Sunday, 26 October 2014

Tyseley Loco Works Open Day...

Hi all. A pleasant little day out today to Tyseley Locomotive Works in Birmingham for their Autumn Open Day. Once a thriving steam shed, Tyseley is now a centre of Great Western steam excellence. Not only does the works lovingly care for its wonderful collection of locomotives and stock, they also operate main line tours through the operating arm of Vintage Trains Ltd, as well as offering the workshops and staff to carry out contract work on various locomotives country-wide. The works now opens twice a year after a spell of closure to the public. The site began in preservation as the Birmingham Railway Museum but, with the total success of its main line operations and contract business, the place has had to, quite rightly, tone site visits down slightly. The twice annual open days are however well worth a look and there is plenty to see, both in steam and under restoration. I arrived at just after 11am in the Birmingham suburbs and, having parked the car, immediately met up with 'Eddie the Late'; fresh from his outing with "Archie" (formerly "Willie") last night. We walked down Warwick Road to the Tyseley site where a 'Car Park Full' sign was causing severe anguish to the drivers of many vehicles. Heading in on foot, we purchased our tickets before heading into the site. Immediately before us stood an LMS preservation icon, No6201 "Princess Elizabeth" herself...
The 'undressed' (without cladding) Princess Royal Pacific has been undergoing heavy overhaul at Tyseley over the last 18 months or so. The 1933-built 150-ton beast was in light steam today and offered a bit of a work in progress look. It is anticipated that the massive red engine will return to the national network on revenue earning trains some time next year. I've never had the chance to yet catch a ride behind 'Lizzie' and I would like to one day. Network Rail firemen who we've met along our way have discussed the merits of the engine. Powerful and strong, but carrying an absolutely huge boiler, the engine is not a force to be reckoned with! Leaving the big red beast behind, we walked around the impressive turntable before arriving in front of Tyseley's pride & joy: Castle Class No5043. We were immediately invited up onto the footplate of "The Earl" by our good mate Phil. Alistair Meanley then arrived and discussed the various merits of the Castle Class. He is a man of great experience and has fired engines large and small, fast and slow. It is very interesting learning about the development of the locomotives. For example, 5043 does not have the traditional Hydrostatic Great Western Lubricator. Instead, she carries a mechanical lubricator with steam provided via the jockey valve to the atomisers, thus registering on the oil gauge as "OIL" rather than the red section of "NO OIL". To my mind, this is a much better way of doing things as you never seem to quite know where you are with a hydrostatic. The immaculate cab of No5043 is seen below: beautiful...
We left the beautifully kept No5043 and her friendly minders before walking around enviously into the new workshop. As you would expect, there were engines and boilers galore! The main names were the famous "Clun Castle", 5XP Jubilee "Bahamas" and the new build County class 4-6-0 "County of Glamorgan". There was also a nice looking Austerity coming along in the background. We then climbed the stairs of the viewing gallery, heading into the elder section of the shed...
In the elder shed stood another beautiful Tyseley piece: No4965 "Rood Ashton Hall". This engine has to be, besides 5043 anyway, the best kept engine in preservation. Everything about it just screams a mechanically and cosmetically perfect locomotive. She's a real beauty, she really is. 4965 is currently out of traffic and is having a partial retube I believe, before returning to the main line asap. We have a tour booked with her to Lincoln in early December. Hope to see her then...
Descending the far stairs passing a nice collection of elderly 'Henry Hoover's, we walked out into the rear yard in time to see Pannier Tank No9600 pass by with the 2-coach yard shuttle...
No9600, built at Swindon in 1945, slips by. I do like the Pannier Tanks; I have a real fondness for them. They are a real go anywhere, do anything tank engine...
Also in steam was the visiting 'Blue Plough', otherwise known as the A4 Pacific No4464 "Bittern". Much to Eddie's annoyance, I made several comments about the A4 which was "doing well to drag a full tender of water around". The big blue un' was looking well...
Phil was later seen working Tyseley Warwick Road's signalbox, taken from the Bristol area originally. It is a large, fully working GWR style box and is very nicely kept...
All movements pretty much had to pass the box, affording good views of the shunts. Here, No9600 comes down past the signalbox with the passenger shuttle...
Around 1pm it was decided that a mini cavalcade would take place on the running line, consisting of Castle Class No5043 and the A4. The unusual pairing were first shunted into position via orders from the signalbox, with No9600 and her short train being stabled elsewhere. The Castle was then given the token as it passed by...
The A4 and the Castle then made several storming runs up and down the yard...
"Bittern" and No5043...
Here, a short video clip I took is included to show the earth shattering performance put on by the double-chimney Castle. The ground literally shook beneath her: what a machine!...

