Saturday, 30 July 2011

Garden in Steam...

Hi all. After a nice afternoon at Ryton, I headed home in the bright sunshine. However, all was not over, as the 00 gauge Garden Railway was soon brought into action to run a few trains. The railway operated quite a few services until they ended at 5:30pm. I have included a few pictures for your interest. Below, the visiting A4 Pacific coasts past the house on a 5-coach train. The loco is just about to climb the steepest part of the bank towards Chilvers...
"Oh no!". The A4 pacific stalled on the final approach to Chilvers due to oily rails. The 45xx 2-6-2T was sent to aid the train. She has just 'buffered up' to the tail end of the 'Devon Belle'. The tank managed to get the train on the move again, with ease...
The Black 5 roars up Ashford Bank, running southwards with a heavy, fitted freight...
The BR-blue "Mallard" steams through the greenary above the Rockery...
'Steam Amongst The Petals'...
At Chilvers Loop, the 45xx tank clanks through on a southward freight of around 25 wagons...
4560 at Sutherland Curve...
Below, see a brief clip of 2 trains following eachother across the Rockery...
OK "thats all folks!". Thank you for reading. The Garden Railway will continue to run at various points throughout the year, giving me some 'quiet time' away from the 'BIG Trains!'. Evening all, Sam...

"An 'Auto' & A Compound" at Ryton...

Hello everyone. Today, under the lovely blue skies, Coventry Model Engineering held a Visitors Day at their Ryton pool track. An invitation had been given to the GEC Miniature Railway of Binley, to come along and run their locomotives on our 2000ft-long 3.5"/5" gauge route. I got to the track at around 11:30am. Already there were a few members of the GEC present, as well as a couple of loco's too. In the end, four GEC engines turned up; two steam, two electric. We had expected more engines but many members were either on holiday or going through loco overhaul's. Nevertheless, a nice, pleasant little turn-out. Due to the low number of loco's present from GEC, one or two CMES engines appeared on the RPMR metals. Reg (of CMES) brought along his latest locomotive, a lovely red 'Sweet Violet'; the 3.5" gauge Sweet Pea...
The Violet was out and about later in the afternoon, still undergoing trial runs. However, from what I could see, all seemed well. Lovely little engine. To compliment Reg's engine, the society's own Sweet Pea "John H Owen" was also pressed into service on 'Driver Training' duties. It is always interesting to see the two types running alongside eachother; shame we haven't got 7.25" to run a William too! Now to our GEC visitors. Stewart brought along his recently completed 0-4-2 Great Western 14xx 'Autotank', in 5" gauge. This engine is also undergoing running-in trials. Today, she seemed to be running just fine. Nice speedy little thing...
The other steam visitor was the Compound 4-4-0, built from Works Drawings I believe. This lovely example, in LMS Crimson, failed early in the afternoon. However, after a swift repair, she was back in action. Under repair...

With the repairs carried out, and the glasses showing a strong level, the engine waits for a resteam on the bays...
One of the electric's which turned up was "Percival"; a Ride-on-Railways 0-4-0 'Trojan', under the steam outline body. This loco was a consistent performer throughout the day and enjoyed countless laps of the track...
The fourth and final GEC visitor was the club's own 0-6-0 Class 08 electric. This did a few laps before failing with battery problems. However, its the taking part that counts of course!...
CMES' own 'Pea' was going very well all day. Mind you, she is a top-class machine!...
Repairs underway...

The Great Western 14xx in the Arrivals Platform at 'Ryton Halt'. I love this livery...
The lovely little Western at Ryton Halt. She is fed by injector from the driving truck tank, and via bypass pump from the crosshead motion; with water being taken from the side tanks for the latter...
Preparations for resteam underway...
As well as the above mentioned loco's, CMES' two electrics; the 37 and the Slate Loco; also had brief stints on the track. I myself took the 'Slate Loco' 0-4-0 for a run, capturing the journey on film...

All in all, a nice little day at Ryton. I hope the GEC enjoyed themselves! I'll be back up at their track next Saturday (Aug 6th) for the 5" gauge Public Running, with "Achilles" in tow. Evening all. Sam...

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Stokin' The Whole Day Through...

