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 Post subject: Re: Cass Bald Knob train with only one engine and five cars
PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 9:50 pm 

Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2013 3:27 pm
Posts: 40
Mark thank you. It was obvious to us that something wasn't right.

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 Post subject: Re: Cass Bald Knob train with only one engine and five cars
PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 12:32 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:07 am
Posts: 661
Location: Philadelphia Pa
For some reason, I just can't stop laughing at this thread and it's initial context.


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 Post subject: Re: Cass Bald Knob train with only one engine and five cars
PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 6:57 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5254
Location: southeastern USA
Valve setting on a Shay - each valve is set relative to the positions of the other two cranks. You use the other two cranks to find the center of the one you are setting. It's actually a pretty easy job compared to setting a rod engine if you have the shafts disconnected at the time - you can turn back and forth to find the right spot with a chain or strap wrench. Once centered, you set the valve so it has the same amount of lead at either end with the eccentric rod for forward and reverse at both ends of the stroke and it's as good as it will get for the cumulative wear in the whole system. The most reliable Shay I was responsible for had different situations in each cylinder - one had no lead, one had the spec amount of lead, and one had twice the spec amount. Set as outlined above, it ran like a sewing machine.

I don't think you can "overwork" a Shay - if it will pull the train it is just simply working. If it can't, you need a bigger Shay.

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 Post subject: Re: Cass Bald Knob train with only one engine and five cars
PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 7:39 am 

Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2013 3:27 pm
Posts: 40
Junior, I don't understand or appreciate your comment. As has been pointed out by others here this Shay has a chronic valve problem that, for some reason, has not been able to be resolved.

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 Post subject: Re: Cass Bald Knob train with only one engine and five cars
PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 9:52 am 

Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2013 3:27 pm
Posts: 40
I have another question about Shay #2. This spring it returned to operation after its 1472 rebuild. How is it that it has a valve timing problem? It sounds like there are parts that are worn and were not replaced. Does anyone know the details?

In the past I rode on many Shay #2 powered trains, including when she was still an oil burner, it she always ran and sounded great, so I understand that she has been able to power five cars so I stand corrected in that she is being overworked. It just never occurred to me that should could have a mechanical problem after her recent shopping.

Thank you.

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 Post subject: Re: Cass Bald Knob train with only one engine and five cars
PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 10:39 am 

Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2009 6:16 pm
Posts: 30
I've ridden the Cass train to Bald Knob eleven times since 2004. Six of the trips were doubleheaders and five were single engines, usually Big 6 or Shay 11. My last trips were in September of 2015, the first year of the new operators. Big six handled seven cars on a daylight trip and #4 handled five cars on a special full moon train. #4 is the lightest Shay at Cass and had no serious stress taking the train to the top of the mountain. I miss the double headed engines, but even in the "old days" not all trips to Bald Knob required or received two engines.

I watched the linked video from the July trip with #2. The engine does not sound overworked, it does sound "out of square", and needs some adjustment to its valve timing. #4 had the same issue back in September of 2015, in fact it sounded much worse.

One nice thing I saw in the OP's video, they are doing the train meets at the switchback again. During my three day visit to Cass in 2015, the D&GVRR had stopped doing the train meets. They parked the Whittaker train up in the camp siding, then the Bald Knob train went right by, not stopping at Whittaker. I found that aspect of their operation more of a let down than anything else and emailed them to let them know. I had planned to visit Cass this year but used all my vacation time in the hospital for the second straight year.

The railfan community has been very negative toward the D&GVRR's operation of Cass, and I think that is exceedingly unfair. The State of West Virginia has serious financial issues and were not going to continue to pump tax dollars into a money losing park. D&GVRR had no option except to raise ticket prices. DO I like paying more, of course not, but paying more vs. no railroad to experience, well I will pay more! They have done something the State would never have tried, rebuilding the line to Durbin. When that line is done it will give tourists, the primary paying riders, an different ride experience. Remember, many tourists don't want to see the same scenery twice.


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 Post subject: Re: Cass Bald Knob train with only one engine and five cars
PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 10:47 am 

Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:52 am
Posts: 1240
Location: Strasburg, PA
PennsyPride94 wrote:
As long as the engine is hooked up properly, running it wide open isn't "running it too hard". If its down in the corner, wide open THEN that's another story.

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John,

Look at the red circle in the screenshot. That is the lever on the tumbling shaft that controls the valve timing from the Johnson bar in the cab. See how it is nearly vertical? That shows that the engine is hooked up pretty high, and nowhere near "in the corner" (if it was, that lever would be leaning to the right about 30 degrees). That shows that the engine is nowhere near being overloaded, and may well be able to handle another car.

Being run "up on center" magnifies any inaccuracies in the valve gear and makes it sound worse than it would "in the corner". When he is backing up, the tumbling shaft lever is leaning out enough to indicate that she is in, or near the corner. As far out of square as she is backing up when notched down that far is pretty bad, and ought to be adjusted.

meixel wrote:
I have another question about Shay #2. This spring it returned to operation after its 1472 rebuild. How is it that it has a valve timing problem? It sounds like there are parts that are worn and were not replaced. Does anyone know the details?

