Sunday, 27 April 2014

Miniature Traction Engine Weekend 2014...

Hi guys. Well, though it took over a year to sort it all out, Miniature Traction Engine Weekend 2014 is featured here in just one huge post. For those in the know, I solely organise MTEW, on behalf of the Battlefield Line. The event, in its second year this time, takes place at Market Bosworth Station on the Old Goods Yard there. Last year it was a success. This year I am pleased to say that it was a brilliant success and I am so, so pleased with both the attendance of the public & the exhibitors, not to mention the support given by the railway and its members. Although in reality a small player in terms of rallies, it was very well received and I am so thankful for that. I must firstly thank anyone and everyone who helped set up, helped during the weekend, exhibited or visited...thank you. To give you a brief overview, the 2014 event began planning immediately after the 2013 one. The date was set immediately for April 26th/27th and last years exhibitors were soon invited to return. A small write-up in the May 'Old Glory' magazine last year and reviews on the various traction engine forums certainly helped with the engine search, as did visits to local and further afield rallies such as the Great Dorset Steam Fair. By November, the forms were out and the official invites were underway. The forums were all filled in with all of the relevant information and various people contacted for either advertising purposes or to invite them to come. Every single engine or exhibit at MTEW is appreciated - it really is. Thankfully, around 35 miniatures turned out for us as well as various stands, two full size road engines, "Blue Circle", the organ, the 5" miniature railway and more bits & bobs. It was great fun. We were so lucky with the weather after a wet Thursday evening and soaking wet Friday set-up (12 hours in the pouring rain!). I was so despondent after Friday that the sun that came on Saturday was more welcome than ever. I must thank our Old Glory Reporter Malcolm Ranieri for the first 13 pictures on this post. He took some great photo's and sent copies to me. So, here we go, Saturday...
"Louise": one of our centrepiece big engines: gets into the line-up ready for the 2pm "Big Whistle"; the finale of the parade...
Our other big engine (alongside Phil's gleaming roller "Louise") was Statfold Barn's beautiful Marshall General Purpose Traction Engine of 1929. The single cylinder engine is named "Mary", and affectionately known therefore, as "Mary Marshall". I was so pleased with the attendance of the two big engines and am forever indebted to their owners for sending them...
In the 'working area' (new for 2014), we had Wood Sawing & Flour Milling, as well as a working demonstration of a 4" Threshing Machine; itself only finished days before the event. The 3" Sawbench was operated by the very impressive 3" Fowler "Lofty", from Suffolk...

Sawing in action...
On her first ever rally, 6" Burrell Gold Medal Tractor "Cranleigh Belle", from Bedfordshire, climbs the hill towards Market Bosworth town centre...
A rare and much appreciated American engine came in the form of 4" Case single "Filbert"...
"Cranleigh Belle"s stable mate (same owner) was also in attendance: a wonderful 3" Fowler Z7 type Ploughing engine...
Mr Nelson returns to the station aboard his 6" Savage 'Little Samson' "Firefly": another rare engine...
A wonderful 4" example of the Foden Steam Lorry (a C-Type possibly?) climbs towards Market Bosworth...
"Beautiful in Blue": Fowler Showmans (4") "Sir Henry" rubs shoulders with a 4.5" Scale Foden C-Type wagon...
The highlight of each day for me is arranging the engines into the parade line-up. We had to have two rows this year to accommodate them all! Here they are...
I must again thank Mr Ranieri for sending in the 13 images above: they are wonderful. The line-up one is just brilliant...I love it. So, after a successful Saturday we were all glad to see 5pm come so we could close and have a rest! The evening would see 3803 back in action, with my mate Eddie on the regulator, performing the "Pie & Chip Special" for all of our exhibitors, departing at 6pm. She is seen here, captured by Chris Simmons, departing Market Bosworth for Shenton with the special...
The staff of the Battlefield Line Catering Department did a fantastic job on the special and I could not fault them: thank you all. I tell you what though I was glad of a pint Saturday night! So, on to Sunday, and at 7:30am the big engines are still slumbering...

