Saturday, 27 February 2010

Train to Nuneaton & A Washout for "Mayflower" at Shackerstone...

Hi all! Today I was off to Shackerstone again but first, I had to catch the simple, hourly train service from my hometown of Bedworth, to Nuneaton, where my friend Danny was waiting to collect me for the rest of the journey. Catching the 9:56am train, running on time I might add, I rode the comfortable yet slightly noisy (loud diesel engines!) Class 153 Unit to Nuneaton, passing various back gardens, factories and woodland areas on route. At Nuneaton, I left the Class 153 in Platform 1 and continued out into the Car Park where I found Danny in his car. After saying "Hello", we set off for Shackerstone, arriving there at about 10:30am. Parking up, we discovered that the whole 'Mayflower Team' (the group of people of help look after the privately owned B1) were on site! For a while we wondered why but, spotting a large Water Pump, many lengths of hose and the Class 02 Diesel ticking over, it became obvious..."Mayflower" was having a boiler washout! This simple practise, carried out to rid the boiler of as much damaging scale as possible, is done on "Mayflower" every 20 steamings or so. The day's P-Way Train, bound for Shenton, departed momentarily, propelled by the BR Blue Class 04. Once she was out of sight, the diminutive 02 Shunter moved into the shed and dragged out the immaculate Thompson 4-6-0...
Straddling the points on the running line through Platform 1 for the rest of the day, "Mayflower" was protected by a "Stop Board" at either end, warning any potential oncoming trains. Throughout the day, 1306 was internally washed with high pressure water over & over again, offering the best possible cleaning. Huge puddles of murky (due to the presence of Water Treatment) water stood beneath the massive engine and many 'lumps' of scale were spotted floating within. The loco's owner did hand me a piece of scale later in the day and, basically, its just like what you get on the inside of your kettle at home! Problem is, if unmoved, this scale can ruin the inside of your boiler. Imagine a boiler tube, the heat of the water proves no problem. However, when the tube is enveloped in scale, the scale takes in the heat. Meanwhile, the tube underneath is not keep moist. As the heat goes through the scale, it can weaken the tube, almost corroding it. The Washout process washes out as much of this potentially hazardous scale as possible, hopefully preserving the life of the entire boiler. The added use of Water Treatment also helps to keep the inside of the boiler clear, as well as the interior of the injector valves & clacks. "Mayflower" is spotted with a hose poking into the open smokebox...
Later on, with the washout done, "Diane" was started up again (by myself) and, after building 'Air', Adrian attempted to use the little 0-4-0 to push the B1 back up the steep hill into the shed. However, due to the spitting rain and greasy rails, the first attempt was unsuccessful as "Diane" slipped to an embarrassing stand. Myself, Adrian & Danny then sprinkled as much Kiln-Dried-Sand as possible onto the rails of the climb before the little diesel backed off down the bottom again for another try. This time, with a little slipping and much engine noise, "Diane" conquered the climb and the beautiful B1 was then 'back in her box' until Easter! "Mayflower" is planned to remain at Shackerstone for 2010 and steaming dates will be announced at http://www.battlefield-line-railway.co.uk/ when they become available. The loco is however planned, hopefully, to be in steam at Easter (all being well)...again, see the railways website for definate details. Elsewhere, myself and Danny had a bonfire burning too, getting rid of even more rubbish and, in the morning, I also cleared the mass of Ash from the inside Inspection Pit (over which 1306 normally stands)...thats hard work!! For your interest, I have included this video of "Mayflower" in action last May...Video courtesy of my friend Danny...

After another day done, we left Shackerstone at 5:20pm and, after a quick Pint of Coke in the nearby Rising Sun Pub, we headed for home. (Thanks for the lift back again Danny!). I'll next be at Shackerstone on Sunday March 21st which, coincidentally will be the first Sunday of the new 2010 Operating Season (Trains will be back!). Next Saturday, its off to Nuneaton Station where I'm hoping to film Princess Royal Class No6201 "Princess Elizabeth" as she speeds through on her railtour from Crewe-London and back (operated by Vintage Trains Ltd). Look out for a post on that next weekend! Thanks for Reading Folks. As usual, Evening All...

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Shackerstone Work Day (Half Term Post 5)...

