Saturday, 24 September 2016

"Rosyth" At Chasewater & A Footplate Ride...

Hi all. Today, whilst at a very rare loose end with nothing planned, I had a ride out in the motor and soon found myself at the Chasewater Railway. The reason for nipping over to the Brownhills-based steam line was to catch some shots of the visiting Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST "Rosyth No1". The immaculate green industrial is currently visiting from her Pontypool home and as Chasewater is a lot easier for me to get to than the former I decided to see the engine whilst she was nearby. The engine has been on loan through the summer and, I believe, is staying until next year. Having purchased my ticket from the Booking Office I proceeded out onto the breezy platform and spotted "Rosyth" taking water at the column...
When I went to Pontypool with "Gomer" in 2011, "Rosyth" wasn't on the roster as her overhaul only concluded in 2014. The job has been done to a high standard and the lining in particular is most impressive. The 14" Barclay was shining...
Once coupled up to the 3-coach train, "Rosyth" was ready to leave on the 11am run...
Right on time, having received the "Right Away" from the Guard, the 0-4-0 steamed out of Brownhills West station and off towards Chasewater Heaths. The Chasewater Railway is 2-miles long and runs through the scenery of Chasewater Country Park. "The Colliery Line", as it likes to be known, offers the well meaning preserved industrial engines a good home and I think I've mentioned before how refreshing it is to see them being utilised. A lot of the larger preserved railways used industrials initially before their main line alternatives were restored. Soon enough, after a gentle meander along the waters edge of Chasewater, "Rosyth" was arriving at Chasewater Heaths station...
There was a short break at the Heaths station to allow passengers to look at the engine before continuing the rest of the journey on to Chasetown...
"Rosyth" was built as Works Number 1385 and, so I believe, was planned to be used by the Admiralty at Rosyth Dockyard in Fife initially. However, this soon changed to the Royal Dockyard in Pembroke, South Wales and the Barclay worked there for many years. In 1955 she was moved to the Air Ministry in South Glamorgan to shunt in the sidings. In February 1973 however she was removed for preservation and after many years both in steam and in storage at various locations in Wales was most recently overhauled by the PBR in 2014; 100 years after she was originally built. The visit to Chasewater is the first time that the locomotive has ever steamed outside of Wales. The footplate of the 1914-built 0-4-0 Andrew Barclay Saddle Tank...
During the stop at the Heaths I got chatting to the crew of "Rosyth" who both seemed pretty impressed with their machine for the day. She seems to be in very good condition both cosmetically and mechanically and this is a testament to the lads at Pontypool who restored her. The engine must be finding it easy going at Chasewater, having been used to having to attack the fearsome gradient into her home station of Furnace Sidings at the PBR! The crew kindly invited me onto the footplate of "Rosyth" for the run up to Chasetown and then the return journey back to Brownhills West. I was of course most pleased at this and grateful for the offer! With another "Right Away" from the Guard, "Rosyth" chugged out of the Heaths station and on towards the terminus...
"Through The Round Window"
The 14" Barclay got the weight of the 3-coach train moving very easily and barked happily upgrade out of Chasewater Heaths Station...
"On The Footplate of 'Rosyth No1' at Chasewater"
Chasetown is only around the corner really from the Heaths and completes the 2-mile journey from Brownhills. "Rosyth" was looking pretty at the head of the train as I took the snap below...
Having been uncoupled from the stock, "Rosyth" duly ran round the train...
Once in the loop, the crew can set back before drawing up to set the road...
With the engine ran round, the crew drew her forward up to the stock...
The 0-4-0 was then coupled on for a prompt departure back towards Brownhills...
During her preservation life, the engine has been fitted with vacuum brakes for use with passenger stock, otherwise the steam & handbrakes are the only methods of stopping available. Andrew Barclay Sons & Co was founded in 1892 in Kilmarnock and created a reputation for building simple but robust locomotives. Barclay's are often noted for their squared-off tanks, as is evident on this example. At least 100 of their railway products survive in preservation in one form or another. Back with us, "Rosyth" was soon steaming out of Chasetown Station with the coaches following behind...
After a brief stop at Chasewater Heaths, we proceeded homeward bunker first...
The sun was trying to come out as we neared Brownhills with the returning first train...
