Ward Kimball Locomotive Passes Tests!
Disneyland engine #5 the Ward Kimball, rolled out of the roundhouse at a little before 2 am Wednesday morning. Members of the restoration crew fired and pulled the throttle, and with Disney CMs in the gangway (between tender and cab) and on the back ladder, they headed out onto the mainline for the very first time. They paused just past the yard switch to realign the switch for the mainline and continued to Tomorrowland Station. Word has it that No. 5 does not like being held back! She steams like a house on fire and runs with a sharp, crisp bark and no lope. At Tomorrowland the engine stopped so personnel could inspect the wheel bearings and check for loose parts. The engineer’s side front cylinder **** (what causes steam come out of the cylinders when the engine first starts) was stuck open, but no sign of any additional problems. Off they went to Frontierland Station. Said one observer, “What a rocket!” Apparently, the engine tracks nicely and rides comfortably, even with the heavier springs in the tender truck.
At Frontierland they checked the bearings and fittings again. The main crank pin on the engineer’s side was warmer than the rest, but nothing alarming, so they took off on a nonstop grand circle tour. According to those knowledgable, #5 really feels the railroad. Nearby observers noticed when the engine hit a grade as the pitch of the exhaust changed. The engine runs nicely with the throttle left untouched and just adjusting the Johnson bar (the engine’s reverse lever, that can adjust the engine like stick-shift in an automobile is adjusted for different speeds). When they hit Frontierland again they noticed the engineer’s-side main crank pin was starting to get warmer. One could keep one’s hand on it, but it would get uncomfortable. They took the engine back to the roundhouse to make some adjustments on the rod wedges (used to minutely adjust the length of the main drive rod) and clean out the cylinder **** that was stuck open. The cars that were stored behind the No. 5 (the Holiday Green cars) were having their new awning tops put on so they needed a different string of cars. The Fred Gurley was sitting on track 4 so they tied into her (a double header?) and moved her over to track 3. Back on track 4, they tied onto the string of coaches, tested the brakes and away they went. Ward broke out the cars and pulled them through the tight “S” curve in the yard, no complaints and no slipping. They eased out onto the mainline again and opened her up a little more. She started showing off what a sweet sound she makes when working. They stopped at Tomorrowland and Frontierland again to check things. The main crank pin was cool now and the cylinder cocks were working fine.
They made ten complete laps around the park, some with stops, some without. At one point they were doing a good 15 mph (!) and everything was coming up roses. At the end of it all the test crew was beat tired, but very happy that the engine performed as well as it did.
The engine ran again last night only this time the entire test was run by roundhouse CMs. They pulled the Holiday Green, as the rehab on those was complete and the cars needed to be tested as well. Everything, including the newly installed class lights (little lanterns mounted on the front of the engine, below the headlight—the only engine on the Disneyland Railroad to sport these authentic signal lamps), performed very well. They kept trying to make it fall on its face trying to anticipate every possibility and things continued to operate well.
Last night, the testing continued—this time, an accelerometer test was conducted. This is a contraption that reads the G force a guest would feel as the engine speeds up, slows down, or goes into a curve. While one can see the need for this kind of data on a roller coaster, it’s interesting that they also require it for a 7mph steam train! There is no State requirement to have the data, but Disney’s internal ride testing protocols do. Of course, maybe it’s better having the data than not.
So, it looks like the engine will finally be put to work earning her keep. There is still a little electrical left to do, but it is suspected the engine will be released for guest use very soon.