Santa Train Again at SPUD

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Mark D
Conductor
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Location: Sort of between Litchfield and Forest City, MN.

Santa Train Again at SPUD

Postby Mark D » Tue Nov 13, 2018 10:18 am

Looks like I'll be on the engine over several nights this year. Two nights at the shop before it goes there and four nights at SPUD.
Midnight to 7:30 each trick.

Mark D.
Mark D. - The bottom of the information curve

Charles T. McCullough
Conductor
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Location: Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Re: Santa Train Again at SPUD

Postby Charles T. McCullough » Tue Nov 13, 2018 10:31 am

What dates?
Semper Vaporo,
Charles T. McCullough


Pkgs.

Mark D
Conductor
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Location: Sort of between Litchfield and Forest City, MN.

Re: Santa Train Again at SPUD

Postby Mark D » Wed Nov 14, 2018 11:52 am

How in the heck did I manage to post this topic twice?

Don't know dates yet. Two at shop, four at SPUD.

I'm thinking this might be my last rodeo. Haven't truly decided yet, but I'm leaning toward leaving the choo choo behind.

Mark D.
Mark D. - The bottom of the information curve

John Bohon
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Location: North Carolina

Re: Santa Train Again at SPUD

Postby John Bohon » Wed Nov 14, 2018 4:32 pm

Good times. Consider doing what I did. I got out of operation and now only work on the engines in the shop. I recently told my most recent project that the day they get the engine running will be the last day they see me. I am not sure they completely understood.

John Bohon

Mark D
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Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 5:01 pm
Location: Sort of between Litchfield and Forest City, MN.

Re: Santa Train Again at SPUD

Postby Mark D » Thu Nov 15, 2018 11:29 am

Well, John, when the don't see you anymore they'll probably get it.
In my case it's mostly that I'm tired of driving the 180 mile round trip from home to the choo choo. And add to that another 25 or so miles when I drive to SPUD - although last year they provided a room at the Hyatt which is just across the street from SPUD.
My first two nights this year will be midnight to 7:00 (or whenever my relief shows up - maybe 8:00 - and then I drive home to get some sleep, do a few things around the house and then go back to the choo choo for another trick.
The next night will be at SPUD and so will all the others after that. But there it's not so bad because I no longer have to drive home bleary eyed in the morning.
But I'm also thinking that he's got enough 'children' (I call them for a reason) that can polish the wheels and bell. Actually, that's stuff I've only done once or twice in my time since 1997.
I mostly get into the more technical things. Fixing what someone broke.
Mark D.
Mark D. - The bottom of the information curve

Mark D
Conductor
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Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 5:01 pm
Location: Sort of between Litchfield and Forest City, MN.

Re: Santa Train Again at SPUD

Postby Mark D » Sat Nov 17, 2018 10:13 am

The dates and times at SPUD continue to change. They found a way that cuts a hotel room for me down to only one night, but I get to hostle for four nights with only one hotel room they need to pay for.
I'm still going to do it, but I'm also not going to drive 90 or more miles home to sleep for a few hours and then drive back the same distance. I'm sick and tired of that. It costs me time and money and I get nothing out of it other than the fun of shoveling coal all night, first from the tender into the cab vestibule where I can get at it again to shovel it into the firebox. Also freeze my fingers keeping appliances from freezing by starting them up to warm them up. Lots of valves to open and close.
So, what I'm going to do is just drive there once in my Suburban and sleep in the back during the day. There are four spots in a row where I can just sleep in the car. One spot is in the second week, so I'll have to drive back for that one.
After that, I've decided that I'm done. I'm going to empty my locker and get my tools that I keep there and bring them back home.
And that's it. You all are the first to know other than my wife. Others don't need to know.
Mark D.
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Fitz
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Re: Santa Train Again at SPUD

Postby Fitz » Sat Nov 17, 2018 5:25 pm

Sorry to hear that, Mark, but I understand when the time comes, you just gotta do it. I certainly enjoyed your hosting me the times I made it to 261 operations and I know they will miss you and your machining and other skills. Glad we had a chance to meet face to face a few times.
Image

Mark D
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Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 5:01 pm
Location: Sort of between Litchfield and Forest City, MN.

Re: Santa Train Again at SPUD

Postby Mark D » Sun Nov 18, 2018 12:51 pm

I can guarantee they won't miss me a bit. A bunch of newbies have joined the ranks. They don't know anything, but those that stick around will learn. One of them is really good and I was looking forward to being the one to teach him how to keep the fire up all night and the differences when operating. But there are a number of very talented firemen who can show him the ropes.
Mark D.
Mark D. - The bottom of the information curve

John Bohon
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Re: Santa Train Again at SPUD

Postby John Bohon » Sun Nov 18, 2018 2:35 pm

I feel your pain Mark. My current steam volunteer project is 140 miles one way from the house. It takes close to 3 hours to drive one way. It is not worth driving 3 hours each way for a day of work so we always stay in a hotel. That costs around $130.00 per night in that area. Add all the other expenses for travel and you get the picture. I have been going once a month lately and stay one night. In my younger days when I had a cap on my pickups I slept many nights in the truck. That is not an option now even if I were in a neighborhood where it was safe. A couple of things are happening in the next month or two that will require me to stay for up to a week at a time. It gets expensive and the driving in heavy city traffic is not fun or very safe. On the positive side it is a good group or people who appreciate the effort the volunteers put our. Hopefully in the near future things will change a little and a deal can be struck with a hotel for cheaper rates for the volunteers but the drive will still be there.

