Friday, 31 December 2010

Thank You Everyone...

Hi everyone. Well thats it, or, as the Looney Tunes said..."Thats All Folks!". It's been a great year indeed and I would just like to thank every single person who has read this blog in 2010. Special thanks indeed to my regular readers too; your continued support is always appreciated. We've done alot this year, from firing at Shackerstone to turns at Coventry MES, Evesham Vale, GEC, Echills Wood and Bala Lake Railway. We've even visited Toddington, Great Central, the NRM, Lakeside Miniature, Fosseway and various other smaller places. We've even exhibited again successfully at the Warley National Show. As well as that, we've travelled to see "Rocket" in London, spotted "Tornado", "Princess Elizabeth" and "Bittern" on the Main Line and even visited the Harrogate Show. On top of that we've ran our Steam Toys and had various Garden Railway sessions. We've done an awful lot this year. Miss any of that?! Why not read it on this blog...its all there! Thank you all again, so much. I hope that I can continue writing this blog for as long as possible and also hope that you will all continue to read and support it. Why not leave me a comment? I love to hear from readers. Simply click "Comments" under the post and then write what you wish...you don't even need an account! Why not try it? I'd love to hear from you. Thanks again folks. Finally, I would just like to wish everyone a Healthy and Enjoyable 2011...Goodnight for the last time in 2010..."Thats All Folks"...

Lighting A Pannier...

Hi all. Today, the last day of the year, I was, "yes you've guessed", at Shackerstone! A huge team of us assembled at the Steam Shed to prepare Pannier Tank No5786 for her last three days operating at the railway (Jan 1st-3rd 2011). Arriving at 10:30am, I climbed up onto the footplate only to find; a broken gauge glass. Therefore, we replaced it with a spare. By now, 5786 had been dragged outside by the Class 73 diesel loco. Gauge glass replaced, I laid a bed of coal down on the grate, followed by dry wood and then lit the fire using parrafin rags. Doors shut, we let it burn. I then set about cleaning out the well-filled ash/inspection pit inside the Works. Later on, I helped clean the loco, including the cab. I also put Steam Oil on the Smokebox and Chimney to 'shine it up' a little bit ready for the loco's last appearances with us. I'll be very sad to see her go; she is a lovely machine indeed, much to the same popularity as 5542 was. Mind you, everyone had a soft spot for the Prairie! Well, after a good turn out and lots of work done, 5786 was back in the shed by 4pm and tucked up in 'bed' for the night. With that, its home time! Thanks for reading folks, Goodnight...

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Snow Problem at All...

