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Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: September 29, 2019, 02:31:35 PM »
Well, the photos are up.  I hope this problem, whatever it was, will not happen again. 

Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: September 28, 2019, 05:36:57 PM »
September 28, 2019 Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report

    Problem with photos solved itself.  Go figure.

    The Board of Directors met this morning at 0830 and, after a Coke and a Diet Pepsi there was a a sad discussion about Bill Cutler's Pennsy being scheduled for dismantling.  Bill is a good friend and we wish him the best, but we will miss his layout.
    There was a discussion about the installation of the newly arrived TCS bass speakers.  We have installed one of them in an ACL E7A and cannot see an appreciable difference between it and the factory-installed speaker.  Tom is going to install another one in one of our PFM USRA Pacifics this week and we will give it a test next Saturday.
    We decided to run some locos that haven't had a recent move so we started out with a Southern Passenger train.  The E6 diesel is really duded up with a fancy paint scheme.  The E6A has an E6B unit but it is a non-functional-but-pleasing-consist-enhancer which is without a prime mover.  The consist had an REA car and nine Budd streamlined passenger cars in tow and it walked up the ovalix to the Midlands and then to Summit without even a hint of a problem.  Then it took "the big trip" back to the bottoms. 

    Next, we brought the Gulf Breeze Zepher up to Summit and ran it through its paces.  The Gulf Breeze Zepher is a complete train that was purchased from the CB&Q along with an ABA lash-up of F2 CB&Q diesels and an ABA lash-up of D&RGW F3's.  It travels from Jacksonville to New Orleans three times a week during the season and provides needed revenue for the A&S.



                                                                   These Photos were taken at Summit just after the Z exited the Ovalix.

    Lunch was at Smokey Bones as usual.
     The morning train run was a total success.  Not a single derail except for a few switches thrown the wrong way.  We need to get rid of that new brakeman, Newt Fisher. 

   This week's story involves a lesson on firing an old burning steam locomotive. 

                                                                                                            SANDING THE FLUES

    Oil burning locomotives like A&S Number 7, a Sierra type 2-6-6-2, are plagued with problems involving soot clogging up the boiler flues.  Clogged flues tend to reduce the boiler pressure and that is a fireman's nightmare.  The problem is solved through the process of sanding the flues.
    A sandbox containing the same kind of sand used in the sand dome is located on the front side of the tender next to the apron between the tender and the cab of the engine.  A small shovel is provided to facilitate the sanding operation by the fireman.
    When the engine is at track speed and working steam, a significant draft is created.  Every ten miles or so, the fireman inserts a scoop or two of sand through the "peephole" in the firebox door.  The draft sucks the sand into the flues and the soot is blown out the stack, along with a generous amount of black smoke and cinders. 
    Speaking of Number 7, one fine morning in the late summer, just as the oppressive heat and humidity of August in a Florida swamp began to lift, Uncle Henry O'Leary drew the pulpwood run to Piney Woods as the engineer on A&S Number 7.  His fireman that day was John Tanner, who had recently been promoted from being a brakeman and who had scant experience firing an oil-burning locomotive.  When John climbed into the cab, Uncle Henry asked him about his experience and suggested he get acquainted with the sandbox located on the floor in front of the tender.  "She'll need her flues sanded every ten miles or so," he said, and John said he understood. 
    Uncle Henry manhandled the reversing lever and set it in the back corner.  Then he cracked the throttle and Ole Number 7 slowly backed down the service track past the coaling tower, her cylinders making the uneven exhausts articulated engines make along with rod clank and escaping steam. 
    Number 7 coupled onto a caboose and proceeded on the mainline past the Sanlando Station and around Eaton's Curve and over the Great Divide, heading for Piney Woods.  On the way, Uncle Henry turned to his fireman and said, "Boy!  My teeth!"  John turned towards the engineer and saw he was holding his false teeth, covered with tobacco juice, in his outstretched hand.  "Wash them," he demanded.  John took the teeth and washed them with water from the water jug located on a shelf in the front of the tender.  Uncle Henry returned the teeth to his mouth and bit off a new chaw of tobacco.
    Soon, Number 7 approached Piney Woods and John took his shovel and inserted sand through the peephole in the firebox door to sand the flues.  Unfortunately, no one told him that it was a bad idea to sand the flues in a forest area.  The sand dislodged the soot from the flues and soot, cinders, and sparks belched out of the stack.  The sparks set several of the pine trees on fire.  Uncle Henry applied the air and the engine stopped.  John grabbed the water hose and squirted the fire with feed water from the tender, putting it out.  But the fire had done its work and evidence of the fire is still present in Piney Woods. (See Photos)  Lesson learned.



Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: September 27, 2019, 10:46:16 PM »
I want to thank all of my loyal followers who visit my Saturday Reports each weekend.  I have a lot of fun coming up with the stories and I  feel like I am getting to really know some of the characters.  That is probably because some of them are modeled after people I have known, especially the criminal types.  Let me know how I'm doing.

Rolling Stock / Re: message test with photo
« on: September 24, 2019, 09:40:43 AM »
Darryl - I sympathize with your struggles learning how to post photos on this forum.  The process is less than intuitive and is, at times, very frustrating.  It would also be helpful to be able to copy and paste a Word document onto the forum.  But, these inconveniences aside, the forum provides a very welcome and useful service to those of us who, as Redding Bob says, don't cross the fine line between hobby and mental illness.

I like the loco. 

Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: September 21, 2019, 03:42:23 PM »
Saturday Report - September 21, 2019
    The Board of Directors met promptly at 0830 hours and began the meeting with a Coke and a diet Pepsi.  A box full of new items were received from various manufacturers, including several Budd passenger cars that will be assigned to our Southern passenger trains.  Additionally, a load of lumber (HO scale) and a number of little people were included.  The most important of the little people were the beekeepers, who will be placed next to the apiary as soon as it is moved into place. 
    The next item on the agenda was our continued efforts to classify and spot trains on the tracks in the Bottoms.  Last week we arranged our passenger fleet and this week the effort was on freight. 
    We received a number of new "bass speakers" from TCS.  The CEO has assigned the installation task for installation of two of the new speakers to Will Fixer's roundhouse foreman and we expect to be able to compare the quality with other, inferior, speakers next Saturday.
    Classifying freight trains gave us the opportunity to run several trains from the Bottoms to Summit and into the Midlands so, absent the usual Saturday morning gremlins, we had few mishaps and much revenue was generated for the A&S in the process.

    This week's story is one of success and sadness.  It was wonderful to live in Central Florida in 1950 and hear the lonesome whistles of ACL's Pacifics as they traveled through Orlando in the night.  But, all good things must come to an end - but wait!  The ACL steamers still pound the rails on the A&S and they have lasted years longer than the originals.  They are just a bit smaller.  Now for the story.

                                                                                                              Wayne Shoemaker

    Tahope County is sparsely populated, like many Florida counties in 1050.  In the winter there are a number of migrants who swell the population to nearly 10,000, but normally the population is much less than that.  For instance, the City of Tahope, the county seat, only has a population of 1504.  It's one of those southern counties where everybody knows everybody.
    Wayne Shoemaker is the son of Walter and Buttercup Shoemaker (Most of the wimmmin folk in Tahope are named after flowers or plants).  Wayne used to enjoy the summers because he could go barefoot and fish in the Tahhope River that runs south of town.  Wayne's dad is the manager of the local orange packing facility located near the banks of the River.   Wayne's mother is an English teacher at Tahope County High School. 
    One Saturday in June 1925, when Wayne was 10 years old, he wandered onto the yard at the A&S roundhouse and engine facility.  He had always been fascinated by the railroad, which was so much the lifeblood of his community, and he dreamed of one day becoming an engineer on a steam locomotive. 
    Anyway, Wayne walked along one of the lead tracks towards the roundhouse and stopped at the coaling tower.  There he saw A&S number 71 spotted under the coal chute.  The fireman pulled the chain to open the chute and a couple of tons of coal fell into the tender.  The fireman saw Wayne watching this performance and said, "Hi, there, young'n.  You like steam engines?"  To which Wayne answered, "Boy! Do I!"  "Well, then, climb up into the cab and I'll show you how she works." 
    Wayne climbed into the cab and the fireman, a local man named Mike Weaver (many of the inhabitants of Tahope have last names that reflect midieval occupations), pointed out all of the valves and gages on the backhead.  Then he let Wayne sit in the engineer's seat.
    About that time, the hogger climbed aboard and Mike asked him if Wayne could ride in the cab while number 71 switched the citrus plant.  Wayne was allowed to ride and he shoveled coal and blew the whistle, a three chimer.
    At the end of the day Wayne was convinced that life as a railroader was for him and he longed for the day he would sit in the engineer's seat in charge of his own freight train. 
    Wayne graduated from Tahope High School in 1933 and hired on with the Atlantic Coast Line as a brakeman.  He broke for that railroad until 1940 when he finally qualified as a fireman.  His name was written up on the extra board and he was called the next day to fie on a local freight.  He climbed into the cab of ACL's number 835, a USRA Mike, and began checking the boiler pressure and water level.  He was a little nervous, beins how this was his first day on the job and he knew some of the engineers had little patience with green firemen. 
    The hogger climbed up the ladder on the right side of the engine and extended his hand to Wayne.  He said, "Don't I know you?  Could you be Wayne Shoemaker, the little boy I gave a ride to back in 1925?  "Well, said Wayne, you must be Mike Weaver, the guy who was the fireman that day."  "Yep," said Mike, now grab that shovel  and bring the pressure up so we can highball out of here on time." 
    Wayne was finally promoted to engineer in 1953, but by that time, number 835 had been scrapped ane Wayne learned how to handle a freight train with a brace of F2's. 
    And I guess they call that progress. 

Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: September 14, 2019, 04:32:38 PM »
Saturday Report - September 14, 2019

    The Board of Directors of the Atlantic & Southern Railroad convened at 0815 for the usual Saturday morning con-fab.  No serious business was conducted but your reporter got to inspect the new building to be erected in Tahope south of the river.  Your reporter also  tried his hand at "speed matching" of the newly acquired E8A units lettered for Illinois Central's City of Miami.  Speed matching can be done through verbal commands without resorting to the program track.  Just another feature of TCS WOW Sound decoders.  The attempt was pretty successful for a first try.  We ran the "City" around Summit and down to the Midlands before spotting it in the Bottoms.  We also moved several passenger cars into their proper locations on the East Side storage tracks.  Next week we will organize some of the freight trains on the West Side.
    We have a 20+ car reffer train powered by ACL F3's and we delivered the goods in the reefers throughout the Midlands, including a trip through downtown Tahope. 
    Greg Demayo arrived about 1030 and the new C of G SD9 was put through its paces.  Then we went to lunch at Smokey Bones.
    After lunch we ran more trains.  With a two week layoff behind us, it sure was good to get our hands on a throttte again.

    This week's story features scary ghosts and strange happenings.  Read on if you are stout of heart and have no fear.

                                                                                                       The Ghost of Bedford Forrest

    The wooded area located just to the north of the Ovalix in the Midlands is known as Bedford Forrest.  It is named after the famous four-star Confederate General of the same name - and, yes, he spelled it with two r's.  Many of the inhabitants of Tahope County in 1950 have ancestors who fought on the side of the Confederacy during the Civil War.  Florida did not become a state until 1845, so it was new to the Union at the time the war formally started in 1861.  While Florida was never invaded by the Union Army, Key West remained occupied as a Union military installation and Ft. Myers was occupied by Union troops from before the war until its end.  The war did "touch" Florida through the loss of many Confederate soldiers, killed and wounded.  And many long time Florida natives see nothing wrong with honoring the memory of those who sacrificed their lives for the Confederacy.
    A wye is partially hidden in Bedford Forrest and, because the ground is covered with good old Florida sand, it is the home of small game such as gopher turtles, rabbits, and quail.  Occasionally, a Florida black bear wanders through the forest looking for easy prey and honey bees.  (Recently, the bears have started raiding the hives near the apiary located in South Tahope.)  The forest would be quite tranquil but for the noise the railroad makes.  The sound of locomotives and freight cars almost constantly traveling through the area reduces the wildlife activity.
    Some say the forest is haunted.  An eerie light has reportedly been seen on moonless nights and local residents avoid the area due to the supposed danger.  The origin of the ghost begins with the tragic death of a conductor, Hap Hatter, who lost his life on the south leg of the wye in 1934.  Hatter was decapitated while he was uncoupling a boxcar on a local freight.  His foot slipped and he fell on the track in front of a moving car.  The locals claim the mysterious light that appears at night is Hatter's lantern, which his ghost is carrying to locate his head.
    The light has been blamed on headlights from vehicles on the distant highway, but the light appeared well before the highway was constructed in 1947.  A complaint was recently made to the Tahope Police Department and Officer Poovey was assigned to investigate. 
    Officer Poovey approached the forest on a moonless night with fear and trepidation.  He crept through the thick woods with gun drawn and ready.  He saw a light glowing in the distance and advanced to learn its source.  The light came from close to ground level and showed the faint outline of a boxcar.  Poovey could hear two brakemen discussing the situation but it was too dark to see them.  He could tell that one voice came from ground level and the other came from atop of the boxcar.  When the brakey on the tops told the brakey on the ground to "throw the lantern up to me," Poovey could not understand what was said. 
    Suddenly, Poovey observed the light rapidly rising from the ground and making an arc above the boxcar before going out.  Poovey, who by this time was very frightened, turned and ran back to his patrol car as fast as his legs could carry him.
   The next morning, Poovey reported to the Chief of Police and explained what he saw the night before.  He said, "There's ghosts alright!  Last night I saw a boxcar spotted on the wye and heard the ghosts talking to one another.  One ghost was standing on the ground with a lantern and the other ghost was atop the box car.  The ghost on the ground jumped all the way to the top of the boxcar and put out the light.  That's when I turned tail for town.  Never been so scared in my life!"
    And the legend of the Ghost of Bedford Forrest goes on.




Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: September 07, 2019, 11:06:49 AM »
September 7, 2019

Well, fellow railroaders, there is no Saturday report today for two reasons.  The A&S Railroad is shut down because the new power source has not arrived to replace the one that was fried by a lightning strike some days before the drizzle passed through Central Florida called Hurricane Dorian.   It is on order from Digitrax and hopefully will arrive this week.  Additionally, and more importantly, today is the Babe's hair-do day and so the A&S CEO is off to Mount Dora.

There will be a new story today.  However, it will not be accompanied by photographs.  I got the idea for this story from an old Trains magazine from the 1940's.  The A&S Railroad is dated in the early 1950's and I remember as a little boy seeing brakemen walking on top of moving boxcars.  All freight cars had air brakes then so maybe walking the tops of boxcars was the way to get from the engine to the caboose.

                                                                                                                MIXED SIGNALS

    As the A&S grew in revenue, the need for additional trains became evident.  Freight trains were added between Tampa, Orlando, Tahope, and Jacksonville.  The ACL added a second section to the Champion in the winter season and the SAL added a second section to the Silver Meteor.  Additional trains meant additional employees and a notice was posted at the roundhouse and in City Hall advertising for brakemen trainees.
    One of the veteran engineers on the A&S was a crusty old Irishman named Uncle Henry O'Leary.  Uncle Henry usually was assigned to the local freight that made its way from Tahope to Summit.  Uncle Henry's practice was to head into the wye at Summit and cut off the engine from the freight, finish switching, recouple to the train , and finish the run.
    Well, on this particular day he drew one of the new brakemen, a local boy named Oliver Carpenter, who had only two weeks experience.  He showed up wearing cotton pants and a shirt instead of overalls and he wore a black cowboy hat instead of a railroader's hat.  When Uncle Henry drew near the first leg of the wye, the new apprentice was atop the second boxcar.  To keep the wind from blowing his hat away, he stuffed it into his back pocket.  The hind shack stuck his head up over the roof of the last boxcar and pattted his head to signal that Uncle Henry would pull into the wye engine first.  Carpenter did not know what the signal meant, and thinking the hind shack was worried he had lost his hat, he turned his back to him and patted his right hip pocket. 
    With that, the hind shack exploded with a variety of choice expletives and descriptive adjectives and turning to the conductor said, "Look at that so and so brakeman.  He's broke here only two weeks and when I tell him Uncle Henry's going to head in, he says he's going to back around and run in.  Where do they get these greenhorns?
    Probably from the Bottoms.

Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: August 31, 2019, 03:37:54 PM »
August 31, 2019

Well, you would think the off-shore hurricane would cause us to pay attention to the weather, and maybe we will on Tuesday/Wednesday.  It was last week when one of Florida's famous summer lightning storms fried the power supply for the A&S Railroad.  As luck would have it, no replacements were available locally so one was ordered from Digitrax.  The lack of power did not rule out a brief meeting of the A&S bored directors and we had salads at Smokey Bones.  Afterwards, the track maintenance crew was installed for the photo accompanying this week's story and, after marveling at the new pest control building and the apiary for the bee keeper, we called it a day.

This week's story is one of a bad first day on the job.  Everybody has had one of those, but our Bottoms dweller, Short Stack, has more than his share.  Recall his mishap backing Number 71 into the turntable pit and his arrest for almost stealing a locomotive.  It seems when time passes, memories fade, so Short Stack was rehired as the jack man on the A&S's track maintenance section.

                                                                                                 Short Stack and the Section Foreman

After Pat O'Malley passed away, his partner, Michael O'Toole was promoted to chief civil engineer.  They sent another great big Irishman named Malone to take the track maintenance section.  The events that took place on Malone's first day on the job are related here by one of the Irish section workers, Brian O'Sullivan.

"Malone whas a fine man.  Being Irish, he liked his whiskey, but he never did ask the section to buy him none.  That summer they hired this fella named Short Stack to be the jack man on the track.  We was removing abandoned rail on the north end of the Midlands and it whas one hot day - temperature in the high 90's. 

"When noon came, we got our lunch pails, and as we wear all used to the hot sun, we sat right doon on the track to eat our lunch.   Malone took his coat and laid it on the track to sit on to keep the rail from burning him, as the sun had heated the rail hotter than a cooking stove.  When he throwed his coat doon it landed on a rail joint which whas opin about an inch, maybe more."

