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Steam & Excursion > Gettysburg RR, 10-16-1994


Date: 03/25/20 06:11
Gettysburg RR, 10-16-1994
Author: bigsavage

The Gettysburg RR in Adams County, PA. is much maligned by rail historians today because of its spotty safety and operating practices that led to the #1278 boiler explosion in 1995.
However, during its 20 year history it was a great subject for a railfan photographer.
Fujichrome slides by WW Jenkins
Little 2-8-0 #76 pulls out of the enginehouse, hooks up to an excursion to Biglerville, and proceeds past the grounds of Gettysburg College.








Date: 03/25/20 06:15
Re: Gettysburg RR, 10-16-1994
Author: bigsavage

#76 and the ill-fated 4-6-2 #1278 pose together.
#1278 switches in the Gettysburg yard
#1278 switches cars while Alco #70 awaits departure with another Biglerville excursion








Date: 03/25/20 06:21
Re: Gettysburg RR, 10-16-1994
Author: bigsavage

Alco#70 is in the lead on the x-Reading branch heading north over Herr's Ridge.
#1278 is pushing, ahead of the engine is GRR's fugly 2-level passenger car.






Date: 03/25/20 06:37
Re: Gettysburg RR, 10-16-1994
Author: co614

I was hired by a prospective buyer to do a complete audit of that operation shortly after the infamous boiler rupture on the CPR G-5. 

   I was astounded by what I found. Not only was all of the equipment in terrible mechanical shape ( cars & locomotives) but the files were full of federally submitted forms that contained total lies as to inspections done, repairs made etc. 

   How the principals ( and the FRA inspector(s) ) didn't end up serving some serious prison time is a mystery. 

   Ony by the grace of God that a whole lot of innocent folks weren't killed.

   Ross Rowland 



Date: 03/25/20 06:54
Re: Gettysburg RR, 10-16-1994
Author: ClubCar

co614 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I was hired by a prospective buyer to do a
> complete audit of that operation shortly after the
> infamous boiler rupture on the CPR G-5. 
>
>    I was astounded by what I found. Not only was
> all of the equipment in terrible mechanical shape
> ( cars & locomotives) but the files were full of
> federally submitted forms that contained total
> lies as to inspections done, repairs made etc. 
>
>    How the principals ( and the FRA inspector(s)
> ) didn't end up serving some serious prison time
> is a mystery. 
>
>    Only by the grace of God that a whole lot of
> innocent folks weren't killed.
>
>    Ross Rowland 
You are so correct with your statement here Ross; however, just think about this:  The owners son was the engineer on the ill fated train in which the boiler exploded and he was severely burned and in time these injuries took his life.  So it was a terrible price paid for their overall negligence.  And of course as you stated, it has caused all steam operators much more grief with more stringent rules and regulations.  I was always so happy to know how strict you and your operations were with both the 2101 and the 614 as I not only met you several times but knew a number of your employees who were very professional and adhered to these rules.  Thank God that you ran an excellent operation with steam especially during the operations of the Chessie Steam Special and the Chessie Steam Safety Express.  Those were the days.
John in White Marsh, Maryland



Date: 03/25/20 08:22
Re: Gettysburg RR, 10-16-1994
Author: ctjacks

I took a trip on the Gettysburg behind the 1278 about a year before the accident.
They operated the entire trip without a fireman in the engine - just the engineer and his 10-year-old daughter in the cab.  
I thought after the trip that I should report that to the relevant authorities (FRA) - but I didn't.  I learned a lesson about speaking up about unsafe practices the next year after the accident.



Date: 03/25/20 08:33
Re: Gettysburg RR, 10-16-1994
Author: Ironman

I was young at the time so I'm looking for memory help.

Was the first enginehouse at Gettysburg really large and then it was replaced with a smaller structure?

Thanks,

Alan



Date: 03/25/20 10:41
Re: Gettysburg RR, 10-16-1994
Author: NYCStL776

Was 1278 one of the pacifics operated by High Iron back in the 1960s or was that another Canadian Pacific 4-6-2?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/25/20 10:41 by NYCStL776.



Date: 03/25/20 11:01
Re: Gettysburg RR, 10-16-1994
Author: Keystone1

Yes.....1278 was 127 for a while.



Date: 03/25/20 11:03
Re: Gettysburg RR, 10-16-1994
Author: Ironman

NYCStL776 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Was 1278 one of the pacifics operated by High Iron
> back in the 1960s or was that another Canadian
> Pacific 4-6-2?

1278 was also known as 127 and operated as such on High Iron trips.   She also ran with that number at the Cadillac and Lake City RR. 

-Alan



Date: 03/25/20 14:07
Re: Gettysburg RR, 10-16-1994
Author: wcamp1472

The biggest factor in preventing a blevvy-Type explosion of the boiler was
the CP's design engineers that built-in a 'slow release', staged, controlled 
release of the boiler pressure --- in the case of extremely low water .
Typically,  that would be an area greater than 5%-8% of the crownsheet...

