Friday, December 26, 2014

2014 North Pole Express

This blog post will cover the three weekends of North Pole Express.

A note to MCRR readers: this post is mainly locomotive oriented because the "blogger" spends all his time in and around the cab of the locomotive. The blogger wants to rectify this by soliciting photos and/or stories generated at the North Depot, on the train, or in the South Station (also known as the "North Pole"). Contact the blogger via the webmaster email address. (You will have to "pass the challenge" of the link to get the real email address.)

Before Thanksgiving, several MCRR volunteers replaced the boiler plugs and filled No. 12's boiler and tender with water. The post-Thanksgiving crew cleaned the flues and lit the first natural gas fire of the three weekend event.

The first few pictures were taken from atop No. 12's cab giving an unusual perspective. Elliot H. is standing on the left side of the boiler assisting Matt W. who was atop the cab in adjusting the steam turbine's muffler.

We installed the muffler during Midwest Haunted Rails and have enjoyed the silence ever since! The muffler did present a problem that had the potential for trouble: the condensate dripping from the muffler flowed across the cab's roof and was dripping just behind the engineer. We solved the problem by turning the muffler to the position in the picture and attaching a drain pipe to dump along the side of the boiler.

You will also notice a different whistle on the 12. Evan P. procured the whistle for use on the 12. It sounds much different than the 9's whistle, in fact, it sounds much like the 6's whistle.

The next set of pictures paints a panoramic view from the north end of the shop (atop the locomotive). Take notice of the snow on the ground. Thanksgiving Friday was the coldest day of all North Pole Express days. Except for a few shaded areas, by Saturday morning  the snow was gone.

Introducing "Stack Face."

Matt W. standing on top of No. 12's cab while we were altering the steam turbine's muffler position.

...and a few side shots of the 12 with a natural gas fire warming the boiler.

With the locomotive doing its morning "hot laps," we pass the North Station with its "North Pole Express" livery. That's Ken C. walking in front of the station and Dylan D. standing by the corner of the South Station.

Engineer Jeff R. wanted the "full experience" of light-up on the 12. Here, Jeff monitors the fuel addition to the tender. At NPE, No. 12 burns about 20 gallons per hour versus about 30 GPH at Old Threshers' Reunion. While Jeff is fueling the tender, Matt W. is minding the boiler.

Engineer Jeff R. and fireman Elliot H. pose in front of No. 12.

Weekend 2: Friday natural gas warm-up.

Weekend 3: Saturday morning, Matt W. and Kendall O. monitor the firing of No. 12. Not shown in the picture is supervising fireman Elliot H.

The next bunch of pictures are courtesy Steve R. Steve has been on medical leave and has not been at the MCRR for quite a few months. He spent some time taking videos of the train as it was standing at North Station, making laps around the park, pulling into South Station, and finally pulling out of South Station. These pictures are captured from the videos.

The crew sometimes takes No. 12 around the park while the passengers are at the North Pole. Elliot H. runs the locomotive and Evan P. fires the boiler with Eric C. supervising.

Elliot H. adds water treatment as Matt W. attaches the water hose to the tender.

No. 12 pulling away from the water hydrant on its way back to the west side of the South Station.

A few dusk shots of No. 12 with its decorative lights. Evan P. and Braden G. did a great job of decorating the engine and tender.

On the Monday following the last NPE day, No. 12 gets prepared for storage. The first step is draining the boiler and tender.

Nearly every day of NPE, the left side Sellers injector was problematic. Low flow rates. Stopping unexpectedly. Unable to start. Working perfectly. We had performed the usual remedies but nothing seemed to resolve the behavior.

Finally, while draining the tender the cause was discovered! Someone had lost their hat in the 12's tender. When and where is up for speculation. Several of the pictures show the hat as it was discovered in the inline screen.

We sent an inquiry to Sellers & Company and received this reply:

Stack face.

The engineer's view of Stack Face.