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 Post subject: WW&F - Truth amidst the Whimsical, Weirdness & Foolery.
PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2022 3:31 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 12:53 pm
Posts: 271
Location: Brunswick, ME
So not to get buried in RYPN's annual discussion of the topic of the suitability of posting an April Fools "prank", serious RYPN readers may want to know why the WW&F did such a post, and the results.

The WW&F has been on the lookout for several years to acquire a two-truck 4 axle 24" gauge diesel locomotive to supplement our steam locomotives and take some burden off of our little 2-axle Plymouth, no. 52. Of course, since all of the Maine two-footers were abandoned rather than dieselized, these beasts are very rare (at least in North America.) Having exhausted all other options, we have purchased a small "standard"-gauge 1941 GE 45 tonner (with side rods!) which we intend to remanufacture into a suitable 24" gauge locomotive. (See the official announcement here.)

A week before April 1st, and before the official announcement had been made public, we started making some panel track to store the locomotive on once it arrives. (This will not be an "immediate" project for the museum, unless of course someone donates a bucket of money.) While we marveled at how much bigger standard gauge track is, we made a few prop photos using a 24" track gauge for dissemination among our followers. Then our President came up with the brilliant idea of using the whole concept as an April Fools joke - which would then tease the announcement of the locomotive's purchase in a fun and interesting manner, possibly garnering far more attention and interest than another "oh look, the WW&F is doing something cool, again" post.

The President wrote the introduction, I wrote the "press release" and we timed the post to go live on Facebook (and our own Discussion forum) for the morning of April 1. It was purposefully written to start plausible, but obviously a joke before diving into the ridiculous, absurd, and sprinkled with some inside jokes.

The April 1st post received a record amount of "Engagement" (Facebook's term). This engagement was then leveraged to tease the forthcoming announcement. In a close second for Engagement is the April 2nd post which officially announced the purchase of the locomotive. The net result is that far more eyeballs have heard about our project (and for many, the WW&F for the first time) than we would have otherwise received. We have received about 50 new Facebook followers (which means they will now get "fed" subsequent WW&F Facebook posts.) Already, there have been inquires about volunteering on the project, or at the railroad in general.

Spikes in Facebook traffic also directly contribute to how Facebook presents event listings, etc. A quick check of today's bookings for our upcoming Eastertime Eggspress trains shows an immediate spike in sales, with "Facebook" noted as the "how did you hear about us" for many. We expect these trains to sell out, primarily due to Facebook marketing.

We also used this opportunity to test some theories as to why some Facebook posts "reach" (their term) more people than others. Some of our posts reach 5000-10,000+ people; others less than 1000. We have one viral video with a reach of over 2 million (and counting.) Unfortunately, the results of this experiment are inconclusive.

For those so inclined, the April Fools joke can be found on Facebook and the WW&F Discussion Forum.

And the official announcement of the purchase of the 45 tonner (authored by Wayne Laepple - who also located and negotiated for said locomotive) can also be found on Facebook and the WW&F Discussion Forum.

(Accounts/login is not required to view any of the above links.)

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-Ed Lecuyer
Trainmaster, WW&F Railway Museum, Alna ME.
Please help the WW&F Build Locomotive 11!


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 Post subject: Re: WW&F - Truth amidst the Whimsical, Weirdness & Foolery.
PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2022 7:17 pm 

Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2018 3:51 pm
Posts: 367
Location: Ipswich, Mass., Phoenix, AZ
Hi Ed- Great idea. Question: Can the wheels be regauged resonably easily (note "reasonably") because of the outside crankshaft? I assume the traction motors are clear of the axles??
Neat looking little loco by the way. Probably a former War Department unit?
Ned


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 Post subject: Re: WW&F - Truth amidst the Whimsical, Weirdness & Foolery.
PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2022 8:16 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 5:10 pm
Posts: 1150
It's believed this unit was built for the US Navy in 1941. Later used at a small steel mill in Milton, Pa., before being sold to the bulk transfer outfit in Sunbury. I'm not certain exactly why that outfit shut down, but I'm glad they were willing to sell it at scrap price.


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 Post subject: Re: WW&F - Truth amidst the Whimsical, Weirdness & Foolery.
PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2022 9:05 pm 

Joined: Tue May 03, 2005 8:35 pm
Posts: 283
I find the April Fools posts to be most entertaining ! Sometimes they are so well crafted you believe they are real !
Keep the tradition going.

