Volume 62 – Issue 11                                                                                1 November 2022

From the Brass Hat

Hello everyone. By the time you read this, Halloween trains are over and great success was enjoyed by the NCRM! All trains sold out, as usual and we had 3749 happy riders. Pictured at right is the NHV Rolling Stock Cemetery. Even though I watched it being built and helped out a little, seeing it in the dark was breathtaking. It was a group effort by the decorating crew with spooky contributions from some of our other members. Thanks to everyone who helped with our 27th annual Halloween Express rides.

Gina Casselberry photo

NOTICE: This is official announcement of a Special Membership Meeting at 8:00AM on 3 December 2022 at the Bonsal Yard Gazebo for the purpose of ballot counting. This is 30 minutes prior to the Safety Meeting for the first Santa trains. Due to a procedural error, the Board of Directors decided we must re-do the Board election strictly following the language in the NCRM Bylaws. The ballots will be due at the beginning of the meeting. They may be mailed or hand-carried to the meeting. The term of the 2022 Board of Directors and Officers has been extended until the December Board meeting. Thank you for your understanding in this most-important task. The new ballot is included in this newsletter.

In other museum news, our two Save the 10 cabooses, known locally as 302 and 309 are nearing completion of sandblasting and priming for new paint jobs. Our paint crew had to move fast to prevent rust from developing in the interval between blasting and priming. Elsewhere, our Strategic Planning Committee continues the process of charting the Museum’s future course. Anyone interested in participating may contact the Chairman, Jim Jatko for meeting details.

Of course, we have a full schedule preparing for the Santa trains coming up as well as manning 25 trains over five days which will put us all to the test. While less crew are on the ground doing other things, we will be slam packed with merrymakers. These trains sell out fast once Halloween is over, so tell your friends to hurry if they want a ticket! Thanks for all you do for our Museum.

Respectfully submitted,
Chris Tilley
President, NCRM

New Member Orientation Session

The next new member orientation session will be on Saturday, 12 November from 10 am to noon. It will be held under the covered area behind the yard office followed by a tour of the property along with some of our ongoing projects. The 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 but bear in mind that we will cancel the event if we don’t have any responses by 9 November.

New Construction – Is it a “Carport” or a “Trainport”?

On 31 October, before Halloween decorations were even down, contractors arrived to install our new maintenance area for locomotives and other projects. Currently, locomotive 17 will go undercover to finish boiler work on the way to completion of the 15-year FRA inspection. We hope many more projects come to fruition here.

Back in the “Old Days” – Moving 1686 – as told by M. Gray Lackey

As stated in the previous newsletter [September 2003 – ed], the chapter [East Carolina Chapter, NRHS (now known as the NCRM) – ed] has obtained another 80-ton GE locomotive. Originally USAF 1686 at Seymour Johnson air base in Goldsboro, NC, the locomotive then went to the state port commission in Morehead City, NC as their no. 1686. We bought the locomotive as surplus.

After two previous trips to Morehead City to check out, prep, and disassemble the locomotive for movement, moving day, October 10, 2003 had arrived.

The start of the actual move began the day earlier at the terminal of McCullers Transportation, who was moving the locomotive for us. McCullers hauls steel and lumber delivered by rail to various construction and distribution points in the southeast. McCullers had multiple loads to deliver the 10th, so two extra truck tractors were trip leased in order to keep everything moving, plus our load. Several members worked at the terminal getting the oversize load banners on the lowboy and two escort trucks, getting chains and binders together, checking tires, setting up the trucks and the multiple other details needed in order to do a move such as this. It was 8:30 that night before all was done.

The day of the 10th was an early one for those of us driving or going with the trucks, up at 3:30 that morning. Arrived at McCullers’ terminal a little after 4:00, we cranked the trucks, did a final mechanical check and got all the paperwork
together. At about 4:45 everything was ready, the trucks were idling with all the lights on and the air pressure was built up. In a takeoff of the Indy 500 race opening announcement, it was stated “Gentlemen, let the adventure begin”.

