, thanks.)
posted by uosuaq at 5:57 PM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


stbalbach: "schmod probably the bottleneck is crossing the Potomac, and building new right of ways for track. BTW do you row near the New York Ave crossing of Anacostia River?"

No. Between the Pennsylvania Ave bridge and the (ridiculously-low) unnamed CSX bridge over the Anacostia. That line doesn't carry any passenger traffic, and the freight bottleneck through DC is the 100-year-old single-track tunnel underneath Virginia Ave SE. They're fixing that, among other things, after concluding that it would be too time-consuming and expensive to route freight around of DC.

The rail bridge over the Potomac (Long Bridge) isn't a bottleneck yet. Once a 3rd or 4th track are added in SW DC (and decked over?), the Virginia Ave tunnel is double-tracked, and passenger service south of DC expands, the 2-track Long Bridge will indeed become a bottleneck. As they say, they'll cross that bridge when we reach that point. It's not going to happen for quite some time.
posted by schmod at 6:04 PM on August 2, 2012


Decani, who now drives trains for a living

Somehow this explains so much.
posted by Aizkolari at 6:21 PM on August 2, 2012


(Norfolk Southern has a similar set of locomotives.
And they just had a family portrait session in early July.

Watch video for marginally less frothy enthusiasm from railfans et al.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 6:23 PM on August 2, 2012


Wake me when Railfurries becomes a thing.

Well, a decade or two ago, there was a mention of “gricing”, a British phenomenon (and, to be fair, what else could it be?) which combined streaking with trainspotting. Gricers snuck into train yards and photographed themselves naked next to the locomotives, with the serial numbers visible in the shot. Or so the piece (which, I suspect, was one of those “it's a weird world” pieces in the press) said. It had a (cropped or retouched) photo of a skinny naked guy standing next to an engine or wagon.
posted by acb at 6:33 PM on August 2, 2012


"that's the end of the train right there"

well du'h
posted by mattoxic at 6:46 PM on August 2, 2012


As I am often wont to say, I grew up in the middle of nowhere, just outside of Springfield, Oregon. In the early 1980s, lumber was still strong in the area, and at the Springfield-Mohawk border (to the east) was a major lumber processing place where logs were delivered by train and sawed into planks. Other freight travelled on the trains too.


Heh, you can still get stuck by the occasional long train carrying lumber and other wood products. The switching yard is still pretty active in Eugene as well.

(Though I have real trouble imagining any of that area as the middle of nowhere. heh)
posted by madajb at 7:10 PM on August 2, 2012


modernnomad: "ok, so what's the difference between a "railfan", a "trainspotter", and a "train foamer"?"

Britishness and contempt.
posted by schmod at 7:11 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm gonna be that big jerk buzz kill bully. *puffs up chest*. Hey, like, if you want to see it that bad can't you go just see the train when it's parked somewhere? *sniggers from sycophantic entourage wearing striped shirts and paper crowns*. Hey I like that rail book *slaps it out of your hands*. Dork. Hey guys lets scram. *bikes away recklessly, wins sports*
posted by passerby at 7:31 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


> MSN site which was also hosting the Double Trainbow clip as if it were not a parody

The Double Trainbow is going viral but nobody seems to understand it's a meme. My original research discovered the UP 509 origin video perhaps MeFi is the first to piece it together (though hardly likely).
posted by stbalbach at 7:40 PM on August 2, 2012


lazaruslong: "Saw this the other day and just loved it. I so enjoy the pure enthusiasm of someone about a specific niche thing like trains. It's so infectious, and pleasing."

I totally agree. In fact I don't know that I've found my own geeky niche just yet (maybe food? Although generally they're called foodies rather than food geeks; there should be a distinction made, in my opinion, between people who just like eating tasty things and people who are interested in it from a more anthropological perspective [e.g. foodways]) but honestly I find it just as fulfilling to surround myself with people who are really geeked out over things like this. My wife, for example, is a fairly enthusiastic pro wrestling fan. I enjoy watching it too, but every so often I find myself turning and just watching her face and eyes as she's watching the match. I find it nearly as captivating (of course, I find my wife's face captivating in general).
posted by Deathalicious at 8:48 PM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


IANAF but i interact with folks like this all the time, at my work. i'm actually kinda happy for the first video guy - such genuine joy. but the parodies are even nerdier than the original, if that's possible.
posted by lapolla at 9:06 PM on August 2, 2012


Snarky comments I forgot to make earlier:

It may be a one-of-a-kind unit, but there's still no sense getting excited over anything Union Pacific.

Just in case you forgot it was Union Pacific, the video notes helpfully point out the malfunctioning grade crossing.

BL2s are only "special" euphemistically.
posted by ckape at 9:07 PM on August 2, 2012


I DID IT! I FINALLY GOT A CHANCE TO TELL MY TRAIN JOKE!!!!

