Home

A "Holy Terror" Steamer in the Hands of Jim Skeevers.

Skinny Skeevers, him of the object lessons, ran Mike Monnihan's engine for a long time, while Mike went to visit the "ould sod," and Skinny's engine got a new firebox and a coat of varnish.

The first time Skinny oiled around, he yelled up to Patsy Killigen, the fireman, to put on the injector, and cool her off, so he could see the oil holes; she was howling so it gave him the blind staggers.

"How does she steam, Patsy?" asked Skeevers, as they started out.

"She's a 'holy terror' for wind," said Pat, proudly. "She's always crazy wid it."

Skeevers was somewhat annoyed at the constant howl of the pop, but it did little good to speak to Pat - Pat fired by the pop, and a "holy terror" was his ideal.

Skeevers thought he'd try an object lesson.

"What size nozzle has she got?" asked Skeevers.

"Oh! Lord, you ain't agoin' to go monkeying with her nozzles, are ye, Skeevers? They are 2 1/2 or 3-inch now."

"She burns too much coal, and howls too much."

"There hain't another steamer like her on the road," moaned Patsy. "Why, you can't shut off her throttle, but up goes her white tail - steam! Why, she's the darlin' of 'em all, Skeevers."

Skeevers got a smaller scoop, but Patsy plied it industriously, and the "96" still held the first prize as a "holy terror" for steam.

Skeevers bribed the coal shovelers to put on a tank load of lumps, none to weigh less than 200, but Pat paralyzed the lumps and reported the coat shovelers beside.

Skeevers thought of putting a flat car between the engine and tender, but gave the idea up as impracticable.

Patsy would put in a fire within two minutes of a regular stop, and be happy when the black smoke rolled, and the white feather stood proudly up 48 feet above the howling pops of the "Holy Terror." Skeevers was in despair.

"Pat, did you ever stop to think that you are shoveling a lot of coal through that pop for nothing?" he asked.

"I don't mind the work, Skeevers," said he. "Don't mind it a bit; it makes the other lads green wid envy to see how she do steam."

"But it wastes coal."

"Bless ye, me boy, the company own their own mines, and it's proud they ort to be to have such steamers."

Skeevers couldn't get Patsy mad, and could awaken no other feeling in his heart but worshipful admiration of the prolific steam production of the "Holy Terror."

The run was a light passenger one, and after some scheming Skeevers got Pat and the "Holy Terror" on heavy freight run for a week. Skeevers managed to use all the steam that was made on the road, but Pat insisted on a pop solo at every stop.

Skeevers hated to disturb the front end adjustment of another man's engine; he finally determined to enlarge the nozzles, but concluded that this might give them trouble on the road, and besides that, Skeevers didn't believe in patching an engine, to repair a man, any more than he believed in feeding a fireman soda ash to keep scale out of a boiler.

But right here the road got a new master mechanic, and the very first month he put up a bulletin of the amount of coal burned on each engine, and the "Holy Terror" was away down in the middle of the passenger engine list.

Pat was pretty mad about it, and said, if they would figure on who made the most miles or the most hours with the steam pressure at or above 140, he and the "Holy Terror" would take first money.

The next month he stole a few lumps, of coal, gave the shovelers cigars for big measures, etc., but the bulletin appeared again with the "Holy Terror" advanced but one point.

Then came a bulletin notice that firemen would be promoted on merit, especial preference given for a coal record.

Pat had a nightmare that night when he thought of the "Holy Terror" and himself at eighth place, and Jim Bean, who was hired four months after he was, leading the list for coal - and promotion.

That evening after they got to going up the hill, and the pop sat down to rest a minute, Skeevers called Pat over and, in a friendly way, told him that the Old Man had said he should have to promote three or four men in the fall, and that he was afraid that Pat would lose his chance and see a lot of younger fellows pass him, if he didn't mind. Skeevers suggested that the main trouble was with the "Holy Terror," and not Pat, and proposed that they prove it to the Old Man by having Pat transferred for one month to the "94," that was then leading the coal burners.

Pat agreed to this if Skeevers would arrange it - he didn't know that Skeevers had arranged it.

When the next bulletin came out, the "Holy Terror" was at the head, and the "94" was fifth. Pat was improving some.

Pat was glad to get back with Skeevers and the "Holy Terror" - said Old Man Martin on the "94" kept "picking at him" about opening the door and monkeying with the dampers.

Jimmy Bean was sent to running switch engine in a week or two, and Patsy's heart was broken.

"Skeevers," said he "I'm disgraced. What the devil is the matter with the '96,' or - or - me?"

"The '96' is, without a doubt, the best engine on the road, Patsy," said Skeevers, "and honestly I think you are the best fireman, or rather would be the best, except that you haven't figured out plainly just what you are trying to do - you don't realize what you burn the coal for."

"To make steam, of course," said Patsy.

"What do you want of the steam?"

"To pull the cars av course."

"Where do you put it for that?"

"Into the cylinders, surely."

"Suppose you have more than you want?"

"Out of the pop she goes - can't hurt nothin'."

"But the coal pile?"

"Coal pile?"

"Yes, don't it take as much coal to make steam to blow through the pops as it does to make the same amount of steam to be used in the cylinders?"

"But there don't much go out of the pops."

"That's where your mistake has been, Patsy. Pop Martin told me this morning that if he had all the steam that the '94' made and wasted at the pops while you were on her, he could make four round trips without coal or water."

Pat put in a fire and gave a big lump a few vigorous whacks with his coal pick, and then came back."

"I've a notion to quit, Skeevers," said he.

"You fire this engine the best you know how for another month, take my advice, and if she don't head the list, I'll quit," said Skeevers.

"You want to remember that in making steam to throw away, you not only waste fuel to make it, but you waste water. Water is cheap, but it takes coal to haul it around, and the '96' takes more water than the other engines do, and hauls many tons of it a month for nothing; then we have to stop for water oftener, and that takes coal - takes coal to stop and coal to start."

"Coal to stop; how d'ye make that out?"

"There you are again, Pat; you see you haven't figured on your business or followed cause and effect up very much. Don't you know that it takes just as much power to stop a train, leaving out friction, as it does to start it?

"When you set the brake it commences to use up and lose 'stored energy' that has been put into the train by the coal, through the medium of the cylinders.

"Then your brake will use more steam to get its pressure back again, and the '96' will get rid of more coal to get the train back into motion, and use more to haul the extra water. It all counts, Pat, because we do this all day, every day in the month; if it was only once it wouldn't amount to much. Think about your work, and figure on how little you can do in the way of coal shoveling to get this train over the road, and I will bet on the result."

Last Thursday the new bulletin was put up. The "Holy Terror" stood at the head, and Patsy Killigen hummed "Comrades" as he was polishing the hand-rail in the roundhouse, when the Old Man came along, touched Pat's leg with his umbrella, and said:

"Come into the office after dinner - I want to talk with you.

Home
Prev     Next
Site Map