Monday, March 6, 2017

December, 2016 North Pole Express

This post covers the three weekends of the 2016 North Pole Express (11-26/27, 12-3/4, 12-10/11).

The weather conditions for the past few North Pole Express events have been above freezing and dry. This year's event varied from warm to near zero, sunny to blowing and accumulating snow. The outside shots will illustrate the conditions. The outside shots follow the inside pictures.

The Bellevue and Cascade Caboose No. 55 served as Santa's office and  a table bracketing one of the activity areas in the South Station, that is, the "North Pole."

Awaiting the next family for their North Pole Express picture and making a few adjustments to the model trains on display. Children were able to operate the trains.

Two of our snow princesses.

The next set of pictures show some of our staff during a few idle moments between trains and some of the decorations inside the North Pole..

One family dressed properly for the event!

Enough of the North Pole...let's go outside.

Getting No. 12 ready for North Pole Express. Notice the lack of snow in this picture -- it does change. It was cold enough that the exhaust steam from the air compressor startup seemed to be seeping up from everywhere.

There is about 90 minutes between trains so we have time to do other things besides parking outside the South Station. There were numerous "move the mothballed equipment" activities through these three weekends. In this one, No. 12 pulled the diesel switch engine (No. 14) and the gasoline switch engine (FS-2) out of the shop.

No. 12 was acting somewhat finicky: the fire would be pristine and then it would be nothing more than a camp fire. On several occasions we had to do "blow backs" and "blow forwards" to get the fire back to its pristine status. On the Friday of the second weekend, we cleaned the burner for the 4th time this year, 3 times more than usual. Something was clogging the burner and it wasn't detritus from the fuel. A quick look inside the fuel line from the tender to the locomotive confirmed our suspicions. The inside of the fuel line had started deteriorating to the point where it was depositing crud in the burner requiring the fuel line's replacement.

One of the many snowy days. McMillan Park isn't the most scenic spot in Southeast Iowa but a snow storm does wonders for its appearance. It also adds to the North Pole Express experience. 

The snow from the previous weekend didn't stick around. Fire up on the last weekend wasn't as annoying but there were some ice patches as the temperatures were below freezing.

The dry conditions didn't last long. Another quick snow storm hit in the morning to decorate the park.

Some riders arrived early for their train and went into the North Depot.

Viewers in and around the MCRR get quite a show when it is cold. Running light, No. 12 bounds up the grade just west of the North Depot.

Boiler wash day. The remaining steam pressure is vented from the 12's boiler.