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What is it about steam locomotive models that seduces you and me?

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Wednesday, May 27, 2020 9:17 PM

mbinsewi

I've never been seduced by a steam locomotive.

Maybe somewhat amazed by all of the moving parts, but never seduced.

Mike.

 

So Mike, I have to ask, have you seen any/much steam operate in person?

Even small or mid sized locos like those typically used on many tourist lines are pretty impressive to stand next to.

Last year the grandson and I saw N&W 611 at Strasburg, pretty awesome.

Virus shutdown excluded, operation at Strasburg is like getting in a time machine and going back to the turn of the century. During the busiest seasons, trains leave the station every half hour, all pulled by steam. And trains actually pass each other out on the line.

Their biggest loco is a 1924 2-10-0, not big, but big enough.......

Sheldon 

    

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Posted by Little Timmy on Wednesday, May 27, 2020 9:32 PM

Let's face it , the steam locomotive was the "space shuttle" of the 1830s thru the 1900s.  Once the Automobile came along, the "marvel and adventure " of traveling long distances became common for the every day man. 

For me, there's just something about watching all that animated HEAVY machinery moving that I find fascinating.  (Its like observing the inner workings of a pocket watch.)

But, I also enjoy the diesels too.

Rust...... It's a good thing !

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Posted by Track fiddler on Wednesday, May 27, 2020 9:46 PM

Well, ... Neanderthal and Caveman used fire to cook food.

Steamer tamed it and put it to loco motionPirate...Bow  and served that same food in dining cars.

Now people could finally eat moving along in a steel framed wooden enclosure at 50 miles an hour.

Much better than sitting around a campfire waiting for the Bears to smell it and possibly coming around to eat youLaugh

 

 

TF

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, May 27, 2020 9:54 PM

Trainman440
The complexity a steam engine shows, the pipes, moving parts, and various odd shapes, gives a feeling of wonder and mystery. That is contrasted to the diesel, in which everything is covered up.

Yeah, but I have had large Detroit Diesels and EMD engines all the way down to the bare blocks. Even though my F7s are "covered up", I know what is going on beneath the rocker covers.

Seeing just two connecting rods and no crankshaft is actually pretty boring when the comparisson is made.

gmpullman
In addition to all the positive responses above, having steam on my layout gives me the opportunity to have a roundhouse and turntable, ash pit, water plugs and tanks, fire cleaning tools and coaling facilities.

Oh boy... I am dedicating 6 linear feet of layout to steam service facilities... more than 10% of layout space will be for steam locomotive display.

The diesel facilities will be 12 inches along the backdrop.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by ricktrains4824 on Wednesday, May 27, 2020 10:19 PM

While I am too young (34) to have seen steam in regular service, I have been blessed to see excursions and passenger trips. EBT, Knox & Kane, 765, a couple of small tank steamers, and some other museum queens, I have had a bunch of steam exposure. (One museum near me has a operational fireless steam locomotive. Talk about a queen!!!)

So I do love me a hard working (and good looking) steam locomotive. 

While my layout theme is way closer to present day than regular steam operations, nothing prevents me from having a special excursion steamer or two, plus I have a old Revell HO-scale 4-8-8-4 static model for a museum queen once the layout is together. (After all, model railroading is FUN!)

For me, really anything trains is cool, be it steam, diesel, or electric. But between Alco's and Steamers, there is just something about old (compared to me) locomotives that I like! 

Ricky W.

HO scale Proto-freelancer.

My Railroad rules:

1: It's my railroad, my rules.

2: It's for having fun and enjoyment.

3: Any objections, consult above rules.

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Posted by CapnCrunch on Thursday, May 28, 2020 1:46 AM
Several eloquent and poetic homages to steam have been posted here.  Well done!  I rode on trains a few times in the early 50s to visit my grandparents back on the farm.  I’m told they were steam driven but frankly I was too young to notice. 
 
My first clear memory of steam was in the mid-50s at an amusement park called Knott’s Berry Farm.  Knott’s was a large chicken dinner restaurant in a suburb of Los Angeles.  The owner, Walter Knott, had dismantled an actual mining ghost town (Calico) and had it reconstructed adjacent to the restaurant.  He also purchased a narrow-gauge Consolidated 2-8-0 locomotive and some passenger cars from the Denver & Rio Grande to create his own railroad that went right down the main street of Calico.
 
