Volume 63 1 May 2023
From the Brass Hat
Hi all and thanks to everyone who had a hand in preparing and executing the Hop Into Spring rides. We had the third best April in our history with 1584 riders. From all reports, the trains ran safely and on time, so kudos to all involved. There is plenty more to come in the months ahead., beginning with our Brew & Choo ™ on 6 May. You should already have the crew call in your inbox, so please sign up if you can. Our last few rides have been a little slim on crew, so don’t think you are not an important part of the team!
Sadly, we lost another long-time member on 11 February, Bob Crowley. Bob was a friend to many of us and he will be sorely missed. Additional details elsewhere in this issue.
We are making a lot of progress on our largest projects. Steam Locomotive 17 rebuild continues after a successful FRA inspection last month, which means we can continue the process. Also, the inoperable engine in 1640 was removed and the bed prepared to install a recently received used engine in its place. We have had a lot of talented, dedicated members working on these locomotives. Elsewhere in this Telegrapher, you will find details about the Saturday Crew concept recently approved by our Board. These projects are perfect examples.
Stop The Presses Again! We just got confirmation of a $5000 grant received from the NRHS for our Baggage Car restoration project! Kudos to the Fundraisers!
Thanks for all you do for our Museum. I look forward to seeing everyone soon.
Fuel Train Veteran’s Ride Still ON!
by Victor Varney
For several months info has been going out within Duke Energy, CSX, and the NC State Highway Patrol (SHP) inviting Fuel Train Veterans (FTV) to visit us on May 20. Until April 29, we hadn’t heard from ANY of the FTV’s who we were asking to RSVP us if they wanted to attend. Late during the evening on April 29, we received a single email from the NC SHP with a list of 24 people and guests wanting to attend our event on May 20, So the event is ON at this point for at least 24 guests (a couple of Shearon Harris “friends” may join, too). Given the very small number of veterans that day, we will aim to accommodate other NCRM members and their guests as described below.
10 am: Event opens with parking available at 3900 Bonsal Rd, the garden railroad running with the G Scale Fuel Train should be running, too.
11 am: Escort train with cabooses 302 and 309 on either side of two pulpwood cars will depart with as many as 12-14 veterans total on board.
11:15-30 am: The full excursion train (we need wheelchair access via platform 1), will then depart to New Hill. This train will carry additional Fuel Train Veterans, guests, and any NCRM members not already on the trains and their guests.
New Hill activity will include escort train run bys. The goal is to operate excursion train in a way that is as close to a regular ride day as possible for ease of operation by the volunteers. All trains return to Bonsal by 12:30 and the Event ends by 1:30. Some details still being worked out, so watch your emails.
We appreciate everyone’s support to make this a great event for these fuel train veterans as they help us dedicate cabooses 302 and 309 for running at the NHVR.
A regular Crew Call for the special ride will be sent one week prior to execution by your friendly crew caller, Chris Tilley. A detailed discussion will happen at the Safety Meeting prior to departure of the first train as usual.
If you do not receive crew calls, please contact the crew caller if you are interested in participating!
Back in the “Old Days” – The Story of “The Little White-Haired Man” – as told by M. Gray Lackey
No, this isn’t a ghost story about some wanderer around Bonsal. This is a story about my dad, Mack, that was communicated to me by another member. Dad still comes with me to Bonsal, just isn’t as active as he used to be (who of us are?).
Many of you who have been around Bonsal for several years and know my dad know that he is not of great stature. You should also know that while his internal fuse was quite long and slow, woe be unto anyone that would endure the wrath once the fuse had ignited the accelerant.
Last Summer, a southbound log truck was overloaded and hit our northernmost bridge over old US#1, shearing logs off his load that almost but thankfully didn’t hit a following car and sent several of our members that were standing on the bridge at the time into a basketball star-envying vertical jump.
This isn’t the first time this has happened (nor will it be the last). About 15 or so years back a log truck hit the bridge and didn’t stop. Dad just happened to be working nearby and saw it happen, so he knew what the truck looked like. He ran back to his truck and proceeded, let’s just say rather hastily, to the chip mill to “speak” with the driver. He blew past the chip mill scales and check in and found the driver taking his now loose straps off to be unloaded.
