Monday, December 21, 2009

New Photos Uploaded to Flickr

New photos have been uploaded to our Flickr account, with many winter scenes and exciting photos from our popular Northern Lights Express!

Visit our Flickr site to see all of our photos. Keep checking back as we add more photos to share with you.
Season's Greetings and Best Wishes for a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December Order Board

Train and Station Crews Still URGENTLY Needed

We’re down to the final few weeks of the 2009 operating season and train and station crews are needed to fill in the final gaps in the crew dispatcher’s assignment book. Our 2009 season wraps up with our previously scheduled Santa Express day service (“1st Trick” as railroad shifts are called) which covers the 12 noon and 2:00pm Saturdays and Sundays, and 2nd trick covers our new Northern Lights night service which departs Thomaston at 4:30pm and 7:00pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. For report times consult the crew dispatcher.

As of Thursday 3 December the following jobs are open:

Engineer: 26, 27 (2nd )

Car Hosts: 13, 26, 27 (both)

Parking: 13 (2nd), 20, 26, 27 (both)

Model RR Operator: 12 (both); 18 (2nd), 20, 27 (both)

Also additional personnel are needed to assist the parking lot director, staff the station and the parking lot.

Please call Barb Walcott at 203.525.5290 or 860.283.5790 for operating crew positions, and Jan Harris for other positions at 860.482.3240 so that they won’t have to spend all their time tracking down the necessary staff. Day operations station staff generally report by 9:30pm; train & engine crews as advised by crew dispatcher.


The 2009 Fall Work Weekend was held on November 7-8. We ended up installing 100 ties on the main line, from just north of the Whyco Crossing toward Reynolds Bridge, and tamping the area vastly improving the ride. For those who have not yet paid their Spike-a-thon pledges, 252 spikes were driven – more would have been done if darkness hadn’t fallen making the task unsafe. The ties were extremely hard, setting up a challenge even for Louis “the Hammer” Edmonds, who reported this batch was much tougher to pound into than the previous batch. At least we have the satisfaction of knowing these ties will last for many, many years.


Following an intense effort to design, build, and install, the RMNE shop forces under the direction of Sam Walker put together 12 plywood display panels for use on the sides of coaches. The panel installation included the design and manufacture of an under-car mounting system that was both secure and non-damaging to the cars’ sides. Once the panels were built and painted, commercially available light displays were mounted on all twelve. Also, additional “non-invasive” exterior decorations in the form of tubular lighting was mounted along the car sides, attached by aircraft control cable anchored to grabirons. The result is a very visible image, easily seen from a great distance. See photos here.

From on board, the exterior lighting shines brightly away from the trainside, lighting up the area beside the train more than would be expected. And although most of us would not want a lot of snow to deal with, this exterior lighting would be even more impressive with a full snow cover. Sam and Celeste added a few new displays at the shop yard and station, and ideas are being considered for the expansion of lighting displays for next year. As of December 7, we’ve carried 336 on the day trains and 454 on the Northern Lights service, and we have now advance-sold over 2000 tickets! Tell your friends to take a ride this season!

Thomaston Station Halloween Party

The Fund-Raiser Halloween Party at the Thomaston Station on the 31st of October was a nice success, with over $500.00 being collected from the station contribution box following the event. A tip of the hat to Celeste for bringing in a bunch of her friends to supplement some of the RMNE regulars.

Train Shows Past and Future

Kevin Meehan, Lisa Drazen, and Bill & Sue Sample worked the 2009 Fall Cheshire High School train show. We heavily promoted our expanded Christmas operations. The next show will be the Amherst Railway Society’s Railroad Hobby Show at West Springfield, MA on Jan. 30-31, with set-up on the 29th. Kevin sends his regrets that he will not be able to attend, so we’ll be needing some extra help to cover the work he’s done in the past. For starters, we’ll be needing a van and perhaps a wagon or two to transport our displays.

2010 Brochure

The SEComm has been hard at work planning the next brochure, with Tony Pratt completing the layout.

Car Department

On the east side of coach 5805 Sam Walker has posted job sheets describing car department tasks for the next few months for a number of different coaches. Contact Sam Walker to help or for other Car Dept. info. Best to talk with him at the shop – he’s there on most Saturdays – easier to describe tasks in person and on site!

NAUG 4980, 4992, 5046 – the in-service coaches, need attention to keep them tidy During the Christmas operations. Please remember that revenue generated by a successful December will support other projects through the winter.

Coach 5805 has been quiet as once again Sam was appropriated to manage the train lighting and other holiday related work around the railroad. Work will resume in January once the decorations are put away until next November.

NH 603, ex Parlor “Forest Hills” had its roof work completed in November except for vent and drip rail installation. Dan DiTullio and Jon Chase have completed the restoration of the vent assemblies and they will be installed as weather permits. That roof sure looks nice!

Locomotive Department

NH 529 has been the regular locomotive on the Christmas services. Thanks to the talents of the RMNE shop forces this 59 year old locomotive continues to perform well.

NH (CDOT) 2019 has been drained and stored serviceable at the TSY. Despite a few problems in early October, the locomotive finished its service in a reliable manner.

NAUG 1732 – the new 567 engine continues to see a thorough cleaning by Scott Lent. Gene Pfeiffer is bringing various internal components to the off-site auto repair shop where he is rebuilding the IHC loader engine. It is hoped that we will be able to salvage the power assembly parts that had been damaged by moisture and freezing. Gene’s volunteer efforts have the potential of saving thousands of dollars by eliminating the need to purchase new replacement parts.

NAUG 2203 continues to receive attention inside the shop under the direction of Scott Paribello. Batteries have been installed and a newly discovered water leak was repaired. A lube oil change is scheduled and it is hoped that it will return to service by late December.
Bridges and Buildings Department

Jack Tarter continues the complicated process of assembling our electrical system, readying various components for installation to power the heating and permanent lighting in the shop.

Thanks to all those who helped with this issue including Bob Harrington, Kevin Meehan, Win Bissell, and Sue Sample —Bill Sample, Editor