Saturday, 30 January 2010

Great Central Railway Winter Steam Gala 2010:- Post Two:- THE GALA...

Hi all! Today, after last nights caper's at the Shed Open Evening, I arrived at Rothley Station on the GCR ready to catch the first train, hauled by Stanier Mogul No42968. Now, as promised, here is the gala decription. Named "Lostock and A Few Smoking Barrels", arguably quite a cheeky title(!), the gala offered 8 locomotives, all of Midland orientation, as a final farewell to Lostock Shed. Lostock, located on the outskirts of Preston, was one of the final three steam sheds still open in 1968, the year BR officially ended main line steam. This made the shed a mecca for the steam enthusiast. It was a midland shed and provided many hours of joy to visitors in what was the end of an era...August 1968. As with last years event, I will decribe each of the locomotives in turn. First, above, visiting LMS Jubilee No5690 "Leander", owned by the Beet family. Privately own, this LMS Maroon liveried beast is one of four 5XP's in preservation, though currently the only one steamable. She looks very much at home in LMS Maroon and roared up and down the line faultlessly throughout the gala, hauling differing loads. She was built at Crewe in 1936 and was withdrawn, before being sent to Barry, in 1964. Next, Bert Hitchen's well-travelled Black 5 No45231 "The Sherwood Forester". Built in 1936 she ended her BR days at Carnorth. First preservation-based at the GCR, she hauled the re-opening train to Quorn in 1973. Following this, she operated there for many years before being sold on. She now holds a mainline certificate and operates trains on the "big railway" quite regularly...
Next, I particularly wanted to see LMS 3F (Jinty) No47406. The little 0-6-0 was built at the Vulcan Foundary in Newton-de-Willows for £3, 330(!), and later spent 32 years at Carnforth. Finally, in December 1967, she was withdrawn from Liverpool (Edge Hill). She was a relatively early arrival at Barry but still, until now, remained one of only two Jinty's that had not steamed in preservation! Ten were preserved in total and now, thanks to the GCR, only one example if left to steam. 47406 arrived at the GCR in 1989 and is owned by Roger Hibbert, who also owns LMS 8F No48305. Over the years, despite other commitments, the 3F has been restored and finally, in 2010, the locomotive has made her first moves! Alot of people came out for this one! The Jinty was relegated to ECS, Freight or 4-coach "Local Train" duties during the gala but, according to her driver, performed faultlessly on the day that I was there. Below, she shows her speed as she departs Quorn for Rothley with the "Local"...
Another engine that I really wanted to see was No44767 "George Stephenson", another Black 5. However, this visitor is no ordinary Black 5. She is the unique example that carries "Stephenson's Link" valve gear on her outside rodding! This makes for a complex display of engineering and, to me, provides a slightly different sound from the locomotive, almost like you get 'half the beats' for 'twice the speed'. The engine was outshopped on December 31st 1947, the day before the LMS was nationalised into British Railways. George Ivatt was attempting to improve Stanier's fabulous Black 5 design and thats why she carries this 'experimental' valve gear! She has steamed before in preservation and, her recently completed overhaul, undertaken in Morpeth, has just started another 10-year boiler ticket for her. The visitor is at the GCR for a repaint and appeared at the gala in a weathered livery, showing clearly what Black 5's must have looked like at the time of Lostock's closure! 44767 is seen rolling into Rothley on the back of 5690's train...