Hi everybody. Today, with a good weather forecast, I was rostered to fire on GWR 2-8-0 No3803 at Shackerstone. Arriving at Shack at 6:20am, Dave was right behind me. Driver John duly arrived too. We then set about checking over 3803 in the loco shed, following signing on and getting tools ready. I lit the Great Western lady at around 7:20am, leaving us plenty of time to steam up as we weren't due off shed until 11am. Even better, the pressure gauge was still reading 50psi; great (so we thought!). At 8am, a Footplate Experience participant arrived, who we were not expecting at all! "Oh dear". So, we got 3803 ready asap and got out onto the Foot.Ex only 35 minutes after we should have done; at 9:35am. First we did the light loco trip to Bosworth and back, before returning to Shack to collect the 5-coach ECS for the second trip. This time, we went to Shenton and back. The participant seemed to enjoy himself; apologies for the misunderstanding, sir! After the Foot.Ex we got ready for the 5 public trips of the day; though we were already 10 minutes down due to the earlier confusion. 3803 was already steaming well; as usual; and we were soon out on the line with the first train. The sun was shining and the light breeze and blue sky made a perfect setting. Today, the loco was carrying a wreath for a founder member who passed away recently. 3803 at sunny Shenton...
Throughout the day, I fired whilst Mr Britt and Dave shared the driving. Due to the heat, it was a long and tiring day but we did it; no problem! 3803 was her usual self; a dream. This huge GWR masterpiece is so big that a 5-coach train doesn't test her one bit. Its a pleasure to be out on her on a day like this! Firing is easy. As long as you maintain a strong back end and keep an even bed of fire across the sloping grate, 3803 steams easily. The three Dampers also help. Normally, the Centre Damper is enough to keep steam up. However, I also use either the Front or the Back one as well as the Centre one when starting away from stations or when working hard. This gives better air-flow through the fire bed. With such a big boiler too, 3803 doesn't have any problems with water. On the approach to Shackerstone, the line descends down a bank. On smaller engines, the water level will decrease rapidly when topping the bank onto the downhill section. However, due to the overall size of 3803's boiler, and the massive amount of water in it, the drop is far less considerable. She is, by far, the best loco I've ever been on; closely followed by fellow Buckfastleigh-resident; No5542 the Small Prairie. At Shackerstone, after the second public train, 3803 arrives back with me resting in the Fireman's seat (C = D.Hanks)...Mr Britt and Dave certainly provide an experienced and humorous crew. I always have a good day on with those two. Below, the crew pause as 3803 awaits the 'Right-Away' at Shackerstone. Dave is on the left, with Driver John in the centre and myself on the tender, waiting to stoke up ready for the climb up the bank (C = D.Hanks)...
With the "Right Away" received, 3803 chugs away from Shackerstone with the 5-coach train. The sun shone all day; it was lovely. I never thought in a million years that I'd be on a GWR 38xx, pulling out of Shackerstone holding a shovel ;) . The great shot below is another one by Mr Dave Hanks...
After our successful 3rd public trip, we briskly ran round ready for the 3pm train; which was running 7 minutes down. We had made a few minutes up but the heat and the lack of breaks were slowing us down; as were the stops at Bosworth. Nevertheless, a lovely day on the footplate of 3803. Below, 3803 slowly makes her way across the cross-over, towards the Signalbox. You can see me in the cab, taking a breather before yet more firing (C = D.Hanks)...
By the 5th trip, all three of us were getting very tired. Afterall, the last public trip for us completed a 6.5 trip day! So, really, we did 66 miles in a day; rather than the usual 40 or 50 of normal days. However, we managed the entire day without problem and it was fantastic. By 5:40pm, we were back in the shed and disposing of 3803. The day was a success, and very enjoyable. Thanks very much to Dave & John, as well as to Carl for sorting the day for me. I'm so tired now, I need some rest...work tomorrow...no rest ay?! Good evening everyone. Sam...

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Achilles Report No3: An Outing To The GEC...

Hello everybody. Today, as the sun shone, I got "Achilles" loaded into the car ready for a little outing to the GEC Miniature Railway in Coventry. Today's event was not a public one; it was a club running day. Therefore, various locomotives were running on both the raised and ground level tracks. This seemed the perfect opportunity to take "Achilles" along for a try-out on the raised track. Arriving on site at around 1:30pm, "Achilles" was soon on the Turntable, before being reversed onto one of the steaming bays. By 2pm, the substantial 0-6-0T was in steam and back on the turntable. Soon enough, the loco was in the raised track station awaiting the green to go. I didn't take my driving truck along today; to save car space; so instead used one of the railway's own trucks. My loco was the first on the track and therefore had priority over the entire 600ft (or so) circuit for the time-being...
Steaming away from the station, the raised track climbs heavily, alongside the 7.25" line. At the top of the wooded bank, the line curves right as it flattens out. The rest of the run continues on a long straight, running parrallel with the driveway, before arriving back at the station. "Achilles" completed many laps, faultlessly. Mind you, the climb of the 1 in 50 or so bank is a little testing, particularly on low steam! It was a very enjoyable run indeed. Although the circuit is short, it is scenic and interesting. The raised track runs for the public every first Saturday in the month, until October. "Achilles" ran for around 90 minutes, completing countless laps of the fully signalled track; very nice indeed. At 3:30pm, "Achilles" left the track and chugged back up onto her steaming bay. I then disposed of the loco, putting away all my tools before leaving her to cool down a little. Both tracks were still operating busily and, sure enough, I got to drive a 7.25" loco; "Sammy" the Diesel. I'd never driven this powerful 0-4-0 before but, I must admit, it ran very well and seemed powerful...

