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Discussion & History on the Kings Island & Miami Vally Railroad

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The train has always run clockwise and the rail "walks" around the loop since the loco's wheels are always pushing backwards on it.  Every year things need to be realigned, and maybe even a bit of rail taken out to compensate.  We proposed at one time to put a crossover on the double track so we could equalize the wheel wear by running the other way, but the water tower prevented that being practical.  Since the left side of the coaches are open, the intent was to put the trestle walkway only on that side, but the carpenters put it on the wrong side so they had to add the second one.  I walked out on it in December 1971 before the second one was added.  The original cartoon map published in 1971 when Coney was still open showed the enginehouse outside the loop parallel to the last straight before you curve into the station (in the picnic area), and a low trestle just after you  pass the water tower leaving the station.  When we opened in 1972, there was a small field behind the watertower and the intent was to extend the canoe pond over there, no doubt deleted by the cost of the extra trestle.  If anyone can ever find a copy of that cartoon map from 1971, I would love to see it.  A college buddy who worked at Coney had one and I wished I had bought it from him.  I've never seen another one.  It is truly one of the most rare KI souvenirs.  I wish I could remember other things in the park that were changed since that one was printed.

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@kimv1972 Could you tell me more about the changes between these aerials, specifically how the "kink" in the track (just below the center of each photo, behind the carriage storage shed) appears to have been straightened? (Although I'd be happy to hear about any other changes or details too!)

Image may contain: text that says '1972 1980'

(Photos from ODOT)

As CoastersRZ said, thank you for sharing your insights and experience! It's always wonderful to hear from a primary source on park history. 

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16 minutes ago, TombraiderTy said:

@kimv1972 Could you tell me more about the changes between these aerials, specifically how the "kink" in the track (just below the center of each photo, behind the carriage storage shed) appears to have been straightened? (Although I'd be happy to hear about any other changes or details too!)

Image may contain: text that says '1972 1980'

(Photos from ODOT)

As CoastersRZ said, thank you for sharing your insights and experience! It's always wonderful to hear from a primary source on park history. 

They likely changed it to prevent excess wear on the rails, as well as to increase capacity.  Hypothetically, a curve like that would likely require the train to slow, to ensure that it made the curve. Removing that curve would enable the train to run quickly and consistently through the course.

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On 5/29/2020 at 5:23 PM, gforce1994 said:

They likely changed it to prevent excess wear on the rails, as well as to increase capacity.  Hypothetically, a curve like that would likely require the train to slow, to ensure that it made the curve. Removing that curve would enable the train to run quickly and consistently through the course.

It might've also helped it tackle the grade a little bit better with a full train. There's been a few instances even recently where the train couldn't make it up the grade and had to reverse and start over to rebuild momentum. Weather conditions can be huge factor in this.

 

Fun fact, the Walt Disney Railroad has a 2% grade which was the maximum permitted grade allowed on the American Transcontinental Railroad. 2% isn't a lot for us as humans but for a multi ton locomotive hauling tons of weight behind it, its a struggle.

 

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Basically we used to highball across the trestle hooked up, then shut off and coast until you felt the engine lunge to the right of the first big curve, and that was your cue to drop her in the corner and start digging in for the 1% climb.  I never worked steam into the beginning of that curve behind the coach storage, I let momentum get the drivers into it so I wasn't shoving the track sideways.  In 1972, we had problems with shaving metal off the insides of the rails due to the track gage being laid too tight.  This held the wheels slightly off the rails (we were basically running on the fillets of the driver flanges) so we didn't get good traction.  To stop the wear, they hired a kid to walk the track with a grease stick on a pole and grease the insides of the rails.  But they didn't tell him not to grease the tops of the rails.  It was tough getting up the grade.  Chug, chug, slip, slip, slip, slip.  Chug, chug, slip, slip, slip, slip.  You learned to run by listening to the strength of the exhaust and it really became a fun challenge to use your ear to hear exactly when to back off the sticky throttles just before you spun the wheels. It separated the railroaders from the railfans and it was a contest to see who could make it up with the least slips.  Yes, rolling resistance is a combination of grade resistance and curve resistance, so straightening that curve probably helped, but  that was a few years after my time.  Anyhoo...  one wet day with 450 souls on board, it was more slip than chug.  I didn't make the grade and had to back down to the trestle to take a second try.  We had actors playing Native Americans that came out of the woods on the hill and attacked us, and when they saw me stop, they froze in place.  As I backed down the hill, the actors backed into the woods.  It couldn't have been better if we rehearsed it.  Not long after that, Dick Carmell installed small pipes that poured water on the flanges of the front pilot wheels to cut the rail wear and the kid with the grease stick became part of Kings Island history.

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@kimv1972 do you know when they officially did away with the actors/actresses? Also what of the props? I saw some props like a horse and carriage in some videos from the early 90s but I grew up with the remnants of the old western town in the late 90s.

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