Welcome to the forum   
Welcome Guest! To enable all features please Login or Register.

Notification

Icon
Error

Share
Options
View
Go to last post in this topic Go to first unread post in this topic
Offline dickinsonj  
#1 Posted : 25 October 2019 01:45:02(UTC)
dickinsonj

United States   
Joined: 05/12/2008(UTC)
Posts: 1,318
Location: United States
On this coming Saturday morning I get 30 minutes in the engineer's seat of the last remaining Norfolk and Western Class J loco - the 611. ThumpUp

Not much of a drive - only a slow, short drive, a stop and then reversing to the point of origin, and with only a caboose as the consist. But actually pulling the throttle of a real, live steam loco has been a dream of mine since I was a small boy!

The next time I ease one of my Märklin steamers out of a station I will be remembering what it was like to actually drive a real steam loco - something that I never expected to be able to experience! Cool

Here is a video of the loco pulling an excursion train two years ago.



Regards,
Jim

I have almost all Märklin and mostly HO, although I do have a small number of Z gauge trains!
I have models from Era I to Era VI, but I try to focus on Eras I & III. Whoops, that one got away from me. Let's just say I focus on cool trains, regardless of the particulars :-)
So many trains and so little time.
thanks 15 users liked this useful post by dickinsonj
Offline TEEWolf  
#2 Posted : 25 October 2019 03:56:50(UTC)
TEEWolf


Joined: 01/06/2016(UTC)
Posts: 2,380
Originally Posted by: dickinsonj Go to Quoted Post
On this coming Saturday morning I get 30 minutes in the engineer's seat of the last remaining Norfolk and Western Class J loco - the 611. ThumpUp

Not much of a drive - only a slow, short drive, a stop and then reversing to the point of origin, and with only a caboose as the consist. But actually pulling the throttle of a real, live steam loco has been a dream of mine since I was a small boy!

The next time I ease one of my Märklin steamers out of a station I will be remembering what it was like to actually drive a real steam loco - something that I never expected to be able to experience! Cool

Here is a video of the loco pulling an excursion train two years ago.





Hello Jim,

I say it with Frankie Boy



Congratulations - a happy ride and steaming.ThumpUp

Best Regards

Wolfgang
thanks 1 user liked this useful post by TEEWolf
Offline kimballthurlow  
#3 Posted : 25 October 2019 04:29:15(UTC)
kimballthurlow

Australia   
Joined: 18/03/2007(UTC)
Posts: 5,798
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Good one Jim.

I doubt mucking about with models can ever equate to driving one of those monsters,

I have a few models of N&W steam, including the 600 class. They were a rugged beast designed for uphill and downdale.
Same size drivers as our C38 class in New South Wales used in similar terrain.

I jealously hope you enjoy the experience. Go man go.

Kimball
HO Scale - Märklin (ep III and VI, C Track, digital) - 2 rail (USA and Australia) - 3 rail (English Hornby Dublo) - a few old O gauge.
thanks 2 users liked this useful post by kimballthurlow
Offline dickinsonj  
#4 Posted : 25 October 2019 12:59:49(UTC)
dickinsonj

United States   
Joined: 05/12/2008(UTC)
Posts: 1,318
Location: United States
Originally Posted by: kimballthurlow Go to Quoted Post
Good one Jim.

I doubt mucking about with models can ever equate to driving one of those monsters,

I have a few models of N&W steam, including the 600 class. They were a rugged beast designed for uphill and downdale.
Same size drivers as our C38 class in New South Wales used in similar terrain.

I jealously hope you enjoy the experience. Go man go.

Kimball


Thanks Kimball! I have ridden behind the 611 one time and admired it greatly but never dreamed that I would ever get this chance. It is now owned by the Virginia Museum of Transportation and they billed this as a once in a never opportunity. Cool

Very cool to hear that you have a model of a J Class loco and some other N&W steam. It has been spending the last month running on the Strasburg RR in Pennsylvania alongside the N&W steamer number 475, a 4-8-0 built in 1906.

I missed out on getting any cab action on the first weekend they did this and the high demand inspired them to add a second weekend. I was on the phone as soon as they opened the day the second weekend went on sale and was lucky to get a slot in the engineer's seat.

