Sunday, 29 November 2009

Garden Railway Update...

Hi all! Today I was outside in the garden from mid-afternoon until the evening, making further adjustments to the building illuminations. Mixing experiences with fiddly copper wiring in the finger-numbing cold outside and the warmth of the well-heated shed seemed to work well but, there was still a good chill in the damp & drizzly air. The image above shows two of the buildings illuminated in the evening light, proving both that they work and, for another thing, that they are very powerful & bright! Today saw us getting a total of 10 buildings operating together on a system that has costs us around £1 per building to implement. Good value in my opinion! The 10 buildings we got working together produced a very nice effect and this particular 10 will provide the illuminations for our private Christmas Night Run on December 16th. As well as the buildings, our turntable will be out, operating and illuminated and so will our electronic colour-light signal which adds a further glint of light. We will also be lighting candles and lanterns as well as, naturally, our ex-BR Tail Lamp. The evening will be completed with festive music and many festive refreshments! Following the night run the garden railway, as far as private viewing days are concerned, is then closed until May 2010. (But we will of course be maintaining and running it as we normally would...weather permitting!). More posts coming soon! Night All...

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Permanent Way at Shackerstone...

Hi all! During winter time, when trains aren't running, the Permanent Way on the Battlefield Line Railway (my standard gauge concern), has to maintained, repaired and sometimes, even renewed. Today, most of us who turned up from the Steam Department were on the P-Way case! Arriving at around 9:45am, I joined the P-Way train, consisting of 0-6-0 Class 04 (110), a box van (full of tools) and a normal wagon (carrying a generator and packing-stones). Once we were all in the cab, off we went! Our destination was the "Three Bridges" near Far Coton (about 3.5 miles from Shackerstone) where a few joints needed attention. Throughout the day we made good progress, jacking, packing and then re-lowering a total of 7 pairs of joints. This may sound a small number to some(!) but its a long, repetitive and heavy job! However, it really makes a difference and improves the riding quality of the locomotives no end! At about 3:30pm, with the light failing fast and persistant rain falling, we decided to call it a day. After putting away the tools and reboarding 04 110, we set off for Shenton, just over a mile away. Here, we ran round the tiny train before departing again for Shackerstone. The shot above shows 04 110 chugging along happily (from the cab) towards Far Coton cutting. Below, the 04 approaches the location of the joints we "packed". I must admit, the loco did ride fantastically over the new-improved joints! It really makes a difference!...
For your interest, our "steed" for the day, 110, is a member of the 04 class and is preserved in BR Blue. They were a simple 0-6-0 diesel shunting locomotive which evolved from the well known "Class 03". A total of 142 Class 04's were built by BR between 1952 & 1962. Surprisingly, the locomotives had a top speed of around 27mph (a little brisk for such a short wheelbase I feel!). For their size, they were powerful machines, producing a tractive effort of over 15,000lbs! 110 was withdrawn from BR service in January 1969 and, after much moving around, arrived at Shackerstone in September 2001. She spent a good while out of service before returning to work in 2007, wearing a new livery of BR Blue with Wasp Stripes, the livery she wears today! Once back at Shackerstone, 04 110 was 'shut-down' whilst our team parted company: some went home, some went into the station, BUT I personally went into the cafe! It was definately time for a Coffee! I remained at Shackerstone until just before 5pm when I received my lift home! I'll be at Shackerstone again in 2 weeks time for a full weekend of cleaning LNER B1 "Mayflower", which will be in steam on Santa Duties, all being well! Thanks for reading folks. Evening All...

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Warley National Model Railway Exhibition 2009 Part II: The Centrepiece Locomotive...

