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Messages - Kevin Madore

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Museum Discussion / Re: Maine 2-Foot Grand Reunion >>>Photo Album<<<
« on: February 03, 2020, 06:03:10 PM »
Hi Gordon,

The socks that I purchased were from Hotronics.    These are several steps beyond the cheaper socks that you can get a Dick's Sporting Goods.   I bought them at a professional ski shop for about $270 a pair.   The Lithium-Ion battery packs are separate from the socks and are pretty sophisticated.  They have 4 heat zone settings and 4 LEDs on each unit, which indicate the heat zone in use. They mate to the sock units via snap-on couplings in a folded compartment at the top of the sock.   I'm told that the replacements for the battery packs are $80/each.   Replacement socks are also expensive.   Obviously, they are designed so that the batteries are removable at the end of each day for recharging, and of course, for laundering.

The Hotronics product appears very well-made.   There is also another brand called Lenz, which is even more sophisticated and expensive.   You can adjust the heat zones on those remotely with your cell kidding!   That was a bit more functionality than I was willing to pay for.    Honestly, I was never worried about the product shorting out or burning up due to any noted, they are pretty high quality.   I was concerned however, about what might happen if I started tromping through deep snow and some of it got into the contacts at the top of the sock.   Fortunately, I was able to pull 2 layers of long underwear down over them, as well as the gators inside my snow pants, so even though I DID tromp through some deep stuff up at the museum, no snow ever got into the batteries.   I am off to Nevada in a few days, and I will be taking them with me.   They are not perfect, but at least my feet did not freeze, and that is well worth $270!!!   :)

/Kevin Madore     

Museum Discussion / Re: Maine 2-Foot Grand Reunion >>>Photo Album<<<
« on: January 29, 2020, 01:39:23 PM »

That said, inquiring minds want to know... how did the heated socks work out?

Hi Ed,

Well, let's say they were a definite improvement over the charcoal-based, toe heaters that one can buy in Walmart.   Those require a steady supply of oxygen to work, and when you seal them up in a boot with thick socks, they give about 10 minutes of heat and don't work again until you try to peel them off your socks at the end of the day.

The heated socks I purchased were called "Hotronics."    At about $270/pair, they are clearly the most expensive socks I've ever purchased.   Unlike older, battery-powered socks, these use Lithium-Ion batteries, and they last quite a bit longer.   They have 4 heat settings, which have trade-offs.   The more heat you ask for, the less time they'll work.   On Friday, which was very cold, I started out with Zone 1, and after about 2 hours, my feet felt cold (but not freezing), so I jacked them up to Zone 2.   My feet were then comfortable all day and right until the train returned at about 4 PM.   But then, after shooting around the yard for an hour, my feet started to freeze.   When I got back to the hotel, the batteries were exhausted.   So, for Saturday and Sunday, I left them in Zone 1 all day.   Yes, my feet did feel cold a times, but never freezing or numb.   Zone 1 was enough to take the edge off all day, and when I got back to the hotel, there was still some juice left in the batteries on both days. 

So, are they worth it?   Yes, I think so.   They are definitely coming with me to Nevada next week.   The one worry I did have was when we were tromping through all of the fresh snow on Sunday.   I was a bit concerned that if snow got into the battery connections at the top of my socks, I could end up with a Lithium Battery fire, which would not be good.   Fortunately, the socks have a flap over the batteries, and I also stretched 2 layers of long johns over them, and my snow pants have gators that cover them.   So, they stayed dry all the time. 

If you are someone who has issues with cold feet during prolonged exposure to low temperatures, they are definitely something to consider.   They seem pretty well-constructed and you can buy components, such as replacement battery packs and sock units.   The batteries are also alleged to be good for upwards of 5 years.

/Kevin Madore

Museum Discussion / Maine 2-Foot Grand Reunion >>>Photo Album<<<
« on: January 29, 2020, 10:54:22 AM »

On the weekend of January 17-19, I attended the first of the two, Maine 2-Foot Grand Reunion events held at the Wiscasset Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum in Alna, Maine. This event featured the first-ever gathering of all 5 surviving 24" gauge steam locomotives, from Maine's historic, 2-Foot common carrier lines. It also featured the rolling stock collections of both museums, allowing re-creations of trains from four historic narrow gauge lines, including the Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes, the Bridgton & Saco River, the Monson Railroad and of course, the WW&F.

