Getting it Up
Getting up steam!† Hereís all thereís to it.
First find a cold steam locomotive.† Not a full size one, mind you, but about a seven-inch scale.† Itís linkage and connections will be creaky and stiff in the cold morning air, just like my joints.† Then you make sure the firebox grates are clean.† If not, you shake those grates down and make sure there are no clinkers from the last run.† Every morning I make sure my grates are clean and get rid of any old clinkers.† Enough said.
A nice, steady fire must be started in the firebox.† Old newspaper and kindling wood soaked in kerosene is a good beginning.† My fire has gone out years ago, kindling or not.† But I still resort to newspapers in the morning.
And donít forget to make sure you have water in your boiler!†† Cannot start the day without a full boiler.† Without enough water, the fusible plug in the crown sheet could melt and put out your fire.† I know.† I always seem to have water in my boiler.† You want to hear about my plug?
Ah!† Now that old firebox is warming up!† Best get a thin layer of coal on that kindling.† Oh yeah, you need to create a draft through the flues.† Best way is to have a blower in the stack.† You have to help that fire breathe.† Deep breaths, thatís what I take even before I get up my head of steam.† I huff and puff.
Now the locomotive is beginning to warm up.† Itís a good time to inspect it for loose or broken parts on the valve gear.†
My parts Ė many are loose but few are broken.†
Grease that valve gear, making sure to wipe off excess grease.
Nobody has greased or wiped my valve gear for years.
Rubbing surfaces should be given a fine coating of oil to prevent wear and tear.
Rubbing, rubbing, rubbing?
By now you may have about 120 psi on your pressure gaugeĖ thatís pounds per square inch.† A good time to disconnect that blower you have in the stack.† Now you can cut in the blower in the engine cab and the locomotive is now on its own.†
I havenít seen 120 pounds since my blower stopped working.† Iíd like to think Iím on my own but I need a set of tracks to keep me on track.
Check your tender for sufficient water and coal supply.† Make sure engine and tender are properly connected.† Blow your whistle and you are rolling down the track.
I head down the track of another day.† My head of steam ainít what it used to be.† I leak and creak and sometimes slip under the load but I always pull into the roundhouse at the end of the day.† Then I just let that old fire burn down to warm embers and feel that pressure gauge slip back towards zero.
Easier than you thought, wasnít it?