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kimv1972

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Posts posted by kimv1972

  1. Ladies and Gentlemen, please remove your hats and place them over your heart. This is the sad, sad tale of ol' Rancid Butterball. For once upon a time, for five great seasons near Memphis, a little Carbon Limestone tanker #33 (Porter 1942) played a painted lady named "Ye Olde Huff n Puff". And indeed, it seemed she couldn't make it around the loop without being held up by some good old boys. Well, it appears that the ladies must have loved that little Porter, for one of them had just about enough of it. Fun summer job robbing trains? Think again...

    Train-Robber-Gets-Wounded.jpg

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  2. Sharon, the lady that sold the Neverland job, told me the paint on the tender was worth $16K (not planned that way, but MJ kept changing his mind), the cab was solid teak, and the job was the most secretive they had ever done.  The stall where the work was done was partitioned from the rest of the shop and the staff could not even tell their spouses what it was.  MJ was in hiding at the time (we won't go into that), but he called regularly to check how the restoration was going.  She loaned me footage to copy, but I can't remember where it is today.  I think it was VHS.  Part of it was using a forktruck to get the pony truck back on the rails during the test run.  After all the secrecy, it had to be shipped wide open to the world because tarps would have beat the paint and teak to death.  When I was in Iowa twenty years ago, I found the oil tank from the tender on the scrap pile (it was switched from oil to propane).  Personally I'm happy they jacketed the cylinders and put more historically shaped domes on it.  It was set up to run without a fireman.  I know it had automatic firing but I'm not sure about automatic feedwater.  He had an engineer on call 24/7 so he could ride when he wanted to.  45 minutes would have been reasonable if the engine had been hot the day before, but to bring it up that fast from cold would have been forcing stresses into the boiler.  With all the love that Iowa put into it, they never did set the valves square.  Every video I have seen of it, it is waltzing down the track.  Maybe MJ liked the syncopation.  MJ was to get more coaches, but "life" intervened and that part of the contract was cancelled.  The two that he got were from Six Flags St. Louis #5 since they had greater capacity than the Crown-esque coaches that they pulled at Carowinds (built for Space City USA park in Huntsville, which went bankrupt before it opened).  No matter the look of it after it came out of the shop, it looked a hundred times worse going in.  Charlie Kelton, the auto dealer in Vermont that bought it from South of the Border, painted it like a bathtub toy: red boiler, pale yellow cab, blue wheels and domes.  Plug ugly.  And it got bent up a bit in the trip from Vermont.  I think Dave Barnhardt did tell me he was the broker for either Kelton or South of the Border, and the sale was equally secretive.  I'd love to know what they paid Charlie for it.  If Carowinds took care of the boiler, it would have been a good buy.  I agree that smokeboxes should not be light gray!  I don't know who chose the aesthetics, but I would not be surprised to find that an ex-Disney person had a hand in it since the Golden Spike engines were color palleted by a Disney person.  It appears they actually did try to do a Russian Iron color on the boiler jacket, similar to what Disney put on the Ward Kimball.  You don't want to know what Disney paid per gallon for that Imron specialized paint.  And they even ignored the Crown wagontop and tapered it more gently, which really helped the looks of it.  Sadly they kept the Crown tradition of keeping the tops of the domes at the same level, which didn't happen often on the prototype.  The cab was stunning, but the roof should have been 6" higher.  Crown makes them too high, Iowa made it too low.  The track was a moderate snake down the side of the mountain with spring switch balloon loops on each end, both appearing to be Crown's 150 foot minimum radius.  In the video above, it sounds like they are running downhill with cylinder cocks open and the Johnson Bar a bit over center to let the cylinders take the load and save the brakes since I don't hear the air pump running much.  The train shed was two stalls with the mainline going through one of them.  I don't think there is any doubt there was Disney influence in the design of the station.  That's all I can remember for now.  It's been over twenty years since I talked to Sharon and Dave.  But I remember it was fun researching it back then. 

