Engineer’s Journal – April 26, 2005

Tuesday, April 26 – The skies turned ugly and we had a couple of nasty thunderstorms with brief periods of heavy rain roll through. In spite of this, the mechanical crew got to work. Ken Cotton, Jerry Lynch, and Mike Hankins pulled the nut off of the rod so we could get a look at it. As soon as the nut was removed, the news wasn’t good. The brass bushing had approximately 3/16” of its outer circumference worn away. We had a discussion about our options and we elected to see if I could find a machine shop in Jackson and we’d nurse the injured rod there so we could hopefully get a new bushing and insert made and installed during our full day layover there. I got busy on the cell phone and found a machinist that specializes in large equipment repairs. We pulled out of Delhi an hour behind schedule due to traffic on the line.

Despite the nasty weather in the morning, the afternoon turned out to be a beautiful day. We were traveling at a leisurely 30 mph most of the way so that we wouldn’t overheat the problem rod bushing. We had another large group of chasers and also folks coming out of homes and businesses along the tracks. When we got to our “whistle stop” in Tallulah, LA, there was a large crowd waiting for us. We stopped for about 45 minutes and then we resumed our eastward trek.

We were within a half-mile of the Mississippi River bridge when a bunch of folks came out of a bar that was close to the tracks. The engine got about 2 car lengths past the bar when we heard a loud report. Mike Hankins later told us that one of the bar patrons had gotten so excited that he discharged a pistol into the air and that was the report we heard. We crossed over the river bridge which was really interesting and entered a tunnel on the Mississippi side of the bridge. There was a large number of people at the overlook over top of the tunnel. We wound our way through the Vicksburg KCS yard and parked the train on a spur track right next to the old brick depot building in downtown Vicksburg. We stayed the night at the Horizon Casino Hotel.