Once the Castle and the A4 had done their bit, the Castle was returned to the yard area for stabling whilst the A4 ended up being turned and put on the passenger shuttle, top & tailing with No9600. Here we see a quick shot of the turntable area, with 5043, the Jub and 7752 sat around it...
The so-called Jub (one of two currently at Tyseley) is none other than Tyseley's own LMS stalwart No5593 "Kolhapur". "Kolhapur" (or 'Coal Hopper' as it is occasionally known) was built by the North British Locomotive Company in Glasgow in 1934, and is one of Stanier's three-cylinder Jubilee class 4-6-0s. Initially an unsuccessful type, the Jub's later became good performers after the blast pipe and chimney arrangements were modified. 5593 herself made it into preservation as part of the Tyseley collection and is currently out of service awaiting heavy overhaul. Both of the Jub's currently at Tyseley double-headed gala services at Shackerstone in the late 1990s...
Across the turntable from the Jub, facing her with watchful eyes, stood No6201...
Alongside the Jubilee, and in steam, stood London Transport liveried L94 (Pannier No7752). Again built by North British, 7752 was constructed in 1930 and was withdrawn by London Transport in 1971. She, again, is part of the wonderful Tyseley Collection. Her and her shedmate No9600 do not get hired out to other railways. It is the Tyseley opinion (and quite right it is too) that the two engines receive better treatment just doing two railtours per year together and steaming at Tyseley. They only average around 4 or 5 steamings each per year, thus making their high standard of engineering last longer and reduce the spending required on them. Quite right too, as the Panniers are in beautiful nick...
Talking of Panniers, Phil was now driving No9600 about and invited myself & Ed aboard for a footplate trip. The trip didn't come for free mind...I had to fire the box up a bit!...
After a pleasant ride up the yard and back on the immaculate No9600 I took a final view of her before we left at around 3pm. I love the BR lined black livery against the tanks...
All in all, a good day at the brilliant Tyseley Locomotive Works. The team here obviously take great pride in what they do and the standard of the locomotives they care for certainly respects that. The engines are all immaculate and run like sewing machines. One that got away was the little Peckett 0-4-0 No1, of Peckett type W7. The engine was creeping about the yard with a wagon or two but I didn't catch a pic. I must thank 'Eddie the Late' for his company and we both, I feel, should thank our man Phil for the tour. We have known Phil for quite a few years now and he is the kind of engineman you can't help but respect. He has a wealth of knowledge of various engines, both rail and road, and in all different sizes. I'm sure myself & Ed can both say we're proud to know him...
Engineman of Various Preservation Hotspots Mr Bates on 5043
Well, if the creeping above doesn't bag us another footplate ride I don't know what will! Haha - only joking folks. Cheers to Phil and Ed for a great day anyway, and well done to Tyseley and all of their hard working team for putting on a great show. Keep up the good work. All the best guys, Sam...

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Achilles Report No65: GEC Night Run...