That is rugged territory where they ran, up hill and down dale as you say, but they could still run in excess of 100 mph on flat track! On my previous excursion it idled along slowly all morning to get to the turn point, showing off for the crowds along the track. But on the run back it was really hauling and must have been at the maximum track speed of 80 mph all the way back. What an amazing machine - representing the peak of steam technology in the US.

No photography or videography allowed from the cab, but I will share my impressions after the fact. Here is an interesting video of someone driving this beauty three years ago:



Regards,
Jim

I have almost all Märklin and mostly HO, although I do have a small number of Z gauge trains!
I have models from Era I to Era VI, but I try to focus on Eras I & III. Whoops, that one got away from me. Let's just say I focus on cool trains, regardless of the particulars :-)
So many trains and so little time.
thanks 4 users liked this useful post by dickinsonj
Offline dickinsonj  
#5 Posted : 25 October 2019 13:01:24(UTC)
dickinsonj

United States   
Joined: 05/12/2008(UTC)
Posts: 1,318
Location: United States
Originally Posted by: TEEWolf Go to Quoted Post

Congratulations - a happy ride and steaming.ThumpUp

Best Regards

Wolfgang


Thanks Wolfgang! I will tell you all about it when we next talk.
Regards,
Jim

I have almost all Märklin and mostly HO, although I do have a small number of Z gauge trains!
I have models from Era I to Era VI, but I try to focus on Eras I & III. Whoops, that one got away from me. Let's just say I focus on cool trains, regardless of the particulars :-)
So many trains and so little time.
thanks 1 user liked this useful post by dickinsonj
Offline jerdenberg  
#6 Posted : 26 October 2019 12:03:11(UTC)
jerdenberg

Netherlands   
Joined: 10/01/2005(UTC)
Posts: 964
Location: Den Helder, Noord-Holland
Congratulations, Jim, on your adventure with one of the icons of historical steam in the USA!

Jeroen
Figomima division, UP; mostly figment of my imagination yet.
thanks 1 user liked this useful post by jerdenberg
Offline dickinsonj  
#7 Posted : 26 October 2019 12:34:42(UTC)
dickinsonj

United States   
Joined: 05/12/2008(UTC)
Posts: 1,318
Location: United States
Originally Posted by: jerdenberg Go to Quoted Post
Congratulations, Jim, on your adventure with one of the icons of historical steam in the USA!

Jeroen

Thank You Jeroen! I have several hours yet before the excitement begins, but for some reason I woke up early this morning. BigGrin

Here is the video I meant to post yesterday, which shows the fun from inside the cab ThumpUp



Regards,
Jim

I have almost all Märklin and mostly HO, although I do have a small number of Z gauge trains!
I have models from Era I to Era VI, but I try to focus on Eras I & III. Whoops, that one got away from me. Let's just say I focus on cool trains, regardless of the particulars :-)
So many trains and so little time.
thanks 2 users liked this useful post by dickinsonj
Offline michelvr  
#8 Posted : 26 October 2019 13:14:16(UTC)
michelvr


Joined: 06/07/2012(UTC)
Posts: 1,115
Jim I’m hoping you go full stream ahead! All the best please post pictures of your wonderful experiences.

Regards,

Michel
thanks 1 user liked this useful post by michelvr
Offline DTaylor91  
#9 Posted : 27 October 2019 01:27:03(UTC)
DTaylor91


Joined: 31/08/2007(UTC)
Posts: 380
Location: Kennesaw, GA
Jim,
Congrats! I'm jealous! That said, I lived in Salisbury, NC in the early to mid 1990's, and 611, as well as 1218, were frequent visitors, and they would often tie up of the night there on an old siding near the old Southern Railway station. I would visit them up close quite often. They are both massive machines, so much so that it feels when standing less than two feet away that they generate their own gravitational field. I mean, technically they do, but a gravitational field you can sense. Also, they seem more alive than mechanical, even when sitting idle, with the fires banked, but not out.

