Saturday, 27 September 2014

North Norfolk Nine Freight...

Hi everyone. Today, whilst on a weekend away in Norfolk, we decided to take in the North Norfolk Railway, mainly just to 'tick another one off'. Upon our arrival in the bustling little seaside town of Sheringham, we parked the car before walking up through the busy streets. The attractive NNR station was reached at just before midday and after purchasing our tickets we quickly boarded the midday train: just in time. At the head, simmering away, was a massive beast: a nine freight. This particular example is No92203 "Black Prince", based at the NNR and owned by wildlife artist David Shepherd. I must admit I was surprised to find "Black Prince" out on what we thought would be a quiet Saturday but, I guess, being one of the UK's premier lines now, the NNR can justify it. The railway has 5 miles of track and runs between Sheringham and Holt, via Weybourne. Over the years the line has built up a fantastic reputation and, most recently, an old friend: B1 1306 "Mayflower": joined the already impressive resident fleet. Leaving Sheringham behind 92203, the train makes its way along the coast with pretty views...
There were two trains in operation today, with the other being hauled by a Class 37 diesel. The two trains passed on each trip at Weybourne and the 37 is seen here, cruising in...
From Weybourne it was upgrade again for the 9F but no matter, these things are brutes. The 9F class was part of the BR Standard Range of locomotives. Designed by R.A.Riddles, the 2-10-0 types eventually numbered 251 examples. The first engines appeared in 1954, with the last ("Evening Star") appearing in 1960 and gaining fame as the last steam locomotive built for British Railways. The 9F's did survive until the end of steam in 1968, though withdrawals of the class began in 1964. This gave the class notably short working lives compared to their design criteria. It was, arguably, a total waste. 92203 was built at Swindon in 1959 and had a terribly short working life which saw her withdrawn in 1967. Luckily, for the princely sum of £3000, 92203 was purchased by David Shepherd direct from BR and so never saw the scrapyard. Soon enough, David named the engine "Black Prince"; a name she has carried ever since. The locomotive has been based on the NNR for a while now, having spent a lot of time at Toddington in recent years...
Capable of hauling 900 ton trains at 35mph, the 9F's gave a tractive effort of 39,667lbs with their 250psi boilers, 20" x 28" cylinders and ten 5ft driving wheels. They were very powerful and popular engines, with some even recording 90mph performances: a scary thought! At Holt, "Black Prince" rested after a completely easy run from Sheringham...
A footplate view on "Black Prince", showing the BR standard arrangement of 'everything under the drivers hand'...
Here, in a blurry view in hot sunshine, 92203 runs round at Holt...
The 9F was then watered at the tower...
Another view of 92203 "Black Prince". I think this is a handsome engine...
Before long it was time to rejoin the train for the return journey. 92203 again found it no problem, particularly with most of the run seeming to be downhill. At Weybourne, having passed the 37 again, the train was drawn out past the engine sheds. Industrial 0-6-0s "Ring Haw" and "Whissington" stood on the shed front, blocking Black Five "George Stephenson". Also resident here, though indoors today, are B1 1306 "Mayflower" (an old friend) and LNER B12 No8572...
After a pleasant run back to Sheringham, 92203 runs round again...
"A Final View of 92203 Black Prince"
This was a very pleasant little first visit to the North Norfolk Railway. Its a pretty, friendly and interesting little line with a locomotive fleet to be jealous of. 92203 is a real beast of British Railways engineering and its such a shame that these mighty engines cannot work on the modern main line. You see, due to the long wheelbase, the 9F's have a flangeless centre axle and this is not allowed on Network Rail metals. Such a shame, but, such is life. Cheers guys, Sam...

