But Chip is an unusual young man.
As he put it: “I found myself interested in railroading at a very young age. My parents took me to a 15” gauge miniature railroad in the Berkeley, California foothills one day and I was hooked from then on. Eventually I started to volunteer there, doing track work and later locomotive maintenance. Even at that young age I was captivated by the moving parts, slowly escaping steam, and the people who ran and maintained the equipment”.
“In the steam world you have to do a bit of everything. For the most part my skills as a machinist, welder and general mechanic are self- taught. I read a bit, and try to teach myself how to do something for a specific project. It’s a very “learn as you go” method”.
“I currently attend New Canaan High School. As a graduating senior, the school offers an internship program to students who wish to have practical work experience in the field that they are going to pursue after high school. I approached the Valley Railroad about a possible partnership with the school program and was greeted with enthusiasm for my participation”.
Chip was put to work on steam locomotive No.97, first stabilizing the tender, then turning to the removal of the piping, sand domes and boiler jacket. By that time, it was apparent that well motivated and not afraid of hard work, so his next task was the removal of the boiler tubes and flues in preparation for the Federally mandated 1472 Service Day Inspection. (See prior “Enginehouse Blog Posts” for the background on this)
“It has been a fantastic experience to work with everyone at the railroad. They are like a family, where everyone helps one another with whatever is needed, and more importantly, everyone loves what they do”.
“Here are some of the things I’ve learned so far:
- Patience: When something won’t come apart or loose, use more Kroil
- Think ahead: Look at how to make something easier down the road.
- Simplify large projects: Break down large projects into smaller steps so they are more manageable. Finish one step before starting another”.
Wayne summed it up nicely: “This has been a beneficial experience for all concerned, Chip’s enthusiasm is contagious and he has made a meaningful contribution to the restoration of No.97.