Sunday, 26 February 2012

1 Week Left Until Steam Returns to the Battle of Bosworth...

Hi all. Only a very short one from today. This morning I arrived at Shackerstone at 9:30am for a day working in the loco shed. Next week, trains begin running to the famous Battle of Bosworth fields again. We will providing the service (our department will anyway) on Sunday, in the form of GWR 2-8-0 No3803, with the Saturday being a Railcar service I believe. I am booked on next Sunday, with Driver John Brittain so it should be good. I hope the weather is as nice as today was anyway...but I doubt it! There were various jobs going on today, including work on "Blue Circle", "Sir Gomer" and 3803. Furthermore, the Drewy 04 (seen on test in last weeks post) was moved into the shed today for painting (into BR Green with Wasp Stripes). After some shunting around to let the 04 in, she was duly shut-down and painting began. "Sir Gomer" on the other hand was having her eccentrics shimmed and refitted. Myself and Eddie meanwhile were straining to get the cumbersome grate back into the 38'. The bars are quite warped so you need to get them into some sort of order, otherwise the grate looks like a mountain range. But, after 20 minutes or so of struggling, we were done. Outside the shed today was this rather unusual load...You tell me, I do not know!...
Later in the day, with "Sir Gomer" 'mended', the little 02 was drafted in to pull her about a bit. I rode on the footplate of the Peckett whilst Carl drove the 02. Back and forth we went, down into the platform, back up into the shed, down again - simply trying to force the shim out of the eccentrics. Thankfully, all seemed well and the loco was declared fit to run (bottom-end wise anyway). The boiler is still awaiting washout and re-boxing. The 38' meanwhile is now ready apart from needing a steam test; which will be done this week. After another interesting day in the shed, I left at 4:30pm. Cheers all. Sam...

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Alot of Work at Shackerstone...

"Firebox Work" (by C.Simmons)
Hello all. This morning at 9:30am in the bright sunshine I drove down the muddy driveway towards Shackerstone station. After parking up I signed on before heading down to the loco works, discovering 3803, "Sir Gomer" & "Blue Circle" inside. It was very chilly so, as I was first in, I lit two of the three shed stoves. The rest of the team arrived over the course of the next hour and work soon got going. After helping Mic with "Blue Circle" for a while, I joined Adrian on the slumbering 3803. The main job today on her was to clear out the tender coalspace, brush it, wash it and then repaint it black...just a simple tidy-up job really. By 3:30pm, we had finished. BEFORE...
AFTER...
The tender did look much tidier: nice and clean. The fact that we are going to drop about 4-ton of coal on it next week did seem a bit of a shame though! Whilst we worked on 3803, work was continuing on the other two engines. "Blue Circle" was having another shaft removed for gear trimming before final refitting and, hopefully, a return to service. "Sir Gomer" was meanwhile having her two eccentric sheaths removed for checking. Regular readers will remember that when she returned from Cholsey her two drivers-side eccentrics were loose on the sheath. This could not only affect the valve timing but could also bend the straps or ruin the faces. When removed (luckily) there was no damage spotted so we think that they can be refitted as they are, but with a shim added to make them run true. The loco will hopefully be running again within a month or two, as and when. I popped into the Peckett's firebox as well today, measuring up for the new brich arch bars & blocks. From atop the tender of 3803, we can see blue skies overhead and Reas toiling away doing the D-Veg on the right...

Elsewhere on the site, the Lambert family's Class 04 had burst into life again and was off out down the line on one of its first test runs. It was very nice to see it move under its own power as its always been broken since I've been there! The tests on the Drewry 04 were successful and she returned to the yard with smiling faces beaming from the cab. (All they have to do now is paint it!)...
After lots of tea, lots of laughs and lots of jobs done, I left the site at 4:40pm for home. I'll be back down again next Sunday for more work on the engines. We reopen for trains again on the first weekend in March, with the plan being to run Diesel saturday and Steam sunday. Maybe we'll see you then?! On a sad note, the Steam Gala that was to feature a visiting Black 5 has been postponed until September due to circumstances beyond the railways control. HOWEVER, the September gala is now planned to be even bigger with (hopefully) TWO visiting engines. More on that as it happens. Cheers all...Sam...

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Short, Cold Visit to Shackerstone...

