Sunday, 23 November 2008

Exhibiting My Lego Model Railway at Warley 2008!

Over the weekend of November 22nd/23rd the National Exhibition Centre's Hall 5 played host to the 2008 Warley National Model Railway Exhibition. Over 65 model railways and over 100 trade stands attended to make a once again fantastic show! Centrepiece locomotive was the South Tynedale Railway's 0-4-0 "Thomas Edmundson". We took along our 'O Gauge' 6ftX4ft Lego Model Railway for the exhibition with over 18000 people were said to attend over the two days. Our layout received much attention especially, as you would expect, from the younger visitors! I answered so many questions over the weekend that my voice hurt by the end!
The show was open from 9:30am on both days, closing at 6pm on Saturday and 5pm on Sunday. Locomotives of all scales and gauges from 'N' to 'Gauge 1' were on display. Railway societies and associations also attended including the Tallylyn & Severn Valley Railways. The detail on the layouts was amazing and it was hard to believe that they were all created by the human hand! VIP Guest Pete Waterman was showing a DVD of his model railway "Leamington Spa". I actually ended up buying his new book ("A Train Is For Life") which Pete signed for me. In fact, I've already read it! The weekend was a great sucess and I look forward to visiting Warley 2009 next November.For now though, the Lego is back in its boxes and back in the attic for another year until the Town & Country Festival 2009 when it will no doubt be on display again! Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Sunday At Shackerstone

Hello everyone.After spending the previous day on the B1 "Mayflower" and sleeping over at the railway,I signed on at 7:30am once again.1306 was out again and as soon as she was outside I began cleaning the inside inspection pit.Afterwards I was asked to prime the mechanical lubricators (meaning 200 turns on each of them!).A little later on I headed down to the Tea Room for Breakfast before returning to the loco yard to collect some wood with which to light the booking hall's open fire.I returned before lighting the fire.1306 then came off shed."Mayflower" completed the days four trains as a little work was continued on Peckett "Sir Gomer"s tubes.I left at 4:15pm after a sucessful day.I'll be at Shack on December 6th/7th.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

A Day To Remember....On The B1 "Mayflower"!

