Wooding Up. The Sumpter Valley Crew "woods-up" Heisler #3 prior to a morning departure, as a couple of their furry friends do their best to keep the foamers at bay.
One of the downsides of operating a wood-burning locomotive is that the fueling process is considerably more cumbersome than it is with other types of fuel. Unlike coal and oil, which can more or less be "poured" into a locomotive tender, using some sort of mechanical apparatus, such as a coal tipple, a front-end loader or a pump, wood must be hand-stacked to make the most efficient use of bunker space. That means you need pretty much need several people to form a wood line, wherein folks pick the logs off a rack, pass them up to the cab, and a designated stacker neatly places each one in a nice, tight, stable pile. The process is time-consuming and guess what? Because the BTU value of wood is lower than coal or oil, the fuel supply tends to run out quicker....so you're doing that wood-line thing every time you turn around. The Sumpter folks buy their firewood precisely cut for #3's firebox length, and they keep it stacked in neat steel racks, which are brought up to the loading area using a forklift. From that point on, it's good, old-fashioned elbow grease that loads the fuel.