Hi all. Today saw "Achilles" return to the GEC Miniature Railway at Binley for their annual Halloween 'Night Run'. I have attended this brilliant event every year for the last few years and normally find myself helping on the 7.25" gauge track driving my mate James' Romulus. However, this year my own engine would be supporting the event, following an invitation to run a few weeks previously. The event would run from 3pm until 8pm and, though it was breezy, large crowds of passengers turned out for rides. I arrived at the GEC site at around 1:15pm and immediately backed the BMW into the compound to unload. The 5" Collett Goods was already in steam, with a 5" Small Prairie arriving soon after me. The engine would today be trialling a new chimney-top spark arrestor, made for me kindly by Mike. The design is the newest in spark arrestors, attempting to relieve the owner of all of the unpleasant smokebox work usually required to fit a standard one. The new arrestor would certainly be put to the test tonight. The blue tank is seen here with the arrestor fitted...
Regular Halloween stalwart "Sgt Murphy" soon arrived to complete the 5" gauge line up, which ended up with four different steamers and an electric loco. Over on the 7.25" gauge line, 'Eddie the Late' had arrived (slightly late due to apparent traffic!) and was steaming up the well known "Archie" the Wren, formerly "Willie". 'Eddie the Late' was attempting to make up for lost steaming up time by banging as much wood in as possible but almost caused a fatal blowback!...
Joining Eddie's shining Wren were "James" the Romulus, "Luna" the Sweet William and "Tom" the big Tich. I didn't see the latter make any movements during the afternoon and I think "Luna" did fail early on, leaving "James" and "Archie" to run the services with aid from the battery electric Y7 Tram, known as "Toby". Back on 5" gauge metals, the Collett 0-6-0 was celebrating the passing of its steam test with a few ECS laps. Unfortunately, loco owner Luke later failed the engine with a suspected lubricator fault: better safe than sorry...
Initially, with "Sgt Murphy" and the Collett in action on trains, I decided not to steam "Achilles". By 3:30pm however, they called for the loco to be lit. It was all ready to go with a firebox stacked with paraffin wood and a boiler 3/4 full of water. The engine was in steam within the next 10 minutes or so and headed onto the track after some quiet simmering on the steaming bay. The engine was first placed on a single coach as both 2-car sets were in action. Following the failure of the Collett, a red battery electric 0-6-0 replaced it. The Prairie had failed straight away with a hand-pump fault. Therefore, the remaining three engines were left to continue providing a good service throughout the afternoon. "Achilles" was steaming beautifully and everything seemed to be working properly, even the new spark arrestor...
After around 90 minutes of running I was ready for a break so "Achilles" retired for a short spell, though she remained in steam. During this time I cleaned the fire and emptied the smokebox as well as re-oiling the motion and checking for any missing or loose bits: you never know! The loco was soon called upon again, this time onto a 2-car set which later became very heavily loaded as "Murphy" and "Achilles" chewed through the long queue of passengers with their 2-car sets. The tank wasn't finding it particularly hard work, except on the climb of the short but sharp bank which seemed to be testing her with heavier trains. The engine certainly didn't like her spark arrestor hat when hauling the heavier train. In fact at one point going up the bank at almost full regulator and notched up, she coughed twice before the arrestor was fired around 10ft vertically into the air, landing somewhere in the darkness behind the train! We must have done around 12 or 14 laps (2 laps makes 1 round trip for the public) on the 2-car set before I decided that enough was enough. The engine was still pulling well but, having been retired at 7pm, over 3 hours of being in steam was making her a little sluggish on the steaming side. Therefore, she was taking a minute or two to remake steam at a station stop which, in my mind, we just hadn't got with the queue we had. Mind you, with over 3 hours of hard public hauling complete, I was very pleased with the performance of the loco. Well done old gal'. The loco was then blown down on the steaming bay behind the Collett Goods...
"The End of the Night with Achilles"
With an hour or so of running left to complete the evening, I was kindly allowed to take Ed's Wren for a run. The 0-4-0 was double-heading with "Toby" the electric Y7 in order to allow her to haul a well loaded 2-car rake. I had a great run with "Archie" and it was most enjoyable to be briefly back on 7.25". The evening ended at 8pm as usual after a successful and very busy running session on everyone's part. I must thank the GEC team for our invite and for making us so welcome as normal. And, of course, a big thank you to the 'Tea Room Ladies' who keep us all fed and watered through this long and arduous night; as if they hadn't got enough to do! Cheers all. Best Regards, Sam...

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Driving Test at Statfold...

