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I guess Things With Wheels . . .

1440 Views 16 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Bloofington
doesn't mean discussing the beauty of EMD cab units, the late lamented super powerful Union Pacific Gas Turbine or how cute those Alcos sounded in their heyday while making a name for themselves as extremely efficient and durable locomotives.

Any other railroad buffs around here? Maybe we could get Bigg Bosss Mann to add another forum to Things With Wheels. Maybe I should go look for some other railroad buffs before I open up my big mouth whining about no place to discuss railroading.

Well, they don't call me The Great Dumboni fer nuthin', pardner!!!

Pennsylvania Railroad GG1's, anyone???
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Can't say that I'm a big train fan, but I do have very fond memories of two different round trips taken as a callow youth from Barnwell, SC to Washington, DC on the Atlantic Coast Line's Silver Meteor. What a GREAT way to travel!
Oh yes, I've read fond railroad stories about the ACL's Silver Meteor. How fortunate that you got to experience railroading in such a fashion. How unfortunate that The Golden Age of Railroading is long past.
Ture indeed. I have come to the conclusion that if I can't get where I want to go by car or train, I'm not going (planes are an option only if I can afford to lease a private one.)
I'm with you all the way, only I'd throw ships in there too. I just don't understand why we created a world where there's this imperative to go faster and faster. To do what??? And now, with the digital age, fax machines, text messaging, laptops, etc., we don't have to go anywhere!!!

The Metro-North Railroad commuter trains I take to go to and from NYC to work reach speeds of 85-90 mph along certain stretches, especially up near my area. I once timed a train on my way home between mile post's 63 and 64 in 39 seconds, which if the 64th mile is perfectly spaced would be an average speed of 92.31 mph. That's fast enough, thank you. 50-70 most of the time would be just fine otherwise.
There is nothing in the world like the sound of a 4-6-4 or the absolute awe of a 2-6-6-6.

When I was growing up my folks found a great way to get the occassional Saturday free for themselves. They would take me and my brother up to Mount Vernon Station and put us on the train to New York. Back then the Red Caps and Conductors would take kids under their wing and see that we got to see just about everything. They got to know us pretty well. We'd head north and they'd let us follow around checking tickets, finding coats, getting magazines or papers for the other passengers. In NY they'd take us up to the engine and the get us a tour, or back to the caboose. Then they'd send us off to get a sandwich or hot dog and wander around Grand Central. In a couple hours someone would round us up for the trip back home. Our folks would meet us at the station.

Yup. Nothing like a steam engine.
Hey Jar, how's it goin'? Folks, do you hear this guy? Nothing like the sound of a 4-6-4 or a 2-6-6-6! Red Caps, CABOOSES!!!

Folks, I sit at the feet of such people. I am sooooooooo jealous, . . .

in a good and very respectful way, of course. A man or woman who can talk about the sound of a 4-6-4 or know what a Red Cap was, has truly seen a part of America long since past, a time when the country (for the most part, I know plenty about our sins, not here to get into that) was still filled with a spirit of cooperation, and was still being built, so that folks my age (now 47) could live an easier, better life, with greater advantages and opportunities.

What Jar has experienced was an age of railroading when the railroads didn't have to contend with the crimes perpetrated daily upon freight trains in the desert and yards these days, and overzealous railfans grilling burgers and making themselves unsafe and obnoxious around railroad tracks. To know what a steam locomotive is, much less to have ridden in the cab in an age when engineers and caboose workers could afford to be friendly is truly the stuff of which the rich lore of American history is made.

Yes, I've seen my share of 'F' units pulling 100 car freight trains and real cabooses, and I remember when FRED was the guy in the caboose's real name, not Flashing Rear End Device to denote the back end of the train these days, but what Jar is talking about goes back to stuff I only read dreamily about as a very young child when my interest in railroading was ignited by a gift of a Lionel set from my father for my fifth or sixth birthday.

