Summertime inside a teakettle 3


Weather forecasts were calling for high temperatures approaching the 90s, coupled with fairly high humidity for Saturday July 30, 2016 – a pretty normal occurrence for mid-summer in southern New England.  Instead of seeking out the comfort of an air conditioned space, I headed out to do a little shooting – in an even warmer environment, the cab of a steam locomotive.

I visited the Valley Railroad/Essex Steam Train and rode along with the engine crew for the first run of the day.  The crew on this Saturday consisted of Fireman Bill Fredrickson and engineer Fred Jordan – both veterans of the Valley Railroad in a number of capacities, but Fred was more recently marked up as a steam engineer.  I had photographed Fred a couple years back when he was working as the engineer for the Essex Clipper Dinner Train, but this was my first opportunity to document him in the right hand seat of a steam locomotive.

Arriving around 8:30am, and after signing my waiver to ride the locomotive, it was time to check in with Fred and Bill in the Locomotive Servicing Facility.  As a side note, the LSF is the newest building in Essex, which provides engine and maintenance crews with an enclosed space to service the locomotives, and also includes a pit allowing easy inspection and maintenance of the underside of the equipment.  The new building is located alongside the existing shop at the south end of Essex yard.

 Valley Railroad no 40 sits in the railroad

Valley Railroad no 40 sits in the railroad’s Locomotive Servicing Facility in Essex, Connecticut at the start of the day

Before the locomotive could be moved out into the sunshine of the emerging day, the pair needs to complete some inspections and lubrication of the running gear on the nearly century old locomotive.

 Valley Railroad fireman Bill Frederickson lubricates some of No. 40s running gear.

Valley Railroad fireman Bill Frederickson lubricates some of No. 40s running gear.

 Engineer Fred Jordan chats with fireman Bill Frederickson as they get the power ready for the day

Engineer Fred Jordan chats with fireman Bill Frederickson as they get the power ready for the day’s work

 Fireman Bill Frederickson is adding oil to the journal box on the trailing truck of No. 40

Fireman Bill Frederickson is adding oil to the journal box on the trailing truck of No. 40

 Bill F. adding oil to No. 40s running gear

Bill F. adding oil to No. 40s running gear

And while they were doing that, I of course had to get a couple of my more artsy shots out of the way…

 A peek into No. 40s cab shows a coal scoop at the ready, with a can of oil alongside.

A peek into No. 40s cab shows a coal scoop at the ready, with a can of oil alongside.

 Detail look at 40

Detail look at 40’s logo on her tender

Part of that inspection is to clear any accumulated water from the cylinders – and doing that was a team effort, with

 Bill watches the cylinder cock as Fred purges the cylinders of any water

Bill watches the cylinder cock as Fred purges the cylinders of any water

With all complete, it was time to head out into the daylight.

 Engineer Fred Jordan eases No. 40 out of the Locomotive Servicing Facility

Engineer Fred Jordan eases No. 40 out of the Locomotive Servicing Facility

The next task the crew had on their list was to fuel up the locomotive – so a trip over to track 8 where the coaling ramp is located was in order.  Working with his fireman on the ground, Fred eased the Mikado from the LSF over to the easternmost track in Essex.

 Fred adjusts the volume on his handheld radio as he watches for the fireman

Fred adjusts the volume on his handheld radio as he watches for the fireman’s signal from the ground

 Fred eases No. 40 towards the coal ramp

Fred eases No. 40 towards the coal ramp

Once there, and the coal bunker lined up with the ramp, Wayne Hebert operated the railroad’s backhoe, and proceeded to fill ‘er up with coal

 Wayne Hebert operates the backhoe, and tops off No. 40s coal bunker

Wayne Hebert operates the backhoe, and tops off No. 40s coal bunker

As that was going on, Bill tended to the fire in 40s firebox

 Bill checks the fire in 40 as Fred watches

Bill checks the fire in 40 as Fred watches

And Fred lent a hand by clearing some of the ash from 40s ash pan

 Fred rakes the ashes from No. 40

Fred rakes the ashes from No. 40

 Fred rakes the ashes from No. 40

Fred rakes the ashes from No. 40

As the coal was continued to be loaded, I felt it was right to take a couple more detail shots inside the cab.

 The boiler steam gauge is showing about 150 pounds per square inch of pressure - well under the Maxium Allowed Working Pressure of 175 PSI

The boiler steam gauge is showing about 150 pounds per square inch of pressure – well under the Maxium Allowed Working Pressure of 175 PSI

 A padlock serves as a safety latch in No. 40s throttle

A padlock serves as a safety latch in No. 40s throttle

Once the bunker was full of coal, it was time to head to the north end of the yard, and tie onto the waiting train.

