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Layout Tours / Re: nycjeff layout
« on: May 04, 2021, 06:49:13 AM »
Jeff - I am waiting for someone to model the Florida East Coast Railroad (FEC)  It runs from Jacksonville to Miami along the East Coast of Florida.  It is a straight shot with very few curves and no grades.  It is slightly above sea level.  Years ago, I was assigned as the probate judge in Brevard County and my courthouse was next to the FEC tracks.  Trains came by regularly and my courtroom had an excellent view.  No passenger trains on the FEC.  No union labor.  But that is another story.  The model RR layout could be twenty feet long and a foot wide.

Layout Tours / Re: nycjeff layout
« on: May 03, 2021, 06:00:04 AM »
Jeff - Very nicely done.  Proof you can have a lot of railroading in a small space and still make it look real. 

Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: May 03, 2021, 05:51:19 AM »
Greg, Bob, Jeff - Thank you for the encouragement.  I plan on making it into the shed Saturday.   My ankle has improved significantly. 

Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: May 02, 2021, 09:11:58 AM »
Saturday Report - May 1, 2021

Your reporter was unable to attend the gathering at the Atlantic & Southern location yesterday.  Recovering from spinal surgery is a slower process than expected.  Some days you feel like you are making progress.  Other days you feel like you have lost whatever progress you have made.

This week's story is the final installment of the adventures of Stewart Walter, who managed to get hired on as a fireman on the A&S due to his connection with "Tater" Cartwright.  He finally progresses to become an engineer and is one of the most respected employees of the A&S.  We may hear more from him in the future.

                                                                                                MOVE TO THE RIGHT SEAT PART III

   Stewart worked as an engine watchman for a week or two and by and by he was assigned as the fireman for the roundhouse engine facility.  Now, that was certainly not an “over-the-road” assignment but it turned out to be more of a hostler’s job than a fireman’s position.
   The A&S had just been assigned two new switch engines, a 0-6-0 and an 0-8-0.  Both engines were leased and they were in like-new condition.  The 0-8-0 was assigned as the “yard goat” and the 0-6-0 was assigned to switch at the Sanlando Yard.  Stewart got to run the engines on night shifts because there was a shortage of qualified engineers right after WWII. 
   Stewart proved to be an excellent hostler and switchman and was soon, "Tater" Cartwright, Roundhouse Forman, recommended Stewart to the Road Forman of Engines.  Stewart took his rules test and his physical exam and was pronounced fit for duty as an engineer. 
   His first assignment was an industrial run that required him to make a run up the Ovalix with the 0-6-0 switcher.  The steady grade of 1% proved to be a challenge, especially with a green fireman, and the switcher struggled to push ten boxcars up to Summit.
   About that time, the A&S purchased an ancient 2-6-6-2 to haul pulpwood from Piney Woods to the paper mill in Jacksonville.  The mallet was an oil burner and the roundhouse crew was unfamiliar with that type of engine. 
   Stewart studied everything he could find about oil burners because he assumed the engineer with the lowest seniority would be assigned as the mallet’s hogger.
   The mallet needed to be overhauled and the pipe fitters and boilermakers thought oil was so combustible that just piping it into the firebox was sufficient.  Nobody took the pains to make all the air that was drawn into the firebox mix thoroughly with the flame before it entered the flues.
   As luck would have it, Stewart drew the mallet for its first run with a fireman who had never seen an oil-burning engine.  Stewart brought the problem to the attention of the Road Forman of Engines and the next day the burner was adjusted, the firebox was sealed except for the damper, and there was no carbon in the way.  With those adjustments, Number 7 was fit to haul a string of pulpwood cars up the ovalix at about 4mph all the way to Summit.
   Stewart became recognized as a first-class engineer and it seemed like no time before he was assigned to passenger varnish, including the Florida Special.  It was during that time that he met and married Peggy Sue Baker from Tahope.  Peggy Sue gave Stewart four head of young 'uns and they all grew up to be railroaders on the L&N.       

Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: April 25, 2021, 06:31:34 AM »
Thank you, Jeff.  Progress is slow, but Cindy says she will get me into the train shed Saturday if she has to hold onto me and walk me to the roundhouse.  I think she wants to get rid of me for a couple of hours.  Quite frankly, I don't blame her.

Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: April 24, 2021, 10:01:49 AM »
          This week we will continue with the adventures of Stewart Walter, who recently signed on as a fireman for the ACL. Hopefully, next Saturday your reporter will be able to give a full report and update on the progress made on the A&S during my back surgery ordeal. 

                                                                                                MOVE TO THE RIGHT SEAT PART II

   Stewart was lucky to pull the Tampa run his first day on the job.  He was laid off for lack of call his second day.  He was called on the third day for a different engine, but the engineer was Russell “Ballast Scorcher” Taylor.  Taylor was one of the younger engineers, having been with the ACL for only ten years.
   The run that morning was from Tahope to Palatka to drop off thirty empties and pick up as many loaded cars full of potatoes from Hastings.  A hand-fired USRA Mike was assigned to the run.
   Stewart grabbed his lunch pail and high-tailed it to the yard.  As he crossed the yard tracks, he tripped on a railhead and landed on top of his lunch pail.  The fall nearly broke several of Stewart’s ribs and bruised his right side.  He limped in pain to the engine and began his duties preparing the engine for the trip. 
   Whoever wrote that song about April showers bringing May flowers must have lived in Central Florida.  Just as Stewart finished his chores it started to rain.  The rain was accompanied by the wind, which blew water into the cab.  Taylor directed Stewart to close the cab curtains to keep the rain out.  That meant Stewart had to partially open the curtains every time he needed a scoop of coal for the firebox and the movement caused him to wince with pain. 
   Stewart dared not tell Taylor of his injury for fear he would be shuffled off the job on the way to Palatka and replaced by another fireman.  So, he starved the fire more than a new man usually does, causing the coal to burn more completely, which gave the Mike plenty of steam.  Better still, the fire was thin and not clinkered and Taylor was greatly pleased the that the grate did not need to be cleaned at noon.  It was Stewart who was the most pleased because cleaning clinkers from the fire would have well-nigh killed him that day.
   Fortunately for Stewart, he was not called to fire for the next five days.  And then the call was not to fire an engine but to be an engine watchman.  That meant Stewart had night duty performing tasks usually performed by hostlers. (See p. 18, The Engine Watchman).  When dawn approached, the engine crew arrived and Stewart returned home, his injuries much improved.


Kit Building / Re: FOS The Wacther Apartments
« on: April 19, 2021, 01:55:33 PM »
I completely missed this build.  All I can say is WOW! And how about a pic with the building lit up in the dark?   Amazing lightwork!

Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: April 17, 2021, 11:09:10 AM »
Saturday Report - April 17, 2021
Beautiful rainy day here in Central Florida.

I ran across a story about the career of a student fireman in the November, 1952, edition of Railroad Magazine.  It was a different time and we will never see the likes of the railroaders of those days again.  Anyway, I thought the story was interesting enough to convert it to an adventure involving the characters we know who live and work in the environs of Tahope County, Florida.  So here goes: 
                                                                                                    MOVE TO THE RIGHT SEAT

