Monday, June 29, 2015

Tea Kettle

Norfolk Southern's 21st Century steam excursion went off the weekend of June 26-28 with the TVRM-4501 (a Baldwin 2-8-2 Mikado) doing the honors this years. And as a bonus, Southern Railway's first SD40, the newly painted NS-3170w, was providing the additional power for the hill climbs.

The train rolled eastbound through Jonesborough on Thursday pulling a few cars into Bristol where it would meet up with the rest of the consist. Here's a couple of pictures from Thursday as they pass the site where the old Southern Railway depot from down in Telford is being reconstructed to serve as the home of the Watauga Valley Historical Railway museum (2nd St. crossing in Jonesborough).

On Saturday the excursion left Bristol and made it's way west to Bulls Gap. It was overcast with frequent rain showers so I made the decision to shoot at the depot in Limestone. It's got some classic old-school railway architecture and it could provide some shelter from the rain if needed.

As happens a lot when you deal with the public, my plan was working great for a while. I arrived about 45 minutes ahead of the train and there were just a few folk sitting in cars near the depot. I parked and climbed the hill at the depot. First I set up my video camera on a tripod down low near the track and put a bright orange towel over it to protect it from the rain, then scoped out the angle I intended to shoot still photos from, which was right under the west edge of the depot eave. About 10 minutes before the train arrived an older lady walked up beside me - never said a word - and proceeded to place her tripod directly in front of my video camera. I politely told her that she's blocking my video camera and asked if she would mind moving a bit to the left or to the right. She never looked at me or said anything ... she just framed her shot, and twiddled with her camera. I repeated y request but still no response, so I moved my video camera tripod a bit to the right to get as clear a shot as I could. Still no response from the lady. As luck would have it, another rain shower started just as I heard the whistle blowing a few miles away, so I moved up under the eave and framed up another test shot to see how much of my view was going to be obstructed by the lady and that's when she picked up her tripod and walked to the other end of the depot and got right in the middle of the shot I was framing up ... she kept moving into and out of my shot trying to stay out of the rain ... at least I hope that was what she was doing. By then it was too late to move, so I ventured as far out from under the eave as possible and shot away. 

Kids, when you walk up on someone taking pictures, please be nice and ask if it's okay for you to join them at that location. They were there first, they have dibs. They will most likely accommodate you and make shooting room for you.

Anyway, here's the shots of the train going west by the Limestone Depot, in the rain, and a short video. In the 3rd picture you can barely see a DJI phantom quad-copter flying above the rail.

The train and all of it's chasers were dodging rain showers as it made the return trip back through Jonesborough later that afternoon. These were taken as it passed eastbound by the Parson's Table and the Salt House (Tn Hills Distillery).

Fun Fact: did you notice the 3170 has a small “w,” appended to its cab number? It follows the fashion of all Southern locomotives from 1972 onward until the last pre-merger units were delivered in the Spring of 1982. The check letters were Southern’s solution to prevent transposition of digits when keying movement information into the company’s computer system.

The check code system featured 10 letters; the right code is found using this formula: Take the first number, double the second and fourth numbers; if the second and fourth numbers doubled are two digits, add those numbers together (ie, 9+9 = 18, make it 1+8=9). Then add the sums from 1 + 4 (with the doubled second and fourth digits). Finally, pick the next break point number by tens (10, 20, 30, 40) and take the difference. 

For 3170 that’s 3 + 2 + 7 + 0 = 12. The next break point is 20, so the difference is 8. The corresponding numbers and letters were as follows: 0 = A; 1 = F; 2 = H; 3 = J; 4 = K; 5 = L; 6 = R; 7 = T; 8 = W; and 9 = X. So for 3170, the proper letter is “w”, pretty cool huh ?

I've seen all 20 of the Heritage motors.

#13  1065   Savannah and Atlanta
#15  1066   New York Central
#19  1067   Reading
#12  1068   Erie
  #1  1069   Virginian
  #8  1070   Wabash
 #16 1071   Central RR of New Jersey
#11  1072   Illinois Terminal
  #4  1073   Penn Central
 #18 1074   Delaware Lackawanna
 #17 8025   Monongahela
  #2  8098   Conrail
#10  8099k  Southern
  #5  8100   Nickel Plate Road
  #7  8101   Central of Georgia
  #9  8102   Pennsylvania
 #14 8103   Norfolk and Western
  #3  8104   Lehigh Valley
  #6  8105   Interstate
 #20 8114   Norfolk Southern
This is a new special interest engine for me!

6920    Honoring Our Veterans
6963    GoRail
  630    Southern Railway Steam
1030    The Forgotten Heritage Engine
3170w Southern