The rail welder

It’s construction time again!

This is some sort of funky diesel hydraulic tug with a big welder sitting on top for work on the Metrorail track. It’s actually kinda cute.



Now with even MORE couplers! The one with the array of Pogo Pins on it matches the Metrorail trains. I’m not sure if, or how, the electrical interface would be used. Third rail power certainly isn’t. It might even be built to be able to tug the Budd UTV cars around where the onboard motors can’t be powered.


This rig is usually seen in action only on weekends when closing a track to perform maintenance does not affect the train schedule too badly.

We need our BayLink.


I’m not standing in front of the yellow line aboard this bus just to live dangerously. I’m standing in front of it because the bus is at a crush load and there is no space left behind the line.

Almost every bus from downtown Miami to Miami Beach runs packed like this.

So who keeps deciding we don’t need a high capacity train service connecting to Miami Beach?

You eeeeediots!!

This user interface can suck an F40PH through 30 feet of garden hose

Okay, don’t get me wrong, even being kind of half of a regional rail system, Tri-Rail is great for what it is… But it’s got issues.

This is what their newer stations look like. The hazard of having passengers cross the tracks at grade has been eliminated by fencing between the tracks and a very tall overhead bridge. Due to this, you really need to know what track the train will be on, and this is not necessarily consistent because the line is shared with CSXT freight.


There’s no way to get across that bridge on short notice if your train isn’t where you expect it.

I had hoped that, like many first world (ha!) transport systems, I could turn to the Internet for more information, as the remains of the station’s public address systems are not working at all.


First stop: the Tri-Rail website, which is very informative ….


Okay then. Guess there’s just a broken image and download links.


What the— look at the size of that app!! That’s got “we used a clunky app converter” written all over it.
The fact it isn’t willing to install to SD card and play nice off in .android_secure land further supports this theory. Okay, let’s get a train schedule:


You have to fill in all these fields. There is no simple full schedule view. Note the superfluous back button. Android devices have a hardware back button so you don’t have to do this. Suck it, fruit child.


The schedule does not intuitively land near the current time of day.

There’s an alerts section which in theory would tell me of platform changes, but it pulls a blank. Since Tri-Rail got its own dispatch system, this doesn’t work anymore either! I’ll have to find their frequency again. If you listened to this in the past you’d hear signal call outs, like “631, clear to Iris, track one”, thus answering the mystery…


Meanwhile, if you keep messing with the app you can find links into the mobile site that now just deliver a mobile friendly 404…


Don’t forget, putting explosives on boars is prohibited. Thanks.


The Skybus ran out of gas!

This Metromover tech is awesome. He’s very friendly, helpful, and rescued us from being stranded on the line…. And he wasn’t adverse to me being a colossal nerd and admiring the wackadoodle relay logic and stuff. The VFD panel simply refused to photograph, “rolling shutter” effect. Alas





The vehicle is a Bombardier CX100 automated people mover. These are in use in many airports as shuttles. It’s based on the old Westinghouse Skybus, originally.

But alas, Metromover is not moving me today. Pooop!

Picture unrelated: why. Why did you do this to yourselves? That’s entirely unflattering.


We’ve got the sound to keep you getting downtown

(With apologies to Quad City DJs)

Ding-dong. Bzk bzk bzk bzk BNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNnnnn

In the coming years there will be new trains on Miami’s Metrorail. I kinda seriously love some of the sounds the old ones make, so I’m trying to get good clean captures of them.

The first and foremost: door close chime. This is two notes played on a synth that sounds like retro-futuristic outer space. A similar sounding note of different pitch used to play on PalmTran buses when a stop was requested.

But that’s only the theme music, of sorts….

Once all the doors clatter shut and the train interlocks clear, the operator may set the train in motion. The trains accelerate quickly but first they do a test to see if the brakes have cleared yet – a tone chatters on and off at low duty cycle.
Next the tone comes back loudly and stays with you a while as the station begins to fly away into the distance. It will fade away for a while as the control system (Westinghouse automatic train control or bipedal bag of colorful water) applies 100% motor power, then it quickly fades back into action once full speed is reached.

But then it also just goes silly.

Anyway, here are some recordings of it doing what it does. I would like to also try recording it via a magnetic pickup…!! I’ve heard urban folklore that the motor does have curiously strong magnetic leakage. Maybe I’ll even be able to hear track circuit tones.



These trains have really funny noses and a colossally broken dispatch system. I caught this one waiting, delayed severely trying to leave Miami and just not getting a green signal.


Brookville BL36PH, it’s very very quiet and doesn’t smell like diesel at all.


Southbound schnozzola on the Brookville.


Northbound schnozz on a Hyundai-Rotem cab car. Unlike the old Bombardier cars the cab puts the motorman on the second floor for a better view and greater safety. The Bombardier cabs put the motorman on the intermediate floor level (which would just be floor level for a normal rail passenger car like Amtrak uses).

The Brookville locomotives really impressed me. The Hyundai cars are nice but have terrible seating, they were built assuming people sit bolt upright 90 degrees in chairs like Lego mini-figs. Now if they can fix the dispatch I’ll be able to take Tri-Rail seriously again 😉

The Westinghouse Prog Stom Ass’y, or Lost Arts in Electronics

IMAG2765…You read that right, the module has an ancient TYPO on it.

Today I was at the Miami-Dade County Store, and somewhere in the shelves of weird old broken network hardware and PCs that had been picked clean by creepy Jamaican exporters, this one bronze colored anodized aluminum mystery box peeked out at me. The thing just had a strange energy about it, I couldn’t really explain it.

This box has silently served hundreds of thousands of people on their way to work, to play, in good times and bad. But what is it? And what’s with the typo?

Read more “The Westinghouse Prog Stom Ass’y, or Lost Arts in Electronics”