Hi all. A very quiet one today really. Popped over to Shackerstone for a few hours and, after signing on, made my way down to the Loco Works where I found Dave, Eddie and Pockets waiting. It was very cold. Pockets duly left as he had a few jobs to do at home so the three of us lit the trio of shed stoves to try and get as much heat inside as possible. More heat means less chance of freezing on 3803 and less 'sweating' on Sir Gomer and Blue Circle. With the three stoves banked up, Eddie did a few bits inside Sir G's firebox before we retired. It was far too cold & damp in the works, even with the stoves lit: it was actually warmer outside! So, after around 3 hours, we all left for our much warmer homes. I'll be back at Shackerstone next Sunday for more work on our lovely little locomotive collection. Sam...

Saturday, 11 February 2012

A LEGO Outing...

Hi everybody. Today was another very rare outing for my LEGO Model Railway layout. The 9ft x 4ft display had not been exhibited since March last year when, interestingly, we took the booking for today's show! The venue was a large Church Hall in Hobs Meadow (Solihull) and, after a brisk run up the A45 in the frosty conditions, we made it there for around 8:30am. With the 1-day show not opening for another 2 hours we had plenty of time to set up, starting with the track and then moving onto buildings, figures and finally the wiring and of course the stock. I took the film below over the course of the day...

There were two rooms: the Hall itself and a Scout Hut next door. The event was organised by the West Midlands devision of the G Scale Society (45mm gauge) to raise funds. I think I counted about 9 layouts of various sizes from N Gauge up to 45mm, with a few traders thrown in for good measure. The turnout (so I thought) was very good and we had plenty of interest and questions. The Hall itself got very full towards Lunchtime as people continued to gladly hand over a very reasonable £3 per adult for entry to the show. There was also a Cafe area where various hot & cold snacks could be purchased as well as various drinks. The organisers kept us exhibitors well supplied with cuppa' after cuppa' as well as providing expenses and even a packed lunch for each of us; very nice! I had a little snoop around the show myself, including the Scout Hut next door. I must admit, it was well worth £3 of anybodies money, maybe even £5 for an adult at that. The show closed after a busy day at 4:30pm and we were back on the A45 by 5pm; fully loaded and homeward bound! Funny really; the layout takes 2 hours to set up and around 15 minutes to take down again! All in all, a very enjoyable day and I must thank the organisers for their hospitality and for having us. It was nice to see the LEGO out and running again. It doesn't get as many outings as it used to but we still have the 2013 Warley show (in 18 months!) to look forward to. Thanks all. Sam...

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Achilles Report No9: Very, Very Cold!...

Hi everyone. Only a short post from today but a very worthwhile one. I arrived at the RPMR track site with "Achilles" in tow at about 12:45pm. The engine was duly unloaded onto the frosty steaming bays. The ground was very hard and this did not raise my expectations of finding a non-frozen water supply! Sure enough, everything was frozen. Eventually; using hot water; I managed to defrost the mains supply near the station, allowing me to fill my boiler and light the fire. As the engine began to warm up in the chilly breeze, I oiled the axleboxes and the motion. Soon enough, she was ready. 0-4-0 electric "Benella" had already done a few laps and her owner (Peter) had reported to me that it was not too bad going south, but terrible going north! The frosty wind really was biting as "Achilles" made her way onto the track. However, though it was very cold, she ran very well indeed. The pressure remained strong, the fire burnt brightly and the water pump didn't act up at all. Admittedly, as it was freezing cold, I only did 5 or 6 laps but it was very enjoyable. In the end I gave up because it started to snow! Below, "Achilles" is blown-down on the bay as quickly as possible...
I did take a short video of around 1/2 of the track during my short running session. "Achilles" is spotted performing well on the 1 in 70 bank and then heading through a quiet Ryton Halt after a stop for water at the stand-pipe (sorry for the poor quality; its off my phone!)...
video
Though the run was short-lived "Achilles" performed faultlessly. In fact, I wish it had been a summer's day as I could have ran for ages with her performing that well. You watch now, she'll fail the next hot day we have...but thats just the way of steam locomotives isn't it?! The next 'penned' running for the loco is the first Saturday of next month, if I'm free then; I expect we'll have to see. I do have many running days planned in 2012 at CMES though, and I also plan to take the engine to both GEC and Rugby MES if invites permit later in the year (Watch this space!). Following a hopefully successful season, the loco will be retired for winter again during mid-November: thats the plan. The loco will then be stripped from the running boards down for rebushing and some minor valve gear and lubricator attention. In 2013, I hope she will be a much more economical and perhaps an even more powerful engine to boot. Cheers guys...Sam...