After dinner, we would visit the ghost town where you could pan for gold and the train would be sitting right there, fired up and ready to make its next circuit of the park.  There were no fences or railings to channel visitors.  People were free to mill around and get up close to the equipment.  I can still recall many details of this massive piece of machinery, hissing steam, smelling of oil and grease and smoke from the fire box.  When it came time to make its next run, the engineer would give several blasts of the whistle to clear the tracks.  The close proximity to all this made a vivid impression on me as a young boy.
 
However, on a daily basis I was also exposed to the enormity of freight trains with their diesel engines and this produced other lasting memories.  While my layout is currently being designed with early diesel switchers and road switchers in mind, this discussion has me considering adding steam to the roster. 
 
Thanks Kevin for creating this thoughtful thread.
 
Tim
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Posted by Track fiddler on Thursday, May 28, 2020 2:02 AM

Tim

Lance and I spent a day at Knott's Berry Farm amusement park with the two girls that were our dates at the time in about 1983. 

Lance and I lived in Canoga Park California for a short time.  A little over a year before we got sick of the fast-paced life and came back to Minnesota with our tails between our legsLaugh

I remember the one ride we all went on called Montezuma's Revenge.  I never did like Wicked amusement park rides and stopped going on them well over 15 years ago.

Knott's Berry Farm has some really good worldwide recognized jams, jellies, preserves and syrups I seem to remember.  I think I may look those up on the internet tomorrow and maybe bring back some old memories.

 

 

TF

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Posted by Track fiddler on Thursday, May 28, 2020 2:24 AM

Post-hog

We'll look at that, I got it after all didn't ILaugh

I guess I'm having one of those nights where I can't sleep and somehow managed to stay up too late. 

And all for what?  I thought the Bear was just starting his day at this hour?

(Edit) Went through my pictures of Steamers and tried to post one but imager wasn't working.  Oh well, I best better be going back to hitting the rack.  If I make it now to 7:30 sleepwise, I will have 5 z's

 

Perfect!

 

 

TF

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Posted by mbinsewi on Thursday, May 28, 2020 7:12 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
So Mike, I have to ask, have you seen any/much steam operate in person?

I have to admit Sheldon, I've never been next to a working steam locomotive.  I have been next to the Big Boy that is at the National Train Museum in Green Bay, WI., but that is just a static display, although the size of that giant is very impressive.  It's in a building, so it's hard to get a good overall view.  I have pictures, but they don't do it justice.

Mike.

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Posted by Tinplate Toddler on Thursday, May 28, 2020 7:46 AM

When I grow up and get rich, I am going to have a gauge 1 layout with steam engines from KM1, just like in the following video, which I have posted a number of times, but do not get tired watching! It´s the closest to the real thing you can get in a model!

Happy times!

Ulrich (aka The Tin Man)

"You´re never too old for a happy childhood!"

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Posted by IRONROOSTER on Thursday, May 28, 2020 8:51 AM

For me steam locomotives just seem to have personality and diesels don't. 

When I was 10 (1957) my father was stationed in Germany and behind our house there was railroad on which ran a steam engine.  It must have been a branch or spur line because trains only ran once or twice a day as I remember - but it was always a small steam locomotive.

Also while in Germany I and my brothers each got a Fleischmann train set - all steam.

So steam has always appealed to me.

I still have that Fleischmann set and it still runs.  Occaisionally I'll set up a loop of HO track and just run it remembering days of long ago.

Paul

If you're having fun, you're doing it the right way.
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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, May 28, 2020 8:55 AM

mbinsewi

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL
So Mike, I have to ask, have you seen any/much steam operate in person?

 

I have to admit Sheldon, I've never been next to a working steam locomotive.  I have been next to the Big Boy that is at the National Train Museum in Green Bay, WI., but that is just a static display, although the size of that giant is very impressive.  It's in a building, so it's hard to get a good overall view.  I have pictures, but they don't do it justice.

Mike.

 

Well that explains it. You don't need to see a Big Boy operate to get the effect, a simple Consolidation, Mikado or Decopod will do nicely. Even a Prarie or Mogal can get your heart pounding.......

But once you see N&W 611, or NKP 765 or 759, or  UP 844, you will really understand.

When the virus is over, come visit me and we can go steam watching........

