FolkestoneJack's Tracks

The wrong type of coal

Posted in Brazil, Tubarão, Urussanga by folkestonejack on July 9, 2013

Our day started to unravel around midday, starting with the planned crossing of the two steam locomotives. The crew of the second locomotive (Santa Fe no. 205) had made it from the museum to the junction with the main line but couldn’t go any further. After a while it became clear that they had forgotten the key needed to unlock the points. The only course of action was for someone to bring a key out to them, either by road or on a speeder. After some time a key materialised, but this didn’t appear to be the end of the problems.

The wrong type of coal

The wrong type of coal

It appeared that the crew were afraid to take the loco out onto the line for fear of blocking it. The cause of their concern was the coal they had been given to use. The coal that had been donated to the museum was powerplant grade coal which was not well suited to being fired in a steam locomotive. The powerplant grade coal was heavily crushed and just falling through the grate. The crew on Alco no. 153 (who had been working for 48 hours without a break) had enough experience to get their loco steaming properly with this (although, at times even they too struggled -perhaps explaining the problems we saw with the loco on the gradient earlier today).

The only option for the days ahead was to buy better coal if we were to stand any chance of making it to the other locations in our itinerary. Meanwhile, the plan for today had to be rewritten. One of the Ferrovia Teresa Cristina’s diesels helped to drag Alco no. 153 back in and then detatched, allowing us to grab a shot of the two locomotives crossing. It was a relief to be able to move on after spending far too long at this spot, slowly going ever more crazy and desperately taking naff shots of abandoned farm machinery!

In the little time remaining in the day we headed to the level crossing just outside Tubarão and waited for Santa Fe no. 205 to arrive. First there was a bit of gardening to be done! One of the Japanese guys got his shears out and started wildly chopping down the grass stalks that would interfere with his photograph – a wonderful moment of light relief after so much frustration.

A spot of gardening at the level crossing

A spot of gardening at the level crossing

Finally, we watched the beautiful sight of the Santa Fe coming round the curve and bringing her freight cars over the level crossing. It was well worth waiting for this. Yet again it was a moment that snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

Santa Fe no. 205 saves the day

Santa Fe no. 205 saves the day

Our day finished at the Capivari bridge with a glorious sunset that glinted perfectly on the locomotive as it crossed. Hopefully the delivery of more suitable coal tomorrow morning will put us in a better position for the remainder of the tour though I think we are all coming to realise that the only certainty is that there will be new problems ahead!


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