Little Tweetsie is ready for a break.
Little Tweetsie has had a full summer; weekends, back-to-back weekends, a birthday party and many other days of just plane fun. She has run extremely well. She’s had no problems, no issues, no breakdowns. This is thanks to her incredible craftsmanship, which comes from her builder, the late John Barden.
Now it’s time to let Little Tweetsie have some much needed rest and maintenance.
Live steam locomotives are nothing like your grandfather’s basement or attic trains. These trains required little or no work to run for years or even decades. Some would run for 50 years without having any problems. This is not the case with live steam.
Little Tweetsie is a functioning steam locomotive with almost no difference between her and the full-size steamers that still pull passengers in different places around the country and the world.
These miniature trains are fuel by burning coal, which heats water to produce steam. The steam drives pistons that turn the wheels. This steam also works the brakes, pumps, blowers and other equipment on the train. These little guys don’t have batteries for the engine. They don’t run on gas. They are driven just like the full-size engines of the by-gone steam era. They require the same care.
Little Tweetsie is going to get a major overhaul this winter. The cab and all cosmetics will be removed to provide access to the steel boiler. Steam pumps, steam injectors, valves and other parts will be removed and cleaned. Every joint will be checked. Every seal will be packed to prevent leakage. Everything will be tested, before we ever get to the boiler.
The boiler will be cleaned, inside and out. Leaks will be repaired. Problems will be fixed and then the heart of Little Tweetsie will be pressure tested, before reassembly begins.
Oil will be removed from all moving parts. Grease will be steam cleaned off all locomotive parts. Oxidation will be removed. By Spring, Little Tweetsie will be ready to get back on the rails for another year of operation.
As I have learned about this hobby, it has amazed me the work that goes into the maintenance and preservation of these miniature steam locomotives. There has been so much to learn. I still have so much more to learn. Thankfully, a friend has much more experience and is willing to help my little engine remain in good condition.
Next summer is sure to be great fun.
Since winter isn’t here yet, we still have a few weeks to run her.
Watch for updates on upcoming weekends, when Banner Haven will be hosting more open weekend runs.