Completed Staff Work; Don't Leave Anything to Chance

Posted by George Hamlin
on Friday, December 15, 2017

Let me preface this with the thought that it might be a good idea to look at all your photos in a full-size view; gems that can’t be seen in a thumbnail-sized image may be lurking in the “full-size” versions.  Of course digital photography, where the marginal cost of additional shots is effectively zero, means that many of us now have too many photographic frames from a particular day’s shooting to make this a practical alternative in all cases.

One of the highlights of the “Streamliners at Spencer” event at the North Carolina in the spring of 2014 was the brief ceremony initiating the refurbishment/overhaul of the N&W J-class 4-8-4  611, so that it could participate in the Norfolk Southern’s “Twenty-First Century Steam Program”.  This took place on the morning of May 30.

After a brief period of speeches by the assembled dignitaries, including the Virginia Transportation Museum in Roanoke (the home of the 611), the “Fire Up 611” project, and the representative from North Carolina’s government, Wick Moorman, then CEO of the Norfolk Southern, took the microphone.  Displaying his customary self-deprecating wit, he first announced that he was dispensing with the prepared remarks prepared by his staff, and after briefly displaying the sheaf of papers, put them aside and continued without notes.

He spoke briefly before proceeding to the main event, the ceremonial removal of the first part that would be taken off the locomotive, a nut from the trim on the side of the stairs from the walkway on the right side of the boiler to the pilot.  Casey Thomason, NS’s corporate photographer, was by his side to record this for posterity. 

There was another participant, in the form of the tool that Wick was using to perform the task.  This was a wrench that had been used by the father of Jim Stump, the Chairman of the Fire Up 611 group, when he had been a worker in the N&W Roanoke shops; a nice historical touch.

I remarked to the person standing next to me that I suspected that in fact the nut had been loosened, if not actually removed previously (and replaced) prior to Wick’s turn with the wrench; after all, who wanted to find out that this wouldn’t move when the CEO was out there in public trying to remove something that might have been last tightened in 1982, when the 611 began its previous excursion career?

If I recall correctly, I believe that Wick had joked about needing WD-40 lubricant to get this done prior to undertaking the task.  In the event, all went well, and shortly he was displaying the now-removed part to the crowd, indicating that the work had begun.

More recently, I finally got around to processing some photos from “Streamliners” that I hadn’t done before.  One of them, below, was taken about 45 minutes prior to the ceremony, and shows the 611 on the Spencer turntable, ready for its close-up.  It was surrounded by some of the other, diesel, participants in a tableau that’s effectively the Queen and her court.

At this point, I’ll urge you to click on the photo in order to observe it in a larger version.  Take a look at the bottom of the Tuscan red trim on the locomotive’s right side: on the very nut that Wick Moorman will soon be removing is a wrench, one that looks like it has considerably more leverage than the one that he will be using. 

One of the hallmarks of a good leader is the quality of his or her supporting staff; not surprisingly, Wick apparently had this base well-covered, and probably didn’t need to ask, either.


(Photographs by George W. Hamlin)

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