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 Post subject: Re: Steam Stories
PostPosted: Thu Mar 09, 2017 9:13 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 10:08 am
Posts: 29
Location: Severna Park, MD
Txhighballer, we need a "like" button. Great story. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Steam Stories
PostPosted: Thu Mar 09, 2017 11:51 am 

Joined: Fri Feb 26, 2010 9:52 pm
Posts: 33
I was fortunate to be one of the original employees of the new Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge after the sale of the Silverton Branch by the D&RGW in 1981. Part of the agreement was that D&RGW management would stay on for one year and help with the transition to the new owner. In addition, several other D&RGW employees, in all departments, also had the opportunity to stay on for a year and then make a decision to exercise their seniority to another part of the D&RGW or stay on with the new D&S. Because of this, I had the great opportunity to work alongside some of the last D&RGW folks, some who worked their entire career on the narrow gauge and had brothers, fathers and uncles that were tied to the railroad and the community throughout their lives.

I hired out on the roundhouse as an engine watchman in April 1981, but once work trains started to operate, I was pulled as a fireman now and then when needed. Things were pretty exciting that first year with lots of new ideas, which included the operation of double headers for the first time on the Silverton Branch in 20 plus years. Since it had not been done in a while, management decided to run a test train to Silverton with just about every operable passenger car in the yard. I can’t remember how many cars we had, but it was one hell of a long train. I was called as fireman on the road engine, No. 476 while No. 473 was the helper on the point. Both are Alco 2-8-2, K-28 Class locomotives. As I recall, I was firing for Paul Connor (on loan from the D&RGW and son of longtime employees George Connor and grandson of Steve Connor). John Nolan (conductor) and Jim Mayer (Superintendent) were also part of this move. Both John and Jim were crewman on the last trains from Chama back in 1968.

We pulled out of Durango early in the morning with both engines pulling hard as we worked our way through the valley and up Hermosa Hill. At Rockwood, the helper engine was cut off (as per DRGW Special Instructions) and ran downgrade through the Highline to just beyond the Highline Bridge at MP 471.23. We followed about 10 minutes behind and then after re-coupling 473, transferred the air and conducted the required air test. At this time, the narrow gauge was still remote beyond Rockwood all the way to Silverton. We had no radios and all movements were done with hand and whistle signals. As we were barking up the canyon and I was resting between scoops of coal, I just couldn’t believe I was a part of this and actually firing on the narrow gauge! As a young man in my 20’s, it was very exciting! As we approached Mel Schaaf’s cabin at MP 479.5, I noticed that the fireman on the 473 was throwing coal out of the gangway on to the ground. I then looked over, and there was Mel (a retired DRGW conductor) standing in front of his remote cabin and motioning like he was shoveling. I couldn’t figure out what was going on until Jim Mayer tapped me on the shoulder and made the same motion and to shovel coal out the gangway. I was puzzled, but did as instructed and bailed about six scoops onto the ground. Jim explained that whenever I am firing and see Mel Schaaf signaling for coal, I am to provide him with 4-6 scoops for the coal stove in his cabin. Mel would then get his wheelbarrow and pick up the coal along the right of way. It appears that this (and other things like it) had been going on along the narrow gauge for generations…..and now I was a part of the tradition. Everybody watched out for and helped each other on the narrow gauge.

We continued our journey to Silverton without incident. The helper returned to Durango while Paul and I followed behind with the empty passenger train approximately 30 minutes later. The rest of 1981 continued with getting former DRGW K-36 No. 481 in service, building a car shop, expanding the roundhouse and preparing for winter operations on the Silverton Branch for the first time in 30 years. The railroad and employees still had the feel of the D&RGW with all steam, train orders and hand signals. I continued on for 6 more years, assisting with re-building and putting more locomotives into service and building friendships with some of the best railroaders I know. It was a wonderful time!

Mike Ramsey


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 Post subject: Re: Steam Stories
PostPosted: Thu Mar 09, 2017 1:46 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 9:54 am
Posts: 794
Location: NJ
One of my favorite stores involves CP 972. I'm reaching WAY back for this one, so the details, like how many coaches, etc. are lost to memory, but still a good story.

