The Spring 2000 meet at Columbia, TN was held under blue skies and mid-80’s temperatures. It was a little smaller this year as compared to previous years but everyone had fun. I made the trip this year with Wayne and Barb Lass. I took my caboose and Wayne brought his American.
The American was running very good and after a small adjustment to the crosshead pump, ran flawlessly into the night several times. I was able to view my first real model Shay in action and got plenty of ideas and confidence about the one I am building.
We arrived at the meet on Thursday afternoon. It didn’t take long for us to unload the train and get it set up. Steam was made shortly thereafter and the fun was started. No vendors had yet arrived at the site and there were not that many trains running at this time. The track was open and the running was very easy.
We got to the track pretty early on Friday, uncovered the train, and made steam. I engineered the American most all the morning as Wayne took video and still pictures of other trains, both in the steaming bays and on the track. More trains kept arrived steadily all day until there was quite a good number. We expected more to arrive on Saturday (and they did!). Wayne engineered in the afternoon and I took pictures, etc. I was introduced to several new people this year and enjoyed talking with them and hearing the stories. We ran into the evening well past dark. I was a little nervous about running in the dark but Wayne seemed to have no problems.
Saturday started with us getting there about the same time as the day before. We uncovered everything and made steam. Dan Rankin had his American at the meet so we decided to double-head for a while. We did some quick car switching, hooked the Americans together, and headed out onto the mainline. It took a little practice to get used to double-heading but it was great fun. The American I was engineering had to do all the braking as Dan’s doesn’t have any brakes. This made the long downhill sections a little unnerving and I fear I heated up the brakes a couple of times but we made it successfully. It was a lot of fun. Wayne again took over the controls for the afternoon while I enjoyed the other locos and the vendors. I picked up a few parts for the box car (trucks, grab irons, etc) and some marker lights for the caboose (which I have yet to install). We again ran into the night and this time I felt a little more comfortable after having practiced more during the day.
Sunday, we packed to head back to Atlanta (Conyers). It took a while to get our turn to load the train into Wayne’s pickup but we finally got it done and we headed for home with a few more parts than we came with. I am looking forward to next year’s meet when we might bring the Pacific. Now that will be something to behold!!