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NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/11/21 7:58 a.m.

So this is really cool. For International Women's Day, Strasburg ran a train for the first time in it's 189-year history with an all-female crew, engineer Andrea Biesecker and fireman Shelley Hall. Andrea Biesecker was actually firing #90 on the day I took the throttle and she's a pretty cool lady.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/11/21 8:24 a.m.

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/11/21 8:43 a.m.

In reply to NickD :

That's awesome!

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/11/21 1:54 p.m.

There was a thread on RYPN where someone was asking if there were female engine crews during the steam era, particularly during WWII when women popped up in jobs where they previously had not held job due to men being drafted. The consensus was that, no, it was a rarity. While they did take over minor jobs like telegraph operator, washing locomotives and cars, operating turntables, and station agents. There were some female hostlers, who built the fires in the engines and moved them around the maintenance facilities. Pacific Electric employeed females in their shops for winding the traction motors, because they felt they were more detail-oriented and did a better job at it. And there were female motormen (motorwomen) operating streetcars during both WWI and WWII, and they were typically let go once the men returned from the war effort. But as for running engines over the road on assignment? Very rare.

Part of it was because engineers and fireman were largely exempt from the draft because A) they tended to be older and B) they were serving the war effort in their jobs. Not a whole lot of engineers and firemen were drafted. One person recounted a relative who was a PRR switch engine operator and had a draft deferment and he was basically told that he had to keep quiet about the fact that he was exempt from the draft, otherwise the PRR would let him get drafted.

Another issue was that to be an engineer, you had to do time as a fireman, and railroads used a person's physical build as a major factor in hiring firemen, particularly on roads that used hand-fired coal engines (like PRR or D&H). Even a male could be turned down if the person doing the hiring felt the interviewee was too short or scrawny. So, a lot of railroads, with the mindset of the time, were not going to be inclined to hire on a female fireman because they wouldn't think they were up to the job. 

There was also the issue of superstition. A lot of front end crews felt that it was bad luck to have a woman up in the cab and would have pitched a fit and made the railroads rethink hiring them. The basis for the superstition was that engine crews thought of locomotives as females, and they felt that a woman in the cab would "make the engine jealous" and give them trouble. There was also concerns from management that an engineer or fireman with a female fireman or engineer would possibly be distracted from his duties.

One person said that decades ago he had befriended an old AT&SF engineer who told me about an experiment to put female engineers in the cabs of locomotives during WW II. He said they could not get past the "need for a regular bathroom" so the idea was dropped. Pretty understandable. Diesel locomotives, with their bathrooms inside the body of the locomotive, eliminated that hurdle.

So, women engineers and fireman on American Class Is during the steam era are pretty much unheard of. Someone claims that SP had a female engineer on the mainline, although they failed to mention her name and I can't find any reference to one. Its possible, since SP had a lot of oil-fired engines, which were less physically demanding on the fireman, which would have allowed her to work her way up. There are several accounts of female engineers and fireman on various short lines, such as the 2-mile long Augusta Railroad in Arkansas, and industrial lines. There are a few stories of female engine hostlers during WWII who had to take a train over the line because of a crew shortage.

Russia made a big to-do about having female steam crews during WWII. Granted, they also had women serving in combat roles on the front line and flying planes in a combat role.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/12/21 2:43 p.m.

One of the Union Pacific's big 2-8-8-0 "Bull Moose" compound articulateds moves a long string of boxcars across the plains. After the absurd 4-12-2s, the "Bull Moose" (Kansas City Southern called their 2-8-8-0s "Big Mallies", while NYO&W used the Bull Moose name for their 2-10-2s) is my second favorite UP steam engine. For years, these 57" drivered, single-expansion tonnage maulers were the standard UP power over Sherman Hill. In as-delivered form, they looked like a rolling factory, particularly on the fireman's side where they had two cross-compound air pumps and a big Worthington BL feedwater heat crammed under the running boards

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/12/21 2:59 p.m.

Bull Moose #3529 is hooked to the front of UP Mountain #7857 and her passenger train, to act as helper over Sherman Hill. By this point, the headlight had been centered up on the smokebox, it had been converted to oil-burning, and it had been converted to from a compound to a simple articulated (see the front cylinders that are now the same size as the rear). UP also added thicker tires to the driving wheels to increase their diameter to 59". This made made them a bit faster, but by this point they were pretty much obsolete, shown up by 63" drivered 2-10-2s that could pull almost as hard, the insane triple-cylinder 67"-drivered 4-12-2s and the famous 4-6-6-4 Challengers.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/12/21 3:01 p.m.

The headlight is centered up on #3616 here, but it is still a compound articulated with those huge 41" diameter low-pressure cylinders.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/12/21 3:27 p.m.

Later in life, they got yet another facelift. The headlight was still centered on the smokebox door but now the smokebox door was no longer concentric with the boiler. The air pumps were also moved up on the front deck and covered with sheetmetal shields. They also lost the Worthington BL feedwater heater for the less cumbersome Worthington SA feedwater heater. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/12/21 3:29 p.m.

