Sunday, 28 March 2010

One Week To Go Until Steam Returns to Shack...

Hi all. Today, again, we were back at Shackerstone for more work regarding our standard gauge hobby. Signing on at 10:30am, myself and Joe headed off down to the shed where we met with many of the regulars including Pockets, Britt, the two Dave's and Grahem. Also on site today was fellow-CMES member, Eddie, giving us a hadn with various jobs. Myself and Eddie have been members of both CMES and Shackerstone Railway for a few years now, though Eddie has for somewhat longer! Eddie is a passed Driver/Fireman on the railway whilst I still remain a continually-improving (I hope!) Trainee Fireman. Outside the shed today was 2-2-0 Aveiling & Porter Rail-Loco No9449 "The Blue Circle" which was undergoing an unofficial Steam Test ready for her official Steam Test next Saturday. These tests are carried out to work out any little bugs before the real, important, yearly steam examination, carried out by a bonafided Boiler Inspector. Whilst No9449 raised steam, myself and Eddie were working away in the Machine Shop, cutting and shaping four gaskets for "Sir Gomer"s main Steam Pipes. The Pipes will be refitted to the Peckett in due course. Outside, "The Blue Circle" is seen raising steam...
No9449 was bubbling away outside the shed and, meanwhile, bits and bobs on "Sir Gomer" were being done. Dave was busy checking nut & bolt fittings on the boiler (to the running plate/frames) whilst Grahem went about his usual business of generally making good for the engine! Mick and his team were busy cleaning the Aveiling whilst others discussed plans for the near future of the shed and certain stock. With the gaskets done, thanks to Eddie's experience (I find gasket's hard not to split!), I was assigned another job; painting Gomer's lower blast pipe...otherwise known as the exhaust-outlet. A few minutes later, having painted the entire casting a shiney black, I left it to dry. It was, by now, lunch time and we all headed up to the Platform (and the Cafe!) for our break and refreshments. 20 minutes later, returning to the shed, I was assigned the job of painting inside "Sir Gomer"s frames. Alot of the engine has been internally painted, including the frames, stretchers and corner plates, but the weigh-shaft had not. Therefore, I went inside and began painting the weights. However, some dirt/grease remained underneath the Fireman's-side weight and so painting ceased. I collected the Needle-Gun equipment and began working away. (Thats a job to finish next Monday!). Back outside, No9449 was reaching pressure ready for a Safety Valve test...
The little 2-2-0 is due to be in service next weekend at Easter, subject to boiler test, and the Safety Valve's were being adjusted regularly today to make sure they did what they were supposed to do. "The Blue Circle" performed well and her owner, and Support Crew, were happy with the end result of the day. Later on, with equipment packed up and No9449 safely back in her 'box' (or the shed if you like!), we decided to call it a day...this was about 5:45pm. The Aveiling was left to cool down in the Work's whilst "Sir Gomer" simply stood awaiting her tank and cab! Have I missed something? Oh yes...Throughout the day, a certain, shall we say, "Eastern Lady", was waiting in the wings...
Yes! "Mayflower" is rebuilt, following her boiler-washout the other week, and is simply awaiting her first chance of the 2010 season to make the Leicestershire-countryside echo with her distinctive voice! The beautiful B1 4-6-0 will be in steam at Easter, on Sunday and Monday, hopefully operating 5 services from Shackerstone to Shenton...and back. Alongside the B1 will be, subject to boiler test, the diminutive 2-2-0 "The Blue Circle", offering a display of both "little", and "large"! I will be crewing "Mayflower" on Easter Sunday, signing on about 5:30am...look out for the post on that as it happens! Next outing? I'll hopefully be at my 5" gauge concern, Coventry Model Engineering Society, next Saturday, April 3rd. Thanks for reading folks, Evening All...

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Once "Bittern", Twice Tenders...

