Because of the cool rain hitting the glass, all of our windows started fogging up inside the cab and Bill Morris ran through the rain over to the Western Auto and the nice lady there gave us a squeegee which really helped. We departed during the storm and didn’t get but a mile or two and the rain picked up even more. We had to drop our speed to 5 mph because we were having problems seeing through the heavy rain. Thankfully, after about 15 minutes the rain eased up and we were able to get back up to speed. We observed a lot of lowland flooding and found out later that 4 inches of rain had fallen. I certainly believe it and will insist that Bruce get us lifeboats in case this ever happens again.
We had to take siding in Mansfield so we decided to hit the rod with grease one more time. The temperature was slowly coming down on the rod pin as we were working lubrication in more and this was the last time we needed to grease it before the 40 miles to Shreveport. It looked like we shut down most of the town in the area of the railroad as folks were coming out of businesses to see the old steamer. We’d also built up a pretty good contingent of chasers by now.
By the time we got to Shreveport, the weather turned colder but the sun came out and it turned into a nice day. Rail traffic got more congested as we arrived and we followed a rock train for a pretty good distance most of the way into Shreveport Yard. Once we got near the yard, we backed through a crossover onto the parallel main and worked our way into the terminal. We pulled into the roundhouse lead and onto track 454 which would be our new home for the next 10 days.
We’re still about 3 miles from the KCS Demarcus Yards, but we’re already into the congestion getting to the yard. We’re passing one train and slowly following a rock train into the yard.
It was a particularly emotional moment for me to pull the old historic steamer into the Shreveport shops as this is where my good friend J.K. Byrne had worked. We lost J.K. about 8 years ago and I had the hat he had given me on the dashboard of our escort Suburban so he could be along in spirit. My inspection hammer is an exact duplicate of the one that J.K. used to carry and I had gotten the dimensions off of it when he came to work with us on ex-Reader #11 in Paris, KY in the late 1980’s.
All tied down and put to bed in Shreveport. 745 will now be allowed to go cold and the crew will do her 30 day FRA inspection upon their return in a week. Excepting the one minor rod problem, the faithful old steamer has done a super job of getting us to the halfway point of the tour. Unfortunately, she’s parked in an inaccessible secured part of the KCS shop complex and won’t be seen by the public until she makes her move to Bossier City on April 23rd.
Once we tied the engine down and dropped the fire, we had a trackside meeting with the local officials so we could discuss the procedure in case they had to move the equipment while we were gone. We stowed our oil cans, cab battery and tools and got ready to depart for our break and a welcome trip home. We got a good laugh out of the guys in the Shreveport Shops when we asked them if they could please service our traction motors while we were gone for the break.
Two carloads of us left to find a good place to eat and we decided that we had gotten too used to not having a steering wheel as we made about 4 wrong turns trying to get to the restaurant. We had a great meal at a seafood restaurant that served huge portions and this was the first time that David and I couldn’t finish a meal. We found a room for the night at the Residence Inn near the airport.