...Welcome back! The fabulous Warley National Model Railway Exhibition always loans in a centre-piece locomotive to adorn the entrance to the exhibition. I must admit, I think its a beautiful feature. In past years we've seen many different locomotives. When we first exhibited in 2006, the SVR's massive 2-6-4 BR 4MT tank No80079 was the centrepiece. However, since then, narrow gauge machines have been the order of the day. This must be because they're easier to move about! For example, in 2007, two lovely machines from Statfold were the centrepieces: 0-4-2 "Trangkil No4" and new build Hunslet "Jack Lane". Finally, last year, the South Tynedale Railway sent their 0-6-0 "Thomas Edmundson". This year, the centrepiece was another treat and, a machine I hadn't seen before to boot! 0-4-0+0-4-0 Beyer Peacock Garatt "K1" did the honours this year and was a real joy to see...
Built in 1909 in Manchester, "K1" was the first of two Garatt's of her type. The Class was named the "K" class and, as she was 'Number 1', this machine was dubbed, "K1". (Her sister, "K2", was also built in 1909). "K1 comprises the usual Garatt format with only boiler spanning two seperate "power bogies". However, "K1" differs from the original Garatt designs in that she is a Compound locomotive. The rear bogie comprises of "High Pressure Cylinders", joined to the two "Low Pressure Cylinders" on the front bogie. Another difference is that the four cylinders face eachother, making the bogies "front to front" rather than "back to back" (unlike original Garatt-practise). The two "K" class Garatt's were built for the North East Dundas Tramway, located on the West Coast of Tasmania but this unfortunately closed in 1929. "K1"s boiler was then sold to a sawmill. In 1947, the rest of K1, with the boiler of sister engine "K2" attached, was sold back to Beyer Peacock. The "K1-K2" mixture was then shipped back to Britain. When the firm closed in 1966, the engine went to the Festiniog Railway but was found to be "out of gauge". After 10 years in storage, "K1" went to the NRM where she underwent cosmetic restoration.
However, this was not the end as "K1" was seemingly not destined to be a "stuffed and mounted" machine! The engine left the NRM in 1995 for the Welsh Highland Railway and full restoration. The Garatt was thought to be perfect for the WHR's then current & future needs. Finally, after a new boiler and many new parts, "K1" resteamed in 2004, after reconstruction at Boston Lodge Works (Festiniog Railway). The engine made her passenger debut on the WHR in September 2006, though using "oil firing" instead of coal to reduce the risk of fires in the National Park. The front power bogie can be seen in the image below, consisting of the low pressure cylinders...
As mentioned earlier, the front cylinders face the cab end of the locomotive, unlike usual Garatt practise...
A close up of the front power bogie. The fantastic design provides great power but also allows the locomotive to traverse very sharp curves...
"K1" is yet another fabolous "heavyweight" visitor to the National Model Railway Exhibition. I wonder what they'll have next year?! Thanks must go to "Squires", a tool-making company I believe, who sponser the transport for the locomotive. (Perhaps the most expensive part of any locomotive visits!). Thanks for reading folks. I'm off to Shackerstone tomorrow so we'll see what that day brings. Evening All!...

Warley National Model Railway Exhibition 2009 Part I: The Show...