Hi all. I hope everyone had a great Christmas; lots of food, drink and rest I trust! Now, this really was one out of the blue as it were. Many of my regular readers will know that I am a pretty regular visitor to the local 15" gauge steam railway; the Evesham Vale Light Railway. Located around 40 miles from me, the EVLR offers a 1.25-mile journey through a scenic orchard with views stretching far above the Vale of Evesham. The railway is very friendly and is operated by its two owners and many willing volunteers. Each time I go up, I often receive a footplate ride and a good chat with the crew. Therefore, today, I decided to pop up to do a cleaning turn; to 'put something back' as it were - mainly to thank the EVLR for their kindness and hospitality during my many visits. So, with that, we'll begin. I was due to arrive at the railway for around 8:30am and therefore set off from home around 7:10am, leaving time for morning traffic etc. After a nice run to Evesham, through the freezing fog and damp, I pulled up in the old faithful Saxo at Twyford Station, within the Evesham Country Park. In the morning light, the fog hung low across the Car Park and their wasn't much to see in the distance. Just then, the owners (Jim and Helen) arrived, as did the day's driver; Nick. After saying 'Hello' I was guided into the Mess Room and then through into the locomotive shed; a place I've often set foot in as a visitor. The days loco, ex-Longleat No3 "Dougal", was sitting at the end of the shed, alongside the likes of the legendary ex-Fairbourne Atlantic "Count Louis". Shed doors open, myself and Nick pushed "Dougal" outside...
As she's on Roller Bearings, the loco pushed quite well. Once outside, we set to work. The EVLR are very 'up' on cleaning, as you should be. Therefore, out came the Brasso and the Pledge (yes, Pledge!). With 1/2 a glass of water in the boiler and a clean grate, "Dougal" was ready to light. Nick fetched out some parrafin-soaked rags and some kindling wood, leaving me to build up the fire. Nick then lit a rag and threw it into the box, starting the burning process. An air-line was then connected to the loco, providing a draft to keep the fire burning. "Dougal", once an 0-6-2T, is now a much modified 0-6-0TT, carrying a large, sit-in tender and a much larger boiler. These modifications have improved "Dougal"s capabilities massively, giving her more power, weight, water capacity, coal capacity and steaming ability. She is, as Nick described, the pride of the fleet due to her reliability, robustness and ease of use. Anyway, back to us. Whilst we cleaned, "Dougal" was warming through beautifully in the damp, chilly morning air. Soon enough, we had steam and, with the tea already flowing, I began oiling round. "Dougal" carries Baker Valve Gear which I don't really have much experience of. But, nevertheless, we got through and the loco was soon oiled, with a drop on the mechanical lubricator rachet for luck. With a lovely, simmering fire and a hot boiler; we prepared "Dougal" for coming off shed. Nick dropped her into forward, blew the whistle and released the brake. With a tug on the regulator, off we went. "Dougal" rolled freely out of the yard with the steam-operated drain cocks open all the way. Across the points we went and out onto the Main past the Stop Board. There, "Dougal" was blown-down by 1/4 of a glass, making it 1/2 a glass again. This gets rid of any scale and impurities in the boiler, as is per usual practise. Once blown-down, "Dougal" was reversed back onto her 3-coach train, ready for the first run of the day (the 10:30am). Below, a look at the Manifold, showing the gauges, drain cocks (red), injector steam feeds (wooden handles) etc...
Soon enough, with a blow on the whistle and a handful of passengers, we set off. "Dougal", as I remember from my last footplate trip on her, rides very well and steams freely. Through the fog and the orchards we steamed before dropping down the steep hill towards the Baloon Loop. No views across the Vale of Evesham this morning; the fog was very thick indeed, completely blanketing the horizon. Once at the far end of the Baloon Loop, we climbed the steep hill towards the tunnel, with "Dougal" chuffing well. I was surprised at just how little the injectors were used; little and often; the water level remained very healthy indeed. Down through the tunnel we went and then up and around into Evesham Vale Station for the booked stop. Here, the children were asked how many Christmas Presents they had counted in the trees during the run. Sweets were then handed out as prizes. (Customer service, ay?!...a very nice touch I thought). With the passengers back on board, we reboarded the loco. With a blast on the whistle, off we went again, up the steep climb back to Twyford with "Dougal" gripping surprisingly well on wet rails. Soon, we were back. We moved "Dougal" onto the turntable and were pushed round. We than ran round ready for the 11am train. Then came the question..."Are you going to drive this one?"...
Now, I've driven many engines in the past, from 3.5" gauge through 7.25" gauge, right up to full size locomotives. I've also driven full size and miniature traction engines and steam rollers. But, even now, new gauges bring new challenges. I happily took over "Dougal"s regulator but had no idea how challenging the line was. As a passenger, you don't realise the work involved in driving the train. Even when on the engine, an experienced driver, like Nick, can make everything seem oh so easy. However, all isn't what it seems! Even so, I took over, closely watched at all times by Nick. Afterall, he could take-over at any moment if necessary. Anyway, with a blast on the Guard's whistle, we set off. With the regulator cracked and the drains open, "Dougal" pulled away effortlessly. Once away, I notched up and shut the taps. The regulator is then shut as the trains coasts downhill out of the yard. The Guard then gives a Green Flag to show that the coaches have safely cleared the yard. After acknowledging the Guard, I opened up for the climb up over the Level Crossing to the Top of the Bank. Soon after, we descend, regulator shut and hand firmly on the brake. I was very surprised at how much you had to brake. The train could really get away from you here. After a 5mph slack over a facing point, the train coasts down into the Baloon Loop. A slight braking is then needed for a sharp corner before opening up again for the steepest climb. "Dougal" chuffed a bit more here but still found the climb very easy. The regulator is opened more here to keep the speed up. We then shut off at the tunnel and descend, hand on the brake, through and out the other side. The regulator is then opened again to climb up into Evesham Vale for the booked stop...
After the stop, drains open, we open the regulator slightly with the brake still on. This prevents any rolling back when the brakes are released. Brakes off, "Dougal" starts. More regulator is needed as the loco starts on the steep climb back to Twyford. The rails were slippy, and on a tight curve, uphill. Therefore, care was needed. Leaving the station confines, I took it slowly before opening up a little more. Chugging well, "Dougal" hit a very wet rail and slipped violently. I shut off immediately but opened up again straight away with no time to spare. Stopping here on these rails wouldn't be a good move! After acknowledging the Guard again, I opened up a little more and notched up. "Dougal" charged up the hill with ease and it wasn't long before I was shutting off to coast down, back across the Level Crossing. The regulator is then needed one more time to carefully steam back across the facing points into the station yard and then chug neatly up into the platform. What a run, and an experience. Another gauge done! I then replenished "Dougal"s boiler with the injector(s) before driving her onto the turntable. We then ran round again for the 11:30am trip, which Nick drove. Throughout the day, I reckon I drove half of the trips, always under supervision of course; I was afterall a training driver. However, it really was fantastic; a completelty different experience again. I was thrilled for the oppotunity. Earlier on, in the morning light, the freezing fog engulfs Twyford...
After the 3:30pm run, we disposed lovely "Dougal", leaving 0-4-0 Diesel "Cromwell" to do the last run; this just saves time on these dark evenings! Once on shed, we raked the fire, dropped the ash and then cleaned the loco, as well as filling her up. I then drove her back inside the shed, rounding the day off nicely. All that was left to do was put away the tools and shunt the stock away for the night. These tasks were soon complete and the railway was closed for the night. We then enjoyed a quick cuppa' before heading for home. Now to say thank you. I am so grateful to the EVLR owners (Jim & Helen) for letting me have a go on their wonderful loco and their railway; it really was a fantastic experience. You're kindness is always memorable and appreciated. Also thanks to Driver Nick, your guidance was very much appreciated. Also thanks to anyone else who was on that day; I had a great time indeed. Thank you so much. I left the EVLR feeling completely elated; another one done. Thanks for reading folks...Goodnight...

Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas, Everyone...

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of my readers a MERRY CHRISTMAS 2010!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Garden Railway Running at Christmas...

Hello everyone. Well, here we are again, the final pre-Christmas railway post. This year the honour goes to my 00 gauge Garden Railway; the Sutherland Steam Railway. After an unsuccessful attempt to make a proper video last Saturday due to the snow, I tried again today. Therefore, you can see the video below(!)...

As always, if the video looks too small then double-click to see it larger. The first thing I had to do today was of course to clean the track. Now, the route was buried under around 2 inches of snow so the first thing was to brush the track. I then used an old coach and pushed it along the track to clear the flangeways (the inside of the rails where the wheels run). In past years, the railway has operated with snow between the rails but with the flangeways clear. However, this year, due to extra frost, it refused to run! Therefore, drastic action was taken; the track was sprayed with de-icer; especially on the points; and then scrubbed with emry-paper before being rubbed over with a towel. This created shiney rails with no snow between. In this form, though it took longer to prepare, the railway ran without trouble. A select pool of locomotives can be seen in the video, hauling a multitude of trains including four different freight train rakes to say the least! I hope you enjoy the video; it took more time and determination to make than I care to describe! For those who are interested, more SSR video's will air in 2011, starting with a Winter Gala theme around Jan/Feb time. Thanks for reading folks. Good Evening and Merry Christmas...

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Stewarding the Santa's at Shackerstone...

Hi all. Now, from time to time, I will occasionally be dragged away from the Steam Department at Shackerstone to do something a little more "commercial" as it were. Today was one of those days! This week, rather than serving on the Bar as I did a few weeks back, I was stewarding one of the BR Mk1 coaches. This involves welcoming guests, seating them, serving everyone drinks, serving everyone mince pies and the children biscuits, answering questions, continuously tidying the coach, helping with other on-train tasks, saying goodbye to the guests and helping them off the train, cleaning out the coach AND readying it for the next people! (This is not to mention everything else that crops up in between!). Roughly, I had 64 people to look after over 4 departures lasting around 90 minutes each. The day's locomotive was the beautiful B1 No1306 "Mayflower". It was a very frosty day indeed and I arrived at Shackerstone on a crisp driveway at 9am. After the days work, I eventually left Shack at 7pm sharp; what a long day! During the day, on the Midday train, fellow CMES member Peter was in our coach for a trip with his family. Peter kindly sent in the three photographs seen in this post. Thank you! Below, I rush back through the coach to the Steward's end...
Below, myself and my 'Manager' I suppose, also Sam, give out Mince Pies on the Buffet Car (see what I mean, in between everything else!!)...
Thanks very much for reading folks. I was due to travel up to Evesham for a day on the 15" gauge railway on Tuesday but, by the looks of it, we're snowed off! Look out for a final pre-Christmas post coming this week. Best Regards, Sam...

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Where We Have Been...

Hi all. A very short post but one I that believe is of interest. I was just thinking of all the Places of Railway Interest Which We Have Visited So Far:
*Battlefield Line Railway

*Evesham Vale Light Railway
*Great Central Railway
*Great Central Railway (Nottingham)
*Severn Valley Railway

*London Underground
*Northampton and Lamport Railway
*Irchester Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
*Rhyl Miniature Railway
*Great Orme Tramway
*Golden Valley Light Railway
*Northampton Ironstone Railway Trust
*Blackpool Tramway
*Llangollen Railway
*Railworld - Peterborough
*National Railway Museum
*Telford Steam Railway
*Tyseley Loco Works
*Statfold Barn Railway
*Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway

*North Gloucestershire Railway
*Telford Steam Railway
*Midland Railway Centre
*North Bay Railway
*Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway
*Romney, Hythe Dymchurch Railway
*Nene Valley Railway
*Cadeby Light Railway

*Snowdon Mountain Railway
*Llanberis Lake Railway
*Chasewater Railway
*Peak Rail
*Crich Tramway Village
*Coventry Railway Centre
*Churnet Valley Railway
*Foxfield Railway
*Bodmin and Wenford Railway
*West Somerset Railway
*Lynton and Barnstaple Railway
*Leighton Buzzard Railway
*Paignton & Dartmouth Steam Railway
*South Devon Railway
*Bala Lake Railway
*Lakeside Miniature Railway

*Didcot Railway Centre
*Volks Electric Railway
*The Railway Age - Crewe
*LNWR Loco Works

And thats only of gauges 15" upwards! It also doesn't include the railtours we've been on either, such as to York with "Nunney Castle", Lincoln with "Rood Ashton Hall" and even Didcot with "Flying Scotsman"! (Please note - Many of the above are from my 'pre-blog' days! Sorry!)