The first thing I will say is thank you to the owner of the beautiful B1 "Mayflower" for my day on her footplate which came completely unexpected! The day is Saturday November 1st and I arrived at Shackerstone at around 7:20am knowing that 1306 ("Mayflower") would be in steam. The weekend would be the railway's last weekend before it closed until Santa Special season. The B1 had just been lit-up as I walked down to the shed.George & Marie would be crewing the engine for the first two trips.They would then swap with Neil & Steve.At Shackerstone, there is normally no need for a crew change but today was a little different. The day would see the railway's normal "Timetable B" in action.However, at 6:30pm that evening that would be a "Special" leaving Shackerstone.This was to be hauled by the 4-6-0 as well as the other 4 trips so an extra crew was needed to relieve George & Marie.Her owner informed me that if I helped clean and had nothing else to do that day, I could spend it on the footplate! I couldn't believe my luck! I never really thought I'd get a turn on the immaculate B1 but there it was! Thanks again!...
Immaculate is probably still not good enough a word to describe 1306! She is always clean. I don't think, in my 2 years at the railway, that I've ever seen her dirty! The above picture shows her backhead layout. The lever in the bottom left of the picture is for the vacuum brakes. The two gauge glasses and burnished regulator can be seen clearly in the foreground. To the right of the picture can be seen two "cocks". The left is the steam valve for the fireman's side injector and the right is the steam heat valve. The small brass handle just to the right of the vacuum brake is the blower. The silver handle just visible to the left of the regulator is the "pull out" steam valve for the drivers side injector. The small brass contraption just underneath the blower handle is the steam brake control.The three gauges at the top of the backhead are (left to right):-Vacuum Gauge, Steam Chest Pressure & Boiler Pressure. The small gauge in the bottom right of the picture is the Steam Heat Pressure. Unfortunately I don't the names of all the small cocks just under the pressure gauge. However I know that the tiny one directly under the Pressure Gauge is the shut-off for the steam generator...
The driver's seat can be seen above. Everything seems to be under the drivers hand. The reverser can be seen in this shot. The small brass lever to the right of the reverser is the control for the Steam Sanding gear. The Vacuum Brake gears and ejector handle can be seen again. "Mayflower" is of course fitted with the Steam Generator equipment which allows her to use electric lighting. Therefore there is an electric light in the cab and varying headlamps on both the front-end and the tender. The first train wasn't until 11:45am but we were ready by 11:15am. I had cleaned the nameplates and the drain cock pipes with the Brasso and had now also cleaned the cab roof with a special cleaner and some warm water. Once the Class 33 ("Griffon") had moved the 6-coach rake clear of the ground frame points (No11) then "Mayflower" was free. We came out of the 'dock' and I then went "in between" to "Shackle-Up". I had a new experience in coupling up too...connecting steam heat bags! They seemed heavier and more 'clumbsy' (for want of a better word) than the vacuum bags but I got them fastened in the end. 1306 was now ready to go! With George "on the handle", we pulled out of Shackerstone 5 minutes down (due to the shunting of stock) and with the Steam Sanders working to prevent slippage. After receiving the 'Single Line Token' we were away. 1306 soon got into her stride as we set course for Shenton...
We soon reached the 5mph slack at Hedley's and the pace eased. However we soon accelerated once clear of the restriction. It wasn't long before the 10mph slack loomed however and the pace was eased yet again! 1306 was like a "dog out of the traps" however and was soon back up to speed. We slowed for Market Bosworth and passed through the slumbering station. We then chugged happily on the remaining part of the journey to Shenton where the B1 was uncoupled, ran round and oiled up again ready for the return run. The pic above shows the Great Eastern type firehole door. The rocking grate & damper controls can also be seen as well as the "wash pipe" equipment. We left Shenton on time and were soon back at Shackerstone again. There we had a 40-minute (for lunch as it was now 12:40pm) and the 3 of us enjoyed a cup of coffee and a slice of the cafe's homemade cake. (Throughly enjoyable I might add!). It was then time to go back onto the stock for another trip which was completed in good time. On our arrival back at Shackerstone, relieving driver Neil was standing attentively on the platform. Once 1306 had ran round ready for the 3rd trip, Neil & Steve took over. I was allowed to remain on the footplate for the day's last 2 runs & the special! What a treat! By this time I was very much enjoying myself! What a way to spend a Saturday afternoon! The 3rd trip went without hitch and it wasn't before we were off again on the 4th trip. The sky was already darkening as the B1 made her way to Shenton for the 4th time that day. There were a few passengers on the platform waiting for their return train to Shackerstone and the cosy steam heated train offered a welcome retreat from the cold wind and light rain!...
The gas look-a-like lamps were lit at Shenton as we readied ourselves for departure. 1306 already had her generator working powering her own lamps too. We arrived back at Shackerstone on time and then moved into Platform 1 to await the passngers for the evening special. It was now dark, very windy, cold & very rainy. Myself & Steve sheltered in the cab whilst Neil went off to carry out another task. It was only 5pm, and as we weren't due out until 6:30pm we sat for a while, chatting about this and that. All of the signals were illuminated and the only thing that could be seen in the Shenton direction were the lights of the Signalbox! At around 6:05pm "Mayflower" was taken through the south junction and onto the front of the 'Special'. The Steam Heat was turned back on and all was ready. Many ghostly figures were wandering around on the platforms (in the form of the dressed up staff!) as well as the final bulk of the passengers. The Signal was shining green before long, and at 6:30pm we looked out for the guards signal to depart. "Right Away!", and off we went. I'd never travelled on the footplate in complete darkness so was in for another experience!! 1306 chugged out of a very wet Shackerstone and up past the Signal Box. Once past the box, there was no light at all(!)-Only that of the moon shining on the railheads which curved left towards Hedleys and beyond.

1306 was in her stride and it was clear that the driver wasn't listening very carefully to the engine as there was no way of seeing the road ahead! This was somewhat un-nerving but also quite fun. The dynamo's under the coaches kept the compartments lit as we made our way to Shenton. Along the way, we saw many firework displays from villages around the area but nothing else! A walker on Market Bosworth bridge seemed surprised as we coasted under the station bridge and through the platform. The man who we could see in his armchair in the station house didn't seem to bat an eyelid as we rumbled through though!! 1306 then accelerated for the 1 & 3/4 miles to Shenton. On arrival I took the staff to the guard whilst a Dracula sort of character followed my footsteps! We then ran round before receiving "Line-Clear" into Platform 1 at Shackerstone. We left on time but there was one more surprise in store!! At the distant signal, around 1 mile from Shackerstone, we halted, following instructions to do so of course!! Then, in turn, all of the lights in the coaches went out. This must of been scary for some of the passengers! Meanwhile, the cab was still illuminated by the steam driven lights! Following instruction from the guard, we set off again and the lights came back on in the train! Phew! We arrived back at a very wet & windy Shackerstone before I uncoupled 1306 and we ran up to the Signal Box. We then meandered through the points and back to No11 (the Dock Road). 1306 was then driven backwards up the yard and into the shed. With the shed doors shut behind her and all safety precautions for disposal having been carried out, we left 1306 to rest ready for her work the next day.

I thanked my crew and headed to the Bonfire & BBQ which was in full swing! Many passengers commented to us on the fantastic experience they had had that evening. Its always pleasing to hear such comments! My day, I believe, had been my best yet. 5 trips of the line on "Mayflower", 1 of which was in complete darkness! What could be better! With the time now 8pm I was ready for a sit down in the Bar Coach "Jessie" and I managed this shortly afterwards! What a day...I'm very looking forward to the next time. Thank you to 1306s Owner, Support Crew & the engine herself for a fantastic and memorable day!