Sunday, 27 March 2011

2 Western's and A Jinty...

Hi all. Today, at 5:45am (well, actually 4:45am; stupid summer-time!), I pulled into Shackerstone and parked up ready for the day. Walking through the cold darkness, I could see the shed lights illuminating a resting 3803. As I walked into the shed, I passed the 38xx and then arrived at the 55xx (5542), which was due to be in steam today. The loco was already lit and was then prepared by myself, Andy, Carl and Trainee Danny. We all did various jobs but my main task was to go underneath, with the help of Carl, and oil up. Now, GWR designers were very clever, they created fantastic engines for exacting purposes and there were many very successful prototypes. However, the comfort and working conditions of the Enginemen and those who had to prepare them were completely overlooked. Many oiling points are underneath the engine and are very hard to get at, especially with heavy oil-pumping equipment. I clambered up inside the Valve Gear and managed to oil the Eccentrics and Reversing Shaft with the Feeder. There are then points on the Expansion Links and Lifting Links to do, as well as the Lever-system for the Piston Valves. This isn't forgetting the Axleboxes, 6 of which the engine has and four more which the two Pony-trucks possess. Many of these have to be drained off too, to protect against excess water that has built up in one fashion or another. Anyway, another good experience but, a day to day task nevertheless. 5542 was soon ready to go and, by 8am, she was ready to perform the two Driver Experience trips. Meanwhile, we had to use the 04 Shunter to get 3803 out of the way...
We took 3803 into Platform 1 and left her there whilst the 'Foot Ex' took place. She really is beautiful. She was built at Swindon in January 1939 at a cost of £4285. The 2884's, like the 28xx before them, were capable of pulling 2000 tons; a remarkable effort. 3803 herself spent alot of time around Tyseley in her early days, before plodding around various sheds on the GWR system; mainly hauling heavy freight. Severn Tunnel Junction was her last base before being withdrawn in July 1963 and sent to Barry. Leaving the yard in 1983, the loco resteamed in 2005 after an overhaul costing £350k! The beautiful '8F' 2-8-0 is visiting us from the SDR at Buckfastleigh. She will be at Shackerstone for the season so why not come along and see her? She is a beautiful Western relic. Below, the 'Eight-Legs' of 3803 can be seen...
Up on the footplate, there is plenty of room. We can see the Regulator and huge Pole Reverser clearly. We can also see the Vacuum (right), Pressure (TL) and Steam Heat (CL) gauges. The loco has a Vacuum-only brake system with seperate Ejector valve as well as, of course, the natural GWR Vac-Pump. The loco also includes a Hydrostatic Lubricator and a 27ft-square grate area. Lovely cab and bags of space for swinging a shovel!...
Meanwhile, whilst I took pictures of 3803 at Shack, the Prairie was working her way back. Clad in a hi-viz (yes, even I have to wear one sometimes!), I walked up the cutting and onto the embankment. Soon, 5542 arrived back, driven by the Foot.Ex participant; an RR Apprentice would you believe? Below, the loco coasts into the Shack Cutting under Barton Bridge; the Outer Home (No2) has already been pulled off...
5542 passes my location, with Driver John Britt hanging from the cab...
Following the Foot.Ex, 5542 was ran round and readied for the day's 5 public services; the first departing at 11:15am. The crew was Driver Andy, Driver John, Fireman Carl and Trainee Danny. However, Pockets also did some driving during the day, and Eddie did some firing too. Throughout the day, we did various jobs. Myself, Eddie and Dave made a team effort of putting the 'guards' on the Grinnin' Idiot (TTTE); the Jinty in the shed. That engine always has something to smile about! Talking of which, we is out next weekend and the one after, with more of his friends from Sodor. Why not join us? Click HERE for details. Later, on the last trip, I got a footplate ride on the 55; nothing I haven't done before but still lots of fun (never turn a footplate ride down; ever!!). 5542 really is a beautiful machine and I'll be sad to see her leave for the 2nd time in a few weeks. Good luck to her and her support crew though; lovely machine. After the last trip we took 42' to bed and disposed of her, leaving all the engines together in slumber. Time for home now; we've bin here for 12 hours!! Evening All...

Friday, 25 March 2011

The Garden Awakes...

