Saturday, 31 August 2013

Achilles Report No37: Rugby MES Visit...

 
Hi there guys. To say I was drowsy this morning was an understatement! Last night consisted of a 3-hour drive back from Bournemouth, following our visit to the fabulous GDSF on Thursday. This arduous journey, coupled with a lack of sleep, made me a little 'slow to start' this morning but nevertheless "Achilles" made it to the Rugby MES track at Onley Lane by 10am. Would you believe that after all my worrying about sleeping in that we got there before most others?..."Sods law"! Today was the annual CMES pilgrimage to Onley Lane and its raised 3.5"/5" gauge track. "Achilles" was making her 2nd visit to the track where she performed so well last year, despite being in poor mechanical condition. This morning we were on hand to try it out once again and the locomotive steamed up alongside Jeremy's "Princess Marina", with smoky results...
In the morning sunshine, the blue tank engine warmed up fairly well on her electric blower. There have never been any 'power points' on Rugby's 5" gauge track and therefore the locomotives have to be connected up to 12V batteries for blower supply. I don't own a battery but Derek was kindly on hand to lend me a spare one of his. We must be spoilt at CMES as I've never needed a battery anywhere else!...
Before long; having oiled up and filled the water tanks; "Achilles" was in steam and hissing off her steaming bay onto the traverser...
"Achilles On The Traverser" (K.Eyre)
From the traverser the loco hissed down onto the transfer device. The locomotives are pushed on a large trolley until they are directly over the track. A connecting section of rail then allows the locomotives to steam down onto the actual track before passenger cars are connected behind. This seems an unusual system but definitely works well. With the locomotive on the track safely, away we went. She steamed perfectly and happily hauled myself and a few others around the track for a good few hours...
The turnout across other locomotives was also good and I must have counted at least 8 other locomotives in action as well as my own...most of which were steamers...
"Achilles In The Woods" (M.Sweatman)
After a successful few hours running I decided to dispose of the locomotive, which was still blowing off at every given opportunity. She had done very well and I was very pleased with the way everything had worked...
Having dropped the fire and blown the boiler down as well as drained the tanks, "Achilles" was lifted back into the faithful Saxo before we headed off for home. Rugby MES must be thanked for their kind hospitality and I'm sure that everyone who attended enjoyed themselves. Its a very pleasant little track. Best Regards, Sam...

Thursday, 29 August 2013

The Great Dorset Steam Fair (6 of 6): Ploughing & Miniatures...

Hi guys. Well, for the 6th and final time here we go for another Great Dorset Steam Fair post. Right up on the edge of the fair in a very large field stand the famous Ploughing Engines. Arguably the largest traction engines ever built, the Ploughing engines are specifically designed to do just that: plough! Their large stature and strong build results in some very powerful engines and the Fowler's that stood on the field before us today were no exception. Underneath their large boiler's they carry a winding drum which has a ring of teeth on the top. The drum holds a huge length of very strong steel cable which is connected to a plough. A pair of ploughing engines are required to do the job: one at each end of the field.

The engine which currently 'has the plough' will give a quick whistle to signal to the now 'hauling' engine that it is time to commence the pull. The drum is driven from the cylinder block and valve gear on the engine just as the wheels are but, when not in drive-gear, a dog-clutch is engaged which starts the drum underneath the boiler moving. As the cable becomes tight, the plough will begin to make its steady way down the field. The steersman (or steersmen) riding on the plough have to ensure that it is kept in line. When the plough reaches the hauling engine the dog-clutch is released and the drum will stop turning. The driver on the engine can then shut the regulator to cut-off the supply of steam and thus stop the engine. The process is then repeated, with the plough going back and forth until the job is done. As the field is gradually ploughed, the engines will now & again have to be put into drive-gear and driven forward a few feet or so to keep the plough in line with them, and to progress across the field...
There were three pairs of ploughing engines in action today on the ploughing demonstrations, with another extra standing alone...
A few years ago I met Fowler Ploughing Engine "Margaret" of 1870 at the Torbay Steam Fair (see post). I spotted her when I was a bit younger as she was the subject of the TV restoration series known as "Salvage Squad". One of the episodes centred on the restoration of "Margaret" from a scrapyard wreck to the beautiful condition that she is seen in today. She is beautiful (and very big!)...
"Margaret" & another Fowler Plougher (No1364)...
Another Fowler in 'rusty', work-tired condition!...
The ploughing field with four of the Fowler's in view...
"Margaret" and her plough...
Here, "Margaret" is pressed into action on the ploughing (her sisters are a good way away, at the top of this sizeable field)...
"Fowler" trio...
John Fowler's were famous as producers of huge Ploughing Engines and I've only ever seen Fowler types around. I am not sure if any other manufacturers attempted to make them...
Thanks for the display!...
Below, "Margaret" does the Ploughing in a short clip I took...

