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 Post subject: volunteers
PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2001 3:32 pm 

Awhile back there was a thread or maybe a couple of threads where we all discussed volunteer help, and us who are in our 20s-30s that have full times jobs not in railroading.
At one point there were several guys who ran steam locomotives saying they wished they had more guys like me who wanted to learn the art.
I was even invited to learn to fire aboard an engine.
I realize you guys in the biz cannot take just anybody off the street and expect them to be able to understand what to do even after being shown how.
My question is, how many of you guys in the biz would take a guy like me under your wing, who has studied all the text and knows the principles but have never actually done it?

adofmsu@aol.com


  
 
 Post subject: Re: volunteers
PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2001 4:50 pm 

Various clubs in the agricultural steam community sometimes run "steam schools, with lectures, safety rallies, and firing and throttle time.

I've often wondered why the scenic railroads didn't do it (it would probably even make money) My guess is their insurance underwriters, and the industrial safety overseers probably object


  
 
 Post subject: Re: volunteers
PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2001 5:16 pm 

Alan,
Most steam groups are looking for people to learn and work. There are always things to do and not enough people to do them. Problem is when you make steam there are always too many people and not enough duties to pass around. Best thing is to volunteer, work around the shop and learn everything you can. When it comes time to run then the list is usually made up of the volunteers who work the hardest.

Robert@trainorders.com


  
 
 Post subject: Re: volunteers
PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2001 6:55 pm 

I've been volunteering at railroad museums for 15 years and have not yet once pitched a scoop of coal into a firebox.
On the other hand I've been working as a paid track worker for 3 years and have just recently been trusted to run a diesel locomotive by myself.
I believe it all comes down to trust.You have to earn it. For some of us it takes a lot longer than others, but we'll get there eventually. Never give up!

Brian


Conway Scenic Railroad
bhebert@rypn.org


  
 
 Post subject: Re: volunteers
PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2001 7:07 pm 

> Various clubs in the agricultural steam
> community sometimes run "steam schools,
> with lectures, safety rallies, and firing
> and throttle time.

Alan, I think the closest one to you is the one at Pawnee, OK.

> I've often wondered why the scenic railroads
> didn't do it (it would probably even make
> money) My guess is their insurance
> underwriters, and the industrial safety
> overseers probably object

I think liability is the problem. Such "driver education" courses are offered overseas; the link below is for one in Australia, but similiar courses are offered in the UK and perhaps elsewhere.

-James Hefner
Hebrews 10:20a

Driving Training Course
james1@pernet.net


  
 
 Post subject: How I started.....
PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2001 7:26 pm 

> Awhile back there was a thread or maybe a
> couple of threads where we all discussed
> volunteer help, and us who are in our
> 20s-30s that have full times jobs not in
> railroading.
> At one point there were several guys who ran
> steam locomotives saying they wished they
> had more guys like me who wanted to learn
> the art.
> I was even invited to learn to fire aboard
> an engine.
> I realize you guys in the biz cannot take
> just anybody off the street and expect them
> to be able to understand what to do even
> after being shown how.
> My question is, how many of you guys in the
> biz would take a guy like me under your
> wing, who has studied all the text and knows
> the principles but have never actually done
> it?

I'm 22 now. But when I was 15 I used to hang around the Nevada Northern yards in Ely, NV. Eventually, people saw I was interested and put me to work, first small office stuff like stuffing broshures. Then I worked down in the shop and it easn't long until I was a paid employee in the summer.

Generally it was work that was pretty crappy. Like cutting weed in the yard, cleaning and oliling switches, axle journals and grade crossings. Pianting, sweeping ect.

But I was freeing up someone who was trained in operating and repair of the big stuff to let them get the major work done. And I also helped them out with those tasks and learned alot in the process. So I didn't mind doing all of that one bit.

Eventually in my last summer of work I was learning how hostle steam and some lessons in switching and other brakemen duties. I was 17 and a year away from train service. But I graduated and moved elsewhere from college.