Every year, in early wintertime, the National Exhibition Centre near Birmingham (West Midlands) hosts the National Model Railway Exhibition. The exhibition is organised and operated by the Warley Model Railway Club who, I must say, are marvellous at what they do! Running over two days, the show is, to put it simply...fantastic! The show includes over 300 exhibits, ranging from running layouts to modelling demonstrations and traders. (The largest exhibit will be featured in Part II of this post, don't miss it!). Since our first visit in 2003, we have visited the show every year without fail. In fact, in 2006 & 2008 we exhibited our 'O' Gauge (32mm) LEGO Model Railway, much to the delight of the youngsters(!), and we are booked to exhibit there again in 2010. This year, the show was once again held in the NEC's 'Hall 5' which is an absolutely huge space with endless possibilities. Each day, the show opens at 10am BUT, if you have purchased your ticket in advance then you can go in at 9:30am...just the ticket! (Excuse the pun!). We joined the already massive 'advance' queue at 9:15am and the show soon opened right on time. Once inside, we opted to head to the far side of the hall as the various "bargain hunters" were already filling the nearside stands! Once at the far side, we found a 'Warley regular':- "Stanley Midland", the well-known large-scale which mostly runs live steam...
On shed and raring to go was a beautiful model of a 4-6-2 7P Britannia Class locomotive. This engine (seen above) was a coal-fired example, differing much in terms of operating technique compared to her gas-fired counterparts. Of course the gas-fired engines are easier to operate as there is alot less cleaning down to do! (For example, you don't need to 'ash out' a gas-fired engine!). The owner of this marvellous macine was saying that he starts the fire using parrafin-soaked charcoal on top of which then goes the regular coal. The pacific was soon ready for duty but, much to my surprise, the engine backed off shed BUT, not onto the waiting 8-coach express, onto the adjacent 5-wagon freight train! The engine soon chugged off around the layout with the beautiful smell of burning coal lingering in the air. Great stuff!...
From the massive live-steam beasts on "Stanley Midland" we took a complete downsizing to 'N' Gauge! The beautiful layout below, though I have forgotten its name (sorry chaps!), boasted long, sweeping main line tracks and lovingly-modelled countryside expanses. Below, a powerful little Great Western 4-6-0 (in BR Colours) sweeps along the mainline with a heavy express...
A layout that really caught my eye was another of the 'biggies': "Western View Engine Shed". This Western-region (how did you guess?!) layout is modelled centrally on a large steam locomotive running shed. However, the main line, served by the shed's locomotives, also runs along the back of the layout allowing full-trains to be seen as well as light engines returning for servicing. The main engine shed area, featuring many locomotives of varying sizes can be seen below. The main line can be seen at the very back of the layout, running along the upper level...
The main line rounded each end of the layout before dissapearing into a tunnel. (The tunnels then led to the Fiddle Yard's of course). Below, a lovely Western 2-4-0 works a 2-coach train away from the engine shed area (seen in the distance)...
Many of the layouts on display were, as usual, huge in terms of both length and width but others were of a more managable size, like the next one I will talk about. This lovely layout, named "Ormsgill", offered a single track line with a passing loop at an island-platform. The platform is then modelled for realism and a tranquil village scene is also included. The little platform also includes working lanterns...a nice touch! One train would wait in the station whilst the other traversed the circuit. From time to time, the two trains swapped duties. Interestingly, the red engine I saw, "Cambrai", is preserved in full-size form which, in this case, is Metre Gauge. (The 'real' "Cambrai" is based at the Irchester Railway Museum but is not currently steamable). A view of the wonderful station area on the "Ormsgill" layout is seen below...
In scale terms, some locomotives were absolutely huge! 45mm gauge locomotives are often massive though the two seen below really caught my eye, as did their massive engine shed! You would need a big loft to make a layout for these beasts to have a "good run" on! These are of course, garden railway machines...
Again, from big to small, "Yes. You are correct! This is an Ironing Board!". I think you'll all agree with me when I say that this is a fabulous little idea and a wonderful little layout. I think the gauge would be too small for me though! Well done to you Sir, my hat off to your great idea...
As well as the layouts on offer, there were many societies including the Severn Valley Railway, Stephenson Locomotive Society, Vintage Trains Limited, The Corris Railway, the Welsh Highland Railway, and many more! Mr Pete Waterman was also there, showing a DVD of his railway "Leamington Spa" (which I was privilaged enough to visit last weekend...see earlier post!). I must admit, I don't think I've ever seen the show so busy! It was absolutely packed from when we arrived and was just as busy when we were leaving! Anyway, thats just a tiny (and I mean tiny...it was a massive show!) of the 2009 National Model Railway Exhibition. Hope you enjoyed it. See Part II of the Warley Post for information on the heaviest exhibit by far!...

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

The London Underground...

Today it was off to London on a special college day trip and, even with the greatest will in the world, taking a vehicle into the City Centre (especially a minibus!) is never the best plan! Therefore, we opted to leave the minibus parked at Watford High Street station, taking the "Overground" service to Wembley before changing to the famous "London Underground".

Serving 270 stations across 11 different track routes, the London Underground is a hugely successful 'mass transport system' serving the capital beautifully on a day-to-day basis. The first section of the line opened in 1863 and trains now operate a network which includes around 250 miles of track! Trains run at extremely regular intervals and, in most cases, the stations are shaped as tunnels, giving the network the nickname, "The Tube". Todya we used the "Bakerloo Line", 14.5 mile section of line which serves 25 stations in total. We used the section between "Oxford Circus" and "Queens Park" today, as well as using the Circle Line system around "Embankment" & "Temple". The underground system allows the hustle & bustle of the thriving city centre to be left far above (as it were!) with the trains running below the road and the ever-compiling traffic jams! Although the views from the carriage window are somewhat, shal we say, "boring"(!), the amount of mileage covered in such a short space of time with great ease more than makes up for this! Fantastic! Trains on the network are powered by electricity, normally conducted by an extra-rail at the trackside. Though electric, some of the stock on the network is by no means new! For example, on the Bakerloo Line today, we rode on in 1972 stock! Great stuff!

Though not something I would normally be interested in, the London Underground is well worth note in my book! It provides fantastic transport links around the capital avoiding congestion, noise, crowds and of course, the weather (though the heat in the very deep tunnels in on the "Bakerloo" can get very warm at times. i.e. today!). So, next time you step onto a London Underground train, think about the fantastically simple and often overlooked service that is provides. When you think about it, YOU would be the one stuck on the traffic-jammed buses on the crowded roads above if it was not for the Underground! The system celebrated its Centenary in March 2006 therefore, its provided a fantastic 103 year old service so far(!) and, long may it continue! More posts coming soon! Night All!...

