Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Trains In The Garden & Summing Up 2009!...

Hi all. This will be the final post of the year 2009 and I can proudly say that it is post Number 103. (Not bad for just one year I don't think!). Anyway, today saw another few hours spent out in the garden. Yes it was cold, yes there was a biting wind and, no, I couldn't feel my fingers! During these wintry conditions, I generally spend alot of time in the shed fiddling with bits & bobs, standing next to the electric heater (don't tell the bill-payers though!). A few trains made the rounds today, in the form of the Class 06 & 08 diesels plus varying wagons. Not much going on but enough to pass away a few hours! Finally, can I just say; thank you all very much for reading the blog this year and, I hope, that you will continue to visit next year when I will be adding many, many more posts for your interest!I will now see out 2009 with a compilation of photographs selected from this years 103 different posts!:- Above, Q6 No63395 pulls into Rothley with a freight on the Great Central Railway in January 2009. In February, Snow on the Garden Railway...
Later that month, "Sir Nigel Gresley" hits Nuneaton...
To April now and Sweet Pea "John H Owen" gets an airing at Ryton!...
Moving on to May and, amongst many other things, we paid a visit to the 15" Gauge Evesham Vale Light Railway...
In early June, a very soggy day was spent at multi-gauge Statfold Barn Railway where I also got a footplate ride...
July now and we had a fabulous day out dining with the famous Harry Potter locomotive, No5972 "Olton Hall", on the main line steam service named the "Shakespeare Express"... Now to August during which we went on the first of our two holidays this year, to Devon, where we sampled some Western steam on the Paignton & Dartmouth Railway... September soon arrived and so did Holiday Number Two. We sampled some full size on the West Somerset Railway and some 2ft Gauge on the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway, where I also got another footplate ride!...
October next and I was invited to drive 7.25" for the day during the GEC's Halloween Night Run...
November now and I went on a trip to Pete Waterman's house to see his huge 'O' Gauge Leamington Spa layout...
Finally, in December, amongst other things, I spent another full day, including alot of firing, on LNER B1 No1306 "Mayflower" at Shackerstone...
Well, as you can see, it's been a long year and, as many of my regular readers will remember, the above selection of highlights is hardly any compared to the massive amount of things that we've done this year! Again, I hope you have enjoyed it all and I look forward to writing more posts for you all in 2010. Like What You See?...Why not leave me a comment? I'm always glad to hear from people who are reading the blog! Why not comment and tell me what you've enjoyed this year or your favourite post? Thank You all So Much. I wish you all a Happy & Healthy New Year for 2010 and hope you will continue to read "Sammy's World"! So, for the very last time in 2009...Evening All!...

Monday, 28 December 2009

Steaming & Videoing My Mamod Steam Wagon...

Hi again all. One of my Christmas presents was a second-hand (obviously!) 1985 Mamod live Steam Wagon (SW1).The blue-liveried machine was purchased from a friend of mine and was first tested of Christmas Day. However, I could not get it too run properly (I don't know why!) but, after much oiling and tinkering, the lorry now runs much better. With a 15psi boiler, whistle, safety valve, oscillating cylinder and truck-body, the SW1 is a powerful and attractive model. This one, in fantastic condition for its age, was just too good an oppotunity to pass up! My main Christmas present,a JVC GZ-MG630 Digital Camcorder, was used today to film another running session of my SW1. (The resulting video can be seen above). Thanks for reading!...

Sunday, 27 December 2009

My 18th Birthday On The Severn Valley Railway...

