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 Post subject: Re: Gettysburg Railroad Partial Crownsheet failure 1995
PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2013 5:47 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 9:37 pm
Posts: 94
I was there at the time of the water spraying situation. The dynamo as bad order so there was no light for the water gauge! Steam leak on front of firebox an FRA defect. The engineer did not have a watch!! We sat in the shade talking and he finally asked me the time and we were already late leaving! The conductor was looking around for the engineer. One of the very few times I turned down a cab ride. I rode the train and had to stand way back in first car ((auto carrier) to get away from the water spray.


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 Post subject: Re: Gettysburg Railroad Partial Crownsheet failure 1995
PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2013 6:27 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2004 6:30 am
Posts: 542
wilkinsd wrote:
Mr. Austin's posts are always very educational.

Too bad the photo he posted is mine. I took the photo at the Ohio Central shop in 2001 only a few days before 9/11.


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 Post subject: Re: Gettysburg Railroad Partial Crownsheet failure 1995
PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2013 7:19 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 5:10 pm
Posts: 944
I dropped in at Gettysburg one day in the 1980's and witnessed an FRA inspector take three locomotives in quick succession out of service for separate violations. No. 38 went down due to sharp flanges on the rear drivers, No. 76 was taken out of service because the steam gauge did not register pressure(!), and one of the RS-3's was shut down because it did not have a cab card. The train finally left about an hour late, hauled by the old Baldwin switcher. After witnessing that episode, I never rode the train again.

On an earlier visit, I saw No. 76 on the train to Biglerville, where the engineer singlehandedly dropped the coaches with passengers aboard around the engine! The conductor was a very young girl, the only other crew person on the train!

Oddly enough, I wound up being the general manager of the successor to the Gettysburg Railroad from 1998-2001. I helped Tim Sposato and the Ohio Central guys get No. 1278 ready to leave in 1998, and we also moved No. 76 from Gettysburg up to Biglerville the next year so it could be loaded on a truck to head for Ohio. No. 76 is now at Owosso, I believe.


Last edited by G. W. Laepple on Wed Jul 31, 2013 9:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Gettysburg Railroad Partial Crownsheet failure 1995
PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2013 8:16 pm 
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k5ahudson wrote:
wilkinsd wrote:
Mr. Austin's posts are always very educational.

Too bad the photo he posted is mine.


He was not claiming it as his own.

It was posted for educational purposes.

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 Post subject: Re: Gettysburg Railroad Partial Crownsheet failure 1995
PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2013 9:36 pm 

Joined: Fri Apr 26, 2013 5:56 pm
Posts: 89
Location: Ontario, Canada.
Since I have been out of the rail loop for a few years, I never heard the status of No.1278. Has she been repaired?
Thank you.


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 Post subject: Re: Gettysburg Railroad Partial Crownsheet failure 1995
PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2013 10:24 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:26 am
Posts: 3670
Location: Maine
1278 is part of Jerry Jacobson's collection. The intent is to restore it someday in the future. My understanding is a complete tear down will be required just to clean scale from pipes and fittings. The firebox and crownsheet are only the most obvious part of the problems.
There is another lesson in this whole story, in how a (relatively) recently rebuilt locomotive, reportedly a great steamer, could have been permitted to deteriorate to such a degree in such a short period of time.

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 Post subject: Re: Gettysburg Railroad Partial Crownsheet failure 1995
PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2013 10:25 pm 

Joined: Sun Jun 17, 2007 8:03 pm
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Location: Brampton, Ontario
G.W.:

Nope she was packed up and shipped off to the Ohio Central, now the Age of Steam Roundhouse, where she remains in the deadline.

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 Post subject: Re: Gettysburg Railroad Partial Crownsheet failure 1995
PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2013 10:49 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 5:10 pm
Posts: 944
As I stated above, I was on hand when both locomotives left Pennsylvania. No. 1278 left on its own wheels, accompanied by the two ex-Milwukee F-7's on the very eve of the Conrail NS/CSX split, and No. 76 left on a highway trailer about a year later. I know the engine went to Ohio first, and Mr. Jacobsen sold her to the Owosso folks some time later. I just now found a photo on-line of No. 76 in very derelict condition taken at Owosso, Michigan in 2009. I have met the photographer and have no reason to believe that he would mistake Sugarcreek, Ohio for Owosso, Michigan.


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 Post subject: Re: Gettysburg Railroad Partial Crownsheet failure 1995
PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 3:21 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:31 am
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Location: South Carolina
Here's another interesting document on this incident, a letter from Ing. L. D. Porta to the NTSB commenting on the incident, provided courtesy of Gary Bensman:

http://www.trainweb.org/tusp/PORTA%20-% ... edited.pdf

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 Post subject: Re: Gettysburg Railroad Partial Crownsheet failure 1995
PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 10:00 am 

Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2004 2:15 pm
Posts: 160
Location: Lawrenceville, NJ
Every summer I visited the Gettysburg RR and was ready to go again in June 1995 when the news came out that this happened. I'm pretty sure it was the same weekend that the runaway flatcar crashed head-on into Nevada Northern 2-8-0 93 while it was pulling an excursion. I remember all the bad news being a very low point in railway preservation and the tourist railroad industry. Word got around pretty fast even without having the Internet (at least the way it is today). I remember it being very upsetting and a definite concern about the future of tourist railroading and antique boiler operation in public.