I never really lost it for trains, although my interest has waxed and waned through the years. Still and all, 40 years after watching 80-120 car freights pulled by as many as seven 'F' units for Gulf, Mobile and Ohio, I still love railroading, and living where I do now, tucked into the Lower Hudson Valley, that interest is burning brighter and brighter since I ride along a historic portion of railroad back and forth to NYC at least four days a week, and also get to look across at long freight trains pulled by semi-modern diesels of CSX on the freight line across the river. What's really interesting is seeing 100 car freight trains on my side of the river!!!

Thanks for stoking the fire, Jar.
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Well, at the risk of sounding like a blithering fool, a few more memories.

The train station in Baltimore was an under ground covered stretch. As the train pulled in on the North bound tracks, the whole ground shook. When it ground to a halt there was a horrendous screech as the brakes locked and the wheels stopped. There was always a final burst of steam that filled the air. We'd always run up the platform along side the engine so that we'd be right next to it for that last gasp.

The 2-6-6-6s were all C&O. They hauled mostly freight and were the biggest, most powerful engines ever made. To see them we'd go out to the Camden Yards. The sounds of a 2-6-6-6 were awesome. The only other thing that even came close was sitting on the hood of the BelAir (Smushed caterpillar green and yellow) at the end of the runway at Friendship as the Connies landed or took off. The 2-6-6-6 was like a strong man pulling a great block of stone. It started in monstrous chugs, Whump pause pause Whump, pause pause Whump pause Whump pause Whump, Whump, Whump.

Once, we got there as they turned a locomotive on the turn table. The table was emmense (particularly to a kid that was only about half the height of the drive wheels). They actually stopped it part way around to let us get on and climb up into the cab and ride it the rest of the way around. When it stoped the rails were lined up so well that you couldnt feel a gap between the rails on the turn table and the rail leading off. We actually got to handle the throttle and drive that monster right off the table. Yup, did it all by our lonesome ;)
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Folks, I hope you realize what we have here. We have some of the most profound pages in American history being opened for us, as Ed Sullivan would say, RIGHT HERE ON OUR SHOE!!!

Man, you're pretty good lookin' for 641 years old, LOL!!! What incredible memories. Keep going. We've gotta get a railfans forum going here.

Oh, and by the way, I and some folks from the Union Pacific like Steve Lee might dispute you on the 2-6-6-6's size and power next to a Big Boy or even Challenger. I'll be doing some brush up research, as I've forgotten enough about railroading to get most people a college level degree.

Thanks for the history. I love it.
Bloofington said:
Oh, and by the way, I and some folks from the Union Pacific like Steve Lee might dispute you on the 2-6-6-6's size and power next to a Big Boy or even Challenger. I'll be doing some brush up research, as I've forgotten enough about railroading to get most people a college level degree.

Thanks for the history. I love it.
You'd lose. ;)

Big Boy and Challenger were something to behold. No doubt about that.

Gotta correct one thing I said though. IIRC it was Mt Washington and not Mt Vernon Station.

The 2-6-6-6 Allegheny was almost entirely a freight engine. It was built to haul coal and other freight through the mountains along the east coast. While Big Boy was larger, nothing I know of was more powerful. IIRC, Big Boy was a 4-8-8-4. A respectable engine by all measures and a workhorse for a long, long time.

For those out there who didn't get to live with the Steam Engines (many ran up past WWII when the diesels took over), the numbers described the layout of the wheels. The first numbers is the steering wheels while the latter are drive wheels. If the last few are smaller, they generally were simply support wheels under the cab. So a 4-8-8-4 like the Big Boy had two steering wheels on each side up front, then two groups of four driving wheels and two more smaller wheels under the cab. It would kinda look like this...


, while the Alleghenys looked like

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Yup, I know about wheel configurations and the purposes that various locomotives were built for, and I'm going to check that out, but as far as I know the Big Boy was tested at a higher horsepower rating than any steam locomotive in history.

Here's some facts I just discovered upon some quick research in my Guide to North American Steam Locomotives. Although I have quite a bit more in my house, it's scattered everywhere. I also haven't read my TRAINS magazine in over five years, and I haven't looked at Model Railroader in 11 years, even though both magazines and a lot more still come in every month or two depending on the publication's schedule.