Hi all! Today, the 5th-railway related day out in a row (phew!), I was back at Shackerstone, my Standard Gauge Concern. Arriving at 10am with thick snow on the ground, I was first to the Loco Works where I found our Shed Cat, "Maurice", pacing hungrily for his food! After feeding the hungry animal, I awaited my collegue Danny, who duly arrived. We cleared alot of snow from outside the shed doors before making our way up to the Tea Room for a quick cuppa'. Our collegues Chris & Dave soon arrived and we had a quick chat with them. Not long after, we decided that, whilst we were waiting for the others, it would be a good idea to start a fire and burn some more rubbish. We headed off down into the frosty yard behind the shed and found the 'Burning Bin' waiting patiently. I found an old rag before covering it in engine oil and lighting it in the bin. As the rag burnt, we piled some small planks of wood on top as well as some plastic bits & bobs. The fire soon took hold and, when Carl, Pockets, Chris and Craig arrived, we'd already burnt alot of material. However, after Lunch, we continued burning stuff, tidying, drinking coffee and clearing out the Mess Room for the rest of the day! The Mess Room did look much better afterwards...all ready for the new season to begin in late-March!

It was a good day and I'll next be at Shackerstone next Saturday, February 27th. Thanks for the lift home Danny! Thanks for Reading folks. Evening All...

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Work Day at CMES (Half Term Post 4)...

Hi all! Today, after being told the previous week at the club's AGM, I attended the "All Day Working Party" of my 5" gauge concern, Coventry Model Engineering Society. The day started at 10am and I was paired up with fellow member, Roy, for the morning section. We were building new security gates for the clubs new compound using a variety of wood panels, welded box-steel, nuts and bolts. At least we were in the workshop (in the warmth and out of the wind) unlike the others! Finally, at around 1pm, after much cutting, filing, drilling, levelling and bolting we had finished our jobs on the first gate, with some help from fellow CMES Driver Emma too! The club then provided hot Bacon Butties (very welcome!) to satisfy the hard workers! After the butties and a cuppa' each we left the 'Club Hut' and crossed back to the Workshop to commence work on Gate No2. I later took a work up to the track to see the progress on the Steaming Bay's, Traverser and Maintainence. (It was very nice to see so much advancement!). Myself & Dave then decided to test the Semaphore Signalling system so then set out all of the signals. We turned "ON" the system and then got out the club's Battery Electric Class 37 (Compass House model), with a single riding car behind, to test the sensors and Signal Arms.

After 3 laps driving the electric, myself and Dave were satisfied that the system was working properly. We then collected in all of the signals and put the locomotive back 'to bed'. I then returned back to the Workshop to help with another gate, along with Emma & Roy. After more cutting & drilling, myself & Emma completed the next gate before we left at around 5:45pm. It was a really good day and we got a great amount of work done. Thanks for the lift home too, Emma! Evening All...

Friday, 19 February 2010

Garden Railway Winter Steam Gala (Half Term Post 3)...

Hello everyone. Today, in freezing, snowy conditions, the Garden Railway held its belated 2010 Winter Steam Gala. The Gala, shown to the world via our online videos, was meant to take place three weeks ago but the heavy snow and frost meant that the track was just not "available" at that time! So, at last, we've done it! I have however made myself ill by doing that much filming in the cold conditions! For this gala, we had a new resident, 4-6-0 Rebuilt Patriot "Sir Frank Ree", as well as two visitors. The visitors came from a friend and consisted of a little & large arrangement: a Merchant Navy Pacific and a little A1X Class Terrier! "United States Lines" and No11 came to the SSR in mid-December and have spent alot of their time in the warmth of the sheds. However, "United States Lines" has also been rostered for alot of the garden railway trains between Sutherland and Chilvers, proving a strong, heavy(!) and reliable workhorse. It will be a shame to see the pair leave but we will receive our BR Black Pannier No5775 back from its 'exchange' visit. The two engines performed very well during the gala and it was very nice to see some 'different' locomotives working the trains! Below, the diminutive Southern Railway No11 Terrier is spotted at Grantham Halt with a snowy backdrop...
In total, I got around 14 minutes of film, following edited and compiling of course. The Gala video was split into two parts and has now aired on Youtube. The gala featured freight trains, light engine moves, passenger trains, 'local' trains, doubleheaded trains and, new for this gala(!), fast Travelling Post Office demonstration pick-up trains. Part One can be viewed below...