Sunday, 21 September 2014

3803 Day...

Hi all. This morning started like others at the Battlefield Line: early! Today I signed on at 5:45am in preparation for a Footplate Experience course aboard GWR 3803. The locomotive was checked over thoroughly and then lit up. Driver Jan arrived at around 6:30am to find the loco already simmering away and with 20psi on the clock. The Foot-Ex took place on time between 9am and 11am as standard, followed by the usual 5-train timetable. It was a fairly easy and uneventful day, with 3803 performing well and the weather being fairly kind. As the day drew on, a cooler breeze sprung up and we found ourselves reaching increasingly for the driving jackets! Unfortunately, 3803 ended the day as a failure. The cause?: one very broken spring. The GWR Class 38's are well known as regular spring breakers. Their spring breaking ability is known far and wide but is mainly a product of their design. The earlier variant of the 28xx was fitted with compensated springing, making spring changes less frequent. However, the later class 38xx, built under Collett rather than Churchward, did not incorporate this feature. The later 2-8-0s therefore, with their long wheelbase and eight driving wheels, give a lot of stress to their springing gear. The locomotive managed to make it home as the spring failed on the last returning trip. The spring will be changed in due course to allow 3803 to get back out again onto Battlefield Line metals. All in all a grand day out that would have been better without the poorly spring! All the best guys, Sam...

Friday, 19 September 2014

Achilles Report No62: Success at Last...

Hi guys. Here we are, at last, its done and it only works you know! The blue tank engine has been waiting in the wings since about July, waiting for me to have the time to work on her. I think the trouble my end was that the cladding had already had two repaints, and a third would mean more mess and toil. However, with a week on nights in prospect the other week, I decided to just smash the painting out, bake it on and have another go at running the loco. Its been a terrible season for the engine thanks to my attempts to repaint her, but at least she's done now. Today, in the drizzle, the engine was steamed at the CMES base of Ryton Pools, alongside a pair of 4-4-0 types: Eddie's 3.5" gauge 2P and Colin's 5" gauge LNWR Precursor. We arrived at around 12:30pm and the engine was in steam by about 1pm. Slowly but surely, the engine left the steaming bay for the test run, with the cladding still in tact. Well, I am proud to say that she ran beautifully and had no problems. The only jobs remaining are to do a little bit of 'touching in' with a craft brush on some of the tiny marks that the engine has received during the on-going work. This job list is perhaps the smallest I have ever had since owning the engine. I am very pleased with the final result, all done and dusted and with a working superheater to boot...
The three engines are seen here lined up outside the station with the drizzle having stopped for a moment. The bright blue paintwork of "Achilles" does brighten the place up a bit though...
"Friday Afternoon Line-Up"
Also today, at last, Ken was finally reunited with the engine in its post-repaint form. As this is only the second time that the loco has appeared at RPMR in steam since its repaint, this is the first time that Ken has seen her. I am pleased to say that he was very impressed with both the livery and the performance of the loco, which is a great relief to me. My main interest since owning the engine has been to ensure that Ken is happy with the on-going work. I am now pleased to say that I am now very happy with the engine and, apart from putting new pins in here and there, she is pretty much set up right. Here is Ken with "Achilles"...
I was trying to work out in my head all of the work the engine has had done since I've had her. Ken made the engine to a good standard when she was new, but 25 years or so of sterling work had worn her out, that was all. So, here is the list:
  • New connecting and coupling rod bushes
  • New crossheads and little end bushes
  • New whistle valve
  • New steam pipe
  • New rear axleboxes
  • New pipework to and around double-acting water pump
  • Full repaint into a new livery lined in white
  • Service to handpump and axlepump
  • Various seals, little jobs and light repairs
I may have forgotten a few things from the above list but those jobs certainly have been carried out. Naturally it has been done over the course of months as the bottom-end overhaul took place the winter before last in 2013, as documented on this blog. In 2014 we have of course done the full repaint as, again, documented on this blog. So, finally, BEFORE...
AFTER... 
I still have a few 'touching in' jobs to do as I said, as well as fitting the dummy whistle when I've finished doing some work to it. The engine is now in traffic as such, and is fit to run whenever required. I am hoping that it will run again at RPMR before the winter season but the locomotive will also, I hope, be attending the GEC Railway's Halloween run at the end of October. This is a fantastic event and is well worth a visit. Best of all, it is FREE, though donations are of course gratefully accepted. So, there you have it guys, the engine works. That's it, job done. Thank you so much for reading and thank you for following the engine on this blog. I am very pleased with the end result. Al the best, Sam...