The Guide I looked in lists C&O Nos. 1600-1644 as being 778,000 pounds and "the heaviest reciprocating steam locomotives ever built" and having 67 inch drivers.

The Big Boys are listed at 772,000 pounds and "the heaviest reciprocating-piston steam locomotives ever built" with 68 inch drivers. I know some people have said that the Alleghenys were a formidable challenge to the Union Pacific's claim of Big Boy's world beating horsepower, but alas, no formal tests were ever done, and Big Boy was put through quite a bit of scrutiny and achieved in typical U.P. fashion, quite a bit of public relations, while C&O pretty much went about its business. At any rate, there's no denying that the Alleghenys were an incredible machine. Any locomotive built for hauling coal through mountainous terrain had to be.
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Ya'll can have the Big Boys and the Alleganies. Me, I'll tkae the older stuff, like a 2-4-0 on one line down here in Texas or the Texas State Railroad's Engine 201, a 2-8-4 diamond stack.

o-OO 2-4-0
o-OOOO-oo 2-8-4

Steam Town, PA has a lot of pretty steamers. There's a narrow gage in Southern Colorado I need to ride one of these days...
Yes folks, csmkersh chiming in with some more of the Wonderful World of American Railroading here!!! Yes, those Texas 2-4-0's are indeed just as prominent in our nation's railroad history and lore. I've read plenty about them as well as the one you mentioned in Colorado? Is that the one known as Cumbres and Toltec???
Maybe or it might be the old Cripple creek line. Don't really remember. I picked up tthe info about 3 years back when we were at Calrsbad Caverns. Should have gone then as it would have been a 2 or 3 your drive at most. Now I'm back in San antonio and it'll be a day and a half one way...

And I need to check Colorado's carry laws - we don't have reciprocity with them although it looks like the two states are talking about it...
Hey Jar, I did a wee bit of research, just a wee, and it didn't take me long to find out that the Alleghenys were in fact tested and topped out at around 7,000 horsepower!!! Wow, let me hear ya give it up for the most powerful STEAM locomotive in history!!! That definitely tops Big Boys. Thanks for the tip.

Now, if you wanna talk about the Gas Turbine, that's a horse of another color.
One of the most wonderful places in the world, as far as I'm concerned, is Camden Yards. Unfortunately, right now it's closed because it got flooded during last years hurricanes. But once it reopens, anyone who has any interest in trains should go there.

I was lucky enough to grow up in Baltimore. Back then, late 40's and 50's, a kid could still wander around the big city without fear. Even the most vicious killer would never harm a child and so the whole city was open for exploration.

Two of my favorites were Camden Yards and Pier One Pratt Street. Among the things at the Yard is Tom Thumb. They also had at least one example of about every locomotive ever used in the US and kids could climb all over them. I can't tell you how many times I jumped down from the cab of a biggie, or crawled inside the firebox to see what it was like.

Pier One Pratt Street was another great place. It was where the Bananna boats from the Great White Fleet docked. The banannas were unloaded by stevadores, great branches covered with green banannas. We'd sit on the edge of the pier while they carried them down a wooden ramp. After it was empty, the crew would bring out things that were found in the cargo, monkeys and birds, snakes and great hairy tarantulas. We'd all gather around while they'd show us the wondrous things from the hold. Then they'd give some of them to the kids who'd go running off to show the latest treasure to some unsuspecting parents.

It was a great time to be a child.
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WOW!!! You SAW Tom Thumb?!?!?!??!!!??? What wonderful memories, Jar. Yes, it was a great time to be a kid, a great time in America, despite certain self-evident flaws that still existed at that time. As for me, being born in '56, and growing up mostly in ghetto neighborhoods in NYC, I missed that America, although I knew/know people who lived it, and I heard plenty about it, leaving your doors open when you left the house, etc.

By the way, I apologize for saying that you looked good for 641 years old. 40's and 50's, huh? Well, in that case, how does it feel to be 573, LOL!!!

Oh, . . .

Thanks For The Memories.

I had a picture of a South American Annulated Boa on a shipment of bananas in an old snake book I used to own.
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