Back in late 1950, or maybe it was early '51, the Yaeger Yard Senior Foreman requisitioned an additional RS1 to handle increasing local traffic loads. As a sign of respect, and to see if he had a sense of humor, the Road Foreman of Engines sent him #463 instead, one of the railway's four BL2s - employees' least-loved engines system-wide.
While this did help alleviate the motive power shortage in the absolute sense, somewhat, it did not fix one of the nagging problems, which was the RS1s' polishing of their wheels attempting to haul the ever-heavier St. Amour transfers up the Virginia Hill grade. What was needed was a second engine, in consist. And since the railway had been converting much of the RS1 fleet to MU capability, the Yaeger Yard Senior Foreman continued his campaigning for an additional engine anyway - specifically, one that would be compatible with the RS1s already on the property.
Well in answer to the local crews' prayers at last, RS1 #524 arrived in Segway, Va. this week. It was mated immediately with sister #533 - to handle the St. Amour runs, as well as HS-25/26, the Highlands Shifter, which works truck dumps in the district. The unloved BL2 #463 will yet be defended as protection power - until a different hapless senior foreman at a different yard can be located.
SO WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL
RS1 #524 is the first new diesel I've added to the roster since going to DCC in 2012. And believe it or not, it's also the first decoder I've ever installed.
See, the Master Of All Things Technical, my old friend Darren Williamson (IHB), had lobbied me for 20 years to convert to DCC. I had steadfastly refused, because I had gotten the DC cab-and-block working like a well-oiled machine, and I was proud of how well the layout ran with Byzantine technology.
Darren always referred to this behavior as "the clang factor" - in other words, me as the Luddite, clanging on my solid bronze boilers and exclaiming gleefully at the bell-like tones.
Anyway, as time wore on I had begun to identify some areas in need of improvement (or advancement) in the DC installation, that even I had to admit were becoming significant:
- More road cabs - the DC block system was wired only for 3
- Wireless throttles - in the SNR's compressed floor plan, the plugging and unplugging of throttles was a major buzzkill