This list is ever-growing and I hope to continue to add to it as much as possible! One of the next on the agenda is the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, set of the 1970s film "The Railway Children". Maybe we'll get there...one day! Thanks all. Goodnight...

Steam Toy's In The Snow...

Hi all. Today I was off out to the Garden Railway. More snow overnight had created yet more frost and ice as well as extremely cold conditions. However, with the snow now falling in only a small flurry, I decided to try and get the Garden Railway running for a few film shots. The first thing I did was to sweep the track and defrost the outdoor points using a heater and some de-icer. With a bit of a clean, the trains were soon running. 56xx No6600 made a few good first runs with the 20-wagon freight train and even the Black 5 took a turn on her LMS Coaches. By now I was ready to film but the snow began to get heavier and heavier once again. Therefore, after capturing 3 short clips of No5775 on her GWR stock, I gave up...and so did the railway! However, though the 00 gauge had to cease operations, I did not; I went inside and brought out my two Steam Toys: the Wilesco D405 and the Mamod SW1. Both engines were soon in steam and I filmed them in the snow. The steam effects were very visible in the cold weather and therefore have picked up well on the film. The video is included above; and, as usual, double-click to enlarge! I hope you enjoy my little post from today; it was bitterly cold! Unfortunately however, the Steam Lorry is now out of action due to a stripped thread on its front axle. Hopefully I'll get a new one asap! Thanks for reading folks; Good Evening...

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Quiet Afternoon at CMES...

Hi all. After seeing "Tornado" this morning, I fancied a quiet afternoon at CMES with the miniature railway guys. Arriving there at 1pm, my first job was to fit the final six channels to the new steaming bays. These will allow the new tracks to be mounted on top when ready. Myself, Emma and a small team then began fitting extra-secure locks to the windows of the clubhouse. This will of course increase security and reduce the chances of a break-in. After a quiet afternoon, I left CMES at around 4:10pm for home. The darkness was already falling as I turned out of RPCP and off down towards the A46. I will next be up at CMES on New Years Day for the Public Running and on January 8th for the Steam Up. Thanks for reading folks. Good Evening...

A Yuletide Tornado...

Hi everyone. Today folks, in the chilly breeze, we headed out in the Saxo to see the A1 Pacific "Tornado" on the West Coast Main Line. The A1 was hauling the "Cathedrals Express" between Euston and Chester, returning later in the day. The pacific was sheduled to take water at Nuneaton between 10:33am and 10:53am. Therefore, I had two choices; catch her before, or catch her after. In this area, particularly on the Down Slow, there aren't many good locations where you don't risk getting bowled by the odd Penadlino or passing 'Shed' (Class 66). However, one location that isn't too bad is Marston Jabbett. When the light is right, you get a good view of all passing rail traffic from the road. At this location, the Down Slow is the furthest line away. However, I was willing, for once at least, to give it a try. Having parked up, I placed the Tri-Pod and video camera up on the roof of the Saxo, checking the light and the pan. Many passing Pendalino's did however give the worry of getting bowled at any moment! Though the light was a little overpowering in the southerly direction, the glint did look beautiful on the side of the A1. Soon enough, a little early even, the A1 approached on 12 coaches. Past she coasted on the Down Slow, approaching Nuneaton for her water stop. Apart from a few other photters in the shot, the video here doesn't look too bad. I may one day use this location again. Below, "Tornado" has just crossed the road bridge and heads off into the distance...
After seeing the A1 once, I had a think and decided, at the last minute, to chase her and try to catch her again. A little earliness and a 20-minute stop would give me a limited amount of time to takeover and get in front. But, either way, worth a try! The next location past Nuneaton Station is around the Leathermill Lane area. I videoed 60163 here back in May on the same train so I didn't see the point in trying there again. After that, more shots are available on the Up Slow, not the Down. The next good location is Atherstone. So, I tried there! Down at Atherstone, we set up on the platform but the glint of the sun was terrible. But, we tried anyway. "Tornado", fresh from her water stop, roared through throwing black smoke over her shoulder. Below, "Tornado" has just come out of the glint and speeds through Platform 1, bound for Chester...
The shot at Atherstone wasn't bad either. Wether it was worth the petrol or not, I can't decide! From the human eye it was! But at the last moment, a glinty shot was all I could manage. The video below is what we managed to get...

As usual, Blogger seems to distort my videos. Therefore, double-click to see it larger. Anyway, well worth seeing "Tornado" again; what a beautiful machine. Thanks for reading folks - Good Day. I'm off to CMES this afternoon...

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Freezing & Steamy at Shackerstone...