I can't wait for C&O 1309 to be completed, she is just a "little" articulated loco, and still a monster.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by BigDaddy on Thursday, May 28, 2020 9:01 AM

mbinsewi
I have to admit Sheldon, I've never been next to a working steam locomotive.

You need to revise your bucket list. 

The last CEO of the B&O claims that the President Washington will be leading the 200th aniversary of the B&O.  That would be 2027.  You shouldn't wait that long.

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by sandusky on Thursday, May 28, 2020 9:08 AM
I rode behind CN 6167 and 6218 as a kid; pretty much like no other experience, and one that words cannot explain. Edaville trip too; not really in the same league.
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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, May 28, 2020 9:13 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
Well that explains it. You don't need to see a Big Boy operate to get the effect, a simple Consolidation, Mikado or Decopod will do nicely. Even a Prarie or Mogal can your heart pounding.....

Yes, that is completely true. 

However, I was bitten by the model steam bug back in the late 1990s, and I never started going to excursion steam runs until about 10 years ago.

So, while I love to see operating steam, that is not what infected me with the love for steam locomotive models.

Someday, I will post my story of my experience with 611, but that will wait, literally to protect the innocent. I do not want to get anyone in trouble. It was a real one-in-a-million experience that was perfect for me.

That day with 611 a couple of years ago forever has cemented my attraction to steam.

No pictures of me and 611, but I love being close to real steam.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by herrinchoker on Friday, May 29, 2020 1:41 AM

My GranPa Roy introduced me to steam in 1946. He was the yard master for the Missouri Pacific in Brownsville, reciently retired, and he took me from Brownsville to McAllen Texas in the cab of a 2-8-0. It was hot, noisey, moved around a lot, and I loved it. During the next three years we made that trip several times. 

Watching the operation of the engine with all of it's moving parts was truly somthing to behold. This started my love affair with steam power in all of it's forms.  Nothing speaks to raw power like the application of steam. 

While I have bucu diesels for the layout, my favorites are all of my steamers.

herrinchoker

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Posted by Tinplate Toddler on Friday, May 29, 2020 2:13 AM

When I was just an inch above being a toddler, my dad used to take my older brother and me to the train station on weekends, so we were out of the way for the weekly house cleaning. I remember one day when he lifted me up into the cab. When the fireman opened the fire door, I jumped straight back and landed on a bed of coal. I was more impressed than terrified. It must have been that moment my love as well as my respect for steam engines began.

Needless to say that my mom had a few choice words when she saw me upon my return from this adventure!

Happy times!

Ulrich (aka The Tin Man)

"You´re never too old for a happy childhood!"

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Posted by BRAKIE on Friday, May 29, 2020 6:13 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
But once you see N&W 611, or NKP 765 or 759, or UP 844, you will really understand.

Sheldon, When I started railfaning in Columbus around '56 PRR and  N&W was still running main line steam and 65 years later I can still smell the hot steam, hot grease and coal smoke from passing steam locomotives. I saw the "General" when it was on display at the Columbus Union Station.

I chased the 614,765,611 and 1218 when they was nearby.

My fondest memory is the watching the 765 and 1225 doubleheading out of Huntington W.Va in '91. I drove  100 miles to see that.

Still I modeled 100% diesels except for a Shay powered short line and my Detroit Connecting which was steam and diesel powered.

At 72 there's a very good chance of me modeling a Santa Fe steam powered branch.

Larry

Conductor.

Summerset Ry.


"Stay Alert, Don't get hurt  Safety First!"

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Posted by John-NYBW on Friday, May 29, 2020 8:11 AM

BRAKIE

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL
But once you see N&W 611, or NKP 765 or 759, or UP 844, you will really understand.

 

 

My fondest memory is the watching the 765 and 1225 doubleheading out of Huntington W.Va in '91. I drove  100 miles to see that

 

I think I was on that train, Brakie. If I knew you were there I would have waved to you. WinkWink

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Posted by John-NYBW on Friday, May 29, 2020 8:18 AM

SeeYou190

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL
Well that explains it. You don't need to see a Big Boy operate to get the effect, a simple Consolidation, Mikado or Decopod will do nicely. Even a Prarie or Mogal can your heart pounding.....

 

Yes, that is completely true. 

However, I was bitten by the model steam bug back in the late 1990s, and I never started going to excursion steam runs until about 10 years ago.

