Chapter six: Small Engines
It was an important day on the Grand Central. Today was going to be Sam's first day doing Albus' work. Albus' job was doing stopping passenger trains and the mail. Sam knew it was hard work, but he didn't mind, Sam liked hard jobs.
Sam was awake at his shed. The sun was just rising over the yards. Soon his driver and fireman arrived. "Ready for today Sam" asked his driver and he looked him over. "Of course I am" he said happily. After his fire had been lit, Sam was moved out of the shed and set off towards the station.
It was a surprise to Sam to see so many people on the platform. He could only think about how Matthias would get up earlier than this every day. But Sam waited patiently while Otis got his coaches. When his coaches had been coupled up and the passengers had boarded, he set off.
Soon the day was half way through. Sam was on tracks he had never seen before. It was a good thing that the signalman was in control of where he went. Then Sam pulled into a big station. It consisted of three platforms. There were two on the side and one in the middle. Between the two side ones and the middle one there were three tracks. Sam was on the track that was next to the middle platform.
But Sam was looking at the tracks that were on the opposite side of the platform he was parked next to. They were very small, too small for him to fit on. Sam saw that his driver was looking over his brakes; he decided to ask him about the tracks. "Excuse me driver, I have a question" said Sam. His driver walked over "what is it" he asked. "Why are those tracks so small" he asked.
His driver smiled "that's Narrow Gauge track" he said. But Sam was still puzzled "What's Narrow Gauge" he asked. "Narrow Gauge engines are like you, except their smaller, and their wheels are closer together. That track is built so they can run" said his driver. Sam was amazed; he couldn't wait to see a Narrow Gauge engine. Well he didn't have to wait long.
A rack of four coaches appeared at the platform, but there wasn't and engine. "What" said Sam, but then he heard a whistle. Then a small blue locomotive appeared. It was a Fletcher Jennings 0-4-2 steam locomotive. Sam gazed at the small engine. The engine smiled back "Hello, who are you" he asked. "Oh, my name is Sam, who are you" asked Sam. "My name is Ron, nice to meet you" he said with a smile. "So, is this your train" asked Sam. Ron starred, and then he laughed. "Ha, ha, no, I'm the shunter here; I collect the coaches for those who are ASSIGNED to pull them". Sam smiled, but then the conductors whistle blew. "Oh, time for me to go, by Ron" said Sam, and he left.
Ron smiled, and then he set off to get more coaches. By the time he got back, an engine was coupling up to the coaches he had brought earlier. It was a Milwaukee Road class A Atlantic. "Hello Kat" said Ron. Kat smiled "hello Ron, thanks for getting my coaches ready on time" she said happily. After the passengers had boarded the coaches, Kat puffed away. So Ron pulled the coaches to the other platform. Then another locomotive pulled up. It was a Milwaukee Road Class F7 4-6-4 Hudson. "Hello Ron" said the engine. "Hello Royce" said Ron "I got your coaches ready". Royce smiled "thank you" he said happily. Soon he had switched tracks and had coupled up to his coaches. Soon the passengers had boarded, and then Royce puffed away. Ron then went back to work.
Two hours later, Ron was pushing coaches around the yards. He had just shunted two old coaches into a siding when the yard manager walked up to his driver. He walked to him, said something, and then walked away. "We go news Ron; we have to take a train of slate from the quarry to the transfer yards. Josh will be waiting there to take it away" said his driver. Ron gave two big toots of his whistle. "Alright, let's go" he said eagerly. So his driver climbed back into the cab, and then they set off.
When Ron arrived at the quarry, he found a train of eight cars of slate waiting for him. His driver backed him down onto the cars, and then the shunter coupled his up. Ron then left the quarry and set off towards the transfer yards.
Ron was rolling along the line to the transfer yards. Suddenly he approached a red signal near a set of points. "What's going on" asked Ron. Then the signalman walked out and talked to Ron's driver. "There's a problem Ron; we need to go to the Ballast Mine and pick up some ballast cars. Tenzin collected the first half and now we need to collect the rest" said Ron's driver. Ron smiled "Alright let's go" he said happily. I didn't matter if Ron had to do more work; he liked work, especially if it was something besides shunting. So the points were set and Ron set off towards the Ballast Mines.
Soon Ron had arrived at the Ballast mines and had coupled up to the wagons. He now had a train of twelve cars. He went to the nearby coal hopper and water tower to refuel. After he had gotten more coal and water, he left the mines and fallowed the track back to the main line. When he arrived at the points, he set off towards the transfer yards.