It was a great pleasure to see the Ploughers in action and it was certainly a first for me. Though I've seen a fair few Ploughers around, I hadn't seen them actually doing the job before. Very impressive indeed. And now onto the Miniatures...
Though the Great Dorset Steam Fair does centre around full size steam, the Miniatures are of course included. I think there were well over 50 odd there, dotted about the place. This one was a beauty...a 6" Burrell Road Loco named "Black Pearl", built to pretty much the same proportions as "Wandering Star"...
The infamous and very popular 4" Garratt...
A Blue Burrell gets to grips with a Sawbench in 4" Scale...
Now that's a nice Burrell...
A 4" Burrell doing some Flour Milling...
 A 4" Garratt Roller gets to grips with Wood Splitting...
B.P.Harris' 4" Garratt Roller...
A massive 6" Burrell DCC Showmans Engine..."Wow"!...
4" Threshing with Foster & Ransomes set...
Well folks...finally(!), we have come to the end! Thank you all so much for reading and for taking an interest in my posts about the GDSF. The show is just huge, it really is and its size can really not be described in words. The exhibits are countless and you probably need at least 2 days to really appreciate everything that there is to see...if not a bit longer. We spent about 9 hours at the show and still only saw the steam stuff really...but that's what we came for! For £15 you cannot grumble...there is a huge amount of stuff to see. It really is fantastic. So, thank you guys once again and I hope you have enjoyed reading about the one-and-only Great Dorset Steam Fair...
"Long Long Ago on a Dorset Plain
Engines Gathered In The Pouring Rain
In A Field In A Village That They Call Stourpaine
The Stourpaine Gathering"
(Dr Busker)
"South Down
At Tarrant Hinton Its South Down
Great Dorset Steam Fair At South Down"
(Dr Busker)
Thanks Guys - Sam

The Great Dorset Steam Fair (5 of 6): The Roller's...

Hi everyone. Well, as I continue to write my online book, otherwise entitled "Posts about the Great Dorset Steam Fair", we come to the Steam Rollers. This year at the GDSF it was "Roller Year" and I think there were just over 150 of them in attendance! This gathering: as you can imagine: is pretty spectacular and on the Saturday of the event the show is hoping to grab the World Record for the largest procession of Steam Roller's ever. Below, the traditional method of road rolling is demonstrated. The Aveling & Porter Roller is crushing stone which has already been through a fine stone crusher driven by a Foster agricultural...
Now we come to what was a real delight for me. The Aveling & Porter R10 Steam Roller below should be familiar to many. Wearing her own unusual green livery and a familiar family name, she was none other than the late Fred Dibnah's "Betsy". Originally named "Alison" when Fred first restored the engine, her name was changed to "Betsy" after Fred & Alison (his first wife) divorced. "Betsy" was Fred's mothers name and the Aveling has carried this name ever since. Many years ago it was the engine that was forever broadcast on the BBC and is arguably the most famous Steam Roller in existence. And, here she is...now I can finally say that I've seen her in steam...
Proudly displaying the famous nameplate...
"Betsy" is now owned by Fred's sons Jack & Roger and, indeed, Roger was driving her about today. We spotted "Betsy" in the Playpen later on that day...
Rollers at rest...

