Santa Express at Reynolds Bridge - Photo by Scott Hartley
DECEMBER OPERATIONS UPDATE
Special thanks go to RMNE President Celeste Echlin, who compiled a detailed report on the preparation and beginning of our 2011 Holiday Operations. Celeste reported that we carried 180 ticketed passengers on our first operation – two Northern Lights Express premium runs on the Thomaston’s “Light Up the Town” night. Advance sales for future operations continue at a good clip, and with good weather we should easily beat last year’s ridership and revenue.
Our good friends up at the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum have sold out their Polar Express trains for the season so they have kindly featured a link to our holiday operations on their web site’s home page and undoubtedly this will help build our sales. We also received mention in the AAA Southern New England (which covers western Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island) club on line Horizons magazine, which is accessible by 1.76 million households, all for free! We have also been working with radio stations WATR 1320 AM in Waterbury and WZBG FM 97.3 of Litchfield with advertising and promotion.
Many volunteers have helped with the decoration of the station, shop yard and train and this has once again given our railroad a sparkling appearance. New on the train this year is Al Pomeroy’s freshly overhauled Central Vermont 4014 caboose, with seating available only by advance arrangement with Al. Previously the CV 4014 had appeared with CPR 1246 as part of the "Santa’s Workshop" displays at the Thomaston Shop Yard, but this role has now been assumed by “NH C507.” Another great addition to Santa’s Workshop this year, and a big surprise to many of us last Saturday, is the use of a smoke machine for the CPR 1246 brought to us by Stewart Crouse. That and bright running lights circling the wheels had passengers talking about the big steam engine running on the Naugy!
We continue to need help for the operation on the train, at Thomaston and at the Volunteer Shop. We’re now running Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the next 2 weeks with a final night on Friday 23rd Dec. (Thursday 22nd Dec at 5pm & 7pm has been set aside as a snow date if needed.) Remember, it’s Fridays at 5:00 and 7:00 pm, Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00, 5:00 and 7:00pm. Tell your friends and neighbors to help spread the word. For ticket purchases, please visit www.rmne.org or call (860) 283-7245.
VOLUNTEER SHOP PROJECTS
NAUG 1732 - Our former Boston & Maine GP9 is slated to become an active project once again in 2012. Funding provided by the H. Albert Webb Memorial Railroad Preservation Award grant (via the Mass Bay RRE) and National Railway Historical Society grant will help finance additional parts purchases to help complete the engine rebuilding. With the locomotive close to the shop, preparation for the removal of the carbody hoods and internal items will begin.
NAUG 2203 – Our U23B has returned service and has been assigned to the north end of the holiday service train.
NAUG 2019 (ex-CDOT) remains in service and is the “southbound power” on the holiday trains.
Other Locomotives – Jason Hartmann has continued the inspection program dealing with our stored locomotives, although time devoted to this has been limited by the demands of holiday preparation. Jason and Matt Lawson continue to loosen up the diesel engine in FL9 Metro-North 2033 (ex-NH 2059), which had two cylinders fouled by moisture intake due to improper storage before we acquired the unit. The next locomotive scheduled for inspection is NH (CDoT/RMNE) 2002.
This year’s Holiday Service train consists of coaches 5046, 4980, and 4990 plus caboose CV 4014, courtesy of owner Al Pomeroy.
Coach 4990 had a hot-air furnace installed by Howard Pincus to prepare it for winter season service. Coach 4992 awaits the installation of the roof surface. All lower deck tack boards have been installed. Coach 5046 has had a generator similar to the one in 4992 installed in an underbody battery box. This was scheduled for next year but was advanced due to 4992 remaining in the shop.
Motor Vehicle Department
Bob Harrington reports that Gene Pfeiffer has been doing various MVD projects at the TSY, while Bob has been spending most of his time on duty at Saybrook, operating and maintaining the IHC powered front end loader.
SAYBROOK YARD REPORT
The trucks belonging to boxcars Boston & Albany 39569 and Boston & Maine 70341, plus New Haven mail/express 3008 are now awaiting the arrival of their carbodies from Saybrook. B&A 39569 has been unloaded at the Chase Yard in Waterville, and when the other two arrive a crane will be called in to move the bodies onto their trucks. Bob Eberheim is master-minding the movements and he has kept costs lower than originally anticipated.