Hi all. Today we were out spotting Jeremy Hosking's A4 Pacific No60019 "Bittern" which was hauling "The Palatine" railtour from London Euston to Manchester. We arrived at Nuneaton about half an hour before the train was due and, with equipment set up, all we had to do was...wait. Sure enough, 2-minutes later than the stated 11:10am passing time, a loud blast on the Crosby Chime Whistle was heard before "Bittern" burst through Platform 2 on the Up Slow line to the North. With a good load behind and a Class 47 on the back, 60019 was well on her way. However, the A4 would not be returning hauling the train, the 47 on the back would instead, leaving 60019 to run light engine towards York. In BR Brunswick Green, the A4 looked just right...especially with her TWO tenders! Why two tenders?...more water! This A4, unlike her 5 preserved counterparts, is capable of carrying 14,000 gallons of water (5000 in the leading tender and 9000 in the secondary tender). The 2nd tender once belonged to, what was then, Alan Peglar's A3 Pacific No4472 "Flying Scotsman". It was converted for use with 4472 due to the then lack of watering facilities on her railtour routes. However, now owned by Mr Hosking, it was given to 'his' 60019. The video footage I captured is seen below...
Two shots are spotted in the above video...one from Platform 1 (me) and one from Platform 2 (my younger brother). 60019 roars through the platform, in this case No2, and off towards Stafford and Manchester. You will notice, in the first shot, the little Class 153 single car DMU which stands in Platform 1 as "Bittern" comes through. This unit only arrived just as "Bittern"s passing-time was approaching and blocked off the shot for many photographers...typical! We were in fact very lucky that it stopped where it did else we would have been "bowled out" as well! All in all, well worth going to see as I've now seen all four of the Britain-based preserved Gresley A4's. Thanks for reading everyone. Back home now to clear out the loft! Afternoon All...

Sunday, 21 March 2010

"The Boiler's Back?!"...Then..."Off To Shack!!"...

Hi all. Today it was off to Shackerstone again, for another hard (yet enjoyable!) day in the loco works. Many of you will know that our Peckett, 1859 of 1932 "Sir Gomer", is coming out of the other side of a heavy "10-year" overhaul and has been, since February 2009, without her boiler. The boiler has been at the very good Llangollen Railway boiler-shop's for repairs, which have included a new lower firebox and a full retube. After worrying about the engine's upcoming deadline for a return to service, due to the lack of a boiler(!!), our prayers were answered on Friday morning when we were notified that the large 0-6-0's boiler had been returned safe and sound. AT LAST! I was so happy to hear the news that I even took along my camera to record the event for posterity! At least I can look back and assure myself that I wasn't dreaming. I must admit, the work done by Llangollen is fabulous. The tubeplate, new firebars and stays looked fantastic...
As you can see, the new bars looked a treat...until muggins' here got the job of going into the firebox and lifting them all back out...yes...all 14 of them! They're just so cumbersome and heavy...complete dead weight. But, with some very welcome help from Dave, who was out on the footplate, we managed to shift all of the days from the firebox, to the footplate, to the floor, to outside! What a job that was...PHEW! Next job was to help 'Big Andy' bolt the front end of the boiler to the frames and running plates. That again involved more bending and crumpling of the body to fit in between the now tight (due to the boiler) frames! Oh well, another few jobs done. Later I was assigned to needle-gunning and priming some platework that had been cut from "Sir Gomer"s footplate floor. It was basically corroding so need cleaning, wiping and then priming to assure that the same would not happen again. No doubt that it hasn't been done since it was built in 1932! The boiler, now reinstated to its rightful place on the Peckett's frames, is seen below...
The engine has now made a vital leap towards completion (finally...the boiler is back!). Once back in service, she will hopefully provide 10-years good service to the Battlefield Line, whilst also being side-lined for vital washouts, repairs and checks. I'll certainly be glad to see her turn a wheel again (under her own steam of course). We're hoping for early May or, at the latest, late May. Once the boiler has been clad, the Saddle Tank and Cab will be refitted. Once this is done, we only need to fit the brick arch, smokebox floor, ashpan and the various piping before "Sir Gomer" can move. She will then need careful running in and checking over before being released, at last, back into revenue-earning passenger service...leaving service back in August 2008. "Come on guys, keep at it...we're nearly there!". Thanks for reading folks. Next port of call (next visit!), is a short trip out to see a railtour, hauled by A4 Pacific No19 "Bittern", which is due to fly through Nuneaton next Saturday! Thanks folks, evening all...

Saturday, 20 March 2010

"Tornado" Hits The Great Central Railway...!

