Sunday, 27 February 2011

5542 Steams Up Shackerstone...

Hey everyone. Today I was at Shackerstone by 8am as I knew that No5542, the GWR Small Prairie, would be being prepared. This engine, visiting from the SDR, is owned by a group of shareholders. These guys are a very nice, friendly bunch and hardly ever get a chance to drive/fire their engine. Therefore, this weekend, the Prairie was in steam to give the shareholders their chance. The loco did many trips, with a 4-coach train, to Shenton and back over the freshly re-cut section of track. I must admit, it was very nice to see little Prairie in action again; a real branchline feel. During the day, in the shed, we worked on the new Ashpan for the Peckett "Sir Gomer" which is now fast approaching steaming. 5542 performed faultlessly all day and will be performing the first public steam services of the new 2011 season next Sunday; March 6th. Diesel trains will also run on Saturday 5th March. During the afternoon, there was also a 'Footplate Experience' course participant; another successful weekend for the railway overall. Evening all...

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Tank' God For That!...

Hey all. Grave apologies for the lateness of these upcoming posts; this appearing on 12/3/11. My phone, which held all of the pics from these upcoming posts, has failed and is away on repair for a few weeks. Therefore, for fear of not posting anything at all I've given up waiting, and decided to try my best and just use what I can. Today, I was at Shackerstone helping on the P-Way. The upcoming arrival of the GWR 38xx 2-8-0 from the South Devon means that the track at Shack and Shenton needs moving away from the platforms, only slightly of course! Therefore, today, the P-Way gang had two tasks to carry out; A) Mend the track at Shenton Distant, B) Dig out the track at Shenton Station for movement. I was taking part in task B, along with fellow CMES member Eddie Jones. The work has tiring yet satisfying with most of it getting done before we left. Up on the track, the progress was also very good. The railway is trying to get the track ready for next weekend when the Small Prairie (5542) will be out and about for her owners to drive/fire. Public services resume on March 5th for the new season. After taking part in the P-Way operations, I left Shenton and drove through the Fen Lanes to Shackerstone. After parking, I popped down to the shed to discover "Sir Gomer" with her tank back on!! "Yes"!! This is indeed great news and great progress, now we have more than a good chance of having her ready for the April Thomas event...maybe she'll look like the above image too, except with new nameplates!! Thanks all. Good Evening...

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Tribute to Gerald Boden

It is with overwhelming sadness that I write to inform you that Gerald Boden, owner of LNER B1 "Mayflower" and Class 40 'Atlantic Conveyer', passed away this morning. Gerald was a very active member of the railway preservation scene and looked after his locomotive collection with honour and care that was second to none. He was also a kind and generous personality and I am sure that he will be missed by all who knew him. My thoughts are with his family at this sad time. Rest in Peace Gerald, we won't forget you...

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Up, Up & Away...

Hi all. Well, what a hard day indeed, yet very interesting, eye-opening and worthwhile. Today began at 7:30am as I left home in the Saxo in search of the beautiful LNER B1 No1306 "Mayflower". This loco; based at Shackerstone for the last four years or so; has been at a railway works in Birmingham for a few weeks, undergoing a heavy bottom-end overhaul. (No address' or names to protect the loco and owner). This overhaul was to include tyre-turning, axlebox work, ashpan repairs, rod maintainence and a few minor jobs on the side. Whilst 1306 was at Shack, I have spent many days on her footplate. Therefore, I was today invited to lend a hand in the engine's overhaul. I felt that I owed at least one day to the engine; afterall, I have had some fantastic experiences on her footplate. At just gone 8am, I arrived in Birmingham and discovered the location of the B1. There she was, rods removed yet paintwork shining; ever the impressive!
Today was hard work, but we did many things. The day started with sawing some packing; quite alot of packing in fact! The main plan for the day was to lift the engine off her wheels. Therefore, we had to move the massive jacks around, using a forklift and some rather impressive Gantry Cranes. With the jacks in position, we then had to add packing so that the beams would be able to take the weight evenly. At the front end however, there was a problem. The magnet for the old mainline equipment was preventing the jack-beam from getting low enough for packing to be put in. The Gantry crane? No problem! With a 30-ton capacity crane you can pretty much do anything! Connected to the frame lifters, the crane easily lifted the B1 a few inches into the air. Packing in, we dropped her back down. It was then time to get underneath...
If you look at the image above you can see the gaps between the wheels, with limited clearance. We all had to clamber between the wheels to access the springs inside. Lucky the brake rigging had been removed! The spring nuts, pins and underkeep's had to be removed, as well as the springs themselves. This was a very strenuous job, carried out in the confined space between the axles. I must admit, I was very tired when I got home; very tired! The work was very heavy; so is the characteristic of big engines! Below, the right leading wheel stands clear of rods...
I left the B1 at around 5:30pm ready for the short run back down the M6 to home. When I left, the last two springs were just about to come off. Sure enough, I was later sent an image of the B1 with no wheels and also lacking a bogie! Well done to all involved and I wish my friends at 1306 all the luck with the rest of the overhaul. Thanks for reading folks. Goodnight...

Sunday, 6 February 2011

A Good Old Shuntin'...

Hi all. Today was just another simple Sunday at Shackerstone, in the loco works. Arriving at around 10am, I was first into the loco shed. After feeding the shed cat and changing into my overalls, I took a quick look around. After an hour or two, we had a full shed crew and the main job today was to shunt the loco's around. Over Christmas, due to the use of 1306 and 5786, "Sir Gomer"; still under overhaul; has been at the back of the shed with "Blue Circle". Unfortunately, that end of the shed is rather dark, cold and is a long way from the stores and facilities. Therefore, the plan was to get "Sir Gomer" over the pit and put 5542 and the tender of 1306 behind in the 'storage area'. Now, this sounds simple to read BUT, due to both "Sir Gomer" and 1306's tender not having a rear draw-hook, the shunt was made very awkward. Therefore, it took us about 2 hours, using BR Class 02 diesel "Diane". First out were 5542 and the tender of 1306, which were put on the main line. Secondly, "Sir Gomer" was brought out into the chilly daylight before being shoved onto the outside pit road...
Next, 5542 and 1306's tender were put back inside. We then had to run back out and fetch "Sir Gomer" and get her in. Then, we had to return to the North End to collect a wagon full of sleepers and bring that back to the shed before uncoupling "Diane" and taking her inside. What alot of effort for such a simple job! Whilst they were outside, I managed to catch a few phone-pics of 5542 and "Sir G" together; the size difference is huge. Even 5542, which is a humble tank engine, towers above the Peckett! But, allas, she is a main liner whereas the Peckett is an industrial. Below, "Sir G"s lack of a tank and a chimney cannot be more graphically shown!...
After the shunt, we all set about continuing the building of the Ash Dump. This project is coming along quite nicely now and will keep the ash tidy and clear of the rails. Another simple day with a finish at 5pm. Thank you for reading folks. Good Evening...