Hi all! Well, today was my 18th Birthday and, it has to be said, I had a fabulous day! Every year, for my birthday, we travel on the Severn Valley Railway's fantastic Dining Train but, this year in particular was to be better than any other. The reason for this was that we had been booked aboard our own private carriage, in the form of the railway's beautifully restored "Shrewsbury Director Saloon". The railway let us have the coach at no extra charge as they had had a cancellation and they had a heavy 'waiting list' for the main dining train. Therefore, moving us to the private Saloon freed up two tables on the Dining train. This meant that our party of 8 had a whole carraige to ourselves, how wonderful! We started from home at around 10:15am for the hour or so drive, with me in the leading of the two vehicles, providing the directions for everyone. (I'm the only one in our family who knows the route to the SVR off by heart!). On arrival at the SVR we parked up before making our way to the train. The Dining Train was brought into Platform 2 at Kidderminster Station with the "Shrewsbury Saloon" at the station end of the rake. Boarding, we had our own private cook and waitress on hand to take our orders for the 4-course meal.
The locomotive in charge of our train was the recently restored 2-6-0 Ivatt Class 4 Mogul No43106, nicknamed the "Flying Pig". The "Shrewsbury Saloon" comprises of two seperate rooms. The first is a lounge with sofa's, a single chair and reception area. As it was the festive season, a Christmas tree also stood proudly in the lounge. I must say, the coach was beautifully furnished. The other main room is the Dining Room which comprises of a sofa, two viewing chairs (at the far end) and then a large Dining Table (capable of seating 10 people in total). The table was massive and we each sat about 2ft apart! (Lots of room!). Again, the room was beautifully furnished. We sat down ready for the 12:15pm departure time and in anticipation of our four-course meal. As we departed Kidderminster the views opened up straight away. The coach included all-round views across the splender of the Severn Valley, due to the massive amount of windows and the observation area's at each end. The coach also included a seperate Kitchen, Lavatory and Guard's compartment. With no corridor connection at either end, the coach is completely self-contained. Of course, the Saloon's were designed to run alone with a single locomotive, allowing Director's (or other top brasses!) to view their various routes in comfort & style.
The first course consisted of soup OR prawn cocktail. I had the home-made soup and I must say I could have eaten it all day long...it was fantastic! Approaching the third station, Arley, our main course was served: a full roast dinner (either Beef OR Pork) with all the trimmings. I must say, the amount of food we were given was enormous! Platters loaded with vegetables were simply laid down on the table-top and we were left to help ourselves...fantastic! Mind you, alot was wasted even though we all ate as much as we possibly could! Thirdly, we had three choices of Desert: I chose the Rubarb & Custard option! Once again, very, very nice! By 1:25pm we arrived at the line's terminus of Bridgnorth, 16 miles from Kidderminster. Here there would be an 85 minute gap before the return departure so we decided to take a brisk and scenic walk into Bridgnorth town and then back. After "walking off" some of our lunch we returned to the station where 43106 had ran round. My family returned to the Saloon for warmth whilst I walked around the site, trying to get more pictures of the Ivatt. Above, the "Flying Pig" (43106) is pictured with the "Shrewsbury Saloon" at Bridgnorth, awaiting the 2:50pm departure. Leaving Bridgnorth, the final course, Coffee & a Mince Pie, was served in the Lounge. Below, the Christmas tree is seen decorating the Lounge...
I then had to endure the usual "Birthday Cake" song! "Oh the embarrassment!". Meanwhile, the return run was just as scenic as the outward and the "Steam Heating" system easily managed to keep the beautiful Saloon warm even though it was freezing outside! Passing Bewdley, we passed 2-6-2 45XX Prairie No4566 (out of steam) and unique Stanier Mogul No42968 (warming fire inside)...
Once back at Kidderminster we collected our things, said our thank you's and our goodbyes and then clambered off the "Shrewsbury Saloon". It had been a fantastic run and, a truly fantastic day. Before we left, I did get a quick look on the footplate of the "Flying Pig". The fire is seen below...
The driver commented that 43106, though he wasn't used to the engine yet, was a very good runner and was, in his words, "perfect for the line with her small driving wheels". For a Class 4, the engine seemed sort of small in stature even though she was quite tall. However, if the performance she gave on the return run was anything to go by, she is a very powerful (and loud!) locomotive! I mentioned my times at Shackerstone on the B1 to the driver and he expressed his interest in the class but also noted the difficulty of getting used to the "letter box" style firehole door! Below, myself and 43106's driver chat away on the footplate...
Thanks for the oppotunity driver! It had been a great day and, with a final glimpse of 43106, we departed Kidderminster Station for home. I must thank my family and the Severn Valley Railway for giving me such a great experience on my 18th Birthday...its just a shame we can't do this every Sunday! Also thanks to everybody who sent me kind Birthday messages during the day, I really appreciate it. As ever, thanks for reading everybody! Good Evening...

Monday, 21 December 2009

POST No100!:-Garden Railway Running Session!...