Hi all. Well, its official, today a "Tornado" struck the 7-mile preserved Great Central Railway...but wait!...its not what you think...the whirlwind was the new-build 4-6-2 Peppercorn A1 Pacific No60163, aptly named "Tornado"! The most disastrous consequence was however, not torn trees or battered buildings, it was simply the fact of..."Standing Room Only!". I had heard that 60163, which made her debut in October 2008 at the GCR, was returning to the Leicestershire line whilst there was a short break in her main line commitments. Therefore, as I hadn't seen the striking A1 new-build yet, a visit was fundamental! This weekend, which was dubbed an "All Steam Weekend", normal fares applying, seemed a good a time as any therefore. The A1 would be running alongside another visitor, that I had never seen before; 2-6-4 BR Riddles 4MT Tank No80072, recently restored on the Llangollen Railway. The third and final steam loco in action would be, a personal favourite of mine, the only-operational LMS Jubilee of the four preserved; No5690 "Leander". Therefore, with normal fares in operation, this three-steamer offering was too good to miss! With dark skies overhead, I arrived at Rothley just after 10am, ready to catch the first train of the day, hauled by 80072. Aboard the train, I found an empty window and was soon hanging out, listening to the beat of the newly-done 4MT. With chugging but, absolutely no clanking (as it should be!!), the 2-6-4 was soon at the site of the old Birstall Station; now Leicester North. Once there, in the continuous drizzle, the sizeable tank engine ran round before returning us to Loughborough Station where the beautiful, brand new Pacific awaited us. Into the platform we went and the 4MT was duly uncoupled. Up at the front, the huge 8-wheeled tender of the A1 appeared under the bridge and, oh so effortlessly, the huge bulk of the 4-6-2 carefully edged onto the waiting 6-coach Mk1 rake.

Sporting her LNER headlamps (actually very powerful LED's!...not parrafin!), the A1 was sparkling, not surprising as she is actually less than 2 years old...well, running-wise anyway! Above, the 3rd cylinder, no doubt a Gresley-inspired feature, stands just off-set to the right on the engine's front. The electric lamps, very powerful indeed, can also be seen in, sporting one per lamp-bracket. The lamps are then powered by a steam-generator, a feature also spotted on Thompsons B1's, including "Mayflower" at Shackerstone. Wearing her specially cast nameplate proudly, the A1 really was a sight, and the number of people, young & old, swarming around her was unbelievable! (Anyone would think she was made of five-pound notes!...mind you, I bet the owners think that sometimes!). With my run-about ticket viable all day, I decided a round trip behind "Tornado", standing or not, was a complete must...just to say I'd done it. Therefore, I boarded the 11:30am service behind the Apple Green A1 and off we went. I must admit, 6 coaches at 25mph was hardly making her work, though she did sound nice...not often you hear a well-timed 3-cylinder beat! The whistle was very nice though, even if not "authentic" (it's an A4 one, not an A1 example), but the chime was nice...unusual location though...right underneath the right-smoke deflector, directing the exhaust of the A4-chime right into the view of the fireman's window (at least its not the drivers!). (A pic of the chime is seen on the left). Along the line, getting covered in soot whilst hanging from a coach window again, the A1 chugged along nicely...no...effortlessly! Around and across the Swithland Resevoir, people littered the lineside, camera's flashing and video's recording! Leicester North was soon on the soggy horizon and the A1 pulled in gracefully. Pouring from the coaches, many of us decided to make our way to the short-reception platform on the East side of the site to watch 60163 run-round. However, the heavy rain was very persistant and all of our equipment was wet-through by the time the A1 eventually moved forward. (But, the main thing was...we got the shot). After the 15-minute run round break, the Peppercorn was off again, slipping back down to Loughborough on her 7-mile, relatively level journey. With the rain holding off again, Loughborough was alive with even more "Tornado"-fans and the perimeter of the engine was again swamped. Therefore, I decided to take a look at the third engine of the weekend, Jubilee "Leander", renamed as scrapped-sister, "Jervis". I didn't get to the bottom of why the engine had been renamed but, maybe "Jervis" was an ex-GCR engine? In the 1960's? Not sure! Any comments on this would be appreciated. Anyhow, owned by Chris Beet, the Jubilee has been at the GCR since January and will be staying for the short-term at least, as far as I know. Today, adorning the "South Yorkshireman" Dining Train headboard, 5690 (as 5663), was looking very well. I've always admired the LMS Crimson livery, but engines that now carry it are relatively few and far between. Therefore, its nice to see 5690 wearing it, and not BR Green! Catching the 1:15pm Dining Train (limited public accomodation at the back), I headed to Rothley where I alighted, after covering a total of 32 miles on the day's trains...not bad on normal fares! 5690 duly departed further into the horrid weather whilst I awaited the next "Up" train...hauled by the A1 again...