In October, 1971, George Hart's Rail Tours ran an excursion from Jim Thorpe PA up the Nesquehoning Branch, all CNJ trackage. Power was the 972, and the train was a good number of Hart's former Reading coaches. Of course, it was a nasty rainy day; my VW bus was kind enough to throw a wiper blade on the way up to Jim Thorpe.

We got out of town just fine on the CNJ main, but then stalled once starting upgrade on the branch. There was a problem with the sanders on the locomotive. I recall someone saying that they weren't aimed correctly, and that sand wasn't really getting on the rail. Once corrected, (with a hammer-) the engineer gingerly restarted the train.

BANG!...Bang...(bang)... (long pause) BANG...Bang...(bang)... (long pause) ... etc. The loudest BANG was the exhaust, followed by echoes off the mountains! The 972 literally crawled up the grade, 90 degrees, a quarter revolution of the drivers, at a time! It took a few minutes to get up to a reasonable speed.

In the 46 years since, I have never heard anything approaching that sound, and echo; a steam locomotive restarting after a stall in heavy rain.


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 Post subject: Re: Steam Stories
PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2017 12:38 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 3:37 pm
Posts: 1055
Location: Pacific, MO
A couple of memories from 1522. I was involved from day one to the last day of her second active career. In 1988 I became the CMO and along with another member went to Overland Park, KS to BN's engineer training for ABTH training. Our third engineer was already licensed as an engineer on the BN.
Our first trips were on the NS, who wouldn't let us run the engine, only fire it while their guy ran it. Their trips left from N. St. Louis and we would take her up and bring her back to either Union Station or the Museum.
After one of the trips I took her back to home territory. One of our stationary firemen was allowed to fire. As usual, we had a cab full of people and left Luther Yard and crept down the line to Union Station. It took us along the riverfront and on the elevated line, then under the Gateway Arch through two tunnels. It was past dark and down in the tunnel, I started working her uphill when the cab filled up with smoke, people were hacking and gagging from it. I looked up, didn't see but a ticking in the bottom of the water glass and the steam was down to 185. I yelled at my regular fireman to see what the hell was going on over there. He sat down, cleaned up the massive overfiring and got things right. Seems the stationary guy got all wrapped up in foaming, waving at all the fans, etc. It got scary for a few minutes.
My baptism of fire came during the 1990 NRHS St. Louis convention. We ran a round trip to Newburg on the old Frisco. I was assigned as engineer east out of Newburg and up Rolla Hill, the ruling grade EB. It was about 105 in Newburg,not a breath of air moving and I was nervous. My belly was nervous also and there was only one john available in town and there was a line to it. I pushed a young kid out of the head of the line and just made it. I heard the EPA closed it.
Having done that, it was time to whistle off. From Newburg, its about 2 miles to the foot of Rolla Hill and we were over our tonnage limit according the the old Frisco ETTs. As soon as we saw the signal at the east end of Newburg was clear things got busy. I managed to get the train up to track speed by the time we hit the foot of the hill and you could feel the speed drop at once when the train got into it. There were some tense moments going up the hill. She settled down to 13MPH at about 2/3 into the corner and throttle wide open, sanders on low, rail washer running. The fireman had a clean stack, needle at 210 and the injector running and throttled down. I was amazed at how the old gal just got down and took care of business. The exhaust was unbelievable. When you are almost to Rolla, there's a cut called Coleman's Cut and if you got the engine by that and were still moving, you had it made. People were up on top of the cut and were putting their cameras down and covering their ears. Jim Boyd said that engine is loud enough to wake the cremated. He was on top feeding the Chiggers. I was really proud of the old gal and she made believers out of a lot of folks.


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 Post subject: Re: Steam Stories
PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2017 5:35 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 05, 2004 9:48 am
Posts: 448
Location: Byers, Colorado
NOW it's getting good. Thanks to everybody who has told one so far, and let's hear more from everybody who hasn't.

Tommy Gears, tell us a whopper about the day 98 sprung a leak in her dry pipe...