Saturday, 14 November 2009

GEC Day Out Part 2: Pete Waterman's "Leamington Spa"...

...Welcome back! Following our visit to the "LNWR" Locomotive Works at Crewe (see previous post), we reboarded the coach and set off for Pete Waterman's house. He had to lead the way of course as we hadn't a clue where we were going! On arrival, as heavy rain fell, we were led into Pete's converted barn where, once the lights came on, the layout could be clearly seen on the upper floor. As I made my way up the stairs the true extent of the layout unfolded before my very eyes: it was absolutely massive! Built in 'O' Gauge, the layout is a model of "Leamington Spa" and the surrounding area as it was in the BR era. The overall dimensions, according to Pete, are around 160ft x 85ft!! (Massive!!). Controlled by DCC, each locomotive can be worked independantly from the electric current which is, of course, continuously fed to the track (as is DCC practise). The centrepiece of this massive layout is "Leamington Spa" station itself which is modelled with many platforms. The main tracks which run through the station are from the Great Western Mainline between Birmingham and London. This line runs around the room completely and is always visible. Leaving "Leamington" northbound, trains run around the far end of the room and climb Hatton Bank which includes an 'Up' and a 'Down' line as well as a lengthy loop in which freight trains would be overtaken...
Once Hatton is topped, the trains run through a tunnel into the main fiddle yards which are, as with everything else on the layout, massive! The fiddle yards then continue through into a seperate storage room where extremely lengthy trains can be easily stored. Leaving the fiddle yards on another 'circuit', trains run back through the town centre and across the girder bridges back into the station. Below, an express, heading by a typical 'Western' 4-6-0, storms through the station bound, most likely, for London Paddington via Oxford, Didcot & Reading...
"Leamington Spa" also provides access to the Midland line through Brinklow (we'll mention Brinklow later!). Leaving "Leamington" southbound, the Midland trains cross the girder bridges in the town centre (still under construction) before curving off to the left, whereas the Western line continues straight towards Oxford. In the image below, looking southbound, the 'fork' of tracks can be easily seen. The heavy 40-wagon coal train, most likely bound for industrial Birmingham(!), plods towards the station behind a 2-8-0 'ROD' on the Western line...
The following view looks from the bottom of Hatton Bank, across the barn towards the other end of the room. Hatton Bank can be seen on the right with the tracks climbing towards 'Birmingham' (or in this case the fiddle yards!). On the left side of the room can be seen the site of "Leamington Spa" station...
Now, this is rather special(!): The Midland section of the layout! Leaving "Leamington" northbound, the tracks continue alongside the GWR ones for a little while before these head up Hatton Bank. The Midland tracks then enter this section through the tunnel seen in the image below. However, the Hatton Bank section blocks off easy access to this area to the operator or even the viewer. You have to crawl underneath the boards to access it. Therefore, you could almost say that, in a way, its hidden!... Seen from Brinklow, the northbound trains power up through this section away from the tunnel mouths at the end...
Brinklow station is then passed...
...before trains arrive back at the main fiddle yards(!), meeting back up with their Great Western counterparts. Pete said that any of his 'helpers' who don't like Great Western locomotives can sit around there, operating the station and its signalling, and they never have to see a GWR loco, just LMS ones! Fantastic stuff! The Brinklow trains enter (or leave) through the portal behind the Signalbox whilst Westen trains enter (or leave) through the portal in front of the Signalbox. (So much to remember!)...
Are you wondering what enters through the portal opposite the Super D in the above image? Well...(And Pete showed me this!, by trying to catch me out I might add!)...A train ran around the Midland line via Leamington & Brinklow. Then, on the next lap, I could hear it but could not see it. Following my ears, I looked underneath the baseboards and, low and behold, there was the train! It was running on a single line operating underneath the layout, laid on a sort of 'suspended shelf'. It made its way all the way around underneath the layout before emerging again, after climbing a VERY steep bank, in the fiddle yards! It re-entered through the far portal in the above image. On closer inspection, the line ran through another fiddle yard directly opposite the 'hidden' Brinklow station. Fantastic! Great idea! Finally, I'll just give the locomotives a mention. Pete told me that there is, in total, around 275 locomotives (both steam & diesel) on the layout. (These are mostly GWR, LMS or BR designs). They are all fantastic machines and ran impeccably for us! It must be a difficult job to keep them all in such fantastic condition. This layout really is a fantastic achievement. In fact, words can't even properly describe it! It was just fabulous! Well done to you Mr Waterman and all your helpers who continue to construct and improve "Leamington Spa", its a magnificent achievement! What one has to remember is that everything on the layout is built by the makers. This includes the locomotives, coaches, buildings, scenary, signals...everything! That is a massive task! I mean, I think he said there were over 200 signals on it! And they all work and are interlocked with eachother for safe and smooth operations! Amazing! The signals are a big enough job in themselves! Pete told us that it takes 12 operators to run the layout to its full extent due to the amount of signalling, track changing and fiddle yard operating that needs to be done! Fantastic! It really is a fantastic achivement and I feel privilaged to have visited it, and even Crewe Works as well. After saying our thank you's and goodbyes (i.e. shaking Mr Waterman's hand) we reboarded the coach, in ever falling rain(!), for the homeward journey. It had been a fantastic day. My thanks must go to Pete Waterman, the Crewe works lads, the layout builders, the GEC Model Engineering Society and of course to Kevin who gave me a lift home at the end of the day! What a great day! Thanks alot Pete! I hope you have all enjoyed reading this mammoth two-part post and, as I always say, more posts coming soon! Until then, night all!...