AT LAST! Post No100 of 2009! Thank you to everyone who continues to read this blog as I vastly enjoy writing it and, even more so, vastly enjoy hearing that people are reading it and enjoying it! I have tried my very best this year to ensure a great quantity, and quality, of posts on this blog, which is, I believe, reflected in this, the one-hundreth post of 2009! Anyhow, back to the post. Today, a friend of mine from Shackerstone, Chris, had been invited over to our garden railway to "run-in" some of his newly-acquired locomotives. Chris owns his own model railway but, unlike mine, it is an "end to end" run and not a full circuit. Therefore, he decided it would be easier to "run-in" his loco's on my line. He brought along a new T9 4-4-0, a Q1 0-6-0 and an E4 0-6-0. The tests proved successful and the loco's, especially the T9(!), got a good run. The visiting loco's used my rolling stock, especially my LMS coaches, to provide weight and colour to their runs. Later in the day, some of my own locomotives put in an appearance. The above image shows my Black 5, 45156 "Ayrshire Yeomanry", standing at Sutherland in very much fading light. The day had been a very good one and my railway certainly got a good running! It was certainly well worth doing. Thanks for reading everyone. Merry Christmas.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Firing 1306 At Shackerstone...

Hi all! Apologies for the lateness of this post (added 28/12/2009) but I have been busy, with Christmas etc(!), and so, at last, here it is! Firstly, the images in this post are not from the day in question as I did not take my camera but they do give some relevant colour at least! Anyway, today I was up at 5AM(!), and, more importantly, so was my mum (to give me a lift!). The destination, in the freezing temperatures and gloomy darkness, was Shackerstone where I was rostered as trainee fireman on the B1 4-6-0 No1306 "Mayflower". Arriving at Shackerstone at 6am, I headed straight down to the loco shed where I found the B1 and the day's crew: Driver Marie & Fireman Steve. First job, whilst Steve tended to the new fire, was to help Marie oil the engine up. Once this was done, the B1 was ready to move. George, also on site with us, then hauled the B1 out of the shed using ex-BR 0-4-0 Class 02 Diesel shunter, D2782 "Diane". However, the shunt did not go without hitch as, due to the icy rails, the B1 pushed the "wheel-locked" little diesel down the yard a good way! When the loco's came to a sharp standstill, wooden chocks were placed under the wheels to prevent any further "sliding"! With 1306 now stationary, Steve lit the fire using parrafin rags and other good doses of the said liquid! Next, "Tea Time!", so retired to the shed leaving 1306 out in the freezing darkness...
Freshly "refuelled", we returned to the loco as daylight slowly began to show itself. The Shed Cat, "Morris", was also out and about and overlooked the preparations of the B1 with relative interest! Cleaning then began, with the help of the two Dave's and the loco's owner! By 9:30am, 1306 was ready for service. Today EVERY TRAIN was FULL and this would mean LONG journeys! This is because "Santa Special" trains include a Grotto on the train and therefore, everyone on-board must see Santa before we arrive at Shenton! This means a "very slow" outward run with a possible stop just outside the terminus station to ensure that every child has received their present before the return journey begins. Newly changed into our 'smart' overalls, myself, Marie and Steve climbed up into the cab and moved 1306 'off shed'. With the engine on the front of the already-filling 6-coach train, the "Steam Heat" could be turned on to heat the carraiges. At 10am, we crawled out of Shackerstone with the first 'festive service' of the day with Steve, the rostered passed-fireman, firing. After the slow journey, we ran round quickly before returning at line-speed (25mph). Back at Shackerstone, we ran-round again ready for the 12pm departure. Yes, the journey takes about 1 hour 45 mins with a full "Santa" train!...