Hello everyone. Another early start today: the last of a long and tiring weekend of steam. Todays destination was the delightful Statfold Barn Railway. The purpose of the day was the long awaited (and dreaded!) 'Practical Test' Day. Every member of SBR staff has recently had to complete full rulebook examinations and written competency tests, as per practise. This has allowed us to become theoretically competent in what we do, allowing us to carry out our duties safely & effectively. The final part of the stringent examination procedure was today. It wasn't just engine crew either; the Guard's and station staff were also being examined, and rightly so. My day began at around 6am with departure from home. After the all important stop off at McDonalds for breakfast, I made my way to Statfold. The weather wasn't looking promising on the forecast but, at this point, it was still dry at least. I arrived at Statfold to find the humorous name pairing of Phil & Will lighting up the loco's. Three would be in service today: Peckett 0-6-0 "Harrogate" and Brazil-type 0-4-2's "Trangkil No4" and "Howard" (formerly "Josephine"). Myself and fellow helper Chris were then put to work oiling up the Peckett, followed by "Trangkil". Meanwhile, the trio were slowly coming around as daylight broke...
It was very pleasant to be on the shed frontage in the quiet for a change, without the hustle & bustle of Open Day anorak traffic. What was very interesting was the trio of Brazil's. The 14.5 ton Brazil class 0-4-2 was a popular design and three examples adorned the shed front today. It was a standardised narrow gauge design, derived from Kerr Stuarts of Stoke on Trent. The design did differ in numbers, mainly through gauge but, though all three of the trio are basically the same engine, the differences are noticeable. "Trangkil", built by Hunslet in 1971 as the last steam locomotive built for export, shows the final phase of the Brazil...
Now, with "Howard" and "Trangkil" you may think: "that's only two?". Well, yes, correct, but the SBR currently has a special visitor. "Excelsior" is another Brazil and lives on the Great Whipsnade Railway at the famous Whipsnade Zoo. I was so pleased to see her as I've not yet visited the GWR. "Excelsior" was visiting the SBR for some contract work to be carried out and was still hot after steaming yesterday to take part in the SBR 'Friends Day'. I believe she will be soon returning to Whipsnade. The 1908-built Kerr Stuart variant is beautifully kept and, to me, is a handsome old engine. She is 2ft 6" gauge...
I believe "Trangkil" was built to 750mm and re-gauged to 2ft by the SBR after repatriation from Java, whilst "Josephine", built in 1936 by Hunslet, was re-gauged from 3ft to 2ft in preservation. The differences between the three, beside the gauges, are also their valve gears. "Trangkil" & "Howard" both have marine rods, whilst the former has Hackworth valve gear and the latter has inside Stephenson's. To be honest, to me, "Howard" is the superior as Hackworth can change its valve position via the bang of a drop-joint. Mind you, it is simple in operation, easily maintained and easier to oil up...
The elder Brazil: the beautiful "Excelsior": employs inside Stephenson's as well, but she has standard rods with split brasses and keys, similar to a Quarry Hunslet arrangement. These rods are, to me, a lot more in keeping with the look of the locomotive. Another addition to the elder sister is the acquisition of running boards as the Brazil design doesn't incorporate any, making watering up and cleaning the tank difficult. A good idea I say...
Anyway, that's enough comparing Brazil's! Other crew members soon arrived such as the well known 'Eddie the Late'. 'Eddie the Late', as you may have read through these posts, caused controversy in Wales earlier this year by forcing several local residents to take part in hideous 'Three Course Challenges'. No matter how hard they tried, the victims of 'Eddie the Late's vicious attacks on the human eating capacity (such as myself) could not finish the huge platters of food laid down before them, much to 'Eddie the Late's anger. Today, in an act of 'Three Course Challenge' failing anguish, Ed decided to upset every supporter of a greener England by making the biggest coal fire known to man... 
Thanks to Eddie the Late, "Howard" was ready for action 4 hours early! Nah, OK, I can't lie anymore, fair play! The three examination engines were ready for action just after 10am, and things got underway. The practical test all of the Drivers (including myself, Ed and John) took would be the same: a normal trip down to the balloon loop with the train, a run up New Road to Oak Tree up the bank, run round, and return. The locomotive would have to leave shed and return to shed under examination, meaning that the safe coupling up methods had to be exercised at all times, line speeds observed and the engine cared for as per usual. It is fair to say I was pretty nervous; not about the driving the loco, just about the exam! Myself and Ed were both rostered to drive "Howard", whilst John drove "Harrogate" the Peckett. I was the first out on "Howard" and away we went. After a test during which I think I did fairly well: I was fairly pleased anyway, I tried my best: "Howard" is pictured in the new station area awaiting shunt release...
Driving Test Passed, with 0-4-2 "Howard"
Having returned "Howard" safely to shed and secured her/him(?), the practical exam was over. Now it was the turn of 'Eddie the Late' who, before getting used to the air brakes, broke the sound barrier on the way to Oak Tree. Only joking folks...you know me! All us pre-examined people had to do now was wait. Once all the practical exams were over, we would each spend time with one of the examiners going through the answers to both our rules and traction exams. "Excelsior" meanwhile basked in the sun...
Later in the day, with most practical's complete, myself & John were asked to take "Howard" on an ECS positioning move: no problem! The loco is pictured here in poor sunlight at Oak Tree...
A final look at the lovingly restored "Howard" as we await the arrival of "Trangkil"...
Back at Statfold I swapped with Chris so as to go off and do my exam paper reviews. Eddie was first, followed by myself. 'Eddie the Late' then had to rush off and collect both of our locos (his 2P and my C1) from the Midlands show over at Leamington as time was nearing 4pm! I just couldn't get away in time and ended up collecting 'Maisie' from Ed's. I am grateful to Ed for fetching her for me as I just couldn't get there in time. The C1 is later pictured at home with mate, "Achilles"...
All in all it had been a fantastic day at the SBR. And, would you believe it, I passed my driving test! So I am now the next grade: a Passed Fireman. So I am now passed to fire and drive if required. This is basically a posh term for a Driver but the actual Driver role, as I've mentioned before, comes after a certain amount of turns driving as a Passed Fireman...or it always used to! Its been great fun and I'm so grateful to the SBR owners & staff for giving us the chance to do this. Its a great place and its lovely to be associated with it. I must also thank 'Eddie the Late' for the title image, for picking up 'Maisie' and for being such a good sport on this blog! Haha! Cheers all. Best Regards, Sam...