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Sammy KIng


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 Post subject: Re: Steam Stories
PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2017 11:05 am 

Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 5:05 pm
Posts: 555
Let’s look back through the mists of time to February 22, 1968. My friend Poncho and I were both in high school and had Washington’s Birthday off, so we decided to leave the country. For reasons now forgotten we took the train. Bright (fog and rain) and early we boarded the morning International in Everett, WA and headed north to Vancouver, BC. Upon arrival, we hopped a bus and went across town to North Vancouver, the home of Vancouver Wharves, Ltd. and their two Pacific Coast Shays.

These two veterans of Vancouver Island logging lines had been purchased in the early 60’s by Bob Swanson and lettered for his Railway Appliance Research, Ltd. Leased to Vancouver Wharves they worked around the docks until 1970. When we arrived the #114 was cold but #115 was hot with the engineer oiling around. Many questions were asked and many pictures were taken. In the end it all came down to one big question: “Can we get a ride?” The answer was “Sure” so off we went.

At first we knocked a few empties around then the show began. The #115 backed down and coupled onto about twenty loads of sulfur. The engineer opened the throttle and the wheels slipped about half a turn then they caught. When the first exhaust port opened it sounded like a shotgun blast! The stack talk as that Pacific Coast Shay walked away with the load still thunders in my memory. We were in seventh heaven! After an hour or two, time was getting on and we had to head for home. Before taking the bus back to Everett we stopped in at the Canadian Pacific’s Drake Street Shops to take a look at #2860, the “Royal Hudson”.

The #2860 went on to run between North Vancouver and Squamish, BC on the British Columbia Ry and is now in the museum at Squamish. The two Shays are still with us as well, #114 went to Cass, WV in 1970 and #115 went to Ft. Steel Provincial Park, the same year. I got one more visit with #114 when I saw her in the shop at the Cass Scenic RR in May 1971. I made a comment about her being a 90-ton teakettle which sort of offended the Cass crew. Then I pointed to the coil of copper tubing attached to the bottom tri cock. The Canadians used that as an emersion heater to boil their tea water.


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 Post subject: Re: Steam Stories
PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 8:00 am 

Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2011 11:23 am
Posts: 205
Location: Sheboygan County, Wisconsin
Back around 1954 when I was 8, my dad took my mom & I up to Oregon to see Crater Lake.

After that, we ended up going further North and he decided to come home a different way which took us through Oakridge. Before we got that far, we happened upon an SP Cab Forward stopped right next to the 2 lane hwy. She had a short work train behind her.

My dad was always really good about trying to experience anything that was around, so we parked the car and walked over to the 4-8-8-2. The fireman asked where we were headed and when my dad told him, he thoughtfully said why didn't I ride with them for a few miles and they'd stop again to let me off. Those steps were a long ways up for a kid my age, but they had me stand right where I could look out the front window. Don't remember much noise and I think we were only going 30 or so,but it was really something. Sure enough, they stopped at another spot where there was road access and let me off. I didn't know it at the time, but my dad took a few feet of 8mm movies with his Bell & Howell turret camera. When I later got interested in railroads, he showed me the movies more than once. The road number on the engine was 4200 even. I looked that up and she was assigned to the Portland Division for the last years of her life. Although I have the camera, my dads movies did not survive the trip when he moved out of his house to assisted living.

A couple of years later, instead of walking home directly from school, I ran down the SP Vasona Branch ROW to the tank at Simla. The SP was using an MK-6 2-8-2 on the branch, 3251. The engineer was pretty young and well over 6 ft. and he invited me up in the cab and then pointed to the sandbox and had me sit there. We shoved empty hoppers up the steep spur to the Permanente Cement plant and then backed down the hill to Simla. I caught heck from my mom because my school clothes got a little dirty.

A few years later, Frank Saarni traded me the whistle off of 3251 for an identical SP 6 chime that I had because he knew of my history with it. I had that whistle for right at 40 years and sold it when we left the state. It's now in good hands with a younger guy who truly loves the Southern Pacific.


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 Post subject: Re: Steam Stories
PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 9:08 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jan 20, 2007 5:40 pm
Posts: 338
Location: Hamilton, Illinois
This is a little different sort of "steam story." No, I never operated a steam locomotive, but I have ridden in the cab twice. My first short ride was in New York Central H-10 2-8-2 2345, when my dad took me to visit the Michigan Central shops in Jackson, Michigan about 1945 or 1946. (An engineer friend set this up for us.) My second ride was in Grand Trunk Western 4-6-2 5030 at Bellevue, Michigan, in 1951; as a teenager by then, I was watching the local freight do its work and the enginemen invited me into the cab for a few switching moves. That's the lead-in for my real steam story.