To follow up to Part One, Part Two (the finale), is seen below...

The railway ran well throughout the filming, despite the freezing cold, harsh frost and snowy temperatures. The 00 gauge model railway has now started its "Fifth Anniversary Year" and we will hold some kind of special event in June/July time, hopefully in warmer weather! I hope you've enjoyed this post and these videos. Thanks for reading folks. Evening All...

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Wet, Wet, Wet At EVLR (Half Term Post 2)...

Hi all. As I write this post snow is again falling from the heavens and a thick blanket is forming on my garden...I can see it in the reflection of the street lighting! Today we had planned to take a drive over to Evesham as my family rather fancied a look around the Garden Centre and Shopping Village at the Country Park. Of course, I seized my chance and made sure that the visit was made just so as I could visit the Evesham Vale Light Railway which runs on the same site! (See earlier posts for further details). On arrival at around 11am, heavy snow and sleet was falling and visibility was very poor. Walking through the Booking Office, I was told that the loco was in steam and would next run, as to the timetable, at 11:30am. I bought my ticket and soon, sure enough, a very wet 0-6-2 Severn Lamb-built "Dougal" arrived back under the overall station roof with her three cosy, covered coaches behind her! Built in 1970, "Dougal" was originally a Longleat Railway (Safari Park) locomotive and worked their for a number of years. Sold to the EVLR in 2004, she was restored in a new green livery before being sent into service on the Worcestershire line. Since then, she has endured another overhaul which included a brand new boiler and a conversion from a tank engine to a tendered-tank engine. The loco is now much larger in stature and includes a higher boiler capacity. It also, from the sounds she made, "runs like a well-oiled sewing machine"!...
With "Dougal" ran round I had a quick chat with the driver, Chris (an ex-BR Fireman), about the conversion, before taking my seat on the train. As I did so, Jim, the railway's owner, approached and said, "If you don't mind getting wet, you're more than welcome to have a ride on the engine". What do you think I said? "Yes please!". Even sleet doesn't stop me turning down a footplate ride! I'd actually had a footplate ride on this engine before, back when she was a Tank Engine, and, I must admit, the tender is so much more spacious and comfortable than the old 'bunker-seat' was! At 11:30am, we left Twyford Station on time and "Dougal" set out on the line. She chugged along happily, notched up with the regulator just cracked, and running like a brand new engine! Not a clank or a grind or a sqeak...fantastic! Show's just how well looked after these engines are! The clean cab, though not an all-over type (no roof), did give a bit of shelter from the elements but, on the engine, I wasn't bothered about the driving rain! After an attack on the Far Bank, "Dougal" descended the 1 in 50 through the tunnel and then chugged merrily into Evesham Vale Station. By then, the snow had momentarily stopped with only the rain remaining, making conditions on the footplate a little better. After a few minutes it was time to leave again and, after a blast on the Guard's (Jim) whistle, we set off. "Dougal" climbed the 1 in 65 back towards Twyford with steam to spare and hardly a bark from the chimney. (This engine is very powerful!). Chris shut-off once the bank was topped and the 0-6-2 dropped down towards Twyford. Entering the yard once more, "Dougal" chugged happily back into the cover of the station roof. The passengers then left the train and came up to admire the engine whilst I thanked Chris for my very enjoyable ride, before thanking Jim for the privilege also! (I've had a few footplate rides there now...they're so generous and friendly! Thanks very much for the experiences!). Now back on the platform, I watched "Dougal" run-round again before setting off, into the now only "light" rain, to try and capture a few shots of the train 'on the move', with a degree of sucess. (The rain was very hard to work with, very hard!). I followed the train all the way around and back again before chatting with Jim & Chris again. As I was now soaking, Jim very kindly gave me a hot cup of tea from the workshop kitchen (how thoughtful!)...very welcome! I watched "Dougal" depart again, this time with Driver Helen Shackell 'on the handle', before chatting to Chris, now working the ticket office, about possible future developments. See my Video Footage from the day below (Simply click PLAY to view)...
"Dougal" was soon back again (time flies) and, after watching her run-round once last time, I decided to call it a day. My family were now back at the car so I was ready for home rather than braving the cold, wet & snowy(!) weather any longer! "Dougal" then departed on the 1:30pm train and I said my goodbyes to Jim as he passed on the train. "Come back on a Nice Day!"...he replied. He was very right...on a nice day, the EVLR is a lovely, peaceful and scenic place to be. For anyone interested, the EVLR runs at weekends and during school holidays. They are very friendly and train rides are enjoyable, interesting, scenic and, best of all, fairly priced! For more information, why not check out their website at http://www.evlr.co.uk/ . I must admit, I was very dissapointed when I arrived to find the weather in such a state today but, the kind and friendly staff at the EVLR more than made up for it...I had a great time again...thanks to Jim, Helen and Chris. See you again in the Summer! Thanks for reading folks. Evening All...

