Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Achilles Report No15 - Evening Steam Up...

"Achilles" With Lamp & Headboard
Hello people. I sat at work today wishing the minutes away so that I could get out into the hot sunshine and pick up "Achilles". Destination?: Ryton Pools and the 5" gauge track owned by CMES. Myself & Ben arrived first at about 5pm. We opened up and then took the Saxo up to track level to unload the engine. Under the hot sun, "Achilles" hissed as I shoved her backwards onto the traverser beam. She was then moved onto one of the 5" gauge only bays for prep.
Having took the Saxo back down to the road, Dave & his son arrived with their 3.5" Princess Marina (Stanier Mogul). The two engines were prepared side by side. First I oiled "Achilles" up before filling the boiler with water via the hand-pump in the l/hand tank. With 1/2 glass of water in the boiler I lit the fire using ready soaked parrafin wood. The electric blower was then used to draw the wood fire before changing onto coal.
Fire In The Hole
Other engines duly arrived and it ended up being one of the busiest club running events that I have seen for quite a few years. There were just so many engines, mostly steam but also with some electric/petrol examples mixed in. "Achilles" was the first steamer on the track, coming on at just after 5:30pm. I took her for a lap before Shackerstone collegue Dave took over for the following 3 laps. For the rest of the evening the loco gave various rides to not only my family and friends but also to club members and guests. Ken (the gentleman who gave me the loco) also attended and seemed very impressed with the condition and peformance of the engine. She was steaming and pulling well, though the valve gear is beginning to clank rather audibly. The l/hand crosshead in particular is very worn, as are both big ends. Luckily, "Achilles" only has another 3 or 4 runs to do before the end of the season when she will be rebushed in the winter. This should give her a new lease of life and allow her to run much more economically and quietly.
The newly-fitted reverser spring (to stop her choosing her own running position) seemed to be working very well and I could leave her in 2nd or 3rd notch and she would stay there no matter what. Beforehand the loco would have pulled herself into either full forward or even mid-gear which was beginning to be a bit of a pain, particularly when climbing the lengthy 1 in 70 bank. The recently changed return crank settings seem to have altered the engines valve events for the better and it now seems to run much smoother at speed. I was impressed anyway!
 
Dave, as usual, was joined by his camera and kindly sent in the following 5 images for your interest. Cheers Dave!
No Overalls Today - Shorts Weather! (D.Hanks)
"Achilles" On The Bank With Two Guests Behind (D.Hanks)
Eddie Relishing The Chance To Drive Something Of Quality! (D.Hanks)
Eddie Driving "Achilles" With Ken Riding (D.Hanks)
Me Back On The Regulator With Mum & Ben Riding (D.Hanks)
Thanks for reading folks. It had been a very enjoyable evening. "Achilles" had performed very well and even other drivers such as Eddie, Dave and Emma had managed to take her round and return with good steam & water levels. To me, that shows that the engine is doing OK. I hope however that it will be much, much better once she's been rebushed and had a few minor mods/repairs carried out. "Achilles" will next run in a few weeks, with any luck! ;) Cheers. Sam...

Monday, 23 July 2012

A Beautiful Day For Sitting In The Garden...

Wilesco & 5775
Hi everyone. Well, what a beautiful afternoon. We sat in the garden with a cuppa' in hand watching Class 57XX No5775 pulling her passenger train around the 00 gauge garden railway track. Meanwhile the Wilesco was simmering away, feathering at its tiny safety valves and ticking over lightly. In the workshop, "Achilles" stood shining and clean wearing her headlamp and headboard: ready for Wednesday. I love days like this.
Cheers guys. Sam...

Sunday, 22 July 2012

A Day In Shackerstone Shed...

Aveiling & Porter "Blue Circle" - Shackerstone
Hi there guys. Today I was back at Shackerstone, arriving at just after 9am. The rostered loco (3803) was just about to leave shed on Footplate Experience duty. Once the loco had left shed I cleaned out the pit of ash & clinker, with the help of Jason. Myself, Jason and Will then helped Mic clean his engine: "Blue Circle". The Aveiling 2-2-0 was slowly raising steam before attempting to leave the shed through the South End into the so-called 'yard'. Before that occured though myself and Carl had to use the Class 02 diesel shunter to shift two coaches, a railcar and a few wagons. This took us about 30 minutes to do before "Blue Circle" triumphantly chugged out into the sunshine and then out onto the old pit road. Once the 38 had ran round for the next trip, "BC" slipped down into Platform 1 to tick-over for a while. It was the first time in about 18 months that the loco had moved anywhere. It was nice to see her out again.