Once on the front of the 12pm train, I was told that I could fire if I wanted to. "Erm, yes please!". (I do very much rather to 'do' than 'not do'!). Anyway, I began. The large firebox of the 4-6-0, with its "letter-box" (Great Eastern) firehole door is, for learners, I would say, a difficult engine to fire. The saving grace of this is that the engine is a very good steamer. However, I have had a good few go's at firing the B1 now so I was just about getting the hang of the firehole door and the long grate. With me filling the box, departure time soon arrived and we were off into the Leicestershire countryside once again. However, going so slow with so little draft on the fire means only one thing: a lack of rising pressure! Therefore, once over the bank out of Shackerstone, with the large injector on to fill up the boiler, the pressure began to drop and around 180psi (full pressure=225psi) was the most I could build up! And, without lying, it wasn't my fault! The grate was covered! (Once a draft was created, the loco steamed well once again!). Once at Shenton, we ran-round once again ready for a departure time of around 1:25pm. This time, the loco would be going at line-speed so a deeper and cleaner fire is needed to keep pressure. For example, any holes in the fire can create severe drops in any engine's pressure. Just before departure, I built the fire up as much as possible, taking great care to fill the middle section of the box which seems, to many, to be the "most hungry"!...
Chugging out of Shenton I had to fire more, filling the holes as they arose. The pressure dropped to about 200psi but held there for the duration of the climb to Far Coton. Once over the bank I opened the firehole door and switched on 'my' injector. As we coasted down through Deer Park and Market Bosworth I added more coal in readiness for the climb to Airport Bridge and beyond. As Marie "opened up" again, I shut the firehole door and the pressure once again dropped to 200psi. However, I wasn't worried about this as the 10mph slack was approaching and 1306 had to "shut off" again! I put the injector back on and then added a little more coal, especially in the middle(!), as we chugged back up to line-speed. At Hedley's, we had to slow for the very boring 5mph slack but this did give me a chance to add some more coal for the last climb towards Shackerstone, past Congerstone. With the firebox again refilled, with about 6 or 7 more shovelfulls, 1306 stormed away from Hedleys. However, I should have added a little more in the front corners as the pressure dropped to about 180psi. Oh well, can't win them all! Once over the Congerstone bank, 1306 'shut off' again and we dropped down into Shackerstone with the injector on, the firebox door open and the pressure rising. "Mayflower" pulled into a very busy Platform 2 at Shackerstone as I took a break, hanging my head from the loco to 'cool down' a little! The outside temperatures were freezing but, with me firing, I was so hot and bothered!...
1306, now 10-minutes down, quickly ran-round the 2pm train, with me filling the firebox and boiler once again. I would now, following my successful first trip, be firing for the rest of the day! With other two trips, the 2pm & 4pm, went very well and, I'm glad to say, around 200psi was kept at all times. By the end of the day I was firing through the door to the front of the box much easier and was, very much, enjoying myself! Arriving in darkness with the last trip of the day, the engine was holding over 200psi and had a healthy boiler water level. I was very pleased with myself as I had fired three full trips. Steve, I must admit, must have had a very easy day! Once off the train we made our way on shed, being guided by a member on the ground with a lantern. 1306 was soon back inside the shed and, besides having a bit too thick a fire at disposal time, I was told that I had done well! Great stuff! The engine was then put "to bed" for Christmas and will now not run again until Easter 2010. After putting everything away and making 1306 secure, we said our festive greeting and our goodbyes before departing for home. Snow still littered the ground however and it hadn't melted all day! Show's just how cold it was! I finally left at 7pm, 13 hours after signing on duty. What a long day but, what a festive and enjoyable one! Thanks to the crew, the owner and 1306 herself for a such a great day, see you next year! Thanks for reading folks. Merry Christmas.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Driving 1401 On 7.25" At The Severn Valley Railway...

