American Railroads

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Location: Middleburg (Jacksonville), Florida, United States

Published in Trains magazine, Railfan & Railroad, Passenger Train Journal

Sunday, August 20, 2006

They also repair cars – lots of cars – for CSX Transportation, including boxcars, insulated boxcars, 90-foot auto racks and hopper cars for coal and rocks.
Dan Greer at Watco, Inc., now of Jacksonville, said his firm, headquartered in Coffeyville, Kans., gave up its lease on the Reynolds park property two summers ago, so they had to find another site in Northeast Florida. They moved to Jacksonville still making car and engine repairs.
Watco was making many, many repairs to CSX and ex-Chessie System locomotives in 2004. Guess who the general manager was.
Yup. Rick Padgett.
“Those were all remote-controls,” he said, and all were in the shop for major modifications.
In the field, after the engines were returned to their home yards, when the crews tried to use them, if the brake shoes were locked on a set of wheels so the wheels couldn’t turn, they were dragged along, building up flat spots, and when they did release, they often lurched, causing damage and the possibility of injury to crews.
Now, with the fixes done, the engines indicate to the engineer if there is a problem. The engines are scattered across CSX’s system, which stretches from its Jacksonville headquarters to Miami, out to New Orleans, up to Chicago, and northward to Boston.
Padgett said his company still works on engines.
Meanwhile, his 18-person, non-union shop was growing.
“I think we’ll have to add some people,” he said in December 2005,” especially now that a 44-car program to rebuild 50-foot boxcars into 40-foot sugar cane carriers.” That work started on December 14.
He won’t discuss specific numbers, though.
“I’m not getting rich,” he noted.
Padgett and his firm have employees out on the road as well.
Last December he said, “One crew is at Orlando Utility helping them with some cars. Some others are at Lakeland Electric, and an electrician is in South Carolina working on a center-cab locomotive.”
The boss worked for CSX for more than 20 years, and was one of the victims during the railroad’s downsizing over the last few years, but he landed on his feet.
The shop itself is a single long structure with one track capable of holding eight-cars indoors. Many more storage tracks are outside, where much of the work is done.“We’ll do as much work outdoors as we can,” he said. Winter would begin in eight days. It was sunny and about 50 degrees.

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