Hi all. Today, again in freezing conditions, I made my way over to Shackerstone. The plan was to do a day in the shed; obviously with as many stoves as possible lit for warmth! On my arrival at 10:15am, the day's engine (1306 "Mayflower") had just left with the first train of the day (the 10am). With a quiet, frosty station in front of me as I walked from the car, I headed off into the cafe for a bacon baguette and a cuppa'. After my lovely breakfast, I signed in and then headed off down to the shed. Inside, it was even colder. Trails of ice lined the walls and you could easily see your breath in the air. Dear me, even writing this makes me feel cold! The running area of the shed was rather quiet, with no engines to see. Pannier No5786 was resting in the storage area, along with "Lamport No3", "Blue Circle", "Sir Gomer" and the Bubblecar. The Pannier will be out next weekend, and "Mayflower" again the weekend after that. 5786 will then see us up to Christmas with a special steaming on Christmas Eve. Today's jobs included the cleaning of 5786's smokebox and firebox. However, though we got the smokebox done to a high standard, as well as the tubeplate and steam pipes, the firebox proved far too hot to bare. The Pannier had been on a warming fire the day before when 1306 had experienced frost problems, but it turned out that she wasn't needed in the end. Having been brought to almost full heat, 5786's firebox was by no means a hospitable place. I opened the door, felt the heat, and shut them again; I wasn't going in there; and if I had I probably wouldn't have come back out! Below, the clean smokebox and tubeplate of 5786...
The rest of the day included a tidy up of the shed, a complete clean out of the pit (done by myself), movement of pallets, the making of a new stove, the lighting of the current stoves, cleaning out "Blue Circle", cleaning 5786, wripping up new rags, breaking up wood, moving loco parts, drinking tea, defrosting the water tower etc. A good day all told. We even had a visit from some of the owners of 5542, who were also custodians of 5786 (no pressure!). They were of course impressed with the condition that their engine was being kept in; cold or not! 5786 had had her injectors wrapped up, as well as her hydrostatic lubricator; no harm in protecting them from the bad frost. Below, myself at the door, stands in the clean shed...
Later on, a quick trainee photo on a still warm 5786. From the left, Danny, myself and Joe. The cold winter light creeps in on the right...
Meanwhile, 1306 was in and out throughout the day. She worked all four 'Santa' departures with distinction and ease. I must admit, its always nice to pop out from the shed to see her leave! Us trainees, Grahem E and the two Mic's had a good time in the shed today, and got alot of work done. It was certainly worth going. Thanks alot to Mr M.Jones for providing all four of the images featured in this post. I left the railway at 5:30pm, through the freezing fog and back to Bedworth..."Come on Saxo"! Thanks everyone; Evening All...

Sunday, 28 November 2010

"Of All The Bars..."

Hi all. Not alot to say today if I'm honest. I had a simple day working the Bar on the Battlefield Line's "Buffet Car". Today was the first day of our Santa Special's and the two return runs were in the capable hands of visiting Pannier Tank No5786. I like working the bar; you can talk to people alot more! However, nothing will beat my beloved steam engines. Evening All...

Sunday, 21 November 2010

LEGO Railway at the Warley National Model Railway Exhibition 2010...

