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Classic Wings Magazine WWII Naval Aviation Research Pacific Luftwaffe Resource Center
When Hollywood Ruled The Skies - Volumes 1 through 4 by Bruce Oriss


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2013 9:23 pm 
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Yesterday I got to do my birthday present! My wife and daughter got me a "Your Hand on the Throttle" training session at the Valley Railroad in Essex, Ct.. Apparently there are only two museums in the country that let the public take classes and run the locomotive! I drove it for an hour eight miles up the track and back! It was an AWESOME birthday present!!!! :supz:
Except for the last one taken by my grandson, here's a few pics taken by my buddy Jeff Clark!
In the seat!
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This is the engine I drove. It's "Mikado" and has been modified top replicate a similar New Haven Railroad J-1 Mikado engine.
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heading out Northbound!
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At Chester, starting my return to the Essex Station.
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That's me leaning out of the cab!
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Bruce and I watching the tracks!
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Bruce Edgerton was my engineer. I've known him for 20 years. His father was a B-17 Pilot in the 8th during WWII.
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My wife Ginny and Grandson John!
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My grandson John took this one. I'm holding my grandfather's Gold New Haven RR lifetime pass, 40 year gold switch key and wearing his 40 Years pin on my hat. He was a VP of the railroad until 1950. I was channeling him all day!!!! besides, I'm named after him!
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Last edited by Jerry O'Neill on Tue Apr 09, 2013 4:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 09, 2013 8:58 am 
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AWESOME!!!! I've always wanted to do that.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 09, 2013 2:56 pm 
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Thanks love the old trains!

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 09, 2013 5:39 pm 
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Very kool for sure. Steam engines are one of my favorites also.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 7:11 am 
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Now THAT is COOL...!

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 9:33 am 
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Ultra cool present!!!! Steam and big piston engines both have souls and distinct personalities and need prodding, encouragement, threatening, or pleading to operate as opposed to Diesel/Electric locos and jet engines that are basically 'ON' or 'OFF' with a switch. Must be an incredable feeling to have all that raw power at your fingertips
:supz: :supz: :supz: :supz: :supz: :supz: :supz: :supz:

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 11:42 pm 
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It was pretty awesome!
The three things I really had to focus on was the "reverser" (directly in front of me), the "throttle" (hanging from the roof of the cab), and the "brake" lever off my left knee. A lot different than a plane or a car. The throttle releases the steam into the pistons and goes from closed to full open. The reverser increases or decreases the amount of steam going into the pistons from "0%" in the center to 100% forward and 100% reverse. We were running at about 50% most of the time. The brakes have a "running" position then a "lap" and "slow application" positions.
During braking, "Slow Application" allows you to add some pressure to the brakes, but unlike a car, when you put some pressure in, it doesn't leave until you release that pressure by going back into the "Running" position and hear the hiss of it bleeding off. You stop by adding just a touch of "slow application"and bring it back to "lap" (which is like coasting) and then see how the locomotive reacts. Bruce told me to aim for approx 5 lbs on pressure increase each "slow application". The trick is to take it into "Slow Application" and then immediately out again and observe. The gauges don't react as quickly as you might think, so it's on and quickly off. If you leave it in "slow app" or feather it back and forth, the locomotive will being to stop very rapidly and might even lock up if you're not careful. I had to start and stop three times in the station yard to learn the feel of the system before they'd let me out onto the main.
It was really cool but there was a lot going on all at once. Kind of like having to land a plane but needing three hands!