Hi all. Well, hasn't it been a nice day? "At last" I hear you cry! Well, admittedly, Spring has been a long time coming this year but, hopefully it has now arrived. With such a pleasant afternoon on my hands, I couldn't resist getting the trains out for a run in the garden. In fact, due to the cold and my own lack of time, this was the railway's first operating day since before Christmas! However, with warmer weather hopefully on the horizon, I plan to use the line alot more again this year, after I've done a few repairs here and there that is. (A few bits of the track are now experiencing 'drop joints' as some bits have been laid around 5-6 years now!). Today's train was the usual Mixed Freight which is often used simply due to the fact that it is already marshalled and ready to go all the time! Black 5 No45156 "Ayrshire Yeomanry" did the honours and made many laps of the line. Below, a Black 5 amongst the flowers...Even though some bits are a tad rough now, the line still runs pretty well with few derailments. Below, 45156 has just topped the gradient away from the house and is now accelerating along the straight towards the tight curve which crosses the Flowerbeds...
As well as the '5' doing the honours on the freight, I also took the oppotunity to get the little Wilesco D405 tractor out for a run. Hauling her Living Van, the D405 made a good few laps of the garden with a good head of steam...feathering at the valves in fact!...
All in all, a very nice little afternoon in the garden. Thanks for reading folks. Comment if you wish. Good Evening...

Sunday, 20 March 2011

John Brittain and His 32mm Engines...

Hi everyone. As a footnote to the previous post about the Large Scale Model Rail exhibition, I have included this post about my mate John Brittain and his coal-fired locomotives. Now, they aren't full size, they are 32mm gauge (16mm scale) but they really are remarkable. John is a prolific engineer and his engine's are fantastic. He was running on the 32mm gauge 'Indian Hill Railway' layout at LSMR, giving the public a demonstration into coal-fired 16mm. Great stuff. You can see John in action in the video above. This weekend he ran his Darjeeling B Class; a Roundhouse kit with a JB boiler; along with his Darjeeling Garratt; a JB special with a 2.5" gauge 'Tich' Boiler! Thanks folks, good evening...

LEGO Railway at Large Scale Model Rail 2011...

Hello everyone. Well, I am tired to say the least but, hey, what a weekend! Our LEGO Model Railway, which we last exhibited at Warley 2010 in November, was back out again for a new show (for us anyway). The show was the 2011 Large Scale Model Rail exhibition; known as the Midlands Garden Rail Show; held by Meridienne Exhibitions at the Warwickshire Exhibition Centre, up on the Fosseway near Leamingston Spa. The show took place over 2 days from 10am until 4pm, with at least 10 layouts in attendance. Not bad for a small-ish show (only because I compared it against Warley which always has a minimum of 65 layouts!). We arrived there by 4:45pm on Friday night, and immediately began the attempt at setting up the 9ft x 4ft layout. Progress is always slow when setting up; there are just so many bits! But, as always, packing up is easy! After doing about 2 hours on Friday, we got there at about 8:45am on Saturday morning and finished off the layout just in time for the 10am start. "Phew!". The 9V trains were then ready to roll. The usual suspects in action were the Santa Fe Super Chief and the "Hogwarts Express" loco. Below, the layout gets underway on Saturday morning...
For the LSMR Show we adopted much the same format as for Warley, with buildings including a Fire Station, Police Station, Central Station, Airport, Gantry Crane, Loading Ramp, Engine Shed, 'Hogsmeade' Station and more! There were also many 'odd bits' including the Ferrari Team HGV and the Fire Hovercraft...
The Santa Fe Super Chief gets her double-decker train underway...
A special guest for this show was the appearance of (CMES Member) Emma's LEGO model of the rack-and-pinion locomotive's that climb Mount Snowdon. The blue 0-4-2 was carried on a Flatbed wagon throughout the show. A very nice model, and unique...
Below, see a few clips of my layout in action at the 2011 LSMR show...

Overall, a very good show. Thanks very much to the organisers for a great weekend; we really enjoyed it. Thanks for reading folks. Goodnight...

Saturday, 19 March 2011

"Sorry Mum, I Had To..."

