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Maurice Lewman

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Fire brick in the fire

This took place in the middle 50s when we were using diesel and steam. We were going to have steam on the northbound trip from Jeffersonville, Indiana to South Anderson , Indiana. This train #76 was an over flow train handling the cars that #78 the night before could not handle. This included local cars for North Vernon to set off and also pick up any for north bound movement . This was also true at Greensburg, Rushville and Shirley.

The engine had sat around for several hours and everyone knew the engine house crew used the water pump to fill the boiler. This resulted in the bearings of the pump getting dry because without the locomotive moving the lubricator did not work. I had not worked with this engineer on road steam, but had heard that he worked a hard engine. Until the last steam locomotive came out of Jeffersonville, the sand box was filled by the hostler with a 5 gallon bucket. They leaned a ladder against the walk way along the boiler, climbed the ladder with the bucket of sand, struggled to get the bucket on top of the boiler, dump it in and then repeat the process.

Back to the story:
We prepared the engine and moved out of the house to the train and as we were getting the air test I noticed the water pump was not suppling the boiler. I asked the engineer if it would be ok if I used his injector until the pump was lubricated. He said no, that the pump would be ok when we started moving. "You know the bearings are dry," because everyone knew that the engine house people used the pump instead of the injector, and his answer was, "It will be all right." I filled the boiler as full as I could without it pulling water over into the cylinders and said, "I am ready." Out of the yard we go and as soon as he got a high ball he reached up and got hold of the train.

It was 5 miles to WS tower and up a stiff grade for 2 miles through a swag to the top of another hill and downgrade to WS tower. We only had about 35 cars and 15-1600 tons. As we climbed the first hill, I waited as long as I could for the pump to get lubricated and it still would not supply the boiler. I again asked the engineer to use his injector and the reply was the same, "No."

As we went through the swag I thought he would ease off on the engine a little. That was a dream. He just kept hammering the engine. As we topped the second hill heading to WS tower everthing was red and we had to stop down grade.

When we stopped the low water alarm started blowing and he looked at me asking with his eyes what's wrong? Then he asked, "Want me to pump the water with the injector," and I said, "I think that would be great." We sat there long enough for the water to come up and the pump had started to pump. As were waiting I thought, if this ya hoo is going to operate like this I will have to fire 3-5 miles ahead of him to keep up.

I was right. He beat the engine all the way to Greensburg. As we were coming up the main to set off, I looked in the fire box and about six or seven fire brick had been pulled out of the arch and down into the fire. I looked at him and said, "You did a heck of a job running the engine you only pulled out half of the fire brick."

He jumped up and looked at me and said, "I didn't do that." My reply was, "No one else was running the engine." He did hook the engine up some the next 57 miles to Anderson but still worked it much harder than was needed.

All of the years we worked together that trip was never mentioned.


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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