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 4:52 pm 
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Jerry O'Neill wrote:
It was pretty awesome!
The three things I really had to focus on was the "reverser" (directly in front of me), the "throttle" (hanging from the roof of the cab), and the "brake" lever off my left knee. A lot different than a plane or a car. The throttle releases the steam into the pistons and goes from closed to full open. The reverser increases or decreases the amount of steam going into the pistons from "0%" in the center to 100% forward and 100% reverse. We were running at about 50% most of the time. The brakes have a "running" position then a "lap" and "slow application" positions.
During braking, "Slow Application" allows you to add some pressure to the brakes, but unlike a car, when you put some pressure in, it doesn't leave until you release that pressure by going back into the "Running" position and hear the hiss of it bleeding off. You stop by adding just a touch of "slow application"and bring it back to "lap" (which is like coasting) and then see how the locomotive reacts. Bruce told me to aim for approx 5 lbs on pressure increase each "slow application". The trick is to take it into "Slow Application" and then immediately out again and observe. The gauges don't react as quickly as you might think, so it's on and quickly off. If you leave it in "slow app" or feather it back and forth, the locomotive will being to stop very rapidly and might even lock up if you're not careful. I had to start and stop three times in the station yard to learn the feel of the system before they'd let me out onto the main.
It was really cool but there was a lot going on all at once. Kind of like having to land a plane but needing three hands!


Awesome :supz:


Who shoveled the coal?


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 9:29 pm 
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We stopped to reverse direction half way though and as we sat there for a few minutes they let met shovel half a dozen loads of coal into the firebox, so I did get to do it, but most of the time, I was driving! I tell ya, it was 100 tons of fun! :lol:

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 18, 2013 10:11 am 
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I will have to check and see if the Illinois Railroad Museum offers a similar experience.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 18, 2013 10:19 am 
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Speaking of operating big pieces of equipment, isnt there a place (maybe in Cailf) that lets you operate heavy machinery like a big a** backhoe, bulldozers and the like? Since the age of 5 when my parents gave me a set of Tonka Highway Maintenance trucks for x mas, I have had a love affair with Donna Reed, ooops I mean with construction equipment. Here I am 60 years old and I still have those Tonka trucks. My brother and I beat the heck out of those trucks to the point where they were falling apart. I found a guy in Wisconsin that restores old toy trucks and makes them look brand new again. Ah, to be a kid again!

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 18, 2013 10:33 am 
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I worked in Dollywood amusement park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee about 15 years ago. A good friend of mine was in charge of their steam locomotives. He taught me how to operate their 1940s Alco locomotive and what a blast that was. At that time they would let just about anyone in the cab on their short runs. I would go in after the park closed and run the engine around the track just for the experience. One night after a few hours of heavy drinking with Dolly Parton's youngest brother, other park employees and a few of the locals, we decided it would be fun to go in and drunk drive in the locomotive. It was good times. The swaying motion of the engine in the Tennessee Smoky Mountains and the incredibly hot ambient temperature in the cab is a bad idea for a bunch of drunks.
I miss being able to climb up into those cabs. I'm glad you got to do it.

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PostPosted: Thu May 02, 2013 8:21 pm 
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What a cool thing to get to do. I've been a train buff all my life and model railroader too. Back in the 70's I was always trackside when the locals were working the cement mills in town. Got to know the train crews well enough that I would get quite a few cab rides and I would even help call out the signals the brakemen gave to the engine when the enginner couldn't see when shifting the cars around. Hey inspector, don't knock the diesels (at least the old Alcos and Baldwins), they had a personality all their own.


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PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2013 8:20 pm 
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krobar wrote:
What a cool thing to get to do. I've been a train buff all my life and model railroader too. Back in the 70's I was always trackside when the locals were working the cement mills in town. Got to know the train crews well enough that I would get quite a few cab rides and I would even help call out the signals the brakemen gave to the engine when the enginner couldn't see when shifting the cars around. Hey inspector, don't knock the diesels (at least the old Alcos and Baldwins), they had a personality all their own.


welcome to the zoo Krobar :wink:

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PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2013 10:39 pm 
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Very, very, cool!

The one thing I've found is that most people who have an appreciation for things that are mechanical tend to be similar in nature, even if the specific thing they are interested in, whether its cars, planes, boats, trains, or even bicycles is completely different. For instance, most car guys would love the opportunity to get "up close and personal" with a plane. Likewise, plane guys like yourself have an appreciation for steam locomotives.


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