Also out and about was the 8F No48305, also owned by Roger Hibbert and built in 1943. Built for the war effort, 48305 was withdrawn in January 1968 (almost made it to the end!). Rescued from Barry in 1985, her first restoration was completed 10 years later. Since then she has had another overhaul, allowing her to continue running today. For the gala, 48305 carried the number 48476...the last 8F to work at Lostock Shed...quite fitting I think! Meanwhile, the Lord Protector himself, No70013 "Oliver Cromwell", was also spotted regularly during the gala, providing a huge display of BR's engineering! The famous 'Brit' also took part on one of the days "Travelling Post Office" demonstration runs, performing a high speed sprint through Quorn with Driver Tom Tighe on the regulator. 'Mickey Mouse' Standard 2 No78019 was also steamed and worked a few diagrams up and down the line. A nice size for any job, the Standard 2 performs regularly on the GCR and is often called upon to fill in for other engines as well. 78019 was built in 1954 and, following movement into preservation, the Standard 2 resteamed in 2004. Below, the Mickey arrives at Rothley with a passenger turn...
Finally, making the 8th locomotive, there was SVR-based Stanier Mogul No42968. The final example of Stanier's shining class, the 2-6-0 was withdrawn in December 1966. Owned by the Stanier Mogul Fund, 42968 has visited the GCR for a past Winter Steam Gala and was, again, a welcome addition to this one! Her most recent overhaul was completed in 2003 and she continues to operate regularly on the SVR. Following the gala, she will return home to Bridgnorth to resume her regular duties. Well, there you go! All 8 engines described! It really was a huge line up of power & engineering! Back to me now and, after catching the first train from Rothley behind 42968, she made her way to Leicester North, the end of the line. After running round, 42968 clanked back to Rothley where the new Jinty was glimpsed on her first "Local" run of the day. I wasn't getting off here though, I made my way down to Quorn, returning to Rothley later on. At around 2pm, I left Rothley for Loughborough where I spent 45 minutes or so mooching about the station site. I then duly headed back to Quorn in time to see the slightly-belated 4:33pm "TPO Demo" before catching the last train of the day back to Rothley behind 44767.
One problem with the day however was that some of the diagrams did not go according to plan. A problem in the morning had resulting in some trains late and some locomotives even swapping duties. We all waited for 44767 on windcutters and what turned up was 5690 with passenger coaches but with 44767 tailing on the back! Very strange! Two TPO demo's occured in the day and I was in a prime location for both. However, though I filmed the 2nd one with 70013 "Oliver Cromwell", I didn't manage to film the first with 5690 "Leander". The problem was, just as 5690 stormed towards us, my new JVC camcorder said, "I Cannot Work In These Temperatures, Goodbye" and shut itself off!! Technology is too knowledgable today I fear!! I must admit it was freezing but thats no excuse surely!! Anyway, it was a great day with, though freezing, sunshine throughout! I got a lot of film during the day of many different goings on in many different locations and, have compiled them all together into three seperate films, each no longer than 9 minutes. All three parts are included below, I hope you all will enjoy them! Part One:-
Part Two:-Around Rothley:-
Part Three:-Loughborough, Quorn & Rothley:-
Well, I make no apologies for the length of this post(!) and hope that you have all enjoyed reading it. I think thats enough to keep me going for a while now! (I spent so longing getting the feeling back into my feet after getting home!). Anyway, I must thank all of the loco owners, loco crews and of course the GCR Staff for putting on a fantastic gala and a fantastic line-up indeed! I'll certainly, as usual, be going again next year! Thanks for reading everyone, please comment if you wish! Evening All...!

