January, 2007 Update
The morning of Monday, January 15th was freezing …literally. (or make that past tense?) Rather atypical of our beloved Mediterranean climate here on the Central Coast, temperatures plummeted well into the teens overnight, leaving some unpleasant surprises. The water main to the shop (which contains the only legitimate “facility”) froze, and an elbow, which burst in the wall, started a nice flood in the shop…as Phil and Jim made frantic phone calls trying to locate the shut-off.
Don’t try at home! This courtesy of unexpected weather sneaking up on us between the previous day’s run
On Sunday night and early Monday morning, Phil modified the No. 1’s firedoor to a more conventional peephole arrangement. It originally had a stove damper-type device to adjust the air intake, which tended to rattle around when baking a cake for the grade. Around 10, we hooked up the air line to her and Phil was ready to light her off. But upon opening the blower valve…nothing! We could hear air was coming through the line, so the problem solving went another step – shut the air, and take apart the firing manifold. The above picture speaks for itself. Art (the smartest of us for keeping warm!) seemed surprised at the sight when I plopped it on the stove beside Phil’s roast beef brisket to warm up (which, with the distraction of everything else, would later get just a little bit burned!) After the manifold thawed out and fighting to get a good fire in her, our Texas Belle (our new name for it, by the way), started to slowly come to life.
An “old head” uses his!
Art Laidlaw keeps warm
in the shop.
As the SP 6-chime was still on the No. 2, her Astroworld whistle (a throaty 4″ Buckeye 3) had been put back on. We attempted to swap it out with Jeff’s modified Chinese 5-chime, though aborted the effort after realizing the safeties and elbows (good old sideshooters) would have to come off. The steamboat it was! Also while waiting for steam, Jeff grabbed the torch and cut away the final remnants of the old blowdown deflector. It was a quirky arrangement with a piece of pipe running the length of the locomotive until finally discharging beneath the pilot. It will not be missed.
Phil Reader and Marty Knox
Additionally, we saw visits from two familiar faces in the tourist railroad industry. Marty Knox, longtime CMO of the Huckleberry Railroad in Michigan, made his second visit to the P.C.R.R. and spent the better part of the day with us. Marty will be retiring from the Huck this year, ending his long-running career in steam which most recently included the overhaul of Denver & Rio Grande K-27 No. 464. Our other guest for the day (and the following) was our good friend Kent Jefferys. A more frequent presence at the Ranch, Kent, when not busy at Roaring Camp, has escaped south a few times to help out when he can.
With the No. 2 and train stored on the main, we were relegated to ¾ trips of the loop – backing down the big grade to the shop, and then charging forward back to the granary. Kent, Jeff, Phil and I each got to boil water and run for a bit. It was only my second time on this engine, and she fired great for me. (I must say, now that I’ve got to know her a little better I think I’m developing a soft spot!) Meanwhile, Jim fired up the Russell steam tractor and took it around for a bit. For those who have never seen it, a real hoot to see (and hear) in operation, and most certainly the neatest non-rail piece at the ranch.
After a long day, we gathered around the stove, where we were regaled with Art’s stories and Patti’s piping hot beef stew. We then cut hoses and took other measures to store the locomotives until our indefinite next operation.