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  3. Crown builders photo of one of the CW engines.  Each train had 8 coaches, I think.  Some went to Dorney, Valleyfair, and Omaha Zoo.  Why 30" gage and so many coaches?  I'd like to know!  Perhaps 36" gage would require special licensing in Canada maybe?  The train was to operate around the Frontier Canada area as a way of soothing concerns about the park being too "American".  But cost or some other reason caused the entire Frontier Canada area to be deleted from construction and not emerge again for twenty years, leaving two orphaned trains.

    cw_diesel.jpg

    blog-frontiercanada-banner train.jpg

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  4. Although trees prevent you from taking this picture today, Crown #15 has made it this far in its two test runs.  The train has just exited Tunnel #2.  Doe River Gorge Ministries owns tunnels #2, #3, and #4, all blasted from solid rock.  They are using #2 and #3, but #4 will have to wait for the day when there is money to restore a bridge to get to it.  In all, they have about three miles of track in the gorge.  Yes, that engine is about the same size as the Crown.

    drg big fill.jpg

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  5. There has been a rumor that the Neverland engine (ex-Carowinds) which has been stored in a warehouse in Glendale, might have a future.  One potential buyer of Neverland might want it back.  The picture is the South of the Border look (ugggggggllllllllyyyyyy) when it was displayed there with the closed coaches that were built for #3 (now at Doe River).  It never ran there, but both #2 and the #3 coaches were also spotted unused in Vermont for a while.  I have never found where those coaches ended up.  I assume they were cut up for their trucks.

    sob carowinds crown.jpg

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  6. I spent a few days at Doe River Gorge in June.  The Crown is getting its final brake piping (I painted most of it as they finished it) and modifications to the ashpan.  Sanders and bell ringer also need to be piped.  The boiler jacket has been added and is powder coated dark blue.  The sand dome and bell are yet to be mounted, but the handrails are polished and installed.  It currently has a round electric headlight, but someday a box may be made to put around it.  The big ugly green regulator next to the pump has been replaced.  The smokebox had been extended for the installation of a Lempor front end, but time, money, and manpower have put that on hold and it will have a standard blast nozzle for now.  It has been fired up twice and run a quarter mile through the first tunnel.  The limiting factor now is the spiking and tamping of 200+ brand new added crossties to convert the gorge from an 8 ton Plymouth line to a 25 ton Crown line.  The early Crowns had very narrow tires, so holding the gauge will be critical.  Pardee Point is not a place you want to derail.  From their calculations, it should have just enough power to pull two coaches on the 3%.  That is based on the fact that it has 4000# TE versus 5700# TE at Kings Island and we pulled six coaches on 1% at KI.  The weight of the early Crowns was not much less than the 5700# TE version, so the Factor of Adhesion is above 4 and should be good for dry rail.  Also we used power and traction references from a reprint of a Porter catalog that has a similar sized engine code name HADRIA.  The coaches that will be used were home built at Dry Gulch and are slightly shorter than the Crown coaches with longitudinal benches that should be lighter.  Since the last narrow gage steamer on the ET&WNC was #14 (there was no #13 - tradition!), this one I believe with be given #15.  The hope is to have it fired up and at least doing short demonstration runs at the end of August for the National Narrow Gauge Convention.  I plan to be there for that and will let you know how it went.

    drg 2021_6_17.jpg

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  7. When I first toured the park in December 1971 with someday-to-be-park-manager-Al Weber, the station platform corral was stacked full of the canoes to be used on the two canoe rides.  That appears to be some of them in one of the pictures.  And I vaguely remember Bert Williams wearing a fishing hat like that.  You may have discovered pictures of the very first test runs of #12 in February 1972.  The ties appear to have a light dusting of snow on them.

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  8. Attached is the obituary in Live Steam Magazine for Ken Williams, Crown Metal Products founder.  It was my recollection that Ken died later in the year between the delivery of #19 and #12, but apparently he was already gone before #19 arrived in October or November 1971.  Ken's son Bert would have been responsible for delivering both engines and testing them.  During the early years, the Losantiville station had a sign reading "Ken Williams, Stationmaster".

    ken williams obit.jpg

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  9. It's funny that back when I worked there, I was very critical of some of the details on the engines, particularly the windows in #12's cab and the skinny diamond stack on #19.  In recent years, I have found that early Chicago and Northwestern engines used that stack, and the "cathedral" windows on #12 were the signature window shape of Dawson and Bailey (National Locomotive Works) of Connellsville, PA.  But I have yet to find any prototype engines with dome covers the shape of the "stock" Crown dome.

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  10. The stars on the wheels were Dick Carmell's idea.  We were sitting on five gallon buckets repainting the wheels one night (the injectors used to dump on them and change the color of the Rustoleum paint), and he suggested the stars.  I took it one step farther, and although I'm not particularly fond of them today, I painted the cranks black.  I'm sure Dick was thinking of his California days since Disney's engines had stars on the wheels.  As to the straight stack, I think that was just a reaction to the very poorly done balloon.  If they would have put the same balloon on that Crown did with many other engines, it would probably still be there.  But, hey, check the sand dome on #19 and compare it to #119.