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Driving "Marchlyn" for Statfold...

"She's A Good Un" (K.Eyre)
Hi all. Today, already, it was the final Statfold Barn Open Day of the year: the big September bash. I was rostered to drive 1933-built Avonside 0-4-0 side tank No2067 "Marchlyn". The engine is remembered for working at Penrhyn quarry and, following years of active service, eventually found herself on a plinth in Tennessee! Happily, SBR owner Mr Lee purchased the engine and brought her home before providing a full restoration. The engine is now in perfect working order and, as I would find out today, is quite a tool. I arrived, along with most of the other crews, at 6am. The car park was still in darkness as we drove in, with some chimneys already sprouting smoke just over the way. One such engine was "Marchlyn", which had just been lit up by my fireman: Keith. The Avonside was lit from cold, as were the other small engines, though the morning was quite mild so she wouldn't take long to brew up. Straight away, I began oiling up. The Avonside employs some nice features such as axlebox feeders. Simply fill up the feed box twice and that should do the day, though I filled them a few more times just for good luck. The rest of the oiling was self explanatory as on most engines.

For cylinder lubrication, the engine employs two globes fitted above the steam chest covers. The globes, when cold, will not give the thick cylinder oil much incentive to hurry along and so time is taken between other oiling jobs to refill the globes. Once satisfied that you have initial oil in the cylinders, the globe base taps can be shut-off and the globe chamber filled before shutting the top tap too. The engine will move off shed with drain cocks open, as per practise, therefore expelling most of the oil in the globes so, for the first move off shed, the globes would be left shut on the strict understanding that the oil I had already drained through into the cylinders would do the job: simples! The regulator is fed from a displacement lubricator which sits just behind the dome cover. The regulator on this engine is, for maintenance purposes, outside the boiler and is connected to the dome, with two lengthy steam pipes working their way down to the cylinders from there. The displacement was filled in the usual way: open drain, drain the water, take off the top, shut drain, fill with steam oil and put the top back on. The feed to the lubricator would not be opened until the engine had steam. The oil would then be displaced and would feed the regulator throughout the day. Whilst I oiled the loco around and did my general checks, Keith was busy with the fire and, in the background as always, time was ticking away. "Marchlyn" was nearly ready...
"Marchlyn" would today, as has become a usual thing, be working with Penrhyn sister "Sybil Mary": the Port Class Quarry Hunslet. The matching liveries of the two 0-4-0s makes them ideal partners and therefore they would again be top & tailing the Goods Train. Following the safety briefing, "Sybil Mary" was taken down the line on one of the first moves with the goods train in tow. Then, myself and Keith got the call. Taking her steady, I gave the Avonside a breath of steam and off shed we went. I'd already done the usual warming through process to expel much of the condensed water from the cylinders. The engine was brought down the gradient steadily on the handbrake before waiting at the start signal. When the Quarry returned, the train was dragged into the Goods Loop with "Sybil" blocked in, allowing "Marchlyn" to take up her place at the new head of the train...
Throughout the day we seemed to be none stop. Normally an SBR open day will require engines on the 'old railway' to wait on shed for an hour or so between turns but not today! The Goods Train is out every 3rd run meaning that we come in and we only have the time it takes for the next passenger train to reach Oak Tree and for the next returning one to get back to Statfold and then we're out again. If you get more than 5 minutes or so you're lucky! However, no complaints my end, it was great to be moving so much! Our first train came at about 10:30am. With the right away from the Guard and an acknowledging whistle from "Sybil" on the back, I gave "Marchlyn" some steam. Slowly but surely, she got the weight moving and we were away. With the land-rover following the goods and carrying the staff, into the section we went. "Marchlyn"s very effective footbrake was fantastic in operation, steadying the train up with ease. I was very surprised with that feature, apparently only fitted to the five Avonside's to this design. The train was heavier than I thought though: there was a good few tons there. The engine didn't care though, she was away. Going around the tight and climbing balloon loop did call for the odd bit of full regulator but she wasn't straining, she pulled easily. This little engine can do some really hard work! After a fantastic first run we are captured being dragged along by "Sybil"...
"Hanging Off The Back" (G.Cryer)
Our second chimney first run also came very quickly and was most enjoyable, followed by another run on the back. I left the third trip in the hands of Keith whilst I had a go at firing. The engine steamed well for me and was generally a pleasure to be on. No problems with her at all...
"Keith in Control" (G.Cryer)
I must thank Mr Geoff Cryer, who I finally met today, for sending in yet more pictures. Geoff has managed to catch me in shots many times over the years but we've never met face to face. At last, today, we managed it. Geoff keeps a wonderfully interesting diary of his rail exploits both in preservation and in the days of industrial NCB steam. His posts are well worth a read. Click here for the diaries. Geoff joined myself and Keith on the footplate of "Marchlyn" for the short run from Oak Tree back to Statfold. He recorded a little bit of film aboard the little Avonside which I have included for your interest...