Hi all. This weekend was a long one, and one that we'd been anticipating for over a year! This weekend we exhibited at the 2010 Warley National Model Railway Exhibition, held again in Hall 5 of the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham. We took along our little-seen 9ft x 4ft LEGO Model Railway layout, which was being displayed as Stand D39. With 2010 being the layouts third appearance at Warley, we were more than ready for it. We booked to display at the 2010 Show back in November 2009, slowly planning our layout format as we went through this year. In the past, we have always displayed a 6ft x 4ft layout BUT, for 2010, we increased the overall size by 1/3; making it a much more impressive display. We added many more figures, vehicles, buildings, tracks, trains etc to fill in all the new space; using almost all of our LEGO if truth be told! However, we made it, and the post you saw around 2 weeks ago depicted us testing it. Since then, a few more bits were added, ready for the BIG SHOW(!) but, all too soon, Friday 19th rolled around and we pulled into the NEC at 5:30pm; under a cover of a darkness, engulfed by a thick band of dense fog. We drove into the Hall and found our stand. After a few minor problems we started to set up; taking around 90 minutes to do so, with a little bit of work left to do on Saturday morning to keep us busy. Below, we see the scene on our Stand on Saturday Evening. Its 6pm and the exhibition has just closed; the layout has been running non-stop since 9am and now enjoys a rest and a blanket...
I didn't take any pictures on Saturday as we were so busy. However, when I say busy; I mean busy! I estimate that at least 20 people (if not more) were viewing the layout at all times. At peak times, people were queuing to see our humble model railway, standing three rows back from the crowd barriers just to try and get a look in! I honestly could not believe the popularity that such a basic set up attracted. I was quite moved by the amount of people that came up and talked to me, shook my hand, took pictures, said Thank You; it was very moving! One gentleman even reported that he had spotted this very blog and he was visiting the show from Wisconsin, USA! Thank you for coming to see me, Sir; thanks alot for the chat. Many visitors asked where they could obtain LEGO trains, especially with Christmas coming up. (I hate to think how many Christmas list's we enlarged over the weekend!). Saturday though, as I say, was manic. My voice hurt very much by the end; I did that much talking! It was very, very busy; I estimate around 12,000 people on Saturday alone. In fact, I've been to every Warley show since 2004 and I don't think I've ever seen it this busy; ever (even when I've exhibited!). Anyway, Saturday went without hitch and was a very good day indeed. It was nice to see a few Shackerstone colleagues, as well as Steve Bell from the EVLR; who's engine I drove last weekend! Below, early on Sunday morning, Hall 5 prepares for the crowds...
Our colourful 9ft x 4ft layout gets operations underway, ready for the Advanced Ticket Holders to be admitted at 9:30am...
The layout ran very much without hitch on Sunday; no problems at all. It was a much quieter day compared to the HUGE crowds on Saturday BUT it was still very busy indeed. Now, for those who don't know, Warley is held annually and attracts exhibitors, traders and visitors from all over the world. It is one of, if not the best, Model Railway Show and includes every gauge from 'T' right up to 'Gauge 1' (45mm). As well as exhibitors, there are countless sales stands, demonstrators, societies and stewards. It's a very well organised show and is a joy to visit; let alone exhibit at! Throughout the show; two layouts particularly caught my eye. One, seen below, was Hadley Road; an O Gauge layout owned by the Exhibition Manager (Mr Paul Jones) and on its very last outing this weekend. The layout depicted a GWR station scene with lovely Western engines, all fitted with very realistic DCC sound, busying themselves with either shunting or passenger trains. I enjoyed a good 20 minutes watching the movements up and down the tracks. One particularly interesting feature was the bank, topping out at steeper than 1 in 40! Not bad at all, beautiful detail and a lovely display; shame it's not coming again (mind you, it has done over 50 exhibitions in its lifetime!)...
A quick shot of Hadley Road; shame my camera isn't better suited to the NEC's Hallogen lighting!...
Hadley Road was very popular throughout the show; well done Paul, it's a lovely layout indeed! Now, the next layout that caught my eye was very evocative. This was an O Gauge (I think!) display depicting the famous Barmouth Bridge on the Cambrian Coast line. The layout seemed simple yet very effective and popular, really drawing the crowds over the weekend; I myself had a very good look at it. Below, we see the huge bridge section and the beautiful backdrop...
"Yes", all those bridge supports are made of wood! They look fantastic and have obviously taken many hours to construct. Its a great layout. Speaking to one of the operators, I asked about the use of the loco's on the line. The Cambrian, particularly Barmouth Bridge, was very restricted on loco weight. The Manor Class was just about the biggest engine used on the line, not forgetting the BR Standard's of course. Engine's that were common included tank engines, and the infamous Edwardian Dukedog 4-4-0s. The operator told me that they use the Dukedog, Small Prairie, Pannier, Abadere Freight (an inside cylindered 2-6-0 of which none were preserved) and other light engines; there are some BR engines too I believe. Below, we see the Iron section of the bridge, skirted by water and sand...
Below, a little Pannier takes an early morning run out across the bridge...
The Barmouth layout was very nice indeed; I loved it; well done to all who built it! Now, alot of you will remember that Warley usually has a centrepiece locomotive. In recent years, these have been 2ft Narrow Gauge examples yet, for 2010, Standard Gauge returned in a Yankee form. "Yes", a 'Yankee Tankee' 0-6-0 was this year's choice, visiting from the Bluebell Railway in Sussex. The loco was placed on a small plinth of two rails and stood quietly in the Hall throughout the show...
The USA Tank's, as the class were known, were built by the Vulcan Iron Works in Pennsylvania. 14 locomotives were built, though many more were ordered. They were shipped to Britain in 1943 and stored awaiting the invasion of Mainland Europe. However, some were later shipped to Europe. The ones that remained on home soil found work with the Southern Railway. Their short wheelbases allowed them to work easily around the cramped Southampton Docks rail network. Their huge cylinders also gave them considerable power, handing them the ability to pull freight trains and even full length passenger trains. They were almost the perfect shunter! However, they had to be fitted with Steam Heating, Vac Brakes, extra Lamp Irons, new Drain Cocks and even Slide Cab windows. Finally, they needed new regulators as they originally carried USA-style Pull-Out versions. Once modified, they were ready for use in 1947. However, though they were great, they were not built to last. This meant that their Steel Fireboxes were problemed by fatigue and many of the class needed new fireboxes in the early 1950s. However, even so, four of the fourteen have been preserved. This is No30064. Unfortunately, though preserved, she hasn't been under full cover for a good few years now. Therefore, she is a little tired looking and is in desperate need of an overhaul and cosmetic attention. The bunker in particular has terrible rust spots and corrosion...
As well as this, the paint is faded, the windows cracked, the valve gear caked in dirt and the vac-bags torn and a little leaky-looking. This aside, she looks a fantastic engine; very tall for its short wheelbase. I wouldn't mind a go on one of these; they look beastly! I hope that the Bluebell will maybe take pity one day and give her overhaul; she must be worth it; she looks very powerful. Below, we see the layout in full swing...
It had been a fantastic show but 5pm on Sunday evening soon rolled around and the 2010 Warley National Model Railway Exhibition was over. We had a great show and the popularity we encountered was fabulous. Thank you very much to everyone who made it a great show for us; particularly the organisers. I, of course, must also thank my many helpers; you were great! Thank you all. It was also nice to see CMES and Shackerstone colleagues again today; thanks for visiting. Maybe we'll be back at Warley in 2012? I am currently looking out for shows to do with the LEGO railway; one in particular is a possibility at the Warwickshire Exhibition Centre in March 2011. Thanks for reading folks...I need some rest! Good Evening...

