Monday, 31 August 2009
Sunday, 30 August 2009
Thanks for reading, post No2 coming soon! Good Evening...
Sunday, 23 August 2009
As we approached the station with the ECS the queue's were forming and after two successful, but very well-filled, journeys the 2nd train rake was called upon, hauled by the Class 37. (We couldn't manage without it!). Newly-passed driver Emma then took up driving the diesel whilst I continued driving the steamer. After a good few laps (6 or 7) with No499 holding 65psi or more all the way around the track, I swapped with Emma to be Guard on the train. This was Emma's first 'real' go at driving a steam-hauled passenger train following her test. I must admit, it was quite pleasant sitting on the back without having to worry about water level's or steam pressure's! Mind you, I wouldn't swap my job for the world! Whilst Emma was driving we did a 'running service' on No499 by cleaning out the smokebox and behind the firebox ("oh the beauty of the Marine Boiler!"). After Emma had managed a few successful laps she asked if I would like to drive again and, you've guessed it, the answer was "yes"! After taking water I set off again with a relatively light train, followed by a somewhat heavier one! However, No499 seemed unstoppable and was steaming, as well as performing, very well. It's a pleasure to drive these engine's when everything works out!
After a couple more successful laps I arrived back at Ryton Halt with the safety valve's feathering again. However, it was now 3:45pm (we close at 4pm) and we still had 2 trains operating the service, one of them being steam to boot. Therefore, the decision was taken to make 499's next run another ECS move to drop the coaches off before running 'light' back to the steaming bay. Meanwhile, the Class 37 would stay on the track and work the last handfull of services. After taking water, Emma boarded the ECS and called "don't spare the horses!". (This was to get out of the way of the Class 37 without holding it up). So, we certainly didn't! No499 'flew' out of Ryton Halt and rattled & rocked along the track before crossing the bridge. (For legal reasons, it wasn't doing over the 6mph speed limit!!). Arriving at the bendy beam the engine was quickly uncoupled before the stock was shunted into the siding by Emma. 499 then continued light, with me running alongside(!), around the track towards the steaming bay...just keeping ahead of the 37! Emma soon caught up with us and we then lifted 499 back onto the steaming bay, clearing the line for the passenger train(s). The quick operation had been a sucess and "John H Owen" was then blown down, filled with water, cleaned and put to bed. We carried just over 180 people today, not bad going for 2 little trains and only 3 hours running! Another great day! Thanks for reading folks!
Sunday, 16 August 2009
"Sir Gomer"s 'bottom-end' work is now almost complete with only minimal "touching up" jobs left to do between the frames. Once the boiler returns from Llangollen it will be craned straight back into the frames so that the "piping up" work can begin. This will, unfortunately, "take as long as it takes" (same old story!). Once "Sir Gomer" is finished then a steam test will have to take place, to make sure that everything has been put back properly! The 77-year old lady will then have to undertake "proving runs", both 'light' & 'loaded', to run her back in after over a year out of service. If the many tests are completed sucessfully then the engine can be released back into service. With all work done, "Sir Gomer" will be back at the head of steam trains to the Battlefield, starting the new season, during Easter 2010, in style! The view below shows an unusual shot of the inside of the frames:- Now, for those who don't know it, here's a bit of history on the engine. No1859 (her only title when built) was built in June 1932 by Peckett & Sons of Bristol. Her class in the Peckett line was "OX1" (this is stamped on her rear bufferbeam). "Sir Gomer" spent her entire working life at Mountain Ash Colliery in Wales and was one of the last steam locomotive's operating in the area when finally retired in 1981. When retired, "Sir Gomer" was owned by the NCB who then loaned her to a preservation society, though she required restoration by then. By 1993 the group had restored the Peckett at their own expense. They later purchased the engine. Her owning society later became the Vale of Glamorgan Railway and No1859 was their first steam engine. However, due to the engine's 16"x24" cylinders she was barred from working on the railway's new extension which had restrictive clearances. This made her, unfortunately, surplus to requirements. The engine was later bought by the Battlefield Line and arrived in October 2001. For your interest I have included the 2 images below. It shows "Sir Gomer" complete, in steam and, running well(!) in June 2008, in the capable hands of Driver Jan Ford & Fireman Eddie Jones:-
After a few troubled years what with one thing & another, "Sir Gomer" was, as mentioned, taken out of service in late August last year. Power-wise, No1859 is, according to Peckett's pamplet, capable of hauling 980 tons on level ground. Due to her large cylinders and 3' 10" wheels, the engine can generate 545HP at 10mph. So, she may be small but she's by no means weak! Her "running weight" of around 43 tons is also quite substantial for her size. Finally, "Why is 'Sir Gomer' named so?"...Well, she is named after Sir James Gomer Berry who was a Director of many colleries in South Wales including, of course, Mountain Ash, "Sir Gomer"s former home. So, "Sir Gomer" should be back in use by Easter 2010 at the latest so why not come and ride behind her at the Battlefield Line Railway, Shackerstone, Leicestershire. Thanks for reading! More posts coming relatively soon. Good Evening.