A late-appearance Bull Moose helping a 3900-series Challenger with a 90+ car train at Buford, Wyoming. Despite their obsolesence, the Bull Mooses had long lives, serving from 1918 to 1954. They weren't fast, they weren't falshy, but they were good, reliable workhorses.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/12/21 3:52 p.m.

Those Worthington BL feedwater heaters, the big clunky thing under the running boards behind the two air compressors, were a curious device. The cold water pump, heating chamber, and hot water pump in one fairly compact unit about the size of a cross compound air compressor. Both pumps were driven by the same steam cylinder on a common shaft. It used an open heating system, meaning that the exhaust steam used to heat the water was in direct contact with the cold water in the heating chamber. One of the benefits of this is that some of the steam is condensed during the heating process and reused in the boiler. Worthington claimed something like a 12 to 17% savings in water, which was an attractive benefit on a railroad where water was very scarce and expensive like Southern Pacific. Also, since everything was self-contained, they were very easy to retrofit to other engines. You just had to run a steam line to and from it and reconfigure the water feed line.

They did have a few quirks that took some getting used to though. If, for some reason the cold water pump lost its prime the fireman had to crawl out on the running board and open the vent cocks on the pump to get it to pick up again. Yeah, think about laying on the running board, reaching down to open the vent cocks while those connecting rods flail around under you and the engine buck and bounces over the track. Also, when the heater was working, the heating chamber was operating at whatever the cylinder back pressure was at the time with the water being heated to something over its boiling point. Any change the engineer made that reduced back pressure, such as reducing the throttle or even hooking the reverser up a notch, would cause the heated water in the heating chamber to flash to steam and the hot water pump would be trying to pump steam rather than water. This caused the pump to race until the heating chamber filled with hot water again which, for some reason, often caused the cold water pump to lose its prime.

 

914Driver
914Driver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/14/21 8:46 a.m.

Anyone need a Tamper Car?  If there's abandoned track near you, make it a Camper Car.

TheRX7Project
TheRX7Project HalfDork
3/14/21 9:05 a.m.

In reply to 914Driver :

The Q&A section on that auction made me laugh

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/14/21 10:02 a.m.
TheRX7Project said:

In reply to 914Driver :

The Q&A section on that auction made me laugh

Somebody in the government with a sense of humor? A miracle!

914Driver
914Driver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/14/21 3:24 p.m.

Hey!  I kinda have one, a 42 year Fed.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/15/21 8:00 a.m.
914Driver said:

Anyone need a Tamper Car?  If there's abandoned track near you, make it a Camper Car.

Reminds me of the Jalopnik article about a guy who bought a monorail to use as a camp. A guy and his buddies had some land they used as a camp but they got sick of pitching a tent every time they went out there and didn't want an RV. His original plan was to get an airplane fuselage but couldn't find any nearby. Then he found out a zoo had decomissioned their monorail a couple years prior and had been trying to sell it on some obscure auction site without any luck. He ended up making a deal to buy all six cars for $1000, spent another $5000 having it moved and installed, and now has a nifty camp with excellent protection from the weather. Since the monorail cars are essentially individual rooms with only a small panel for through-access, each car is more or less an individual cabin. At the time of the article he was looking at installing solar panels on the roof to allow for functional interior lighting, phone charging and maybe get the intercom system workinng

02Pilot
02Pilot UltraDork
3/15/21 8:43 a.m.

Looks like the Aussies have restored and put back into service one of their iconic streamlined steam engines. I know nothing about it, but it looks pretty.

 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/15/21 9:40 a.m.

In reply to 02Pilot :

New South Wales #3801 is kind of Australia's equivalent to N&W #611 here in the US or The Flying Scotsman in the UK. The streamlining is very reminiscent of New Haven's I-5 "Shoreliner" Hudsons.

#3801  had been out of service for a while. The old boiler and firebox were getting pretty worn out, so the Aussies had a new welded boiler and firebox built by Dampflokwerk Meiningen in Germany. The new boiler arrived and was found to have a bunch of issues. “Among the problems we discovered with the boiler was the position of the front tubeplate, localized out-of-roundness and peaking of some of the welded seams in the boiler barrel, as well as issues with the welding and stays in the firebox,” according to Office of Rail Heritage Director Marianne Hammerton. They ended up sending the junk new boiler back to Germany and then extensively repaired the original boiler.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/15/21 12:04 p.m.

Texas State Railroad learned the hard way about replacement boilers. Back in the early 2000 as new FRA regs were coming into effect, the TSRR was under state control and they decided it would be easier to construct brand-new boilers for two of their four operational engines (they own five in total), Texas & Pacific 4-6-0 #316 and ATSF 4-6-2 #1316. Since the state operated the railroad and was providing the grant for the construction of the new boilers, they decided to farm out the construction of the boilers to a Texas-based firm. The company that constructed the boilers had no experience with locomotive boilers, only stationary industrial boilers. And there is a big difference.

