Once again it’s that magical time of the year when we are between the holidays of Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.  At this point, we have operated “Journey to the North Pole” trains for two extended weekends with great success.  The kids are really into it and, by the time we get back from the North Pole, most of the adults are in the holiday spirit too.  It’s a Wonderful Life!

Maine Track Maintenance Company has been on the property for the last two weeks installing ties.  We started at Mile Post 72, just beyond Bartlett Village and have been working our way east towards Redstone, which is in the vicinity of MP 56.  Once all the ties have been installed on the Mountain Division, we will head down the line to Conway.  We have never had a tie job running this late in the season before, and I am hoping that we can get it done before either the snow flies or the ground freezes.

As mentioned in a previous report, it has been very difficult to get 6” x 8” x 8’ 6” ties this year from any of the suppliers.  I guess we should order some for next season right now!  Our guys work with the MTM crew to get the job done.  We use our tie inserter to remove the old ties, and then MTM comes along and installs the new ones with their machine.  Their crew installs the tie plates, and then they spike the ties up.  After the tie gang goes by, we go out with our tamper and tamp all the new ties, which I must say goes pretty quickly because the MTM crew is careful to make sure they don’t go too deep into the ballast when they put the new ties in.  After that we go out with our grapple truck and pick up the old ties and scrap spikes and tie plates.

For some reason, the Maine Central used a tie plate that had about half the surface area of the plates that we use today, and they had very sharp points on the underside.  Our guys call these plates ‘tie cutters’ because that is what they do.  With the small area concentrating all of the weight on the knife like-edges underneath, they cut through any tie they are mounted on, reducing tie life significantly.  We always replace these plates with new (to us) relay plates that are 7” x 14”.  I recently took delivery of 3,000 of these plate at the State Yard over by Depot Street.  3,000 steel plates make an awesome noise when they cascade out of the back of a dump truck all at once!

We have had a number of young people work for us over the years who have acquired skills here as Conductors and Engineers and who have gained experience narrating or selling tickets, etc.  It always warms my heart when they return for a visit.  That has happened a lot lately.  It is really nice to see so many friends come back to share some thoughts about their time here at Conway Scenic and to bring us up to speed on what they are doing today.  We are proud of you all.  Happy Holidays!

Don’t forget about the upcoming ‘Covered Wagon in the Snow’ train, sponsored by the Mass Bay Railroad Enthusiasts and featuring the last operating Boston & Maine F7 cab unit #4266 (owned by the 470 Club of Portland, ME).  This special will be our last trip of the season.  It operates on Saturday, January 2, 2016, and we are going to Notchland.  Tickets are available from either Mass Bay or through our reservations department.

We are running “Santa’s Holiday Express” weekends through the 20th, plus Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before Christmas.  The Holiday trains are running twice daily December 26 through January 1st.

As always we thank you for your interest in and support of the Conway Scenic Railroad.

From our crew to your crew – Merry Christmas to all & keep it safe!

Paul Hallett