So, while I love to see operating steam, that is not what infected me with the love for steam locomotive models.

Someday, I will post my story of my experience with 611, but that will wait, literally to protect the innocent. I do not want to get anyone in trouble. It was a real one-in-a-million experience that was perfect for me.

That day with 611 a couple of years ago forever has cemented my attraction to steam.

No pictures of me and 611, but I love being close to real steam.

-Kevin

 

The 611 was the first real steamer I ever rode behind. This was sometime in the early 1980s. I believe we went up to Bucyrus and back from Columbus, OH. We rode in an open window coach and I had on a pair of goggles for eye protection. Every so often I would stick my head out the window and I'd feel the cinders on my face. At the end of the day, I had a raccoon face. 

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Posted by rrebell on Friday, May 29, 2020 11:00 AM

Steam is just more complex. A simple service area for diesel is a fuel pipe and sand. For steam it is water, fuel, sand and ash pit, twice as much stuff. Also turntables are needed or wyes for steam but not for diesels. Service areas for repairs are more complex too for steam and you need more water tanks on the road.

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Posted by snjroy on Friday, May 29, 2020 11:17 AM

I was born in the sixties, so I don't have that bond to the real steam locos others have. But to respond to the question, I like my little steam engines because they have cool moving parts. Adds interest to my miniature world... I never saw a real logging locomotive, but they are "king" on my home layout. Steam just adds more fun and detail in a small layout.

On the other hand, our club layout is on the larger side, with 3 levels in a 15 feet by 30 feet space, and I find that diesels are well suited for the long mainline there. I do run my steam, and they are always a hit, but diesels pulling a long set of cars look great in that wider space.  

Simon  

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, May 29, 2020 11:22 AM

I think, for me at least, it must have something to do with the shape. There is a whole "form follows function" design of steam locomotives that is appealing to my eye.

I realized this because I really do not especially like the look of streamlined and skirted steam locomotives. That ruins the look for me.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by Track fiddler on Friday, May 29, 2020 12:41 PM

I do have my favorites.

Like you guys haven't seen that picture beforeWhistling

 Image from Back to the Future lll

Here's another 4-4-0 at 88 miles an hour slipping into a Time Warp.

 

 

TF

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Posted by PRR8259 on Friday, May 29, 2020 1:36 PM

Born in 1968, and I like Alco Century diesels...until you put a fine steam model up next to the Alco Century, which doesn't seem "alive" by comparison, and then the fine steam model just seems to...really outshine...even the best Alco Century model I can find.  I've only ever seen a handful of Alco Century diesels running, also, and even less of them actually pulling a freight train.

I saw the Reading T-1 on the Freedom Train, but not moving, and my only experiences of live prototype steam are Strasburg, New Hope & Ivyland, Steamtown, Tweetsie, and the best one: Grand Canyon Railway 4960 actually working, pulling the train we rode (we rode the dome car).

I've effectively banned any more new diesels from my roster and switched to steam.  All the Alco/MLW's are gone--sold in favor of steam.  There's one Genesis Reading GP-7 in green and yellow and one old Stewart chicken wire PRR F-3A, partly to remember my friends who loved Reading and PRR and are now dead and gone.  My son retains 3 modern diesels, but also has two 4-6-6-4's.

Even steam models just standing still with no sound are more exciting for me than diesels...but also sometimes it is challenging to get the model steam to run at its best.

John

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Posted by selector on Friday, May 29, 2020 3:00 PM

rrebell

Steam is just more complex. A simple service area for diesel is a fuel pipe and sand. For steam it is water, fuel, sand and ash pit, twice as much stuff. Also turntables are needed or wyes for steam but not for diesels. Service areas for repairs are more complex too for steam and you need more water tanks on the road.

 

...rod knocking, lubing with hand pot or grease gun, draining pumps,... Big Smile

 

I think that those who worked on steam had to know them better.  They developed a more intimate relationship and understanding of what made them work reliably.  When you bend between two giant drivers and dab some oil here and there, you get to see more.  You remember more.  You notice more changes.

There were two sight glasses, two injectors, two pressure gauges, and they got both crewmen talking and sharing both information and concerns.  Their sounds told the crew that things were changing...or steady.  Both had to remind themselves that they relied on a robust and groomed fire to keep them on schedule.  When one was busy with the fire, the engine's eyes became a single pair at track speed.