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Post No100...Part II...Footplating At Evesham Vale Light Railway...

Hi all. This is Part B of Post No100 of 2010. After taking in the GWSR, I decided to move on to the 15" Gauge Evesham Vale Light Railway at Evesham Country Park. I arrived there at about 1:20pm to find the services in the capable hands of Exmoor-product "St Egwin"; an 0-4-0STT built in 2003. "Egwin" was built to order for owner Steve Bell. I purchased my ticket and then joined the 1:30pm train. Riding in the coaches, we steamed through the Apple Orchards and around the Baloon Loop to Evesham Vale Station. I was then invited onto the footplate for a ride back to Twyford; the base of the EVLR; with Driver/Owner Steve. What a nice guy! Steve drove us out of the Vale and back up the steep bank towards the terminus. "Egwin" rode very well, mind you, she is a new-build! On arrival back at Twyford I was invited to take a full return trip, again on the engine. I didn't refuse of course! After my full trip, and a good chat with Steve, I left the engine and did some linesiding with my still-image and video cameras. Below, "St Egwin" gives a whistle after the 'Right Away' from the Vale...
After my linesiding outing, in which I got a few shots, I returned to Twyford Station where, yet again, I was invited onto the engine! Great! In the end, I stayed on the engine for the rest of the day, chatting away with Driver Steve. I even got a few drives around the yard at Twyford(!); "St Egwin" is a very responsive machine. You could drive her like you drive a standard gauge engine; proffesionally. Holding the regulator, you can feel the power as "Egwin" moves effortlessly along. The video below shows a mixture of lineside and footplate footage; the effect is 'different' to say the least! As Blogger distorts my videos a bit, double-click to view larger!...
Earlier in the day, Steve stands on his engine as she is turned at Twyford...
Down the line, taken from the Fireman's side, the views across the Vale of Evesham stretch out in front of "St Egwin"...
Now at Evesham Vale, we look down on the boiler of "Egwin" from above. The boiler isn't very long but is quite a large diameter, carrying lots of water and steam space. On top of the dome we can see the whistle and safety valves...
Below, we see the Firebox open and the two shiney gauge glasses...
Steve fires "Egwin"...
In all, I had a very good afternoon on the footplate at the EVLR; especially the bit of driving I did! Thank you very much to EVLR owners Jim & Helen as well as "Egwin"s owner Steve Bell. Thank you all very much. I have been invited back to the EVLR to do a Cleaning Turn later in the year; that'll be nice, to put something back. I hope you've enjoyed the two-part Post No100 of 2010. I hope this keeps the blog going for a while! Next weekend? We're exhibiting the LEGO model railway at the 2010 Warley National Model Railway Exhibition. Why not come and see us there on Stand D39! Evening All...

Post No100...The Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Steam Railway...