The boiler for  T&P #316 was constructed first, since #316's boiler was completely used up and had multiple patches and marginal thickness, and the company that constructed it had used 1" thick steel for both the boiler plate and the firebox. Firebox sheets are supposed to be thin so that they can be cooled by the water, 3/8” is the maximum thickness for firebox can be made of. Thicker sheets heat-up and melt on the firebox-side because the heat cannot be conducted fast enough by thicker steels. The firebox staybolts are over 1" in diameter and made of steel with a higher tensile strength than the boiler steel.  In operation, the firebox was trying to expand, and being held in place by the stays and outer wrapper.  The stays began to to wallow craters around their locations in the crown sheet.  After just 410 days of operation, craters over 1/2" deep had been created around the stays. They came up with a plan to cut out the firebox three stays wide (one stay on each side of the problem area), and replace it with thinner material and correct stay bolt material, assuming the pressure calculations could be worked out, and then when 316's next 1472 day inspection came due, a new firebox would be installed.  But there was no funding to do this (#1316 had run without the superheater for a few years as there was no money to repair or replace the cracked superheater header plate).  The railroad went on a scrap drive campaign to raise money to do the work, but the operator made off with the money they generated.

They had installed the new boiler on #316 and put it into operation and the issues with it had yet to raise their head, so they tore down ATSF #1316 to install its boiler. This one was made entirely of 1-1/2" material and they hadn't gotten to installing it when #316 was knocked out of service with its new boiler. Probably a good thing, as the firebox troubles they had with #316 would be the same as #1316 - only magnified.  In addition, the boiler weighed at least twice as much as the original did, and the running gear would not hold it up.  They would have had to design a 4-wheel trailing truck just to hold up that massive firebox.  ATSF #1316 is a light Pacific, whose frame is very lightly constructed, and had already been broken and had various dubious repairs made to it over the years.  Putting the new boiler on the chassis would simply not work. Particularly sad is that there was nothing inherently wrong with the boiler or firebox on #1316, it needed minor repairs, but the state grant was not applicable to repairs of the existing boiler.

So now both engines are out of service, years later. The plan is to reassemble them for cosmetic display, since they can't afford to have a new boiler constructed for #316 or repair the #1316's boiler that they cut in half and cut a bunch of holes in. TSRR's other two operational steam engines, Tremont & Gulf Railroad #28 and Magma Arizona #7, were fortunately excluded from this debacle, since they hadn't originally been operated in Texas and were not considered Texas state artifacts. And T&P #610, the big Lima-built 2-10-4, will never operate on TSRR simply because of it's excessive size. Supposedly they tried to turn it around for display purposes on their wye and it derailed two or three times before they gave up on the idea.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/15/21 2:39 p.m.

I'm honestly not sure how the boiler got so goofed up in either of those situations. In the case of NSW #3801, Dampflokwerk Meiningen has built dozens of boilers for locomotives without issues. In the case of Texas State #316 and #1316, how did no one at any point of the process notice that they were using 1" and 1.5" plate?

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/15/21 3:17 p.m.

On the topic of boiler construction, the guys building the new PRR T1 posted this photo.of one of their people standing next to the backhead of #5550. For reference, that employee is 6' tall. Yeah. It is that big.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/15/21 3:35 p.m.

And then on the other end of the spectrum, you have this person standing up through the dome of Maine 2-footer Monson #3 while doing some work on it at the Maine Narrow Gauge Museum.

kazoospec
kazoospec UberDork
3/15/21 7:16 p.m.

This ticks sooooooo many boxes:

May be an image of outdoors

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/16/21 7:52 a.m.

Mohawk, Adirondack & Northern ran a plow extra up to Boonville with C425 #2453 and their Jordan spreader. Ice build-up in the flanges put #2453 on the dirt, so they had to send up ol 'reliable, #805 still in Pacific Great Eastern/BCRail green, as well as an excavator to get #2453 back on the rails.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/16/21 10:22 a.m.

Mohawk, Adirondack & Northern also rosters a former movie star. BCRail MLW M420W (a Canadian-built C420 with a wide nose) #645 and #642 were in a 1999 TV miniseries called Atomic Train, starring Rob Lowe. #642 was scrapped in 1999 but #645 came south of the border to the Genesee Valley Transportation Systems and became MA&N #2045. It still wears it's BCRail red, white and blue, just with MA&N lettering.

The advertising material for the film actually showed a Fairbanks-Morse C-Liner, but there is only one of those preserved, and I don't believe its operational.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/16/21 1:18 p.m.

Amtrak has unveiled new liveries for their 50th anniversary (May 1st). The Midnight Blue is meh, but that Phase VI has some real promise. Shades of the Phase I in the design and lots of bright color, definitely an improvement over Phase V, with it's drab colors and weird wavy lines. The return of the "Pepsi Cans" from their Dash-8 GEs and the A-Day/Day 1 scheme off E8 #4316 is also really cool.

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