If your mechanic moves out of town...  by  Misko Kranjec  Part 1
...could this be a blessing or a curse? Well, if his garage is close to the busy mainline and you are railfan, it could be easily the former.

After taking care for my car for over ten years at the official Chrysler service in Ljubljana, my mechanic quit and started his own business in a small country town of Rakek, some 20 miles westward from Ljubljana and close to the Ljubljana - Koper / Trieste (Italy) double-track mainline. As I was satisfied with his work and his attitude (good and friendly mechanics are hard to come by these days), I decided to gave up the Chrysler service and their outrageously high hourly rates (40 or $55 per hour) and rather give the young man the chance for a better start.

Thus today I drove my car to his place for a regular 10,000 mile checkup and service, arriving there as appointed at 11 am. It was a beautiful day, one of the last if not the last sunny autumn day, as the weather front is approaching, bringing in already tonight the rain that will last for several days. The sky was cloudless and the temperature was cozy 70 - what better than being at the busy trackside with the camera in hand...

My mechanic gave me two hours at most, so I didn't waste any time but rather paced quickly toward the not too-distant station. As usually I first dropped in to the station master's office to make the quick inquiry about the train movements. As the trains here are governed by strictly by signals and the radio conversation with the dispatcher occurs extremely rarely, having the scanner has no point at all, and the kind station masters are far better option. My cell phone holds the phone numbers of all important stations and when I need some info I just call the nearest one.

Inside the office I was met by a cute young, blond, short-haired station mistress which told me that one freight train is just entering the yard from the east. I hurried out just in time to catch the empty coal train rushing through the yard behind one of the (too)numerous, too modern (for my photographic taste)10,000 hp, 160 mph Siemens Taurus motors.

Returning back to the office the young lady obligingly consulted the computer to brief me with the state of the freights on the line - no need to bother with the passenger trains as I can check the timetable anytime. In a short chat with her, with no time for longer one as another freight, this time intermodal taking the siding to let the passenger take over, was due in in about five minutes, I found out that she is a rookie with merely 4 months of experience and that she loves her work immensely.  A sweet lass indeed - I must return someday to continue the chat...

What followed was a usual routine - I walked up and down the tracks for a mile or so, to get the different views and backgrounds, while the trains were passing by in close enough succession to keep me from getting bored. All in all, before my mechanic summoned me back to his shop less than two hours later, I scored 10 trains or put otherwise, Mark Perry's 5 days worth of railfanning. Topping this with two more trains I caught just few minutes apart at Verd, two stations further on my way home, I can say having car mechanic out of town is not that bad after all.
Go to Part 2