"Filbert" ready to raise steam...
The final engines ready to leave the Goods Shed. We do store engines overnight for people not staying on site, which is an advantage of having such large storage space!...
4" Garrett "Betty" raises steam in the morning. Note the extended chimney for better drafting...
"Blue Circle" raises steam in the sidings. I am very thankful to owner Mick for sending her for the weekend. She certainly was popular...
4" Burrell Showman's Road Locomotive "Jane" raises steam...
4" Garrett "Josh" and 4" Showmans "Jane"...
The lovely 6" Tasker and the immaculate 4" Burrell "Success"...
A perfect pair: 4" Burrell Single Crank Compound's "Gemini I" & "Gemini II"...
A Sunday day visitor: a 4" Ruston Proctor looking very smart in black...
The 6" Little Samson raises steam...
4" Burrell "Florence", with extension chimney affixed, raises steam...
"Sir Henry" the 4" Fowler Showmans...
4" Burrell Scenic Showman's "Frederick"...
4" Foster "Norjon"...
4" Burrell "Wishgiver" & "Norjon"...
4" Foster "Safaniya" of Rugby MES...
4.5" Foden "Heather" with Freddie & Molly aboard...
Another Sunday day visitor: a 4.5" Foden...
The wonderful 4" Foden...
"Winston" the 3" Fowler Z7...
Another lovely 4.5" Foden...
4" Case "Filbert" and 4" Foster "McGrew" raise steam...
Our fabulous Meccano stand by Mr Bob Seaton...
Another capture of "Filbert" & "McGrew"...
3" Fowler "Lofty" on the Sawing...
A pic sent in of the Saturday 'Whistle Up' by Mrs.J.Bunn...

"Saturday Whistle Up" - By J.Bunn
4" Foster Threshing...
4" Burrell "Sybil" on Flour Milling...
So, photo-wise, I think that will do! Thank you very much for reading/viewing guys. It was a fantastic weekend and I must again thank every exhibitor and every visitor. It was just fantastic and I am so pleased with what has been achieved. The date for next year is April 25th/26th so I look forward to beginning the organisation of the event again in the Autumn. Cheers guys - Sam... 

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Achilles Report No53: Boiler Cladding On!...

Hi everyone. The loco is now coming on very well. With the smokebox complete and the slide-bar hangers painted, the engine was ready to have her boiler cladding refitted. However, before this could take place, I had to lag the boiler. The brand new insulation was cut to size and then wrapped around the boiler before being fastened with aluminium tape. Then, with a little tenderness, the main section of boiler cladding was refitted. Once in place, the first polished brass boiler band was fitted to hold the cladding secure. It was then time to cut the second part of the lagging to shape and fit it...
"Boiler Lagged & Ready For Cladding"
The locomotive then had her second section of repainted boiler cladding fitted, along with her other three boiler bands. The repainted (now black) firebox cowling was then refitted along with the manifold, including brand new whistle valve. The engine's safety valves and dome cover were then also refitted before she made her way outside for a 'progress snap' or two. I am very pleased with the colour of the engine now: I love the blue. The new livery is much lighter than the old blue, and with the majority of her old dents removed and no breaks in the paint, the engine looks lovely. The grey colour of the smokebox also seems to contrast nicely with the brass and the matt black livery of the frames. The running boards, when they are refitted, should also set it off a treat...
After these shots were taken, the engine was taken back into the workshop and now awaits the final work to return her to steam. I have since made progress on refitting the valve gear and the L/H side coupling rods, connecting rod, expansion links and trunnion bearings are all back on. The new bearings on the trunnion pins will require some good old fashioned running in as they are still quite tight, but no more so than a good 'running fit'. When both sides of the valve gear are refitted (probably in a week or two), all I need to do is refit the running boards and then put the tanks back on. There is only then an hour or so of 'piping up' to do before the engine is ready to steam. We are planning a resteam on Friday May 9th...will she make it?...we'll see! Cheers guys, Sam... 

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Can't Beat This Prairie...