"That mornin' Short Stack had broken the handle on his spike mall and he go to fixin' it while we ate lunch so he would have it when we started back to werk.  He got the new handle in place and needed to test it so he gave a good wack to the end of the rail ware Malone whas sitting.  He never thought the blow would cause the rail joint to close, but it went together with a bang and caught the flesh of Malone's hind parts and took out a slug as big as fifty cents.  We had to pull him off that joint and he hollowed bludy murder and everything else he could hollow."

"We hauled him to Tahope to Doc Staysic and he had a bad time with it.  He showed it to me after it healed up and you would never think it would make the scar that it did."

"Short Stack visited Malone in the hospital and made his peace with him.  Malone knew he didn't mean to do it, but when the conversation ended, Short Stack thought it best to return to life in The Bottoms.


                                                                                That's O'Sullivan in the brown overalls, watching the drama.  Short Stack is wearing
                                                                                                the yellow shirt and Malone is kneeling.  Photo taken before lunch.

Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: August 24, 2019, 03:45:03 PM »
Saturday Report August 24, 2019

The Board of Directors met at 0830 hours.  The meeting was short.  The only business was the question of acquisition of certain equipment including Southern RR passenger cars.  It was agreed that the A&S didn't have a dire need for more Southern equipment but, what the heck, it was on sale and no one knows what will happen to the Chinese market - and even if things work out, these cars will not be priced this low again.  Other miscellaneous purchases were made.  Next week will be a work day.  We are going to reorganize the placement of our freight and passenger trains, which are spotted on the ready on the Bottoms storage tracks.  There are nine tracks of varying lengths on each side so getting our long trains organized will be a fun challenge.

We started out the fun part of the day by running the new City of Miami on the Summit level.  Then we moved the Shark powered coal train to the Bottoms and brought up the tank car unit train.  The new C of G SD9 was put into her paces and she traveled up the Ovalix to Summit to pick up additional freight revenue. Greg DeMayo arrived about 10:30 and, after more running of the SD9, we traveled to Smokey Bones for lunch. 

The Babe made us cup cakes for desert and we ran a steamer through downtown Tahope.  We ran a diesel powered freight on the same route and the trip did not end until after nightfall.  The lights on the railroad are really super at night.

In the the story this week, we will attend the weekly Thursday night poker game that takes place on the A&S Pullman Solarium lounge and sleeping car that is spotted at the freight station in Tahope.  This game is closed to all except prominent local officials.  The car is available for weekend trips to Gainesville during football season to watch the Gators play football.

Readers who keep up with the goings on in Tahope know that Bruce Bonebreaker recently purchased the Trackside Tavern.  That establishment is described on page 21 of this thread.  It is a "rough place."  So rough, it has blood on the ceiling.

The Trackside Tavern was the subject  of discussion at this week's poker game.

                                                                                                     TAHOPE AIN'T LIKE NEW YORK

The Mayor, the Police Chief, the Fire Marshal, the City Attorney, and the President of the Tahope State Bank were playing poker one Thursday night several weeks ago in the Pullman Solarium lounge and sleeper car the A&S owns and makes available for use by such dignataries, when the subject of the Trackside Tavern came up. 

"Tahope's famous beer joint is getting quite a reputation," said the Chief.  "Making money had over fist."  "How's that?" asked the Mayor, "Bonebraker is only selling beer, pickled eggs and sausage.  And he's giving away the peanuts."

"Oh," said the Chief, "I dropped in the place one afternoon a few weeks ago and Bonebreaker set up a stage facing the bar.  He bought me a beer and put a nickel in the juke box and out came this young lady dressed in one of them new bikini outfits and she got on the stage and wiggled to beat all." 

"Bonebreaker asked me if'n I had any problems with that and I said I wouldn't say even if I did." 

"Then he signaled the girl, her name was Tawdry, and darned if she didn't slip the top of her bikini off and commence to wiggling and jiggling.  Then Bonebreaker asked me, "Do you see anything wrong with that?"  "And I said, There's got to be something wrong with that but I cain't say whut it is.  Maybe I better have another beer." 

"Then the girl walked over to where we were sitting and she leans down to me and says," "Table Daintz?"  "Well, I didn't know what to think about that so I said, yes.  With that, doncha know, she got up on our table and tuck off her bikini bottom and went to wiggling and a jiggling right there on the table. 

"What did you say to that? said the bank president?"  "Waal," said the Chief, "after a couple of hours had passed, I said Bonebreaker, Tahope is a far cry from New York and I recon I'll have to get Judge Thomas to put a stop to this improper exhibition."