Friday, 29 January 2010

Great Central Railway Winter Steam Gala 2010:- Post One:- Friday Evening...

Hi all! Tonight, to begin the festivities of the Great Central Railway's Winter Steam Gala 2010, we made our way over to Loughborough for the Friday evening open night at the engine sheds. Though three locomotives had been running in the day-time, the sheds were open from 5pm-8pm so that visitors could see the rest of the engines being prepared for the following two days, when a total of 8 would be in action! After making my way down the desolate platforms I crossed the tracks to access the pathway to the sheds. (In the next post, I will describe the gala in full). The first engine spotted was No42968, the unqiue Stanier Mogul that was visiting from the SVR at Kidderminster. She was backing down the sheds for servicing and was due to head a Dining Train at 7:30pm, double-heading with visiting Jubilee class '5XP' "Leander". Nearer the sheds, I was a little surprised to find that three of the bigger engines had been shunted down a dark siding, opposite the platforms where photography and even video was almost impossible...though we all had a go! In the shed yard, I managed to capture a nice shot of 8F No48305 (renumbered for the gala), simmering outside the loco works. (This shot is shown above). Below, the desolate Loughborough platforms can be seen, echoing a 1960's atmosphere...
After a look round inside the sheds, spotting Black 5 No45305, still without a boiler and sitting on jacks(!), as well as No30777 "Sir Lamiel", ROD No63601 and N2 No1744, I found the prime location of the evening, sporting 42968. The Mogul stood on No2 Road and was looking very tidy, illuminated by the somewhat strong yard lights near Empress Road Bridge. She sported a single lamp on the centre-bracket at either end..."Light Engine"...and was being readied to "move off" again. The best shot of her that I captured is spotted below...
I must admit, even with the floodlights, you could not prevent shots from blurring without using a tri-pod, as I have in all my images. Handheld shots proved useless in this light. Though some engines were out of sight, one must keep in mind that this is not a "staged photography session", it is simply a normal evening of engines being prepared, except that public are allowed to attend! I must admit, for free, though it was blisteringly cold, it was very much worth going and, with all engines in BR Black, it really echoed signs of the early 1960's! I also took my video camera along to capture the goings-on. The resulting video is spotted below...
As you will see in the video, it was a very atmospheric scene! Tomorrow I am off to the gala itself, after staying over in Rothley, right next to the GCR station! After seeing 42968 & 5690 together in the platform ready to depart, I myself did so to! The cold got the better of me by 7:15pm...it was freezing! Thanks for Reading folks. Like what you see? Why not comment?! I love to hear from readers! Evening All...

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Back at Shack for 2010...And "Sir Gomer"s Coming Back!...

Hi all! Today, for the first time in 2010 (due to the recent bad weather and freezing conditions!), I paid a visit to my standard gauge concern at Shackerstone for a full day of work. Arriving at 9:15am, I was first on site and, after signing in, made my way to the shed where I met with the recent new resident, "Morris", the Shed Cat! He was waiting patiently for his food and, after opening the entire shed up & turning on all lights, I fed "Morris" before having a look around. Everything stood exactly where it had done the last time I was down. One fact I knew of was that under-overhaul "Sir Gomer" had still not received her newly refurbished boiler from Llangollen in Wales. (Her boiler should have already been returned & re-fitted but its steam test in Wales was put back by a few weeks due to the local water supplies freezing solid. Therefore, it still isn't back!). Though not complete, the Peckett looks well: The frames are internally painted, the valve timings have been reset, the rods have been burnished, the wheels have been de-greased, the smaller fittings have been refurbished and the axleboxes have been kept well-oiled. Therefore, on return of the boiler, the Peckett can be "piped up" and should be steaming outside the works within 2 months, hopefully(!!) in time for Easter...No promises are made though as steam engines are unpredictable things!...
The Peckett is, as many know, our flagship steam engine and, though a 'small' ex-NCB locomotive, "Sir Gomer" is capable of moving loads of over 900-tons on level ground. The engine therefore is "only playing" when hauling the standard 5-6 coach train, though this may come as a surprise to many! Aside from "Sir Gomer", minor work on B1 No1306 "Mayflower" was underway, as was continual restoration on the Riding Van which still stands at the back of the works. Myself and the many of the lads were outside for most of the day. We estimate that we scrapped over 1 ton of metal and we also burnt a vast amount of rubbish and tidied the South Yard to no end. Meanwhile, Class 02 shunter "Diane" was receiving the first half of its brand-new repaint by two of our other colleagues. The small shunter, used predominantly for shunting the steam engines, is currently enjoying cosmetic restoration after many years wearing a delapidated livery. Elsewhere, I spent hours digging out a large section of the South Yard embankment and this created a better, safer pathway on the yard-edge, leading around to the shed access on the west-facing side. Finally, discussions were under way regarding "forgotten" Bagnall "Lamport No3"...
The compact yet very powerful Bagnall, which requires a hefty-overhaul to get her back into steamable condition, is planned to leave her "resting place" and venture into the great outdoors after a good few years hidden away. The Bagnall will be cleaned-up and displayed at our Whitsun Weekend "Bank Holiday Steam Up" at the end of May, hopefully taking up a position in the North End yard, well in the public gaze. I must admit though, a good 1/2 inch of dust needs cleaning off the top of the cab & Saddle Tank before it can be properly spruced up! At around 5:30pm, most of us had packed up and myself, Carl, Craig, Chris and Pockets headed off to "sign off" and depart, leaving the "Riding Van" group still working away on their project. I'll hopefully be at Shackerstone in two weeks time on Feburary 7th where, fingers crossed, "Gomer"s boiler may be back! Next weekend I'm off to the Great Central Railway's annual "Winter Steam Gala", offering 8 Midland locomotive's on many different train movements! (It'll be great!...Don't Miss The Post On It!). Thanks For Reading, Evening All...