Unfortunately, I have no models of either, mainly because, after seeing them up close, the details of any existing H0 models of them simply don't suffice. Not even the brass imports quite capture the true outline of 611, at any price. There was a beautifully done model of 1218 done by Iron Horse Models, but the price would've gotten me kicked out of my own house...
thanks 2 users liked this useful post by DTaylor91
Offline dickinsonj  
#10 Posted : 29 October 2019 16:28:41(UTC)
dickinsonj

United States   
Joined: 05/12/2008(UTC)
Posts: 1,318
Location: United States
Originally Posted by: DTaylor91 Go to Quoted Post
Unfortunately, I have no models of either, mainly because, after seeing them up close, the details of any existing H0 models of them simply don't suffice. Not even the brass imports quite capture the true outline of 611, at any price. There was a beautifully done model of 1218 done by Iron Horse Models, but the price would've gotten me kicked out of my own house...


Interesting story about your opportunities to see 611 and 1218 up close and personal Don. Cool They are massive machines and like all steamers they seem almost like living things!

I don't have any N&W loco models and unless Märklin decides to make some, I probably never will. My trains are just one of many hobbies and I don't have the time or patience to integrate hardware from multiple companies. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by just trying to get all of my Märklin stuff working and playing well together. BigGrin I have noticed that models of super clean locos like the 611 often just look like they lack detail in HO scale so maybe no one will ever make an HO model that I want.

A report about my driving experience in the 611 is coming soon! This is a super busy time of the year for me and I should be out finishing up projects and splitting firewood even as I type this. But in a nutshell - it was amazing and something that I will never forget. ThumpUp

I hope to capture the essence of the experience so that people's eyes don't glaze over as I ramble on and on about the drive. It really did turn out to be the dream of a lifetime for me and I don't regret a penny of the cost. BigGrin
Regards,
Jim

I have almost all Märklin and mostly HO, although I do have a small number of Z gauge trains!
I have models from Era I to Era VI, but I try to focus on Eras I & III. Whoops, that one got away from me. Let's just say I focus on cool trains, regardless of the particulars :-)
So many trains and so little time.
thanks 4 users liked this useful post by dickinsonj
Offline dickinsonj  
#11 Posted : 17 November 2019 21:52:15(UTC)
dickinsonj

United States   
Joined: 05/12/2008(UTC)
Posts: 1,318
Location: United States
First off Kimball - you are correct - nothing that I can do with my HO trains will ever come close to the experience of driving a real steamer. It was an amazing adventure. But I also will recall that experience every time I run one of my Märklin steamers, so it enhances my MRR fun too. ThumpUp

Since I was just a small boy running an American Flyer S gauge pacific steamer I have dreamed about what it must be like to sit in the cab of a live steam loco while it is operating. So for me this was a dream of a lifetime and unlike so many other dreams, one that actually came true! Cool

My chariot awaits!
IMG_2682.jpg

IMG_2675.jpg

I thought that they might have some lame steps to get into the cab but you had to climb the ladder just like the real crew does, which is just as it should be. The engineer before me appeared to be well into his 80’s and although he needed some assistance he did make it up into the cab and back down again. Note to self - try to do this again while you are still young enough to climb into a loco cab!

A long way up to that cab!
IMG_2683.jpg

In the big seat at last!
IMG_2703.jpg

IMG_2704.jpg

The real engineer checked my wrist band, pointed to the engineer’s station and said that’s your seat - just that part was a thrill for me. He checked to see if I knew the most important controls and basically what to do with them. I passed that first test and we discussed whistle signals, which differ from one RR to another, so there were a couple that I didn’t know. Then we just waited for clearance to depart, while the fireman maintained the fire and boiler pressure. One surprise was that the injector control for adding water to the boiler is right in front of the engineer who is responsible for that critical task, and not the fireman, as I had expected.

I got the clearance to depart, moved the reverse gear into the full forward position, started the bell ringer, whistled the departure signal and pulled open the throttle. The engineer released the loco and train brakes and we were off. That was my first surprise - the throttle was really hard to pull and I got a quick lesson from the engineer on the best way to operate it. Squeeze the release grip with your right hand, pull the lever arm itself with your left, brace your feet between the backhead and the cab floor and pull with your whole body, rather than just your arms. This is not a loco for a 97 pound weakling! BigGrin

Someone later told me that since this is a fairly long loco equipped with a super heater, the throttle is located in the smoke box, which helps explain the amount of force needed to move it. Older locos have the throttle in the steam dome, which is much closer to the cab and therefore easier to operate. But using the engineer's advice and after removing my gloves, this was a lot easier to do. The engineer told me that the suggestion to wear gloves was just lawyer talk and that wearing them made it too hard to feel what the throttle was doing - and he was right.