There have many times when I have regarded the $5 cost to join Metafilter has being the best investment I ever made, but that joke alone takes the cake. Thank you!
posted by vac2003 at 1:39 AM on August 3, 2012


Aizkolari: Somehow this explains so much

Sorry, I'm not getting you. What does it explain?
posted by idest at 4:26 AM on August 3, 2012


Some questions answered:

Are the subsequent videos parodies? Because they sound less enthusiastic than the first guy
Yes

ok, so what's the difference between a "railfan", a "trainspotter", and a "train foamer"

Railfan: you like certain things that have to do with railroading. Some a lot. You learn some stuff about some trains and things like that.

Trainspotter: Think bird spotters but then with trains. Spending endless hours along some or other track in order to get a view the odd locomotive, special consist, or just to collect 'having-seen this one' type of moments. In this case: a modern locomotive painted in retro-colors.

Train foamer: some combination of the other two, who also shrieks uncontrollably while not being able to hold his camera in any single position for more than a tenth of a second.

And yes, the parodies are way nerdier than the first one. Everyone can google "Heritage locomotive" and find out what the Norfolk Southern have to say about it, and guess why the guy is happy. But for understanding why the others are snarky (and not so deep), you need a mind of wheels and steel.
posted by Namlit at 4:44 AM on August 3, 2012


You too can share the delights!

Trainspotting sim!

http://www.rbz.smartemail.co.uk/
posted by BadMiker at 5:35 AM on August 3, 2012


It's interesting how every country seems to have its own words for rail-vehicle enthusiasts. In Britain there are trainspotters, in the USA, railfans and foamers. In Australia, they're known as “gunzels” (though that may or may not be tram-specific).
posted by acb at 5:42 AM on August 3, 2012


Ah, the dear old spotters, bless 'em. As idest mentioned, they are part of my new and exciting world now and yes, we get quite fond of the regulars and refer to them by generally affectionate nicknames such as the aforementioned "Twirly". There's also "Jabba" (large and immobile), "Sniper" (much given to setting up an incredibly long-lensed camera in the most elevated perches he can get to) and "The Freak" (the only female spotter we're aware of).

There's also the astonishing guy who literally knows every turn on my depot's entire roster. He will sometimes meet you as you get out of your train at the end of a trip and say something like "Hi. On 42 turn today, I see. It's your break now. 55 minutes then you've just got a Guildford via Cobham at 15:32 returning via Epsom, then Hampton Court at 18:15. Guard gets relieved at Guildford." He knows every station that you will be calling at and which ones you will be missing out. A while back one of the guys asked him how he could possibly know all this stuff and he replied "I learned it. I have a good memory. I have Asperger's".

We're not allowed to take people into our cabs but I think if anyone ever broke the rules and offered this guy a ride he'd probably die of excitement.
posted by Decani at 7:09 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also

Tug spotters

Crane spotters
(I know these exist but they seem to be particularly furtive, perhaps because of the somewhat secretive world of mobile crane deployments)
posted by BadMiker at 7:48 AM on August 3, 2012


I used to have model trains and I love trains in general, but I don't often get to feel like a train lover lately, except for two times recently:

1. Wifey and I were driving through a very rural area, on a road running parallel to, and quite close to, the train tracks. The windows were down and my arm was out the window, and I could see a ways off (it is North Dakota after all) a train coming from the other direction. As we got close, I waved to the engineer. And -- ohmygod -- he *BLEW THE HORN* and my wife will never let me live down how excited I was.

2. We were going to a flea market, and stopped at a McDonald's at 5am in Detroit Lakes, right across from the train tracks. Due to the oil work in the Bakken, the Empire Builder has added cars to handle the extra passengers. The Amtrack train, with the stealth-angle engine and modern two-story train cars, went by -- but at the end they had connected two or three vintage Amtrak cars from the sixties. I looked around quickly to see if anybody else just saw what I saw, but I was the only one standing there (Wifey was in the restroom, the rest of the restaurant was empty, the workers were helping drive-thru) so I had nobody around to mock me for how giddily excited I was to see those old cars actually in use.

So, I can kinda feel what's up with this guy. Trains are a weird thing. It's like seeing a rare animal in the wild: an ubermanly version of bird-watching where you're standing out in the middle of a field hoping to see -- instead of a meadowlark or woodpecker -- a huge, steel, smoke-belching machine hurtling by at deadly speeds.
posted by AzraelBrown at 7:51 AM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Aizkolari: Somehow this explains so much

Sorry, I'm not getting you. What does it explain?
posted by idest at 12:26 PM on August 3

posted by Decani at 10:53 AM on August 5, 2012


There is all kinds of stuff down there, this video shows a beautiful abandoned station that can no longer be used because it is too curved.

...amongst other things. That video brought the awesome.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 9:14 PM on August 6, 2012


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