"Takin' Twenty" with the Virginian Brethren by Skip Salmon

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Jan 24 07:05:52 EST 2013

Last night I had the pleasure of "Takin' Twenty" with nine of the Brethren
and Friends of the Virginian Railway. We signed Happy Birthday Cards for
Ken McLain and Eddie Mooneyham. Ken is a retired Chief Clerk for the VGN,
and turns 86 on Friday. Eddie is a Friend of the Virginian Railway and Vice
President of the Roanoke Chapter NRHS. Dr. John Gibson Davis, Jr. told us
about his brand new grandson, John Gibson Davis IV. The original John
Gibson Davis was a machinist for the VGN at Victoria and Roanoke. Thanks
for all of you who sent congratulations for Judi and my 48th Wedding

Passed around were my photos of the N&W steam derrick that has been rescued
from the torch, for the Virginia Museum of Transportation and one of the
VGN Heritage Unit #1069 I got last Saturday at Shaffers Crossing. The #1069
was exceptionally clean and on the lead of an eastbound consist.

The Jewel from the Past is from August 24, 2006: "Someone remembered a
derailment on the Silk Mill lead, east of the Walnut Ave Tower, once when
the engineer came into the plant too fast and derailed many cars, wiping
out several tracks. One of the VGN officials was overheard at the clean-up
saying 'They said this track needed some cross ties replaced, but not this
many'". FYI, this is the same track that now leads into the Roanoke Chapter
NRHS 9th Street Facility and it STILL needs some cross ties replaced...

Most of the talk of the night was about the January-March issue of N&W (and
VGN) Historical Society news magazine "The Arrow". This issue is mainly
about VGN Train Masters and I was able to give each of the Brethren a copy.
Frank Bongiovanni's "Virginian's Train Masters" article invoked a
discussion about the Brethren's memories of these 2400 HP diesels. I also
presented several questions that Frank, Jimmy Lisle (recently retired NS
Engineer) and others sent for me to ask the Brethren. Jimmy's question
about the quickness for them to load got a response from VGN Engineer
Raymond East: "They were pretty quick" and VGN Master Mechanic Russell
McDaniel: "I don't remember them having a 'fast start' feature like the N&W
GP-30s and others". Russell was the VGN representative in the Fairbanks
Morse factory in Wisconsin when the VGN units were manufactured. He spent
several months there inspecting them. His major concern was the way FM tied
up the wiring harnesses and had them do it in a better way. FYI, Russell
has given me several manuals that he received while in the plant, complete
with his personal notes, and they will be on display in the Virginian
Station in Roanoke when it is completed. Raymond East recalled after the
merger, a Brakeman was killed when a former VGN FM, now an N&W Slug (remote
powered unit), got in a pickle in the Roanoke Yard at 15th Street. He could
not get up the steep step ladder in time to clear. The subject of why VGN
bought the 2400 FM Train Masters instead of Alco RS-11s and EMD GP-9s like
the other railways were doing at the time, prompted Russell McDaniel to
comment: "We were looking for something to replace the Mallets, unit for
unit". Walter Grigg, who was Assistant Manager Motive Power for the VGN
told me once: "We didn't want to send two boys(Alco RS-11s or EMD
GP-9s)into a mine when one man(FM H24-66) could do the job". Wis Sowder,
VGN Clerk, when commenting about the yellow and black FMs, remembers a lot
of VGN employees, who were furloughed because of the dieselization, calling
them "Cut-Worms". As for the smoking problem with the FMs, I recall the
first time we put a VGN Train Master on the load box at Roanoke Locomotive
Shop to test the recently repaired engine, the exhaust snubber caught fire
because of the "souping" (running a long time at idle speed). Foreman
"Pappy" Houseman had us just protect the surrounding equipment with fire
extinguishers and "let her burn" until the oil and grease was gone. The
best comment of the night was from Russell McDaniel when asked about the FM
smoking problem: "When we were asked about why the FMs smoked a lot, we
told people that the VGN had few signals along the main lines, so the
diesels sent up 'smoke signals!' ".

Time to pull the pin on this one!

Departing Now from V248,

Skip Salmon


-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://six.pairlist.net/pipermail/nw-mailing-list/attachments/20130124/fc2b51a3/attachment.htm>

More information about the NW-Mailing-List mailing list