"By the way," said the Mayor, "Were is Judge Thomas?  He's usually on his third drink of bourbon by this time of night.  Game ain't the same without us taking his money from the pot." 

"He ain't far," said Walter the bartender, " I sees him a-commin' up the road right now."

When the judge arrived and was briefed on the situation he said, "Well, you boys get Marvin here to file a complaint and I'll take testimony with the Tahope Daily Blatter present and make a ruling as soon as the Chief explains exactly what happened." 

"You mean this will all be in open court?" said the Chief.  "Of course, said the judge."  "If that be the case, maybe we ought to forget the whole thing." 

With that, the City Attorney, Marvin Bello, stated, "Chief, if you don't shut him down there's nothing the city can do.  He ain't violating no city ordinances and his licenses are current."

After several weeks went by, the Thursday night poker club members noticed the Trackside Tavern was closed and boarded shut.  "How'd that happen? said the City Attorney. I didn't file suit."

"Foreclosed the mortgage," said the bank president.  And the reputation of Tahope was saved.


                                                          A&S Solarium car conveniently spotted next to the Trackside Tavern

Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: August 20, 2019, 02:23:55 PM »
The rest of the story.
I ran across this u-tube video this morning and thought I would use it to illustrate just how blind Russel Taylor was backing around Eaton's curve.  This clip involves a railfan who is lucky enough to get to run a GP9 back and forth for a couple of hundred yards.  I'm not impressed with our hero or his camera ability, but I am jealous of his opportunity.  Anyway, notice how poor the vision is in general and how blind the engineer is on a curve.  Having a Pacific size boiler sticking out in front of your view would give the same effect.  No wonder the railroads kept firemen to watch out the left side on these diesels.  Wonder what's going on with all those UP diesels spotted on the side tracks? Is this a scrap line?

Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: August 18, 2019, 09:16:15 AM »
Jerry, Greg, Jim, Curt et al.  - Thanks for taking the time to comment on my little stories.  I am amazed at the number of times the Saturday Report is accessed during the week. 

Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: August 17, 2019, 05:17:25 PM »
August 17, 2019.
The weekly meeting of the A&S Board of Directors started on time at 0830 hours.  The progress on the pest control business was examined and it will soon be placed on the shores of the Tahope River, where it will no doubt make a major contribution to polluting the water.  All of this has been approved by the Tahope City Council, considering the mayor is the owner's cousin. 

We put the new IC diesels through their paces on the Summit level and then decided to bring the Pennsy Coal train up from the Bottoms on its regular run delivering coal to the Tahope Power Company and Hog Exchange.  Those Sharks really sound good with authentic Baldwin prime mover power and real Baldwin horns,  The A-B-A lash-up has no problem climbing the Ovalix with 21 cars and the train tracks very well.  As you might remember, the Pennsy has an agreement with the A&S to provide a regular coal supply to Tahope and, in the winter months, a section of the Pennsy's Broadway Limited swings south over ACL tracks to assist bringing snow birds to sunny Central Florida.

Jim and CLaire Miller and Greg DeMayo visited us and a general bull session took place until time for lunch at Smokey Bones. 

The bull session continued after lunch until about 1400 hours, when the day was declared over just prior to the daily afternoon thunderstorm.

This week's story involves a geographic feature of the A&S called "The Great Divide."  It is a bottomless canyon over which bridges are placed on all three levels of the railroad.  The Great Divide is located at the north end of the railroad and separates the east side from the west side.  Failure to put the bridges in place can result in catastrophe.   Hence, the misadventures of Newt and Short Stack continue.

                                                                                                       The Ride to the Great Divide

Newt Fisher continued his assignment on the pulpwood train as a student fireman on into the spring.  He had proven his abilities to the satisfaction of the A&S management and was approved for duty firing a coal burning locomotive. 

Early one morning Newt was called to fire a train of pulpwood cars from Piney Woods to the paper mill in Jacksonville.  The regular engineer, "Fatso" Johnson, was assigned elsewhere and Russel "Ballast Scorcher" Taylor , an engineer from Jacksonville, deadheaded to Tahope the night before on the Florida Special to make this run.  Taylor was familiar with local conditions, because he was born and raised in Tahope and had kin still living there. (Many Tahope natives have last names reflecting midieval occupations.)

The engine assigned to the run, a USRA Pacific, was coupled to a caboose and the train proceeded in reverse from the Sanlando yard for the short trip to Piney Woods.  This configuration meant the view of the bridge around Eaton's curve would be blocked from the engineer's side of the train.  Taylor would have to rely on Newt's vigilance to make sure the bridge was in place across The Great Divide. 

