Electrician Talk banner

1 - 20 of 25 Posts

·
Taco eating member
Joined
·
84 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was talking with a buddy about transportation trades and he said he knows some Union Pacific electricians who say it's hard for them as a company to find skilled tradesmen, including electricians. Some brief research indicates that competitive pay may be a factor, but when I lived in Virginia people would kill to work for CSX (though not necessarily as an electrician).

Anyways, long story short is that I don't personally know any diesel locomotive electricians and I'm curious to know if anyone has any experience to share in that avenue. I imagine it might be more dangerous than most heavy industry.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
968 Posts
I know a couple of guys that work for progress rail and amtrack .
Amtrack dude is a sparky and works on signals and such and progress dude is a diesel wrench and they both say sparkys do not work on locomotives just wrench's .

I worked in some big gold mines replacing motors and ask about sparkys . They told me they do not have full time sparkys the wrench does all the work on diesel electric drive trucks .

I do know offshore rigs witch are diesel electric have full time sparkys on them if that helps .
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
31,643 Posts
If you have a diesel-electric background return to Virginia, a skill that is in high demand with the DotCom folks
 

·
Super Moderator
Retired
Joined
·
17,181 Posts
I served my apprenticeship with the railroad and diesel electric locomotives were what I liked working on the best.
When I topped out, I chose the Diesel shop.
The locomotives are electric in nature and the actual drive train is electrically powered by 6, 600 volt DC traction motors.
Electricians play a big part in the maintenance and repair of this equipment.
The 3000 HP engine you hear is just the power plant. This plant makes all the power for the locomotive.

If anything, money and benefits should be considered a plus.
RR pay, retirement and insurance are hard to beat. Very hard to beat.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,223 Posts
Sounds like basic troubleshooting and R&R.
 

·
Taco eating member
Joined
·
84 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
If you have a diesel-electric background return to Virginia, a skill that is in high demand with the DotCom folks
Maybe one day but my main employer is my fiancee and I'm sure she'd have something to say about that! I have a sneaking suspicion I am going to be in CA for the rest of my life.
 

·
Taco eating member
Joined
·
84 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I served my apprenticeship with the railroad and diesel electric locomotives were what I liked working on the best.
When I topped out, I chose the Diesel shop.
The locomotives are electric in nature and the actual drive train is electrically powered by 6, 600 volt DC traction motors.
Electricians play a big part in the maintenance and repair of this equipment.
The 3000 HP engine you hear is just the power plant. This plant makes all the power for the locomotive.

If anything, money and benefits should be considered a plus.
RR pay, retirement and insurance are hard to beat. Very hard to beat.
Working for a RR isn't something I've ever really considered before but maybe it bears a closer look for later. The job listing for UP states it pays about $30/hour, no way to tell if that goes up or not...

https://up.jobs/job/opening/Electrician - Diesel Engines/Los Angeles/CA/083971?jsl=34078736
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,054 Posts
The railroad pension is a US Gov't program like Social Security, so, your benefits could be cut.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
346 Posts
I like our trade a bit better.
I looked into CSX and they wanted to own you. Everything is heavy and greasy dirty, you had to travel and always be available.

I spoke to a mechanical contractor that worked on reefers. They constantly wanted him to work doubles, seems like everything was an urgent life or death situation if a car load of whatever thawed out.
 

·
Super Moderator
Retired
Joined
·
17,181 Posts
The railroad pension is a US Gov't program like Social Security, so, your benefits could be cut.
No different than investing in a 401k.
When I left the RR, they sent all my RR retirement to SS.

I like our trade a bit better.
I looked into CSX and they wanted to own you. Everything is heavy and greasy dirty, you had to travel and always be available.

I spoke to a mechanical contractor that worked on reefers. They constantly wanted him to work doubles, seems like everything was an urgent life or death situation if a car load of whatever thawed out.
Traveling is not always required, but dirty work is guaranteed.
I never left the rail yard once in 6 years.
I worked on Amtrak passenger cars and Locomotives. All our work was in the yard. I would have been pleased to take a ride now and again. It never happened.
I did drive a locomotive once on the night shift. Scary.

This is true on OT. But there is more to it.
Every opportunity I had for OT was working another whole shift. But as soon as the job was complete, they always let us go home and paid us for the 8 hours at time and one half.
RR work was laid back. I was lucky the locomotives I worked on were brand new. Some were so new, they had never been shut down.
Its not unusual to see the report on an engine that had been running/idling for more than a year. Some longer.