Hello one and all. Was anybody cold today? I was! Today, at 7:10am, following another kind invite by my friend Dave, I arrived at his house for our early departure. Our destination?: The Severn Valley Railway at Kidderminster. Being a total of 16 miles in length and including no less than 6 beautifully restored stations, it is no surprise that the Severn Valley is one of the UK's premier steam railways. To add to this, the railway has, at it's Kidderminster Town Station, installed a rather enjoyable 7.25" gauge miniature railway and, today, Dave & his Dad had been invited to take one of their fabulous miniature locomotive's along for a run on it. Q: "Would you want to come Sam?", A: "Erm...YES PLEASE!". (There was no way I was going to miss this!). Leaving at around 7:30am with the trailer in tow, we arrived at Kidderminster at around 8:45am. The temperature gauge read -4 degrees(!!) and, yes, everything(!) was frozen! Meanwhile, in the platforms, a rather chilly looking tank engine stood 'steam-heating' one of the line's many rakes of coaches. A few fellow locomotive operator's then arrived and we soon set to work unloading the locomotive, No1401, along with her two LMS scale Bogie Coaches, from the trailer. 1401 is a model of one of the Great Western 0-4-2 14XX 'Autotank' locomotives which were built for mainly branchline and light, yet speedy(!), passenger work.
The 14's were notable, due to their large driving wheels, of being able to achieve, at their highest, 70mph performances! (Not bad for an 0-4-2 tank engine!). Anyway, back to us! 1401 was soon on the steaming bay and, after just over an hour of preparations, the 0-4-2 tank was ready for action. However, it was still blisteringly cold! Just to show you how cold it was, listen to this!:- Myself & Dave were preparing the loco when a drip of water from one of the injectors fell onto the rail and, guess what(?), it froze instantly to ice! So, yes, I would say, it WAS cold! With 1401 off shed, I backed her down onto a 5-coach GWR Rake of scale 7.25" coaches. Dave then took over for the first few runs, to check his engine out, as he hadn't used it for a few months. Following a handful of trips Dave handed me the engine. (Thank you!). My only experience of 7.25" so far was on Dave's other engine, the 0-4-0 "Trojan" (see earlier post), back in October so, as usual with things that are new to us, this would be a challenge! (Good job 1401 was so forgiving!). The minature railway here operates from the Station Concourse, along a very, very long straight track, climbing away, before 'zig-zagging' over a concrete road access. The line then approaches the terminus station where the steaming bays, turntable and sheds are located.
This single line method with no run-round loop meant that "Top & Tailing" was necessary and, sure enough, our tail-engine for the day was a 2-6-2 Small Prairie tank, No5541. (This locomotive can be seen above). Besides 1401 & 5541, there were two other 7.25" gauge visitors. One of them was a large 4-6-0 'County Class' locomotive, "County of Warwick", which included a large amount of detail from every angle. This monster was piloting the 2nd train rake, made up of 2 GWR coaches and 1401's two LMS Coaches. (Her train was tailed by a Large Prairie Tank, the 4th & final visitor). The large 4-6-0 can be seen below...
The final visitor, as mentioned above, was another highly-detailed monster: A GWR Large Prairie Class 2-6-2. This speedy machine is seen running back down from the terminus with the 2nd rake, tailed by "County of Warwick"....
Back to 1401, I enjoyed many very good trips. The locomotive includes vacuum brakes, screw reverser, two injectors, a hand-pump, an axle-pump, whistle, gauge glass, hydro-static lubricator and, naturally, two very nice scale headlamps! To run the locomotive for longer periods, the two injectors are not linked to the side tanks, but to the driving truck (A Scale GWR "Toad" Brake Van") which carries a large water tank inside. A good steamer, the engine clung to full pressure almost all of the time, making haulage much easier! Up the hill towards the terminus, with me leading, 1401 pulled the 5-coach train (+5541) well but, the large wheels and frosty alluminum track made it so that assistance from the 2-6-2 was always required. On the return run, I simply had to put the engine in reverse and tend to the fire & boiler water level. However, on some trips, 5541 required assitance back over the crossing before topping the bank. From the top downwards, 5541 coped easily, with 1401 simply hissing along nicely on the back! Here, 1401 barks out of the bottom station for the terminus with a heavy train...