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Testing Lego Trains (Half Term Post 1)...

Hi all. This is the first of a few posts spread across this February's half term (week off college!). Today, as I had a free day at home, I decided to try out my collection of Lego Trains & buildings on the new 2010 layout size: 9ft x 4ft. In past years, for exhibitions, we have used a 6ft x 4ft format with 2 circuits of track and plenty of buildings/people filling the gaps. I'd learnt this layout off-by-heart but, seeing as this year will be our last Warley show, we had decided to increase the size by adding another 3ft x 4ft section. Therefore, we needed more buildings, people, vehicles and track! I know the exhibition isn't until November but it does pass a good few hours away once you get into building bits & bobs! Anyway, on the new longer layout board, I decided on another 2-circuit layout. The two ovals run on the outside of the boards, with 2 sidings and one passing loop fitted, using our 4 junction tracks (points). The inner line has one siding (loading bay for overhead Crane) whilst the outer loop has the passing loop and the road to the Locomotive Works building. In total, we're using just over 100 pieces of track. This gives a very sizeable layout and leaves a 6ft x 2ft area in the middle of the inner circuit for buildings etc. There was also a section inside the passing loop that needed filling...we're getting there! Lego does also allow for some humour as shown below...!
This year, although I have many buildings of varying sizes and many trains, people & vehicles, the larger layout has made it so that my brother can include some of his models too, giving a bit of difference to the layout. To fill the gaps, I have also included some of my "unseen" models which we've simply never had room for before! The layout, although we currently only have one show (2 days long) booked for this year (Warley at the NEC in November), we can surely say that the layout looks totally different to what it has at past exhibitions! Many new features including buildings, vehicles and figures will grace the layout in 2010. Below, my brothers huge Mobile Crane model is seen filling in the gap between the passing loop on the Outer Line and the Inner Line. We have modelled this to show perhaps ongoing track renewals! The piece of track on the crane hooks is held both level and steady above the Inner Line, adding realism whilst the cones, workmen and piled track panels below finish the scene. In the background is the Locomotive Works, showing loco's inside, and, at the very back, the newly-built "Hogsmeade" Station, from the Harry Potter Films, to go with our Hogwarts Express model train! As you can see, a small but noticeable gap still exists between the roads of the passing loop...a few spotters with camera's maybe?!...
All of the 9-Volt trains ran relatively well considering theyve been in their boxes since November 2008 (Apart from the one that ran around the Christmas Tree this Xmas!). After around 6 hours of tinkering and modelling, I began to pack the layout away. The trains had a good run and we'd now got a good idea of what we had and where it would go. (In other words, it was well worth taking the 4 hours building to set it up!). I must admit though, Mum, though she was in awe at the new size of the layout, was more than happy to see the Dining Room back the way it should be afterwards(!)...not before our cat, Mitsy, got a go at controlling the trains...!
Well, everything's now reboxed and organised and back in its cupboard until November! With a bit of luck, everything should staying working(!) and in as complete a condition as possible until then! (Fingers crossed!). It should take no more than 2 hours to set it up on the Friday night prior to the November show, so I hope. We would have also had the Country Festival at Stoneleigh to do with the layout in August (in conjunction with CMES) but the show has been cancelled so thats off the list! However, anymore exhibition invites would be welcome. Its always nice to see the massive amount of enthusiasm that comes from both the young & old alike when they see the many Lego trains, buildings and figures on the layout! If you're at November's Warley, why not pop over and say 'Hello'...we'll be there! Thanks For Reading Folks. Evening All...

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Is It Steam Or Diesel At Shackerstone?!...

