A dirty rag and some steam oil was then use to clean the smokebox and front bufferbeam. The 5" gauge Sweet Pea engine's are a very popular and sucessful design. Employing an 80psi marine boiler coupled with 4 small wheels, the engines are very powerful. The class uses typical Hackworth Valve Gear to transfer power from the cylinders to the wheels. (This particular engine employs a pole-reverser with 3 notches in either direction). The beauty of the marine boiler is that the entire firebox (including the grate etc) can be removed. This allows thorough and easy(!) cleaning of the tubes, tubeplate, grate and firebox. The firebox then simply slides back into place before being bolted (by 2 small nuts) into it's "working" position. Though the firebox is relatively short, a big fire can result in fantastic steaming capabilites and haulage capacities. On the water side of things, this engine has 3 means of transferring water from the tank into the boiler. There are two Crosshead pumps (transferring water via a "bypass" valve whilst the engine is in motion) and a double-acting Hand Pump (situated under the running boards and operated manually by the driver).
CMES owns two Sweet Pea class locomotives, the other being the lovely No2 "Diane", built by a late member. "John H Owen" was built by many different CMES members as a "club project" and is the society's stalwart steam loco. (In previous years, the club used two small 5" gauge "Ajax" tank locomotive's as motive power but these would have been simply inadequate for today's heavy RPMR trains). At around 1pm the Class 37 electric locomotive was already on the track with the main coach rake. She took the first round trip of passengers before No499 made it onto the track...blowing off well. Trainee driver, Emma, took No499 on her first trip light engine (under supervision) before the Class 37 & the steamer switched positions. "John H Owen" was now on the main stock with myself being the driver. After building up the fire I awaited the "right away" from the guard before leaving. After around 6 round trips my collegue took over for 4 trips so that I could have a break. After this, some of my family arrived for a ride so I took over driving again. I then drove until the end of the day. I must of made at least 15 trips!
At 4pm, with one round trip left to do, "John H Owen" was re-swapped for the Class 37. Emma then drove the engine on 2 round trips light engine as another training exercise before we arrived at the steaming bay again for 'blowing down'. This procedure involves removing the firebox to "tip out" the fire, cleaning the grate, tubes and smokebox as well as 'blowing the engine down' and finally, cleaning the loco. At the end of the procedure there should be no steam in the boiler and absolutely no fire in the box. The engine should then be ready for the next time she is steamed. Overall the engine had performed very, very well, arriving back at Ryton Halt with the safety valves blowing after every trip I believe...thats got to be good going! After doing her day's work and her blowing down finished, No499 was "put to bed" before we left the site. It had been a good day and my next day at the RPMR will be this coming Saturday for the July member's "Steam Up" day when I will hopefully be driving 0-6-0 Industrial side tank "Achilles". Thanks for reading!