Kevin K


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 Post subject: Re: WW&F - Truth amidst the Whimsical, Weirdness & Foolery.
PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2022 10:38 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 9:18 am
Posts: 692
Location: Wall, NJ
The WW&F is taking an interesting technical approach here which some may find of interest. To me, I see it fostering the ultimate end of the WW&F as we all know it today. Keep in mind, steam is an attraction for generating customers, but more importantly, its key to generating a quality volunteer staff. Steam attracts mechanical talent, not just those who want to be a throttle jockey.

Via the postings and such, you can hear the changing message. Its not about restoring the RR and related equipment anymore, now its about *running* the RR. As an example, they talk about replacing steam on work trains, but then what attracts people to some of the big track building events has been that steam is used. Eventually they will see that the diesel throttle jockeys will end up out numbering the guys with a true interest in history, the ones who build coaches from scratch and maintain steam, and steam itself will be questioned at the board level. Without steam, the quality members and quality board members will fade away. Key is that the paying passenger may not care whether its steam or diesel. No, the real impact is on the long-term ability to attract the QUALITY volunteers needed to keep the place going long term.

I am not saying this will happen over night, it will be a generational thing, ten or so years so from now someone on the board will ask why do we bother with steam when we can make the same money, if not more, with a diesel. Another ten years and steam will be locked up in the engine house.

J.R. May


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 Post subject: Re: WW&F - Truth amidst the Whimsical, Weirdness & Foolery.
PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2022 11:28 am 

Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2009 3:07 pm
Posts: 934
Location: B'more Maryland
JR May wrote:
I am not saying this will happen over night, it will be a generational thing, ten or so years so from now someone on the board will ask why do we bother with steam when we can make the same money, if not more, with a diesel. Another ten years and steam will be locked up in the engine house.

J.R. May


And if their board doesn't answer "because we are a museum, not a for-profit business", then they deserve to lose their board seat.

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If you fear the future you won't have one.
The past was the worst.


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 Post subject: Re: WW&F - Truth amidst the Whimsical, Weirdness & Foolery.
PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2022 11:45 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 12:53 pm
Posts: 271
Location: Brunswick, ME
Hi JR,

Nothing could be further from the truth.

We need a diesel only out of necessity. Our current diesel locomotive is inadequate and beats up our track. It was not designed for what we need it to do, so we need something that is.

The point of the WW&F is to be a historically-based operation. Steam is integral to that. In fact, we're investing in a new roundhouse while building a new mainline steam locomotive. And, we're reboilering a steam locomotive which is way too small for our (extended) mainline grades, but will make an excellent switcher, and be useful for short public trains, light work trains, or basically anything not involving a 3/4 mile, 4% grade. We have a active partnership with Maine Narrow Gauge RR Co & Museum and fully support their four-locomotive steam program: two of which are operational, one is about to begin restoration, and the last one will come in time - promising lots of steam over Portland, Alna, and beyond.

Finally, we are installing a hot water standby system (similar to the ones discussed elsewhere on RYPN) in the aforementioned roundhouse.

That said, we are also moving to try to create a SUSTAINABLE operation, such that revenue received from ticket and gift shop sales covers operating expenses, including regular maintenance. We have made huge progress in this over the last two years, thanks to rethinking when and how we operate - and what the value of these operations are. This has not come at the expense of steam operations. In fact, it's just the opposite, I don't think we have given a public train ride behind a diesel since 2019. If there has been a recent 'shift' in the WW&F message, that would be it; we have grown past a club of enthusiasts "playing narrow gauge" in the backwoods of Maine into a viable attraction and destination.

So long as there is fuel for the fire, steam will be in the air in Alna, Maine. It is integral to who we are and the attraction we have become.

_________________
-Ed Lecuyer
Trainmaster, WW&F Railway Museum, Alna ME.
Please help the WW&F Build Locomotive 11!


Last edited by elecuyer on Tue Apr 12, 2022 12:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: WW&F - Truth amidst the Whimsical, Weirdness & Foolery.
PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2022 11:52 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 9:18 am
Posts: 692
Location: Wall, NJ
Non-profits have to make money to stay in business with a bottom line just as a for-profit organization does. Too many years in the red and its over.

