Today was a glorious day for double-headed steam action. 1392 is performing brilliantly and gets better all the time; the crew are all very proud of her and how she's doing. Not bad for a girl that was built ten years after man's first powered flight by the Wright brothers in 1903. She was in service when the Empire entered the Great War in 1914 and had already been in service for 26 years when Canada declared war in 1939!
The train departed Stettler following a static display of the locomotives while crews readied them for departure. It was a great chance for members of the public to ask questions about the locomotives and their histories. At 1600 when the train left, my two-year-old daughter got into the action puffing and making whistle noises. There really is something for everyone here. For example the Stettler P & H grain elevator museum next the station is outstanding in its own right. It is fascinating to see how a grain elevator works, and the volunteers are some of the finest people you will meet. They will try to drown you in coffee and stuff you with homemade cookies.
Tomorrow is the big day. 1392 and 41 will make two trips: a Champagne breakfast trip at 0700, and a second trip at 1515. It promises to be an exciting day as Canada celebrates its formation 150 years ago! 1392 is only 46 years younger than our country.
Not many pictures today; your intrepid reporter was firing the locomotive. It was a wonderful trip. We had a good stiff climb out of Stettler behind 41. After the first few miles I settled in and got comfortable and the trip to Big Valley was wonderful. At big valley two more antique tractors were arriving. They are amazing machines and the paintwork on them is stunning. Seeing them all running on the 3rd is going to be a great experience. At Big Valley we took water (we used half a tender, or around 2500 imperial gallons, on the 20-plus miles to Big Valley.
1392 was in the lead on our return trip to Stettler and worked much harder. The long climb to Caprona had both locomotives working hard. It was wonderful to listen to them and smell the steam and hot oil. We surprised a deer into making an amazing leap over a fence to escape the two black monsters. The train arrived at Stettler a few minutes early. Crews changed over and both locomotives took water and were greased for the next run. 1392 performed brilliantly! Tomorrow promises to be another great day.
Today 1392 and APR 41 did their first double header to Big Valley. After some routine maintenance and a thorough scrub and polish, 1392 proudly backed onto the train to lead it to Big Valley. The trip was outstanding; the passengers were thrilled. A large convoy of cars chased the train from crossing to crossing taking pictures. Today was the culmination of nine months of hard work by the dedicated volunteers of the ARM steam crew. Well done.
Today the ARM steam crew of Terry Wolfe, Ted Vangunst, Leon Belov, and Joel Mullan fired up 1392. She had been brought up to pressure yesterday so the crew had a headstart as she retained around 40 PSI overnight allowing operation of the atomizer and blower to bring her back up to pressure this morning. A few problems were found along the way, but they were all resolved quickly and without too much difficulty. After lunch 1392 got a clearance and headed out on the main line to a point just south of Warden with pilot and trainman provided by the APR. On return to Stettler 1392 coupled to Alberta Prairie's Number 41 which had been fired up this morning. The two locomotives then collected a couple of coaches and headed back out onto the mainline to Warden to practice running together. At Warden the train stopped so the two locomotives could be photographed with CNR 6060 before heading back to Stettler. The final shakedown of 1392 and dress rehearsal with 41 were successful. The big show starts tomorrow at 1600! For tickets see railsandtales.ca
On Saturday one of the museums' steam crew (and VP), Joel Mullan, went for a familiarisation trip on the Alberta Prairie Railway to learn the route for firing 1392 during Rails and Tales:
At the end of April a number of us from the Alberta Railway Museum went down to the station at Big Valley to attend a rules class and exam to get APR rules cards and make sure we were all on the same page as the APR staff. It is also important to know the route we will be running so I arranged with the APR staff a rote familiarisation trip to learn the road we will be running on. Crew call was at 1200 at Stettler station and that is where I was introduced to the highly professional and friendly staff of the APR. I was to ride on APR steam locomotive Number 41 with Kelly Gillespie and Kevin Quigley. They quickly showed me around and made sure I had everything I needed.
Kevin gave me a detailed rundown of the grades on the line and what to expect. As a fireman it is vital to know the route, especially the grades in order to provide the engineer with the steam he needs when he needs it. When the locomotive is working hard climbing with a heavy load the boiler pressure will begin to drop as steam is used, so a bigger fire is required. With greater demand for steam more water is used. This in turn requires water be added to the boiler. The addition of cold water to the boiler will result in a further drop in pressure. If the fireman doesn't know what to expect he could quickly find his fire inadequate and that he is out of steam. This would be embarrassing to say the least!
There is another more dangerous aspect to the grades from the fireman's point of view. If he doesn't have enough water in the boiler when the locomotive crests the top of the hill, the water will rush to the front of the boiler, and if there isn't enough water in the boiler it will expose the crown sheet. The crown sheet is the wall at the top of the firebox that separates the fire box and boiler. If not corrected quickly the crown sheet will be “burnt". The crown sheet is metal so it doesn't actually burn, but is does deform and melt in places, weakening the structure and possibly causing a catastrophic failure. This would result in the explosive release of steam from the boiler. The consequences for the crew in this case would be much worse than embarrassment.
While learning the route I was able to enjoy the beautiful pastoral country the line passes through. The route is lush and green, and at times reminiscent of rolling hills in the south of England. Some of the grades are very demanding and Number 41 was barking fiercely during the climb. It will be amazing when 41 and 1392 are working together with the exhaust beats wandering in and out of sync. They will both be barking loudly!
Also readily apparent was the quiet efficiency and professionalism of the APR staff. The customer service staff work very, very hard to make the trip memorable and comfortable for all the passengers. I look forward to working with such an exceptional team and am excited for the amazing spectacle Rails and Tales will be! Tickets are still available; if you are interested you should act quickly to avoid disappointment. Visit railsandtales.ca for details and tickets for the trips 28 June to 5 July.
Today 1392 was loaded on a truck for her trip to Stettler for Rails and Tales. The operation took over ten hours owing to the heavy rain last night, saturating the loading area. Many members of the press, a documentary filmmaker, bloggers, and museum staff were all on hand for the big event. Both locomotive and tender are loaded on trailers set to make the trip to Stettler tomorrow. Tickets are still available for double-headed steam excursions at railsandtales.ca
Read more about the big move in this Edmonton Journal article.
Yesterday members of the museum steam crew, led by Terry Wolfe, conducted testing and breaking in of 1392 under load. Months of hard work included replacing all the springs, removal and replacement of the firebox brick work, reconditioning of injectors, re-packing of valves, and many more jobs.
The running went smoothly and consequently the Alberta Railway Museum is proud to say 1392 is ready for Rails and Tales 2017 on the Alberta Prairie Railway starting on the 28th of June.
Next stop, Stettler!
1392 is now mated to her tender and moved over the pit on track 2. Thanks to
all involved with todays switching activity.
It will take a day or two to reconnect all the brake rigging and piping that
was removed for the spring repairs.
The last springs arrived on site Friday, June 2 at 15:35.
Work party started this morning at 09:00 and by 15:30 the rest of the
springs were installed and 1392 lowered off the jacks. She's sitting pretty
on her wheels.
A long and difficult job is done. Thanks for everyone's hard work and
enthusiastic effort to complete this complex project. A lot of man hours
were involved without any injuries or incidents...."outstanding!"
What's left to do you ask?
Photos courtesy of Terry Wolfe.
A regular column by a regular bunch of folks. Alberta Pioneer Railway Association members take turns at the throttle to drive this blog.
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