Hi everyone. After a long day exhibiting at the Large Scale Model Rail Exhibition (see next post!), I made a rash decision. The show ended at 4pm and I was back home by 4:45pm so, after thinking about certain GWR engines running at Shack...I jumped back in the car and headed straight over there! (That was going to cause arguments later on; Sorry Mum!). Arriving at Shack at 5:30pm, I quickly headed up to the station, camera in hand, where I found GWR 2-6-2T No5542. The other Western was down the line and 42' was being kept in steam to perform a 'shunt release' operation on her return. (The other Western is still too big for Shack's Platform 2, a fact to be rectified within the next 3 weeks). Anyway, back to me. I headed up into the Loco Works next where I found Peckett "Sir Gomer". She's very close now, perhaps 97%, with only an Ashpan and Chimney needed. All boiler fittings are on now, even the Gauge Glasses, and the loco is pretty much 'piped up'. Great stuff! Keeping "Sir Gomer" company was a certain smiley-faced intruder...a poor old Jinty painted in the hideous Blue of T-T-T-E. Mind you, this is a beautiful example; its from Llangollen, a railway that knows how to look after a loco. "Thomas" is gracing Shackerstone, with his friends, on the first 2 weekends in April! Click HERE for more details. Maybe we'll see you there?! After a look at the 3F and little "Gomer", I headed back outside to await the return of our new baby. And just then, with a loud whistle, she arrived...Isn't she beautiful?! The South Devon's 2-8-0 38xx No3803 is with us for at least a year and, what a pleasure. Passenger numbers this weekend have been amazing, thanks to these two Western ladies. After taking the above shot, I ran down Platform 1 to get a proper look. What a machine. I love it. 42' then performed the 'shunt release', dragging the stock onto the Main before propelling it back down into Platform 2 for stabling. 42' was then uncoupled and chugged back over the cross-over towards the Shed...3803 was sparkling. What a loco. I was invited onto the footplate and enjoyed a short yet fun ride up into the loco works (a new experience?; yeah whatever!). A really lovely engine and I can't wait to have a go on her in a few weeks time. Beautiful Western engineering, and hugely powerful at '8F' qualification! Mind you, 42' is just as good and it has been a pleasure to see the pair running together. For enthusiast information, 42' is with us until mid-April time and 1306 "Mayflower" should be back by Easter. Look out for more steam events at Shackerstone in the future! Thanks for reading folks. Now I've satisfied my urge to see the 38xx asap, I'm going home! Evening all, I have to drive a certain Saxo back home again...

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Moving The Tracks...

Hi all. A very warm, pleasant day today at Shackerstone. I arrived early at 6am to help with the cleaning. 5542 was again on service. Loco dispatched at 10:30am, the first train was out at 11:15am; with me on board. The run was lovely, with the loco crewed by Drivers M.Fairfield and E.Jones as well as Trainee D.Hone. The main job today was to 'slew' the track at Shenton. This was to allow the 38xx (which arrives in 3 days!!) ample space to run round her trains. (Otherwise, her cylinders would catch...I love GWR!). Anyway, 5542 was soon run round at Shenton and was off again, back up the bank towards Shack. With the clear weather, her voice could be heard on the wind as she disspeared off through Three Bridges towards Market Bosworth. What a lovely day. Throughout the day, whilst 5542 worked her 5 turns, our crack-team worked at Shenton. Within 3 hours we had finished, track slewed and ready for the 38'! "Woo woo!". We then caught the 2nd-last train back to Shack, with 42'. With a few small jobs to do in the shed first, I eventually left Shack at 6pm. Thanks everyone for reading...a jolly nice spring day!...

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Steam Trains Return to Shackerstone...

Hi everyone. Today was the first steam day of the 2011 season and therefore the Small Prairie No5542 was in steam to haul the four sheduled services to Shenton and back. I arrived at Shackerstone at 8:30am and discovered the Great Western engine still in the shed. The loco was just about to move out; drain cocks open; into the morning light. Then, with a quick whistle and a large hiss of steam, the engine moved outside. I then clambered up on top and cleaned the safety valve bonnet and the two Western whistles. Meanwhile, the loco was warming up nicely and by 10am she was already off shed. This gave plenty of time to Steam Heat the 4-coach train ready for passengers to board for the first run at 11:15am. Below, steaming away nicely, 5542 gets the first public steam train of 2011 underway, under the control of Driver Adrian Aylward, Fireman Bruce Murray and Trainee Fireman Dan Hone...
5542 chugs away nicely up the gradient towards the Signalbox as Bruce looks out from the cab...
Back in the Mess Room, "BC" Owner Mic had arrived with one of "Sir Gomer"s freshly painted nameplates. These plates were purchased by the railway a few years back and have been waiting in the wings as it were, for the Peckett's return to action. Compared to the old aluminium plates, these really are something; they're massive!...
Today, whilst 5542 operated the four services, we were still busy in the shed. The main job was more shunting with the Class 02 Diesel "Diane". One of the box van wagons, which contains a few spare parts, had been suffering terrible weather damage. Therefore, we had to get it inside the shed. But first, the Peckett, the B1 tender and "BC" all had to come outside. Therefore, we fired up the 02 and, once air was made, off we went. Before long, we had "Sir Gomer" outside. Still without a chimney, she looks a bit odd but, nevertheless, she is getting there, very quickly!...
The back of the Peckett, showing the need for new windows and a good clean up! (oh, and a draw-hook!)...
Later on, with the shed shunted, work began with "Sir Gomer" and the clearing out of the Box Van. It was full of water; what a mess! By 4pm, the Prairie had done her four turns and was ready to come back in the shed. She will be running again next Sunday (13th) and of course during our Gala Weekend on March 19th/20th, when she will steam alongside 38xx 2-8-0 No3803, also from the SDR. What a Western line-up! I will back at Shack again next Sunday before our appearance with the LEGO Railway at the 2011 Large Scale Model Rail show in Leamington the following weekend. Thank you for reading folks. Goodnight...