GEC Day Out Part 1: LNWR of Crewe...

Hi all! Today I was off on a coach trip with the GEC Model Engineering Society. Firstly, I make no apologies for the length of this 2-part post!The destination was Crewe and this is the first of two post's documenting the day. After boarding the coach at 9am sharp at the GEC site it was time to get started on the journey. This would take us up one of the country's busiest roads, the M6, for a good portion of the journey, with plenty of room on the bus as our party of 25 or so were occupying a vehicle with over 50 seats! (Great comfort!). Arriving at Crewe an hour earlier than planned (at 11am) we made our way through the town to the Crewe Heritage Centre, the base of Pete Waterman's "LNWR" Locomotive Works. On leaving the coach, Mr Waterman was waiting for us and the tour began with a wander around the front of the buildings. The first sight was the massive 2ft gauge Garratt locomotive (below) which stood, in a rather sorry state, on a short length of narrow gauge track. This engine, which is apparently the most powerful 2ft gauge locomotive in the world, is a recent arrival at Crewe and will be restored to full working order for use on the newly-opened Welsh Highland Railway in Wales. The plan is for "LNWR"s 20(!) new apprentices (why can't I live up there?!) to restore the Garratt as their 'project' within 1 year! Pete said it was an 'optimistic 1 year' but should be possible! However, it looks to me like a very big job! The thing is beastly!...
Behind us was a train that is often over-looked by followers of the railway world: the APT (Advanced Passenger Train). This train, designed by British Rail, was to give the company a brand new image of speed, luxury and comfort. It was a tilting train, one that was to be the flagship of BR and show the rest of the world what british technology could do. One of the trains, powered by overhead electricity, achieved a record speed of 160mph (a record which stood for 23 years) when in service but, in reality, the trains were full of faults. Most notably, when aboard the train, people began to feel sick! This was due to the tilting motion that was used when running at high speed. The problem was that the technology behind the "tilt" was so successful that it was almost "too successful". Basically, when the train tilted over, the passengers didn't feel the it. Therefore, what they were seeing out of the window did not match what they were feeling in the train (nothing). This, in turn, made them feel sick. Only 6 units (making 3 full 14-car sets with a driving unit at each end) were built and were only in service from 1980-86. Many units were quickly cut-up following service though the Crewe Heritage Centre has saved 6 cars which now stand on display in a single rake. I think it deserves preservation as it gave new ideas for rail travel to future generations. (Many forget this however!). Today, the same idea which tilted "APT" now tilts "Penadlino" though, differently, when "Pendalino" tilts over, passengers feel the tilt, abolishing sickness. A sad end for such an Advanced Passenger Train...
After a look around the machine shops we were taken into the boiler shop. Here, the lads (including some of the apprentices) were busying themselves with a Midland 4F Locomotive boiler, for the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway's example of the class. Pete then asked the lads to give us a demonstration of rivetting and the extremely loud noises which the process produces! Pete is seen below chatting about rivetting with the 4F Boiler in the background...
Following looking at the various boiler shop projects (there were a few!) we were taken outside to see a special one. This may not look alot to most of you but this is a great piece of engineering. This is, I don't know if I'm spelling it right(!), a Conicle Boiler. Basically, its tapered. Two sections of a boiler, one tapered, one not, are bolted and rivetted together to form the full product. It is special in the way that it is only the SECOND boiler of its type made in preservation, both of which have been made by LNWR at Crewe. Therefore, Crewe has been the only makers of brand new conicle boilers since BR made their last ones! A great achievement in my book...
This particular boiler is for Crewe's 2-6-4 BR Standard 4MT Tank which was seen out in the car park with only the frames and tanks making up its current format! Below, Pete discusses the tapered boiler and the difficulties found in lining one up!...
The next boiler to see was one which most of us had been anticipating...the boiler from BR Standard Class 7 Pacific No70000 "Britannia". The boiler of this locomotive was absolutely huge(!). In fact, only the boiler's of Stanier's Duchess (Princess Coronation) class locomotives were bigger than these! Its a coal gobbling monster! Many people believe that steam engine's can just be repaired but, as many of us know, they are getting increasingly harder to 'patch up' and keep running. This boiler, as Pete said, was one of those projects which nobody wanted to take on as it was a mammoth task. In fact, the amount of work that has been done to it is unbelievable. Pete told us that the bill for this machine is totalling over £750, 000 at present!! How anybody can afford to pay for these engines is anyones guess!!