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Traction Engines & "Polly"...

Hi all. This morning it was my turn to look around the MMEE. I arrived at just before 10am on this damp morning and headed to the CMES stand via the rear entrance. Having dropped off my stuff I went for a look around. There was some lovely stuff on offer, though the prices of some of the raw materials has really rocketed: such is life. Out on the grass the traction engines were already stirring. It was a nice, varied display this year and I must have counted at least 10 examples. The one on the right below is Phil's new one: a 4" Burrell road locomotive. Phil was kind enough to let me take the new toy for a spin: what a thing. Due to my constant organising of MTEW I am gaining much more appreciation for the traction engine as a whole and I can really see myself owning a 4" or 6" example one day: well, in my dreams anyway. If Euromillions ever lets me win maybe I'll have one or three...
After a good look around the show and a lot (and I mean a lot) more gassing to countless folk, it was almost 1:30pm again and time for another shift on the portable 5" gauge track. This time my fellow driver was Emma and we had a pleasant afternoon sauntering up and down the track. The loco steamed well again and put up few problems, apart from a slight lubricator set back (caused by an air lock I think) later in the afternoon, which we soon remedied. At just after 5pm I was heading for home after everything had been packed up and "Polly V" had been returned to the Polly stand. Tomorrow is the shows last day and it will be time for 4436 to come home but before that test time at Statfold! Time to start biting those nails. All the best, Sam...

Friday, 17 October 2014

Return to "Polly V" at the Midlands Show...