I know a guy here that is retired from CSX and pulls in over $4000 a month.
He also gets a SS check as he worked after he retired from the RR.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,054 Posts
It just dawned on me that the gov't could roll my military pension into Social Security. :surprise:
 
  • Like
Reactions: MechanicalDVR

·
Licensed Journeyman
Joined
·
5,880 Posts
They wash windows and change parts. Seriously.

They do troubleshoot some repair work tho. It's DC schematics and follow the service orders. If it's heavy maintenance the locomotive gets sent to a home shop.

I've found them to be quite knowledgeable and helpful. Ask them anything about controls and VFDs they grow silent and unhelpful. I find that odd since they change large drives - they call em choppers.

Sent from my Pixel XL using Tapatalk
 

·
Licensed Journeyman
Joined
·
5,880 Posts

·
Licensed Journeyman
Joined
·
5,880 Posts
The railroad pension is a US Gov't program like Social Security, so, your benefits could be cut.
That's about half right.

Sent from my Pixel XL using Tapatalk
 

·
Old Grumpy Bastard
GOV/MIL contracting
Joined
·
61,668 Posts
Only thing I have ever done in relationship to railroad work is factory service on the Albatros HVAC units on the rail cars.
 

·
Super Moderator
Retired
Joined
·
17,181 Posts
Working for a RR isn't something I've ever really considered before but maybe it bears a closer look for later. The job listing for UP states it pays about $30/hour, no way to tell if that goes up or not...
https://up.jobs/job/opening/Electrician - Diesel Engines/Los Angeles/CA/083971?jsl=34078736
Works just like any union job. Contract. Your pay is totally dependent on the contract.
Usually it gets a new look every three years.
For the record when I worked at the RR, I was making double and triple more than all my buddies in their early 20's.

It's fixed. Union rates. You might pick up a cent or two for foreman or night shift.
When I was there, the foremen and supervisors had their own union.
There was no electrical foreman or supervisor.

Only thing I have ever done in relationship to railroad work is factory service on the Albatros HVAC units on the rail cars.
We (electricians) were responsible for the refrigeration and HVAC on all Amtrak passenger cars.
Very old technology. The condensing units used belts, fans and water spray to cool them.
I know a guy that chose HVAC instead of electrical when he topped out and left the RR.
The very first microwave oven I had ever saw was in a bar car.
We were so amazed at how quick it would boil a cup of water.
We did not have them at home yet.
 

·
Licensed Journeyman
Joined
·
5,880 Posts
Works just like any union job. Contract. Your pay is totally dependent on the contract.
Usually it gets a new look every three years.
For the record when I worked at the RR, I was making double and triple more than all my buddies in their early 20's.



When I was there, the foremen and supervisors had their own union.
There was no electrical foreman or supervisor.



We (electricians) were responsible for the refrigeration and HVAC on all Amtrak passenger cars.
Very old technology. The condensing units used belts, fans and water spray to cool them.
I know a guy that chose HVAC instead of electrical when he topped out and left the RR.
The very first microwave oven I had ever saw was in a bar car.
We were so amazed at how quick it would boil a cup of water.
We did not have them at home yet.

He brings up a good point - different railroads needs are different. I am not/was not a diesel electrician. We (CSX) have lots and lots of those. I was an AC electrician - very typical industrial electrician


CSX was purchased by a hedge fund manager .... this has decimated our ranks. I cant really go into detail as to why I am at Tulane now but lets just say its not the same place I hired into. That being said there are opportunities for new hires. One day. Maybe.

Its a decent job for sure. It has a real retirement program, plus 401k, plus great insurance and steady work. They do operate on the premise that they own you however. CSX is currently disregarding our contract and forcing us to work outside of it. All in all I would recommend it as a place to work knowing the problems. Hell if you dont know what you lost you wouldn't mind so much. lol

As to the shop hands - diesel electricians - its not your typical electrical work. If you want a steady job for the rest of your life with your salary locked into place sign up. Great insurance and a lifetime job with retirement is hard to beat but expect to work a lifetime on third shift with effed up weekends and no holidays.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
39 Posts
My sister takes the commuter rail from RI into Boston, it breaks down on a weekly basis, due to the contract not being renewable, they are just letting the equipment go down the tubes. I think this countries transportation infrastructure could use a helping hand.
 
1 - 20 of 25 Posts
Top