1401 is then seen powering past me. In the distance, at the back of the train, 5541 can be seen providing a little assistance...
I must admit, 1401 was a very good puller and, if it wasn't frosty, I'm sure it could've handled the 5-coaches alone. (On an empty run, we even tried a "race" with the full size 4-6-0 No7812 "Erlestoke Manor"! 1401 was speeding along nicely with 5541 giving her best on the rear! We soon bet 7812 to the water tower! "Power to the 7.25!"). In all seriousness, the 14XX performed beautifully with no problems with steam, water, oil or power! I vastly enjoyed driving this marvellous machine many times up and down the track, thank you David & Kevin! At the other end of the line, around the terminus station yard, the railway's own 'Modified' "Tich" loco (0-6-0 instead of 0-4-0) was steaming around the yard. I would of liked a better look but it just kept moving!...
And, you know what else?: The best part about this miniature railway was that you could enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of full size steam in action at the same time! Here, Large Prairie Tank No5164 pulls into Kidderminster with a return "Santa Special" working from Arley...
Here, from the miniature railway terminus yard, 5164 is caught by the fading sunlight outside Kidderminster Town Signalbox...
The full size SVR was amazingly busy. Train departures were occuring almost every 30 minutes, if a little (about an hour!) behind time. Throughout the day, SIX different steam locomotives came in & out of Kidderminster Station. (Thats alot of crews and alot of cleaning!). And, EVERY SINGLE TRAIN was FULL(!). Well done Severn Valley Railway! I think that shows the popularity of this beautiful and very professional line to no end. Below, the lovely and sole-surviving LMS Stanier Mogul Class No42968 makes a spirited departure from Kidderminster, bound for Arley...
Passing me, the Mogul show's off her "Stanier-look" before barking away towards Arley...
Finally, I've included the following picture of another sole-surviving locomotive based at the SVR, the Ivatt Class 4 Mogul, nicknamed "The Flying Pig". 41306 has, only in the past few months, been returned to traffic following a heavy & lengthy overhaul. The Ivatt has, since returning to work, has had an accident however! A few weeks back, the locomotive's tender became derailed at the SVR's Hampton Loade station and was "dragged" across the point-work. At least one of the axles were damaged and parts had to be borrowed from another Ivatt tender, based at the Strathspey Railway in Scotland, to repair the "Pig"! Happily, as you can see, she is now back at work and earning her keep! The locomotive really did look the part and was seen "flying" about (excuse the pun!) all day...
Other engine's seen during the day but not photographed were Manor No7812 "Erlestoke Manor", 0-6-2 Welsh valley's tank No6695 and Small Prairie No4566 (the latter was on "train heating duties" I believe). Back on the Coal Yard Railway (miniature line), the cold weather was starting to get to us and by just gone 4pm we were all off the track! 1401 was soon moved back onto the Steaming Bay and we quickly disposed of her before draining her off. She was then loaded back into the vechicle and her two coaches were put back on the trailer. We waved goodbye to Kidderminster, and our fellow "mad dogs and Englishmen!", with a view of 41306 still simmering in the platform. Returning home as quickly as possible, we arrived back at base at around 5:40pm. (Not too bad!). My mum soon picked me up and it was off to home after a very enjoyable, challenging, interesting and, most of all, COLD, day. I must offer great thanks, as always, to Dave & Kevin for taking me along and allowing me to drive their engine. Thanks Guys, I had a fantastic day! Thanks for reading folks...More Posts Coming Soon. Evening All...