But in retrospect, thats my expiriance and how I saw it happen with other novice volunteers. There was a welocoming environment to new volunteer, but no one ever jump in the cab on thier first day unless the museum was aware of them having the qualifications to do so.


  
 
 Post subject: A club steam school in the east
PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2001 7:31 pm 

The Northwest Pa Steam Engine and Old Equipment Assn (aka. Portersville Steam Show) is planning on holding another steam class in the spring. No details have been finalized at this time.
If it follows the usual track it will either be 2 or 3 evenings, or perhaps one Saturday. There will be an overview of boiler construction, safety issues, and some throttle time on a pair of half scale traction engines (and maybe on my 25HP depending on my schedule)

Those interested should watch the club website (news page) for further notices.

For those in eastern Pa., I also think the Rough and Tumble Engineers at Kinzers Pa may be planning one as well.

Portersville Steam Show's Homepage
steamnut@ptd.net


  
 
 Post subject: Re: volunteers
PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2001 7:36 pm 

The question of willingness to accept a volunteer with limited experience is purely related to the persons already in the group. What I mean by that is some groups welcome new people very easily and others get "cliquey". The two groups I'm involved with welcome people readily and feel out what the aptitude of the individual is and give suited projects and have a willingness to teach what is not known. Volunteers are needed or else nothing happens , they are the source of most labor. The dedicated volunteers are the core of any group.You have to also understand that some people have been in a group from it's inception and have seen lots of volunteers show up once or twice and fade off. Maybe because they realize it IS hard work , you do get filthy , and it seems unglamorous that they leave. It takes dedication to show up and be the small fish and after a while you get noticed. Hopefully for all the right reasons. I have been around groups I just didn't click with for what ever the reasons and I don't pa rticipate there any longer.

Over all though ,There is , in my opinion a lack of volunteerism currently and the more you get involved the better. I find working on it much more rewarding than just railfanning it. The best thing to do is show up regularly ( especially in the off season when more projects are under way), take an interest , listen , and use common sense. As confidence in your ability grows so will the responsibility assigned to you and the more your are accepted. Always ask questions if uns ure of how something is handled. Good groups should be very willing to explain how things are done and encourage furthering your knowledge.

Bad, things to do is show up two days before a trip or event with no experience and start asking questions, the s tress of preparing for a big event leaves some people very short tempered and not reflective of their normal selves.

At Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society ( NKP 765) we've just finished a Steam Locomotive / Boiler Basics Class that was enjoyed by al l and very productive. Find a group that does have a class or orientation session. It gave less experienced people a better overall knowledge of how an engine works and prepairs people to start doing a limited amount of work on the engine or projects. Us ually there is more than one person needed for a given project find someone you feel comfortable with and assist in what they are working on. A mentor so to speak. Volunteers are desperately needed from Mainline operators down to the local museums and non e is less important than the other.

So , I say pick a group that interests you , SHOW UP REGULARLY, don't bite off more than you can chew and realize that you have and ask for help, and STICK WITH IT. The rewards do come

Rich Y

0o

ryoungceo@yahoo.com


  
 
 Post subject: Re: volunteers
PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2001 4:05 am 

Very good response. I find that your comments about working and getting involved apply to all kinds of work at a railway museum (and probably at any volunteer organization).

Brian Norden



bnorden49@earthlink.net


  
 
 Post subject: Re: volunteers
PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2001 7:41 am 

A program is now in the development stage at Blacklands Railroad near Dallas.

Dave

irondave@bellsouth.net


  
 
 Post subject: Re: volunteers
PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2001 7:49 am 

And don't think a lot of us aren't talking about this as well as the college age volunteer situation.

We are landlocked and our operating track is the turntable and leads. Our only operable power is a 1913 0-4-0T. We don't operate usually on an intensive schedule, just several times a year. I have been working to find an intensive operating situation for my most promising 20 year old and thanks to the kindness and open mindedness of several organizations at the convention I think we have a couple to choose from.