If you could order a menu of perfect weather for a winter steam event, the conditions that we experienced this weekend were pretty close to perfection. About the only thing missing was a period of snow during daylight. A recent, 6" snowfall on Thursday left a fresh blanket over the railroad for Friday morning. The sky was completely clear, the temperature was about 9F, and the trees were all caked with snow. Saturday featured a blend of sun and clouds, with another 6" snowstorm after dark to cover all of our footprints. Sunday was once again mostly sunny and cold. The photo shoots featured a mix of yard servicing and switching scenes as well as operations out on the line. A formal night session had been planned for Saturday evening, but the incoming snowstorm prevented the crew that was to put on the event from reaching the museum. Fortunately, two of the paid attendees, Pete Lerro and John Craft had a bit of experience with night photography. Pete, who was returning from one of his Lighthouse Tours, happened to have a few lights with him, so an impromptu session was organized, to photograph some of the yard switching and put-away operations. That session concluded just in time for everyone to beat feet for their hotels before the roads got too bad.

For the benefit of those who could not be there.....or those who were working the event and had no time to take photos, have a look!

/Kevin Madore

Museum Discussion / Re: Sheepscot pictures for the away crowd.
« on: January 20, 2020, 11:31:59 PM »

Thanks so much to you and your crew for helping us "chase the light" yesterday afternoon.   The photographers were really hoping we could find a sunny spot where we could shoot the double-header in the late afternoon sun and the shadows were closing the line down fast.   I know it must have been a chore getting all of the brakemen and the engine crews briefed on the plan change, especially when the engine guys were 13 cars and a lot of snowy footprints away.   Everyone REALLY appreciated getting that last spot.

/Kevin Madore :) 

PS - Apologies for the lousy image quality in the sample below.  The forum only allows a 200KB file.   The 1 MB version looks much nicer!

Work and Events / Re: Maine Two-footer Winter Photo Specials 2020
« on: January 16, 2020, 11:17:09 AM »
A good pair of wool socks and Mr Bean's boots should keep your feet warm - leather alone will not do it. IKFE
Tingly pull ons help allot.


The pair of conventional boots and socks that will keep my feet warm hasn't been invented yet.   I've tried Sorels and Columbia Bugaboots, and all manner of "nice, warm socks."   None of them do the job.   100% wool socks seem to be very irritating to wear and are not noticeably warmer than the synthetic, "high-tech" socks they sell these days.    The activated charcoal toe heaters are next to worthless.   They require oxygen to work, and when you seal them up in tight socks and boots, you deprive them of that.   So, you get about 10 minutes of heat, then your feet freeze.   And, every time you peel those adhesive pads off your socks, you peel off some of the fabric as well. 

A couple of days ago, I was having a conference call with my boss at work.   It turns out we're both going to be in Maine this weekend and we commiserated about how cold it was going to be.   She shared that when she was skiing, she used electrically-heated socks and that the effectiveness and endurance of those has gotten a lot better with the advent of Lithium-Ion batteries.   She highly recommended a particular product and said they worked all day for her.   So, last night, I hit a ski shop in Salem, NH and got myself a pair.   $269 for a pair of socks.   Batteries are already charged and I plan to use them tomorrow at the railroad.   We'll see how they work.      I have a bunch of photo trips planned in February (Niles Canyon, Carson City, V&T, Nevada Northern, C&TS Rotary), so if they work, they will be worth every penny.   It will be nice to be able to enjoy those events, vs. just trying to endure them.   

Work and Events / Re: Maine Two-footer Winter Photo Specials 2020
« on: January 15, 2020, 03:04:10 PM »
The level of interest in the upcoming Grand Reunion has been impressive. The WW&F, MNG and ML&MW bringing all 5 original Maine Two-Foot gauge locomotives together for the first time has been noticed by narrow gauge fans and historians across the US and around the world.  A good example is the response to the news post about B&SR #7 arriving at Sheepscot last week.  As of this morning the post has been viewed by over 24,500 people.     

This will be the first time I've seen the 7 or the 8 operate anywhere but Portland since the Edaville days.   I rode behind 8 in the 60s at Edaville, when she had a small diamond stack on her.  Never saw the 7 that day.  It will be nice to see the 7 running in an authentic environment, with freight cars.   I just wish it wasn't going to be in such extreme weather.   Keeping the fingers and toes from freezing is going to be a challenge, especially on Friday.   After work today, I'm going to head out looking for some electrically heated socks.   The good ones are apparently about $300 a pair....well worth it, if they work.   The activated charcoal toe heaters just don't work as well as the hand warmers.   You get about an hour of warmth.....and then you freeze.

