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 Post subject: A wonderful story of late steam ops: end of Southern steam
PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 10:34 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 8:10 am
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I am 50/50 on whether this belongs on the Interchange or Railfanning, but it is worth a look either way.

50 years ago, 1967, regular steam operations ended on the lines originaly cobble together by the Southern Railway in England. No one knew then that mainline steam would return to the Southern as a somewhat frequent event, but even if they did the mourning of everyday steam would have been just as deep.

Issue #230 of Heritage Railway magazine has a wonderful article by Don Benn beginning on page 72 which recounts the last days of Southern steam. Rather than the dreary melancholy one might expect, it is a story about going out with a bang. Drivers across the region were coaxing 90 and 100mph runs from the soon-to-be-retired fleet. The accounting of crews trying to get every last bit from the locomotives is quite entertaining.

I am sure there are stories from American railroads about crews pulling every ounce of effort from steam in its last weeks. Perhaps someone could point us to them.

If you get a chance, read the HR article. It's as uplifting a tale as one could find in the face of total defeat.

Rob

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 Post subject: Re: A wonderful story of late steam ops: end of Southern ste
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 12:14 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 3:01 pm
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Location: SouthEast Pennsylvania
There is the story in Trains magazine by a fireman on one of the Pennsylvania RR modern steam engines on a westbound passenger train that arrived at the engine change place with double headed smaller K-4 steam engines. His engineer, thinking that this might be the last chance to run a steam locomotive, pegged the speedometer at 120 miles per hour! Afterwards, a railroad official asked which of the engine crew had a pilot's license for that "low flying".


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 Post subject: Re: A wonderful story of late steam ops: end of Southern ste
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 12:17 am 

Joined: Mon Sep 28, 2015 12:30 am
Posts: 91
I believe that story was "Last Chance" by John R. Crosby, which appeared in the August 1993 issue. The crew reluctantly were assigned T1 #5536 and figuring it was their last shot at such a locomotive, decided to see just what it could do.

Been lots of mentions in Trains through the years of increased tonnages in the last weeks of steam on roads like the Missabe. A combination I assume of it not mattering if the locomotive is overstressed and probably also a bit of curiosity to see just what they were capable of when the reigns were loosened.


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 Post subject: Re: A wonderful story of late steam ops: end of Southern ste
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:22 am 

Joined: Wed Mar 27, 2013 3:55 am
Posts: 70
JimBoylan wrote:
His engineer, thinking that this might be the last chance to run a steam locomotive, pegged the speedometer at 120 miles per hour!


No.

Mike


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 Post subject: Re: A wonderful story of late steam ops: end of Southern ste
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:29 am 

Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2011 11:23 am
Posts: 206
Location: Sheboygan County, Wisconsin
484Mike wrote:
JimBoylan wrote:
His engineer, thinking that this might be the last chance to run a steam locomotive, pegged the speedometer at 120 miles per hour!


No.

Mike


There may or may not have been a speedometer on the locomotive then Mike, but that was the way it was told, hitting a max of 120 miles an hour. Likely then that they timed mileposts. I am able to accept what the author wrote.


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 Post subject: Re: A wonderful story of late steam ops: end of Southern ste
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 4:03 am 

Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2013 10:18 pm
Posts: 62
FWIW, a now-deceased friend who was a steam-era Milwaukee Road fireman -- ib the early 1950s -- said his personal best on one of their 84-inch-drivered F-7s (Hudsons) was 126.7 mph!! He said they timed speeds using mileposts. He said it did take them around 15 miles to get up to 120 mph. This was on the route out of Chicago. He also said there was a 100-mph speed restriction at the EJ&E crossover at Rondout, Illinois. He also said that it was common for the crews to go +120 mph on those high-stepping engines. All this is what he told me in the early 2000s, and he was sharp as a tack until he passed away. I have no way to verify any of this, but who knows - it may be true.


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 Post subject: Re: A wonderful story of late steam ops: end of Southern ste
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 6:13 am 

Joined: Wed Mar 27, 2013 3:55 am
Posts: 70
tom moungovan wrote:
There may or may not have been a speedometer on the locomotive then Mike, but that was the way it was told, hitting a max of 120 miles an hour.