Hi everyone. So, here we are again: the Midlands Model Engineering Exhibition. It seems to come around quickly every year and, as we all know, the Midlands Show pretty much heralds the end of the steam season! Where has this year gone? Anyway, I left work today at midday as usual and then continued straight to the show, held again at Warwickshire Exhibition Centre. I was rostered to crew the portable 5" gauge track on behalf of CMES. My fellow driver this afternoon was Peter and we had a nice, easy afternoon. The track was better located this year, with the gradient being slightly reduced. The locomotive? On the grounds of tradition it was "Polly V": again. The 'golden slipper' was ready and waiting for more work when our shift change with the morning crew arrived at 1:30pm. The engine had been reported to be free steaming but losing water. I checked her over thoroughly and could see no reason why she was dropping her water so much, but she did seem to blow off a lot which on a small boilered model can of course lose you water quickly. Throughout the rest of the afternoon, myself & Peter took turns with the mogul tank engine and gave a handful of rides. We also had to retire to the top end of the track once or twice to allow the very popular 'GT3' Gas Turbine demo's to take place. "Polly V" has recently been fitted with a new boiler, as can be seen here by the clean backhead...
"Fire in the Hole"
The engine performed fairly well throughout the afternoon and certainly loved to make steam, but I can't help thinking its ready for an overhaul. She still goes well but there is a lot of wear in the running gear and I would of thought it wouldn't harm it to enjoy some TLC. I expect its just a time thing as, being the demonstrator engine, I bet she's always at work. It would be interesting to see though just how well it would go in A* condition. Later in the day, the loco is seen uncoupled and awaiting disposal...
The locomotive was disposed at around 4:30pm and was back on her home stand, safe & secure, by 5pm. The afternoon had been quiet but enjoyable and I must thank Peter for his company. I must also thank Peter for putting up with my endless gassing. One of the troubles (or good things - whichever way you look at it) with MMEE is that I seem to see endless amounts of people who I know from across the country, and I end up gassing for ages! Don't get me wrong, its so pleasant to see everyone, but I may end up making a name for myself like this! Haha! All the best guys, cheers, Sam...

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Atlantic Report No1: Midlands Show...

Hi guys. So, on this wet Wednesday afternoon, I returned from work and collected the new engine: No4436: ready for display at the Midlands Model Engineering Exhibition, which begins tomorrow. Regular readers will know that my club: CMES: has a stand there every year, as do most other clubs. The Coventry stand is organised by Mike, who takes great pride in putting on a good, varied display of locomotives and tooling in varying degrees of build from the bare frames to the fully operational. When he had learned of the possibility of the 'Maisie', he had expressed interest straight away for the stand, as a different engine that hasn't been on there before is always good. "Achilles" was naturally offered too, but she did appear last year and, allas, two years before that too. So, 'Maisie' (or 4436 as the good lady prefers, so as to avoid confusion) it was. The engine was dropped off at around 5pm this evening and took up her place on the stands front row, alongside Ron's impressively modified Super Simplex and Geoff's Class 08 electric. The engine will remain here on display until pick-up on Sunday night. As soon as she arrived I received many positive comments about her, which is always nice. Many remarks about the shine of her livery, similar to those that come about the tankee's brass dome cover, were made in various comical ways: oh what fun! I am still very pleased with how the locomotive has turned out and I only hope that she will run just as well. Naturally, in time honoured fashion, the blog will be kept up to date via the sister report to the "Achilles Report": the "Atlantic Report". All the best guys, Sam...

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Back on Dirty Diesels...