As the day wore on things continued much the same. "Marchlyn" was running well and there were many people around: over a thousand we were told! The timetable was certainly impressive, with departures from Statfold every couple of minutes on both railways. There were at least 14 in steam on the railway, with probably the same number in steam on the event field in the form of full size road engines. It was a great do and you have to take your hat off to the hard working staff and owners of the SBR for making it all possible. Later in the day, "Marchlyn" is captured passing "Howard" (formerly "Josephine" before her sex change) with Danny & John in control. Note the size difference between the Tattoo type and the diminutive Avonside...
"Marchlyn" and "Howard" (G.Cryer)
Here is one of those vane shots, insisted upon by my friend Ken. Here we see Keith is undecided whether he wants to be in the picture whilst I pose despicably on "Marchlyn"...
"Posing Like A Fool" (K.Eyre)
We did our final trip at around 3:45pm, with "Sybil" in control. The job now would be the winding down of everything ready for the 5pm cavalcade. As the goods is merely a photographers thing, that was knocked off first; though it probably did the most miles! The first task was release "Sybil". For this, I had to drag the train out of the loop up to the stop board (the limit of shunt) and then propel back once "Sybil" was clear. I had been told to get the engine as far as she'd go into the loop so that the wagons could be stowed with shunting space behind them. "Marchlyn" was pretty much in the roof as we slowly attacked the tight, climbing siding. With the wagons secure, "Marchlyn" was later sent on a light engine run: part of the staff collection. The engine, without the clanking wagons behind, sounded like a dream. There wasn't a knock, a bang, a clank: nothing. This is a really good job and a really lovely engine. You cannot really fault anything about it. I know I may say that a lot but you really can't with this one, it does exactly what you want, when you want and with ease: perfect. Following the cavalcade we returned the engine to the shed where she was checked and disposed. Keith had the fire just right and we were able to leave the engine in a fit state fairly quickly. It had been a brilliant day and a really fantastic achievement for the SBR. Its a pleasure to be involved and, certainly, a pleasure to drive "Marchlyn". Its a wonderful railway to work on.

If you would like to see some great shots of the days running, click here for a youtube video I like. I must thank Geoff and Ken for sending in some of the pictures used in this post and I hope you've enjoyed reading it. All the best guys, Sam...

Friday, 12 September 2014

Prepping at Statfold...