Now, look at the image above. You see "Britannia"s boiler yes? Well, now look below. Compare those two images. The image below shows the ONLY original piece of the locomotive's boiler! Everything else has been replaced! The original section is the top plate on the fireman's side of the firebox...
Pete talked very enthusiastically about this boiler as, no doubt, the amount of work done to it suggests a huge 'want' for this massive machine to return to service, even though sister No70013 "Oliver Cromwell" is still flying the flag for the class on the main line. We were told that "Britannia", the leader of the class of the same name, will be returning to service in March 2010 and will then undertake main line tests. Therefore, could a double-headed Britannia run be on the cards?!...
The last boiler we saw was one which, in some ways, makes us sad at the naivety of some preservationists. (As many so perfectly put it!). This is the boiler from 0-4-2 14XX Autotank No1450 which, wearing a GWR Green livery, is normally a stalwart on many preserved railways. However, one driver accidently involved the engine in a collision which, unfortunately, CRACKED the boiler! The boiler is now out of the frames and is being given attention by LNWR but the bill is pretty big for such an unfortunate mistake! But, I suppose, what can you do?...
On the 'running road' was something very beautiful which I was very pleased to see(!): Stanier 4-6-2 Princess Royal Class 7P Pacific No6201 "Princess Elizabeth". Built in 1933, she was the 2nd of a batch of only two Princess Royal's designed by Sir William Stanier, the then 'new' CME of the London Midland & Scottish Railway company. Their size was something which was alien to the LMS who, back then, were using dated passenger engines from the Midland & LNWR era's! They were huge! No6200 "Princess Royal" & No6201 "Princess Elizabeth" launched the class and were later boosted in numbers by a 2nd batch of a further 11 locomotives in 1935. However, these differed to the original Princesses in that they had different boiler designs, set to improve steaming above that of 6200 & 6201. The first of the 2nd batch was No6203 "Princess Margaret Rose", the 2nd of the two preserved Princesses. Some of you may be wondering...was there no No6202?? Well, yes there was. She was very different to the other Princesses in that, she was, technically, a different class! 6202 "Princess Anne" was a special design which used Steam Turbine's instead of Cylinder's. This gave her the name of the "Turbomotive". Story continues below...
...6202 was later rebuilt, in 1952 as a conventional locomotive and named "Princess Anne". However, rather unfortunately, after 2 months in 'conventional' condition she was involved in the tragic Harrow & Wealdstone accident and was destroyed beyond repair. However, it is said that without the destruction of 6202 and a 'gap' being created in the loco fleet by her loss, BR Standard 8 No71000 "Duke of Gloucester" may never have been built. Today, No6201, wearing a beautiful LMS Crimson livery, runs regularly on the mainline and, occasionally, on a handful of preserved railways (i.e. SVR). Meanwhile, her sister, No6203, is out of ticket pending overhaul at Butterley, often sitting alongside her once rival, the larger Duchess Class(!) in the form of 6233 "Duchess of Sutherland"! No6201 is seen below out in the rain but looking absolutely fantastic! Dear Santa...
Further down the siding from 6201 was a sorry sight, No6009 "Union of South Africa", one of the Sir Nigel Gresley's famous 'racehorses', the A4 Class. Owned by John Cameron, who also owns K4 No61994 "The Great Marquess", the engine has just reached the end of a 10-year ticket and is, by the looks of things, not likely to return to service very soon...
60009 is seen carrying her "corridor tender", a feature of the class which allowed crew changes on the gruelling non-stop London Kings Cross to Edinburgh services such as the "Elizabethan"...
Quite a scary sight it was when we reached the front end! 60009 was not sporting her smokebox casing! Therefore, the smokebox and tubeplate could be seen but the engine did look very out of sorts. Its a shame that all boiler tickets must come to end but this is a fact of life...
A 'surprise' (of sorts!) was found in the back of the main shops in the form of LMS Royal Scot Class No6100 "Royal Scot", an engine that I had never seen before. Seperated from her tender (spotted outside in the sidings), the engine "is in" for valve alterations...
The seperation from the tender allows a good view of the cab fittings from floor-level...
All in all it had been a fantastically interesting and eye-opening visit to the LNWR locomotive works at Crewe which I will remember fondly for a long time. After thanking Mr Waterman for his kind hospitality it was off to the next destination, Pete's house!...(Keep an eye out of this post, coming soon!)...

