View Full Version : The final run of the year

Captain Kidd
2004-Dec-22, 04:16 AM
Well it’s over. Our museum did our final two train trips tonight and I was asked to be on the head end (engine) crew. Got out there early and checked the tender, then did double take as I couldn’t see any coal. I finally looked down and, hey, a tiny little pile shoved up against the boards. Great, it’s the last run of the year and they’d rather we burn it than to shovel the remainder out of the tender afterwards. The other fireman and I (still working on my qualification, they’re changing the rules on me) scratch our heads and then decide to fill a few 5 gallon buckets and toss them in the tender.

First trip I was firing, everything was going great, pressure up and steady until suddenly on the return trip it started dropping off. No problem, I’d been running it kind of thin with the coal to preserve what we had left so I added a bit more. No dice, so I threw a full load in. Nothing. Now I’m starting to sweat because we’re approaching a hill and I don’t have my water high enough to fulfill the steam demand and still have enough to keep the crown sheet submerged when we top and angle down the other side. Adding water would kill the necessary pressure to make it up the hill. So I pile the coal in and hit the injector. Thick clouds of black smoke start rolling out of the stack and I realize what had happened. Last year and the first trip or two of this year, we had some awful coal. Half rock, half something I’d rather not call coal, when tested it returned a very low heat and high ash content. By reducing us to so little coal, we had used up all the good stuff and hit one last pocket of this crap.

Suddenly our coal usage went through the roof. The other fireman takes over for the second trip and he tries to get the fire to respond. With the draft blower cranked wide open and liberal amounts of coal, the pressure barely creeps to 160 psi (normal operating pressure of 200), then it finally eases into the 180 range near the end of the run.

At the turnaround end of our run is our maintenance facility, we stop and do a quick bucket brigade getting about a dozen five gallon buckets of the good stuff and then we’re off to return the passengers.

After dropping them off, we look at the coal bunker, and then shrug. We’re out. We manage to scrap enough coal out of cracks to lay one last fire and the engineer runs for home. The pressure gage starts to dip and all we can do is shrug, cross our fingers, and grin at each other. We made it back and cracked open the fire doors; there’s gaping holes (dead spots) in the fire and in a few places the grates are visible, it was almost all ash. She probably wouldn’t have made another mile. Easiest home run we’d ever done just sat there and twiddled our thumbs.

So, 7 hours on the road, I’m sweaty, smell like smoke and grease, and exhausted; a great last day. :D

2004-Dec-22, 05:33 AM
Is this the themed train ride you do where you used to do the Polar Express, but can't call it that anymore because of the movie?

Captain Kidd
2004-Dec-22, 02:21 PM
A bit convoluted, no but yes.

Yes: This year we, and every other tourist railroad/museum, ran the Christmas trains under a different name due to WB buying the rights to the book, which included reading the book to the children, a former staple of the ride, along with serving hot chocolate. Late November we heard through the grapevine that the books author had heard of our predicament and went orbital. He had specifically written into the agreement the WB could not prevent Non Profits (maybe all railroads, a bit fuzzy on that point) from using the name, events in the book, etc. WB backed down but it was too late this year. Next year however, the Polar Express shall roll again!

The “no” is that the trip I talked about was after the Christmas trains. The PTBs decided to run two last days this week at a reduced price sans the hot chocolate, storytelling, and some other stuff.

That's me in the fireman's window. Looks like I'm wearing a chef's outfit. :) It's a santa hat and nice warm coveralls.

2004-Dec-22, 02:23 PM
Outstanding! =D>

2004-Dec-22, 02:34 PM
Wow, great story. I hate it when you run out of steam and have to push the train the rest of the way. :lol:

Looks like you had a little snow for the run. I love winter runs, they always look beautiful. One of my most memorable is from about 30 years ago, when I was a teen. A fan line in New Jersey ran a winter run, with a photo run-by. There was about a foot of snow on the ground, but it was a beautiful day. I got some great shots as she came around a curve in the snow. I should try to find them, scan them, and post them.

2004-Dec-22, 02:39 PM
So, 7 hours on the road, I’m sweaty, smell like smoke and grease, and exhausted; a great last day. :D
Sweet! :wink:

2004-Dec-22, 02:41 PM
That's a great pic.

2004-Dec-22, 02:44 PM
That is the coolest thing ever.

Captain Kidd
2004-Dec-22, 02:45 PM
That's the ballast in the camera's flashes. :( Wish it was snow. I was seeing 3-4 purple spots afterwards, no idea how many remote flashes he had going. Of course considering I was also staring into a 1800 degF fire, my night vision was pretty much shot anyways.