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Nothing Big Just Trains The Garden...!

Hi all! Once again, due to transport problems which were a result of the recent "BIG FREEZE", I wasn't going anywhere this weekend! Therefore, yesterday and today, I decided to go out the back and take a few trains on a couple of runs around the garden. Though we did run trains in the snow, now that it has thawed I must admit it is much easier to run trains! For example, all of the outdoor points were frozen solid in the snow and could not be moved for love nor' money. Now they've thawed they work perfectly again...thank goodness! Today, unlike yesterday when we just took a few single runs around, I decided to use the railway to its full capacity (1 train in operation with 5 in sidings but available to move at any time). This utilises method of operation see's the outdoor loop, the outdoor spur and all of the inside sidings as well as the main running line for storage/opearation of trains. Its does however mean that 6 trains can be on the tracks with their loads made up at any one time. This means no pulling trains off the track to change coaches/wagons and it is also saves having to shift loco's out of the way (I like it...all I have to do is work the transformer, drink tea and sit near the heater!). The above image shows my Bullied light Pacific No34051 "Winston Churchill" (with 4 coach LNER Train, stored in the outdoor spur) as the visiting Merchant Navy Pacific "United States Lines" passes by with a freight to the terminus.
Typically, as alot of time is spent in the shed on these days (watching trains go round and operating the "Fiddle Yard"), no buildings are laid out so the track is just that...track! Above, Chilvers Passing Loop can be seen. When the buildings are out this area looks particularly busy with houses, Chilvers station, cars, signalling and is also illuminated by night(!) but today it looked a little bare. Two trains are seen crossing over here with 6600 ready to leave for a circuit to the shed and back. The line on the left is the one from Sutherland and, if trains continue then they arrived back in the shed via the bridge on the end of the straight. The other way, around 3/4 of a lap has to be done before trains arrive back into the shed. Below, the other end of the loop is seen. 45156 "Ayrshire Yeomanry", my much-loved Hornby Black 5, stands at the head of her 4-coach train, consisting of our 3-coach illuminated Pullman rake as well as our Autocoach (W197). To the left of the Black 5 is 6600's train on the "Up" line, consisting of our 4-coach LMS Composite rake and one of our BR Mk1's. The Black 5 would now layover here for around 25 minutes whilst other trains passed by on the "up line", before swapping over with "Winston Churchill"+the LNER rake later on...
By 4pm, the mixture of early sunset and dark, wintry clouds made it quite dark in the garden and so my recent arrival, the BR (M) Tail-Lamp, was put out to provide some illumination, as was our Spot-Light which also provides a bright beam. A few more trains operated up and down the line before operations ceased at around 4:50pm. With the main priority being locomotives, they were put away first, following by the rolling stock. The lights were then put away before the two "Trap-Doors" (through which trains gain access to the garden) were shut and locked. These have been used since the garden line began in 2005 and are hinged on the outside & locked on the inside. A metal plate then slides down behind the locks as an extra prevention to damp, frost or evening somebody breaking in! With everything put away, turned off or locked I called it a day and headed for home and a hot cup of tea! Thanks for reading everybody, info on some "REAL" Steam coming soon! Any comments welcome! Evening All...