Hi all. So, here we were, six months after the first, the last Statfold Barn Railway open day of 2014 was upon us. I have been lucky enough to be part of all three events this year and today we were prepping ready for tomorrow's season finale. This time I would be driving, yes driving, Avonside 0-4-0 Tank "Marchlyn". The jump from fireman to driver has come in the form of fireman to passed fireman, as is practise. The passed fireman is "a fireman who is available to drive when required" and so, with a space to be filled, I will be driving tomorrow. The rank of driver (the final frontier) comes when you have completed a set amount of turns as a passed fireman so, maybe one day that'll come as a formality but no time soon. Today myself and my fireman, Keith, busied ourselves with cleaning and polishing the black Avonside. She was coming up lovely and I'm really looking forward to tomorrow. Lets hope it goes well! All the best, Sam...

Achilles Report No61: A Revival...

Hi everyone. So, here we go then, lets recap. Last time "Achilles" featured in a report was in July and she had just been for a test run at Rugby MES following renewal of the superheater header. The test was successful mechanically but not cosmetically as the boiler cladding threw another wobbly and the paintwork reacted beyond all rational control. Since then, as in the picture above, the boiler has been lying in state in the workshop and the frames have languished covered up not too far away from it. Its been a mad summer; as regular readers will know; but I'm now getting on top of things again. This week, whilst free in the days due to being on afternoons/evenings at work, I decided to resurrect the engine. Its been a terrible season all told. We've been faced with one setback and then another with the engine and in the end I just needed some time away from it to build up the enthusiasm. So, on Monday the cladding was attacked with paint stripper. The previous paint was removed and fine sandpaper used to bring back the finish on the brass. Midday on Tuesday, the cladding was ready to paint...
So the cladding duly went through a main coat of primer, followed by two lighter coats in between 'flatting'. The flatting was done with very fine wet & dry sandpaper at around 1200 grit. The cladding then had a dust coat of blue followed by a top coat of blue on the Wednesday morning. The cladding was then left to dry over the next 24 hours...
On Thursday the household authorities went up the wall when they found the cladding being baked in the fairly new oven! This was done for around 30 minutes at probably no more than 35 or 40 degrees. I was advised that the inside of the oven should be warm but not hot to touch by hand as too much heat would blister the fresh paint. After 30 minutes of baking the cladding cooled at room temperature for 30 minutes. The paint felt a lot harder to touch than it had been without baking last time, though it did cure for around 2 weeks before...
Later, the cladding was gently refitted to the boiler with the lagging positioned underneath as before. The boiler was now 'dressed' again...
And then, as if by magic...
"Achilles" Lies In Wait
The above view was taken today before heading to Statfold, after the boiler had been refitted. I must admit that the paint finish isn't as good as the first time we did it on the cladding. However, before, time was taken and we were gentle. Three or four attempts later and the care has almost turned to pent up frustration! Don't get me wrong, the paint is more than presentable: it isn't chipped, it isn't scratched and so far the bands haven't bit into it...thank goodness. The boiler has been refitted and piped up, as well as the cab fittings. The running boards and cab/bunker have yet to be re-attached though they are in place now ready for bolting down. The steam pipe is connected up with just the blast pipe to refit and seal around. Other than that, the engine may just go! Its funny how a week of social abandonment whilst everyone else is at work can motivate you to fix something that's been broken for ages! The engine is now fairly well there and though I'm not that happy with the cladding, half of the reason behind the rushing is in case (god forbid!) something happens to it yet again! The path of my life seems to be strewn with cow-pats from the devils own satanic heard at the moment where the loco is concerned so fingers crossed for some luck at last. I do still admit though, she looks pretty well brilliant when she's clean and tidy now. It was all worth it...if it goes! Will she work? We'll see, but probably not. All the best Sam...

Sunday, 7 September 2014

'Bittern' by the Bug: The Torbay Express...

