Friday, April 28, 2006

Mount Slugmore

After I returned from the engine house, I glanced over at the billet pile. "Wow! They keep growing," was all I could say.

Every five minutes, the Arnold crew pulled another heavy steel slug from the shelf under Arnold's pumpkin.

Ken's description fit best: Mount Slugmore.

The Arnold crew chipped away the red clay-like layer of mud that had glued the billets to the shelf for most of the morning.

I had to learn the true purpose of these steel slugs, many about 12 inches in diameter. Keith and Garrett gave me an education.

They figured the billets were used to compensate for wheel slip. Early in Arnold's career, the Plymouth locomotive hauled salt trains from the evaporative beds to salt works in Salton, California. The extra weight increased tractive effort. If their theory holds, Arnold could haul more cars.

Any reason for the different billet sizes? No, Keith answered. The mechanics used what they had in the shop -- mostly mill ends and cut-offs.

It's amazing the things you learn on the railroad!

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