And a board member will only loose his seat if enough members do not agree with his position. Again, think generational here.


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 Post subject: Re: WW&F - Truth amidst the Whimsical, Weirdness & Foolery.
PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2022 11:52 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 5:10 pm
Posts: 1150
Thanks for that, Ed Lecuyer. I could not have said it better myself.


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 Post subject: Re: WW&F - Truth amidst the Whimsical, Weirdness & Foolery.
PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2022 12:03 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 9:18 am
Posts: 692
Location: Wall, NJ
Ed, I understand what you are saying, I really do. My concern is that what you see today within the broad organization may change within ten or twenty years. I sent Wayne details on why I have this position. Call it a bad experience.....
J.R.


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 Post subject: Re: WW&F - Truth amidst the Whimsical, Weirdness & Foolery.
PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2022 1:30 pm 

Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 12:07 pm
Posts: 1124
Location: Leicester, MA.
So this would be a far better place for technical questions, but I'd imagine that the goal is to preserve the body profile of the 45 tonner given what you guys aim to do with it. But a thought comes to mind, and admittedly I've been stewing it over in my head the last few days. Is it even possible to mount the traction motor inside the truck frames? Or would it have to be body mounted and drive the wheels with a cardan shaft of some sort?

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Dylan M. Lambert
https://www.facebook.com/LambertLocomotive/


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 Post subject: Re: WW&F - Truth amidst the Whimsical, Weirdness & Foolery.
PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2022 1:53 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 12:53 pm
Posts: 271
Location: Brunswick, ME
Daylight4449 -
My understanding is that a traction motor will be mounted inside the body of the locomotive which will then drive one axle on each truck using a driveshaft and gear boxes.

That said, I'm an operations guy, not a mechanical expert, so I may not quite fully understand the arrangement correctly. This design is also subject to refinement, etc., once we have a detailed look at the locomotive - but the drawings, measurements, and initial assessments indicate that this approach is quite doable.

We'll probably not take up a ton of space on RYPN chronicling the project. Interested parties should instead keep tabs on our Discussion Forum and Facebook page. The Discussion Forum will likely become filled with all sorts of details about the engineering, etc., whereas Facebook will mainly be photos with brief descriptions.


JR -
I'm sorry that you had a "bad experience". Without knowing the exact specifics of what happened in your situation, I really don't foresee the sort of ousting or makeup change on the WW&F BOD that would possibly cause the railroad to park the steamers and start running a Chance CP Huntington up and down the Sheepscot Valley. Our board is diverse in age and gender, with the majority of members under age 52. The last BOD opening resulted in three highly qualified candidates (drawn from the active volunteer/membership pool) stepping forward - with a "real" election occurring. Meanwhile our youngest regular volunteer, who is definitely a steam nut, is 10; he helped construct the standard gauge panel track for 53 on Saturday.

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-Ed Lecuyer
Trainmaster, WW&F Railway Museum, Alna ME.
Please help the WW&F Build Locomotive 11!


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 Post subject: Re: WW&F - Truth amidst the Whimsical, Weirdness & Foolery.
PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2022 9:51 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 10603
Location: Somewhere east of Prescott, AZ along the old Santa Fe "Prescott & Eastern"
The former North Sunbury Bulk Transfer switcher was loaded up yesterday by rail-friendly trucking firm Daily Express for its trip to Maine.

Photo courtesy Jack Pehowic


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 Post subject: Re: WW&F - Truth amidst the Whimsical, Weirdness & Foolery.
PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2022 12:56 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:51 pm
Posts: 1977
Location: Southern California
JR May wrote:
Non-profits have to make money to stay in business with a bottom line just as a for-profit organization does. Too many years in the red and its over.
About 35-40 years ago at a presentation during an Association of Railway Museum annual conference, I recall hearing Ray Crapo of Shore Line (East Haven) say something like the only difference between for profit and non-profit organizations should be the tile of the bottom line of the P&L statement. For a non-profit it would be "reserve" instead of "profit."

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Brian Norden


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 Post subject: Re: WW&F - Truth amidst the Whimsical, Weirdness & Foolery.
PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2022 12:15 pm 
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Posts: 963
Location: MA
Didn't I see something about some shopping mall selling some 24-in train equipment?


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