SFOG "Gutting" its Steam Trains

Monday, November 18, 2002 7:11 PM

The Following topic has appeard on many websites, including Theme Park Insider, SFOGnet, and Park Trains:

"The Texas is to have a diesel electric engine placed in the tender, and there is talks of having the General gutted and displayed in the park. Park officials have kept this under the rug, as to not let this information get out. These engines are historic landmarks, being the first ride there at the park, and the last running narrow gauge steam engines in the state of Georgia. Any help to save what we can of our "ladies" would be greatly appreciated by all park employees and the former engine crew. We would hate to see future visitors not know what it's like to walk through the gates and hear that whistle in the distance."

It is unknown who got the news going, but we can assume that it is an inside source. It "infuriates" me to know that yet another park has gone lazy and is not willing to put up with there locomotives. I hope that it does not come to be, SFOG was one of the few beacons of Park Train Steam left in the world.

If you have ANY spare time, please send your comments against the "Dieselization" of the locomotives to the public relations department at SFOG, just like I will be doing.

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"The fish are eating the guest, sir

*** This post was edited by Dukeis#1 on 11/19/2002. ***

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Tuesday, November 19, 2002 3:59 AM
Why would an amusement park change over to a diesel-electric configuration? For the kinds of loads that amusement park trains carry, a traction motor seems an inefficient solution when they could simply equip the train with an oversize diesel engine (i.e. a truck engine) and use that to drive the train mechanically...

--Dave Althoff, Jr.
Who thinks something is getting lost in the translation. But who also would rather see steam in the parks...

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Tuesday, November 19, 2002 5:12 AM

Traction motors are very good at starting trains which direct drive diesels are not, and have no clutches which are high maintenance items. Also, the whole kit is readily available.

I agree that I'd rather see steam. If air pollution is an issue, just fire it on propane.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2002 6:02 AM

My guess is that the engine is probably up for it's 15-year (I think) boiler inspection - meaning tearing down the engine completely, x-raying all the parts, replacing and fixing defects, and putting it back together. This is one of the reasons for the decline in tourist railroads that use steam power - it's very expensive to meet the federal safety requirements. Many railroads just stop their steam program at that point (Norfolk Southern for example).

SFOG has for a long time only used one engine for operations through the year - swapping out at the end of the season with the alternate engine. During the season the non-operating engine could be seen in its year-long rehab as you passed through the train shed. I think this time furoughed the engine from the inspection requirements, but don't know for sure. However, I do know the federal requirements are quite extensive having volunteered with the National Railway Historical Society for many years, along with working on the New Georgia Railroad.

I'll be sad to see steam leave, the diesel pusher system took over Stone Mountain Park's train long ago and it's just not the same. The smell and sight of steam blasting out about the engine on a cool Spring or Fall day. But at least there will be a full-sized train to ride around the park from Marthasville to Rabun Gap and back.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2002 11:28 AM
It really is a shame that so many parks cop out for diesel/hydraulic. Sure, maintaining Steam is expensive, but isn't it worth keeping some nostalgia? Parks with Live Steam Park Trains always create a special memory for me. It's too bad that future generations will miss out on experiencing a Live Steam Park Train, if parks keep copping out.


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Lagoon Park
New For 2003 - The Spider and the Fly

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Tuesday, November 19, 2002 11:34 AM

Well going to Diesel is better than total elimination, is it not?

Just ask the fans of PKD and PGA.

That, said does anybody know if PKI is still live steam or have they converted to an alternative power plant. You realize if it weren't for Waterworks, I doubt PKI would still have a train ride.

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David Bowers
Mayor, Coasterville

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Tuesday, November 19, 2002 12:28 PM
Kings Island, last time I looked at their train, was still propane-fired live steam.

This was before the conductor moved to the Eiffel Tower, but it was during the 2002 season. :)

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2002 3:20 PM
And thanks to him, the Eiffel Tower is being converted to steam, while the KI & MV RR gets a cable drive. :)

I understand parks going for a cheaper, easier to operate method of running their trains. I can vouch for the hard work, painstaking upkeep and difficulty in operating a steam loco. But the bottom line is that guests love the real thing, and larger parks, such as Disney and Six Flags, have no reason to eliminate this rare link with history.