Friday, 14 August 2009
This is the scene at "Far Leys" at the present time. The double-tunnel is 72ft long and has been made with the help of many EWR members. I believe that the plan is to create an extra loop, beginning and ending at Pincic Junction Triangle on the current loop (discussed earlier). The view of the tunnels is from the Picnic Junction end. I believe that the track doesn't go very far on the other side so far but, in time, it will be a fantastic train ride! The current loop is long enough, let alone with this massive extension plan! I'll certainly be back to see it in action! After leaving "Far Leys" we walked along the edge of the extension as far as "Picnic Junction" where the path rejoined the current loop. There was however, unfortunately, no sign of "River Avon" whilst we were there. Continuing down the heavily wooded path we made it back to "Harvesters" where I saw the track of the fantastic 32mm gauge "Station Masters Garden Railway". Looks like a good layout, especially for live steam!
Leaving "Harvesters" I found a location on the approach to the station from where to catch a shot of the next train. (You can see the shot that I caught above). The EWR is fully signalled using both colour-light signals and semaphore signals. There are also, I'm told, interlocking systems in the points to increase the safety of operations. So, I had a very nice little visit to the EWR. It was the first time that I had rode on the railway but it would be nice to go again when there is some steam running. For your information, the railway runs on selected Sunday's and during some school holidays. The railway's website is http://www.ewr.org.uk/ . For only £1 each I throughly recommend a trip! More posts coming soon! Thanks for reading!
Sunday, 9 August 2009
After operating the 4pm train and returning the final public passengers to Shackerstone, we ran round ready for the "Special". 1306 was now wearing a very nice "SCRS SPECIAL" headboard! (This had actually been carried before on 2 previous occasions at 2 different railways by 1306 herself!). With the many happy passengers on the train we left for Shenton with a "raffle winner" on the footplate enjoying a ride (what a prize!). The train arrived on time at Shenton before 1306 was uncoupled. However, she didn't move off the stock for photographs and, believe me, there were lots of photographs! (I was even asked to pose for a few of them!...celebrity now!). With the photos all taken we ran round and re-coupled to the other end of the train. We then left before enjoying a spirited run back to Shackerstone with another "raffle winner" enjoying a footplate ride. (Sounds worth entering a raffle like that doesn't it?!). At Shackerstone, 1306 was the subject of many more photographs and so were we (the crew). We had to pose on the bufferbeam with the headboard for many photos! We then received many thanks and even a round of applause before we took 1306 off to bed, finally leaving her after disposal at 8:30pm.
Sunday, 2 August 2009
Now, for a description of the GEC Miniature Railway. The railway includes 3.5", 5" & 7.25" gauge tracks as well as an indoor 00 gauge model railway & tea-room. The 3.5"/5" are both encorporated on the dual-gauge raised track, with the 7.25" being at ground level. First I'll talk about the raised track:-Now, I've already mentioned the steaming bays but I haven't said that they also include a turntable and independant electricity supplies (for blower's etc) to each bay. Loco's can then transfer onto the raised track by a 'traverser-like' rail. Having transferred, the locomotive will now be in the station area which includes a water tower. (This is where passengers board for a ride). Operations on the raised track are controlled by automatic signalling, making sure that locomotive's do not catch up with eachother. The signals include red, ambre & green colour lights. Leaving the station, the line passes the 7.25" yard before continuing on a "reverse curve". It then curves right into a deeply wooded area. Soon after, it emerges on a long straight with the station dead ahead once again. This straight runs parallel to the main access road into the ground, seperated by a small wooden fence. At the end of the straight trains re-enter the station. The total length of the raised track, so I've been told, is just over 600ft.
