STEAM IS NOT DEAD IN CHICAGO

Ex. G.T.W. 5629

Engineer Billy M. Byrd of Madisonville on Ex. G.T.W. 5629. Courtesy of Billy M. Byrd, 369 S. Harrig St., Madisonville, Kentucky 42431

Billy M. Byrd

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369 S. Harrig St. Madisonville, Kentucky 42431

Saturday September 16 and Sunday September 17, 1967 brought back many memories for I helped steam up and I fired a real steam locomotive, Ex Grand Trunk 4-6-2 No. 5629, privately owned by Mr. Richard Jensen of Chicago who is head of the Mid-West Steam Railfans Association. Locomotive 5629 was built by American Locomotive Company at Schenectady, New York in 1924. At that time she was the finest motive power that money could buy for passenger service and was assigned to the Grand Trunk Railroad's fastest passenger Limiteds. She has the exact specifications of the L & N's K-5, 270 series engines, the only exceptions are the 5629 has a standard stoker instead of a Hanna and a Worthington feed-water heater. The engine was one of five built at the time and numbered 5627 to 5631. The other four have long since been scrapped and the 5629 would have followed the same fate if it had not been purchased by Mr. Jensen several years ago. Space is rented in the Chicago and Western Indiana RR 51st Roundhouse on the south side of Chicago for storage and work. 5629 is maintained by local railfans and experienced steam railroad men who share the fascination of what has been called man's most appealing mechanical creation. The engine is brought out each summer for a few excursion operations.

On Saturday AM Railbuff Sid Loving and I caught Train No. 54 to Chicago. We were met by Mr. Jensen and taken to the roundhouse, where preparations were made to get engine 5629 under steam. Everything was being checked out before taking her on a shakedown run as she had been sitting idle for about three months. A hostler backed C & W I Engine 256 next to 5629 and an especially constructed steam pipe was connected to 5629's blower. In no time the steam gauge hand had started climbing to 200 pounds. When she was ready Engineer T. R. (Bud) Young at the throttle, myself operating the stoker and feed water pump and with owner Jensen, the C & W I Master Mechanic and Mr. Loving in the cab, Engine 5629 moved out of the roundhouse onto the turn table, then out to the main line of the C & W I to Hammond, Indiana, about 25 miles. At the sound of 5629's whistle and exhaust, people came running to the track side to see what lots of folk thought they would never see again. Every time we had to stop for a red signal, we would check the bearings and bushings to see that they were running cool.

The right bottom crosshead gib was running hot. After liberal amounts of oil on it we got back to Chicago, where it was taken off and machined down. Next morning (Sunday) Mr. Loving and I boarded the 5629 at the roundhouse with Grand Trunk Engineer Young and Fireman Hamdey Alley and backed down to Dearborn Station where we coupled on to 21 cars. A baggage car next to the engine for tape recording equipment, 19 coaches and a private car belonging to Insurance Executive Robert Hogan on the rear end. At 9:05 A.M. the conductor pulled the bell cord . Engineer Young blew the whistle, turned on the bell and opened the throttle. Engine 5629 started the train with no effort. There is a pretty good grade from Dearborn Station to 51st Street, but it is no nonsense as the 4-6-2 proves her ability to handle a passenger train with ease. The sounds of her exhaust can be heard rebounding from nearby buildings and railroad cars on sidings. With green signals the Pacific accelerates on her way to South Bend, Indiana. Engineer Young is enjoying, as much as I am, every minute of it. He has the throttle set and is gradually hooking her up. He is kept busy blowing the whistle for the many crossings.

The stoker is set at 20 pounds pressure, the jets are set, feed water pump working, a brownish haze is coming from the stack, the water level stays at glass and the steam gauge is fastened on 200 pounds. Mile posts pass faster and faster, the sharp barking of the exhaust begins to blend together in a roar as our speed continues to increase. The whistle is barely audible above the sounds of the engine as we speed further away from Chicago. I check my watch by the mile post 73 M.P.H. At every town hundreds of people are there to see us go through and at every road crossing people are lined up taking photos, movies and tape recordings. Personally I felt as if I had the world by the tail. At Valparaiso. Indiana, on both going and return trip 5629 was watered by the City Fire Department. She performed perfectly and when we arrived at Dearborn Station that night, though very tired, I wouldn't have taken anything for it. The steam locomotive is a machine of fond remembrance that will not soon be forgotten. Mr. Jensen is to be commended for making it possible for we steam lovers to see and hear one once more. He also owns Ex Burlington 4-8-4 5632, Ex Burlington 2-8-2 4963 and Ex Georgia Northern - Crabtree Coal Mine 4-6-0 102, There were over 1400 people from sixteen states riding on this fan trip.