We've had a flurry or two, but only the ridge tops got any accumulation and that melted by noon.

captain swoop
2004-Dec-22, 02:46 PM
Up on the NYMR (http://www.nymr.demon.co.uk/) they would leave the coal aboard unless work needed to be done on the Tender over the winter shutdown,. Santa specials been running all week.

Mind you the NYMR have 22 Engines available or undergoing work to choose from. That doesn't include guest engines and Diesels.

Goathland station was used as Hogwarts in the first Harry potter film. It's also a regular in Heartbeat which is filmed in the village and has featured on numerous other TV shows and Movies

2004-Dec-22, 02:50 PM
Wow - it's a small world after all!

Looks like the TVRM has the 610 looking pretty this xmas season :D! I can't wait until you guys finish the 630. I took a look at it last year after the flue sheet had been cut out. From the looks of it, she will be in the shop for at least a year or two more :(.

Captain Kidd
2004-Dec-22, 02:58 PM
The coolest thing I saw and how I wish I had a camera with me was the steam condensing out of the stack and trailing back over us. Due to the dynamics involved, there's a double spiral induced into the exhaust flow and the conditions were perfect to keep the steam from dissipating and the vortices were splitting so that we had a forked steam tail following us. By leaning waaaay out during the slow parts (3 mph) we could see the exhaust plume coming out the stack from the draft blower and other lines that dump into the smokebox and then there’s bee a blast of steam shooting 50 feet or more straight up into the air as a cylinder entered its exhaust phase. How I wished I had been off to the side watching that.

It was also wild to feel the steam expand in the cylinders. At that low speed you could feel the steam as it entered the cylinder and expanded then a sudden acceleration drop off as the cylinder exhausted the spent steam. After it was pointed out to me, I could also feel the back of the locomotive fishtailing on the tracks due to the induced side thrust of the side rods on the rear drivers.

(Steam locomotives are a mechanical engineer’s perfect machine. Chemical reactions, thermodynamics, linkages, etc. :D )

Captain Kidd
2004-Dec-22, 03:18 PM
Wow - it's a small world after all!

Looks like the TVRM has the 610 looking pretty this xmas season :D! I can't wait until you guys finish the 630. I took a look at it last year after the flue sheet had been cut out. From the looks of it, she will be in the shop for at least a year or two more :(.

Our hope for date is fall 2005. We're hosting the TRAIN convention and want to double head 630 and 610 to pull the convention train.

630's new all welded smokebox and first flue sheet are on. A patch was added to the front of the firebox due to erosion cutting into it from solids in the water wearing on it as the water circulated. At some point in her history it looks like she took a nasty blow off center on her pilot. Probably hit a car that wasn’t far enough back on a siding, huge dent in the pilot bar and both frame rails are bent out of parallel. One has five or six repair welds where it looks like the frame actually broke. Poor girl’s had a tough 100 year life. Most of the new parts have been cast. Once the final patching is done and a few staybolts replaced we’re ready for the hydro test at which we’ll start hanging stuff back on. I’d give us a good run at making the hope-for date.

Check out our in the backshop (www.tvrail.com/index.php?module=photoalbum&PHPWS_AlbumManager_op= list) section of the photo album for some 630 restoration photos. (There's a closing bracket in the URL of the album or I'd link you right to it.

captain swoop, we have 1 working steam engine, one in the shop, one more that supposedly is virtually ready having been mothballed right after major rework (we'll see about that), it's a huge stoker fired Canadian National pacific, then there's the "famous" 4501 (got a lot of screen time in October Sky with O. Winston Link in the cab), plus the K&T 10, 611 (with an interesing poppet valve gear), and 349 a cute little 4-4-0 American. All are restorable given time and money. Then there's 3 GP9's and two or three RSD-1's that are operational and used often, plus quite a few more that can be restored.

Oh yeah, Southern's Southern Cresent 6914 (an E8 ) has been moved into the Backshop and is on the offical in-progress list. ETA of a couple years. (Right now just a couple guys working on her.) It'll be great to have a streamliner at the head of a train.

Any glassy eyes yet? 8-[

2004-Dec-22, 03:23 PM

That is just awesome.

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-22, 07:40 PM
Hey, Captain Kidd, ever been to the Science and Tech museum in Ottawa? Doubt you have, but if you're ever in town, I'd reccomend it. Bunch of locomotives (http://www.sciencetech.technomuses.ca/english/collection/rail.cfm), even a one-of-a-kind (http://www.sciencetech.technomuses.ca/english/collection/images/rail/fig26.jpg).