Parks will never benefit from the full potential of steam power, simply because they don't have the need to hurtle passengers from Mickey's Toontown to Main Street USA at 70mph! In that respect, any lower geared, high traction device will do, if it is designed to operate well at 15 mph or less, and can carry a tremendous load. I'd hate to see Georgia lose theirs, but converting is much better than ripping it out altogether *cough*Paramount*cough*. In PGA's case, it was a severe lack of ridership, and from a business standpoint, removal makes sense.
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Brad Sherman
"I want to get off Miniature Railroad1!"
Model coasters and rides

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Tuesday, November 19, 2002 4:09 PM

To clear some things up... the boilers are inspected every two or three years. The reason for the possible switchover is that allegedly it will cut down in crew training (which I don't agree with) and it will save money (probably will). The park has a hard time keeping engineers, they're hard to find and take a while to train.

SFOG's steam engine is not subject to pretty much all of the requirements mandated to tourist lines, so often we can do what we want aside from boiler inspections, and that really isn't much of a problem.

Want to do something about it? Write the park.

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Is that a Q-bot in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

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Tuesday, November 19, 2002 4:59 PM

Its seems that not very many parks are willing to tolerate steam these days. I am glad the SFOG locomotives made it this far under steam, for some reason Six Flags didn't decide to convert to diesel until now.

Hopefully at least one, or both the locomotives will survive and continue to be steam driven, wrather than just a shell pushed around by a diesel.

I am also very surprised that such a nice park has been cutting SO many corners lately.

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"The fish are eating the guest, sir

*** This post was edited by Dukeis#1 on 11/19/2002. ***

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Tuesday, November 19, 2002 5:51 PM

One of the main problems is not the locomotives themselves, but the scarcity of qualified steam maintenence personel. Someone who is a mechanic and a boiler tech is in high demand in the "real" world, fetching fairly high wages. Most of these people have in recent years have been Navy retirees

Heavy equipment mechanics are far more prevalent, and Diesel hydraulic drives are pretty much packaged off the shelf units. The bean counters win again.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2002 6:22 PM

I think IM going to puke! and not visit SFOG like I was going to for one of the main reasons I wanted too. Steam trains.

Chuck

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Charles Nungester.
Is it about coasters or friends? I say both!

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Tuesday, November 19, 2002 6:26 PM

IM just glad that one of the things Walt Disney Mandated for both Disney land and Disney World is that they would always be Live Steam railroads.

Chuck, who thanks Walt and Ward Kimball for that :)

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Charles Nungester.
Is it about coasters or friends? I say both!

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Tuesday, November 19, 2002 6:32 PM
Park trains do not fall under the Federal Railroad Administration Part 230 regulations as a tourist road or museum does, unless they cross public grade crossings, other rail transportation or connect to the general rail system.

With that said it is sad to see such modifications made to an operable steam locomotive. I am surprised that Six Flags didn't have a new tender built with a drive system or complete locomotives built similar to the fleet they acquired from Opryland.

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CBCon Quote "We didn't even get wet"......30 seconds later you hear plop, then splash!!!!

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Tuesday, November 19, 2002 6:45 PM
Charles...

According to another thread (I forget whether it is CoasterBuzz or GTTP), apparently the Ward Kimball is in the engine shop at Cedar Point... :)

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2002 6:55 PM

RideMan said:
Charles...

According to another thread (I forget whether it is CoasterBuzz or GTTP), apparently the Ward Kimball is in the engine shop at Cedar Point...

--Dave Althoff, Jr.



Well good news comes in strange places.

Chuck, who was talking bout the man, Not the engine, who died this past year.

Long live the Ward Kimball :)

/C

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Charles Nungester.
Is it about coasters or friends? I say both!

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Tuesday, November 19, 2002 9:23 PM

We posted one the Ward Kimball matrix 2 months ago, I hate to get into it now because we dragged the life out of it.

Too bad. It's a shame to see that happen. One would hope that authenticity would win over the penny pinchers, but thats not the case. Not in these times anyways.

Six Flags will get rid of all of their steamers in the next decade, with the exception of SFOT. SFStL has their Crown, and when I talked with their crew this past season it seemed to me like the "Tommy G. Robertson's" stay of execution was running thin. Astroworld has 1 Harpur left, but with the dieselized "Elizabeth" from Opryland on the roster, it would make sense to not run the steam.

If there are any other steam locomotives on operation at SF parks other than at SFStL and SFOT and SFAW let us know.

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"We don't sit on your dining room table, so please don't sit on our silver handrails"

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Wednesday, November 20, 2002 4:47 PM

I found the General Park Manager's address:

Mr. John Odem
General Manager
Six Flags Over Georgia
P.O. Box 43187
Atlanta, Georgia 30336

Send your commnets on the trains to him.

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"The fish are eating the guest, sir

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