Sunday, 13 December 2009

GEC Miniature Railway "Santa Specials"...

Hi all! Today it was off up to the GEC Model Engineering Society's site at Binley to lend a helping hand to their 2009 "Santa Special" proceedings. Arriving at about 1pm I met up with my friend Dave who was already busy preparing his family's engine, 0-4-0 "Trojan" (mentioned in earlier GEC posts), for the running that would begin at 2pm. The substantially sized 0-4-0 Saddle Tank (with tender) was simmering nicely as I reached the steaming bay and within half an hour the loco was off shed and awaiting duties. "Trojan" was adorning festive lighting and a very nice "Merry Christmas" letter-arrangement around her saddle tank (as seen in the above image). On the other 7.25" gauge Steaming Bay was 0-4-0 Romulus No5 "James". The shining loco, proudly wearing her red & brass livery, was carefully raising steam when the image below was taken...
The running began at 2pm with many (and I mean many!) people turning up for a ride, many of whom had pre-booked. The 7.25" gauge line was running to full capacity with "Trojan", "James" and "Sammy" (0-4-0 Diesel) running a very intensive service at regular intervals. (The drivers had very little time for breaks!). The "Santa" trains on the ground level line made a full lap of the track before visiting Santa himself on a private 'spur' siding. Once Santa had been visited, trains reversed back out onto the main line before returning back to the main station. Meanwhile, the 5" gauge raised track was also running an intensive service with high passenger numbers. As darkness fell, lanterns were lit and the festive decorations became even more prominent in the landscape of the site. It really did look very festive. I was busying myself with helping with "Trojan", sanding the rails at various points, helping with crowd control, moving things around etc. The platform on the ground level line was absolutely packed all afternoon and it was only just after closing time (5pm) that the queue started to decrease in number a little! Meanwhile, tea was the ever-valuble commodity as the 'coming & going' rain did nothing to help the chill in the air! (The Tea Room Ladies were again busying themselves with providing all of us with many cups of this, our form of fuel! Well done again everybody...first rate job as usual!). Below, festively decorated "Trojan" arrives back at the main station in darkness...
The darkness gave me a chance to see how bright my flash was (its not often I shoot in darkness!). Here, 0-4-0 Romulus "James" is being readied for the next departure and is still remarkably clean following her (or is it his??) hard day's work....
Whilst the 7.25" gauge line was busy with the "Santa" trips, the 5" raised track was also extremely busy and three different steam locomotives were providing the service. The locomotive below is a 5" gauge model of one of the Midland Railway 4-4-0 'Compound' locomotives. In standard gauge practise, these locomotives used steam twice; Once in a High Pressure Cylinder and then again, in a Low Pressure Cylinder. (Unlike conventional practise). This model, built to a very high standard, is a GEC regular and performed well all evening, much to the delight of customers(!). The loco is seen here during a break for a quick "running service" before going back onto the track...
The 2nd loco in operation on the raised track was an 0-6-0 15XX Speedy tank, number 1507. These engines were modelled on the outside-cylindered Pannier Tank, the 15XX Class, one of which survives on the Severn Valley Railway (No1501). This particular model, I must admit, was quite striking with, it would seem, a recently applied (or very well looked after!) BR Black livery. This model was seen speeding (excuse the pun!) around the track all afternoon and she is spotted taking a quick break in the station once darkness had fallen...
Last but definately not least was "Sgt Murphy". This engine reminds me of a Kerr Stuart locomotive (correct me if I'm wrong!). This substantial six-legged engine was also seen all afternoon and, during the darkness, carried a very bright headlamp (seen below) which definately seemed to aid the driver in seeing the road ahead! The shining tank engine is seen in the station awaiting the road. "Sgt Murphy" is also a GEC regular and I have spotted her out & about many times before...
Once the final train had gone, we took "Trojan" out to collect the signals and signs around the ground level track. We then returned to the main station and began shunting the stock and packing things away. "James" had already been blown down and "Sammy" (the Diesel) had gone home so there was only "Trojan" left at work! When her work was done, "Trojan" chuffed up onto the steaming bay and was then raked out, blown down and cleaned. Myself and Dave then pushed the loco (out of steam) down to the Loading Ramp where she would be loaded onto her trailer for her journey home. Well, it had been another great day at the GEC, thanks again for the invite everybody! I always have a very nice time when I go up there. Like what you read? Why not go along and visit them! The railway runs, I believe, once a month from May to October and also operates various Special Event days. Want more information? Drop me an email! I'm always happy to try and promote this great little railway. Anyway, many thanks to everybody who made my day another great one today and, special thanks to the 'Tea Room Ladies' for keeping us all watered throughout the afternoon...you did a great job! Thanks for reading everybody, Good Night!...

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Merry Christmas Everyone...

Hi everyone. Now, with Christmas Day 2009 only being 2 weeks tomorrow, I just thought I would extend this festive message to you all. (For this post, I've tried to choose festive (sort of!) images). I'd just like to say Thank You very much to everyone who has read the blog this year. After starting the blog in late August 2008, a massive growth in the number of posts being added occured throughout this year. Therefore, in the past few months, more and more posts have been added over a shorter space of time. I must admit, I have tried my best to include as much content (with as much quality!) as I possibly could. I hope you have all enjoyed reading the blog this year and that you will continue to revisit, to check out the various goings-on, in the future. I have received many kind comments from a variety of readers this year and the number of "hits" being received is also gradually growing. (Thank you all for this as well!). Now, for the images! The above image was taken on Easter Sunday 2008 and shows the "Starter Signal" at Shackerstone covered with crisp, white snow. Next, below, we see an image that, over the year, I have become very fond of(!). The image depicts the 15" Gauge Evesham Vale Light Railway, visited in May this year (though the image was taken on 31/12/08). The little locomotive toiling up the steep gradient in the frosty gloom is ex-Rhyl Miniature Railway Barne's Atlantic (4-4-2) "John". The beautiful steam effect produced by this little locomotive is one to treasure in my opinion...
Finally, we head back to my own railway. This particular image, though we have had snow this year, was taken in April 2008, following a freak falling of the stuff! Grantham Bridge, now replaced by a new route around the back of the conifer tree on the left, is crossed by Small Prairie No4560 with a rake of assorted wagons. This image, in my opinion, holds a very festive atmosphere!...
Well, as I said, thank you very much, every one of you, for visiting this page throughout the year. Though there are still a few more things to do this year, such as crewing the B1 at Shackerstone next Sunday, the year itself is nearly out! So, all that remains for me to say is that I wish every one of you a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY & PROSPOROUS NEW YEAR! Well, as usual, thanks for reading folks! More posts coming as soon as I can! Good Evening...

