The Footplate Padre Mark Tronson says that when he first began as a trainee engineman at the Goulburn round house in 1968 with both steam and diesels, he was given many such wonderful opportunities to learn first hand. He'd be invited to take an engine, steam or diesel, from the turn table to the main out-going line ready for the crew.
One such story in the Footplate Padre's book "Tales of the Footplate" titled 'Took Water' on page 93 details such a case and the drama it involved.
The new acting fireman was given his first big chance at the wheel, to move the 57 Class steam locomotive from the round house to the out-going road. This meant backing out onto the turntable, turning the table to the main out-going line and then moving the engine out to the clearing line. A routine procedure but for a first timer, an enormous thrill.
On this 57 Class the steam was just about to blowing off pressure. The injector was off, the hand brake was off, but no one had told the youngster that, under such circumstances, if you move the locomotive, you do it with much care. It will, what's called, 'Take Water' and it will take-off by itself. When a steam engine does this, the driving wheels do the proverbial spinning trick. In a confined space, the only thing to do is to keep reversing the driving screw and the engine runs back and forth 'til it stops taking water. Even for an experienced man, this is a difficult task.
The acting fireman, with good intentions, but lack of knowledge and experience, gave the regulator a tug, and the gigantic 57 Class, which was a huge steam engine, "took water." The wheels spun as if there was no tomorrow, and back she flew, over the turntable and towards the opposite wall buffers of the round house.
By this time the acting fireman was furiously turning the screw, but alas the 57 crashed into the strong shed buffers, knocking the tender buffers clean off. The engine's driving screw was now reversed, and it took off back across the turntable and towards the other wall buffers where it had just come from.
Crash! It knocked off the buffers from the front of the engine, and finally it came to rest still huffing and puffing. The young acting fireman looked around, and sheepishly sneaked off the engine via the opposite side steps from where others in the round house came rushing over. His legs couldn't hold him up, they were like jelly. He flopped to the ground, exhausted, frightened and shaking! Such an experience left him changed forever.
The Footplate Padre says that the Apostle Paul experienced this type of thing on the Road to Damascus. He was then known as Saul and had been hunting down the followers of Jesus the Lord's light shone upon him. He realised whom had spoken and his was changed forever.
Saul, who became Paul, became blind until Ananias laid his hand upon him to receive his sight (Acts 9). Many who realise it is Jesus to whom they have responded have a likewise experience of transformation.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at: www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html