My first few shifts have been great!
My first shift was with Joe Jackson! A super-nice guy who’s fun, easy going and helpful. The shift went perfectly smooth on the C. K. Holliday Engine #1, and ended with a photo of Joe and myself in the roundhouse.
My second shift was with Al Martinez on the E. P. Ripley Engine #2, and was mostly uneventful, except for getting familiar with the touchy fuel stick and creating a lot of smoke at one stop during the evening.
My third shift was on the E. P. Ripley Engine #2 with Truson – quite an amazing guy! Truson has done SO much in his life, and most of it deals with trains in some fashion. I really enjoyed the conversation with him, and hope to fire for him again many times in the future. This night ended with a little glitch… As we were backing into the roundhouse – which in itself is a very detailed procedure – just as the rear car started to cross the roadway, and emergency vehicle came roaring up (so I’m told – we can’t see the back of the train from the engine.) We got one long bell, which means STOP NOW! Well, they said we were about 10 feet from hitting the vehicle, but we didn’t.. however… you need to back into the roundhouse with 3 nuts of water in the water glass – which on Engine #2 can put the fire out if the water sloshes over in the steam dome. Guess what happened with that sudden stop? Yeah – the water got into the atomizer, and pshhhhhh – the fire went out. It’s not a big deal, but at this point, you need to keep the pressure up for backing in and for shutting down the engine, as well as adding the last bit of water and "cooking it" before you shut down. Needless to say, we sat in the roundhouse for a few extra minutes while I built the water and pressure back up. Other than that, it was a great day!
And yesterday – was my first day firing the Ward Kimball Engine #5! It seems that most people in the roundhouse -really- do not like #5… I’m told that is will randomly and suddenly put your fire out, even if you haven’t touched any settings, that it will act different from one day to the next, and that because there are no doors, when it rains (as it did last night) you can get pretty wet and cold.
Well – I only lost the fire once because of sloshing water, but quickly and easily re-lit and the whole shift was a delight and an honor. I just hope the rest of my days are as fun, interesting, uneventful and magical as it has been so far…