You are correct Ben, but you missed my point.
Here everyone is arguing for 18 to be modified, oblivious to historical context, yet when the coaches were painted green, it was hailed as "restoring them to their historic colors".
I have always felt that the A&A was its own entity, and because of its longevity in the steam excursion business, it had earned the right to develop its own identity, hence leaving the coaches orange.
As for the 1980's when it ran without the footboard, check youtube... several videos have been posted in the last few months, including several from that time period. One includes a nice shot of 18 without the board, yet, WITH the brackets.
As for the board's originality. I'm going to argue that it is OEM. If you take the footboards as a whole, you will see they work harmoniously together. Most engines that lacked this board, the footboards on either side of the smokebox would have been modified so as to offer some mechanism for climbing up from the front pilot.
As for utility of it... it allows much easier access to the smokebox for cleaning out the ashes, as well as makes it a bit safer to walk from one side of the boiler to the other... as a general rule, climbing up or down is more dangerous than simply walking around.
I'd like to have seen the front board trimmed in orange instead of the bar... carry the trim right around the front. It might not look any better, but I can't offer an opinion on it till I see it.
__ J. D. Gallaway __
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