Hi everyone. Today, at last, we would be travelling aboard the much recommended "Torbay Express". Operated by Pathfinder Tours, the Torbay Express runs every Sunday during the summer season, from Bristol Temple Meads to Kingswear, for Dartmouth. Taking the main line from Bristol, the train makes passenger stops at Weston-Super-Mare and Taunton, as well as taking water at the latter. The train then continues towards Paignton where passengers may alight for a day at the seaside. Continuing on from Paignton, the train takes the PDSR route along preserved metals through Goodrington and then on to Kingswear, for Dartmouth. This route takes the train through some beautiful scenery: rolling fields, steep grades and the beautiful sea wall. We had opted for the Pullman Dining class; mainly because we like stuffing our faces! I'd booked this trip some time last year and, though it had came around quickly, it seemed ages away at the time. We stayed last night in the Holiday Inn Express at Bristol, which proved to be in fact, just over the road from Temple Meads which was ideal for our 9:15am departure this morning. We arrived on our advertised platform at around 8:50am with the locomotive for the day at the head of the 10-coach train. Unusually, today's train was hauled by LNER A4 Pacific No4464 "Bittern", one of Sir Nigel Gresley's famous East Coast Racehorses. Built at Doncaster in 1937, the 4-6-2 now looks resplendent in LNER Garter Blue livery. Sister engine to world steam record holder "Mallard", "Bittern" gained fame last year when she hauled three special 90mph trains on the network as part of the 'Mallard 75th Anniversary' celebrations. Special dispensation was given to the immaculate pacific to do these commemorative runs, which she did so with ease, achieving 93mph at one point. The loco certainly looked good today...
I've never been much of a fan of Eastern stuff. Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate the engineering and the achievements that they had, but apart from the GNR types such as the C1 and the Stirling, I can't say LNER stuff really floats my boat. However, "Bittern" would certainly prove herself today!...
Having admired the sleek lines of the streamlined A4, we boarded Coach A at our already set table-for-two. Immediately came the Bucks Fizz reception: a lovely touch...
With the bucks fizz slipping down the little red lane quite nicely, the train got underway. To my surprise, the A4 walked away without fuss. The traditional 3-cylinder Gresley beat was very much in evidence as the blue pacific got the load up to speed. Whilst enjoying our porridge, the sunlit countryside was just flying by...
Following the porridge there was a short break before a round of toast appeared. The good lady was enjoying the bucks fizz as the A4 pounded along. My talks about A4's and their 3-cylinder design compared to traditional 2-cylinder locomotives seemed of little interest however...
Following the toast and a stop at Weston-Super-Mare to collect more passengers, the full breakfast appeared, much to our delight. We were more than ready for this!...
Following the full breakfast, even more toast and some tea, it was time to apply the brakes for Taunton. 4464 had been in great form so far, and the busy hi-viz clad crew soon set to work filling the tender and trimming the coal. She was just shining, a real tribute to the guys who look after her...
As well as her nameplate, the A4 now carries two 'Mallard-style' commemorative plaques which talk of her 90mph runs for the 'Mallard 75th'. Sister engine "Mallard"s plaques talk of her 126mph World Record achievement. Note the side valances on the A4, which were later removed in BR days to aid maintenance...
A quick view of the menu aboard the luxury Pullman Class coaches...
Having left Taunton behind, the A4 was soon back into her stride and was putting on some marvellous performances as we raced through Somerset and into Devon. She pretty much flattened the climb of Whiteball bank and shut-off quickly as we entered the tunnel, blowing off loudly as she did so. The engine was making good time, with each passing stop on the running notes seeming to pass by 1-minute early. The part of the run I think everyone had been waiting for was the run along the sea wall through Dawlish. This section, newly repaired after the winter damage, is one of the most beautiful pieces of railway engineering in the country. As we passed along, it looked fairly murky but the view was just brilliant. The A4 was flying at this point, whistling loudly as we passed through Dawlish at probably 70mph...
The A4 was soon easing off, slowing for Newton Abbott and Torquay. The train was soon descending into the first drop off point of Paignton...
