The Flagg 75 steam engine spits, coughs, breathes heavily and blows off a lot of steam before it finally moves.
In other words, I can relate.
I hopped into the cab of the 1930 workhorse locomotive Saturday morning as Engineer John Barnett of Raleigh backed it onto the roundtable at the N.C. Transportation Museum.
We took about a quarter turn before locking in and heading south on our warm-up run. The white steam we released made us a moving cloud at first.
On the right side of the cab, Barnett manned the throttle. Also within reach were the reverse gear, the locomotive and train brakes, injectors for water and even levers to release sand for more traction on the tracks.
“It’s easy to operate, but they can be temperamental,” Barnett said of these coal-fired beasts.
Going forward, Barnett can watch the tracks ahead through a small window. Or in forward or reverse, he can poke his head out the side opening, much like a happy dog hanging out the window of his master’s car.
Also on board was Fireman Gil Williams of Lexington, S.C., and Mike Stovall of Greensboro, a fireman in training. All three men are regular transportation museum volunteers who love anything to do with trains and their operation.