All fired up
(Page 5 of 8)
It was by a fortuitous turn of events that he acquired the water wagon, which is new but historically accurate. After looking for a long time without success, Sherwood ran into an old acquaintance, a retired barn builder named George McKinless of Walkerton, Ontario. The two men discussed Sherwood's water wagon situation, and George went home and built a white cedar tank, which Sherwood notes, 'even has a baffle in it to keep the water from sloshing around.' Sherwood turned up a wagon to put the tank on and had himself an abundant supply of portable water for the engine. He says the kind of initiative that George showed is a hallmark of Canadian collectors.
Sherwood ran the Sawyer-Massey at area shows until 1986, when the boiler went bad, and then the engine sat idle until 1992, when he sent it to Boilersmith, Ltd., at Seaforth, Ontario. 'The (new) boiler was $30,000, FOB Seaforth,' Sherwood says.
Of this second restoration on the engine, Sherwood says, 'I enjoyed doing it, but I'd never do another.' FC
Engineer Eric 'Smitty' Smith eagle-eyed the tracks, steering the 1912 vintage steam train backwards out of Tottenham Station on a sunny afternoon's run to Beeton and back. The 10-mile trip kept fireman apprentice Andrew Harris shoveling coal into the giant firebox in response to readings on multiple gauges and occasional direction from veteran Guy Sanvido. The scene might have come from a 1950s Spaghetti Western, but actually, it was a real-live excursion into the Canadian past.
Ontario steam enthusiasts seem as keen for railway trains as traction engines, and the South Simcoe Railway is a good example of their preservation efforts on behalf of the old 'iron horse.'
The South Simcoe Railway runs regularly out of Tottenham through the Beeton Creek Valley to Beeton, and then back again to Tottenham, which is about 30 miles north of Toronto. The 1912 engine pulls three coach cars, which can handle about 200 passengers in total. The locomotive, with power to spare, usually draws a full load.
The heritage railway is operated by the non-profit South Simcoe Railway Heritage Corp.; engineer 'Smitty' is president and operations manager. He says the South Simcoe is one of only a handful of steam trains still operating in Canada - compared to about 6,000 in the 1950s. The Railway Heritage Corp. has about 250 members, about 45 of whom work on the line.
Volunteers have restored all the equipment and handle the various duties associated with running the train. Andrew, a native of Wolverhampton, England, who now lives in Whitby, Ontario, has been a volunteer for 10 years, the last three as an apprentice fireman. In real life, he works at a nuclear power plant.
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