Dunlop No7...
Peckett 0-4-0ST "Dunlop No7" (Works number 2130 of 1949) is owned by some of the railways members. It has been based at Shackerstone since the 1970s and took its turn on Battlefield Line passenger trains before its firebox began to quilt. The loco was subsequently taken out of service and has stood forlorn at the very back of the North End sidings for around 30 years. However, around 4 months ago the loco resurfaced and appeared at the side of the shed. Back then she had her boiler, smokebox and wheels, though everything seemed a bit poorly. Last week however the boiler, tank and smokebox were removed and now lie in the North End. Today the frames were being lifted for the two axles and their four wheels to be removed.
The first set of wheels was removed with the eccentric sheaths still fitted
30 years of being out in the open air has no doubt taken its toll but I'm sure the guys restoring her will get her running again
There we go, all four wheels out!...
 
Progress on this small but chunky 0-4-0ST has been rapid so far. In the past 2 weeks she has been almost completely stripped, which I think is very impressive. The boiler, tank and chimney are now up in the North End awaiting attention.
The boiler currently has no inner firebox which I believe is one of the main jobs to be done on it
After some good running-in throughout the day, 2-2-0WT "Blue Circle" was back in the shed. Her first proper movements with her new gears seemed successful and I believe owner Mic was very happy with her.
I washed up at around 4pm ready to go home, after witnessing 3803 slope in from Shenton on the 3:35
I left Shackerstone at around 4:15pm and headed home. It had been a nice, humorous and interesting day in the loco shed. The progress on Dunlop No7 was particularly impressive and I'm sure that we can all look forward to seeing the little Peckett in action again sometime soon.
Once back home I decided to start cleaning up "Achilles": my 5" gauge loco, ready for her run on Wednesday. Cheers everyone. Sam...

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Sun, Sun, Sun with 3803...

Hi all. Today I was out on the Great Western Heavy Freight again, at Shackerstone. Dave was trainee fireman and Eddie was the rostered Driver. We arrived at 6am to find the loco warm but with no coal in the tender whatsoever. We used two wheelbarrows to cart some coal up from the North End sidings where the coal pile is before lighting the loco at just before 7am. Adrian turned in at 7:30 to fire up a diesel before dragging us down to the North End for coaling. The tender was soon brimmed with coal, thanks to Aidy and the JCB. When the loco was back on shed the 08 scurried away back to its yard whilst we finished oiling, cleaning and firing up the engine. At around 10:30am we left shed before reversing with drain cocks open over the crossing to the signalbox. The loco was then put onto the 4-coach train and watered. Following watering we still had just over 25 minutes to go before the first departure so, naturally, we got the breakfast going...
Sausages & Bacon On The Cook
The first run was brilliant and the loco performed very well. I fired whilst Eddie drove. Eddie fired the second trip and Dave the third and fourth. Eddie and Dave shared the firing on the last trip.
3803 At Market Bosworth - Northbound
It was a very warm but uneventful day. 3803 steamed, pulled and operated well - as usual. The five service trains ran pretty much to time and nothing out of the ordinary occured. I suppose it was just one of those 'normal' days.
Our cleaning of the loco this morning certainly seemed to have paid off as she looked lovely
"Engine Ready"
Another day at the office...
 
As usual our roving photographer Mr Hanks was out & about with us on the footplate and took the two images shown below.
Fireman Sam Brandist Firing The Front End
Fireman Eddie Jones Going For The Most Lumps Of Coal On One Shovel Record
All in all a very enjoyable day on the footplate of 3803. Thanks to Eddie and Dave for another brilliant time. 3803 performed very well once again with no problems reported. I'll hopefully next be on 3803 on Saturday August 4th. Cheers guys. Sam...

Saturday, 14 July 2012

A Wedding Special at Shackerstone...