After taking "Sammy" on 2-3 return trips up and down the line, I decided to hand her back to her owner (Malcolm) and load up "Achilles". I did enjoy driving the diesel, though, my friend's Romulus ("James") is still my favourite at the GEC. Below, a short video I took on my phone; sorry about the low quality!...
video
Leaving GEC at 5:15pm, I got home in good time, ready to unload the loco and put my things away. I must admit, a very enjoyable afternoon. The loco will next be at GEC on Saturday August 6th, hopefully taking part in some public running. Thanks for reading folks, and thank you to the GEC for once again making me very welcome. Evening all. Sam...

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Achilles Report No2: Eventful Afternoon at RPMR...

Hello everyone. Today I was at Ryton Pool for another of my 2011 crew days. After arranging the week before with the Member in Charge (Eric), I took my loco; "Achilles"; along for a run. The normal train service is a 4-car rake; three passenger trucks and a brake. Today, that set was hauled by the stalwart Class 37 electric as it is only myself or fellow driver Emma who tend to use the society's own steamer! Of course, with my attention today being on my own engine, I did not attempt to steam the club's Sweet Pea. We arrived on site at RPMR at around 11:30am, finding "Achilles"s builder (Ken) already there. After opening up we proceeded up the drive to the track. "Achilles" was duly unloaded and placed on one of the 5"-only steaming bays. We prepared the loco in good time for the 1pm start, with the 37 and train being formed too in the process. At 12:50pm, we steamed onto the track with 2 cars behind "Achilles". I did not use my own driving truck as that weighs a considerable amount on its own! This would be "Achilles" first run hauling fare paying passengers around the 2000ft-long track. Therefore, we were cautious and only connected 2 cars with a tongue in the cheek. Of course, on flat track, the substantial 0-6-0T would provide good power. But, on a 1 in 70 climb on a tight bend, we feared we would overload her. Getting Up Steam... Once on the track, myself and Ken headed off to the station. However, trouble was lurking. The loco barked well around the far bund, before hitting the 1 in 70 climb. Half way up, we stopped to pick-up some litter which was blowing across the site. With 90psi on the clock the restart would be easy but, something always has to go wrong! Just as the 0-6-0 began to move, there was a loud bang. Looking down the side of the engine it was obvious that the right-hand Crosshead pin had sheered and dropped out, thus rendering the piston disconnected. With the 37 approaching from the rear with the first public train, we had no choice but to abort, returning to the steaming bay...
With the loco on the bay, and secure, we repositioned the piston so that it matched the hole in the crosshead again. We then placed a piece of wire inside the hole to protect the valve timing. With this in place, myself and Ken dissapeared down into the workshops to find something which may help us run again today. After 40 minutes of searching, with some help from Eric too, we came across a nail with strong properties; just about the right size too. Shortened to length, the interference fit of the pin within the crosshead allowed it to remain in place. This is only a running repair of course (a hardened steel pin is currently under construction at Ken's) but allowed the loco to resteam. By 1:50pm, the loco was relit and warming up nicely. Check out the very shiney dome below! The dome was a little orange a couple of weeks ago, after a few years of hard running with the blue tank engine. However, here it is now, shiney as the day it was made...courtesy of Rolls-Royce ;) ...
After 20 minutes of preparation, "Achilles" blows off neatly on the steaming bay. My Yellow Saxo is waiting at the end of the loading ramp for when we finish running...
A roaring wood fire blazes away in the tank's firebox...
By 2:15pm, "Achilles" was ready, on the track and at the station. The make-shift pin seemed to be holding well so we decided to try a few passengers. The lucky two below were the first fare-paying passengers to ever ride behind "Achilles" on the full RPMR circuit (we should have provided a souvenir certificate really!)...
With 90psi on the clock we steamed away. "Achilles" performed very well; attacking the 1 in 70 bank with ease. Meanwhile, the 37 electric was providing the other service rake with some motive power...
"Achilles" at Ryton Halt...
The weather for the afternoon was very varied. Hot sun and blue sky was complimented by light rain showers, falling from darkened clouds. Very odd! But, the rain didn't stay strong for the afternoon so all was well! "Achilles" ran until 3:30pm, allowing plenty of time to get her off the track, blown-down and shunted onto the loading ramp. We reckon we hauled 25 out of the 75 passengers who rode this afternoon, or there-abouts...
Below, a lightly loaded train is hauled on its return journey by "Achilles"...
"Achilles" & train at Ryton Halt. I think the most we hauled this afternoon, at once, was 4 adults and 2 teenagers (including crew). This load was quite enough for today. I reckon we may have managed a train full of adults but we would have been a little close to the load limit on the 1 in 70 bank. Plus, I was very aware of the nail which was being used as a crosshead pin!...
0-6-0 Tank Locomotive, "Achilles"...
Driver Sam Brandist with a well-performing "Achilles" in the Arrival's Platform at Ryton Halt. This was just before the loco's last round-trip departure of the day...
I was very pleased with the engine's performance this afternoon. The next chance to see the engine will be at the GEC Miniature Railway on August 6th, when the loco will be taking part in the monthly 5" gauge day. Why not come and see us there? If not, the loco will hopefully be at RPMR again in 6 weeks time. Look out for another post about "Achilles" as the action happens. What a nice, yet eventful, afternoon we've had. Thanks to Eric, Nathan, Ben, Leslie and of course Ken. Finally, well done "Achilles"; you did us proud today.