Hi guys. Firstly, let me thank Driver Adrian for a brilliant day. Secondly, let me thank 5542 Ltd for sending their brilliant machine to us. And, last but not least, thank you to Mr Paul Biggs for sending in the brilliant title image. We are seen there passing Hedley's at 25mph this afternoon. OK, I think it was fair to say that myself & Adrian had been looking forward to today since the return, if brief, visit of GWR Small Prairie No5542 was announced. Built in 1928, 5542 would be on her third visit to the railway over the last few years. She was a good engine then, she's brilliant now! Since her last visit the engine has had a full 10-year overhaul at the South Devon Railway and has come back better than new. Her boiler makes steam like its going out of fashion, there isn't a knock, a bang or a clank on the bottom-end whatsoever and the nifty hydraulic ashpan and damper system make preparation a breeze. I cannot fault her, at all: which is a strong statement when it comes to steam engines! We arrived at the shed at 5:30am in order to get 5542 ready for our 8:30am off-shed time. The engine sat sizzling at the front of the shed with just a tiny bit of steam left on the clock. The grate was cleaned and then tipped using the hydraulic system, and then she was ashed out using the spray-bar washer and hopper doors: easy! It was then time to set to with the Brasso and make the already immaculate engine look prettier. Before long, we had left shed, prepped the freight and we were off with the 9am demo-freight...
"5542 Draws The Freight Over The Crossing" (D.Hanks)
5542 passes the shed area with the freight. The newly-restored SR brakevan is directly behind the engine as I look back on the train as it passes over the crossing...
"5542 Gets The Freight Away" (D.Hanks)
Having left Shackerstone with the freight, a still 'cool' 5542 steamed OK as we headed down the line. We ran round at Shenton before backing onto the freight for the return assault. The engine had a bright, thin fire in the box with an extra four or five shovelful's around the back end, as Western's tend to like it. I did notice that the engine tended to eat the coal away around the back corners and just forward of them against the side-sheets. Fireman David had also mentioned this to me when he had her the day before. With this fire, 5542 roared out of Shenton and, as the top of Shenton bank approached, she blew off. We then ran on the flap with the injector on through Market Bosworth non-stop, where the fire was briefly checked as we ran through the platform. Once back at line-speed near Airport bridge, I added four or five more shovelful's to the back end which got 5542 back home with 170psi on the clock and a fairly full boiler. This was done to stop her blowing off during our long-layover (we wouldn't be out again until Midday!). The engine is spotted here at the Signalbox having marshalled the freight in the sidings after a great first run...
The second run today for 5542 was the Midday passenger. The locomotive hauled the 5-coach train easily along the line and we had another brilliant run back trying to make up a little bit of time. The engine's pressure needle stuck firmly to the red line and the injectors were a dream. A perfect one-two-three-four beat left the chimney at even intervals and the whole loco just whirred along: cannot fault it - not one bit. After the midday run the loco spent most of the afternoon stabled on the old pit road in the South Yard. In the meantime 3803 and "Bluebell" were working trains whilst "BC" operated around the station. During this rest period, I cleaned 5542's fire which was getting a little clinkered and also spent some time in the bunker, pick-axing through the slack. I think there was some Welsh in the bottom of the bunker, hence the large amounts of slack (our Russian coal seems to be smaller but has less slack in it). 5542 was primed and ready for our final run at 4pm, with the passenger. Carrying Adrian's 'Cambrian Coast Express' headboard, we enjoyed a brilliant run and it was a pleasure to be aboard 5542. She steamed wonderfully, injectors were great, no knocks, no bangs, perfect beats - you name it. Its not very often that you can say that you had a faultless day on a faultless engine, but this was one of those days! It was just fantastic. And, believe me when I say that the crews on other engines were even offering bribes to get another day on 5542! She's just perfect now...perfect. I must thank Adrian once again for a cracking day and 5542 Ltd for sending their brilliant tool of an engine. Click here for a Youtube video taken during the day by a visitor. Thanks very much guys - Sam...