I had just gotten the "bug" for photographing steam engines, and had my dad's old Kodak folding cartridge camera that took size 116 film. So I snapped the 5030, probably my oldest rail photo. I continued to photograph steam where I could, starting with GTW and NYC steam and eventually -- after a move to Illinois -- IC, NKP and CB&Q steam and also UP steam during a 1957 visit to Laramie. In 1998 I put these images out in my first rail web site, the Steam Locomotive Archive, which became the nucleus of my much larger Rail Archive.

Now comes the interesting part. It’s striking how many steam locomotives I photographed in the 1950s still exist in various museums or displays, or even in operable condition! These include the following:

GTW Pacific 5030, my very first steam photo, displayed in Jackson, Michigan.
GTW 0-8-0 8380 at the Illinois Railway Museum.
GTW 2-8-2 3734 (renumbered to 4070) in Cleveland.
GTW 4-8-4 6323 at IRM.
GTW 6325 at the Age of Steam Roundhouse.
CPR 2-8-2 5361 at Depew, New York.
CB&Q 4-6-4 4000 displayed at LaCrosse, Wisconsin.
NKP 2-8-4 765 operable at Fort Wayne.
IC 2-8-2 1518 displayed at Paducah, Kentucky.
Rahway Valley 2-8-0 15 at Steamtown.
CNR 2-6-0 911 at Strasburg.
UP 2-8-0 535 (renumbered to 6535) displayed at Laramie.
UP 4-8-4 814 displayed in Council Bluffs.
UP 4-8-8-4 4023 displayed in Omaha.
Amazingly, UP 4-6-6-4 (Challenger) 3985!

I also photographed the famous GTW Pacific 5629 and CB&Q 4-8-4 5632, which had careers in the post-steam era but were later scrapped.

If I really wanted to, I could take digital photos today of around fifteen steam locomotives I photographed in the 1950s using size 116 or 35mm film (and have done so in several cases).

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 Post subject: Re: Steam Stories
PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 12:31 am 

Joined: Wed Aug 25, 2004 11:16 am
Posts: 571
Dear Tom

While I am sure Robert Franzen was your host and engineer. I cannot fathom who the fireman could have been? I bet that was a fun trip.

In 1985 just after becoming involved with Southern Pacific 3420 we did a promotional steam up for the Texas Sesquicentennial trip that never happened. Someone asked Alex Eason what he thought of the locomotive. His response was the first thing he would do was fire the crew. My father fired that trip and in fact, it was only his second time ever firing a steam locomotive. The person who was suppose to fire was involved in an auto accident. After the event my father called Mr. Eason and explained this to him. Alex apologized saying he was more impressed with the firing than the running and that if that was only his second time he was not doing bad given the situation. We made some changes after that trip and invited Mr. Eason to instruct us.

Mr. Easton had fired and ran 3420 when she was still a coal burner. He had a steel plate in his head and suffered from black outs so he would not touch the controls. But the greatest gift was the knowledge he was willing to share.

Mr. Eason showed up an hour early and after the locomotive was brought up to pressure we ran back and forth in the refinery. About the forth trip back I discovered we were crossing a dirt road within the plant I quickly told my father and he asked for the whistle signal which his train loving son would know and I quickly told him and he blew. Mr. Eason looked at my father and said you realize you blew for a grade crossing and my father said yes. It is not much of one but it is the only one we got as the cab crossed the crossing. Mr. Eason smiled approvingly and we then addressed the crossing the rest of the day. We worked the rest of the day with Mr. Eason working with many of the volunteers.

On his way home Mr. Eason wife asked him what he had for lunch. It then dawned on Mr. Eason that we were so focused that we had not stopped for lunch. When my father called to see how he did his wife conveyed that the only issue of concern for Alex was making sure he had lunch. We apologized for the oversight and she also told us it had been a struggle to get him out of bed and dressed before noon. On that day when she got up he was already up and had showered and was shaving for the day. That is why they were an hour early.

