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Steam & Excursion > Strasburg Engineer Program

Date: 09/24/20 08:35
Strasburg Engineer Program
Author: Tominde

Straburg RR ocasionally offers 1/2 hour slots on their engines for engineer program. This was engine #90 a 2-10-0.  This is not part of the regular excursion, but run out of Leaman Place (Paradise). Cost is $400 for engineer and $300 to fire for 30 minutes.

I have  done over 2000 miles of regular mainline passenger service in Poland as engineer.  This was my first American experience,  Basically the same controls up but a few notable differences.  The Polish engines use screw reversers.  It was nice not having to crank the big wheel.  Bells.  I only encountered one Polish engine with a bell.  It was narrow guage  Train brakes were identical, a #6 I believe,  but 90 had a slightly more sophisticated independent brake.  I was impressed how smoothly eveything worked on the Strasburg engine.  Polish throttles can be a beast to adjust  I nearly yanked it out when I first went to open it.  Oh my that has a nice feel. 

I expected a small crowd of people there to be participants and spectate.  There was really nobody else there other than a family that had seen a steam engine from Route 30 and stopped for a quick snapshot. One other person and his friend bought up most of the other time sots.  No photos are allowed in the cab.  Water is trucked mid-day to Leaman Place.  The engineer runs have to be coordinated with the regular excursion.  On my 12:40 run our first move was back to the the NS/Amtrak interchange track to clear for 475 run around move.  The Strasburg engineer had to do that. 

The run is down to the Pumkinville Turnpike bridge, site of many famous photo charter runbys.  It is about a mile.  Our train is a 4 wheel bobber caboose.  But we only used the independent brake.  The sequence.  Open the cylinder cocks, bring the reverser forward, release the brakes, open the throttle just a little.  Clear the switch, close the cocks and open the throttle some more and back off the reverser a little. It is a slight up grade coming out of Leamon Place.   A private crossing merits bell and whistle.  The bell is air actuated. Then it's push the throttle in, but not  completely off, center reverser, open cylinder cocks.  The mantra in America is, if the engine is moving the throttle is open. In Poland,  it's throttle off and you can drift for miles like that.  I don't know how they keep cylinders lubricated.      Apply the brake, bring it to an easy stop.  Reverse the whole process.  Yes in Poland we did a good bit of back up running, at 60 mph.  I think there are as many ways  to lean out the window backwards as there are body types.  

Back to Leaman Place and ready for do it again.  (You get 2 runs in 30 min).  But there is an issue with the brakes sticking on the caboose.  Huh???  I hadn't touched the train brake.  Give it a good swift encouragement with a boot and it opened.  Perhaps the conductor valve is a bit leaky?   Short delay.  Out and back again.  It is a fun time and I would recommend it for anyone who has not run a steam engine.  The instructor was excellent and they are not going to let you fail.  Save your pennies and watch for future experiences, 

#1  90 and Bobber Caboose prepping outside the engine house.  The brakes would later stick on the bobber.
#2  Taking water at Leamon Place.  4000 gal box tanker is a little different..
#3   90 at Pumpkinville Turnpike bridge during a photo charter last October.  This is the destination of the engineer program.

Date: 09/24/20 09:16
Re: Strasburg Engineer Program
Author: boejoe

Great report and photos.  Thanks Tom.

Date: 09/24/20 09:55
Re: Strasburg Engineer Program
Author: bigmc83

Great pictures and report.  I bought my dad an engineer's session in 475 last year during the 611 visit.  He had a blast, and our family got to hang out and take pictures of him operating it (no limitations on that to my knowledge)  It was a rainy day, but still a fun outing, and the opportunity justified the price.  Talking to the employees, this sounds like it will continue on for the foreseeable future.

-Sean McCaffery

Date: 09/24/20 13:55
Re: Strasburg Engineer Program
Author: Tominde

At $1400 an hour for engineer + fireman I would think it has to help the income a little. I'm surprised more tourist lines don't offer this.

Posted from Android

Date: 09/24/20 14:43
Re: Strasburg Engineer Program
Author: Mgoldman

Deer Park water in a 5 gallon jug is about $11, with a delivery fee tacked on.

I wonder how much Strasburg pays for a delievery of water?  (A LOT of water).

Assume that was done to prevent a logistics issue back at the station?


Date: 09/24/20 19:59
Re: Strasburg Engineer Program
Author: gregscholl

Tominde Wrote:
> At $1400 an hour for engineer + fireman I would
> think it has to help the income a little. I'm
> surprised more tourist lines don't offer this.
> Posted from Android

In the beginning it was stated to be $400.00 for 30 minutes!!! $1400 seems a bit steep!
Nice idea, but would prefer to pull a train rather than just a caboose, but it might suffice!

Date: 09/24/20 21:37
Re: Strasburg Engineer Program
Author: Tominde

Greg, both are correct.  $400 for engineer for 30 min and $300 to fire. or $700  total income per half hour or $1400 per hour.  They don't spend much time standing still between runs. 

Date: 09/25/20 18:33
Re: Strasburg Engineer Program
Author: rkennedy2

I did not realize the In Cab Experience actually runs uphill back to Pumpkinville turnpike bridge.  I though they just went up and back on the interchange track.  So this is on my bucket list for next year.  Rode the 2pm train today, my 3rd this season.  I was pretty well patronized for a weekday. 

Date: 09/26/20 03:09
Re: Strasburg Engineer Program
Author: Lucasjames

My brother and I did the Valley Railroad Hand On the Throttle experience which I highly recommend. You get a full hour, 12 mile round trip at the throttle running light without a train. I can’t say enough about the experience. I ran the Chinese mikado. Impressive operation in Essex Connecticut.

Posted from iPhone

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