This being Newt's first day firing a coal burning steamer, he felt a little nervous and asked Taylor if he would mind if his cousin Short Stack rode in the cab as far as Piney Woods.  Taylor said he didn't mind and Short Stack climbed into the cab. 

When Taylor whistled off to proceed, he instructed Newt to look out the fireman's side window as the train approached Eaton's Curve. 

Newt hung out the fireman's side window and the cool morning breeze lulled him fast asleep.  Consequently, he did not notice that the bridge was "out" and the caboose was only eight or ten can lengths from the edge of the drop-off. 

Fortunately, Short Stack was alert and observed the approaching peril.  He let out a shriek and Taylor put her into emergency.  The jolt of the sudden brake application woke Newt and the engine screeched to a stop less than three feet from the edge of The Great Divide.

The conductor climbed down from the caboose and demanded an explanation from the engineer.  It was obvious who was at fault and when Newt returned to the roundhouse he lost his student fireman status and went on the extra board as a brakeman.

When asked to explain himself, Newt, who has a pathological fear of accomplishment, said, "I almost did something right today, but I went to sleep."

For his part in the incident, Taylor was given a week's unpaid vacation.  Short Stack was reinstated to his job of "sweeping up" at the roundhouse.


Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: August 10, 2019, 03:12:01 PM »
August 10, 2019
Big day today.  The A&S took delivery of the newly repowered Illinois Central E8A's.  We waited over two years for delivery.  They are a thing of beauty and run like a watch.  They will power the City of Miami.  The diesels are in the A-B-A configuration, with the middle B unit pleasing, but unpowered.  (It is certainly no "dummy.")  The plan is to replace the provided speakers with the new TCS WOW Sound enhanced bass speakers. We have already installed one of those speakers in an ACL E7A and it really improves the realism of the sound.  The IC passenger cars are all lighted and loaded with passengers.  Mostly streamlined cars but a few heavyweights thrown in so our passengers can have the option of a 14-section "Battleship."  The prototype City of Miami ran from Chicago to Miami.  It retained the IC diesels until it arrived in Jacksonville.  The FEC provided the power from Jax to Miami.  We will ultimately have a version of the Jax terminal at Summit and will change IC E8's for FEC E7's.  But that will probably be sometime next year.  There is still work to do on the Tahope branch and Tom is very busy building structures to be placed on the south side of the Tahope River.  In keeping with the policy of ignoring environmental concerns, the Tahope City Council has approved construction of a pest control facility on the south bank of the Tahope Rive with runoff directly into the river. 

The SBG (Saturday Buddy Group) met at 10:00. We ran the new City of Miami around the Midlands and up to Summit.  Lunch at Smokey Bones, as usual.

Here is a photo of the lead IC E8A, taken during her maiden voyage through the Midlands.


This week's story follows the adventures of Newt Fisher, who, as you might remember, is cousin to Shortstack and recently decided to leave The Bottoms for gainful employment.  He worked as an engine watchman with mixed success, but managed to get promoted to student fireman.  His first day on the job was a little rocky (Pager ten) but he stuck with it and today he is a man of experience firing an oil burning steamer.

                                                                                                   Oops!  We're Taking on Water

There is an old saying, "the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco."  The originator of that saying never spent a winter in sunny Central Florida.  It gets bone chilling cold for a few days each winter.  The thermometer drops down to a few degrees below freezing, but the humidity remains at 80%.  When the wind blows from the north it is like standing in ice water.

One chilly February morning in 1950, the temperature dropped below freezing  when Number 7 pulled out onto the mainline.  She needed water for the run to Piney Woods, so the engineer, "Fatso" Johnson, spotted her under the water tank spout at Sanlando.


Newt climbed up on the tender and opened the man hole that covered the water tank on the tender.  He reached the spout with a tank hook and pulled it down to where he could reach it.  The spout had a little step on it which needed the weight of a man in order to hold it into the tank.  The fireman had to stand on that step or the spout would jump out of the tank and drench the unwary tallow pot.

Newt put his foot on the step, pulled the chain that allowed the water to flow, and began to fill the tank.  But the deck was icy and his foot slipped, causing the spout to rise and ice cold water hit him square in the chest, nearly knocking him off the tender.  By the time he got the contraption under control, he was drenched and chilled to the bone.

"Fatso" saw Newt's predicament and motion him back into the cab.  "Strip naked, Newt," he said, "we have enough water to get to make it to Summit and your clothes can dry on the back head on the way.  So, Newt stripped and fired Number 7 naked all the way to Piney Woods and up the Ovalix to Summit.  By the time they arrived at Summit Newt's clothes were dry and he rode back to the roundhouse in more modest condition. 

"Fatso" Johnson couldn't resist telling the tale to the roundhouse crew and Newt became known as "Nudist Newt," the only fireman to fire an engine completely au naturel.