He began to “dress down” that driver who was described as probably not the brightest star in the sky. The mill manager had by then arrived and asked what was going on. Dad politely told the mill manger what happened and that he needed insurance and other information in order that we could get a professional bridge inspector to look at the bridge that had been hit and the driver’s insurance was going to have to pay for it.
By this time the truck driver was starting to get a little bit belligerent refusing to give any information. I would say that while the mill manager might not have known the driver by name, but he probably recognized the truck. The mill manger advised the driver that it would be in his best interest to cooperate and provide the information requested as this wasn’t the first time that situation had happened and the previous driver that had refused to cooperate left the chip mill, not in his truck, but in the back seat of a black and silver car with the words MOTOR CARRIER ENFORCEMENT on the sides. The information was obtained, and we had the bridge inspected at no cost to us.
Now you might inquire about the title to this event. As I stated, this was conveyed to me by another person that knew the mill manager at that time.
That person got a phone call to explain what had just happened. The mill manager wasn’t mad – in fact quite the opposite was true. The mill manager was laughing so hard he could barely speak. Laughing about the little white-haired man with his truck which was parked crosswise in front of the log truck dressing down this burly, and maybe not so bright trucker (not taking any pokes at truck drivers) like a Parris Island Marine Corps drill sergeant.
And now you know the story of the little white-haired man.
[Editor’s note: If you have photos or other info about long-ago events at the NCRM, please contact your editor. You can submit your own “Back in the Old Days…” article with pictures about anything (within reason) from our past for the Telegrapher. If you can rough out the ideas, we can work with you to craft an article to benefit the entire membership. – CT]
SATURDAY Crew Established
by Victor Varney
We’ve all heard of the Wednesday Crew, but what about something for those members who still have to work on Wednesdays at their regular jobs? Many have suggested that there be Work Saturdays organized like our weekly Wednesday Crew work days, with a list of projects happening on that work day so our volunteers know what to do, and to attract those with the skills especially needed that day. The NCRM Board of Directors approved a pilot program for six months.
For the next 6 months we are going to conduct monthly Saturday Work Days between 9 am and midafternoon (we may start earlier on hotter days). The monthly Saturday Work Days will be May 13, June 10, July 15, August 12, September 23, and November 4. None of these days conflict with a ride day, but could be an OAL day. On July 15 there is a member meeting, and on September 23 Rules and Safety training. Scheduling Saturday Work Days on these two particular days will hopefully get more members to stick around and get involved with project work. These days will offer increased opportunities for volunteers that come out to Bonsal while still fully employed. Of course, anyone is welcome to attend. We will dig into some of the really important projects that need to be completed.
A week before each scheduled Saturday Work Day, I will reach out to everyone to see if they want to put a project on the list for that day. Chris Tilley will then send an email blast to everyone with the Saturday Work Day project list and encourage members to come out and help. By no means do these scheduled monthly Saturday Work Days limit any project teams that wish to organize to work on a specific project on any other day of the month. After trying this out for the next 6 months, we will assess the results and determine how to continue Saturday Work Days in 2024.
Last Run – Robert T. (Bob) Crowley
We are sad to announce the passing of long-time NCRM (and formerly ECC-NRHS) member Bob Crowley in February 2023 after a period of declining health. Most members would remember Bob sitting behind the Dispatcher’s desk, but not everyone would know that he was usually the first to arrive for ride days, often hours before sunup. He always had some kind of story to share, some amusing, some serious. Bob was the friendly voice on the other end of the radio for most of us. He served as a Board Member several times, as Corporate Secretary, Museum Director and Historian for the NCRM. Bob also edited and produced the Tarheel Telegrapher for many years.
In addition to his volunteer activities at the Museum, Bob had been a Soldier in Viet Nam during that conflict, had been employed by a steamship company and was involved with other arts/museum-related organizations in the local area. He also authored several books. Bob was inducted into the NCRM Order of the Rusty Spike in 2014.
Bob’s favorite quote says it all: “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, “WOW!! What a ride!” – Unknown” He will be missed.