Sporting her very bright LED headlamps, the A1 could be seen through the gloom a good way away, but she was duly in hearing distance. Passing us, my video camera picked up the beautiful livery of the engine, and its cleanliness perfectly, despite the horrid conditions (pouring rain at the time!). 60163 gone, there was nothing to see until she returned! When she did so, her 3-cylinder beat echoed around the little station as she attacked the bank northwards. The video footage I attained today is spotted below...After seeing 60163 head off into the distance, 80072 was in sight, and she was the final loco I saw today, hauling an "Up" (Leicester-bound) service. With the bark of 80072 getting ever-quieter as she chugged off into the distance...my lift arrived, and off home I went. It had been a gloomy, dark, damp and relatively chilly day but I'm very glad I went as I finally saw the fantastic achievement that is the new-build A1 Pacific "Tornado". The massive amounts of skill, time, effort and patience that have been poured into this engineering masterpiece can only be applauded! Well done A1 Steam Trust...you have a beautiful locomotive for the World to Enjoy! Thanks for reading folks. If you want to see "Tornado" at the GCR before she leaves, check out info on the website by clicking here. Please comment if you wish...evening all!...

Friday, 19 March 2010

Whats Along The Line For The Coming Weeks?...


Hi all! Hope you're all well and enjoying the recent, somewhat milder change in the temperature. Just a quick post showing where we are, what we're doing and when, as far as the next couple of weeks go's anyway!:-

  • Saturday March 20th:-Visit to Great Central Railway to visit 60163 "Tornado"
  • Sunday March 21st:- Shackerstone Shed Work Day
  • Sunday March 28th:- Shackerstone Shed Work Day
  • Saturday April 3rd:- CMES Steam Up (Members Day)
  • Sunday April 4th:- Turn on LNER B1 No1306 "Mayflower" (Shackerstone)
  • Monday April 5th:- Shackerstone Works Shed Day
  • Easter School Hols (March 29th-April 9th):- Various Garden Railway Work
  • Sunday April 18th:- Driving Turn (Hopefully Steam) at CMES
  • Saturday April 24th:- Turn on LNER B1 No1306 "Mayflower" (Shackerstone)
  • Saturday May 1st:- Turn on Thomas the Tank (65th Anniversary Party...Shackerstone)
  • Sun/Mon May 2nd/3rd:- Helping out around Shackerstone Steam Dep.
  • One Midweek Day in May:- Helping Friends With 0-4-0 "Trojan" at GEC, Binley

As you can see folks, lots to be getting on with between now and the start of May...its all go(!) but great fun!! Thanks for reading. Look out for posts on these events as they occur.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

A Quick Look at the Rails of the Volks Electric Railway...

Hi all. Well, its Day Two of our little weekend away to the South and, after an overnight stay at the Europa Gatwick hotel, a 45-minute Coach Trip was following by arrival in the seaside town of Brighton. After a look on the Pier, in the shops and a quick view of the famous Royal Pavillion, I found something of, I suppose, relative interest...the Volks Electric Railway. First opened in 1883, the little electric railway, which now runs from Aquariam Station (near the Pier) to Black Rock (near to Brighton Marina). Unfortunately, the railway was closed for the winter when we visited but it was interested see the arrangement of the 2ft 8.5" tracks. The railway cars, when running, take their 110v DC power from a 3rd rail, in this case laid between the outer two as apposed to outside. The line used to run with only two rails...with power provided just those...one rail being for the Live Feed and the other for the Return Feed...hence the connectors to convey the current effectively through Fishplate Joints...
(These are soldered on 00 gauge!). In 1886, the Third Rail was added, and is used today. The Third Rail provides the Live Feed now, whereas both of the Outer Rails convey the Return Feed. This then gives the best possible power output, much improved on the original design which became effected by bad weather conditions, hence the fitting of the Third Rail in the first place! Below, the arrangement of the track can be seen...
The trains, so I understand, will begin running again at Easter, offering Tram Car rides along the quaint Brighton Sea Front. Shame it wasn't running as it was such a nice day...oh well, maybe I'll see it running one day. The VER is run by Brighton & Hove Council but is also supported by a volunteer association who aid the full-time staff. The 110v DC trains now ride what is, famously, the Oldest Electric Railway in the World. Why not go along in the summer and see what it's all about? Well, we're off home now, a good few hours coach journey ahead of us...good job I've bought my copy of Heritage Railway magazine! Thanks for Reading All...Good Afternoon...

Saturday, 13 March 2010

"London Underground" Revisited...