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  11. And finally, the infamous Kenny Van Meter standing in the cab of "his" engine, the "Tecumseh".  Again the wood is horizontal but the whistle was moved from behind the bell (where it showered everyone in boiling water, turned the blue paint into orange stripes, and screeched and gurgled whistle signals).  I'm guessing it was taken in May 1972.  Hey, what happened to Mystic Timbers and the White Water Canyon?  It sure was nice and quiet in the enginehouse back then.

    tecumseh 1972 copy.jpg

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  12. This one was taken very early in 1972 since the wood on the tender is still horizontal, though we had moved the whistle to the rear dome in May.  This shows Lew Brown in overalls (left) and his sidekick Dick Carmell on "Lew's" engine, the "Simon Kenton".  They were adding aluminum strips to the roof so rain didn't waterfall over the edge and down your neck if you stuck your head out to see where you were going.  I wonder how OSHA would feel about their techniques today?

    KI lew and dick 1972 copy.jpg

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  13. I found a few slides from 1972 and had them scanned.  Quality is pretty bad (anyone remember Instamatic cameras?), but hey, it's history.  Here is the ORIGINAL Fort Mc Hale on the loop where the waterpark now stands.  It looks pretty new and I don't see the exploding Gatling Gun, so this was probably around June 1972.  I took it from the top of the mountain that we circled before the 1989 track relocation.

    fort mchale 1972 copy.jpg

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  14. One night I was just curious which major theme park has REMOVED the most coasters.  Kings Island has seen Bavarian Beetle, Screamin Demon, Son of Beast, King Kobra, the original Bat, and Vortex go away, mainly because they have taken the risk to lead on new technology and set the path for followers.  Can any other park top that?  My guess is that Cedar Point could be a contender due to age.  I believe the old Cedar Point Amusement Circle had three or more that were where the CP mall is today.  Thoughts?

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  15. KD never had a car storage shed.  Kings Island didn't in the early years either.  Lew Brown had a lot of pull back then and convinced them to spend a lot of money on the ride that most parks don't.  The KI enginehouse originally didn't have doors and we had to put plastic over the openings in the winter.  He also convinced them to put in the jacks to raise the engines and the gantry behind the enginehouse to pull the propane tanks out and to lift the coaches for truck changeout.  Plus we added all kinds of stuff to the engines in the way of making the piping better and to heat the sand dome and lubricator.  There were many little things as well such as tapping in a drain in the exhaust to keep water off the engines in the morning, and adding the fake rivets and front door "bubble" (an old patio umbrella stand) to the smokeboxes.  They are the heaviest modified Crowns ever built.  I've always been curious why KD curved the storage tracks.  Maybe there was a big rock there that they didn't want to move.

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  16. It was sad to drive past Clermont Steel Fabricators and only see a half dozen pieces of coaster track, probably from an order that was cancelled part way through.  But when Covid finally passes, we will see the Roaring Twenties all over again, at least for a couple of years.  Next big coaster at a major theme park?  2022 perhaps, maybe for the KI 50th?

  17. The Abner Sureshot and Golden Lamb buildings didn't come along until 1975 or beyond.  In the first year, we only had the buildings closest to the picnic ground fence (to hide the parking lot for the locomotive crew and the big propane tank) and two settlers' cabins (and those didn't get finished until June due to weather).  The wedding scene appears to be Charlie Flatt's old cabin that was behind the three houses on the straightaway coming out of the loop.  Again, this scene came from 1975 or beyond since Charlie still had an arrow sticking out of his chest when I left in 1973.  The real Charlie I believe was one of the higher ups in maintenance or construction.  Most of the names came from employees, though I don't think we ever had an Abner Sureshot.  Notice that the landscape lights on the ground were hidden by fiberglass tree stumps and rocks.  In the beginning, even the public trashcans in Rivertown were big tree stumps.

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  18. Love walnut cabs.  Baldwin used varnished walnut until 1879, then switched to painted ash when they went from "lake" (burgandy) to dark olive Baldwin green on their engines.  There are Youtubes about how to paint "faux" wood.  Who is volunteering to sneak in the enginehouse this winter?  #12 always needed a red cowcatcher, domes, and front number plate.  And I wouldn't mind buying the park some brass polish for that cap stack!

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