Jim King <jimking3@...>
As John stated, the centering is optional.
I, too, have been “on the ground” with the real thing for a lot of years, from brakeman to trainmaster to engineer, including “working” with a Southern Ry yard crew during my 4 years in college between 1977 and 1981 where I was taught the “railroader’s way” of switching and running the yard engines (GP38s, GP38-2s, GP30s and GP35s). It was truly an honor being with those guys, 2 of whom came to my college graduation and wedding. GP30 2601 at Spencer museum is one I ran during those cherished years when it was a “regular engine”. I was photographed with “my” crew on that engine by the station agent … the photo appears in Mike George’s “Murphy Branch” book. It was also the engine I ran several years ago during a Saturday evening dinner train on Great Smoky Mtns RR when ownership of the RR changed. Current editor of TRAINS Magazine, Jim Wrinn, a long-time friend from college (he was still in HS when we met in 1978), organized the weekend event and special onboard dinner that Saturday. He teased me before we left leaving Bryson City about not spilling his drink. Fortunately, none of the glasses were filled more than halfway!
That trip was the closest I’ve ever been to “running on the main” despite being limited to 15 mph by the topography. The feeling I got sitting in the right-hand seat with my feet propped up on the heater and listening to 2250 turbocharged horses whine thru the trees at Run 8 simply can’t be put into words. It’s a feeling every railfan should experience at least once in life.
I can’t remember how many times people have asked me if I worked for the Southern because of that crew picture in Canton … nope … but I spent enough time there after classes to FEEL like I did. Ahhh, those were great days, never to be repeated.