Sunday, 10 January 2010

A Frosty Running Session On My Garden Railway...

Hi all. Today, even though it was once again blisteringly cold, I decided to attempt to give my garden railway a good running session. After snapping the ice on the locks to get into the shed(!), I plugged the heater straight in! (Its too chilly in there without it but, with it on, it makes the shed lovely and warm). Once this was done, I moved out into the garden where I used a wire-brush (to crack the ice) and a rag (to clear the broken ice) to clean the track. I cleared some of the sidings but not all of them. Afterall, the point levers were frozen solid so access to them was somewhat difficult! With the line clear, trains could begin to run. The test runs were taken by the Class 08 diesel (known as the 'shed shunter'), before the steamers came out. A good 6 or 7 loco's and a few of my coaching stock rakes were seen during the afternoon, as well as many assorted wagons. From the cosy shed, with a cuppa' in hand, I can easily operate trains on the whole line. I simply set the 'fiddle yard' to the desired road (& train) before letting the said train depart. Once outside the train is effectively left to its own devices and, after its circuit, it returns back into the other portal and the opposite end of the shed. From the shed window, around 65% of the line can be clearly seen so any problems are noticed relatively quickly.

I ran trains today from about 12:30pm until around 5pm and in my opinion it was the first 'good session' of the year. After running, the portal-doors were quickly locked up and so was the shed. All stock was then put away. Thanks for reading, Evening All!...

Saturday, 9 January 2010

New Tail-Lamp...

Hi all! Just a short one this time! Today I collected an item which I had called-up about in the local newspaper. The article read "Railway Tail Lamp, Red Lens, £10 ono". This soon caught my interest and I quickly contacted the owner. I was told that the lamp was a standard BR Midland Tail-Lamp, rescued from a little station called Howden in East Yorkshire, around 1963. Howden Station in fact still exists today but the main buildings are no longer used as part of the railway operations. On collecting the lamp from the local village of Barwell for £10, we returned home. The lamp has been converted to "main's operation" and, therefore, instead of the normal paraffin burner, inside is a normal 60W electric lightbulb. The lens is in very nice condition and the bulb can therefore provide a powerful, lengthy beam. I now have two BR Midland tail-lamps though, I expected that they would be the same, and they aren't! The newly-acquired one is a different and somewhat unusual shape. In fact, it looks a little like a headlamp with a tail-lamp lens & handle! The lamp in my opinion was a bargain and it now has a new home at our garden railway site. In the near future, it is planned to receive a new coat of pure-white paint and two new spectacle glasses. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Snow Is Falling, All Around Me...


Hi all and here is my 2nd post of 2010! Today, as nearly all of us in the UK saw, it was snowing! Where we were in fact, it was snowing very heavily from about 10:30am. Therefore, it was a MUST to go out and try and run some trains in the garden! After clearing the main line using a diesel shunter + a plough, I began to realise just how fast the snow was falling. (The track was being re-covered more and more every second!). Anyway, I managed to get it clear and a single train operation began. I must admit, I found it much more enjoyable sitting in the warm house enjoying a hot cuppa' whilst looking out the window at the train going round the garden! As the snow continued to fall, I decided to try and film some of the operations with my new JVC Camcorder. Therefore, the resulting video, made up of a small selection of clips, can be viewed above. Later, I attempted something a little different...A 'Train Ride' video! This video, using the age-old method of connecting the camera to a railway wagon, can be seen below...
As it was so cold, no buildings were laid out and no extra locomotive's/rolling stock can be seen in the garden (apart from the odd few wagons buried in the solid snow-drifts...look out for those by the way!). The video takes us on a full circuit, at a steady pace, of the whole railway. However, apart from the main line, every other part of the railway is buried with snow so is 'blocked from view' somewhat! I hope you all enjoy both of the video's. The only thing I would say is that its just a shame it didn't snow like this on Christmas Day! Following the running, the locomotive used, Bachmann Small Prairie 2-6-2 No4560, was cleaned and put away safely. Surprisingly, the snow & frost didn't seem to obscure the running at all! Thanks for reading folks. Evening All...