Hi all. Today, myself and my girlfriend were in London on a weekend away and, rather than trawl above ground on the tightly-packed Buses or over-charging Taxi's, we took the best option; London Underground! I have long been a fan of the Underground system...in opinion theres no better way to get around London...shame its so far down! Anyway, today, after checking earlier, I knew of alot of closures due to Engineering Works on various Tube lines. In particular, a very dissapointing closure was the complete lack of services on the Circle Line, the best for City Centre travel in my opinion so, at the last minute, I had to find an alternative route. After our coach dropped us off at Marble Arch, we descended the steps into the Underground station of the same name, and purchased our Day Rider tickets (Zone 1 only). Marble Arch, only served by the Central Line, was relatively quiet and we soon descended into the depths. The heat in the Underground platform sections is sometimes overwhelming, meaning that, on the arrival of every train, the created-draft is very welcome! Boarding a service, we quickly headed down through the darkness to Tottenham Court Road; 2 stops along the tracks. Here, the Northern Line is also accessible and, as it was still running, we changed trains. However, the first train that arrived was so full that we had to catch the next but, "No Worry", theres only a 1-minute time gap!...
Although the ride is sometimes bumpy and starting & stopping is rather sharp, the Underground is quite a nice way to travel. Theres nothing to see of course, due to the surrounding gloom, but windows are still provided in the stock...in this case, 1995-built. The 'Charring Cross Branch' of the Northern Line took us a further 3 stops through the darkness, at which point we reached our desired destination; Embankment. Here, we departed the Underground and the feel of the cool air on our faces again was one that was greatly appreciated! (Too much warm air in the tunnels!). After walking around Westminster, St.James Park and up to Buckingham Palace, we headed back down the Mall towards Charring Cross. There, we boarded the Tube again, this time on the well-known Bakeloo Line (now re-opened following more Engineering Work), for the run up to what is seemingly the busiest street in London; Oxford Street (served by Oxford Circus tube station). We'd now finished our journeys on the Tube for this visit to London...walking back up to Marble Arch along the hugely-lengthy Oxford Street...passing countless shops and thousands upon thousands of people along the way!
With it's first section opening in 1863, the London Underground has provided the UK Capital with fantastic service throughout its existence. The system now totals 11 different lines and serves 270 different stations, throughout the City. In total, there is 250 miles of track...how fantastic! It must have been an absolutely astonishing feat of engineering to produce this system...London would not be the same without it! So, next time you're heading to an attraction or even just heading home via The Tube, give it a little though...it really is a remarkable system and, without it, your journey would be much more congested and time-consuming. Well, at 6:30pm our Coach picked us up and our seats aided our aching feet and burning muscles! (Its amazing how far you walk in London!). Now its off to the Europa Gatwick hotel for an overnight stay...thats all for now! Thanks For Reading All, Goodnight...

Saturday, 6 March 2010

"Princess Elizabeth" Graces Nuneaton...

Hi all. Today, at 10:28am, myself and many other fellow Steam Fan's stood on Nuneaton Station awaiting the passing of the beautiful 4-6-2 Princess Royal Class Stanier Pacific No6201 "Princess Elizabeth". "Lizzie" was working the 'Doric Olympian' railtour, operated by Vintage Trains Limited, which ran from Tyseley-Crewe-London-Crewe-Tyseley. The Crewe-London-Crewe section was hauled by the massive Princess Pacific and, right on time, she burst through Nuneaton Station with her 12-coach load (plus Tyseley's Class 47 773!). 47 773 had hauled the railtour from Tyseley-Crewe (where 6201 took over) and would also haul the last portion of the return journey between Crewe & Tyseley, leaving 6201 stationed at Crewe. I did see "Lizzie" at Crewe in November when she was being worked on at Pete Waterman's LNWR Loco Works however, this was the first ever time I've seen her in steam. However, when planning my shot, I had hoped that the Princess, permitted to run up to 75mph, would be on the 'Down Main' line. But, unfortunately, due to today's "modern age", the Midland Lady was put on the 'Down Slow'. (Obviously the steamers can't be expected to beat the furiously-fast Pendalino's!). The 'Down Slow' passes through Nuneaton Station on Platform 5 which, unfortunately for me, is perhaps the worst ever platform for video or photography!...

The 1933-built Pacific is seen above roaring through Platform 5 with the train which ran down into London's Kensington Olympia. However, the beautiful Stanier Pacific returned from London Euston, attacking Camden Bank on her way out of the Capital, recreating 1930's Stanier steam, a spectacle that hasn't been recreated by a real Midland veteran for a long time! (A "Lizzie" on Camden Bank would have been a site to behold, shame it wasn't off to Glasgow or banked by a "Crab" Mogul!). "Lizzie" was preserved in 1962 and since then has chugged many more miles, most of which have been on the main line! For more information on the engine see http://www.6201.co.uk/ . After seeing the Princess, in the rather cramped surroundings of Platform 5, I returned to the local Asda where I met back up with my Mum with the lift home. Thanks for reading folks!! Afternoon All...