The pressure needle on "Rosyth" was hugging the red line most of the way, though the Fireman did comment that Barclay's are best at making steam stationary! I think a lot of industrials can feel that way at times. Their large cylinders and power reserves often outdo the steam creation possible due to grate area. "Rosyth" however seemed to have no trouble, apart from the traditional industrial waddle which causes a to and fro in the coaches. The crew dubbed the movement The Barclay Bounce...quite apt I thought! Also interesting on 1385 is the right-angled steam brake handle which looks much easier to use than a hand wheel type...
I was most enjoying my unexpected footplate ride on the Chasewater Railway but all too soon the distant signal for Brownhills West came into sight and "Rosyth" was being slowed for the token exchange. Having pulled up neatly in the platform, I thanked the crew for their invitation and hospitality. I had most enjoyed my trip on the 0-4-0...
"1385 'Rosyth No1' Back At Brownhills West"
One thing that the Chasewater Railway have that always impresses me is the Heritage Centre. Inside was the huge bulk of "Nechells No4", the RSH 0-6-0 that we came to see bow out of her ticket last February. Click here for that post. "Nechells" is currently awaiting her place in the restoration queue, though there are 10 other steamers at Chasewater either in operation or awaiting overhaul or restoration...
Having had a quick wander around the Heritage Centre I walked a little way along the path towards Norton Lakeside Station and snapped "Rosyth" getting away from Brownhills with the 12:15pm run to Chasetown...
"A Final Look at 'Rosyth No1' at Chasewater"
Well, for another week folks, that's all for now. I think a day of rest is in order tomorrow before next Saturday's outing to Evesham for another driving turn on the EVLR. Many thanks indeed for reading guys and again many thanks to the crew on "Rosyth No1" today for their kind invitation. That's another railway done on the footplate...its always a pleasure to add to that list! Cheers, Sam...

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Atlantic Report No14: Under Cover of Darkness...

Evening all. Tonight, despite being "all train-ed out" from the weekend, I decided to take my LBSC Maisie up to the club track at Ryton Pools. The engine has only been out the once this year and even that was for a steam test and so, with the rain just about holding off, I went for it. This evening was scheduled to be the last Wednesday evening Members Run of the 2016 season so I expected a few engines to be out. No such luck! Alongside my Atlantic the other engines in action added up to...Nil. Nevertheless the engine was unloaded by 6pm and stood proudly on the steaming bay. The tender was filled up with all the coal I had left at home; a mixture of steam and house coal; in preparation for the outing and looked well stacked aboard the low tender...
"LBSC Maisie At Ryton Pools Railway"
The engine has been cleaned prior to running a couple of times this season before rain put pay to going out. Before being lit up this evening she looked pretty smart...
I'd stacked the firebox high with paraffin-wood before I left home and the boiler was showing 3/4 of a glass so I lit up and started the electric blower. The engine always comes round pretty quickly due to having LBSC's Combustion Chamber boiler and so it wasn't long before we were coupled up to the truck and on our way round. Having only driven the engine the once this year I was poised and ready for the unthinkable to happen but, to my surprise, she actually ran fairly well. I did have to stop at Ryton Halt on the first lap to reattach the return-pipe to the tender mind as that has a tendency to pop off on the first trip of any run. Meanwhile, making steam was no problem...
Autumn is certainly here now and we're losing the light so much quicker. Therefore, by just gone 7pm, the track was quickly plunging into darkness and 4436 was running on the bright signal lights. Even small engines look pretty at night. The lamps of the signals and the light of the fire was worth a quick snap during another stop at Ryton Halt...
A close up of the glowing fire in the 4-4-2's sizeable firebox...
"An Autumn Fire In GNR Atlantic No4436"
I did a few more laps under the cover of darkness and in the end it was so dark you couldn't really see anything. The only thing to keep you running confidently was the knowledge that nobody else had been mad enough to run this evening! The engine meanwhile was running fairly well, with the fire burning brightly and the pumps working as they should. This engine has always had a good axlepump which, on a track as long as Ryton, works very efficiently. My final lap was just before 8pm and the flash was certainly required as the GNR C1 chipped away at the foot of Ryton Bank...
"An Evening With The Atlantic"
The engine had gone well for most of the evening, though I had ended up down the nick on one of the trips due to forgetting about the bypass: a rookie error! Dropping down onto the steaming bay with 40psi on the clock and 1/2 a glass in the boiler, 4436 was transferred back onto her steaming bay ready for disposal. No drop grate on this engine and so the fire is manually raked, grate rocked and ashpan duly raked too...just like the real thing! The engine was then blown down before being loaded into the car. I'd like to get the back truck boxes out of it soon to check them. Being so close to the ashpan they have the tendency to fill with grit and grime so a good clean up with fresh oil won't go a miss. I thought on the way home what a pleasant evening I'd had...that is until an unruly speed bump caused the engine to tip over in the boot, chipping the cab roof in the process. Ahh...the beauty of the expletive word! That's another trip out for my ever growing collection of touch-up brushes. Cheers all and Best Regards, Sam...