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Winter Colours at the RPMR Steam Up...

Hello everybody! Today it was off to my 5" gauge concern, the Ryton Pool Miniature Railway, for their November "Member's Steam Up". On day's like this, members can either just visit or, if applicable, bring along their own locomotives to run. They can, equally, also run one of the society's locomotives if they wish. A private BBQ is usually available at these events as well, as it was today! (Well done to the catering staff...a great effort was made in the chilly conditions!). I arrived at the site at around 11am and things were already getting underway. The first locomotive which I spotted was the massive & hugely impressive BR 4-6-2 Britannia No70004 "William Shakespeare". This engine is not often seen at the site due to its immense size (& difficulty of transport!) but, when she does come, she is always a welcome sight! Built from a Modelworks (now defunct) kit, the engine is modelled on one of the biggest express engine's from the BR Standard Range, the Britannia. Of course, the real 70004 "William Shakespeare" no longer exists, having been cut up, the class being represented in preservation by the two sisters: 70000 "Britannia" & 70013 "Oliver Cromwell". The 5" gauge Britannia was steamed but, following a "blower" failure, was quickly returned to the steaming bays. There she was cleaned down before being reloaded for the trip back home. Such a shame, better luck next time! Beautiful achievement!
Up on the "old" steaming bay was one of the RPMR's stalwart performers, GWR 57XX Pannier Tank No5717 "Victoria". As usual the engine was looking fabulous and was being readied for running by her loving owner. The 57XX Pannier tank was, arguably, the best tank engine ever built? Some many argue with this but enginemen (if only GWR enginemen!) loved them. Unlike saddle & side tanks, these engine's were easily accessible in all circumstances. Their Pannier tanks allowed access to the inside motion (gap between running board & tanks) and also to the boiler fittings (in between the tanks atop the barrel). A total of 863 locomotives of this class were built, at various works by various manufacturers. (This total build number makes the class the 2nd most-produced British steam locomotive type). "Victoria" herself, number 5717, was built some years ago and acquired by her owner at a later date...
Though a scaled down model (5" gauge), "Victoria" includes the same features as her standard gauge sisters. These features include two inside cylinders, blower, whistle, hydrostatic-lubricator, handbrake, injector, drain cocks and, as usual with Western locomotives, a Copper chimney cap! The only things missing from the model, due to the size, are vacuum brakes, steam brakes and a 2nd injector. The engine also includes a handpump and an axle-pump. The backhead fittings on this beautiful model are to scale and she also carries scale headlamps, tail-lamps and sandbox lids. To top this off, she carries scale toolboxes on her running boards! In all, this engine is beautifully detailed with all of her features coming together to produce a fantastic representation of the 57XX class engines. The real 57's ran with a full boiler pressure of 200psi. This is a little smaller on the model which runs at a lower 90psi...still impressive for an engine of this size! The beautiful Pannier is seen on the "old" steaming bay before raising steam...
The owner and his steed cross the double-track bridge at Ryton North, clearly showing the engine's size against a regular 3-man driving car...
I caught up with the engine at the foot of Ryton Bank where the owner offered me a few laps driving his engine. My answer? "Erm, YES PLEASE!". As usual, the engine more than fulfilled my expectations with free steaming and low water consumption all the way! With just me on her drawbar "Victoria" wasn't working hard at all and easily galloped along the track at, kind of a scale speed! (It is surely a testament to the popularity of the Pannier tanks that two of them will be double-heading a fully booked main line special next Saturday!). I had about 4 laps on the engine before handing her back over to her owner, feeling very pleased with myself! The loco is a joy to drive with minimal effort required. (The main effort is keeping her at the track speed of 6mph and not getting too carried away!)...
Of course it wasn't just the steamers who were out & about: Stalwart 0-4-0 Battery electric "Benella", appropriately named after the owners grandchildren(!), was also seen quite alot during the day. Her loving owner can often be seen at the RPMR with his trusty locomotive which, I believe, is a model from the well known manufacturer "Compass House". In the early afternoon, the loco was given a well earned rest, seen here on display in the sun...
The Britannia (mentioned earlier), was not the only "big" engine seen during the day. Mike's rather striking 5" gauge model of the Folwer 7F Class 2-8-0 also made a grand appearance. After helping the owner lift her out of his car, I wandered off before catching up with the engine a little later. A problem had arisen with the 'water-pump' feed but myself & Mike soon got it undone, eventually solving the fault! The beautiful 7F Class engine, numbered 9673, was seen for most of the afternoon, easily handling her "one man" load! The real 7F Class was of course designed for heavy freight traffic and a total of 11 were built. They were best known for working over the rather challenging Mendip Hills on the old Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway and, due to their popularity, two were preserved. SDJR liveried No88 lives on the West Somerset Railway whilst sister, No89 (BR 53809), is based at the Midland Railway Centre, Butterley. The model has rather a sentimental number: 9673 has a special meaning, as I found out today. The locomotive was started in 1973, and finally completed in 1996, hence the number, "9673". That is why the engine carries this number whereas the LMS version of the number would be "13803" (as they were numbered in their livery). The 23-year build time has of course provided a great deal of time to look forward to running the engine...a joy it must then be to finally see it move under its own power!