At the entrance to the Saybrook Yard, we have added a couple of loads of gravel to level off the surface to prevent loaded trailers from bellying out on the formerly uneven driveway. Walt Hermann and Bob Eberheim have done quite a bit of brush and tree cutting to prepare for upcoming gate and fence realignments, which will be needed when the passenger cars begin to depart. Yard cleanup continues; with all old ties having their track hardware removed to the metal scrap dumpster, and the old ties not needed for blocking also being disposed of. Any remaining loose tie plates were loaded into pallets for shipment. Jon Chase, Dan DiTullio, Bob Harrington, Walt Hermann and Bill Sample worked on the Nov. 3rd crew. We were visited by former members Bill Jeske and Howard Bidwell during the late morning.
Please note that our storage yard at Saybrook is not open to the public.
As the station is quite busy with holiday visitors, work has been somewhat limited. The third and fourth upper window sashes have been received, painted, and installed with lower sashes still under reconstruction. Some additional work was done in the baggage room area. Kevin Meehan, John King, Bob Martinchek and possibly others have been involved. A tip of the hat goes to John King for discovering some problems with one of the light timers. Sam Walker will be make modifications with parts in stock at the shop. The transom section above the sliding door has been painted for now and will receive more attention after the Christmas season. The TV has been set up with a loaned DVD player behind the information booth.
In the gift shop we will be selling a number of used railroad books donated by the late Harry Vallas.
MAINTENANCE OF WAY MATTERS
A major push to reopen our seldom-used main line north of the Thomaston Dam occurred in late November to allow a work train run to the Plains siding south of Albert St. in Torrington. Another pair of former Long Island Rail Road coaches was ready to depart their repair site for Saratoga Springs, New York, and they and the remaining two pairs of coaches had to be shuffled at Torrington, with the completed cars going to an arranged interchange at Highland Jct. in Waterbury. Ordinarily this would have been any easy move, but the State of Connecticut inspectors had discovered a damaged culvert between East Litchfield and Torrington and banned any locomotive movements over the site. But wait, there’s more… Extensive tree fall damage along our entire line had occurred, especially north of the Dam. While our first efforts were made to reopen the line that we normally use, armed with chain saws, bow saws and the tie handler we began to work our way north. It took hundreds of volunteer hours to make it but we finally had the line opened by Wednesday the 23rd. While we did most of the work, Iowa Pacific, the owners of the Saratoga & North Creek Railway – the destination of the coaches – was quite anxious to get the cars from the Naugy to their new home in NY. Not only did they assist with the culvert project but they sent a hi-rail grapple truck and crew over to help wrap up the project. The work train Extra 2203 ran Friday to Torrington and Highland Junction as arranged and the coaches were on their way to Saratoga Springs by that afternoon.
Chairman Howard Pincus, who spent many an hour on the phone orchestrating the above adventures, thanked all who were involved with this project. Some of those that your editor worked with included Randy Patterson, Stuart Crouse, Adam Miller, Louis Edmonds and Sam Walker. As was said in the previous edition, it is safe to say that in our 15 years at the Naugy, we have never seen anything approaching this level of tree damage for such a long stretch of the line.
Howard reported that this major effort - which landed right in the middle of holiday preparations, the Saybrook Yard evacuation, and the roof project on coach 4992 – impressed many outside of our all-volunteer organization as well as our own members.
SPECIAL EVENTS AND OTHER NEWS
- The Cheshire (CT) High School Ram Band Train Show was staffed by Kevin Meehan, Lisa Drazen, Tony Pratt and Sue Sample.
- Our next show will be the Amherst Railway Society’s 2012 Railroad Hobby Show at West Springfield. The dates: set up on Friday 27th January, with the show on 28th and 29th. Details will be in the January Order Board.
Volunteer Work Hour Records
As part of the renewed emphasis on obtaining grant funding, we must resume the recording of our volunteer time. Volunteer Worksheets are being re-designed and will be available by the north door of the shop by the dispatcher’s area or at the Thomaston Station. Sherry Edmonds will be recording the hours as submitted from these forms, which can be left at the station or shop. Records can be e-mailed up to Louis Edmonds at LRWEdmonds@gmail.com or mailed to Sherry at P. O. Box 443, Georges Mills, NH 03751-0443
Weeknight Work Sessions are being held on virtually all Wednesdays at the TSY, running from about 4:00pm until about 8:00pm. Sam Walker is heading this – please call him if you wish to confirm the session on cell 860-485-2569.
That’s all the news that fits for now. Thanks to Celeste Echlin, Bob Harrington, Jason Hartmann, Kevin Meehan, Sam Walker, Louis Edmonds, and Sue Sample for assistance.
—Bill Sample, Editor