Now the magic began - that big, beautiful beast started to chuff and accelerate as I looked out of the small, forward cab window and down along the boiler. The engineer said to pull the throttle until I could feel the loco “dig in”. When I hit the magic spot you actually could feel the wheels dig into the track on each power stroke. I looked at the engineer and he gave me a thumbs up. I had learned my first lesson in how to drive a steamer. ThumpUp

What an experience that was! It was also exciting, because even at fairly slow speeds the reciprocation from the drivetrain started to visibly rock the loco from side to side. I would estimate the we ran up to no more than 50 kph but I was too focused on everything else and I forgot to look at the speedometer. Soon it was time to make our first stop and I closed the throttle and had my second surprise, which was how it just kept rolling along with the throttle closed. We were pulling only the loco’s tender, a canteen and a caboose, but on level track or on a downgrade it moves along pretty well with no throttle at all. I guess I always assumed that the throttle was always open when it was moving, like the chuff sound in an older decoder, but that is not the case. It is more like the newer decoders which stop the chuffs until the loco slows down, which surprised me the first time I ran an HO loco that behaved like that. Now I know why they added that pause in the chuffing, because that makes it more like the real thing. ThumpUp

After a l while we came to a stop, we then started again and finally came to our second stop going forward. Next we backed up and I was able to run forward a little faster this time. That was when I was instructed to add some cutoff with the reverse gear, and my loco really settled down to its work. It was also when we hit our fastest speed of the run and I got the best idea of what it felt like when 611 was working hard. The sounds, the heat from the firebox, the steam and the loco rocking from the reciprocating drive all added up to making it feel more like a living being than simply a machine. I could have sat in the engineer’s seat and watched that beauty run indefinitely, just taking in the sights, sounds and feel of a live steam loco in operation. This loco has a top speed of almost 180 kph and it must be quite an experience to be driving it when it is flying along like that!

Far too soon it was time to reverse back to the starting point. Since that point was immediately adjacent to a turnout connecting to a high speed Amtrak line running into Philadelphia I was not allowed to drive that last bit. We saw several push/pull electric loco hauled trains pass and they were moving along smartly, so no doubt backing into that turnout would have been catastrophic. The real engineer never leaned out of the cab window when he was driving. I have often seen that done on tourist railroads and even backing he just used a small mirror at the bottom of the wind deflector. He told me that he had no idea why people leaned out of the cab windows - he called out UP steam drivers - which he said he only did when operating in a yard or a station. I guess the main reason is just to show off - look at me, I am driving a real steam locomotive! Cool

So my big adventure was over and here is a picture of me standing in front of the loco after the run.
IMG_2709.jpg

It took many hours for me to wipe that smile off my face and I knew even then that I will do this again if I get the chance. It really was a lifelong dream come true for me and getting the privilege of driving the pinnacle of passenger steam here in the US was the icing on the cake. Cool

I would be happy to answer any questions that anyone might have, if I have not already bored you all to tears with my rambling! BigGrin
Regards,
Jim

I have almost all Märklin and mostly HO, although I do have a small number of Z gauge trains!
I have models from Era I to Era VI, but I try to focus on Eras I & III. Whoops, that one got away from me. Let's just say I focus on cool trains, regardless of the particulars :-)
So many trains and so little time.
thanks 10 users liked this useful post by dickinsonj
Offline TEEWolf  
#12 Posted : 18 November 2019 04:57:53(UTC)
TEEWolf


Joined: 01/06/2016(UTC)
Posts: 2,380
Originally Posted by: dickinsonj Go to Quoted Post


...