Not to mention the other (http://www.sciencetech.technomuses.ca/english/whatson/astronomy_programs04.cfm) goodies (http://www.sciencetech.technomuses.ca/english/whatson/can_space.cfm). They even used to have the Apollo 7 capsule, but they finally had to give it back to the Smithsonian (the original loan was for just a few years. They had it for a few decades)

2004-Dec-22, 08:11 PM
HEY!! The 610! Nice to see you on BABB! I've ridden with you!

Captain Kidd
2004-Dec-22, 08:19 PM
Good grief it's a small world, that's what three so far. I'm going to have to start wearing a BA pin or something when I run so we know to say hi. :)

2004-Dec-22, 09:53 PM
Captains Kidd and Swoop

In an age of solar exploration it's great to see the interest you have in steam. My fondest is of the Union of South Africa loading coal and steaming up at Markinch (about 5 miles from me) before she set off to go over the Forth Bridge (the real cantilever one, not the one made out of string :lol:) Apparently it's one of the few rail stations left (on the network) that can still load coal.

captain swoop
2004-Dec-23, 09:17 AM
We have a Baldwin like yours up at Grosmont Shed Captain Kidd, It's an exs US Army engine brought over in the war for service in Europe, it worked around Teeside before the invasion, ended up in Turkey and was re-imported into the UK. It's awaiting a boiler overhaul at the moment and hasn't steamed for a couple of years. It was always a fave on the 'WW2 Weekend' when the whole line reverts back to 1942. It's had most of it's fittings 'cut down' to fit the European loading gauge, things like the sandbox, chimney, domes etc. Also it doesn't have a 'Pilot' on the front, it has buffers and '3-link screw' coupling along with Vacuum breaks alongside the Westinghouse.

Sorry, Edit to add looking at the website I see the Loco wentto Poland not turkey, can't think where I got that from.

Also Edit to add there is a picture and sound clip of this engine on the website.

captain swoop
2004-Dec-23, 09:33 AM
Captains Kidd and Swoop

In an age of solar exploration it's great to see the interest you have in steam. My fondest is of the Union of South Africa loading coal and steaming up at Markinch (about 5 miles from me) before she set off to go over the Forth Bridge (the real cantilever one, not the one made out of string :lol:) Apparently it's one of the few rail stations left (on the network) that can still load coal.

There are over 2000 preserved steam locomotives in the UK, at any time around 500 of them are actively in steam on over 1000 miles of preserved track. At the NYMR one loco goes up to Scotland every summer to run specials on the West Highland line.

In the works at the moment is the streamlined A4 Pacific 'Sir Nigel Gresley', it's being totaly rebuilt with Lottery funding and will be running mainline specials. Flying Scotsman (Famous A3Pacific) has just moved to York Museum (Biggest Railway Museum in the world and totaly free) where it will be running summer specials from York to Scarborough in the summer.

'Our' line from Grosmont to Pickering has 4 stations and a 'halt' and runs for over 18 miles through forests and across a swamp in Newtondale, it's one of the longest preserved lines in the country and has over half a million passengers a year.

2004-Dec-23, 09:35 AM
Fasinating , my father , before he retired, and died, was a fireman with British Rail from 1947 until the phased out steam in the 60's , when he became a driver..

He never talked much about his work, I just remember him coming home , when I was a small child, and I would run to him , to be pulled away by my mother , because he was covered in coal dust and sweat.

It wasn't until he died , and I started talking to some Model Railway enthusiasts that I began to appreciate just what he did for a living. Being based in Aberdeen , my father would go as far south as Glasgow or Edinburgh , (150 -120 miles) before changing crews and returning home . In the course of such a trip he might have to move in excess of 7-10 tons of coal, and the same coming back.

Just think of that , open cab , middle of winter shovelling more or less continually .... moving the equivelent of 5-7 cars in a single 8 hour ****f. no wonder he had little or no neck, hands like leather , and a grip that could snap an unwary mans hand!

Its funny, or maybe not , that there are so few reired railway men of my dad's age , (he was 66 when he died), just worn out I guess ... :(

Still there were some compensations, such as tthe boxes of kippes he's bring home when he's been on the fish trans going south , fresh from the smoke house, Yumm

2004-Dec-23, 09:55 AM
Wonderful story and pictures, Captain!

The part about keeping the water level up as you approached the hill reminded me of a railroad my girlfriend and I were associated with back in the late 1960s. How's this for a "level boiler" challenge? (http://www.cog-railway.com/) Sadly, they're now in the process of converting to 100% diesel.

captain swoop
2004-Dec-23, 01:41 PM
Becoming a Driver takes years. There are still original BR steam Drivers working on the NYMR. All crews are volounteers.

