Sunday, July 15, 2012

The 9 pulls its first revenue load at the GLRR!

Well, not so fast! A quick trip through history is in order!

I scrounged through the archives and found the next few pictures.

This is the 9 in a somewhat forlorn state. The precise date of this picture is unknown to me but it was shortly before the MCRR took possession of the locomotive in the mid 1960's.

This shot by Jeff T. shows the 9 pulling passenger cars into the North Station at the MCRR in 2010.

A great dusk shot by Jeff T. capturing the setting sun against the steam leaving the turbine.

The 9 passing the water tower in December during a North Pole Express run.

The 9 on its way to the Georgetown Loop RR in January, 2011.

After a lengthy refurbishment, the 9 cruises the tracks at the GLRR.

The 9 pulling the train at the GLRR.

Dave O. of the MCRR in the fireman's seat of the 9.

Matt C. of the MCRR in the engineer's seat of the 9.

Various shots of the 9 around the loop.

The GLRR's "workhorse", the Baldwin number 12. meets the Lima Locomotive Works Shay number 9.

Pictures courtesy Jeff T, Phil R, Matt C, and Dave O.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Independence Day Celebration

Every year, we put a train together to help celebrate the country's Independence Day holiday. The operations are run between the Mount Pleasant Independence Day parade and dusk, when hundreds of visitors start filing into the park in anticipation of the fireworks display.

The 14 pulls the train up the hill west of the North Station.

Approaching the platform.

Some of the conductors watch as the 14 completes its journey from the South Station.

TIcket agents Jen C and Amy F chat with Director Jerry C at the North Station ticket counter.

A view inside the 14's cab.

Lead conductor Dylan D chats with Jerry C before sending the train on its way..

The conductor signals the 14 to leave the station. 

The train is past the switch tower.

The 14 enters the bridge's embankment.

photo's courtesy Dylan D.

Friday, July 6, 2012

June15-16-17 Firemen's School

The graduates (and their instructors) of the 2012 MCRR Firemen's School:

As advertised on the WWW.MCRR.ORG's website, we completed a Firemen's School during the weekend before the NRHS event.

There were some changes from what was planned for the school. (The main MCRR website has the original announcement for those interested in the class outline, located in the "Recent News" section.)

The departure from the original plan was the engine's annual hydro test.Originally envisioned for the class to perform, it made more sense to do the hydro test -- where anything and everything can go wrong -- the week before. As described in the June, 2012, work weekend blog entry, some things did go wrong and the annual test wasn't completed until Friday, June 15th, just hours before the class was to begin.

Friday night's class consisted of boiler basics and an introduction to the proposed MCRR operating rules.

We started Saturday with more classroom instruction, specifically geared to boiler operation and lubrication.

Classroom work complete, we divided the class into two groups. One group went to the shop to gets hands-on experience with the 6 while the other group stayed at the South Station for train operation instruction.

Even though this was a "Firemen's School," our cab crew routinely work as brakemen making up the train and performing other switching tasks. Two instructors worked with half of the class to give the students experience with coupling, uncoupling, and moving the train to build the consist for the NRHS event.

This wasn't show and tell; each student had to get "in there" to work the couplers, hook up air brake lines and give signals to the switch engine's engineer to move the cars back and forth. Watching is one thing; actually doing is another! 

The other half of the class worked at the shop to ready the 6 for use.

One of the many chores for the first use of the engine each year is repacking the waste cellars on the three driving axles and the pilot axle. The students did the 4 cellars on the fireman's side of the engine, leaving the other 4 for the other half of the class.

While repacking was taking place, each student had their own "Engine 6 Fire-Up" sheet and worked item by item through the steps required by the MCRR to start the locomotive.

After the underside work was complete and everyone was able to check off the pre-fire items, the engine was pulled out of the shop and the fire was lit -- 6 times!

Just like the operations group, this was not show and tell. Every student was able to light the fire. After the 6th student lit the fire, instead of extinguishing the fire for the next student, the fire was left on and the boiler was on its way to operating pressure.

Once the boiler reached a few pounds of steam pressure, each student performed the "cross over" procedure, where the engine is weaned from the gasoline air compressor to steam pressure. Yes, cross over can be done with 3 pounds of steam pressure; ask any of the students!

We had planned to bring the boiler to full pressure, start the appliances and take the engine for a few laps. Mother Nature had different ideas. A massive rain storm came in and convinced us to put the fire out and go inside. It rained so hard that a) the waste cellars on the fireman's side which had been repacked and oiled were each loaded with several cups of water and b) the MCRR parking lot was full of water. Had it not been for the threshold into the shop, the water would have been flowing inside via the east entrance.

We pushed the locomotive inside the shop after the rain had stopped.

Knowing that the engineer's side waste cellars had to be repacked on Sunday morning, we took advantage of the evening to do those cellars and cut a few hours off the the time-to-fire on Sunday. Two of the Saturday  morning waste cellar "experts" instructed their fellow students who had been working as brakemen in the fine art of cellar repacking.

Sunday morning started with a short classroom session to refresh the brakemen's hand signals and then, as with Saturday, the class was split in half. Those working with the 6 on Saturday did brakemen duties while the Saturday brakemen did engine duties.

With the cars in order and the boiler on its way to pressure, we towed the engine to the watering station and then on to the fueling station. Every student was able to work the special fire hydrant water meter valve and attempt to wrangle the filling hose in the 6's tender. A similar procedure took place at the fueling point; everyone was able to attach and detach the supply line and manipulate the pump.

While fueling and watering the tender, the appliances were started and tested as appropriate.

Finally -- the locomotive was a operating pressure, the tender was filled so the next phase of the class was actually firing the boiler while an engineer moved the 6 to the South Station to fetch its cars, do the air brake test, and run the train around the track 11 times -- once for each student.

After the operations portion of the class complete, the students went back to the classroom for the written test.

Each student was awarded a "Certificate of Completion" and received two and half days of instruction that met their (and the MCRR's) expectations.

Congratulations once again to this year's graduates.


June, 2012 Work Weekend

With the NRHS visit just a week away, the shop staff performed the annual hydro test of the 6.

One of the activities of the May work weekend was to plug the boiler in anticipation of the hydro test. With that out of the way, the staff topped the boiler, filled the tender with water and fuel, and lit the fire. Once the boiler was warmed, the fire was extinguished and the pressure test began.

The 6 is shown with what looks like an umbilical cord attached to the steam dome. The line leading to the steam dome is the output of the high pressure water pump. The water is fed into the highest point of the boiler to insure no air pockets exist that may obscure potential leaks.

Dave R. checks the crossing gate signal box for proper equipment operation in anticipation of the NRHS event.

The pressure test had an early problem: the firebox soft plug was leaking and needed to be replaced. Since the boiler was full of water, the locomotive had to be moved to a convenient location for emptying.

After removing the soft plug, the threads had to be cleaned up. Dustin B was volunteered into going inside the (warm) firebox to do the honors. After using the tap to clean the soft plug's receiving threads, he hands it to one of the shop staff in the cab.

With the soft plug back in place, the boiler was refilled and warmed, the pressure test was restarted with no problems found.

The leaking soft plug did put the day's plans into disarray.

In a dream world where nothing ever goes wrong with the steam engine, after the pressure test the boiler would have been drained to the correct level and brought to operating pressure. With full steam, additional inspections of the boiler would be completed and and all of the engine's appliances would be tested.

In the real world, the full pressure test was deferred until the following week.