Regardless of what your think you will be missed and you will miss the 261 and the good people in the project. That is just the way it goes.

John Bohon

Mark D
Conductor
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Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 5:01 pm
Location: Sort of between Litchfield and Forest City, MN.

Re: Santa Train Again at SPUD

Postby Mark D » Mon Nov 19, 2018 10:29 am

Is the group you're working with paying you anything? Or is it all on your dime? In my case, other than one measly hotel room for four nights - five tricks in the cab- and all I get is absolutely nothing of any sort.
I can absolutely guarantee I won't be missed. The reason is because there are a lot more people there who can do the very same tasks as I've been doing and there are new people coming in who are gung ho, even if they don't know the ropes yet. I've trained a few newer people on the better ways of keeping the fire hot, running or standing, as there are vast differences. They're doing well. They will in turn train other newbies if the operation lasts that long. With the issue with Amtrak insurance and Delta Dick I don't know if or when the engine will be able to operate anywhere other than the rock and roll TC&W. For operations on that line there's no need for the size of crew we have there.
But the main thing is that our fearless leader is just like the average class 1 railroad. Work for me... Leaving here? Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
Mark D. - The bottom of the information curve

John Bohon
Conductor
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Location: North Carolina

Re: Santa Train Again at SPUD

Postby John Bohon » Tue Nov 20, 2018 4:18 pm

The group is all volunteer and my trips are at my expense. It is a good group but sometimes I think they would be better off if I just donated the money I spend on travel, lodging, and food instead of making the trips.

John Bohon

Mark D
Conductor
Posts: 3162
Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 5:01 pm
Location: Sort of between Litchfield and Forest City, MN.

Re: Santa Train Again at SPUD

Postby Mark D » Wed Nov 21, 2018 12:21 pm

That all depends... You are probably bring in some skills they don't have, or if they do have those skills you also provide more man power - the ability to actually perform work rather than shovel money that might not be used all that wisely.
Just a thought from someone who has no money to donate so prefers to provide labor and at times brains... but not often in that category.
Mark D.
Mark D. - The bottom of the information curve

John Bohon
Conductor
Posts: 373
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2005 9:30 pm
Location: North Carolina

Re: Santa Train Again at SPUD

Postby John Bohon » Wed Nov 21, 2018 6:27 pm

I have donated money to the group in the past. One thing I am not worried about donating to this group is spending money unwisely. They are well organized and well run.

John Bohon

Mark D
Conductor
Posts: 3162
Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 5:01 pm
Location: Sort of between Litchfield and Forest City, MN.

Re: Santa Train Again at SPUD

Postby Mark D » Wed Nov 28, 2018 3:23 pm

Things have changed again. Nice of them to let me know...
I was supposed to go to the 261 hanger on a overnight. I received an email this morning to confirm that.
Just now I received an email to go straight to SPUD because the train is already there. Now that isn't a big deal to me, but I had planned to sleep in the tool car which is heated and inside the shop. Oh well, just one more day sleeping in the back of my Suburban. I might bring a space heater - There's a lot of electrical power at SPUD.
Mark D.
Mark D. - The bottom of the information curve

Robert T
Conductor
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Re: Santa Train Again at SPUD

Postby Robert T » Sat Dec 01, 2018 10:01 pm

Here is some screenshot pictures of the 261 from the Railfan Cam at SPUD.

This link should take you to the live camera if you want to see the 261 for yourself. It will appear about 10 minutes after departure for almost 30 minutes while the train is stopped at the North Pole. You might also be able to see the CP Christmas Train at SPUD on Mon. Dec 10. It arrives at at 6:45 pm and leaves at 7:30 pm.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/c2IcrPIs_L4


This is the schedule for the rest of the North Pole Express. It is all sold out this year, but you can get on the email list for next year at the following link.
https://261.com/npe/

This Sunday at 10am, 11:30, 1, 3, 4:30,and 6.
Next Wednesday at 4pm, 5:30 and 7
Thursday at 1:30pm, 3, 4:30, 6, and 7:30.
Friday at 1:30pm, 3pm, 4:30pm, 6pm and 7:30pm.
Saturday at 10am, 11:30am, 1pm, 3pm, 4:30pm, 6pm and 7:30, and the last day on
Sunday at 10am, 11:30am, 1pm, 3pm, 4:30pm and 6pm

261 npe 2a.jpg
All lit up
261 npe 1.jpg
Snowfall
261 npe elves.jpg
Santa's Elves


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