There were speedometers on the T1, but they did not go up to 120mph.

Mike


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 Post subject: Re: A wonderful story of late steam ops: end of Southern ste
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 7:51 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 3:01 pm
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Location: SouthEast Pennsylvania
484Mike wrote:
There were speedometers on the T1, but they did not go up to 120mph.
Anyone got a photo to show how high they did go?


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 Post subject: Re: A wonderful story of late steam ops: end of Southern ste
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 10:10 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:25 pm
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"Last Chance" was a great story.

Wesley


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 Post subject: Re: A wonderful story of late steam ops: end of Southern ste
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 10:43 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 25, 2015 11:24 pm
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David Morgan's "The Mohawk That Refused to Abdicate" has always been a favorite of mine. If you haven't read Morgan's book, I highly recomend picking up a copy.


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 Post subject: Re: A wonderful story of late steam ops: end of Southern ste
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 12:31 pm 

Joined: Wed Mar 27, 2013 3:55 am
Posts: 70
MargaretSPfan wrote:
FWIW, a now-deceased friend who was a steam-era Milwaukee Road fireman -- ib the early 1950s -- said his personal best on one of their 84-inch-drivered F-7s (Hudsons) was 126.7 mph!! He said they timed speeds using mileposts. He said it did take them around 15 miles to get up to 120 mph. This was on the route out of Chicago. He also said there was a 100-mph speed restriction at the EJ&E crossover at Rondout, Illinois. He also said that it was common for the crews to go +120 mph on those high-stepping engines. All this is what he told me in the early 2000s, and he was sharp as a tack until he passed away. I have no way to verify any of this, but who knows - it may be true.


Yes, a real pity we will never know which one really was the fastest...

Mike


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 Post subject: Re: A wonderful story of late steam ops: end of Southern ste
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 3:41 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 05, 2004 9:48 am
Posts: 448
Location: Byers, Colorado
Only 12 years ago, the last steam on the (big) mainlines of China was being flogged pretty good right up to the end on the JiTong Tielu. I don't know how fast a QJ can actually go, but I know that by then UP steam was restricted to 59mph, and my camera could freeze them with no problem. However, the QJs blurred plenty of my action shots with the same camera....

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 Post subject: Re: A wonderful story of late steam ops: end of Southern ste
PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 7:09 pm 

Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2013 10:18 pm
Posts: 62
484Mike wrote:
MargaretSPfan wrote:
FWIW, a now-deceased friend who was a steam-era Milwaukee Road fireman -- ib the early 1950s -- said his personal best on one of their 84-inch-drivered F-7s (Hudsons) was 126.7 mph!! He said they timed speeds using mileposts. He said it did take them around 15 miles to get up to 120 mph. This was on the route out of Chicago. He also said there was a 100-mph speed restriction at the EJ&E crossover at Rondout, Illinois. He also said that it was common for the crews to go +120 mph on those high-stepping engines. All this is what he told me in the early 2000s, and he was sharp as a tack until he passed away. I have no way to verify any of this, but who knows - it may be true.


Yes, a real pity we will never know which one really was the fastest...

Mike


Yes, it is a pity. Many big high-speed main line passenger locomotives were said to have been able to go well over 100 mph, and stories abound about this -- and with no way to verify any of them. As I like to say, now we'll never know exactly how fast these magnificent machines could really go. And all of them are now too old to even think of making them run at such high speeds. And there is now no place in this country where any steam locomotive could run at over 100 mph. The present-day clearances and weight restrictions on the NEC do not allow any steam locomotives to run there now.

So sorry -- I typed the speed wrong in my post. He said he went 127.6 mph. (I got the 2 numbers reversed, and did not proof my post thoroughly before posting it. So sorry.) And my friend also said other Milwaukee Road crews often went faster than 120 mph. That, at least, was what he told me. Those F-7s could really FLY!!


Last edited by MargaretSPfan on Fri Sep 29, 2017 1:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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