Saturday, 25 April 2009

The Earl Graces Nuneaton...

Today I left home around 7:30am this morning, on my bike, for Nuneaton, Horsten Grange to be precise. I was heading out to see Tyseley-based Castle Class 4-6-0 No5043 "Earl of Mount Edgcumbe". The Castle was hauling a railtour from Tyseley to York via Nuneaton & Leicester, and return. The Earl came into view on time at around 8:45am. She was storming up, out of Nuneaton towards Horsten Grange with a loud bark from the chimney. The video I took (below) was taken from the occupation bridge (accesible by a footpath) at Horsten Grange. The bridge seen in the video carries the Crow Hill to Horsten main road. "The Earl" sounded in fine form and was well on her way to her next pick-up & her first water stop at Leicester. Tyseley have done a fabulous job on this engine and she looks fantastic. Can't wait to see her again...

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Sunny Steam up at Ryton

Following the Ryton Pool Railway's reopening to the public on Easter Sunday, there was a members Steam Up today. The usual procedure for these events is for members to bring their locomotives along for a run on the 2000ft long track. A BBQ is also available as well as seating areas. It was a lovely sunny day and by 12pm 0-4-0 Sweet Pea "John H Owen" was being brought into steam by myself and our trainee, Emma. A Sweet Pea is basically a 5" gauge version of a Bagnall 0-4-0 2ft Gauge Saddle Tank or 'Contractors Locomotive'. This particular model was completed in 1999 and is owned by the society. As I don't own my own loco, I mostly use "John Owen" on Steam Up Days. Meanwhile, Emma is training to be a passed driver on the railway so that she can drive steam hauled public trains on Sunday afternoons. (I already am a passed driver and have been since November 07').
By 12:30pm "John Owen" was in steam and on the track. Emma then drove the loco down to the carraige sheds where we collected 2 'coaches'. After a few laps with Emma on the regulator and, me giving my family a ride, it was time for the "Saturday Special". This was a one-off public opening of the railway during a Steam Up, held between 1:30pm and 3pm. Therefore, we collected an extra coach and made up a 3-coach rake for passengers. Other locomotives that were going round also collected a coach or two. At 1:30pm we pulled into Ryton Halt ready to go. 12 passengers boarded our train with me driving and Emma as Guard. We left Ryton Halt and got 1/2 way around before a handpump problem befell the Sweet Pea. I nursed the engine back to Ryton Halt as much as possible before failing her there. She was then removed from the track with the 3-coach train being dispersed between an 0-6-0 Simplex Side Tank & an 0-6-0 Pannier Tank.
"John Owen" was then blown down and put to bed. The day hadn't been totally dissapointing though as the railway had made money and also a good few locomotives had been seen on the track. These included the tiny 0-4-0 "Sweet Violet", seen above, which is the 3.5" gauge version of the Sweet Pea. (The 7.25" gauge version is known as the "Sweet William"). Behind the "Violet" can be seen an 0-6-0 "Butch" side tank loco. Other loco's on the track included a 5" gauge LNWR Precursor 4-4-0, a 3.5" gauge Southern 'Betty' 2-6-2, a 5" gauge 0-4-0 Battery electric and another Sweet Pea, as well as 3.5" gauge Molly 1F loco, to name but a few. I hope you've enjoyed reading this post and more will be coming soon....I will be at CMES next Sunday, driving the usual passenger trains, 1pm-4pm...

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Easter Sunday at CMES

Easter Sunday always see the 5"/3.5" gauge Ryton Pool Miniature Railway, owned by the Coventry Model Engineering Society, reopen to the public. 2009 was no exception and 0-4-0 Side Tank "Jodie" had been specially brought onto the site to haul the trains, running alongside our Co-Co Class 37 Battery Electric. On top of this, I steamed the club's 0-4-0 Sweet Pea No499 "John H Owen" so that our trainee, Emma, could have a good training session in between passenger services, hauling a single 'coach' only. The loco steamed well throughout the afternoon and was put to bed with no problems to worry about...phew! Emma also seemed to be developing essential steam driving skills and the railway took a good bit of money through the £1 passenger fares. Trains will also be running tomorrow, Easter Monday, with "Jodie" & the Class 37 between 1pm & 4pm respectively. Please go along if you are in the area and enjoy a miniature train ride!

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Sunny Sunday at Shackerstone...

Today was just another Sunday. The railway has began running once again with today's trains being hauled by the Co-Co Class 31 diesel, 31 101. Meanwhile, down in the engine shed, work was continuing on "Sir Gomer" and "Blue Circle". The Peckett's steam chests were partially dismantled to allow retiming of the valves, which was sucessfully completed during the day. The Aveiling meanwhile was having further needle-gunning and priming work carried out with its Winter overhaul gradually nearing completion. (B1 "Mayflower" remains away on loan). Outside the shed, in the North Yard, Ruston 0-4-0 Diesel "Nancy" was having some work carried out. Finally, at the back of the shed in the South Yard, I was busy burning alot of rubbish! Using our "Brazier" box, we burnt many different things during the day from overhauls to magazines which, in turn, cleared space inside the shed and workshop. We also burnt logs and old pieces of wood as well as emptying our rubbish bins onto the fire. It does save space I must admit!