 No 40 heads north around her train at the start of the day

No 40 heads north around her train at the start of the day

With the locomotive and train now ready to run as one unit, Bill took the opportunity to wet down the freshly added coal in the tender.

 Fireman Bill Frederickson wetting down the freshly loaded coal in the tender

Fireman Bill Frederickson wetting down the freshly loaded coal in the tender

And, yes, I and my camera got quite wet…but we’ve both been through worse.  A quick dry-off of the lens and my face (and glasses), and we were back in business.

While waiting for our departure time to arrive, I took the opportunity for another detail shot…well, really my intent was to get out of the hot cab for a bit and cool off…

 Deatil of 40s builders plate

Deatil of 40s builders plate

But at the same time, Fred also got off and did some more lube checks of the running gear.

 Engineer Fred Jordan tops off the oil on part of 40s running gear

Engineer Fred Jordan tops off the oil on part of 40s running gear

 Engineer Fred Jordan tops off the oil on part of 40s running gear - with century-old equipment, lubrication is an ongoing task to keep them running

Engineer Fred Jordan tops off the oil on part of 40s running gear – with century-old equipment, lubrication is an ongoing task to keep them running

With all that done, everyone climbed back into the cab for the remainder of time we’d be waiting at the station.  During that time, some visitors from Austria came up to the locomotive and asked to come aboard.  The crew welcomed them up and gave them a quick tour of the cab, and Bill gave them a demonstration of how to fire the locomotive – another facet of their jobs at the Valley Railroad, well outside of the normal head end duties.

 The job of fireman and engineer do not only mean you get to operate the train - you also interface with the tourists who are riding the train. Here Fred and Bill give a brief tour, and demonstration of firing - to some folks visiting from Austria.

The job of fireman and engineer do not only mean you get to operate the train – you also interface with the tourists who are riding the train. Here Fred and Bill give a brief tour, and demonstration of firing – to some folks visiting from Austria.

Soon after the visitors made their way back to their seats on the train, it was time to depart.  Instead of doing a play-by-play of that part, I’ll just post the rest of the photos.  Feel free to click through them and check out the larger sizes.

 Fred eases the train out of Essex station with a load of passengers

Fred eases the train out of Essex station with a load of passengers

 As the train heads north, leaving Essex yard limits, Fred and Bill chat a bit

As the train heads north, leaving Essex yard limits, Fred and Bill chat a bit

 Valley Railroad fireman Bill F. throws a shovel full of coal onto No. 40

Valley Railroad fireman Bill F. throws a shovel full of coal onto No. 40’s fire as the train was rolling north through Chester, Connecticut

 A wide view of the entire cab of No. 40 as the train proceeds north

A wide view of the entire cab of No. 40 as the train proceeds north

 Fred watches as he shoves the train south from North Chester to the Hadlyme stop, where some passengers will leave the train, headed across the river to Gillete Castle

Fred watches as he shoves the train south from North Chester to the Hadlyme stop, where some passengers will leave the train, headed across the river to Gillete Castle

 Engineer Fred continues to watch his train as they shove south towards Deep River Landing

Engineer Fred continues to watch his train as they shove south towards Deep River Landing

 Fred smiles and waves to passengers as No. 40 runs around the train at Deep River Landing

Fred smiles and waves to passengers as No. 40 runs around the train at Deep River Landing

 Fred pulling the whistle cord as the train approaches the Essex Street grade crossing in Deep River.

Fred pulling the whistle cord as the train approaches the Essex Street grade crossing in Deep River.

 A contrasty look at Fred as he brings the train south to Essex

A contrasty look at Fred as he brings the train south to Essex

 Fred brings 40 back north as the passengers leave the train.

Fred brings 40 back north as the passengers leave the train.

 Fred grips 40s throttle as he eases the locomotive into a hitch

Fred grips 40s throttle as he eases the locomotive into a hitch

 Fred

Fred’s fingers at the ready to apply the brakes.

Along the way, I did manage to sneak in a couple photos of myself for fun…

 The photographer gets a quick shot of himself as the train proceeds north

The photographer gets a quick shot of himself as the train proceeds north

 The photographer

The photographer’s reflection as the train passes by the parlor car

As usual, feel free to comment here, or drop me a line with any thoughts you may have on the photos.

Thanks for reading!
Tom

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3 thoughts on “Summertime inside a teakettle

  • So Whitney

    This was an up close view of something that has always piqued my curiosity — it’s one thing to be the passenger enjoying the views and the click clack of the train, but it’s so fascinating to see how things actually work. Thank you.
    One question: why must the coal be sprinkled with water? (I’m guessing it’s to make it burn more slowly. )