Work and Events / Re: Maine Two-footer Winter Photo Specials 2020
« on: January 14, 2020, 10:21:25 AM »
Weather forecast for the first upcoming photo event looks interesting....and challenging.   Windy and COLD on Friday, but otherwise a nice, sunny day.   Saturday looks to start out sunny and cold (near zero), but with increasing cloudiness.  Snow will overspread the area in the late afternoon or evening.   Looks like snow could be plowable Saturday night into Sunday morning, with the storm wrapping up during the day.  Temps will be rising during the storm, but will never get much above freezing.

I'm staying in Brunswick, so my big concern will be getting to/from the hotel Saturday night and Sunday morning.   I'm thinking that by the time the event wraps up on Sunday, the roads should be in better shape for folks to depart for home.

Work and Events / Re: Maine Two-footer Winter Photo Specials 2020
« on: December 31, 2019, 12:29:51 AM »
I note that several posts mention they can't afford it. The price is pretty steep for young working people and retirees on fixed incomes.  Members, and especially Life Members, ought to be given a discount and first dibs on reservations.  Beyond that, perhaps a lottery system could have given away a limited number of tickets.
  Most attendees will need to stay overnight in a motel which will add greatly to the total. 
  Maybe change the name of the event to, "Maine Two-footer Money Specials"?

As someone who participates in a lot of photo charters, I can offer the following background:

Generally speaking, most of the folks who attend photo charters are serious photography enthusiasts, who happen to specialize in rail opposed to railfans who happen to own cameras.    You're absolutely correct in your assertion that the cost of a typical photo charter these days has gone beyond the means of the average Joe.    It's not the actual charter fees that push it over the edge, but all of the travel and living expenses in addition to that.   The T&L typically more than doubles the cost of the trip.   It is not unusual for the total trip cost to exceed $2,000, and some can go way beyond that.   Most of us who do these deals are older folks, who don't have any kids left in the house.....or never had any in the first place.

Some charters, such as the ones at the WW&F are offered by the railroad itself, but more often than not, they are organized by an independent charter operator, who is usually a very accomplished professional photographer.   The most successful ones develop a reputation for putting their patrons in a position to get spectacular photos, and they deliver on that reputation most of the time.  That's why they get repeat business.

Here's are a few examples:

The charter operator will typically conceive an idea that involves a particular railroad and specifically lettered equipment.   He/she will negotiate with the railroad for a specific number of days/hours, including all of the extras.  The cost of a day of operation varies, depending on the number and size of the locomotives desired, and the number of hours of operation.   Many charters will operate from 6AM (before sunrise) to as late as midnight....then do it again the next day.   That often requires multiple railroad crews ($$$).   Just to give you an idea, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad typically charges $10,000 per day for one K-36 locomotive and one crew.  Their engines are a tad bigger than our 2-footers.   Want a 2-engine Cumbres Turn?   That's a $20,000 train. 

Once they arrive at a price the operator thinks he/she can sell, it is advertised, usually privately, to a known list of prior clients.   If the operator can't get a price that is saleable, the project will be abandoned.   Similarly, if the idea does not sell with the clients, the event will be canceled.   The group size is typically between 25 and 50 people, depending on what the railroad is charging, and the size of the run-by locations.   At a wide-open railroad like the C&TS, you can have larger groups without compromising the quality of the photo opportunities. Obviously, the cost per person drops if the group size is larger.   At typical New England railroads like the WW&F, the photo locations are much tighter, dictating smaller groups. 

If the event runs, the operator will coordinate closely with the railroad to create an operating plan that is doable, and which will hit locations with great scenery at the times of optimal sunlight for each location.  They also have back-up plans in case the weather is bad.   That's how you get shots like the ones I posted above.   Of course, each photographer still has to execute on the shot.    These things are definitely not for everyone.   They require a reasonable level of photographic skill, some degree of physical fitness (climbing and hiking involved), and the ability to go with minimal sleep for a few days.    They are photographic events, not railfan events. 

As you might expect, the market for these charters is not huge.   There are perhaps 200-300 people in the US who will do one of these per year.   Perhaps half that number will do 2-3.   Perhaps 75 will do as many as half a dozen.   It's basically the same folks on most of them....the social aspect is a big part of it.

