Sunday, September 15, 2013

Showcase Report

Saturday of Showcase Weekend was a big success and a lot of fun for everyone, I think.  The weather was perfect and we had a very good crowd of visitors.  We were running the four-car CA&E train, as advertised, mostly just to show we could do it, but on nearly every trip we had three cars full of passengers, more than I expected.  As usual, there were long-time members visiting from out of town, such as Steve Iversen, Randy and Betty Anderson, and others.  I was too busy to take any pictures, but lots of others were taking pictures, and I'm sure we'll get some good submissions.  Dan Mulvihill was our trainman, along with Frank and myself.

Everything went well until our fourth trip at 1:30.  When we got to the east end of the line and changed ends, the train refused to go west.  Diagnosing the problem was not easy, but we tried various things and determined that at least the two cars on the west end would move by themselves.  The situation was made worse by the difficulties in communicating with the dispatcher from Kishwaukee Grove.  Usually we don't have to call from there, and for a while we could hear him clearly but he couldn't hear us.  Finally we got permission to put all the passengers into the 309 and 36, and return to the depot.  (Frank stayed behind with the 308 and 319.)  Here we were met by Rod and Joe, with tools and a spare control jumper.  When we got back to the east end, it didn't take long to determine that the problem was just a defective control jumper, and with a good one in place, the train operated normally.  This caused some significant disruptions to the service, but our dispatcher, Bob Opal, is able to handle stressful situations in a manner all his own, and in the end all was well.

Then for supper we had Fay's Barbeque, which was excellent as usual, followed by night-time operations.  Harold Krewer was the night trick dispatcher, and kept things moving admirably.  When I get some pictures sent in, maybe there will be more to tell. 
 Frank adds...

As my father mentions, it was a fun day.  I missed the first trip of the four-car train, but that afforded me the opportunity to catch the above picture of the train passing Spaulding Tower coming into the station.  Boy, what a great sight!  I was on the crew for the next couple of trips and got to talk with some visiting friends including Ray and Bill Burmaster from Mid-Continent.  Ray told me an interesting story: in 1962 he had tried to purchase a set of rattan seats from the CA&E to install in their Copper Range passenger car.  They had evidently already scrapped most of the "shorties" but agreed to the sale.  Then, at the last minute, they said they couldn't offer the seats any more because they'd been able to sell the entire car - the 36, sold to Gerald Brookins in Cleveland.  Mid-Continent bought a set of North Shore seats instead and just recently they made their way to IRM too as spares for our cars.
Our conversation was cut short by the aforementioned mechanical problems, but after a relaxing spell spent at Kishwaukee Grove I was rescued (rescue train seen above) and the four-car train ran back without issue.  Dinner was great and I got to go for trips on the Zephyr and CTA 4000s afterwards.  I daresay a good time was had by all!


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful sight to see these four in operation together. I happened to catch the first run arriving at the depot (via the webcam) and the passengers getting off the train reminded me of five thirty at Wheaton. I wish I could have been there to experience this historic ride.
Any idea if there will be a four-car steel train in the future?
Lee Wells

Randall Hicks said...

That has always been our intention. Exactly when this particular future will arrive is a question I'm afraid I can't answer.

Anonymous said...


I enjoyed the 5 star lunch on the Zephyr. I planned on riding the CA&E wood cars after
the lunch trip, Only to hear about "The Kishwaukee Incident" over IRM's P.A. system. I'm glad to hear the culprit was only a control jumper cable. Thanks to everyone who made "Showcase SaturdaY" a day to remember!!!!!!

Ken MacLeod