But there was trouble. Ron had arrived at a steep hill; he had to work hard to pull the heavy cars up it. But the cars were ready to cause trouble. "Let's have some fun" the giggled to each other. Then Ron reached the top of the hill. "Great, smooth sailing from here" he said, but he was wrong. The cars chance had come "On, On, On" they screamed as they bumped into each other. "Oh no" said Ron as he flew down the other side. "Chase him, bump him, throw him off the rails" screamed the cars. Ron's driver applied the brakes, but Ron was still going very fast. Ron reached the bottom of the hill and sped on.
Ron was approaching the transfer yards, if he didn't stop soon, there could be an accident. But then Ron had an idea. "Let's see how you like it" he said, and he used all his effort to bump the cars. The cars were surprised, so surprised that they stopped bumping into each other. Ron's driver was able to apply the brakes and stop the train. "Good thinking Ron" he said with a smile. Ron was happy, and after a quick look over, they set back off towards the transfer yards.
Ron then pulled into the yards. Tenzin, Josh, and Spike were there. "Hello (huff) guys (huff) I brought the slate and ballast cars" he said out of breath. "Hello Ron" said Tenzin, who was parked next to the unloading dock. So the nearby crane turned and started to unload Ron's cars. Soon his cars had been unloaded. "Good job guys" said Spike, and then he left. "Spikes right, great job" said Josh, and then he left.
At the end of the day, Ron was parked in the sheds. Tenzin and Kat were there to. Royce was still working. Ron was telling Kat and Tenzin about how he had stopped an accident with the trucks. "You did a great job Ron" said Kat. "Ya, not a single car were damaged" said Tenzin. Ron smiled "thanks guys" he said happily.
Then the manager arrived, he walked over to Ron. "Yes Ron, good job. Your driver told me all about how you handled the cars. I think you deserve a reward" he said happily. Ron smiled "Really, thank you sir". "your reward is that you will be doing Kat's passenger duties tomorrow" said the Manager. Ron smiled "thank you sir". "And Kat, you will be doing mail runs tomorrow" said the manager. "Yes sir" said Kat. Then the manager left. "This will be good practice for you Ron" said Kat. "Ya, just in case you need to pull passengers again some day" said Tenzin. Ron smiled, then he closed his eyes and fell asleep.
The next morning, Ron left the sheds early. He arrived at Wayward station early so he could get his coaches. When he had, his driver coupled his to the front coach. Then Sam arrived "Hello Ron, got the coaches ready I see". "Actually, today I'm doing passenger duties" said a smiling Ron. "Nice, well I have to leave now, good luck" said Sam, and he puffed out of the station.
Ron smiled, but the coaches were upset. "What right does he have to come here and pull us. We want Kat back" the said to each other. Soon the passengers had boarded and Ron left the station.
Ron was very careful with the coaches; he didn't bump them and stopped at every station perfectly. But the coaches were still upset. "We want Kat back, we need to get rid of Ron" they said to each other. Then Ron approached the hill that the trucks had pushed him down yesterday. "Now's our chance" said the coaches. They then held back "hold back, hold back" they said together. Ron's wheels spun as the coaches held back. "Come on, we'll upset the passengers" said Ron. But the coaches continued to hold back. But Ron had an idea "I'll show you" he said. Then he bumped the coaches back. They stopped holding back long enough for Ron to speed up and make it over the hill.
"Well done Ron" said his driver as they sailed down the other side of the hill. Ron smiled "thank you" he said happily.
Soon the day was over and Ron arrived back at Wayward station. Sam was waiting there to collect the passengers. "How was your first day Ron" asked Sam. "It was great" said Ron with a smile. Soon Sam left with the passengers. Then Kat pulled pulling the mail cars. "Hello Ron, did you enjoy pulling passengers today" she asked. Ron gave a weak smile "it was great, until the coaches held back on the hill". Kat gasped, then she reversed until she was looking at the coaches. She glared at them "why did you hold back" she asked angrily. The coaches looked worried "we just wanted you back, we only want you to pull us" said the front coach. Kat grew more angry "this is unexceptable, I will have to talk to the manager about this" she said sternly. Ron took the coaches to the yards and put them in a siding. Then he and Kat went back to the shed.
When they arrived, Tenzin was there. "Hello Ron, so how was your first day as a passenger engine" he asked. Ron smiled "It was great, no problems" he said happily. Then he and Kat laughed, while Tenzin just gave a confused look.