Saturday, 30 March 2013

The Greyhound With A Bite...

Hello everyone. Well, a much anticipated day out on the footplate of LSWR T9 4-4-0 No30120 turned out to be quite a varied and unusual one. This Greyhound can have one hell of a bite. I arrived at 6am and upon opening the shed door I noticed a tiny wisp of steam coming from one of the injector overflows on the T9...proving that she was indeed very warm after coming around slowly overnight. There was nothing on the clock yet but experience tells you that an engine this warm will start boiling straight away. I'm sure an extra shovelful or so last night before we left would have had her needle off the clock this morning. Anyway, after changing into my overalls I clambered blurry-eyed up onto the footplate and checked the gauge glasses: 1/2 a glass of water. The warming fire was almost out with only the odd glowing ember littering the fire grate inside the dry firebox. A check around with the torch revealed that everything was ship shape in there and so I began clearing the grate with a bent dart.

Eddie had broken up a lot of wood the day before and so I could immediately light the engine. I was told to start this fire with no coal on the grate, just a good mound of wood. The coal can then be added once the wood rages away. The plan is then to black out the wood with coal, until the coal ignites, and then slowly push and roll the bed down to the front over time, using the fire irons. The T9 reps had stated that, if you started with a coal bed, the loco would be a bugger to light. Below, the T9 has been lit and is simmering nicely in the shed at about 7am whilst we have a cuppa'...
The T9 has a fairly tight cab, despite the size of the overall locomotive. The regulator is a push-across type, which starts in the 7 o'clock position and heads across to about 4 o'clock at full open. The reverser is a steam reverser type, with the weighshaft connected to a cylinder who's piston lifts and lowers the di-blocks on the Stephenson valve gear. She is a slide valve engine which, for her size, I found quite surprising, but then again at 114 years old I suppose it isn't that much of a surprise really! Good job the reverser is steam operated that's all I can say, as the force of those big slide valves on the huge cylinders would probably throw the driver over the cab when trying to adjust them on the run! (For example, I found Beattie No30585 quite heavy on the reverser pole). Eddie & Andy oiled the engine around whilst I kept my eye on the fire. The loco's pressure gauge needle slowly began to rise and she sat simmering away completely silently. The T9 is vacuum braked throughout, just like 3803. The cylinders are lubricated by a hydrostatic lubricator, with the axle-boxes fed from boxes around the locomotive rather than mechanical lubricators. One odd thing...just like the Beattie...the steam valves on the injectors go the opposite way to all other locomotives. So they turn clockwise to open, which believe me, does throw you off sometimes!! Below, the fire is burning well on 30120 as she comes around in the shed...
The unusual ratchet firebox on the T9...
Once the T9 was in steam we steamed down to the coal pile, pushing Beattie No30585. We coaled the locomotive with the big welsh coal, using the JCB...
Simmering T9...
For the first run, myself & Eddie were joined on the footplate by John (Footplate Inspector) & Andy (tomorrow's driver). Though it was cumbersome with four on the cab, myself & Eddie had no idea how the T9 would perform and as it was renowned as a bit of a brute, we thought it best to have experienced hands with us as John had driven the locomotive during the gala. Andy was on for the ride in order to oversee, once again, how John did it in order to let his confidence for tomorrow's run grow. We departed Shackerstone around 30 minutes late with the first run, due to operational difficulties (nothing to do with us or 30120). I fired the loco in my usual fashion with a flat fire and slightly more in the back corners. In my mind, 5 coaches and steam heat would be very little challenge for the elderly tender engine. As I thought, she wandered away happily with her big 6ft 7" wheels gripping seemingly well on the damp rails. We pulled out of Shack under chilly, overcast skies and 30120 steamed on towards Market Bosworth. All the time, the pressure was dropping. I fired heavier & heavier to little avail, with low steam pressure but safe water levels. At MB there was very little respite and the departure southbound proved a little un-nerving. The pressure needle was still having trouble as we approached Shenton, though the fire was now raging away in the box.
 
