Saturday, December 26, 2009

2009 NorthPoleExpress: 2nd Weekend

With the kinks worked out of the 9, all there was to do on the second North Pole Express weekend was to run the locomotive, with and without cars.

Unlike the first NPE weekend, this one was more wintry: it had snowed several times during the week. Saturday and Sunday's weather wasn't too good. There wasn't much additional snow or rain, but there were low clouds and poor visibility. All in all, it was more "North Pole" -like.

The days' schedules consisted of: fire-up; move some stray flat cars around, pull a passenger train, do some "hot laps," pull a passenger train, do some "hot laps," and so on until it was time to put the train away for the day.

The north depot was snow bound on Friday. With the help of the Case back hoe and some manual labor, the platform was cleaned enough for the riders. Besides cleaning the platforms on Friday, several volunteers had to cut through ice which had encrusted all the tracks and switches. The Plymouth diesel switcher (14) was quite handy in breaking through the ice.

(Many of the pictures following are courtesy John G. and Jennifer B.)

The firemen had a fire going by mid morning and had the boiler under pressure shortly thereafter. Once the boiler reaches about 60% of its maximum pressure, the appliances -- steam turbine and air compressor -- are started.

One of our brakemen, Steve R. wanted to get some time in as a fireman.

Shop supervisor Mike E. likes to fire the engines (as does many of the shop staff!).

The next few shots show the 9 and its train coming up the hill at the north end of the park pulling towards the north station for the first load of the day. Engineer Dustin B. gently brings the train to a halt in the precise spot.

Once loaded with passengers, the train continues along the park's east side.

Here is a youtube video of the 9 passing the south station.

Elliot H. gets to fire the boiler! Actually, it looks like he is holding the leather strap in place keeping it from floating away. There is no smoke in the picture so someone else must really be at the fireman's controls.

After the train and passengers have been in the south station (aka the "North Pole") for about 90 minutes, the 9 backs into the station, attaches to the train, and pulls it back to the north depot where another load of riders await their turn.

This scene is taken inside the "North Pole" as the train passes through but before stopping to discharge the passengers.

Mike E. gets a turn at the throttle...

...while Elliot H. fires the boiler.

Fireman Abe C. gets his turn at the throttle.

Elliot H. gets HIS turn at the throttle...and nothing broke.

Pulling passenger cars out of the "North Pole."