Hi Everyone. Following a brilliant night at Market Bosworth Goods Shed last night for a performance from Dr Busker, I returned to the railway this morning. It was Rails & Ales weekend and a mixed traffic roster was operating an hourly service from Shackerstone between 10am and 7pm. The 3:30pm returning train from Shenton and the 4pm train from Shackerstone would have 120 very special guests on board: it would be a Wedding Train. Wedding trips on the railway are rare but not unheard of. I joined the train at 9:30am in my suit, ready for the day. Gina was in charge with myself, Mark, Beth, Adrian and Kirsty as the waiters/waitress'. The Wedding party would be enjoying a Bucks Fizz reception with Cream Teas then served aboard the two reserved BR Mk1 TSOs. We started prepping the TSOs on the first departure from Shackerstone and, without joking, it took us all day long. We were 'just' ready in time for the arrival of the Bride & Groom at 3pm - thank goodness! Mind you, the train looked brilliant, appropriately hauled by 3803 to boot.
The loco wore two silver wedding bells on the smokebox door handles during her Wedding service. I must admit, the atmosphere was brilliant aboard the train. The guests joined at Shenton via a reception line and then took their seats aboard the coaches. Once the train got away we waiters set to work. First we served the Scones before taking countless pots of coffee and tea up and down the train. Phrases such as "Tea or Coffee, Sir, Madam", "Are You Enjoying Your Day So Far?" and "Is There Anything Else I Can Get For You?" were common place. One lady asked me how I walked so steadily on a moving train. My response was: "Well, I'm normally on the engine which is much bumpier so this is the easy life!". Mind you, with boiling tea in your hand you had to be careful when 3803 braked or you would be over, and probably badly burnt.
The party alighted at Shackerstone for photographs with the locomotive and on the station, as light rain fell. The return run involved the serving of Bucks Fizz in the same manner as we did the tea/coffee. I must admit, though it sounds odd, I do enjoy things like this. It was nice to see the train (well these 2 coaches anyway) full and people enjoying themselves too. I've travelled on many trains like this (as a customer) and I find the service adds everything to the experience. Therefore, I try to remember that when I'm serving our customers. Alot of the time I'm covered in muck and grime with a shovel in my hands so standing back here in my smarts and chatting to passengers can sometimes be a nice change. Mind you, if I had to choose, give me muck and grime anyday ;) A pot of tea just doesn't feel the same as 3803s regulator! Haha. The wedding party thanked us heartily for their experience and alighted happy at Shenton. We meanwhile returned to Shackerstone on the cushions...rather than standing up as we had done all day! Gina thanked us all for our help and we enjoyed some cake before alighting at Shackerstone. I headed home to get changed before Maisie and I returned to Market Bosworth for another performance by Dr Busker, beginning at 8pm. The Real Ale event was based here and four visiting road locomotives stood impressively in the car park. One of my favourites is "Elsa", a blue Marshall single...
Dr Busker was brilliant once again and I believe he will be returning next year. I would seriously recommend him to anyone: very catchy, and very funny!
The show went on til' midnight (as it did last night) but Phil Bates' Aveiling Roller still stood proudly in steam outside the Goods Shed with parrafin lamps lit...and fair play to him!
All in all it had been a fantastic day (and two evenings) at the Battlefield Line. It was the kind of time that makes you feel proud to be a member...and I didn't even touch a shovel! ;) Cheers everyone. Sam...

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Birthday Special with No499...

Hi all. Today I was back at the Ryton Pool Miniature Railway for another rostered turn on one of the Birthday Special days. I arrived at 9am and began prepping 0-4-0 Sweet Pea "John Owen" for use on the main passenger rake. The Class 37 electric was meanwhile pressed into service for the Birthday children to drive. The party arrived on time at 10am and the 37 got going straight away. I drove No499 throughout the running and she performed brilliantly. She steamed well, pulled well and gripped the rails easily. The party went off without hitch and proved very enjoyable for all involved, as well as the party itself (hopefully). Running ended at just gone 11am and the two loco's were soon put away, though the 37 would be later used on the Sunday afternoon service. Cheers everyone. Sam...

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Another Day At The Office...

Hi everyone. Another fantastic day spent firing the wonderful GWR 2-8-0 No3803 at Shackerstone. Myself and Carl had a great day on the engine and everything seemed to go according to plan. Best Regards, Sam...