With the fault repaired, 9673 returned to the track where, rather surprisingly (to me anyway!), I was offered a drive! I don't think I've ever answered a question so quickly! After a quick talk through the controls I was let loose with the monstrous 2-8-0. I must admit, it drove beautifully! It sounded like a well oiled sewing machine and easily held the track-speed with the reverser would 'right up' and the regulator 'just cracked'! What a beautiful machine! It must be the biggest 5" gauge engine that I've ever driven! I've never had to lean so far over a tender before...I was almost lying horizontal! This position is much improved by the very comfortable cushion which spans the tender. (It very much aids comfortable driving!). One thing that surprised me whilst driving the engine was the massive length of the firebox! It it massive! You have to actually, if you can, 'flick' the coal to make it reach the end of the box! However, the size of the firebox makes for fantastic steaming and the engine's pressure never seemed to go below 50psi(!), even with the water pump in operation! For water purposes, the engine carries a double-acting axle pump (between frames) and a sizeable hand-pump (in the tender). All in all this fantastic machine made my day...it really did! Thanks very much Mike for letting me have a go! Loved it! Fellow driver Emma was also privilaged enough to have a go on this beastly model...
One of the later arrivals was this rather nice 0-6-0 "Butch"-type Side Tank. Using six small wheels, placed neatly & closely together, the engine offers alot of power but can also easily negotiate tight curves. As well as this, the locomotive always seems to steam well...I don't think I've ever seen it lose pressure for the wrong reasons! The "Butch" has always been a popular design and examples can be seen at many clubs far & wide. This example has only recently been completed and has now reached the end of her "running in" stage. The owner, I believe, has decided to keep the engine in her current 'brass livery', despite it costing a fortune in "Brasso"! I must admit though, it does look very smart! The engine is seen below and is, as usual, feathering at the valves(!)...
The final steamer seen today was this very nice 0-6-0 Simplex tank. Like the "Butch", the "Simplex" offers a simple, robust & powerful design which, to this day, proves to very popular. Designed on the average 0-6-0 industrial tank engine, substantial power is given by these locomotives. This example was purchased by her owner some years ago and continues to provide sterling service whenever she is brought up to the track. Interestingly, the basic measurements of the Simplex aren't much to different to that of the "Achilles" tank, designed by Reeves. The "Simplex" is seen below, on the "old steaming bay" before being 'blown down'...
A quick view of the simple cab layout on the "Simplex" tank. As you can see, everything is neatly placed and easy to get at, surely any reason for the design's popularity...
"I thought it was supposed to come out of the chimney?"...the "Simplex" is blown down on the "old steaming bay"...
All in all it had been a great day and a large amount of thanks must go to the society for ogganising the event! Thanks also two the owners of the two marvellous locomotives that I drove during the afternoon! More posts coming soon folks, keep reading! Until then, Goodnight...