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  Railroads of Madison County
Maurice Lewman
Memories

Where you carried the water - part 2

Where you carried the water, or I should say how high in the glass you maintained the water varied with the engineer. Most engineers liked to see 1/2 a glass or a little less, some only wanted 1/4 glass and a few never less than 1/2 and preferred a little more. If you were moving in the yards or waiting on a meet you usually carried 2/3 glass. If you went to eat you filled the glass to the top and banked your fire. The first thing you did when you climbed on the engine was open the blow down on the water glass for 1/2 second and check that water in the glass.

The engineer that was the easiest to fire for was Gabe Ginn. Gabe liked clean boiler water and would blow the engine about every 7 mile. By Gabe doing this you fired against the water pump and wanted a little over 1/2 glass at 7 miles and he would blow down to just under 1/2 glass. When firing against the pump how hard Gabe worked the engine, unless he had to go almost to the corner with the reverse lever, did not affect your firing. By over pumping you were ahead with your fire on almost any move he might make.

Another engineer who was a gentleman and one who wanted 1/2 glass or more would almost panic if you stopped and had less than 1/2 glass. I fired for Harry 3 or 4 months and got along good with him. When Harry was young some engineer must have worked him hard by working an engine a lot harder than was needed. When you were on level track Harry would *****foot along and would not cut the fire for you thinking he was helping you. I guess this was because of his younger days. One night I asked Harry if he would work the engine harder to make the fire burn better. Why yes I can but I don't want to mess your fire up and make work for you.

With a stoker Harry you are making work by not working the engine. Harry cranked her down in the corner a little more and the fire turned from a dull red to a whitish red I turned the blower way down and from that time on Harry would run the engine just right.

There are a couple more Harry stories but another time. LEW

We had a 60 car coal train on a Claypool Turn and as we were leaving Marion, In. The water pump was working but not enough to supply the boiler. Starting up the engineer's injector helped but was still not supplying the boiler. As we were on a 1 1/2 % grade we ran out of everything at the same time. The tonnage stopped us, nothing but blue steam thru the water glass. The bottom gage had a we bit of moisture and the low water alarm had not gone off.

The engineer had stopped with the throttle wide open to keep the water high in the boiler. I jumped up and grabbed the shaker bar to crack the grates but could not move them. The fire was a little heavy and had developed a clinker . I grabbed the clinker hook and could not reach the end to start breaking up the clinker. The brakeman had longer arms and could not get it broke loose. So we just stayed on the engine and waited.

After about 15 min. we could see signs of water in the bottom of the glass and I started building up the fire. After 16 hrs, we tied up at Wabash and after rest started back to South Anderson cab light. The problem was tree leaves had plugged the supply pipe on the tender. The engine house crew at Wabash was not equipped to remove the leaves. On the way to Anderson with the water pump wide open it would just supply the boiler.

I said that we had Indiana real estate for coal and this was an example. I was a big 135-140 lb. at that time and learned one thing, well, two. Never have a heavy fire and let clinkers start in the rear end of the fire box when you are not a heavy weight. I followed this until the end of steam and never had anymore trouble. I had been firing about 4 months when this took place.

Maurice Lewman


Maurice worked the Michigan Division from 1947-1981. He then worked on the Bee Line from 1981-1992. From 1947 until august 1950, he worked on the section at Shirley and Markleville. In 1950 he started firing on steam and then on through the diesels. Maurice said, "I had the pleasure of working with C. C. Staley and Ron Buser many times."


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