And that's the truth!


Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: August 03, 2019, 10:49:49 AM »
August 3, 2019
This is the monthly weekend when "the Babe" gets her hair done in Mount Dora and Tom visits the Pennsy at Bill and Chris Cutler's place.  So there is no report from the A&S today.
    However, the A&S did recently receive two Illinois Central E8A units and they are being converted to WOW sound and should be on line to pull the City of Miami next week.  How do I.C. diesels find their way to a Florida swamp you may ask?  The answer is the Miami to Chicago passenger train found its way onto ACL tracks due to a pooling arrangement with the I.C.  I was privileged to ride the "City" from Chicago to Florida in 1954.  My father was a banker and he attended a banker's convention in Chicago.  We went up to Chicago on the "Dixie Flagler" and came back on the "City."  My father pulled some strings and got us a cab ride on both trains.  We rode in NC&St.L F3 diesels from Chattanooga to Nashville and through Southern Illinois on the way back.  I got to blow the horn a couple of times.

    This week's story continues the adventures of Newt Fisher, whose parents, Tallula and Luke, live in one of the cracker shacks on Eaton's curve. (See p.eight)  Some time ago, Newt decided that life as a bum in the bottoms was not for him so he tried his hand as and engine watchman. Newt has certain limitations, including the fact that he got his intelligence genes from his mother, and his pathological fear of accomplishment. 

                                                                                                   Striking It Rich on a Student Trip

    Newt Fisher managed to learn the ropes on how to be a successful "engine watchman" (See p.eighteen) after only a few weeks of that duty and, since the job was never intended to be a permanent position, Newt was promoted to temporarily try his luck as a student fireman.
    Now, the A&S management knew Newt had certain limitations, so the yardmaster was directed to assign him to A&S #7, , an oil fired 2-6-6-2.  This avoided the distinct possibility that Newt would fail to grasp the complexities of hand firing a coal burner.
    Newt reported for duty the next day only to find the conductor, engineer, and the regular fireman conversing about the day's run, which was to haul a train of pulpwood from Piney Woods up to Summit and return with some empties.  Old #7 was the best choice to pick up pulpwood due to the light rail on the Piney Woods spur.
    George "Crack-a-diamond" Musselwhite was the assigned fireman for the run.  He had been firing steam locomotives for many years and had trained many a student fireman. 
    George "tuck Newt aside" and explained a fireman's duties to him.  The Bunker C fuel oil used on oil fired engines is as thick as sludge when it is not heated and that is why oil burners have a heater in the tender's fuel bunker.  Oil heated properly will liquify and flow through the atomizer more easily when it is injected into the firebox.  Newt was told to turn the heater on and occasionally put his hand on the back of the fuel bunker tank.  "When it feels hot, it's hot enough."  Newt turned the heater on high and promptly forgot all about it.
    The engineer assigned that day, "Fatso" Johnson, gave #7's three chime whistle two short blasts and eased out into the yard with only a caboose in tow.  George, confident that Newt could follow instructions and handle the fireman's job for the short trip to Piney Woods, stepped off the engine at the yard limit, intending to rejoin the crew on the trip to Summit.
    There is a problem when the oil in the fuel bunker gets too hot.  It starts to bubble.
    The temperature in the fuel bunker kept going up and up as #7 chugged its way to Piney Woods and it began to bubble.  It wasn't long before it started bubbling out of the tank onto the deck.  Then a geyser shot out of the dip stick hole and spewed hot oil all over the cab of the engine, much to the discomfort of its occupants.
    Newt, quickly realizing his mistake, shut off the heater, climbed on the tank, and shut the dip stick hole.
    The rest of the trip was unpleasant to say the least.  However, when #7 returned to the roundhouse, the maintenance crew cleaned up the mess using sand, kerosene, and a steam hose.  It took Newt and "Fatso" as long to scrub the oil off of their bodies as it did to clean the engine.
    The yardmaster realized anyone can make mistakes the first day on a job, and, since no permanent harm was done to employees or equipment, Newt received no discipline other than a stern warning.
    The does not mean Newt didn't hear about it from his peers.  "Fatso" Johnson told the roundhouse crew how the incident happened and the word rapidly spread that Newt was the only A&S employee in history who ever struck oil in Florida.

Kit Building / Re: Sierra West Logging Camp Essentials
« on: July 30, 2019, 10:32:23 AM »
I've always wondered why tool sheds are always made just a little bit too small to hold all the junk that goes inside them.  Your shed is an excellent example and I really, really like it.  It looks like it would fit nicely next to the Midlands engine facility on the Atlantic & Southern RR.

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