   Stewart Walter grew up in Tampa during the 30s.  He decided he wanted to be an engineer on a steam locomotive when he was twelve.  By the time he was old enough to hold down a summer job, he became a conductor for the Tampa Transient Company, collecting fares on Tampa’s famous streetcars. He viewed this job as being a step towards his goal.
   The Walters moved to Tahope County in 1947 where Stewart’s father, “Bud” Walter, became the manager of the Tahope Citrus Processing Plant. 
   Stewart decided to walk over to the local roundhouse and see if he could get on with a railroad job.  He happened to meet the roundhouse foreman, ‘Tator Cartwright, and the two of them became friends. 
   One day, while Stewart and ‘Tator were having lunch at Sweaty Betty’s, ‘Tator asked Stewart what he wanted to do.  Stewart said he would like to get on as a fireman on the Atlantic & Southern.
   ‘Tator explained that the A&S only provided local service, including yard service, a couple of local regular trains, and a few extras.  The main railroad activity around Tahope was from the major carriers, including the Atlantic Coast Line.
   “Local service ain’t all that bad,” explained ‘Tater.  “A man can’t eat or rest as well away from home and road crews get called at unreasonable hours.  And hauling sixty or seventy freight cars while riding in the cab of a steam locomotive going eight or ten miles per hour in the hot summertime ain’t exactly pleasant.” 
   “No matter,” said Stewart.  I want to eventually move to the right-hand seat an be an engineer.”  “Hold it up,” said ‘Tator, “You ain’t got a fireman’s job yet.” 
   “Tell you what,” said ‘Tator, I got a buddy who is the Super for this district on the ACL.  I’ll take you over to meet him.”
   The two of them walked over to the ACL district office and ‘Tator introduced Stewart to the ACL Superintendent, and in his easy southern drawl said, “This here lad wants a job as a fireman.  He’s a friend of mine and I’ll vouch for him.  I’d take it as a favor if you could see your way to put him on with the ACL.”  The Super asked Stewart his age, which was 21.  He asked for his experience, which was “none, but I’m willing to learn.”  ‘Tator took the ball again and said, “He ain’t got no letter, but he’ll be a good fireman and he don’t drink liquor hardly at all.  I’d hire him myself, but he wants to go on the road.” 
   That afternoon, Stewart filled out his application and the next morning he presented himself as a student fireman to the engineer on engine 835, the largest steam locomotive he had ever seen.  Fortunately, the engine was stoker-fired.  After two weeks, the engineer, “Pappy” Walker, qualified him and his name went up on the extra board.
   It had not been long since firemen had seniority in name only – firemen were assigned according to the wishes of the engineer.  But those days were over and firemen were assigned by seniority.
   Stewart’s first assignment was to a freight bound to Tampa with sixty empties to be switched for a similar number of loads of citrus and strawberries and returned to Orlando. 
   Stewart went on the job at 6:00 a.m. for the 6:30 a.m. departure.  In those days, it was the fireman’s responsibility to make sure the engine had all of the necessary supplies and the engine’s steam pressure was up to operating level.  The hostlers had done their job overnight and the engine was ready to go by the time the engineer arrived. 
   The engineer, Uncle Henry O’Leary, was in a foul mood.  He grumbled about the fire and told Stewart he expected there were clinkers in the firebox already.  He continued grousing until Stewart had enough of his lip.
   “Look,” said Stewart, “I got here at 6:00 a.m. to make sure this engine was ready to go to Tampa and it is up to steam and ready to go.  I don’t see your name on the tender of this engine.  Instead, I see the company name, Atlantic Coast Line.  So, why don’t you tend to your job and I’ll tend to mine.”  With that, Uncle Henry sulked on his seat without saying another word until the train approached Thonotosassa for a water stop.  After Stewart filled the tank, Uncle Henry called him over and said, “Hell, boy, I can’t stay mad at you for long.  You did a decent job getting us over the line and I’m glad you came on the job.  Just ferget what I said earlier this morning.”  So, the rift between the old-timer and the newcomer was mended and they worked as a team thereafter.


John - Peacocks are protected in Florida.  You are not supposed to kill them.  Our neighborhood got rid of the peacocks when one of the neighborhood kids decided to use them for archery practice.  Silent, but deadly. 

Don't get rid of your peacocks.  They are decorative and most folks don't know their downsides.  Just don't name them.  It's harder to change your mind and exterminate them if you've named them. 

Bob - I'll bet we could find a place for this row house on the Atlantic & Southern.  Bring it by and see if it fits. 

John - the farmer will be very unhappy when he learns that peacocks are terrible.  They are big birds and their "leavings" are stinky.  Also, they screech at night and sound like a woman being attacked.  Additionally, they like to roost on pool screens or roofs.  They will come up next to your car and, upon seeing their reflection in the paint, will peck spots of paint off the area.  We had them in our neighborhood and it was a real problem getting rid of them. 

Layout Tours / Re: Cypress Creek Railroad
« on: April 13, 2021, 03:51:13 PM »
Steve - You're really good at this.  You ought to think about going into model railroading.

Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: April 11, 2021, 03:16:45 PM »
Thank you Tom, Jeff, and Greg - I appreciate the kind words.  I plan on getting up that@#^* hill on May 1 and running some trains - even if I need help doing so.  I am told that I will be weening off of the walker next week and trying to get back to using my cane.


