Riding a sidewinder

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Greg_Lewis
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Location: Fresno, CA

Riding a sidewinder

Post by Greg_Lewis » Fri Jan 04, 2019 11:57 pm

I meant to post this months ago but somehow it just didn’t get done. Last August, Honey and I escaped the searing heat of California’s Central Valley to Felton, CA., the home of the Roaring Camp and Big Trees Narrow Gauge Railroad. The Roaring Camp railroad is what I call “user friendly” — there are no fences or barricades here to keep you from fully enjoying the experience. The day of our visit their signature Shay, the Dixiana, was in operation, and needing some steam inhalation therapy, I strode over to the engine to inspect its wonders. I asked if I could climb into the cab and was granted access. After chatting with the engineer, he apparently deduced that I wasn’t just another tourist but knew what I was looking at, and he invited me to take the ride in the cab.

The Dixiana is a 1912-vintage Class B, 42-ton, two-truck, three cylinder Shay. Now I’ve had cab rides in rod locomotives and fired one. And those of you who have done this know that the noise inside the cab when underway is orders of magnitude louder than what you hear trackside. Depending on who you ask, the grade on this run up Bear Mountain is 8 to 10 percent. And running up that grade in a Shay, with the Johnson bar in the corner and three cars full of tourists behind, the noise is something I’ll not forget.

BAM!TYBAM!TYBAM!TYBAM!TYBAM!TYBAM!TYBAM!TYBAM!TYBAM!TYBAM!TYBAM!TYBAM!TYBAM!TYBAM!TY!!

Doing some math, with a driver diameter of 29 inches, a gear ratio of about 2:1, and three cylinders providing six exhaust blasts per revolution of the crankshaft, that creature at about five miles per hour was putting out about 12 exhaust blasts per second. It sounds like an abused Northern with loose rods running at 120 mph while pushing a 12-foot diameter ball mill filled with rocks and scrap steel down the track. At any moment I was expecting to see large pieces of metal thrown from the right side of the engine all over the mountainside.

Anyway, there are always plenty of exterior shots of engines, but cab shots are not common. I shot a bunch of pix of the backhead and I thought I’d put them up as reference for those of you who are building Shays. I just shot randomly and haven’t edited duplicates since a slight change in camera angle might give someone some info they need. Feel free to download anything useful to you. If you’d like a higher resolution image, just send me a p.m. This is just a quick-and-dirty web page. Click on any shot for a larger view, there are navigation links at the top of the pages. Here’s a link:
http://zimmer.csufresno.edu/~gregl/shay/index.html

Enjoy.
Greg Lewis, Prop.
Eyeball Engineering — Home of non-interchangeable parts.
Our motto: "That looks about right."
Celebrating 30 years of turning perfectly good metal into bits of useless scrap.

sabin
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Re: Riding a sidewinder

Post by sabin » Sat Jan 05, 2019 9:34 am

Thanks Greg. Many years ago my kids gave me an "Engineer For The Day" ticket for my birthday. I picked a summer day when they run four trains to maximize my experience. WOW what a day. I drew the Heisler, but the Shay was running also. I got to do all the morning prep work, oiling and grease and such. I felt the same way you did going up the hill, I thought the beast was going to shake itself apart. Kudos to the guys that keep them running.I even got to pull the throttle off the switchback. Didn't do to well taking up the slack, but what a thrill.
Jim

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ccvstmr
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Re: Riding a sidewinder

Post by ccvstmr » Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:24 am

Greg...always enjoy reading your "trip epistle's"! You have a way of describing things that makes one feel they're right there with you! Enjoyed looking at your pix too. Including the not-so-superscale injector, roof hatch, hydrostatic lubricator (have a friend trying to figure that stuff out), and more. Liked your description of the shay as a "sidewinder". When explaining various types of logging locos to friends...would tell people...a shay is a side mounted straight 2 or 3 cylinder loco, a heisler is a V-2 cylinder and the Climax was a slant 2 cylinder arrangement.