After a stop for breakfast in Kinston, we arrived in Morehead City, NC, at the port about 9:00 for loading. The team unloaded a piggybacked flatbed trailer that would be picked up later that day after loading since we only had two tractors, and waited for the port crane to get finished unloading some gondolas before our engine was switched into place for loading. The first thing before loading was to remove the front coupler (to allow the locomotive body to sit further forward on the trailer for better weight distribution) and to take the hand brake chains loose. The port provided us a 115-ton gantry crane for the lift — we were the riggers and grunts. The spreader bar and chains were rigged on the crane, and crossties for cribbing were placed on the lowboy. The crane lifted the locomotive’s 50-ton body as if it were nothing and walked the body forward to the truck so no backing under the load was necessary. Final cribbing was placed and the body set down on the trailer. The final height was 15ft 2 inches, 3 inches lower than the permit allowed, and well below 16ft 2 inches, the lowest bridge that we would be passing under.

While the body was being tied down, the trucks were loaded on individual trailers as well as the front coupler, draft gear, body skirts and remaining cribbing. While we don’t move locomotives every day, this wasn’t our first move of this type. Anyone watching that has not done this before would think that a circus had arrived, with all the people scurrying about and discussing loading, tying down, etc. When the port and railroad supervisors were asked if loading unusual items always looked like a circus, we were given a very nice compliment, that although we thought we were disorganized, we actually had our plans and act together and that the loading went very well and better than most.

We were loaded, tied down and ready to leave by 1:15PM and arrived back at Bonsal at 6:00PM after a lunch stop and an uneventful trip with a police escort around the beltline. We returned the leased tractor and finally got home at 9:30 in the evening. Long day! Unloading was to be at 11:00 the next day October 11, or so we thought.

We had heard that there had been a train derailment in Gulf, NC that Friday the 10th. Upon arriving in Bonsal Saturday morning, I called Mid East Rail Services to tell them we were ready to unload that day as planned. I was told that they were in Gulf with ten cars on their side, so I called Mid East’s boss at the site and he
told me to come on over to Gulf and we would discuss unloading. I was assured that we would be unloaded Sunday with no problems as the ten cars in Gulf would be back on their tracks by the end of the day. No problem, as that let us do some work on 1686’s trucks while they were still out in the open. We called Mid East at 5:30PM to verify Sunday unloading, but they still had one car on the ground to get up early Sunday, but assured they would get us unloaded.

We went to Gulf again Sunday morning to watch the final car being picked up and to talk to Mid East. They told us that CSX had put a six motor locomotive on the ground in Hamlet right at the hump throat, shutting the yard down. CSX was jumping up and down to get that locomotive back on the track and the yard back working. Unloading would be at 1:30 after a quick run to Hamlet to get the locomotive back on the track and the yard back working. I was starting to get concerned since we had three trailers tied up that needed to be freed up. We were eating lunch at Bonsal when Mid East crossed the tracks on Daisy Street at 1:20 to unload us, with two hyrail cranes, a block truck, and a crew to do all the rigging and work (we were not expecting this, but it made things much easier on us).

Mid East set up the cranes and unloaded the 1686 trucks first, and then came the body. Rigged and lifted, the truck was driven out from under the body and then the body set down onto its wheels again. Bonsal had a new locomotive and we had had a busy day. Since we had cranes on site, the Heisler steam locomotive frame was loaded for movement to McCullers’ terminal and eventually West Virginia. Mid East did this in exchange for keeping McCullers’ trailers tied up longer than planned. Perhaps Mid East’s bill to CSX for rerailing that locomotive at Hamlet had that frame loading time figured in. All the trucks were returned to the terminal and I got home late again, after a very satisfying and safe weekend. The adventure had ended.

[Editor’s note: If you have photos or other info about long-ago events at the NCRM, please contact your acting 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 turn it into an article to benefit the entire membership. – CT]

Unscheduled Landing

Jimmy Sumerell photo

For the past ten years, NCRM members have been asking Gina the Flying Witch “When are you going to actually land that broom?” It finally happened on 22 October. On the second run, the zipline winch malfunctioned and Gina began a perfect glide path to the ground right in front of the cauldron. After three steps, she again was airborne, completing her run with a touch-and-go landing thrown in.

She never broke character, screeching at the folks on the train the entire time. The winch has since been made safe again and now our witch can maintain cruising altitude without worry. No, she did not learn a new trick and No, we can’t do it again… IF anyone has a photo of the landing, please share with your editor!