I could not understand it. Every locomotive that we have had on the line, apart from the smallest 0-4-0s, have required very little fire as they have a tendency to clinker heavily and steam poorly with huge great fires inside. This is caused by a lack of draft for a huge fire with only a 5 coach train to pull. Shackerstone is, afterall, no main line! As I uncoupled at Shenton my mind was alive with solutions to the problem. Then, I heard the shovel moving in the cab, loading up the firebox. John was creating what he described as "a Western wedge in a Southern firebox". Though smokey, the ever igniting 'wedge' soon brought the T9 around and we left Shenton with all looking well. The return run was a little more fortunate as the T9 warmed through and the wedge got the firebox up to a stronger temperature. At Shackerstone I deepened the wedge again, allowing us to depart with strong steam & water levels. This run was much better and, by the third run, I was finally beginning to enjoy myself (the cap has never sweated so much!). Below, Dave Hanks captures us leaving Shackerstone with the slightly belated 1:45pm departure, with the T9 proving a lot better to handle when you have the fire right!...
As the elderly 4-4-0 passes Dave, we can see that I still have my boilersuit on, which I use for prep. I simply could not get changed until half way through this run: there was no time or chance! What a stressful day it had been so far! The locomotive ambles past Dave below...
The third run was most enjoyable, as was the fourth. Indeed, on the fourth run, I'd got it cracked and the T9 was quite happy to wander through the Leicestershire countryside with the safety valves lightly feathering and 3/4 of a glass in the gauge glasses. The fire could pretty much look after itself, with me checking for holes at the front end and firing them lightly where necessary, whilst also maintaining the shape of the wedge but also allowing it to reduce in mass slightly each trip. Now that she was hot there was no stopping her. The final trip was a light engine move (for operational reasons) and the T9 is captured at Shenton in the late afternoon sunshine...I love this picture...
Sun Kissed T9
Upon our arrival back at Shackerstone shed the locomotive was disposed of as per normal practise. It had been an eye-opening day and indeed, I've never had to fire so much coal into an engine of this size in a trip before. Mind you, as I've written, as soon as she got properly hot she steamed very freely. The floor based injector water valves were a bit fiddly though! Overall, a very nice locomotive which looks lovely at 114 years old. Its very strange coming off something like 3803 or "Sir Gomer" and going on something like the T9 or Beattie. Its a whole different world. Another entry for "Sammys World"! Cheers. Sam.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Inside A Greyhound...

Hi guys. This afternoon I was at Shackerstone, helping clean out and light up the NRM's T9 4-4-0 No30120, ready for the weekend. Being an elder engine (built 1899) the T9 has some odd features. The firehole door for example has to be taken completely off in order to allow access to the main firehole ring and in turn, access to the firebox for a person. Having moved the heavy door casting I was able to climb into the deep firebox. It really is a tall box and I can just about stand up in there. I was in the firebox in order to do a visual check as part of the FTR, as well as cleaning out the ash from gala Sunday's fire. With all clean and dry, I came out of the firebox and we replaced the casting before lighting a strong warming fire. After an hour or two watching the fire we left the engine to it so that she could continue slowly warming through, as is the practise. Myself and Eddie are rostered out with the T9 tomorrow - I wonder how we'll get on. Cheers guys. Sam.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Welcome Back..."Sybil Mary"...