Mr. Eason worked with us several more times. We also benefited from the help of other retired railroaders who included Bill Morris. Bill was a boisterous person and very self-confident. He taught me a lot about air leaks and lapping valves. The site I will never forget is we needed to replace an injector pipe on 3420. He had six or eight volunteers following him in phelps dodge’s C&R department.

I could look back on such days and cringe about how things could have or should have been done better. The result was a success but the interest by a diverse group of people and knowledge was impressive. In the end it was not how perfect everything was or a great performance in a rail-fan sense but a success for many people who wanted to know more about steam locomotives. By our efforts we learned and because we were willing to learn we know more now than we did then. I had a few other chances to work with old rails and everyone has taught me something. To them I want to thank them for their time and their willingness to share with others. Railroading is a human endeavor and I am reminded of this everyday.

Robby Peartree


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 Post subject: Re: Steam Stories
PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 7:21 am 

Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2011 11:23 am
Posts: 205
Location: Sheboygan County, Wisconsin
Robby Peartree wrote:
Dear Tom

While I am sure Robert Franzen was your host and engineer. I cannot fathom who the fireman could have been? I bet that was a fun trip.



Robby Peartree



Hi Robby, I appreciate your mention of the trip. I wasn't quite sure about naming names, but it's been quite a few years now. I learned a few things from riding with you on 4960 that day, especially use and adjustment of the secondary damper.

I also always enjoyed getting a turnover from you in the afternoon when you got back from the Canyon, it helped my job as hostler in 1999, thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: Steam Stories- couple of geared locomotives
PostPosted: Sat Mar 18, 2017 11:27 am 

Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2011 11:23 am
Posts: 205
Location: Sheboygan County, Wisconsin
As fate would have it, I ended up with a fair amount of time on a pair of 3 truck geared locomotives, both numbered 10.

Hillcrest Climax 10 was built in 1928 for them and worked hauling logs and later finished lumber and chips on Vancouver Island for 40 years.

In June of '68, just a couple of months before the end of her career there, I had a week on the Island and spent my Tuesdays and Fridays at Mesachie Lake where she was kept.

One day, I told Harry Wright, the engineer, that I was planning to get photos of her crossing the Robertson River Bridge, just a short distance to the North. He said that he should be coming out of Western Forest Industries, who they switched, with a dozen or more loads.

Sure enough, after 40-50 minutes wait, I could hear the exhaust as the 10 spot got close. Harry set a little air and she was really working good when she went by. What finally caught my attention was Harry and the brakie wildly gesturing at me to follow them back to the yard. Turns out they would get another 14 loads to add to the 13 that they already had plus one empty.

It took some time to get the air pumped up and Harry then told me not to miss this and get up in the engine. Hillcrest called the E&N in Lake Cowichan and got an OK to split the train on their tracks once we got there.

At that time, I thought the Climax was really big, just because she had 3 trucks, but she was a 70 ton model and actually not that large. When it was time to go, Harry looked at the fireman, a guy named Earl Gravelle, and nodded. The 10 spot got everything rolling OK and Harry opened the throttle more. Normally, being unbalanced, a piece of 1 by 2 was jammed between the cab wall and the front of the lever to keep it open, but not today. He was working enough steam so that she wanted to stay put in the quadrant. After we had gone maybe a few hundred feet, he got her one notch out of the corner and after more than a quarter of a mile, shortened the cut off one more notch. The Climax had 5 notches in each direction and that's all she got that day. That one notch difference from where she normally ran at one notch shorter made a big difference on water consumption even with the Superheat. The Climax normally rode pretty badly with a pronounced bounce at around 8-10 mph, but not on this day. She was glued to the rail and behaved really well, not one slip either as she hammered her way to town.

We finally got to Lake Cowichan, cut off about half the train at the upper yard and took the rest across the road and down into the E&N (Esquimalt & Nanaimo) yd. The agent waved to Harry to put all the cars on their siding, so we went back up and got the rest of the train and repeated the move. Somebody from Hillcrest had called and got us water as the fire department came out and put several hundred gallons in the cistern. Twenty seven loads and one empty with that modest sized machine. I later spent some time both firing and running her at Mount Rainier Scenic Ry. in WA. Still the same rough riding "Kidney Kruncher", but one of the best pullers around.

