Sunday, October 17, 2010

Steam at Monticello

We went downstate to see the Monticello Railroad Museum's rebuilt steam locomotive Southern 401 in operation, and also to visit relatives. A good time was had by all. Here the train is loading in downtown Monticello. A good crowd was on hand, including many enthusiastic railfans who came from all over.

(Two photos by Margaret Miller)

This is the flat car arranged for tourist service, which I rode. It's very effective. The train must have gotten up to 35 or 40 mph on the main line.

I had a chance to briefly discuss some issues with my old friend Kent McClure, who is the CMO at Monticello and was the engineer that day.

As I might have mentioned before, I was a member there in the mid-70's while I was in graduate school, and worked briefly on the original boiler for the 401. It now has a brand-new welded boiler.

This is a great accomplishment on their part. I'm glad to see that this experience will be returning soon to a museum near us!

The new boiler was designed for oil firing, for several practical reasons.

Incidentally, their Halloween operation uses a different plan than ours. Various sets are arranged along the main line. Here we see what appear to be a couple of switch heaters on either side of the track, attached to propane tanks so they burn in the dark. With a few adjustments, this would be a good way to burn old paint off steel equipment.

And here's a ghost town. The two figures next to the track are also attached to propane tanks, so they must emit fire also. Yikes!


David Wilkins said...

I like how the GPS unit is suction-cupped on top of tke air brake gauges. You'd think they have a good idea where they are going, given the locomotive runs on rails and all...

Seriously, I assume they are using it to measure speed, as a poor-man's speedodometer.

On L&N 152, we used a unit adapted from a GE diesel locomotive. We had a pulley on one of the leading truck axles that fed the unit mounted on the front truck.

Brian Downing said...

Yep, the GPS is indeed up there as a makeshift speedometer, though keeping track of the distance traveled is also kind of nice. We have an EMD radar unit under the cab, but something between that and our real speedo head (which should be bolted to the plate the GPS is affixed to) is not working yet. It has been one of the more notable conversation pieces in the cab for some reason!

Also, even though it tends to feel faster, our track speed is only 20 MPH. Finally, the dragon masks are hooked to CO2 bottles, not propane; shooting fire at our (open-window) coaches would likely be considered bad form, and the painters probably wouldn't appreciate it either.

Randall Hicks said...

OK, thanks for the comments. Obviously I didn't look at the Halloween setup very closely. In any case, I had a great visit.