As for the Gettysburg RR under the watch of the late Jim Cornell, unfortunately the poor maintenance situations posted above were true. I too witnessed 1278 running without a headlight (due to a non functioning turbogenerator) and I received a bit of a "boiler feedwater shower" while riding in the "auto rack open car" on the return trip while standing only a few feet from 1278's smokebox door (I still cringe at that thought). Unfortunately I was witnessing these same things that other people seen in 1995, but I was seeing them on my final visit in June 1994, a whole year before the crownsheet failure event. I don't know why corners were cut and chances were taken, but I've always thought that finances may have played a role--basically trying to continue to run steam on a diesel budget.

I think someone was mentioning the runaround situation at Biglersville during the early days of the operation. On at least one early visit they gravity-switched the loaded passenger consist and rolled it downgrade (with handbrakes) pass the siding holding the locomotive. I don't know the rules, for or against, but this always struck me as a bit chancey with people on board.

While I didn't know Jim personally, I did talk with him a number of times over the years and he seemed to be a decent guy--unfortunately a decent guy who took chances in places and ways you definitely should not. You don't get many "second chances" in railroading and around steam boilers. Eventually he paid with his life for taking chances.

I will say this, from what I've heard, despite being in a cab full of steam and whatnot, he didn't get out of there until he got the train stopped. His injuries were worse for staying.

May we never have another weekend like that one in 1995. And for the steam traction engine community, never another weekend like the one in July 2001 in Ohio.

Regards,
Jim Robinson


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 Post subject: Re: Gettysburg Railroad Partial Crownsheet failure 1995
PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 11:43 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8301
Location: Baltimore, MD
I've said it before and I'll say it again: The Gettysburg Railroad in those days was exactly like what one would have seen at the Edgemoor & Manetta, the Buffalo Creek & Gauley, the East Broad Top, the Virginia Blue Ridge, Mower Lumber, or any of a dozen more "last holdouts of steam" short lines back in the day: short-line railroading by the seat of the pants. For better or for worse. I had several older railfans, ones who actually went to places like Cass and Dundon and Tye River, confirm my suspicions and impressions. Stuff like "oh, there's freight up at the interchange? Let's not waste a trip; let's couple it to the back of the passenger cars and take it home with us!" were apparently standard operating procedure. I wouldn't have been the least bit surprised to see them throw Old Widder Martin her mail and newspaper, or stop to shoot a varmit for dinner.

But if you study your history, you know the rest of the story: how some of those old-style railroads finally shut down after the boilers or equipment were condemned, someone was killed or the last loco lost in a derailment, or the steam guru died/retired, or the traffic disappeared for safer modes. There was a reason the Toonerville Trolley quit operating, too--folks got tired of re-railing the trolley after the Cap'n jumped the track with it once too often.

I was born too late to experience "The Search for Steam" David P. Morgan and Phil Hastings detailed in Trains and "The Mohawk That Refused To Abdicate." But the Gettysburg Railroad in that era gave me as close as I ever suspect I'll ever get to such an experience, if only for one chapter of said book/series. However, having seen it, I fully acknowledge that it's a part of railroad history, along with featherbedding crews, bankrupt railroads forced to continue service that bleeds them dry, and surly staff, that I see no need to preserve for the public today.

EDIT: I've been taken to task by a lurker or two that claim lines like the VBR and BC&G were operated much better than my comparing them to the Gettysburg would imply. I wasn't there, but I have talked with folks that were, and their experiences as told to me varied. And we all know that a coat of paint and high personnel morale can still mask internal flaws. I spoke more of the style of railroading, a casual "git 'er done" mentality depicted in "Fiddletown & Copperopolis" that didn't necessarily hew to the rigid, military-style regimentality used by major railroads that had to adhere to a greater orthodoxy.

I'm reminded of the phone conversation George Drury reported when editing an edition of the American Shortline Railroad Guide, loosely paraphrased:
"About your locomotive, is it a GE or ...?"
"45-tonner, built by Whitcomb in 1948."
"Is there a number on it? I don't see one in this photo of it."
"..................................... well, shoot, I only got one......."


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 Post subject: Re: Gettysburg Railroad Partial Crownsheet failure 1995
PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 2:23 pm 

Joined: Fri Apr 26, 2013 5:56 pm
Posts: 89
Location: Ontario, Canada.
Thank you for the update on No.1278. Any chance she would be available to purchase?


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 Post subject: Re: Gettysburg Railroad Partial Crownsheet failure 1995
PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 3:57 pm 
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Great Western wrote:
Any chance she would be available to purchase?


Best place to try;

http://www.ageofsteamroundhouse.com/contact.htm

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 Post subject: Re: Gettysburg Railroad Partial Crownsheet failure 1995
PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 4:10 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:26 am
Posts: 3670
Location: Maine
Jeff, interesting question. I've always believed she'll wind up being a parts supply for 1298. I'd love to be assured that's not the case.

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 Post subject: Re: Gettysburg Railroad Partial Crownsheet failure 1995
PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 6:46 pm 

Joined: Tue Jan 25, 2011 2:07 am
Posts: 328
A video on Youtube of a cab ride in #1278 made in 1991. Maybe of interest to anyone like myself not familiar with the locomotive.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XoVNC_snFEk


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