This is not a loco for a 97 pound weakling! BigGrin

... me standing in front of the loco after the run. IMG_2709.jpg


An over 97 pound Big Boy Wink and his beast. Smile

Thanks for this report and congratulations you did it.ThumpUp
thanks 3 users liked this useful post by TEEWolf
Offline ShannonN  
#13 Posted : 18 November 2019 06:53:34(UTC)
ShannonN

Australia   
Joined: 14/08/2016(UTC)
Posts: 477
Location: Maryborough, Qld
Originally Posted by: dickinsonj Go to Quoted Post





It took many hours for me to wipe that smile off my face

I would be happy to answer any questions that anyone might have, if I have not already bored you all to tears with my rambling! BigGrin



How awesome! Mate I'd have thought your face muscles must've ached for days after cause that smile would not have gone for a week!

Two questions for you:

1: Can you share the cost of the experience
2: Do you hold a steam engineers quals? or isn't that necessary in US for this experience

Here in Oz most steam rail operators (most private owned at least) will not allow you on the footplate of a loco under steam unless you have your fireman or driver quals or advanced steam ticket (for super heated)

Some have the paid experience drive stuff but from what I've seen via yt videos and read their is quite a bit of training prior to drive required such as firing up the loco oiling drivers/bearings checking steam valves etc

That include our Mary Ann which I volunteer on, only drivers assistants (fireman) and Driver are allowed to ride the cab, also a qualified driver may assist with training new drivers or assistants

The rest of us are just passenger/station attendants

So glad you realized a dream and were thoughtful enough to share with us.

Looking fwd to hearing you're next drive is 4014
Regards Shanny



thanks 2 users liked this useful post by ShannonN
Offline dickinsonj  
#14 Posted : 18 November 2019 14:48:26(UTC)
dickinsonj

United States   
Joined: 05/12/2008(UTC)
Posts: 1,318
Location: United States
Originally Posted by: ShannonN Go to Quoted Post

How awesome! Mate I'd have thought your face muscles must've ached for days after cause that smile would not have gone for a week!

Yes, I wore that smile for a very long time - I'm not sure that it is even completely gone today! Cool
Originally Posted by: ShannonN Go to Quoted Post

Two questions for you:

1: Can you share the cost of the experience

Yes, appropriately enough the cost was $611 USD for 30 minutes in the big chair - $311 for sitting in the fireman's seat. Not cheap, but it was well worth it to me. ThumpUp

Originally Posted by: ShannonN Go to Quoted Post

2: Do you hold a steam engineers quals? or isn't that necessary in US for this experience


I do not have steam quals - what an achievement that would be! When I booked this I assumed that I would get to watch but not actually drive this lovely machine. Then I watched some videos and I thought: Wow - they are actually going to let me drive? It was so well done that even having an amateur like me at the controls was just fine, with an extremely attentive engineer right by my side to keep us all safe. I was actually surprised that I was given so much freedom to enjoy the experience, but will remain forever grateful for the chance. I wish that I had a local steam tourist RR where I could volunteer like you do, but there are none in my vicinity.

Originally Posted by: ShannonN Go to Quoted Post

So glad you realized a dream and were thoughtful enough to share with us.

Looking fwd to hearing you're next drive is 4014
Regards Shanny


You are welcome Shanny - I enjoyed sharing the experience with the other railroad fanatics here on the forum. I would love the chance to drive 4014, but that seems pretty unlikely. As they say though, where there is life there is hope. Cool


Regards,
Jim

I have almost all Märklin and mostly HO, although I do have a small number of Z gauge trains!
I have models from Era I to Era VI, but I try to focus on Eras I & III. Whoops, that one got away from me. Let's just say I focus on cool trains, regardless of the particulars :-)
So many trains and so little time.
thanks 3 users liked this useful post by dickinsonj
Offline ShannonN  
#15 Posted : 18 November 2019 22:12:34(UTC)
ShannonN

Australia   
Joined: 14/08/2016(UTC)
Posts: 477
Location: Maryborough, Qld
dickinsonj wrote:


You are welcome Shanny - I enjoyed sharing the experience with the other railroad fanatics here on the forum. I would love the chance to drive 4014, but that seems pretty unlikely. As they say though, where there is life there is hope. Cool