Hi all. "Yes"!, post No100 of 2010 is here already! In light of this, I'm glad I've got a 'good post' for you today! In fact, its two posts rolled into one; Part A & Part B, this being the first. So, here we go; Today, with nothing to do but sit at home, I decided to take the car out for a run into the Cotswolds, down to the quaint Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway; around 50 miles to the South. Chugging down the A46 and then onto the A44, the run to Toddington; the base of the GWSR, took around 70 minutes; not too bad. Driving into Toddington, I passed the striking Stanton Viaduct on the left; what a sight. This viaduct is part of the GWSR's extension to Broadway and is even being used occasionally on passenger trains! Unfortunately, just my luck, this wasn't so today! Anyhow, arriving at Toddington, I spotted No7903 "Foremarke Hall", one of Hawksworth's Modified's, standing on the front of the train steam-heating. After parking up, I went onto the platform to inspect. I have visited the GWSR about 4 times now in all, the most recent visit being all the way back in 2004; that was another reason to come here today! The line runs between Toddington and Cheltenham Racecourse via Winchcombe and Gotherington; a distance of about 10 miles. However, recently, a landslip has befallen the line, cutting off 2 miles of track and the terminus station at Cheltenham. Therefore, all trains now run top & tailed as far as Gotherington, where there is no run-round facility. Well, there is, but thats part of the affected section! Anyhow, back to me, I bought my ticket and boarded the train behind No7903. I had hoped that the Turkish 8F, based at Toddington, would be out today and, just then, there was a woosh of steam from the sheds...!
The above shot is captured in 'Zoom' mode from the train. It shows the 8F being Blown-Down...look at all the steam! Though she wasn't on the services, the 'Turkish 8' was on Dining Train Duty; giving her a reason to be in steam. (At least I get to see her; but more on her later). The train pulled out of Toddington on time at 10:30am, and ran via Winchcombe to Gotherington, with a Class 37 ticking over on the rear. The run is very scenic, taking in views across the Cotswolds and even a lovely tunnel on the Gotherington-side of Winchcombe. At Gotherington, there is a small platform with a waiting room. The old station, on the other side of the train, is now a private residence, seen below...
As it was Rememberance Sunday, we paused at Gotherington for a 2-minute silence. (Even 7903 managed to stay almost silent!). After the Silence we returned to Toddington, hauled by the Class 37. I, having no interest in diesels really, decided to sit this run out in the Buffet Car, enjoying a hot bacon buttie; lovely! Back at Toddington, I left the train and ran round back into the Car Park to inspect the 'Turkish 8F'; she is beautiful...
No8274 was built in 1940 as WD 348. She was built for use on the Western Front but when France fell, the WD found itself with too many 8F's! All of the loco's had been ordered but not shipped out. Therefore, a solution was found. No8274, after working for a few months on British soil for the LMS, was shipped, with 19 sister engines, to Turkey and became State Railway's No45160. There, she worked until the 1980s. She was repatriated in 1989 and, after a stay at Swanage, moved to Toddington. She returned to steam again in May 2010. She really is a beautiful machine. The 8F's were popular out in Turkey I believe, hence their working until the 1980's as opposed to Britain's 1968. One difference I noticed in 8274 was that she is Right-Hand drive; British 8's were Left-Hand Drive. Lovely machine though; glad I've seen her in steam. Soon, 7903 dissapeared on the next service and, once she had cleared Winchcombe, 8274 left as well. The 8F had gone to fetch her Dining Coaches. Below, from the footbridge, we see the view over Platform 1 & 2 at Toddington...
After a look in the Gift Shop and the purchasing of yet another Mug(!), I awaited the next arrival of 7903, hauled again by the Class 37. Steam-Heating was in evidence on this very chilly day. Below, we see a sight that was regular on BR's Winter Days; steaming coaches!...
On the end of the train stood No7903 and, from Platform 2, I finally managed to get a sort of 'clean' picture of her. Why though, was she stood on the end of the train? She could have easily been put on the other end and run chimney first back to Toddy, with the 37 on the other end. Oh well, who knows! Anyway, here she is...
Another nice machine. She was built in 1949 and is a Hawksworth Modified Hall. She has a 6ft wheel diameter, a 225psi boiler, a 27.07ft grate area and a Hawksworth-style flat-sided tender. After withdrawal from service, "Foremarke Hall" went to Barry, leaving there again in 1981. She was finally returned to steam in 2003 and is permanantly resident at GWSR. As with many Western's, 7903 carries Stephenson's valve gear. As you can see, it's basic on the outside...
Under the boiler, inside the frames, we can see the Drivers-Side eccentrics and the Expansion Link on the left...
Over in the Car Park, the 7ft (Broad) gauge NRM Replica of GWR 4-2-2 "Iron Duke" was standing out in the cold. The engine was brought to Toddington in the Spring for the 'GWR 175' Gala and has yet to go back! I think she's going back to Didcot but they're having trouble getting her into the site I believe. Everything into Didcot has to go in by rail as the site is landlocked by Network Rail tracks. Iron Duke cannot of course go in on her own as she's far too wide. Therefore, she's going to be partially dismantled and then taken in on wagons I believe. "Iron Duke" was built in 1985, using the parts from two Hunslet Austerity's. The Iron Duke's of the GWR were built for express passenger work on the Broad Gauge rails but, allas, none survive today...
Over the way, I spotted the site of the 2ft gauge North Gloucestershire Railway. I have ridden on this line before but unfortunately it wasn't running today; mind you, it was freezing! The line runs from the Car Park at Toddington, down through their base at California Crossing and then on to Didbrook Loop before returning to Toddington. Trains are usually steam hauled. Below, the small narrow gauge station at Toddington...
The sign for the NGR...
Soon, I decided to head off. I'd had my ride on the train and seen 7903 and the 'Turkish 8' to boot. I'll definately come back again when the line to Cheltenham reopens, and especially when the line to Broadway opens for the first time; whenever that may be! The GWSR is very quaint and I like it, there is something about it. I'd advise a visit, its not a bad day out! I did of course take some video footage, showing some operations around Toddington and of course some on-train footage down the line...(double click the video to see it larger; Blogger distorts it a bit!)

After filming the last shot of the above video; the '8' on the Elegant Excursions Diner; I jumped back into the Saxo and headed off back up the A44. I must admit, the Elegant Excurions train looked beautiful; very posh. Maybe one to consider for the future? Looks like a great meal and wonderful surroundings. Now folks, it's 1pm and I'm off back to the 15" gauge Evesham Vale Light Railway; thats Part B! Look out for it soon! Thanks for reading folks, I hope you've enjoyed this one. Good Evening...