Some background:
In conventional firebox construction, the crown stays are tapered, such that
the threaded base of the stay is wider than the shank diameter.

In a 'dry-crown' scenario,  the 'cooling water' no longer keeps the roof of 
the firebox from sagging & melting.  Classic crown stays are 'driven' from
the fireside of the sheet up through the outer firebox wrapper sheet.
The arch of the outer sheet, by means of the stays, supports the firebox 
structure agsinst the hundreds of tons  of pressure attempting to collapse
the whole furnace ( firebox structure).

For a sense of the total pressure on the whole firebox, simply calculate the number
of square inches of the outside of the firebox dimensions, then multiply that number
( thousands of sq. Inches), by the operating boiler pressure. In this case BP is 250 PSI...

The classic construction method was to support the whole crown sheet with the inverted,
conical threads  of the crown stays.  As the heat-softened crown sheet lost its grip ( threads)
on the smaller diameter of the the tapered crown stays --- the overheated sheets would
try to slip off the stays....but the larger diameter of the inverted cone-threaded bolt prevented
the steel from totally dropping off... 

Soon, a whole array of bolts supporting the overheated sheet, was allowing the sagging sheet
to slip down, the stay bolts.... As the steel gets hotter and hotter, it finally drops off of the bolts 
in a massive collapse of the crown sheet.

The resulting drop in pressure led to virtually all of the water ( at 400 degrees) to flash into 
'rocket fuel' when realeased into the atmospheric pressure of 15 psi...

The violence of the explosions  threw the boilers hundreds of into the air -- and p, typically,
threw the boiler 1,000 ft, or more, down the rails --- often the rolling train would run into its own 
boiler,  lying upside down on the rails ahead.

More facts:  Steel, when heated to a dull red, barely visible glow, is 8-times weaker, than when
submerged under water...  no wonder the sheet's threads soften, and begin to drop-off of the bolts..
What happened to the 'safety factor of four", required by the boiler design code ???

The CP's innovative approach ( employed in boiler construction in the 1940's) was to use 
straight-threaded bolts on the first two rows of stays, at the front of the crowns sheet.
Then the next two rows if stays were of the inverted taper design.  Then two rows of straight 
threaded stays, followed by two rows of tapered stays.

NOW, when the red hot sheets eventually drop off of the straight threads, a CONTROLLED
RELEASE of the boiler pressure allows the escaping steam the slowly be release to the
atmosphere.  Typically, in the earlier explosion, the explosion 'event' happens in under
a second .... With the controlled-release design, the time is stretched to 15 to 20
seconds of less violent steam release into the atmosphere, the ash pan and the cab.

THANK GOD, the 1279 was built with the controlled-release design of firebox.
THAT is the only thing that saved that little town in Pennsylvania and the lives 
of the amateurs in the cab of 1278.

During the NTSB investigation of the tragedy, they collected testimony from the cab
survivors and other mechanical staff of the Gettysburg RR.  
Under oath, the crew and staff were each asked to demonstrate/describe the proper way to test
a locomotive boiler's sight-glass.
NONE OF THE EMPLOYEES KNEW HOW TO DO THAT!!!!!
NONE!

That's in the sworn testimony, before the NTSB's committee,  from those clowns.....

So, we would not have a 'steam' board ( here) today, we would not have a 4014 running today!
Tne NTSB & the FRA  would have shut-down any operation of steam locomotives in this country...
had the 1278 been 'launched' by a blevvy event in Pennsylvania.
Jim Cornell, later died from the long term after-effects of his boiler-caused injuries.

It was the wisdom and foresight of the CP, MLW designers that saved us all,
and the lives of that crew

There were at least 10 other MAJOR mechanical and boiler defects.that all played a role
in this disaster.  I reviewed the office copies of the FRA boiler inspection forms that Jim Cornell 
had signed.  He had signed-off on the mechanical items in the reports and the boiler items on
the submitted reports, going back over the 5-years of office records that I examined...

There is no physical evidence on the 1278, to this day  that indicates that any day-to-day repairs 
were made, or that the boiler was ever properly inspected and tested, while under Cornell's
care white at Gettysburg RR..


Wes Camp

to be proofed, yet



Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 03/25/20 18:35 by wcamp1472.



Date: 03/25/20 22:53
Re: Gettysburg RR, 10-16-1994
Author: TristateSteam

I was there about two years before these pictures were taken. After the trip I went to look at the locomotive I observed that there was water ruining out of the firebox down into the ash pan. In addition there were several stay bolts blowing steam I think there were more than 5. What happened to the rule of 2-3-4-5, no 2 side by side no 3 in a 4 foot circle no 5 in the whole boiler. I started to try to talk with the crew but they treated me like some mainline RR crews treat "foamers". Not real friendly at all. I decided to get away from this accident waiting to happen.