NCRM Cover Story
by Victor Varney

The Save the 10 story wound up as the cover story of the NRHS News this month.  It is a very large file (44MB), so be patient while downloading it.

Area Police Youth Program Charter Train Ride 5 November
by Victor Varney

Wells Fargo Advisors of Chapel Hill has again graciously offered to sponsor a charter train for a deserving group of kids. This year we have invited 4 local Police Departments to bring disadvantaged kids in their community outreach youth programs. As many of you know, the Durham Police Department’s Youth Athletic League visited us many times for weekday rides this past summer. The Police Departments coming are from Apex, Cary, Durham, and Pittsboro. Each will get their own excursion car and can bring up to 50-60 riders (youth and officers). The train runs at 11 am on Saturday November 5, rain or shine. There is no problem if they might see some of our Halloween decorations not yet taken down.

After the train ride, we have invited all 4 groups to stick around and have their own picnics, visit all our displays, see the garden railroad, and meet the loco engineer in the cab. A special group picture after the train ride will include a police car from each police department and all the participants next to one of our locos. This charter train is for a deserving bunch of kids, and will help us improve our relationship with 4 important police departments and towns in our area. So please get this on your calendar now and respond to Chris when he sends out his crew call in late October. If you have any questions, contact Victor.

Thanks to Pender Nursery for their Donation of Plants to the Museum!
by Marco Zarate

The NCRM express its appreciation to Pender Nursery for their in-kind donation of plants, shrubs, and trees to be planted at our rail yard and campus this fall.
We look forward to a continued support of Pender Nursery for the beautification and green landscaping of our museum.

Where are all the SAVE THE 10 Videos and Photos?
by Victor Varney

A couple Telegraphers ago, we asked that those with Save the 10 videos and photos to please provide copies to Victor Varney. Thus far NO ONE has responded except Jimmy Sumerell. Our goal was to get videos and photos collected to create a presentation during our Annual Member meeting in January 2023 and maybe later use as a fundraising DVD. If you have any videos or photos especially from the days of the move May 9-12, 2022 please contact Victor. He can send you a link to upload your videos and photos, or make other arrangements to get from you on a USB thumb drive or whatever works best for you. Come on! Many of you took pictures and videos. Now is your chance to share these with the rest of the NCRM with credit to you!

IF one of our members might like to go thru all these videos and photos to edit them into a presentation, Victor would really like your help.

The NCRM Archive is STILL Looking for a Few Good Telegraphers!
by Victor Varney

The effort to gather up and inventory in our new climate-controlled storage unit in Apex continues to make progress. Anita Hussey has done a great job going through now over 64 boxes of NCRM items and every single item in each box has been documented. Our first priority is to document the history of the NCRM by assembling a complete collection of Tarheel Telegraphers. That said, after 1992 Vol 2-4 to the end of 2005 we are missing lots of issues. From the early 1990s through 2004 there are a variety of different formats used as well. These issues we do have sometimes are only a single page. We aren’t sure if there was only 1 page in some issues, or if pages got separated. If you have a collection of Telegraphers that can help us fill the gaps between 1992 to 2004, please consider donating them to us. There is now a small box in the yard office where you can drop off your old Telegraphers or contact Victor Varney if you have any questions.

Vandals Strike MOW Yard Again
by Harold Boettcher

The Whitcomb locomotive has both East side windows broken, the “new” tie crane front windshield is broken, the Production Tamper door glass is broken and the RDC has a side door glass broken. Was anyone in the MOW yard Wednesday 26 October who noticed this? We need to try to determine when it happened.

November (+) Museum/Operating Schedule:
5 November – 11:00AM Police Groups Charter
9 November Wednesday ride 10:30AM
12 November Operate A Loco 11, 12, 1, 2PM
17 November BOD Meeting 6:00PM
18 November Friday ride 10:30AM
26 November Santa Decorating Day (with potluck lunch) 9:00AM
26 November Birthday Caboose Reopening Celebration 11:00AM
3 December Special Membership Meeting 8:00AM
3 December First Santa Trains (crew call forthcoming)

If you do not receive crew calls, please contact the crew caller if you are interested in participating!

2022 NC State Fair Garden Railroad Display

The End

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