After putting my lasts loads on the fire, I headed into the shed and helped with rebuilding the outer areas of the steam chests. Out on the line, four trains were in operation to the normal "Green Timetable", all undertaken by the Class 31. Easter next weekend....who knows what will be out pulling trains? Thanks for reading.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Another Afternoon At The Great Central Railway

Today was sunny and warm so I took another little trip to the GCR at Loughborough. 48305 stood proudly in the platform with the 11:15am train and I rode with her for one full round trip to Leicester North and back. The 8F obviously had no trouble working the 6-coach load and was making little, if no, bark at all. Once back at Loughborough, I took a trip down to the shed to see what was going on. Two beautiful overhaul projects, the Fairburn No42085 and the N2 Tank, stood proudly on the two outer roads. 42085 (seen below) is now complete and is wearing her new water tanks beautifully, as well as her newly applied BR Black livery. She is one of two 2-6-4 Fairburn tanks which made it into preservation. She lives at the Lakeside & Havertwaite Railway in Cumbria, along with sister Fairburn No42073. They have received the nickname "Caged Lions" as they have not left their L & H Railway home since preservation, at least, until 42085 came to the GCR for overhaul.
Also in the shed was 4-6-0 King Arthur No30777 "Sir Lamiel" with Prairie No4141 sitting outside. Other projects such as the Standard 5, Black 5 & Jinty were also scattered around the shed. I don't know where 63601 (the 8K/04) was, but, she definately wasn't seen all day! 78019 was also out & about on "Driver Experience" duties as well as working selected passenger trains. An unusual addition to the day was a large amount of linside fires, probably caused by the locomotives. At one point, the two trains stopped alongside eachother at Woodthorpe to assess a new outbreak. The fire brigade were well on task however and managed to put out each fire in turn. Anyway, once I had been around the shed it was back to the 8F where I joined the footplate crew for a look at the controls (see article below) before boarding the coaches again for the short run to Quorn with the 1:15pm service. After alighting a had a cup of tea in the lovely NAAFI tea room (see article below) whilst awaiting the arrival of the 2:22pm from Loughborough, hauled by 78019. I caught this train to Rothley where I alighted again, watching the Standard 2 depart.
I then took a look at the superb 45mm 'G' Gauge Garden Railway in the station grounds before being picked up. It was then a short country drive to Kinchley Lane Bridge (a favourite among railway photographers) where the image at the top of this article (48305 working to Leicester North) was taken. It was lovely and sunny and it is just a shame that the 8F wasn't working chimney first! Oh well, a nice image anyway...I'll have to come back to this bridge during one of the gala's and sample the many different trains from a lineside perspective! Once the 8F had gone I rejoined my family and we returned home. Another nice day at the GCR! More posts coming soon...Thanks for reading.

NAAFI Cafe at Quorn & Woodhouse Station (GCR)

Quorn & Woodhouse Station on the Great Central Railway boasts this very nice tea room, modelled as a 1940s Air-Raid shelter. During World War II this room, situated under the main Quorn road, would provide shelter for both staff and passengers during Air Raids. In truth, the room was the safest place on the station during such an event but even so, a direct hit would still be disastrous. In the late 1990s, the room was sectioned off into 3 different areas:-An Exhibition Entrance, a Cafe & a Kitchen/Mess Room. (The cafe area is shown in the two images). The cafe sells tea, coffee, soft drinks, confectionary etc with the prices displayed in 1940s currency. (i.e. Tea is 10d). There is an open fire which keeps the room nice and warm whilst many items of 1940s relics are scattered around.
Many signs including the famous "Is Your Journey Really Necessary?" poster make a beautifully atmospheric setting. There is normally an antique radio playing as well. On my table was a laminated copy of the Times from 1945(!), what a lovely idea! In all, though the cafe is small, there is a great atmosphere and it is well worth a visit if you ever get the chance! More posts coming soon.