Date: 03/26/20 05:34
Re: Gettysburg RR, 10-16-1994
Author: ns1000

I cannot remember.... was 1278 later scrapped??



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/26/20 05:35 by ns1000.



Date: 03/26/20 05:59
Re: Gettysburg RR, 10-16-1994
Author: miniempire

It appears to be at the Age Of Steam Roundhouse https://www.ageofsteamroundhouse.org/canadian-pacific-4-6-2-no-1278/



Date: 03/26/20 07:04
Re: Gettysburg RR, 10-16-1994
Author: MaryMcPherson

ctjacks Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I took a trip on the Gettysburg behind the 1278
> about a year before the accident.
> They operated the entire trip without a fireman in
> the engine....

You are not the only one to have such an experience.  My friend Kurt stopped by there in 1992, and was the only one in the cab besides the engineer.  I don't think he quite realized how poorly the place was run at the time... but it VERY evident that #1278 was a sick puppy.  1995 obviously drove home the point.

Mary McPherson
Dongola, IL
Diverging Clear Productions



Date: 03/26/20 11:46
Re: Gettysburg RR, 10-16-1994
Author: wcamp1472

Thank you to all the reports about active problems observed on 1278.

So...
What do we do about it, in today's world?

Report it!
Immediately


Photos are invaluable.
Get close-ups of the FRA forms, in the cab ( white or yellow paper)

CONTACT ME DIRECTLY AT 703-928-8052

I know and can contact the BEST in the steam engine business...both at the private level
and the Federal level.    We will develop a way to quantify and isolate the problems
on an immediate basis.

Its the old: See something?
                  Say Someting!

The next "massive boiler event" will be the LAST---- the regulators will NOT hesitate
to stop all Locomotive boilers from operating -- permanently....

Do NOT be hesitant, you do not have to be a 'steam guru' to know when something 
or operation doesn't. " look right..".  As you can see from the relevant comments, above,
that ordinary folks can sense when unsafe practices are endangering workers and the public.

Our network of concerned leaders will treat all reports of questionable practices and bad condtions
with confidentiality, professionalism and legal rigor as we swoop down the possible bad-actors.
The professionals doing the gathering of the facts and pictures are the BEST.

Record the pics, sounds, statements, of the disturbing conditions and bad practices for use
by members of investigating committees

If, however, the offending property owners object to legitnate investigative efforts ----
THAT IS A CLEAR "RED FLAG" THAT THEYRE TRYING TO HIDE THE TRUTH FROM
REGULATORS AND HINDERING  VERIFICATION OF UNSAFE PRACTICES.
UNSAFE PRACTICES CAN ENDANGER YOU AND THE PUBLIC.

So, we will NOT hesitate to get the highest, relevant regulating entities involved --- 
THEN. they can enforce the laws, and mitigate or eliminate the dangers ---- if they uncover
clear and demonstrable facts and evidence about unsafe boiler operation.

I am deadly serious ---- as you SEE someting , SAY something .
The eye-witness examples above, are clear evidence that ordinary folks can spot
when things ain't right, or safe.  Capture pictures for us...

DO NOT REMAIN SILENT


CONTACT me, 24/7x365....Please & Thank You!!!
Night or Day..
 
Wes Camp
wcamp91543@aol.com
Cell:  [url=tel:703- 928-8052]703- 928-8052[/url]
Fairfax, Va.


 



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/26/20 12:53 by wcamp1472.



Date: 03/27/20 22:10
Re: Gettysburg RR, 10-16-1994
Author: Harlock

I often use the NTSB report from the Gettysburg incident as a cautionary tale. 

The findings from the recent B17 crash had some eerie echos.  Same kinds of institutional problems that created a chain of failures that eventually took a lot of lives.

-M

Mike Massee
Tehachapi, CA
Photography, Railroading and more..



Date: 03/28/20 09:36
Re: Gettysburg RR, 10-16-1994
Author: OHCR1551

Same thing happened to Dick and Mary Marshall, Jerry Jacobson and most of what is now the AOSR crew. They all tried to ask questions or offer help and the Gettysburg crew acted as if they had no idea what they were talking about.

Rebecca Morgan
Jacobsburg, OH



Date: 03/30/20 19:55
Re: Gettysburg RR, 10-16-1994
Author: steam290

No one seems to be bringing up the owner's other operation, the Knox and Kane.  That railroad was like a backwoods, third-world railroad in western PA. I rode the Knox and Kane in '98.  I've never been on such a poorly kept train or right of way. They had that Chinese Mike (58) which is now at the Valley Railroad.  The track was so rough that people were getting sick.  I had a special affection for the railroad because of its roughness. It was like some mom and pop short line that could barely pay the bills.  I also wondered how the FRA let them operate, especially since that boiler explosion had already occured. So weird. My mind still reels over it.  Later, the Kinzua bridge fell into the gorge, and the engine house burned up with two steamers inside. What a tragedy.



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