More Rollers!...
A huge marquee on the 'Roller Strip' held yet more of them in various stages of restoration from scrapyard condition to immaculately restored. There must have been a good 15 or so Roller's in this marquee alone!...
"Aveling & Porter, A Workman's Machine"...
The Roller's stood proudly in the various line ups. Makers included Burrell, Breda, Marshall, Fowler, Wallis and of course the famous Aveling & Porter's which proudly carry their Invicta Horses on the headstock...
Another Aveling!...
There were just Roller's absolutely everywhere...far more than could ever be documented and truly described...
An engine with quite a humorous name...
"Told You!"...(A grand name for an engine I thought!)...
Thank you for reading yet another post about the Great Dorset Steam Fair, folks. The next post (you will be pleased to know) is the last one about this fabulous show but...and believe me...there was even more than this to see! Cheers guys, Sam...

The Great Dorset Steam Fair (4 of 6): The Playpen!!...

Hi guys. The Great Dorset Steam Fair's largest 'arena' is the Heavy Haulage Arena, otherwise known as the "Play Pen". The arena advertises Heavy Haulage displays throughout each day of the show and the rest of the time it provides a commentated 'free for all' for the countless engines on site. In the centre of the hilly landscape stand a variety of trailers upon which various loads are carried. The largest trailer weighed 80 tons(!) on its own and it was loaded too! Other loads included 12 tons of chain, a large concrete block and a few more. As people sit on the various benches which surround the huge arena, an engine or two seem to come past every couple of seconds. All the time, the commentary continues in the background and allows you to learn more about both the concept and uses of the engines and some individual engine histories as well. We must have sat for about 30 minutes (twice) on the benches so that we could: A) take a load off!, and B) watch the displays! It was fascinating watching the engines slowly making their way around, plus the fact that they were pulling various loads throughout the day. Both ends of the pen include large gradients and the engines sound well going up them. Below, a large McClaren is on duty for the Charity Trailer Rides...
An Advanced Steam Roller...
An ex-Wirksworth Quarries chain-driven Dual-Roller...
There are not just steamers in the 'Play Pen'...the trucks get in on it too!...
Logging!...
Another huge road engine takes another trailer around the 'Play Pen'...
Next, a rare Breda-built Roller. This Italian engine was brought to the UK and I believe it is the only one of its type over here...
Below, Will & Kirsty (our friends) take the Statfold-based Fowler Tar Sprayer around the 'Play Pen'...looking smart...
Engine race!...
A very pretty Burrell Steam Roller, looking immaculate...
As well as the road and agricultural engines, there were of course Crane Engines! These are huge...
Engines getting ready...
Road engines are just huge!...
This years railway engine that was to be hauled around the pen was the Mid Hants Railway's BR Standard Class 5MT 4-6-0 No73096. This engine is currently out of ticket but was once a MHR flagship on the main line as, in her green livery, she inspired the "Green Train" which operated main line specials around the South of England. She certainly looked impressive stuffed and mounted...
A Garrett Single trots along with another trailer run as a larger road engine over-takes...
An ex-Leicester County Council Roller...
Below, a Fowler Road Engine watches the Roller's go by...
Roller's galore!...
Here we see an almighty display of power as a Crane Engine, a Foden Road Engine and a Burrell Showmans take the strain, with a banking engine for assistance!...
"Fantastic!" (you should have heard the noise!)...
Banking...road engine style!...
Roller Heavy Haulage...
At the top of the steep climb the three engines and their load (with banker) took a breather. Naturally the injectors were heard gurgling away in order to raise the water levels prior to the descent...
The engine below was one that I found hard to understand. There are 4 bolt-holes in the bottom of the smokebox so that the front forks can be bolted up onto it. However this engine has had its forks brought forward so that only two bolts (the rear two) are fastened in. This makes for an odd-looking engine but it almost looks as if the wheels would foul the engine when on full-lock if in their design position? Maybe that's why? Beats me...
Engines at rest...the left-hand one is a HUGE McClaren...
Engines Everywhere!...
"Cor": an Aveling Roller...
Miniature Heavy Haulage! A pair of Burrell's join forces with a Fowler as a banker as they tackle the outside lane (specifically for Miniatures) and slog upgrade. The little Burrell at the front was, shall we say, struggling...
Well, as you can see guys there was plenty to see. You could have sat next to the pen for most of the day and always had something to look at. There were engines everywhere! Cheers guys - Sam...