Back to me (remember I've only just arrived!), I admired the 5" gauge engines. I then met up with a friend of mine who is a GEC member. He then presented me with a "Guest" ("access all area's") badge with my name on! How kind! He also told me that the badge allowed me FREE cups of tea! Now, that is fantastic! (I can't live without tea!). He then took me to the 7.25" steaming bays where 0-4-0 Romulus No5 "James" & 0-4-0 Free-Lance Saddle Tank No10 "Trojan" were being oiled, ready for running. Meanwhile, 0-4-0 Diesel Hydraulic "Sammy" was hauling the passenger trains on the ground level line. After a chat, I returned to the centre of the site and the clubhouse for, you've guessed it(!), a cup of tea! Now for a talk on the 7.25" gauge line:- The diagram which you see above is the 7.25" gauge railway's layout. The location of the station is the bottom right where you see "T1". Leaving the station, the railway passes through the preparation yard (which includes the steaming bays) before contiuning into the first section. This takes the train into a wooded area, adjacent to the raised track. The track then curves left (at "T3") before continuing into the main section (seen at "T7" on the diagram). The driver is then faced with a very long straight, the first part of which is also wooded. Soon after, trains pass through the "up" side of the 1/2 way passing loop, seen in the middle-left of the diagram. Once though the loop, the train is back on a long-straight again. Almost immediately, the emerges from the wooded area, running directly alongside the main football pitches. Meanwhile, on the right hand side of the train, the tree's hide 'Allard Way' which runs on the other side of the hidden fence. Soon after, the train arrives in the first section of the new terminus triangle, seen at the bottom-left of the image. Trains treverse the triangle before receiving the all-clear to return to the station via the same route, obeying all signals. Today, trains were passing in the 1/2 way loop. (Note=The triangle at the top of the diagram, through "S6" & "T5", is no longer in regular use). Trains then pass through the yard again before arriving back at the station. Locomotive's are then uncoupled before running up to the sheds for turning, watering, coaling etc. It is, I must admit, a very scenic and varied journey, especially if you're riding behind a steam engine. The shed's as I call them are only for the storage of carraiges as the locomotive's are not based on the site and are privately owned. The coaching stock is vacuum braked, as are the locomotive's. The railway has recently took-delivery of some ex-Rugby MES stock which is a very different type to its original stock with passengers being seated astride a main beam rather than in proper seats. The 7.25" line is also controlled by automatic signalling with 'walkie-talkies' being used between the 'Train Guard' and the station 'Signalman' to control operations at the triangle. (This is only a temporary measure as signalling with soon be fitted to the triangle as well, enabling an even-safer operation). The 'GEC' as it is known also includes a model railway...In the tea-room is this lovely 00 gauge model railway. The railway includes two complete circuit's and one "out & back" track on which is usually operated a model of "Thomas the Tank Engine". The two full circuits usually host many different locomotives of all shapes, sizes and manufacturers. All three tracks make their way to a full fiddle-yard which can be seen in the top-left of my "debatable" image! This indoor railway is well worth a look and includes some very interesting and quirky little features. The tea-room sells such things as tea (great!), coffee and, best of all, home made cakes. (I really, really recommend the home made cakes! Yum!). It's all for society funds of course. Every little helps! The tea-room is also a great place to hide from bad weather but luckily enough we didn't have any of that today! The video below (which I took today) gives a brief indication of the going's on at the event:- I spent my day at the GEC hovering about, talking to many people, drinking lots of tea, taking lots of pictures and of course indulging in the BBQ (great burgers by the way!). It really was a fantastic day and I didn't leave until gone 4pm...(not that late I know but you know what I mean!). Just before I left though I got a very enjoyable drive on No10 "Trojan", fantastic!:- Thank you to all at GEC Miniature Railway for a fantastic day out, a lovely place to visit! Now, for those of you who wish to visit, the GEC runs for the public every first weekend of each month from May-October. The Saturday's are usually designated to 3.5"/5" gauge running with the Sunday's designated to 7.25" gauge trains. There is also a Christmas Special (which we visit), for which I cannot remember the date. The railway is run by the GEC Model Engineering Society who makes no profit from the railway's operations. All proceed's go towards the upkeep of the railway and its stock. Again, the railway is based on the Sports Ground just off Allard Way, Binley (Coventry). Be sure to visit for a friendly and enjoyable train ride! Thanks again GEC! More posts coming soon! Thanks for reading folks.