Hi Jim
Forgive me for hijacking somewhat your thread,

Did a YouTube search on 611, here's a short video of huge amount of wheel-spin on start. This video was shot in 2018. Why I post it is;

It gives a great side view of the massive length of the loco and the full impact of the hugeness of your achievement. If you think its not appropriate say so and I'll delete or move to its own thread
Blessings Shanny

skip to 3:20 to see the drivers slip



thanks 2 users liked this useful post by ShannonN
Offline dickinsonj  
#16 Posted : 18 November 2019 22:58:04(UTC)
dickinsonj

United States   
Joined: 05/12/2008(UTC)
Posts: 1,318
Location: United States
Hey Shanny,

No worries - totally appropriate video to post and somewhat of a mystery to me. There are other videos of the 611 slipping very badly on excursion runs in the last few years, so that is not the only instance of this happening.

In fact I saw a video of it pulling 4-5 coaches at slow speed through a grade crossing when it first arrived in Pennsylvania last month. Level track, clear weather, slow speed, light load and repeated wheel slip incidents. These were not know to be slippery locos and they worked large coach consists over pretty tough terrain, so that should not happen. I have to wonder if that is due to a lack of experienced steam loco drivers in this day and age, or if there is something wrong with it after the last rebuild. Maybe that hard to pull throttle gets pulled too far once the engineer finally gets it moving, or the driver does not wait for that feeling of it digging in before really pouring on the coal.

Interesting side story. I met a woman while I was in Pennsylvania who was there to drive the 4-8-0 N&W 475, which is owned by the Strasburg RR. She told me that she didn't need to drive the 611 because she guessed that she had already driven it 10-20 times. Her grandfather worked for N&W and she first drove it when she was 11 years old! She wanted to compare the much older and simpler 475 to the 611, which she knows so well. We usually assume that train obsessions are mostly a male thing, but she knew as much about steam locos as anyone who I have ever met.

I asked her about the slipping and she was baffled as well, because the J Class was not know to be hard to handle. I owe her an email and definitely want to stay in touch, so maybe I can learn more about that from her in time. If I do I will share what I learn. There is definitely a lot going on when driving a high power steamer and a lot of experience is needed to fire it and make it run properly, making it an even more exciting experience.
Regards,
Jim

I have almost all Märklin and mostly HO, although I do have a small number of Z gauge trains!
I have models from Era I to Era VI, but I try to focus on Eras I & III. Whoops, that one got away from me. Let's just say I focus on cool trains, regardless of the particulars :-)
So many trains and so little time.
thanks 4 users liked this useful post by dickinsonj
Offline kimballthurlow  
#17 Posted : 19 November 2019 01:51:20(UTC)
kimballthurlow

Australia   
Joined: 18/03/2007(UTC)
Posts: 5,798
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Originally Posted by: dickinsonj Go to Quoted Post
Hey Shanny,
......

Interesting side story. I met a woman while I was in Pennsylvania who was there to drive the 4-8-0 N&W 475, which is owned by the Strasburg RR. She told me that she didn't need to drive the 611 because she guessed that she had already driven it 10-20 times. Her grandfather worked for N&W and she first drove it when she was 11 years old! .....


Hi Jim and Shanny,

Unbelievable.
The whole culture on railways is quite amazing - the railroad engineers union in USA was even called "The Brotherhood ...".

I lived in Shanny's town (for 5 years) 30 odd years ago.
It is a town where building steam engines and river/coastal craft was its heart and soul, a bit like Roanoke.

Anyway what a beautifully written story on your experience. Thank you.

Kimball
HO Scale - Märklin (ep III and VI, C Track, digital) - 2 rail (USA and Australia) - 3 rail (English Hornby Dublo) - a few old O gauge.
thanks 3 users liked this useful post by kimballthurlow
Users browsing this topic
OceanSpiders 2.0
Forum Jump  
You cannot post new topics in this forum.
You cannot reply to topics in this forum.
You cannot delete your posts in this forum.
You cannot edit your posts in this forum.
You cannot create polls in this forum.
You cannot vote in polls in this forum.

| Powered by YAF.NET | YAF.NET © 2003-2020, Yet Another Forum.NET
This page was generated in 0.901 seconds.