Evening all...

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Mablethorpe Model Railway...

Hello all. Well, what a find this was; I didn't even know it was here! Hiding in the back room of a little cafe within the Mablethorpe Funfair, there is a wonderful 'O' Gauge Model Railway. "Monks Bay" is a huge layout, spectacularly modelled and very well kept. The attraction opened in April this year and admission is £2 for anyone over 1 metre in height. Modelled on the Cornish Riviera in the 1950s/1960s, the layout includes 17 different locomotives which haul several different consists around the varied layout. The layout includes a large station with intricate pointwork and a lovely signalbox, as well as a scrapyard, tunnels, many houses and figures and some lovingly detailed greenary. Everywhere you look there is something to see; your eyes are never without fresh views. All trackwork is by PECO and is laid in a professional manner. I've seen many layouts of all shapes and sizes, and in many cases; even with some of the best layouts; trackwork can be terrible. However, "Monks Bay" embodies everything that a good model railway should. To top it off, the staff are friendly and willing to chat. I spent around 20 minutes viewing the layout and, in that time, I vastly enjoyed myself. What a lovely little attraction in an odd setting; well worth £2 of anybody's money. "Monks Bay"...
"Monks Bay"...
Below, a busy scene at the station as passenger trains arrive to exchange loads. A Great Western 4-6-0 has just pulled in with a mixed-liveried coaching set on the bay platform. An Ivatt Class 4 Mogul (Flying Pig) is just about to depart with a BR Mk1 set. In the yard, the 0-6-2 56xx Tank is taking a break from its shunting duties...
The Western 4-6-0 sits in the bay as passengers board...
"Monks Bay"...
The far end of the layout, near the entrance to the model railway, lies the scrapyard area. Up in the right hand side of the image are the 'Customs' offices. Two locomotives rest in the sidings as we await a train from the Fiddle Yard via the Tunnel Mouth...
Back in the yard, the 56xx 0-6-2 has just received its crew back from their lunch break and the steam brake has been released ready to recommence the shunting. I really like the attractive station at Monks Bay; very nice...
The 56xx stands alongside a typically GWR Loading Gauge, with the local Dairy Farmer delivering his produce in the background...
Down in a siding, a 45xx tank is waiting for duty. No crew on the footplate? Must be a warming fire job...
I do apologise for my terrible photography...I needed my tripod with me and didn't expect to find this lovely place! I wish the model railway all the luck in the world; a lovely little place to visit, especially for £2. I recommend it to anybody, I really do. The professional layout with very expensive model locomotives running an intensive service is something that really appeals to me. The only thing I do think is a shame is that it may only be enthusiasts like myself which can appreciate all the work, effort and time that has gone into this project. However, saying that, families will think its a great little place; the kids will love it. Good luck to everyone at Monks Bay! For more info you can visit their website at http://www.monksbaymodelrailway.co.uk/ . Well folks, after my visit to the model railway we proceeded off to the town. Evening all, I hope you enjoyed reading...