Study of an LMS Stanier 8F 2-8-0 (48305...GCR)

When locomotives of the London Midland & Scottish Railway are mentioned, it is likely that one's first thoughts will turn to the massive 7P Princess Coronation/Duchess Pacifics. However, there were of course humble, incredibly powerful freight locomotives trundling cautiously along the slow lines with their heavy loads. The LMS' best design for freight surely has to be William Stanier's 8F Class 2-8-0. During my visit to the Great Central Railway on April 4th, I caught a few round trips behind privately-owned, preserved 8F No48305, before compiling my notes and images to make this study of this well respected class which saw service both in the UK and overseas:-
With construction beginning in 1935, the 8F was first designed as a 'freight version' of William Stanier's hugely sucessful 5MT 4-6-0, the 'Black 5'. The locomotives had to be cheap to build, powerful and, perhaps most important of all, robust. Their first planned task was to replace under powered 0-6-0s and the inadequate Garratt locomotives on freight work. When first released into service, the 2-8-0s were only classified '7F', later being reclassified to the more familiar '8F' once they had proven themselves worthy. Before the outbreak of war in 1939, the LMS built 126 examples of the class, putting them to work at once. However, though they were already a proven design, the 8F's biggest claim to fame would come during World War II when it was chosen to be the Standard Freight Engine for Britain's railways. Just as Robinson's 8K 2-8-0s had been in World War I, the 8Fs were to be mass produced and even shipped overseas to help with the conflict. Therefore, by 1946, a grand total of 852 Stanier 8F's had been built and were completing their tasks admirably.
Some of the locomotives which were sent abroard remained there, and continuing to work for many more years, with a few operating into the 1980s. Some examples of the class are even preserved in country's such as Turkey. 666 of the 852 8F's that were built made it into BR ownership, following the amalgamation in 1948. Withdrawals of the class from service began in 1960, with only 150 of them still operating by the last year of BR steam, 1968. Many ended up in Barry scrapyard which, some may argue, aided their preservation. 48305, the GCR's 8F, was a particular Barry favourite, sporting the words "Please Don't Let Me Die" on her severely corroded smokebox door. However, she was rescued and now leads a retired life, proudly displaying her BR Black livery.
Now to talk about the workings of the 8F. My first image shows the two mechanical lubricators which stand proudly on the running board. These high capacity machines aid regular and sufficient oiling during long journeys. My second image shows the lead, and 2nd driving wheels on the Fireman's side. The 8F used typical valve gear linked to two outside cylinders. (Cylinder size=18.5"x28"). Coupled to their eight 56.5" driving wheels, these cylinders gave the locomotive a tractive effort of 32, 440 lbf. This raw power enabled the engines to pull extremely heavy loads but at relatively low speed. However, with lighter loads, the 8F's could be quite speedy! Without the tender, an 8F weighed around 73 tons in working order, further increasing their adhesion.
Now into the cab. The first thing that we notice from a Fireman's point of view is the raised shovelling plate. This was no doubt an improvement against other designs such as the infamous LNWR tenders which didn't even include a sloping coal-space floor, let alone a raised shovelling plate! With the shovelling plate raised, the fireman, theoretically, would have to arch his back less, resulting in easier firing. Therefore, this was no doubt favoured. On either side of the shovelling plate can be seen two handles. These operate the water-feeds for the two steam injectors which are used to fill the boiler with water from the tender. These injectors seemed remarkably reliable from my perspective. The typical 8F tender is of course the Stanier 4000-gallon type, allowing plenty of water space whilst also carrying around 9 tons of coal, if required.
The boiler used with the 8F was the 'LMS 3C' type. It was tapered (a Churchward inspired feature!) and had a Belpair firebox. The boiler was pressed to 225psi which allowed for great power but was still not as high as the Duchess Pacifics, which operated at 250psi respectively. I was told that the firebox is approximately 15ft long, not as long as a Jubilee apparantly but still quite sizeable! In the above image, the Brick Arch can be seen, as can many of the Stay's and the Baffle Plate. The drop-down flap, included to reduced the air in take on the fire, is seen at the bottom of the image. (This design was also seen on many GWR locomotives, such as the Castle Class). The relatively traditional "warming plate" can be seen above the firehole, sporting a Teacan.
The above image shows some of the boiler-backhead controls. The central red lever is of course the regulator with the two 'cocks' at the top of the image being the injector steam feeds. The two water gauge classes can be clearly seen, as can their individual 'blow-down' valves. The central control (pointing west in the image) operates the Blower.
The above image shows the drivers controls. The lever at the bottom left is for the locomotives Drain Cocks, with the red device above being the Screw Reverser. The Gauge in the top left corner is the Vacuum Gauge with the 'Cock' below being for the large ejector (I think). The device below that is the Vacuum Brake which slides from left to right. Looking from the driver seat, the view is very good. Also, the driver has the ability to lean out of the window whilst at the regulator. He may also protect his view using a small "Windshield" which is also included on the Fireman's side. In the cab roof, there is also a small sliding door which allows heat to escape and also, light to enter. All in all, the 8F was no doubt a fantastic machine, popular with its crews and extremely powerful and robust. It is therefore a testament to them that 48305 is still in operation today, as is 48151 which is even main line certified! Other 8Fs remain scattered around the country, either on display, awaiting restoration or undergoing overhaul. So, Well Done Mr Stanier, another fantastic design...