|Posted: Jan 14 2020 at 4:38pm | IP Logged
The engineer and fireman each have a valve to violently blow with full steam pressure
sediment from the two lowest parts of the steam locomotive boilers. This is done to expel
sediment buildup once or twice during a run and many call it ‘mud ringing’. The engineer
and I called it a ‘blow down’. The Childress Yard steam switch engines had to go to track
northwest of town to do blow downs because of the noise. As previously stated we also did
the sanding of the flues in that same area.
All steam locomotives are equipped with safety pressure release valves to prevent boiler
explosions. One night getting ready for a lunch break when switching in the Childress
yard I built up the steam pressure up to snuff. I had the firebox nice and hot with a full head
of steam. We parked the engine and the crew and I were walking a block away toward
the café. Suddenly the pop-off valve blew. It was very loud but luckily it was only about
9 pm. It could wake up the dead in a cemetery. The switch foreman turned and ask me how
the hell I did that! The noise of the pop-off valve had nearly made me nearly jump out of
my jock strap but I told him I had a pull string in my pocket…
Damage Free Coupling of the Cars.
Coupling the locomotive into a rail car can be quite an art. Often the engineer can not see
the “joint” that is being made. The engineer must rely on hand signals or the ground
crew’s lanterns. It was deemed by the Santa Fe officials that an impact of over three miles
per hour could cause an excessive amount of damage to merchandise and equipment.
One day at a grain elevator I was dropped into the siding riding five loaded grain cars. Back
then these were plane old boxcars with the lower half of the doors boarded up. The engineer
hit the throttle briskly! Before the cut of cars I was riding even entered the siding the
conductor yelled, “You better start setting some brakes now!” I managed to set two brakes
and was winding the wheel of the Ajax brake on the third when the six or seven mph impact
took place. My cut of cars hit a parked line of about twenty loaded grain cars. In order to
set these brakes the brakeman has to be in between the cars. I was setting this brake while
facing the direction the cars were moving. I was standing on the ladder, winding the brake
wheel with the right hand and hold a grab iron with the left hand. The impact only knocked
a little wind out of me.
Next the rear brakeman who was a ‘Smart-assed boomer’ was now up on top of another
five cars to be dropped into the siding. I yelled a warning to him that it was down hill into
the siding. He yelled back “You do your #@%! railroading and I’ll do mine!”. Well it didn’t
go well for him when he hit the loaded cars I had set the brakes on. There was a very loud
crashing noise and a huge cloud of grain dust. I don’t know if he was still hurting after the
crash but he never looked me strait in the eye after that.
The roadbed for most main line tracks is raised so the water will quickly run off and not
damage the roadbed or the wooden ties. The sidings… not so much. Speeds are restricted
in the low siding that become a little bumpy.
Winter Time Railroading in the Panhandle
The brakemen, conductors, switchmen and switch foremen have to put up with the
weather. One cloudy afternoon my crew and I was doing a bunch of car switching a little
east of Amarillo. Suddenly a what was known in Amarillo as a “Blue Norther” hit us. All
I had extra to wear was a blanket lined jumper with an add on hood. People in the “Land
of the Yellow Sky” (Amarillo) will tell you there is nothing between there and the north pole
but a barbed wire fence and all but one wire was down! Amarillo has much stronger winds
than the “windy city” brags about.
But friends it wasn’t all bad. When the weatherman said a Blue Norther was coming
many grabbed their lawnmower and headed to the Canadian River. Just as the Blue Norther
hit one would fire a gun and all the frogs would jump into the river. Now if the guy with the
it just right the frogs would hit the water just as the water froze. This left only the frogs legs
sticking out above the ice! Now it was time to start mowing. Yes sir, there aint nothing
as good as fried frog legs on a cold winter night
You folks are gonna have to wait till I find Grandma’s cast iron skillet.. Don S..
PLEASE >>> A SIG similar to mine can be VERY HELPFUL to all the members!
'99 4x4 3.3 Frontier Se KC Auto, 48,000 miles
'76 4x4 401 Wagoneer QT
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