Layout Tours / Re: nycjeff layout
« on: April 10, 2021, 03:22:19 PM »
Good stuff, Jeff.  You can almost smell the sawdust in the lumber yard.

Layout Tours / Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« on: April 10, 2021, 03:16:46 PM »

Saturday Report – April 10, 2021

    Lunch at Del Dio’s was fun today.  May 1 is the target date for me to resume attendance at the Atlantic & Southern’s Board of Director’s meetings. I am getting stronger day by day and I hope to be rid of my walker and relying only on a cane by then.
    I think I should take a few lines here to express my appreciation to the A&S president, Thomas E. Langford, for allowing my participation with his railroad for lo these many years – at least fifteen years if I am remembering right.  Tom is a true friend and I am convinced he is one of the finest artists in the hobby. I thoroughly enjoy our Saturday sessions running trains and running interference with the untold number of gremlins that invade a model railroad.   

     This week’s story is adapted from a tale told in Railroad Magazine from the late 1930s.   

                                                                                                          THE LEAKY THROTTLE
    All railroads require maintenance and the Atlantic & Southern is no exception.  In 1938, the bridge over Cross Creek was supported by wooden pilings.  These pilings had to be replaced about every ten years or so and the time had come to replace them.
    The Atlantic & Southern’s Director of Maintenance, Will Fixer, organized a crew of workers and a work train powered by an ancient ten-wheeler was assembled to deliver the pile driver and the pilings to Cross Creek.  The ten-wheeler pushed the pile driver, which was followed by four flat cars loaded with pilings into position and the driver began to work.  One of the pilings was lowered into place through a gap between the ties.  It stuck up about 20’ above the grade.  The pile driver’s powerful hammer slammed down on the top of the piling, driving it a few inches at a time into the river bed.
Meanwhile, the ten-wheeler’s engineer, Uncle Henry O’Leary, decided to take a little relaxation time, so he left the engine in the hands of his fireman, Richard Tanner, and climbed down the embankment to the creek to do a little fishing.
    By and by, the pile driver crew was in need of another load of pilings, so Uncle Henry told Tanner to take the train back to Sanlando, a distance of only two miles, and bring another four flat cars loaded with pilings to the bridge.  Tanner, who was nearlyt qualified to cross over to the right seat, complied, and soon another load of pilings was pushed into position by the ten-wheeler. 
    With Uncle Henry still fishing and Will Fixer’s crew all working, Tanner decided he could afford a little sack time so he closed his eyes and drifted off into slumberland. 
Unfortunately, Tanner did not know his engine had a leaky throttle and although he left the reverse lever on dead center, he failed to kick the cylinder cocks open.  The engine gently began to move towards the bridge, pushing the four flat cars towards the pile driver.
Uncle Henry saw the accident in the making and hollered up to Tanner, who awoke just in time to witness the lead flat car hit the piling and snap it in two right about at grade level. 
    Tanner managed to stop the engine from traveling further, but the damage was done.  The piling had been driven down about ten feet into the river bottom and the only way to remove it was to dig it out with the assistance of the pile driver crane.  This required removing the steam hammer, a time-consuming operation. 
Meanwhile, the A&S mainline was blocked and the southbound Floridan was due in 30 minutes.
Will Fixer had one of his men, who was a lineman, rig into the telegraph line and send a message to the Deland dispatcher to hold the Floridian until the main was cleared. 
     The broken pile was removed in record time and the work train was reassembled and moved back to the yard at Sanlando to await a continuation of the efforts to replace the pilings on the Cross Creek bridge the next day.
     The superintendent, who was Tanner’s father-in-law, investigated the incident and decided the cause of the incident was limited to the leaky throttle and issued a warning to Will Fixer to have it repaired. 
    And, by the way, in 1938, 147 railroads operated on the Morse telegraph system.  The largest user of the telegraph was the Southern, followed by the Rock Island and the Soo.  The ACL used telegraph communication up into the 1950s.  Your reporter’s uncle was a telegraph operator at Lakeland, Florida.  He had a shack perched up on a pole at the Lakeland yard throat.  His job was eliminated in the 50s and he became a bank executive for the rest of his working career.


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