The other 10 was Pickering Lbr. Corp's Heisler 10, the first successful 3T model. She was last used in 1957 out of Standard, CA and was likely the only Heisler to ever run over the newly constructed Beardsley Dam at Mile 42. After a few years in storage in Stockton, CA, she ended up in Klamath, CA working for Gus Peterson's Klamath & Hoppow Valley RR.

Dan Ranger was working for Gus in 1972 and called me up offering me a job as his relief that summer. I jumped at the chance, but knew that I was pretty green on train handling. After one terrifying student trip, I started working a couple of days each week that coincided with my days off at Standard Oil where I worked in a large Power Plant. I had two reliable young ladies working with me and the weeks went by well.

One August day, we got caught late in the afternoon with a boiler check that was leaking by. Bad enough, but the creek that fed that water tank was down in flow at this time of year so we were not taking water each trip as we normally did. These two things combined to give us a low tank that was pretty warm and neither Sellers injector wanted to pick up water. Here we were sitting light at the bottom switchback. I could have drifted back down the 8.6% to the gift shop where tickets were sold and got some water out of a garden hose, but that would have been a really lengthy process. I looked again at the glass, we were right close where we should have been, so I told the girls I thought that we could take a chance and try to get over the hill and back to our normal water source.

I asked Joanie to spare no time in lining the switch at the top switchback once we cleared it and to get back on as quickly as she could. We took off with the reverse lever right off of center and got up to the top OK and then headed in reverse for the summit. I was going a lot faster than I did normally and that rear truck was banging its way around the curves. I just kept hoping it'd stay on the rails. The water level was still barely visible at this point, even with backing up the grade. We topped the summit, shut off and I noted the welcome level in the glass again.

That all went away when we leveled off and rolled uphill to the tank, there was no level to be found and I was understandably nervous. I cut the fire to a spot and Sue hurried up to the tank and got water flowing into the cistern. After opening up the bottom tri-cock and getting a sputter out of it, I took a chance and started the fireman's injector. We got away with it. I doubt if I'd have tried the trip over the hill when I was older, you tend to get a lot more conservative in your thinking. But on that day, we were alright. That's one of my two low water stories.


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 Post subject: Re: Steam Stories
PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2017 6:29 pm 

Joined: Tue May 21, 2013 3:20 pm
Posts: 70
Location: Vancouver Island
Thank you, all for the great stories. Particularly John and Tom, I find the old BC stories very interesting.
Pat


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 Post subject: Re: Steam Stories
PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 3:59 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 05, 2004 9:48 am
Posts: 448
Location: Byers, Colorado
Come on, Pat, tell us one about the Alfred County RR...

Several of these stories, and some of those on the Diesel Stories thread, qualify for something I call "juicy stuff I had to leave out". Usually it's because an employee risked his job by letting us ride along or even drive the train. In China, I got six chances to drive (more than that, but sometimes I couldn't stick around long enough to accept), but never before told about it publicly. The man who translated the China Rail steam instruction books, Hans Schaeffer, also followed this policy --- you notice he somehow learned how to drive under their system, but never tells where or when...

Anyhow, it's been long enough to tell something juicy that I left out of my THERE IS NO PLAN B story. In the last paragraph on page ten, disregard the bit about " Somehow or another we stayed awake." The following is what REALLY happened:

The frantic whistling from the first engine woke me up, and my head bobbed up and down until I saw the valley floor more than 200 feet below the deck of Puente Belize (Vacas Bridge). I could have fallen out of the cab just as easy as not. It was our custom to whistle like crazy for all the dead in the cemetery below, and the fog in my brain instantly cleared when I saw the steam gauge at 60 pounds, I knew I had been snoozing for awhile. (By now my engineer and I had been on duty about 40 hours.) I got REALLY concerned when I saw that the water glass was EMPTY, and even more so when I tried the water glass drain and couldn't bounce the water !!!

