Ridership was off to a bit of a slow start in September this year, but with the turning of the leaves into vibrant reds, yellows and oranges, business has really picked up. We have recently been running 8 cars on the Notch Train and 6 cars on the Valley Train. I always like this time of year with hundreds of people coming and going and lots of motor coaches parked where ever they can find a place all around the Station; it’s exciting!
We have experienced some issues with steam locomotive #7470 this season, but I am happy to report that she is now running well. We had a crown brass that was running uncomfortably warm, to the point where we had to take the locomotive out of service for a few days while we worked to correct the problem. A crown brass is a bearing that rides on top of the driving wheel axle. The brass is located in a journal box that sits between the pedestals in the main frame of the locomotive. Under the bearing is the axle journal which is lubricated by grease from a grease cellar which is located on the bottom side of the axle journal. On the top of the bearing box there is a seat for the massive leaf spring which supports a portion of the weight of the locomotive. There is also provision for grease to be applied through the top side of the bearing. The box with bearing and axle moves up and down in the frames with the undulations of the track.
Ultimately, the issue was found to be a stuck driving box on the side opposite to the warm bearing that was preventing the free up and down movement of the journal box in the frames. The fix was to ‘unstick’ the box by backing off the wedge which then allowed the box to return to its normal position. In this case, because of the position of the stuck box, we had a combination of additional weight being transferred to the bearing that was running warm, plus an incorrect position of the journal (axle) adding additional resistance. Resistance equals heat. So we backed off the wedges which allowed the spring rigging to return to its normal position which corrected the excessive weight on the bearing and allowed the axle to return to its proper position. All in all a fairly typical steam locomotive issue! My thanks to Brian Fanslau for his valuable assistance in getting #7470 back on the road.
We have had some issues in the diesel department, too. Old reliable GP35 #216 experienced a seized bearing in its auxiliary generator. The auxiliary generator provides power for battery charging and lighting on the locomotive. Since this failure occurred, we have been running the Notch Train with a single unit, GP38 #252, and it has been doing an admirable job. We do like to run 7 & 8-car Notch Trains with two dynamic brake equipped units whenever possible though, not because they need the horsepower, but because it doubles the dynamic braking effort on the descent to Fabyans and on the return to Bartlett. Also, of course, if a mechanical issue does develop with a unit, then you have the other one to get you home. #216 will be back on line shortly.
Over at the Station the ‘Pumpkin People’ have arrived! This year a crew of three are reenacting the driving of the Golden Spike, only this time the action takes place right in the south corral of the Station at North Conway instead of at Promontory Point in Utah. Return of the Pumpkin People, now in its 26th year, is an annual event that’s sponsored by the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce. A self-guided tour where people use a map to find what local businesses are official host properties, it attracts thousands of people and their cameras every year, and we enjoy being part of the fun.
We have some special trains coming up as the warm weather season comes to a close. The 470 Club will be running its annual excursion to Fabyans on October 19th followed by the Mt. Washington Valley Kiwanis Club’s “Autumn Express” fundraising excursion to Crawford Depot on the 20th. The RDC will run for a few week days at the end of the month and then we will host two Murder Mystery Dinner Trains. Don’t forget our runs to the Pumpkin Patch, too!
Thank you for your interest in and support of the Conway Scenic Railroad.
Keep it Safe.