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Tyseley: On 9600 Whilst "Scotsman" Meets The "Earl"...

Hi all. This morning when the alarm went off at the hideous hour of 5am I felt like sleeping in. Its been a while since I've done three days in a row of early-start steam days but it was worth it for Tyseley's "Flying Scotsman" weekend. I have to admit I had yet another McDonalds breakfast this morning, though my growing waistline will not thank me for that. I arrived at the Birmingham base of Vintage Trains for the third and final time this weekend at just gone 6:30am. Down at the Mess Room I found some ghostly characters; resembling some of yesterdays volunteers; who had spent their night in the signalbox before we headed off in search of the locomotives. Day 3 of a long weekend such as this sees the morning light up energies almost completely depleted and it was certainly quieter this morning! As the light began to come up on this calm Sunday morning, the beautiful "Earl" and the Pannier's stood alongside the works...
"The Calm Before Light Up - 6:45am"
All three of the engines were still simmering away happily with plenty of steam on the clock. The "Earl" in particular was well up the gauge and yet still as silent as can be. Once again I was put to work firing up and oiling 7752 (L94). This morning she was a little sluggish to start but before long was showing signs of summoning some more steam. Meanwhile the huge Castle class 4-6-0 stood gracefully alongside...
After an hour or so bending myself into all sorts of positions oiling up the red Pannier, I went off to get changed in readiness for the shunt with 9600 to arrange the ECS for the shuttle train. Once in place we steamed downgrade just a little, to the watering point. Whilst there we noticed some shunting going on with the W7 Peckett. My, my...what power that little engine harbours! Her impressive efforts with the cold Class 47 were great to see as she stormed up the yard...
With the brake created after watering, we steamed gently down into Platform 1 with me driving 'L94'. Having stopped just shy of the buffer stops, 60103 "Flying Scotsman" was taken away for her Sunday morning appearance at the turntable. A strong queue had already formed outside the gate and was growing continuously across the car park. As soon as the time turned 10am, the gates were opened and in marched "Scotsman"s adoring public. Meanwhile the two Pannier's simmered away happily in the platform whilst us crews enjoyed a hot cuppa' nearby. Following the tea I decided to walk down through the loco shed to grab a shot of "Scotsman" during her shunt move back to Platform 2 road. Here she is seen alongside the little Peckett 0-4-0 No2004...
"David & Goliath - No1 and No60103"
A non-platform view of the NRM's Gresley A3 Pacific No60103 "Flying Scotsman"...
Having snapped the A3 I wandered back down to my steed for the day 9600, who was simmering patiently in the hazy sunshine. The crowds were now floating back towards Platform 2 as "Scotsman"s return was imminent...
9600's elder sister L94 (GWR 7752) stood simmering on the rear of the shuttle train...
"Flying Scotsman" soon came rolling back down the yard with the BSO and Pullman's in tow. The A3 was captured rolling past the Drivers Side of 9600...
As we prepared for our first shuttle of the day, I couldn't help thinking how pleasant 9600's cab is. Being slightly taller than 52's and with larger windows, the lighting is so much better. Its a well restored example indeed...
"Footplate of 9600"
Myself and Stuart were aboard 9600 today and spent most of the day; apart from 30 minutes or so on relief; trundling back and forward on the shuttle train. I think today was the busiest of the three and many passengers continued to board the train for their short train ride behind the Panniers. These tanks are very pleasant things to be on and you can see why 863 examples of the 5700 Class were built. They are strong, free steaming and very workable. Joining us on the footplate for the first half of the day was cleaner Ron...
I lost count of the amount of trips we did today but we did trundle back and forth many times, I know that! It was a most pleasant and trouble free experience...
"Black & White Pannier" (Pic - J.Waldron)
Towards the end of the day we began to run the fire down, just keeping the holes filled in places with the odd lumps of coal. There is no sense in returning to the shed with a mountain of fire...