Hi guys. One word: Snow...enough to strike fear into the minds of any road user or footplate staff! I left home at 5:15am this morning but, due to a traffic accident on the M42, it took me over 2 hours to get to Statfold. By then, all 7 of the engines were raising steam in the cold snow that fell from the grey skies. Phil said that seeing as I'd cleaned out "Sybil Mary" yesterday, then I could join him & Caroline on the loco for the day. I gratefully accepted the invitation to help crew an engine that was making its preservation debut! After changing into my overalls I helped Caroline oil the engine up. The Quarry Hunslets are fairly easy to oil, with the main rods on the outside, and the axlebox oil-pots too. The inside Stephenson's valve gear is accessible by bending over under the saddletank, with your chest against the running board. At arms length you can reach the eccentrics, expansion links, die-blocks and valve spindles fairly easily...dropping a bit of steam oil on the glands as you go. As planned, steaming up alongside "Sybil Mary" were "Marchlyn", No19 (also making its debut), "Harrogate" and the Corpet, with the Fowler and the big Mallet steaming up at Oak Tree Halt...
Caroline had built a strong fire in "Sybil Mary"s firebox and the loco came round easily with the blower slightly cracked. When asked, I drove "Sybil" off shed with "Marchlyn" coupled up behind: the pair would double-head for the day due to their matching Penrhyn liveries. The pair were coupled up to a two coach train and, when ready, away we went. Phil & Caroline took the train to the baloon loop via Oak Tree Halt, with myself stood in the middle of the footplate against the back panel. As the first train, we steamed around the baloon loop and changed the points before continuing through the now trailing point, back onto the main line. The two Penrhyn loco's then took the train smartly back to Statfold before the Corpet was coupled to the rear of the train.
In order to promote safety in these blizzard conditions, the railway had decided to run two trains on the field railway, and one on the new 'Big Engine Railway' only. All three trains were top & tailed so as to remove the need for constant coupling/uncoupling. This system seemed much safer than having 17 engines out on a variety of moves in the arguably poor visibility levels. Depsite the terrible weather, some of the punters still turned up and seemed to enjoy themselves. We certainly enjoyed ourselves on "Sybil Mary". The "Port" class were slightly larger than the "Alice" class, and this was certainly evident when she was tearing along. "Sybil Mary" is about as close as we'll get to getting an idea of what "Winifred" will be like when shes done! After our first two trips, Phil allowed me to drive a run. In terms of driving, I cannot say that the "Port" is much different to the "Alice", though the former does seem to ride alot better and sits a little more stable on the rails with its longer wheelbase. A trip for us today involved being dragged down to the baloon loop by the Corpet, carrying the staff on the rear-most engine, before exhanging it at the terminus and heading back. Below, "Sybil Mary" is being pulled through the loop at Oak Tree Halt bound for the terminus...

Us Tailing The Corpet With "Marchlyn" & "Sybil Mary" (Photo - J.Shadbolt)
At the baloon loop there was a short interval so that the single line staff could be exchanged and so that passengers could take pictures of the loco's. With the right away from the Guard, away we would go again...
Port Quarry "Sybil Mary" (Photo - David Ward)
Out on the line, "Sybil Mary" would march along quite happily, with "Marchlyn" roaring away behind her. The 160psi boiler pressure was more than enough to keep the train moving at a good pace and the steep bank just before Oak Tree seemed nothing to the pair. It must be remembered that engines such as these were real work-horses and were challenged with rough track, poor weather and heavy loads of slate in their day. Below, "Sybil" and "Marchlyn" have both shut-off steam to slow for the sharp left-hand bend at the Statfold home signal (I am driving "Sybil Mary" in this shot)...
Me Driving "Sybil Mary" With "Marchlyn" (Photo - J.Shadbolt)
The sharp curve is shown in the image below, as are the larger wheels of "Marchlyn" compared to "Sybil Mary"...
"Sybil Mary" & "Marchlyn" (Photo - J.Shadbolt)
The "Big Engine Railway" that I mentioned earlier is the term used to describe the new line between the Statfold car park station and Oak Tree. The new line runs parallel with the old route but is steeper in places, and employs somewhat heavier coaching stock to the stuff we were pulling. The Mallet & the Fowler were working this line today, in their top & tailed formation. The fabulous parrallel running which occurred when both trains left Oak Tree at the same time was something to remember...
"The Great Statfold Train Race" (Photo - J.Shadbolt)
As the day wore on we continued to enjoy ourselves and "Sybil Mary" herself proved to be a good performer. Afterall, she is pretty much a brand new engine! The new boiler produced alot of steam when you needed it and the injectors were a dream. Its hard to believe that most of this engine is over 100 years old! What also surprises me about the Quarry Hunslets is their versatility. We must bare in mind that these 0-4-0s were designed to slog it out in the slate quarries of Wales and their designer probably never imagined that they would end up working passenger trains, let alone at more than a walking pace. Their versatility is of course testament to the Hunslet name, just as "Sybil Mary" is now yet another jewel in Statfold's ever shining crown. Below, we can be seen freezing in the station on the cabless Quarry...
"Freezing Cold" (Photo - D.Hone)
Never was a cup of tea more welcome!...
"Cuppa" (Photo - D.Hone)
We hauled our last passenger train at 3:30pm after performing many runs up & down the field railway, a few of which involved some exciting parallel running with the 'big train'. I once again got a go on the regulator and "Sybil Mary" performed very well, romping along with no need for encouragement whatsoever. When notched right back with the regulator just open, the crisp bark is barely audible, showing the haulage capability that she must have.
"Last Train Home - Sybil & Marchlyn" (Photo - D.Hone)
Following the last train we shunted the stock away before retiring the engines to the shed. Despite the snow the day was a complete success and I must sincerely thank Phil & Caroline for allowing me to share their day with them: I really enjoyed it. As always, its nice being in the company of good people on the footplate of an engine. Before I finish this post I thought I'd better include the video's below which are, in a word, special, and show the day perfectly.
 