As the saying goes, "A steam engine is like a lady's watch, always in need of repair." Obviously, the shop had higher priorities. They only have so many man hours available, and an engine that sounds lame but is still able to do its job will take a back seat to ensuring that the boilers are safe, etc.

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 Post subject: Re: Cass Bald Knob train with only one engine and five cars
PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 10:49 am 

Joined: Fri Dec 17, 2010 2:41 pm
Posts: 95
meixel wrote:
I have another question about Shay #2. This spring it returned to operation after its 1472 rebuild. How is it that it has a valve timing problem? It sounds like there are parts that are worn and were not replaced. Does anyone know the details?

In the past I rode on many Shay #2 powered trains, including when she was still an oil burner, it she always ran and sounded great, so I understand that she has been able to power five cars so I stand corrected in that she is being overworked. It just never occurred to me that should could have a mechanical problem after her recent shopping.

Thank you.


An FRA 1,472 day inspection is concerned with the boiler ONLY. There is no requirement that running gear be overhauled. That is up to the discretion of the operator.

Would like to second Mark Jordan's note in that the 2 is quite lame on one cylinder, owing to it perhaps not pulling as well as it can. Also, the engineer Danny Seldomridge is a veteran Cass engineer and IMHO was not abusing the 2 one iota.

DC


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 Post subject: Re: Cass Bald Knob train with only one engine and five cars
PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 11:19 am 

Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2013 3:27 pm
Posts: 40
Thank you all for your information. I do understand that the 1472 is for boiler work. I had thought that any other issues found would have also been addressed at the same time.

I do applaud the efforts of the new operators, the Durbin and Greenbrier Valley, and understand that they are doing all they can to keep the trains running and be profitable.

You can see that in the comments I sent to the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources that I sent after our visit. See below:

Park: Cass Scenic Railroad

Date of Visit: 7/24 - 7/28

Cabin #: 225

State Where You Reside: Colorado

What prompted you to stay at this park? Previous Visit

Do you think our rates are Reasonable

How would you rate the area overall? Excellent

How would you rate our services facilities?
Cabin: Excellent considering its historic significance
Font desk: Excellent
Trails: N/A
Grounds: Excellent
Activities: Good: will add more below
Meeting Facilities: N/A

Registration
Reservation was in order upon check-in: Excellent
Efficient and speedy: Excellent
Courteous and friendly: Excellent
Knowledge of the park: Excellent

How were your accommodations?
Physical conditions: Good
Cleanliness upon arrival: Excellent
Cleanliness during stay: N/A since we maintained it
Bedding: Good, I'm 6' 4" tall so larger beds would be great. We got a house with two double beds but I still had to sleep diagonally to fix.
Television: Good
Heating/AC: Did not use
Campsite: N/A

How would you rate our restaurant?
Food quality: Good
Food Value: Good
Personnel friendly and attentive: Excellent

Would you stay with us again: Yes


What did you enjoy about your stay?

My friend and I have been coming to Cass since 1972 and it has always been one of our favorite places. We are very fond of the trains and always ride both the Bald Knob and Whittaker trains. We were very concerned about three significant changes that have been made with train ticket sales, train schedule and the Bald Knob train.

Ticket Sales and Train Schedule:

Because of the Cass weather we always wait until we arrive at Cass before we decide which day we will ride to Bald Knob. We want to save the best weather for it. We don't mind riding the Whittaker trip in rain or snow. We arrived in Cass on Monday and planned to ride trains on Tuesday and Wednesday and then ride the Durbin Rocket on Thursday. Tuesday morning we went to the Cass station when it opened. There are no station hours posted on it, or anywhere else, so we kept walking there until it opened. Once we arrived we were told that the Bald Knob train was the only one that operated on Tuesdays and that it was sold out! In the past Both Bald Knob and Whittaker trains operated every day but Monday and we did not know a change had been made. We were also told that most ticket sales are made online or via telephone. We were forced to buy tickets for the Wednesday Bald Knob train which only had 20 seats available. We spent the day going on the shop tour and visiting the Green Bank Observatory. There were several other people who could not ride Tuesday and could not ride the next day so you lost customers who were upset, may not return, and will tell others about their bad experience. If the Whittaker train was running we would have ridden that and they would have also. Please run both trains on all operating days. This means also adding the Bald Knob train on Thursday. You also need to find a way to accommodate walk up sales. On your website you say it is recommended that tickets be purchased in advance. This needs to be more strongly worded saying that most Bald Knob trains are sold out before the day they operate. On Thursday we rode the Durbin Rocket and were able to return to Cass in time to ride the Whitaker train.