For me, it is the darkened loom with its roar and shaking earth beneath my feet, and the fear that it was going to topple over on me because it is impossibly top heavy...and rocking as it approaches.  Water and mist was moving everywhere about me as it passed.  And, the heat and concussive resonances of shockwaves as they emanated from the passing firebox caused by the repeated inflow and outflow of high pressure steam entering and leaving those hot cylinders.

To an uneducated kid, as I was back when I stood close-by and let Baldwin 2-8-0's thunder past me up the 3% grades in the Andes Mountains 60 years ago, locomotives threatened me, but they also compelled me.  I stood, transfixed, in spitting distance and couldn't keep my eyes open when they bore down and roared past.

I like trains.  I still do convenient rail fanning when wife and I drive through the Fraser Canyon.  Who wouldn't.  I do thrill to catch a diesel and train at a specific spot that elicits a great picture or two. But, I was a wide-eyed fan when I was knee high to me Dear Ol' Dad, and in Canada, and then in Peru, it was all steam until 1963 when the mining corporation purchased its first diesel, an ALCO 420 or whatever it was...definitely an ALCO.

I do like diesels, as my examples of southern BC rail fanning will attest:

However, this is where my treasure is, and my heart also:

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, May 30, 2020 7:38 AM

PRR8259
I've only ever seen a handful of Alco Century diesels running, also, and even less of them actually pulling a freight train

One of the most impressive things I've experienced was one of PC's C636s coming through Trenton station at speed.  The sound of the exhaust was loud enough to actually hurt the ears, easily the equal of most stack talk I have heard since (I have wondered if this reflected a cracked exhaust manifold or some other maintenance-related issue).

The GE U34CH locomotives would also provide a near-perfect approximation of a steam locomotive with poppet valves when accelerating away from stations, in particular north out of North Hackensack toward River Edge where you could hear echoes of the 'talk' for upwards of a minute.  In the late '80s on a good cold winter night it was possible to hear one working south out of Suffern, accelerating and slowing and blowing for crossings, all the way from south of Westwood; I thought at the time it was remarkably like what a Pacific-hauled train on the Pascack Valley would sound like.

Modeling either of these 'correctly' for the experience would require much more of a sound system than usually provided in modeling, and absent that you'd never suspect the life that can beat inside those metal boxes.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Saturday, May 30, 2020 9:41 AM

Overmod
I have heard since (I have wondered if this reflected a cracked exhaust manifold or some other maintenance-related issue).

Running diesel engines without exhaust manifolds is surprisingly different from one engine model to another.

A Caterpillar 3406 sounds like a top fuel dragster without the exhaust manifold, but a 12 cylinder 3512 is surprisingly quiet without the manifold even though it has twice as many cylinders and four times the cubic inches.

A tiny Detroit Diesel 3-53 with open exhaust will have the police called out. You can probably hear it for miles. It does not even sound like an engine.

Hearing a hydodynamic water pump installation run under full load can be fascinating. The engines are cooled through a heat exchanger in the water pipe so there is no fan making noise. There are no electrical components or gear boxes whining so you just hear the large bore 16 cylinder engine working. It is actually a spooky sound.

I have no experience with the engines you mentioned.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by MJ4562 on Saturday, May 30, 2020 11:32 AM

Diesels are neat and can be exciting in their own way, but steam always wins. Steam is more ecclectic and has so many moving parts it's hypnotizing.  Standing next to the beast makes you feel like your standing next to a living creature.  Steam was gone a decade or more before I entered this world but it will always be my favorite.  Fortunately there are more and more places to enjoy operating steam locomotives now.

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Posted by John Busby on Sunday, May 31, 2020 5:49 AM

Hi SeeYou 190

As long as its not the stinky oil burners Ick!

For those of us just old enough to have seen them in real revenue service ours finished in 1972 I think, its the sight sound and smell of them the smell of the coal and sort of baby oil smell they have.

The thrashing of the coupling rods as it moves they are the closest thing so far that man has made to a living thing, they even have there own quirks and personalities within the same class of locomotive some need a big fire some need a low fire.

Some are thirsty beasts others not and we still have not changed class yet.

Thats my thoughts.

Oh and the Thomas factor might play in it somewhere for some people.

regards John

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