"Sybil Mary" herself had done Statfold proud and apart from one bush running slightly warm was completely trouble free throughout the day. I must also thank Statfold, and Mr Graham Lee, for allowing me to be part of another Open Day on this magnificent railway: thank you. It really is a stunning place. Cheers guys. Sam.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Completely In Awe...

Hi guys. Just a short one today. I nipped into Statfold after work for a few hours, ready to do a bit of cleaning before an invited firing turn at the March Open Day which takes place tomorrow. Weather forecasts are not looking good but Statfold will, I'm sure, do their best to provide a brilliant show regardless. As usual, when I walked into Statfold I was completely in awe. There is so much to see and yet the equipment and storage facilities on offer there seem completely mundane to those regularly involved with it. To me, it is absolutely fabulous and every engine is a unique jewel in the Statfold crown. A brilliant place, really, fantastic. Below, one of the two newly restored engines being released tomorrow...Large Quarry "Sybil Mary"...
The other engine being released tomorrow is No19, a Hudswell Clarke 0-4-0 which returned from Fiji last June in a poor state. Since then it has been lovingly restored and looks brilliant...
In the main engine shed there were familiar engines and also newbies. It was the first time that I had seen "Sybil Mary", and the first time I'd seen No19 restored (I saw it when it arrived last June). Another new engine was "Josephine" which is a modified 0-4-2 Hunslet (sister to Statfold's 'Trangkil No4') and has been purchased in working condition (unusual for Statfold). Below, we can see "Sybil Mary" and Avonside "Marchlyn", with new build Quarry's "Jack Lane" & "Statfold" behind...
During the afternoon, my mate Phil took me for a jaunt on a rattling 0-6-0 diesel engine that was purchased along with "Josephine" from a private railway collection. The diesel originally operated in a German concentration camp which gives it a slightly unsettling potential history. Below, we are leaving the multi-gauge Statfold yard, bound for Oak Tree (no snow yet!)...
Down in Oak Tree storage shed I saw many engines, including the Bagnall "Isibutu" (a beautiful machine), Peckett's "Triassic" (formerly of Bala LR) & "Liassic", Alice-class Quarry's "Michael" & "King of the Scarlets" and a few more non-British steamers. Outside the shed were two Baldwin locomotives, recently returned in a poor state, from India. Oak Tree is yet another gem and you could spend ages looking around the various engines in there. Back at Statfold, "Sybil Mary" is waiting in the heated shed...
After doing some cleaning and ashing out on "Sybil Mary", I decided to head home as we are out for a meal tonight. I will return to Statfold first thing, hoping that the snow is not too bad. Cheers guys. Sam.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Steam Gala Day 2: Station Pilot with "Sir Gomer"...