NCRM New Member Orientation Scheduled
by Victor Varney
The next quarterly new member orientation session will be offered on Saturday June 10 from 10 am to noon. It will be held under the covered area behind the yard office, and include a tour of the property along with some of our ongoing projects.
The new member orientation session is intended to give new members information about our history, bylaws, how to get information, who’s who, and most importantly how to get involved as a volunteer (and have fun). This session is open to those who have been members for up to 2 years. This is not a substitute for the rules and safety training sessions necessary to get involved with train operations, but we will explain how to attend those sessions, too. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP to either Dennis Winchell or Victor Varney.
NHV 17 Update
by Mike MacLean
Work on Engine 17 continues. As with anything that old, it can be a mixed bag. Good news: the dry pipe studs were fit up to the front tube sheet and were a perfect fit.
Bad news: However, while removing the seized studs from the front furnace bearer, the integrity of the part revealed itself. It wasn’t held together by much. We’re evaluating whether it can be repaired or whether a new part will be needed. More to follow on that issue.
Just a quick heads up we are planning a #17 work session with SOC from May 13 to May 17-19ish. Plans are still being made so pencil these dates in your calendars if you are interested in volunteering. As soon as I have more details, I’ll let you know.
During this work session, we plan to fit up the new smokebox, so equipment operators will be needed. The NHV backhoe should work fine for this task.
NCRM 2023 Schedule 3.0
6 Brew & Choo 1pm 4 trains
12 Friday ride 1030am
13 Operate-a-Loco 1100am 4 rides
13 Saturday Crew Workday 9am (NEW)
17 Wednesday ride 1030am
18 Board of Directors 6pm
20 Fuel Train Veterans IS HAPPENING!
21 Slow Down Sunday 1pm 3 trains 26 Friday ride 1030am
3 Brew & Choo 1pm 4 trains
9 Friday ride 1030am
10 New Member Orientation 10am
10 Saturday Crew Workday 9am (NEW)
11 Slow Down Sunday 1pm 3 trains
14 Wednesday ride 1030am
15 Board of Directors 6pm
17 Operate-a-Loco 1100am 4 rides
18 Operate-a-Loco 1100am 4 rides 23 Friday ride 1030am
1 Brew & Choo 1pm 4 trains
14 Friday ride 1030am
15 Operate-a-Loco 1100am 4 rides 15 Membership meeting 10am
15 Saturday Crew Workday 9am (NEW)
19 Wednesday ride 1030am
20 Board of Directors 6pm
23 Slow Down Sunday 1pm 3 trains 28 Friday ride 1030am
5 Brew & Choo 1pm 4 trains
11 Friday ride 1030am
12 Saturday Crew Workday 9am (NEW)
16 Wednesday ride 1030am
17 Board of Directors 6pm
19 Operate-a-Loco 1100am 4 rides 25 Friday ride 1030am
TBD New Member Orientation
8 Friday ride 1030am
9 Brew & Choo 1pm 4 trains 13 Wednesday ride 1030am
16 Operate-a-Loco 1100am 4 rides
17 Thomas in the Garden 1pm 3 trains
21 Board of Directors 6pm
22 Friday ride 1030am
23 Rules&Safety Training 9am*
23 Saturday Crew Workday 9am (NEW)
1-13 Decorating daily – please help
7 Membership meeting/BOD election 10am 14 Halloween 215pm 5 trains
19 Board of Directors 6pm 21 Halloween 215pm 5 trains
27 Boo & Choo 5pm 3 trains
28 Halloween 215pm 5 trains
TBD New Member Orientation
4 Saturday Crew Workday 9am (NEW) 8 Wednesday ride 1030am
11 Veterans’ Day Brew & Choo 1130am 4 trains
12 Operate-a-Loco 1100am 4 rides
16 Board of Directors 6pm
17 Friday ride 1030am
25 Decorating Day Potluck 9am
2 Santa Trains 930am 5 trains
3 Santa Trains 930am 5 trains
9 Santa Trains 930am 5 trains
10 Santa Trains 930am 5 trains
16 Santa Trains 930am 5 trains 21 Board of Directors 6pm
NOTE: Safety meeting 1 hour before all listed train movements. Crew calls issued 1 week prior from Chris Tilley.