To become a Driver you start as a Cleaner. Not polishing brass and washing paint but cleaning the Firebox and Boiler. Your job is to arrive at about 4.30 AM, check the Boiler water level and lay the fire with wood and oily rags. When the crew come on steam should be up and ready to go. At the end of the days working the Cleaner empties the ashes from the Smokebox and then gets down into the 'Pit' and rakes out the ashes from the Firebox ashpan. If the fire is being dropped it's his job to do that as well.

After a couple of years as a cleaner you can start training as a Fireman. You ride with a regular crew and learn the trade. When you are competent you become a 'Passed Fireman' then you are allowed to do stand in as for a regular Fireman. Next step is to become a full time Fireman. To go further up the ladder you do some driving under the instruction of your regular Driver and become a 'Passed Fireman'. Lastly you become a Driver.

Drivers were all 'older' men simply because it took so long to become a Driver. It did mean that an Engineman knew his Loco and its foibles and could anticipate any problems. Crews could be on the same engine together for ten years or more.

Our crews work on a rota and don't get assigned to just one engine.

Captain Kidd
2004-Dec-23, 03:50 PM
We're a bit more relaxed on our training, more of apprenticeship than anything. However, we're tightening down now and getting a more regimented system going. First, we’re having some trouble of people showing up and staying just long enough to claim they can fire a steamer. That steals time from those dedicated to getting qualified. We’re also found out that some don’t know everything they should. (like switching! Which is a staple on our main run (http://www.tvrail.com/index.php?module=pagemaster&PAGE_user_op=view_page &PAGE_id=7) as the engine is cut off and turned on a turntable on one end we run a wye that can hold the entire 3 car train on the other end.)

The new process to get steam qualified will probably be: brakeman, diesel/steam fireman, diesel engineer, steam engineer. By putting brakeman first, that, should, keep people’s hands off of the shovel so that only those really wanting to learn will stick around. I say should because the crew will let you throw a scoop or two depending on who’s up there. We also require that you become diesel qualified to become an engineer so that should the steamer go down, you can hop right over to one of the diesels and run with that. We also are under FRA regulation so there's rules tests and other requirements ("fill this cup to the red line please").

Not sure how long it'll take, but it'll also be in the years range.

captain swoop
2004-Dec-24, 09:04 AM
IN the UK a preserved line charging the public for travel has to be run with full Board of Trade railway licenses. No unauthorised passengers on the footplate, fully qualified engine crew and signalmen etc. On a full summer timetable there will be up to five engines in steam and a couple of diesel shunters on the go. Our line also has 4 Level Crossings. There are 4 signal blocks which allow 3 trains to be on the road at any time. Things have to be done right. Top speed is limited to 25MPH as the line is classed as as 'Light Railway' If they went faster a new Act of Parliament would have to be enacted and all the track and fittings would need to be upgraded. Plus only 3 of the steamers have Mainline tickets.

Most folks that turn up to help are on Perm Way gangs in the winter. We have various cottages, stationmasters houses, coaches and caravans along the line that they can stay in.

Captain Kidd
2004-Dec-25, 03:26 AM
We're not quite as tight here. You don't have to be under the FRA unless you want to or do interchange with another railroad, which we do, plus we choose to be, makes for safer railroading. Our "main" has an aluminum reclamation plant on it that receives 2-4 boxcars a week and a secondary line has a few (very, very few) industries on it that receive a few cars a month. I’m not sure how the non-FRA railroads are handled… I do know that the state is involved, there’s a state boiler permit tag on 610’s backhead.

Speaking of US Army engines in Europe. 610, heck, most of our fleet, is ex-Army. 610 was to be used to train soldiers to operate a steam locomotive in case the Cold War went hot as, when built in 1952, most of Europe was still steam. Then they electrified and she wasn’t needed.

Here’s a picture of her in 1955 (http://home.comcast.net/~mcclanahans/usa610_before_rebuild.jpg) with her “European”, or skull-cracker, cab.

captain swoop
2004-Dec-26, 10:33 AM
Apart from the Pilot and the Bell, that's our engine!

Captain Kidd
2004-Dec-26, 03:34 PM
Apart from the Pilot and the Bell, that's our engine!

Cool, we want to make it over the pond some day. We'll have to drop in,

Here's a before and after rebuild shot. The biggest item, at least on the engineer's side (I'm not sure what all was done) is the addition of a power reverser, and the new cab of course.

Before (http://home.comcast.net/~mcclanahans/usa610_before_rebuild.jpg) (Same as above but slightly lightened to bring out what was too dark to see.)
After (http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=19158)
After on the fireman's side (http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=66338)

captain swoop
2004-Dec-26, 03:54 PM
Apparently ours may be for sale.