At Paignton the network rail crew changed for the PDSR crew and the engine and 10-coach train were soon slowly heading over the cross-over, whilst 2-8-0 Tank "Goliath" watched from her waiting departure. Once on PDSR metals, the A4 was working hard to accelerate the train up to as near to 25mph as was possible, ready to attack the steep grade of Goodrington Bank. The engine did really well in fairness, as in the past even the best of engines have come into bother here. A4's were not climbers, they were racers, and so I was surprised when the A4 easily climbed up into the summit station of Churston at around 15mph: not bad at all. The loco could then take a breather as we dropped down into Kingswear on falling gradients. Then, bang on time, came our arrival at Kingswear. Well done "Bittern"... 
From the A4's train we walked through the station and down onto the waiting Ferry. The weather was still a little bleak but it would soon brighten up for warm sunshine. The Ferry then took us across to the picturesque town of Dartmouth...
We walked around Dartmouth for an hour or so, taking in some of the quirky gift shops and sweet shops dotted about the place. We had around 4 hours in total so we decided that we would take a boat trip. Most of the boat cruises are again operated by the railway itself and therefore we opted for the best on their books: "Kingswear Castle". Billed as the last coal fired paddle steamer, the 1924-built vessel has been operating cruises in Dartmouth for the last 18 months and, though I did spot her last year, we decided that this would kill two birds with one stone. So, aboard we were, and away we went (see post). Later on in the day, around 4pm, we returned to the station at Kingswear via the Ferry. Having walked to the head of the 10-coach express, 4464 soon returned from Churston after turning and servicing...
Having admired the A4 for a while longer, with the good lady commenting that "it didn't look like a proper steam engine", to which I half-heartedly agreed, we re-boarded our coach and champagne was served...
Champagne it may have been but the trusty beer was still in the background...
The return run left on time at 4:50pm. Eddie has always been a big fan of the A4 Pacific's and boasted that I would be blown away by the performance of them. Me, I'm more of a Midland fan and hold the Duchess pacific in the very highest regard. Eddie has often been annoyed by my thoughts of "an A4 will do when a Duchess is unavailable" or that "an A4 will pull a support coach with a following wind". Obviously I joked and thought of eating my words as the A4 gave the climb out of Kingswear some real stick. However she did have to stop at Churston as the boiler water level had fallen to less than was necessary to descend Goodrington bank. Though the delay was a mere few minutes, I could not resist telling Eddie! Anyway, hilarity over, the train descended to Goodrington and then along to Paignton where the final passengers rejoined. This was the view whilst descending Goodrington, eating our soup...
Leaving Paignton with the network rail crew back in control, the A4 flew. Torquay was a blur as she roared past, taking the climb through Torre in her stride. From there, she was running and running. We ate our main course of roast beef with all the trimmings as the A4 tore along the sea wall...
Any better views?...
Following our 4-course meal which stuffed us to within an inch of our lives, we were back at Taunton where the A4 watered again. Once again I opted to run down through the subway and up onto the opposite platform to take pictures. You had absolutely no chance with the "take a picture of me by the steam train" mob on the other side! The A4 was basking in the sun...
A final view of the impressive No4464 "Bittern"...
Following the Taunton water stop there was no stopping the A4: she flew. I cannot lie, I would have relished the chance to take a King to Kingswear but the A4 did sterling work. She flew, she absolutely flew, mile after mile with ease. They are beasts, they really are. Used originally for none stop work with their corridor tenders between Kings Cross and Edinburgh, the A4's were really just runners. I mean sure, they haven't got the looks of the 'traditional steam engine', that honour goes to Castle's and King's, but they are sleek and they do go. Very impressed indeed. The "Torbay Express" was a fantastic run and we had such a great time. The food was great, the staff were great and the scenery was wonderful: I cannot fault it. Bitten by the main line bug, I've now booked some dining on the 'Lincoln Christmas Fair' trip with Tyseley...why not?! All the best, Sam...