Hi guys. Today was another brilliant day on the railway, this time crewing something a little closer to home: our own Peckett 0-6-0ST "Sir Gomer". The ex-Mountain Ash locomotive (1859 of 1932) just had to be steamed for the gala weekend, alongside fellow resident Aveling & Porter "Blue Circle". 1859 is the railways own locomotive and is a jack of all trades, being extremely powerful for her size and able to move whatever you want her to. Regular readers will know that she is of course vacuum and steam heat fitted and can do a full day travelling between Shackerstone & Shenton with five and even six coach trains quite happily. Peckett's were of course ignorant lumps, built to last. I arrived at 5:45am today after an extra 15 minutes in bed (spoilt lad that I am!), with Steve there cleaning the grate and checking the firebox. I then lit the loco up and she sat singing away happily over the pit. Once the locomotive was in steam and ready, we steamed out of the shed and were immediately given the road to take us up onto the pit road to couple up to the local set for steam heating. "Sir Gomer" was rostered as the station pilot and would be heating stock, shunting wagons, marshalling coaches and performing the odd shuttle run with 30585 throughout the day (as she did yesterday). Below, the green Peckett stands heating stock in the up yard...
Throughout the day myself & Carl shared the driving on the locomotive, with James doing most of the firing whilst we were out & about. Having steam heated the local, we brought it down into the station when required and the Beattie then took it to Shenton. When the Beattie returned we had to remove the box-van from the back of her train. Below, I'm driving the Peckett down to collect the box-van, with the Shunter (Danny) riding on board...
"Sir Gomer" In Snow (Photo - Debbies Photos)
As the snow continued to fall, we continued to shunt in order to keep things moving. The green engine took the box-van smartly down to the north end, taking water on route. Though the regulator is still pretty stiff, I got used to it as the day wore on.
Shunting The Box Van (Photo - Debbies Photos)
At 1pm we left Shackerstone tailing the Beattie on the Market Bosworth local. I was showing James how to fire whilst Carl drove and Dave rode with us for the joy of it. The engine performed well on the shuttle, with the shiney Britannia whistle screaming its head off on the way back through Hedley's. That whistle is a joy to use and you can create alot of different tones with it. "Sir Gomer" normally carries an original Peckett whistle but the Brit whistle is a good substitute and is very LOUD! After the shuttle the Beattie was taken off the train and "Sir Gomer" pushed the stock back up onto the pit road for temporary stabling. We took water again before collecting the local set for heating in preparation for the second MB shuttle. 1859 was ready to go when we got the call that the Beattie had failed with the reverser stuck solid in mid gear due to overwhelming steam pressure in the chests, against the valves. We quickly took the stock back up to the pit road before bringing "SG" back light engine. Through the dock road points we went and up towards the back of the Beattie in order to give her a light hearted bump. I carefully nudged the Beattie with "SG" before backing swiftly off and then, away she went. "Sir Gomer" had saved the day.
Me Driving "Sir Gomer" With T9 Behind (Photo - S.Adkins)
The Peckett steamed and ran well all day long and seemed very popular, seeing as she is only a simple locomotive and is a Shackerstone regular. I was very pleased to be driving & firing her again today: a beautiful industrial machine.
Me Taking "Sir Gomer" for Water (Photo - D.Hanks)
Our final job was to shunt the stock for the Beattie's last local, and then to collect it afterwards for stabling. The Beattie was then positioned on the double-headed 5:15pm departure for Shenton, with T9 30120...
With the two Southern's down the line, "Sir Gomer" was raked through and put to bed by myself, Steve and Caroline. "There we go old gal', another day done". All in all a fantastic gala weekend, with strong passenger numbers and fabulous morale levels all around. I for one really enjoyed it. Brilliant. Sam.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Steam Gala Day 1: Beautiful Baby Beattie...

Hello guys. Well, after months of planning by the railway, publicity in the steam rags and anticipation on our parts, the 2013 Battlefield Line Steam Gala had arrived. Myself & David were first on site this morning, arriving in the rain at 5:30am. I was of course rostered on Beattie 30585, with Dave being rostered on 30120. Carl also turned up early and made us both a nice cuppa' whilst we prepped our engines (Carl was out on "Sir Gomer" today). 30585 had had a good warming fire the day before but was not on steam yet. I cleaned the grate with the far too short fire-iron that came with the engine and also checked the firebox, which was nice and dry. The gauge glasses showed 3/4 of a glass and so I lit a strong fire with a pile of parrafin-soaked rags and some rotten wood, which always burns well. Soon enough the baby Beattie was singing away, though the pressure gauge seemed uneager to rise its needle. Driver Eddie arrived at around 6:15 and set to oiling the locomotive up underneath before I ashed her out. 30585 came round surprisingly quickly after 40psi and, even with the blower off and the damper shut, was feathering at the first safety valve within a matter of minutes! There was nothing we could do to keep her quiet.