Hi all! Today, it was back to the standard gauge loco's at Shackerstone for another day working away at various projects in the sheds. Arriving first at 10:20am, I unlocked the shed and found the Shed Cat ("Morris") wandering about the area...obviously prowling for his food as usual! Unfortunately, though now complete, "Sir Gomer"s boiler has yet to return from Llangollen and so no work was carried out on the engine today. Meanwhile, B1 "Mayflower" rested throughout the day and also remained untouched. One of the Steam Department's current projects is, would you believe(?!), a BR Class 02 Diesel Shunter named "Diane" (D2867). So, with seemingly no other work available, we set to carrying on with the diesel! "Diane" is regularly used by the Steam Department for shunting duties within the shed and the respective yard but has, since arrival, worn a rather delapidated BR Green livery. Finally, at the end of last year, the decision was taken to make a real effort with D2867 and make her look presentable and, on behalf of the Steam Department, she will take part in the May Diesel Gala in new colours! (We will show that we can do-up diesels as well as steamers!). The image below shows the rather tired looking D2867 back in Summer 2008...
The BR Class 02 shunters were simply, robust 0-4-0's built by the Yorkshire Engine Company in 1960-61. Only 20 of these little diesels were built and they were unusual in that they had a general British outline yet carried a railed veranda behind the cab, much like North American shunters. Equipped with Vacuum Brakes and 170HP Rolls Royce engines, the 02's were very powerful and produced a useful 15, 000lbs of Tractive Effort. However, their career's were short-lived and the last one was withdrawn in 1973. D2867 has now had many of her electrics repaired, her engine serviced, her front bufferbeam needle-gunned, her cab needle-gunned & primed and her side strips primed. Her wheels have also been covered with Diesel fuel which will be left to soak before Pressure-Washing begins. The whole engine will be turned out in BR Brunswick Green with Yellow & Black Cab Stripes ready for the May Diesel Gala at the very latest. The locomotive, under the custody of the Steam Department, will then be well looked after and will no longer provide a bit of an eyesore to the passing public! And, before you ask(!), NO!, we haven't converted from Steam to Diesel! (Never!). Today, after much work, we finished at around 5:15pm.

Today I was also given my first firing date of 2010: May 1st. I will be trainee fireman on the railway's one-off "Thomas 65th Anniversary Party". The Battlefield Line Railway will be the only railway to host this event in the Midland's Region and it will be a complete one-off. Children will be able to meet Thomas, Henry, Fergus, Daisy, Boco and of course the Fat Controller and many different attractions will be in action during the day. Interested? See the railway's website at www.battlefield-line-railway.co.uk for more details! The main locomotive in question, Thomas, will be lit at a very very early 3:30am(!!) ready for his big day ahead! Thanks For Reading Folks! Evening All!...

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

An Outline Of What I Expect For 2010...

Hi all! As its now the 2/2/2010...already one month gone (where does the time go?!)...I've decided to put up this post regarding what I expect for the rest of the year. As you all know I'll be splitting myself three ways as usual with CMES at Ryton Pool, the full size at Shackerstone and my own Garden Railway. On top of this, I'm sure I'll be indulging in various visits and outings to other railways/places of interest! So, lets begin...What Do I Expect From....

SHACKERSTONE-
*The Return to Work Of Peckett "Sir Gomer" (April)
*Thomas "65th Anniversary" Birthday Party (Early May)
*Steam Up Gala (End of May)
*Various Crewing/Shed Days With The Steam Department

CMES-
*Various Crewing Turns
*Various Work Days/Meetings
*"75th Anniversary" Of Society

GARDEN RAILWAY-
*5 Year Anniversary Open Day
*Various Running, Maintainence And Open Days

VISITS-
*National Railway Museum, York (Fingers Crossed!)
*Bala Lake Railway, Wales (Already Invited)
*GEC Miniature Railway, Binley (Already Invited)
*Great Central Railway (DONE!)
*Various Railtours To Spot! (Couple Planned Already!)

LEGO RAILWAY at EXHIBITIONS-
*Warley National Model Railway Exhibition 2010 (November)

As you can see from the brief plan above, there is a busy year ahead once again! I've only given a very brief outline! I'll hope, as usual, to write & publish as many posts as possible for you all again in 2010! Thank you all for reading. Evening All...