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Happy New Year & RPMR Steam Up (Post No1 of 2010!)...

Hi again all! May I start off 2010 by welcoming you all back to "Sammy's World" and wishing you all a very happy & healthy year! Today I was off up to Coventry Model Engineering Society for their first member's 'Steam Up' day of the year. On arrival I was greeted by fellow members Eric & Peter before the three of us set about setting up the catering facilities for the day. Once the marquee, tables and cooking instruments were set up, myself and Peter turned our attention to starting the Generator, with varying degrees of success I might add! With the petrol, circuit breakers & choke switched on, I began pulling the 'Start Rope'. However, after a good few pulls nothing happened. We checked the generator over again before a 2nd attempt commenced. Then, out of nowhere, my efforts on the rope were rewarded by a slighty spluttery start-up. However, it was to be the 'same old story' as, just as I let out a sigh of relief, the generator cut out!! Not wanting to give up just yet, we had a few more tries and, at last, the generator revved-up and held its own. "Thank Goodness!". This then provided electricity to the cooking equipment so, arguably, starting the generator was the most important job of the day! With the job done, Peter set 'railing' his locomotive: 0-4-0 Compass House electric shunter, "Benella". In the meantime I, very much out of character I might add(!), set about preparing the club's Class 37 electric! (Pictured above).
With myself (on the 37) and Peter (with "Benella") now flying around the track, the third loco of the day duly arrived in the form of Mr Farr's 0-6-0 'Butch' Side Tank. The brass-liveried steamer was prepared on the 'run up rail' before taking a run. Meanwhile, back with the 37, I had had about three laps and had just about had enough of the cold weather and the noticeable lack of heat coming from the loco! (Shame its not a steam engine!). Therefore, I decided to run the locomotive back onto the siding before switching her back 'off'. I do very much see the usefulness of these electrics. They are very powerful, reliable, quiet and cost effective yet, I generally find them much more pleasant to drive on a warm day! No offence to electric loco owners! We all then indulged in the day's refreshments which, in this case, took the form of 'bacon butties' and hot tomato soup! (Great stuff for a cold day like today!). Later, with the 'Butch' chugging happily around the track, Peter very kindly offered me a drive of his electric, "Benella". I thankfully accepted and had, as always, an enjoyable drive on this comfortable locomotive. Thank you Peter! Finally, as the day drew towards its end, a second steamer arrived in the form of Mr Morris' beautiful 3.5" gauge model of one of the LNWR's 'Jumbo' Class locomotive's, "Lady Joan". These 2-4-0 machines, represented in preservation by "Hardwicke", took part in the famous 'Races to the North'. "Lady Joan" is pictured on an earlier date below...
The little "Lady Joan" was at the track for a yearly 'steam test' and, after passing with flying colours, made her way onto the 2000ft-long track for a run. The little 2-4-0, in the careful hands of her owner, soon set off around the challenging track and was later spotted chugging along happily with no problems. Though two steamers had turned up this is, unfortunately, a relatively small amount for the average 'steam up'. (We normally have at least 4 or 5). However, the club had been running for the public the day before and it was bitterly cold. Lets hope we see more engines next time! After everything had been put away we retired to the club hut for a cup of tea and a chat in the cosy, heated(!) surroundings. Finally, at about 4:30pm, I left for home with fellow CMES driver, Emma, giving me a lift. Thanks for that Emma, really appreciate it! All in all it had been a good day and it was nice to simply stand and chat with fellow drivers and the loco owners too. Well, there we go, this has been the first post of 2010 and, I assure you, I will try my best to add as many posts as possible with as much quality as possible again this year! Thank you all for reading. Best Wishes, Sam.