"Running Down The Fire"
We took our final shuttle train at 4pm before dragging the ECS to the yard extremity. 52' then brought us back into the middle road and she then went off for disposal. Meanwhile, 9600 would be required to put the stock away once Platform 1 was free. For now however, 5043 (the Castle) would go over to have photographs next to "Flying Scotsman" and so 9600 simmered quietly in the shade, probably glad to give her wheels a rest. It is interesting to note that both 7752 and 9600 are certified for use on Network Rail and still haul VT excursions on a sort of annual basis. They are the smallest steam engines still operating on the national network and this must be a testament to their power and reliability...
With 9600 stabled for a while and sitting pretty, we wandered down to the platform to see the "Earl" line up alongside "Scotsman". The rival engines from rival companies stood begrudgingly alongside each other with their respective headboards. I must admit, I think I know who would win in a race of first one to Plymouth but then again the A3 was designed with different purposes in mind. They are both very impressive machines...
"The 'Flying Scotsman' Meets Tyseley's Awe Inspiring Castle"
The Castle hung about having snaps taken for quite a while before returning to the shed after a few runs up and down the demo line. I then took 9600 back over onto Platform 1 road with the ECS before stabling it near the crossing. 9600 was then taken light engine back to the shed before backing down on top of 5043. With the road changed, we took the Pannier over onto the next road for disposal in front of sister 7752. With the fire deadened, boiler full, all appropriate fittings isolated and regulator well closed (not passing), the ensemble was pushed backwards into the gloom of the engine shed by the little Peckett 'No1'. What a brilliant weekend we've had on the Pannier Tanks of Tyseley Loco Works. I was certainly glad of a good wash once again though I can tell you that. Any footplate staff will tell you of the endless pains at the end of a long weekend. There is soot everywhere soot can go, I've burnt my arm, bruised myself oiling up and I'm thick with grease and grime but, as always...it was worth it! Having washed up and got ready for the off I wandered back through the yard towards the car park and came across "Scotsman" about to be turned ready for her departure early in the week...
A final view of the world's most famous steam locomotive: Gresley's A3 Pacific No60103 "Flying Scotsman", built at Doncaster Works in 1923...
Many people have their own opinions on "Flying Scotsman". It has cost a lot, I'll admit, perhaps other engines could have been done up in her place but I feel that it is quite nice that the general public have such affection for something that is historically important to our steam hobby. I've never seen public interest in the sector thrive anywhere near so much as with this ageing A3 pacific. I doubt anything related will ever gain interest like this again and so perhaps we should embrace it this time. Its been a pleasure to spend a weekend working alongside Gresley's most famous East Coast Racehorse and to see what a lovely job has been done of her this time around. I must thank the lads at Tyseley for a great weekend crewing their engines and I look forward to the next one. As always you can book Vintage Trains excursions by clicking here. The "Earl" is off to Oxford on October 8th and the Panniers are out in force in November so why not join us. Thank you all for reading and double thanks if you've read all of the trio of Tyseley posts from this weekend. Cheers all, Sam...

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Tyseley: Two Panniers, A Peckett and a Pacific...

Evening all. This morning it was Day 2 of "Flying Scotsman"s weekend at Tyseley. I arose blurry eyed at just gone 5am ready to start my day. After a good run into Birmingham, the now traditional McDonalds breakfast was enjoyed upon arrival at a still dimly-lit Tyseley. People may joke about my steam day eating habits but it is the only way I can start my day: don't judge me...
Having changed into my overalls, I wandered down the alley and into the site before heading to the Mess Room. A few more blurry eyed volunteers were discovered before we headed out into the yard to find the engines. Once again I was asked to light up and oil the Pannier Tank 7752 and so, having raked through the last of yesterdays fire, it was time to light a fresh one. A bed of coal was laid on the grate before a pile of rags was lit up on the shovel. It wouldn't take long to wake up 7752 as she still had 20psi on the clock...
"A Saturday Wake-Up For 7752"
With some blazing rags on the grate, wood was added on top as well as more coal. 52' was then left to get on with it and I headed off to the oil store to refill the big oil bottle. Motion oil comes in the form of 220-grade (cylinder oil is 680 to 1000 depending on your super-heating applications) and the large bottle is used to fill the smaller feeders. Going around 52' I started with the axleboxes, which include a variety of wick-feed boxes, keep pots and horn feeds. Meanwhile, whilst you're oiling, the engine is coming around slowly. Sister engine 9600 was just across the way, steadily coming to the boil...