Last July, made a trip out East stopping at Horseshoe Curve, Altoona and then dropped down to Cass Scenic Ry. Arrived at Cass to see the last train of the day pull into the station. Same thing happened to me during my last visit...40 years ago! Sadly, the weren't running the "short trips" yet and didn't have time to take the long trip. However, over the next hill, was the Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Ry...another part of the Cass Scenic Ry operation. They had a 20 mile round trip that fit the schedule.

The Climax that normally runs that trip was down for service. In fact, it was parked out back near the service facilities at Cass. Instead, the D&GV used the Cass #6...a '29 vintage Heisler. Managed to get a cab ride going down grade. Was told it was much louder in the cab coming back up to Durbin. But still...that loco went clankety-clank the entire trip. Stopped at a creek on the way back to Durbin to fill the water tank. Makes you wonder what kind of wildlife might be swimming around inside the tank. Still...a great experience. Reminded me of school days in East central Ill when I volunteered at the Monticello Ry Museum. Did track work and would on occasion, sneak a cab ride (beat the heck out of doing homework). Hot. Noisy. Greasy. Smelly. ...and I enjoyed every part of that. Even swinging a spike mall when installing track.

Here's a few pix from my adventure. Carl B.
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Life is like a sewer...what you get out of it depends on what you put into it!
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Greg_Lewis
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Re: Riding a sidewinder

Post by Greg_Lewis » Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:41 am

Thanks for sharing, Carl. Nothing can compare to a steam locomotive. I think many of us were born about 50 years too late.
Greg Lewis, Prop.
Eyeball Engineering — Home of non-interchangeable parts.
Our motto: "That looks about right."
Celebrating 30 years of turning perfectly good metal into bits of useless scrap.

Asteamhead
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Re: Riding a sidewinder

Post by Asteamhead » Sat Jan 05, 2019 12:16 pm

Hello Greg,
Thank you for sharing your detailed photos from the cab!
Some 20 years ago I enjoyed a similar trip withe Roring Camp & Big Trees RR, can understand your feelings so well!
That rapid tripple stack sound is quite similar to those of 3-cylinder paasenger engines at speed (if you close your eyes for a while).
Please listen & enjoy ('I think I can I can'):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VPctU6wgqg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrwmGp6W0lo

Asteamhead

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Greg_Lewis
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Re: Riding a sidewinder

Post by Greg_Lewis » Sat Jan 05, 2019 3:43 pm

Thanks for the links, Asteamhead. Fun to hear the drivers slip in the first link. I didn't get any video of my ride. I'm a cellphone luddite and returned the annoying thing to my wife after I shot the cab pix.
Greg Lewis, Prop.
Eyeball Engineering — Home of non-interchangeable parts.
Our motto: "That looks about right."
Celebrating 30 years of turning perfectly good metal into bits of useless scrap.

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Bill Shields
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Re: Riding a sidewinder

Post by Bill Shields » Sat Jan 05, 2019 4:18 pm

When at the Durban and Greenbriar, you can 'rent a caboose' for an evening or the weekend.

they will push you all the way out to the end of the line and drop you off, pick you up whenever....

Our train out / back was the loco, passenger / camera car and 3 cabooses for the evening.

Pictures from the cupola of a caboose are quite unique
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This is my wife doing her imitation of the girl on the front of the Titanic (from the movie)...gives you an idea of when this was taken.
CherylTitanic-crop.jpg
This from the station at Cass:
cass sign.jpg
Too many things going on to bother listing them.

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Fender
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Re: Riding a sidewinder

Post by Fender » Sat Jan 05, 2019 6:57 pm

Roaring Camp is a great place for steam loco immersion. Back about 30 years ago, I engaged in a footrace with this same engine going upgrade. It wasn’t too difficult. Don’t think I’d try that now. ☹️
Dan Watson

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Bill Shields
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Re: Riding a sidewinder

Post by Bill Shields » Sat Jan 05, 2019 9:44 pm

what....the locos have improved technology and increased speed?????
Too many things going on to bother listing them.

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Fender
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Re: Riding a sidewinder

Post by Fender » Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:25 pm

No, Bill, my aerobic capacity has diminished!
Dan Watson

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