I reasoned that there must still be enough water to keep the crown sheet cool, or the soft plug would have melted. I opened the firedoor, and saw that the steel had not turned red around the water line, and that I had just barely enough of a fire to stay lit. So I started my injector, just glad it picked up on 60 pounds.

The rest of our crew was up ahead on 205, by this time their job mostly consisted of keeping each other awake. (Earlier in the trip I had caught one of our machinists as he nodded off and almost went off the tender. I splashed water on his face and tied his belt to a grab iron. He thanked me.) They didn't notice that we weren't blowing for the spooks in the graveyard.

My engineer was slumped over the reverser, and the throttle was shut. I shook him and cussed him, and pointed to the empty water glass, and he sleepily reassured me that all was well, the glass was FULL. By now I figured I could double gun it, so I shoved him out of the way and started his injector, then I went back to my side and bumped up the fire. By the time we got to the other side of the bridge, the water was bubbling in the glass, and we were WIDE AWAKE.

This was a simple case of us having plenty of water in the glass while going up hill, but when we hit the bridge it was a good quarter mile or so on the dead level, so the water rushed forward and the level dropped. By the time I woke up and took corrective action, we started uphill again, and things quickly returned to normal in 204's cab.

I asked the engineer if he believed in God, and he said that of course he did, he was a good Catholic. I told him that I had a free pass to Hell, so he must have been the one who saved us....

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Sammy KIng


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 Post subject: Re: Steam Stories
PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 4:52 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 1:25 pm
Posts: 4992
QJdriver wrote:


I asked the engineer if he believed in God, and he said that of course he did, he was a good Catholic. I told him that I had a free pass to Hell, so he must have been the one who saved us....


Sammy -

This is NOT true. You saved "Audrey" (Porter 0-4-2T #6), so you are obviously an Angel and headed in the right direction!


Les


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 Post subject: Re: Steam Stories
PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:24 pm 

Joined: Sat Apr 15, 2006 9:55 pm
Posts: 252
Location: San Diego area
Back in the mid-90's, the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum (PSRM) restored an SP Class T-31 10-wheeler, #2353, to operation. We operate on a portion of the San Diego & Arizona (SD&A), later known as the San Diego & Arizona Eastern (SD&AE), that runs 145 miles from San Diego to El Centro, CA. About 44 of those miles are in Mexico. Elevation ranges from Sea Level in San Diego to about 3500 ft at Hipass, and down to about 50 ft below Sea Level in El Centro. Grades in the mountain areas range from 1.2 to 2.2%.

We were fortunate to have a couple of old heads who had actually operated steam on the line show us how to run the thing. One of them, a fireman, had started working on the line in the mid-1940's. The other, an engineer, has started working for the railroad in the 1920's and had worked there for about 50 years. I’ll let them remain anonymous, even though they both passed on quite a few years ago.

The fireman’s story. He’s a new guy, recently qualified as a fireman. The train is running east, approaching El Centro. Power was probably either a T-31, 10-wheeler or a C-8, Consolidation. El Centro is a rich agricultural area, in the middle of the Imperial Valley, which is pretty flat. They are running on one of the few sections of tangent track on the line at about 50 mph. The new fireman is busy checking his water glass and boiler pressure, when the engineer yells at him, “Quick, look out your window!”----- just as the train hits cow. What a mess, all over the front of the engine, AND the fireman. Such hazing probably wouldn’t go over too well today.

The engineer’s story relates peripherally to steam. The local fire authorities required us to put a screen over 2353's stack, to catch “all the cinders” that an oil-burning steam engine throws out. The engineer tells us that he never started any fires with a steam engine, but started several with the early diesels, especially ALCOs. According to him, EMDs didn’t start fires like ALCOs. He knew the guy in Bakersfield that was in charge of assigning locomotives to the SD&AE. The engineer told him that he wanted to trade the ALCOs for some EMDs, because of the fire situation. The Bakersfield guy asked for some pictures of the exhaust, so the engineer complied by sending some photos of an ALCO with flames shooting out of the stack. The Bakersfield guy asked what kind of camera had been used to get the photos. “Just and ordinary one,” said the engineer. But then what he told me was, “What I didn’t tell the Bakersfield guy was when I took the picture, I’d put a fusee down the stack!” The switch to EMDs was made.


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