In the morning rain we drew 30585 out of the engine shed in front of a gang of hardy photographers. We were due off shed at 8:15 in order to drop down into the North End and pick up the freight train, which was due off Shackerstone at 8:45. Right on time we slithered down the yard with the two reps on board, before picking up the stock; made up of four wagons and two brakevans...
30585 With The Freight In The North End
As usual with an engine I've never been on before, I was trying to work out how 30585 went...from the firemans side. I tried her on a flat fire with the hot burning Welsh steam coal for starters. We departed Shackerstone on time with our two reps (Adrian & Paul) present: one on the footplate, the other on the brakevans. Once Driver Eddie had got the 2-4-0s big 5ft 7" wheels to gain grip on the wet rails, we steamed triumphantly out of the yard and across the cross-over, collecting the token as we passed the box. The creeky wagons that we were pulling are rarely used (only for gala's and the occasional P-Way train) and so seemed to drag behind 30585, though she seemed to cope admirably. Due to the Beattie only carrying 600-odd gallons in her small tank, we were forced to take water at Shenton on each trip. This was done using our old petrol-engined water pump and a long hose, with water coming off the old Milk tanker that was positioned there yesterday...
Beattie Drinks at Shenton (Still Raining!)

Returning to Shackerstone on the freight, it was clear that Beattie was a fantastic steamer. With a flat fire and maybe the odd extra shovelfull in each back corner, she would keep 140psi-160psi (full pressure) all the way, with the train being slowed & halted on the steam brake. The injectors, though fiddly, seemed to inject a good stream of water and barely touched the pressure...just what you want! 10 miles later, we were already enjoying ourselves immensely. The NRM'S T9 was already waiting on the stock as we pulled in with the freight, and departed on time at 10am. We then performed some shunting demo's with Beattie and the freight wagons, whilst "Sir Gomer" steam heated our waiting 'local' set. Our local train departed at 11am with Adrian on the regulator, as he is a passed driver at Shackerstone as well as the keeper of 30585 at Quainton. I fired the trip whilst also eating my breakfast, alongside Eddie who was stuffing his down. You cannot beat a breakfast off "Jessie" the Buffet Car...
Throughout the day the Beattie & the T9 shared the services. The two runs to Shenton with the local set (a 10T Box van and two Blood & Custard Mk1's) were probably my favourites: very pleasant. At 1pm & 2:30pm we operated shuttles to Market Bosworth only, top & tailed with the powerful "Sir Gomer". These two trips were very enjoyable, with Beattie putting on a good show on the way there, and "Sir Gomer" showing just what industrials can do on the way back...
30585 Leaves Shackerstone On The Local, "SG" On Rear (Photo - J.Shadbolt)
Throughout the day Beattie's strained water capacity was taking its toll. We seemed to take water all day long (even more than the Pannier's did when we went around the Midlands!). The water filler is in the bunker on the Beattie, with the bag dropped in through a hole you dig in the coal. I tell you what, you need to be careful up there. One slip with the boot can go two ways...1) you fall off and break your neck, 2) the Beattie gets an unhealthy supply of coal in its water tank! Despite the water filler, I cannot convey how lovely this locomotive is. I would put it right up there with some of my favourite locomotive's that I have crewed over the years. At 140 years old Beattie would put most newer locomotives to shame, even "Tornado" in my eyes. Genuinely, a fabuous engine.

Me With Beattie at Shackerstone (Photo - D.Hanks)
As the day drew on we seemed to be very busy, with our last departure at 4pm with the second local, all the way to Shenton. I drove this trip with Adrian firing and Eddie along for the ride. The Beattie was just as good from the drivers side, and limped along quite happily. Starting off in full forward as usual on this slide-valve engine, she would wander away happily with the local. Once over 5 or 10mph I would notch up two or three notches, and cruise at about 4th notch with the regulator cracked so as to keep the engine chuffing along. To change reverser position you had to back off on the regulator to almost shut, otherwise she'd throw you through the cab front! With the regulator shut the loco had to be in full forward gear, as per slide valve locomotives. For those who do not know, a slide valve engine needs to be in full gear when cruising to prevent the valves from rattling around inside the valve chest (more travel = less speed). In a similar case, a piston valve engine is brought back into a "drift position", usually a notch or two before mid-gear, reducing the travel on the valve in this case. Below, I can be seen on 30585 having driven her from Shack...
30585 At Shenton (Photo - J.Shadbolt)
The afternoon had been a little brighter and dryer on the weather side of things, and passenger numbers had been very good indeed. However, under darkening skies, we pulled off the train at Shenton to take water at the tanker and then...the RAIN CAME DOWN (and did it!). Below, 30585 climbs out of Shenton with the last local in the pouring rain, with me firing and Eddie driving again...
Beattie Steams Back to Shack On The Local (Photo - S.Adkins)
Back at Shackerstone, "Sir Gomer" was ready to depart with her usual gala-Saturday evening run. The T9 waiting in the North end headshunt whilst we (with 30585) shunted the local stock up into the south yard for stabling overnight. Eddie then uncoupled the affectionately named 'Beattie'...
After a brilliant day crewing 30585, we disposed of her in the north end yard and joined the final departure of the day from Shack for a beer: the 6:30pm behind the beautiful T9. Below, Mike Snow's fabulous video of the gala, showing 30585 and 30120 at work in Leicestershire. The final shot of the Beattie is driven by myself, steaming through Far Coton...
 