Hi there everyone. Today, allas, it was diesel haulage again for the Battlefield Line. The wait for springs for GWR 3803 is ongoing and therefore, today, it was up to 33 053 to pull the trains. I had been drafted in again to second-man, as diesel crew is becoming hard to find on the railway simply because we almost always use steam! I arrived at Shackerstone in pretty dense fog at around 10:45am and immediately boarded the diesel. The loco cruised gently around the run round loop via the signalbox before backing down onto the rake. The first train left slightly late and under caution due to the fog. The rest of the day saw some lovely autumn sunshine in abundance, with views from 33 053 being very pleasant on this breezy afternoon. Below, a comparison shot of the driving controls on the 33 against last weeks shot of the huge Class 47...
Much smaller in stature than the Class 47, the 33 is also therefore more economical. It does sound rather sweet as well: dare I utter those words! The BR Class 33 eventually numbered 98 examples, built between 1960 & 1962. Weighing in at around 75 tons, the affectionately known 'Cromptons' were popular locomotives, and still are today. With a 1500hp engine (around 1000hp less than a 47), the 33's were useful little machines and found themselves on the Southern region of BR. Today, 33 053 is based on the Mid Hants Railway but is currently at Shackerstone for renovation work. One of the cabs looks a lot smarter than the other, both internally and externally, showing the recent works. The locomotive is captured here with the blue star denoting possible multiple working...
"33 053 Stands at Shenton with the 3pm from Shackerstone"
It isn't bad crewing the diesels but it certainly isn't as interesting as my beloved steam: not by a long chalk! Mind you, I guess several hundred diesel fans would disagree with me! Cheers guys, all the best, Sam...

Saturday, 11 October 2014

GEC Open Day Flying Visit...

Hi all. This morning, unusually, I was at work for a few hours so after my shift I decided to call in at the GEC Miniature Railway, which isn't a million miles away. The railway were holding an Open Day to encourage people to come along, have a go and think about joining the society in the future. Passenger numbers seemed steady but it all looked like good fun. The GEC is one of those little gems as it is a cheap afternoon out with live steam. On Saturday October 25th they are holding their 'Halloween Special' from 3pm until 8pm with all train rides (on both tracks) being FREE (donations very welcome). Please support them; its a great little place. All the best guys, Sam...

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Achilles Report 64: Fell Over...

Hi all. This week I've been on afternoons/evenings again at work, meaning that the only thing I can do in the day, apart from watch endless repeats of Jeremy Kyle, is to work on the two engines. I mentioned in the last report that "Achilles" probably needed the water pump servicing. This was done on Monday, with the loco in a drunken state looking as if it had a run in with a much bigger engine. The eccentrics were out and the pump stripped ready to clean it out, fit new balls and repack the glands around the rams. The lack of eccentrics also allowed me to get inside with a spanner and tighten that pesky handpump feed nut which comes out from the side of the L/H tank. Following this work I took the engine outside and filled the tanks in order to prime the handpump. The fitting wasn't leaking with some real force having to be applied to the pump where I'd blocked the feed pipe off so I think that test was a success but only time will tell. The tanks were then drained before the engine was returned to the workbench. On Wednesday I was back in the workshop again and it was time for "Achilles" to have her first clean up & polish since the last repaint of the cladding. I had been advised not to clean the cladding until after a couple of steaming's but, even so, it is already showing marks and deterioration beneath the surface. Oh well, its going to get wrecked in such a hostile environment so who cares. The engine was cleaned from top to bottom, whilst the shining green contrast of "Maisie" looked on...
 "Achilles" was spruced up throughout Wednesday and, when I left for work, the engine was looking pretty pristine again with all brasswork polished and paintwork buffed up. I think her next run will be at the GEC on October 25th but you never know, it may appear before at a moments notice. "Maisie" on the other hand has had no real attention apart from just admiring her. The only thing I have done is made her some vacuum hose look-a-likes for her vacuum feed pipes. These will fill the void between the pipes and the stoppers during the Midlands show, where the engine will be appearing next week. As it seems almost impossible to get accessories for 3.5" gauge locomotives, these pipes have been made from simple measurement springs and a tiny bit of electrical heat-shrink, which brings out the springs in a pronounced way so as to give the impressive of a vacuum hose. Naturally this is cheating but they look OK. I just need to fashion a ring now for the top end to hide the end of the heat shrink but as you look at the engine you can't see any problems so I'm happy...
Things will probably go quiet now for the two engines for a few weeks, apart from "Maisie"s visit to the Midlands show of course for a spell on the Coventry MES stand. Then, after the Midlands show, perhaps we'll try and get her to go! All the best guys, Sam...