I took the liberty of skipping the August Wheel report, but I am glad to be back with you now.  We had a good “Day out with Thomas” event in July, and while the attendance numbers were not quite as good as the previous year, the kids had a wonderful time riding behind Thomas and Percy.  Since we had two trains in service, we were able to provide a departure every half hour throughout the six day event.  As in the past, we had members of the Cotton Valley Rail Trail club giving rides on their speeders to attendees, and we had GP9 #1757 available for a walk through tour.  Somebody spent a lot of time painting the interior of 1757’s cab and they printed up a nice history of the unit and had it on display in the cab.  Thanks for that!  The Mount Washington Valley Children’s Museum ran imagination station for us too. Rumor has it that Thomas and his friends will be back in 2017!

Speaking of former New Hampshire Northcoast locomotive GP9 number 1757, Jim Moore, with the aid of the other guys at the shop, was able to get it started the other day and had it idling in the yard for four or five hours.  This is the first time the unit has been started since it arrived on Conway Scenic Property.  Jim reported that the engine expelled some long streams of water from the cylinder test cocks while it was being rolled over before it started for the first time.  This was despite our efforts to keep rain water out of the stacks over the years with improvised stack covers.  The covers blow off in heavy winds and then water finds in way down the stacks and collects in the combustion space of the cylinders.  Getting the engine to start is a crucial first step in the return to service of this locomotive.  Much remains to be done in the way of generator work, air brake work and doing a general assessment of suitability for service.  There are many small items that need attention too.  Right now the shop crew is working on 1757 as time permits in between their regular assignments of keeping the in-service fleet in good operating condition.  The 470 Club of Portland Maine owns the 1757 and has generously made it available to Conway Scenic for temporary use as needed.

Ex B&M F7 #4266 (also owned by the 470 Club) recently received a half set of starting batteries, which now gives it a full set of new batteries (the first half set was installed last year).  #4266 getting a new set of batteries was a catalyst for starting 1757 because we used the take out batteries from 4266 to start the 1757.  One thing leads to another! 

#4266 finally got some use this year during the Railfans’ Day festivities which were held on Saturday, September 3rd.  We had a 10% increase in attendance at this year’s Railfans’ event over last year.  This year we were able to run the Notch Train all the way to the end of our operable track at Hazen, in Whitefield.  This was due do the courtesy of the New Hampshire Central Railroad who called a crew to move three covered hoppers (plastic pellets for Presby) and a leased SLR GP40-3 off of the line at Hazen so that we could get in and out of that location.  Getting that last 400′ of track is important to the mileage collectors!  On the east end of the line we made our annual run down past Pudding Pond to Redstone where we stopped across from Crest Chevrolet.  I know there has been some scuttlebutt about us running further east along the line to East Conway Road and the Saco River Bridge, but so far Conway Scenic Railroad has not made a request to extend its operating territory.  An investment in the installation of several hundred new cross ties would have to made before we could run a conventional train down there, and no substantial potential return on that investment is seen at this time.  We also repeated last year’s triple header lashup of 3 first generation EMDs on the 4:30 train to Conway (with a photo run-by at Hussey’s field) and the train was sold out!  F7 4266, GP7 573 & GP9 1751 were on the point.  Maybe next year we can put 1757 in the mix.  We ended the day with a free, two-hour night photo session in North Conway yard led by John Tulley and Doug Scott.  The photographers were able to get three different setups including 1751 on the freight train in front of the station along with the RDC on the turntable and ever popular F7 #4266 coupled to the famous Maine Central GP7 #573.  Thanks to Jackson Small, Wendell Kiesman and Derek Palmieri for appearing as crew members in the photos.

An unusual thing happened at the station back in July.  The 1874 built E. Howard Clock that faces Schouler Park stopped working.  The pendulum support spring broke in two which caused the pendulum to fall to the floor of the clock room.  It was a drop of only a foot or so but the pendulum is quite heavy and it bent a part of the clock works as it fell.  I have been winding this clock once a week since I arrived in April of 2005, and I know how to set it and how to adjust it to make it run a bit faster or a bit slower.

I have oiled the clock over the years, too, but realized almost immediately that we had to have professional help to resolve this problem.  So I did what one does now under these circumstances; I googled “E. Howard Clock Repairs” and it turned up a gentleman over in Kittery, Maine, who goes all over the US and Canada making repairs to E. Howard Clocks.  He had us back in business in about two weeks’ time, and for that we are most grateful.  I had both clock hands turned up to high noon while the clock was stopped.  Now we are back ‘on time.’

Right now we are in the short lull between the summer season and fall foliage time.  We have been working on brush cutting along the line.  Derek Palmieri has been out cutting clear views at some of the crossings and we have been out with the pole saw cutting those low hanging tree limbs that brush the upper dome if we are not careful to remove them.  Of course, track work and locomotive and car maintenance are ongoing.  I also want to point out all of the hard work that goes on over at the station, too, with the reservationists, ticket agents, gift shop personnel, buildings and grounds crew and the administrative staff.

Come on over for a fall foliage train ride up through Crawford Notch to Fabyan!

That’s all for now.  As always we thank you for your interest in and support of the Conway Scenic Railroad.

Keep it Safe.

Paul Hallett