Fortunately, many railroads also do railfan-type events, with much larger groups, shorter hours, and significantly lower prices.   For most people who are just looking for a fun railfan experience, that's a much more cost-effective approach.  :)

/Kevin Madore   

Museum Discussion / Victorian Christmas >>>The Photo Album<<<
« on: December 17, 2019, 11:43:27 PM »

Apologies for the delay in getting this posted.   I shot over 500 frames at the VC Event last weekend, so deciding what to edit and what to post was as much of a challenge as the weather was.   Amazingly, I did get some pretty nice stuff.   I also got pretty darn wet, despite wearing full-body rain gear.   This was my 12th VC, and probably THE rainiest I can remember.   Still, I was amazed at how many people turned out.   It was definitely a great success and at least through my lens, appeared to go off like clockwork.

For the benefit of those who were working hard that day, I've put together a small album of representative shots from the various venues.

Thanks for looking and have a great Christmas!   We will see you all in January for the 2-Foot Reunion.

/Kevin Madore

Museum Discussion / Re: Sheepscot pictures for the away crowd.
« on: December 17, 2019, 05:22:25 PM »
The 7 and 8 are not just big, they are WIDE as well.


Museum Discussion / Building the WW&F Mountain Extension >>>Photo Essay<<<
« on: December 16, 2019, 10:13:44 PM »
Last week, I posted a series of photos on, depicting track-laying operations on the Mountain Extension, during the 2019 Fall Work Weekend.   Although the photos are documentary in nature and not particularly artistic, I thought the viewership on that site would find the series interesting.   I was pretty blown away by the response.   Each of the 10 images averaged about 4,000 views last week, which is amazing, especially since none of them were linked to Facebook or any social media sites.   Last week, I had more views on than any other photographer.   Railfans and history buffs just eat this stuff up.

This week, I posted a Flickr Album with those 10 images, and a few more.  I've linked it to the Narrow Gauge Forum and the RYPN.  I think both audiences will enjoy the show. 

For those who would like to take a look at the Flickr Album, here is the link:

For those who would like to see the RailPictures set, you can go to this link:

The images are the same, but you'll also get a sense for the view-counts on some of the photos.

People are fascinated by the stuff that goes on up here!

/Kevin Madore

Museum Discussion / Re: B&SR no. 8 arrives at Sheepscot
« on: December 12, 2019, 11:20:44 PM »
I'll bet it's been a while since the old girl last saw the sunshine.   I remember Russ Page giving me a cab ride in this engine way back in the early 2000s.    The king of the Maine 2-footers.   Should be quite a display for VC.    Wish it weren't going to rain.  :(

/Kevin Madore

Kevin, not sure who you don't know, so I'll guess.  The fellow with the beard and blue shirt is Dan Malkowski, and his companion with the light shirt and suspenders is James Noblini.  Dan's heading off to U-Maine this fall to study Mech-E, and James works with the MEC 470 group in Ellsworth.  #9's fireman for most of the day was Bill Baskerville. 

Great photos, as always Kevin.

Hi James,

I know most of the regulars.   I was just looking for some help with the images in which someone was prominently featured, but not identified in my caption.   Believe it or not, creating captions on these albums is one of the more time-consuming aspects of producing them.   Most of the folks on this forum know what they are looking at, but that’s not always the case with folks on other forums, or on Flickr in general.   I also like to make sure that people get credit for all they do for this museum.   I am amazed at the volunteer hours that some of you folks have racked up. 

Thanks all for the help in identifying the few folks I didn’t immediately recognize.  Many of the captions have been updated accordingly.

/Kevin Madore

Bill Piche was #3's engineer that day.  Bill's a volunteer at MNG and either a volunteer or employee (not sure which) at the Valley Railroad.

Yes, I see Bill quite often, at Sheepscot, Portland, Essex, North Conway.....surprised I haven’t seen him (yet) at The Cog.   :)

/Kevin Madore


Apologies for being late to the party with the photos from Annual Picnic.  I shot a lot of frames that day and it takes a while to go through them all.   I was amazed at how many "keepers" were in this shoot.   The variable weather and some of the unique train operations definitely produced a lot of great photo ops. 

Here's a Flickr Album with a selection of some of the day's most interesting scenes:

As always, if you find anything in the captions that's not accurate, feel free to PM me and I'll fix it.  Also, there are a few folks who appear in these images whose names are not yet known to me.   If you can help ID some of these people, I would love to put some names on the faces.

Looking forward to FWW!! :)

/Kevin Madore

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