Bald Knob Train:

One of the highlights of the past Bald Knob trains is that they use two steam locomotives. There is only one other US railroad that regularly operates double-headed steam locomotives so this is a very special attraction. The current train has only one locomotive. The train has been shortened to 5 cars which they locomotive can barely handle. The engine works is extremely loud because it is working so hard. We always ride in the car next to the engine so we can watch it work. Unfortunately it was so loud that it made us uncomfortable and the audio commentary could not be heard at all in that car. In the past the commentary was done only during the return trip when the engine was relatively quiet and it was easy to hear. We rode the Whittaker train Thursday which had 4 cars and it was able to handle the load without much effort. The engine exhaust was much quieter than the Bald Knob train. Also, if the train had two locomotives it could have 9 cars and be able to accommodate 120 more passengers and alleviate the sold out problem which would prevent upset customers.


Were there any employees that made your visit more enjoyable?

Yes, I don't know their names but the woman and cabin check in, the restaurant waitress, and the Whittaker locomotive engineer were all great to talk to and very helpful.


Additional Comments:

Cass is a world-class treasure! It is a very unique experience. I understand that it has financial challenges but it is a wonderful asset to West Virginia. I understand that changes are required to keep it alive but it is less than what it used to be. Please make it at least as good as it was and hopefully make it even better. If there is anything I can do to help please contact me. My email is johnfmeixel@gmail.com

Thank you! John Meixel

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 Post subject: Re: Cass Bald Knob train with only one engine and five cars
PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 12:15 pm 

Joined: Wed Jun 26, 2013 7:20 pm
Posts: 127
I haven't been back to Cass in over 35 years, but would like to go again next year. The wife and I are pretty far up there in age and not able to get around as good as before, so I am concerned about where to stay, accessibility, etc. Thoughts/comments?


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 Post subject: Re: Cass Bald Knob train with only one engine and five cars
PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 1:40 pm 

Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2013 3:27 pm
Posts: 40
The train has a lift on one of the cars. Two of the company houses are disability accessible.

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 Post subject: Re: Cass Bald Knob train with only one engine and five cars
PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 3:28 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 3:01 pm
Posts: 1438
Location: SouthEast Pennsylvania
Does overworking the engine mean that the boiler is putting out more force than the machinery, rods, gears etc., can take?


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 Post subject: Re: Cass Bald Knob train with only one engine and five cars
PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 4:03 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:52 am
Posts: 1240
Location: Strasburg, PA
JimBoylan wrote:
Does overworking the engine mean that the boiler is putting out more force than the machinery, rods, gears etc., can take?

Not necessarily, but traumatic wear and breakage on the machinery goes up at a geometric rate the closer you get to absolute maximum capacity. A couple of examples:

Here, our engines usually run in the neighborhood of 1/2 of their rated capacity by the old formulas, and our engines will usually reliably run 31 days between monthly inspections with no issues bigger than needing a cotter pin replaced here or there.**

On the Durango & Silverton, in the early years of the Bradshaw management, the engines were regularly loaded to their maximum tonnage, and (I am told) would come in virtually every night with something fairly major broken that the night shift would have to work all night to repair. When the CMO convinced management to shorten each train by one car, those major defects became a lot more rare overnight. On their wintertime Cascade trains, which are regularly very short, the engines run week in and week out with no issues, just like ours.

**A few weeks ago, we had a very heavy freight to bring up to Strasburg. SW8 #8618 pulled the train, and #475 was the pusher. Around Long Curve, #8618 was in run 8, and #475 was in the corner with a wide open throttle to maintain a bare five miles per hour (each engineer thought the other was lollygagging). Shortly after, #475 was sidelined with a broken lead truck equalizer, something that is very lightly loaded (less than two tons on each end) and has never broken before. What does a lead truck equalizer have to do with how hard the engine is working? With the engine pushing at full power on the rear 286,000 lb. car, her front coupler was locked pretty solid vertically to the loaded car's coupler. Our theory is that with variations in the track, the front of #475 momentarily took on a fair portion of the weight of the car, overloading the lead truck and breaking the equalizer.

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Strasburg Rail Road Mechanical Department


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 Post subject: Re: Cass Bald Knob train with only one engine and five cars
PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 4:52 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5254
Location: southeastern USA
[quote="Donald CormackAn FRA 1,472 day inspection is concerned with the boiler ONLY. There is no requirement that running gear be overhauled. That is up to the discretion of the operator.DC[/quote]

No. Condemnable defects in the running gear that are flagged during the 1472 (or at any other time) must be addressed, just like any defect found in the boiler. If you don't go through your running gear during the down time the boiler work is under way, you are setting yourself up for a potential failure that will shut your locomotive down during an operating season that might have been remedied and avoided otherwise. Even if you think you know the running gear is good, take the opportunity to make sure.

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"Techies never minded eating bits and jots of their work. They were grit and grease inside and out and could turn a pile of junk into a magical kingdom."

Andrea Hairston


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 Post subject: Re: Cass Bald Knob train with only one engine and five cars
PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 8:14 pm 

Joined: Fri Sep 22, 2017 6:33 am
Posts: 7
That's the difference from having a park subsidized from tax payer dollars, and one that has to maintain rolling stock, track, wages, all on ticket sales . Not sure if they get a subsidy from the state or not. Just be glad it's running at all, who cares how many locomotives are running.


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