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Boothbay Railway Village Steam Course 2003:

For more information on this course go to
<http://www.railwayvillage.org/boothbayrailwaya.html>

Every boy's fantasy, to drive a real steam engine. I had a chance to live that fantasy in Boothbay Maine the weekend of October 18-19, 2003. Spending time in that part of Maine each Summer, I immediately became enamoured with these little narrow-gauge (2 foot) Henschel "Monta" engines which were used on construction sites in Germany. Boothbay has three of these engines of which 2 are operational. The oldest dates from 1913, the newest from 1934. An H0 version was once available as both a kit and finished from MFB. The LGB Stainz replicates this engine in G-scale, just remember to swap the smokestack.

The two day course was structured such that the first day was spent learning about the theory of steam locomotive operation with the second being a hands-on exercise in which each participant was able to drive the engines. The weather was perfect and a terrific time was had by all. The high of the day kept me awake on my 8 hour drive home and provided sweet dreams as I still wore the aroma of coal and steam...

This past summer I spent a day working which included helping get the boiler fired up and lubricating all the friction points. Then it was my job to make sure the fire was kept going, that water was injected into the boiler when needed, and blowing out the condensation from the pistons. Oh, I got to drive a few times too. Very hot, hard, work, but a wonderful experience.


Brian, our instructor explaining the inside of the boiler


Our engines


Getting ready to fire up the boilers for a fun filled day of learning and practicing steam operation


The boiler was started up with wood fires before coal (anthracite) was added. Anthracite was used because it burns cleaner.


Me, standing in the cab as we pick up our open car before heading out on the 3/4 mile loop which features two steep grades, one up, one down. Both engines were on the track at the same time which made for occasional excitement and hard braking. Despite its incredible romanticism, firing up an engine and driving were very physical work, especially controlling the throttle and the "Johnson bar" which controls direction and the amount of steam reaching the pistons. The downgrade was taken with the throttle closed and the engine set to reverse using the pistons as air breaks. Worked amazingly well.


Starting up and blowing condesation out of the pistons.


Looking around during our lunch break.

Steamcourse Videos at YouTube

  • Part 1: Introductions, building the fire, and learning about the injector for feedwater.
  • Part 2: Injectors, valve gear and drive train, lubrication, and racing the other team to get on the track first. We lost.
  • Part 3: The other team hits the track first while we watch... A pleasure in its own right.
  • Part 4: We finally hit the tracks, get our train, and I get to learn the art of firing (and injecting the feedwater...)
  • Part 5: I learn the fine art of driving, and am rough before getting the hang of it. My first lap ends with a hard braking as we didn't notice the other train ahead of us and parked in the station... Teachable moment for all.
  • Part 6: Have the hang of it and the time of my life driving around again. Then get to relax in the back while others get their turn. Final shots of the train heading past my 1975 BMW 2002 "Wahnsinn," a term that describes this weekend in every respect. The memories still live on.


Peter's & Hope' s Märklin Trains © 1998 -
Peter D. Verheyen
Last Modified: Saturday, 14-Sep-2013 14:09:17 EDT
URL: http://www.philobiblon.com/ /eisenbahn/steamcourse.shtml