All in all, an absolutely wonderful day. Honestly, I really, really enjoyed it. Fabulous engine and a fabulous day on the Battlefield Line. Wonderful. Regards, Sam.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Twas The Day Before Gala...

Hi everyone. Today I arrived at Shackerstone at 7:30am in order to participate in the final day of preparation for the 2013 Steam Gala weekend. Yesterday, the three line-going engines had their warming fires put in and today, all three would be in full steam. Upon my arrival I lit up Beattie No30585 ready for her steam test following road transport a week or two ago...
In front of the Beattie, "Sir Gomer" was also lit and was coming around nicely. We then enjoyed a cuppa' or two before "Sir Gomer" pushed Beattie out of the shed at around 9am, and down to the north end for coaling. In order to ensure that Beattie's water filler was not covered by the coal, we sent two of the cleaners up on top of the cab with shovels to clear the JCB's bucket by hand...
30585 Takes Coal
"Sir Gomer" patiently waited whilst Beattie was filled, before shunting down the loading ramp and coming forward again for coal herself...
Aren't You Handsome "Sir Gomer"...
With both engines coaled we steamed across the cross-over to the signalbox, hauled by "Sir Gomer". Both engines then dropped back & took water. We had reps on site for both 30585 and the NRM's T9 today, so everyone was on their best behaviour in order to give the best impression. I was shown around the T9 by two lovely gents who had come up all the way from the Bodmin & Wenford in order to look after the 4-4-0 for the weekend. We had a good chat & a laugh as we looked around the T9 and oiled her up for her test run later today.

Once the T9 was oiled, I was shouted outside to see "Sir Gomer" in my way and feathering at the valves. I was asked to fire the locomotive to Shenton & back on her loaded test run with Andy on the regulator, in order to free up Fireman Carl & Trainee Jason to help adjust the T9's brakes. Naturally, I took on the task and away we went. I fired "Sir Gomer" as I normally do with a full, flat fire with a stronger back-end. Filling holes as they appeared along the way, the loco romped along with 140-160psi on the gauge and a strong water level...brilliant. I am very fond of this old Peckett.
At Shenton we ran round the 5-coach test train swiftly and prepared to depart straight away...
"Sir Gomer" at the Battlefield Site
We had a fantastic run back and "Sir Gomer" romped along with 5 coaches seeming no effort whatsoever. Just the job! On arrival at Shackerstone we were halted at the Home Signal (No2), whilst the T9 watered in Platform 2. The Peckett simmered away whilst she was checked over by myself & Andy with the end result showing a favourable run and a big green tick against her name. She is now ready for her weekend's gala duties.
Andy Doing Some Kind of Celebration Dance Next To 1859
Following the test run we anchored the stock down in Platform 2 and took "Sir Gomer" to the pit road where she waited with a dead fire and a full boiler, simmering away nicely...
With line clear, 30585 took the milk tanker to Shenton for the weekend, as part of her test run. On her return, 30120 was ready to go and I acted as Pilotman on the footplate. We had a brilliant run on the 4-4-0 to Shenton & back and steamed back into Shackerstone in good time. After the run, the two Southern locomotives simmered quietly in Platform 1, right behind "Sir Gomer". It looks like its going to be a brilliant weekend...
I finally left Shackerstone at 7:30pm following a very long, tiring but extremely enjoyable day. Tomorrow, its the gala! Wohoo! Cheers guys. Sam.