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Working With The Eastern Lady at Shackerstone...

Today I got to Shackerstone as early as I could (just before 8am in the end) as I was due to be helping out with the immaculate B1 No1306 "Mayflower". On my arrival, the 4-6-0 was glimpsed outside the shed, standing alone in the non-stop rain. I took the chance to hide within the confines of the 'cosy' sheds, where I found the "Mayflower" team who had got the same idea! At around 9am the rain stopped and we quickly set to work cleaning the locomotive. I set about cleaning rods, wheels, sand-pipes, brake blocks, frames, steps, runners and the bogie! At last, just before 9:50am, the locomotive was ready. With the first train at 10am there was no time to lose and 1306 soon rolled off shed before hissing loudly through the cross-over to the Signalbox. 1306 then backed down onto the front of the train before she was coupled up. The "Steam Heat" was then switched on to warm the coaches before the 'Right Away' was received from the Guard. 1306, after a shrill whistle, carefully eased out of Shackerstone, bound for Shenton as I wandered off down to the Booking Hall. Once inside, I was greeted with the sentence, "Do You Know Anything About Lighting A Fire?"...(The open fire in the Booking Hall was yet to be lit!). "Erm, Yes" I replied, pointing to my coal, oil and dust covered boilersuit! With no provisions to light the fire however, I headed off back down to the loco shed to retrieve some old wood and a rag...
With my provisions in hand I returned to the booking hall before banking up newspaper, wood and a few small lumps of coal on the fire-grate. Then, using a sprinkle of paraffin, I lit the fire. It went very well! I took out any ashes from under the grate and then, played the waiting game! After about 20 minutes or so, the fire had properly taken hold and I soon left for the sheds. There, Gerald gave me a cuppa' and we had a chat about 1306 and her duties for the 'Santa season'. Soon, a loud rumbling was heard and 1306 rolled noisily past the windows of our Machine Shop/Tea Room! I was then invited onto the footplate for the next two runs. I just rode on my first run (the 12 noon train) but I was allowed to have a go at firing on my second run (the 2pm train). I must admit, I fired with "varying" degrees of sucess, ranging from keeping full pressure to bringing it down to 50psi below this pressure but nothing anywhere near drastic! I very much enjoy firing the B1 though it is very different to other full size loco's I have fired to due to her Eastern-type Firehole Flap-Door, which only gives half the shovelling room of a normal firehole door! It takes much practise (I'm slowly getting there) to not hit the door when trying to fling coal to the front of the box!...
After these very enjoyable two runs I left the engine and her owner took my place on the footplate. Thanks very much to the owner and the crew for my go today, VERY enjoyable as usual! The B1 soon left for Shenton again on the day's last train, the 4pm. I was then collared into helping my colleages Carl & Craig in a shunt using the used & abused 0-4-0 Class 02 Shunter "Diane". With a bright headlamp attached (as it was dark!!) we set off around the yard and the shed area with the '02'. With the shunt half done, 1306 soon returned with her steam powered electricity generator providing her electric headlamps and cab lighting. It was now around 5:30pm and my lift home was beckoning and so, after gathering my things and saying my goodbyes, I signed off at 5:40pm and headed for home. Thanks Phil for the lift back! Well, it has been another long day but, next time I'm at Shackerstone it'll be an even longer one, with a 6am sign on I might add! Yes, I'm rostered for a day-turn on the B1 on Sunday December 20th and, to be honest, I can't wait! More posts coming soon everyone! Best Wishes and Thanks for Reading...