Oiling the anatomy of a Pannier without a pit can require the skills of a contortionist. With the RH big end at its lowest position I did manage to slide between the balance pipe and the running boards, ending up straddling the crank. In this position I could access everything but trying to get in 'over the top' is hard work and you need arms like Mr Tickle to competently reach everything without the need for movement. There is a lot of motion carefully squashed into these frames but the set-up creates a very powerful engine. Once you've been around the eccentrics, big ends, expansion links and die blocks its time to squeeze out and move to the front end. The front end includes the slippers, packings, spindles, slides etc...
"Anatomy of a Pannier Tank"
The vacuum pumps on Great Western engines often take a paraffin-oil mix whilst the hydrostatic lubricator for the cylinders and regulator will need filling with cylinder oil. With everything on 52' oiled, I drove her down and onto the turntable. After turning, the engine steamed gently back up the middle road to wait at No20 disc signal. 9600 was just taking water and, following that, would collect the ECS for the shuttle train and draw it clear of the points. I find Pannier Tanks quite handsome in their lines, as seen on 7752...
By now my embryo fire from earlier had turned into a blaze. I believe the current coal is Scottish and you only have to show it the fire and its burning away...
When the disc went to the off position, I reversed 52' (with drain cocks hissing loudly) out of the middle road and onto the demo line. After buffering up, I coupled on to the train before creating vacuum to the required 25 inches. With the Platform 1 home signal pulled off, I pulled forward after acknowledgement from 9600. We then stopped to water 7752 before continuing on into Platform 1. "Flying Scotsman" then steamed away for her Saturday morning turntable session, leaving an open view of the LT Pannier... 
Once again I was asked to go on 9600 and duly gratefully accepted. Before I headed off to change into my smart overalls (prep overalls are filthy!) I got the camera out to grab a shot of 60103 on the Tyseley turntable. Who says steam doesn't draw punters?...
Gresley's famous A3 Pacific "Flying Scotsman" stands on Tyseley's turntable...
Having washed and changed, I returned to the demo line to find 9600 simmering away at the head of the stock. Fireman Andrew had things well in hand and the needle was hugging the red line ready for the off...
"9600 Ready For A Saturday Of Shuttle Trains"
For the rest of the morning and into the early afternoon we steamed back and forth on 9600. Passenger numbers were strong on this busy day and the two Panniers seemed to be putting the miles in up & down the yard...
"Myself & Andrew On 9600 Between Trips" (Pic - E.Brown)
We did three trips per outing, stopping at the box before steaming back up to the yard extremity. 9600 is certainly in good voice and steams very well indeed. It was a most pleasant morning driving her. Our relief came at around 2pm and I was asked to go on the little works shunter: Peckett No2004 of 1941. I tell you what...what a lovely little engine this is...
"Peckett 2004 Stands Alongside The Castle"
The Peckett was built by the Bristol firm in February 1941 as a W7 type and is kept in operational condition at Tyseley as the works shunter. I believe that the 14" cylinder 0-4-0 spent some of her working life with the GEC. I hadn't driven the Peckett and so it would be nice to tick it off. Like most industrials the Peckett is fairly simple to drive. Everything is done on a steam brake or handbrake with basic controls. 2004 is in pretty much original condition, unlike most Pecketts which have been given vacuum and steam heat. Its just lovely: so responsive. You can hear the valves seat when the regulator opens, you can hear the steam heading down the steam pipes to the valve chest. Its just a very pleasant little thing to be on. Some industrials are changed beyond recognition to give them passenger hauling abilities but 'No1' is the opposite. Its a lovely thing. After a few runs up and down the yard with the match truck and the Toad, we were asked to pull onto the turntable for a demo...
"Driving Peckett 2004 of 1941" (Pic - A.Williamson)
After a few spins on the turntable to the commentary, we buffered back up to the Toad and steamed back through the shed and into the yard. Pannier Tank No9600 is seen here approaching the yard extremity as we watch from the footplate of the Peckett...
After a few more runs back and forth with the punchy Peckett, we steamed back onto the turntable in order to drop the short freight onto a pit road. The Peckett was then returned to the yard ready for disposal after a most pleasant little afternoon with her...
"Bedtime For The Peckett"
The Peckett just goes to show that it doesn't have to be a big engine...this little engine made me smile. What a lovely little machine. I've been on plenty of industrials over the years, most of which are fairly horrid as someone has tried to change them into something they aren't. 'No1' on the other hand is the exact opposite: original and wonderful. This was a brilliant day on two Panniers and a Peckett: thanks to all at Tyseley for a great day. Cheers all, Sam...