You are welcome down here of course but Savannah may be a fair commute for you. I would look for places where lots of trains run and keep showing up.

Dave

irondave@bellsouth.net


  
 
 Post subject: Re: volunteers
PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2001 7:55 am 

Alan;

You have some good advice in responses to your question.

My Volunteering days started when I was a teenager, then had to stop for a decade as I was in essence raising 2 kids on my own. They are now 14 and 11, so I now get more time to go out there.

Rules, in my book:

1) Volunteer to scrape paint. Sometimes you do indeed get to scrape paint, other times something more interesting.

2) Listen.

3) say "Thank you".

4) arrange ahead of time to volunteer, arrive early or on-time, and don't leave early.

When I travel, I like to find a local railroad, and spend some time helping. I have installed windows on fireless locomotives, and air-dump toilets in passenger cars. I have scraped paint, swept floors, replaced brake shoes, and have also had some fun in locomotives.

All of it was educational, and a lot of fun. I have met a lot of really nice people by doing this.

John Stewart
Ottawa.



john.stewart@crc.ca


  
 
 Post subject: Re: volunteers
PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2001 12:11 pm 

Well, I too started as a volunteer at an early age. There was a group of us who started all at the same time. We did a lot of things that were both educational and fun. Thanks to some people who wanted us to be safe first, we were shown the importance of knowing what we were doing. We spent several afternoons learning how to get off and on of equipment, both standing and moving.

Eventually, I joined the Operating Department and ran streetcars and interurbans, sold tickets, gave tours and more.

One of the best activities I participated in was a steam program. Learned a lot, and did a lot, including some very dirty jobs. There was one thing I learned that anyone who volunteers on a steam program should remember. There is only one seat on each side of the boiler, and those are usually taken. I did get the chance to learn how to fire an oil burner, and did run on occasion, but those places had lots of people who wanted to fill the seats. Generally, they were filled. As one of the senior members of the team put it, "My investment will always be more than yours, and that means if I want to run, I will before you do." I may not agree with him, but I still respect him.

I was lucky enough to enjoy other volunteer opportunities before it all came to an end, thanks to a few unchecked egos. Since that time, I make do with fewer days, and try to enjoy what I have.

Learned that the hard way. Enjoy it now, you never know when it might not be there.

pullman@privatecarservice.net


  
 
 Post subject: Re: volunteers
PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2001 12:26 pm 

I was 13 years old when I began volunteering at the Michigan Transit Museum. Right from the beginning i admit i was naive. I didnt care what jobs i had. I just wanted to be around the museum and absorb as much as i could. I worked in the depot museum assisting the docents, I worked on the train passing out information. I just enjoyed the fact i was part of the organization. The jobs didnt matter to me. There were individuals who thought i was too young, but there were also those that appreciated me being there and realized the importance of incorporating me into the museum. Now 11 years later I am the Director of Research and Development and even more active in the organization (although still one of the youngest members.) I think the key to being welcomed to any group is two-fold. The group first has to be willing to accept volunteers and shed themselves of any cliques. and the volunteer has to realize they won't get in and running right away. You can't be CEO overnight. Time & patience pay off in the long run. I think I have babbled enough

Michigan Transit Museum
sutterd@hotmail.com


  
 
 Post subject: Re: volunteers and perseverance
PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2001 3:24 pm 

The two words that come to my mind are enthusiasm and perseverance. The later is what gets one noticed by the movers and shakers of the group or organization. It may take years before you even get to sit in a seatbox. However, the journey getting there is the one worth taking. But it takes "a lot" of time and even little humility. I count myself blessed of the friendships that have come from working to preserve railway equipment. The frosting on the cake is being able to see it run. Or even, for the fortunate few of us, to operate these pieces of equipment. Remember though, most of us who are in that seatbox have spent much more time learning, in a Boiler, or under the engine working on the darn things to get them running. Just hang in there, learn as much as you can, and get your fingernails dirty.
Happy Thanksgiving,


  
 
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