Saturday, 28 February 2015

An Industrial's Home: Chasewater Railway...

Hello everyone. Today we had planned a day out to the Chasewater Railway. I hadn't been for 10 years or so and as they had 5 engines in steam for their Winter Gala we felt a visit was worthwhile. 'Eddie the Late' picked me up just after half 9 and we continued via Nuneaton to pick up John. We arrived at Chasewater at around 10:45am and bought a ticket before grabbing a cuppa'. We then caught the 11:20am Brownhills West to Chasetown service behind Hunslet "Holly Bank No3". This 0-6-0 saddle tank is actually "Darfield No1", No3783 of 1953. Three similar engines lived locally at Holly Bank, hence the identity change...
Departing Brownhills West slightly late, bright blue "Holly Bank" steamed around and across the Causeway before arriving at Chasewater Heaths station. After a brief passenger stop, she continued along the final section to the terminus at Chasetown (Church Street) station. The railway is 2 miles long in total and winds its way along the edge of Chasewater. On this chilly Winter day, the wind was cutting! At Chasetown the passenger train pulled into the platform whilst a coal train waited to depart for Brownhills in the run round loop. At the head of the train stood a long term Chasewater visitor; Bagnall 0-4-0ST "Kent No2" (2842 of 1946)...
With a loud blast on her Stanier-type hooter, "Kent No2" got away with the coal wagons rumbling along behind her. Standing alongside "Holly Bank" at the head of the station was the main reason for my visit: "Nechells No4". Built by RSH as No7684 of 1951, "Nechells" is a large 0-6-0 side tank capable of moving well over 1000 tons. Industrials such as this were some of the biggest made and worked their hearts out in power stations. No4 actually worked with our "Richard III" and was based at Shackerstone in her early preservation days. Having been partially restored at Shack, she spent a long time working on the Foxfield railway before moving to Chasewater a couple of years ago. However, this would be her last gala appearance with time ticking away on her boiler certificate, which ends pretty soon. It was nice to see the big RSH in action and looking so well...
Having admired "Holly Bank" & "Nechells", the latter steamed away to take up her place at the head of our service back to Brownhills. Departing Chasetown slightly late, the RSH got the 2-coach train moving without even a breath. Then came the traditional 'Industrial Waddle': the to and fro, the fore and aft. Big outside cylinders and little unbalanced wheels always come together to make industrials bumpy for passenger work. However, one must remember that they were never designed for this purpose. Having alighted from the train at Chasewater Heaths after a very short run from Chasetown, we spotted the gala visitor.

The visitor is an ex-Teddy Boston engine: "Teddy". This 0-4-0 Peckett 'Yorktown' class is a diminutive saddle tank of only 11-tons in weight. One of the smallest standard gauge loco's ever made, the locomotive made a preservation debut at Shackerstone under the care of Teddy Boston: click here for a video of Teddy driving it: dog collar and all. When her boiler ticket expired she was moved to Teddy's Cadeby Light Railway and plinthed on the front garden. When the CLR closed in 2005, the engine was purchased and restored and, following another ownership change, is now owned by former Steam Railway Magazine editor Gary Boyd-Hope. The 1941-built baby Peckett is seen here at Chasewater Heaths...
A stark contrast in size compared to "Teddy", the huge bulk of No4 prepares to depart...
Up in the loft of Chasewater Heaths station is a rather impressive G-Gauge model railway which is well worth a look. A work in progress, the guys were busying themselves with various improvement tasks whilst the trains continued to run...
Walking down from the loft we caught the 'Bay Train' (a brakevan and riding van combination) back to Brownhills. The Bay set was being top & tailed by "Teddy" and Andrew Barclay "Colin McAndrew". We rode in the Shark-type brakevan back to Brownhills and thankfully remained inside the guards covered section as the front veranda was dead level with the Barclay's chimney. I said to the lads that the people there would get covered and my, my did they?! There were quite a few ruined coats and oily faces I can tell you! The Bay train took us back into the goods platform at Brownhills before pulling forward again...
We walked back up onto the platform in the hope of getting some lunch as it was now just before 1pm. The café at Brownhills is pleasant and warm, though the service is tremendously slow. We spotted one lady working away doing food, drinks and delivering them to the table; it was just too much for her and it wasn't her fault. With a massive queue that clearly was not moving and wasn't likely to, we decided to rejoin the Yorktown and the Barclay for a run back to Chasewater Heaths. 1911-built "Colin McAndrew" certainly did some hard work shoving the train and "Teddy" on the way: she sounded great. At Chasewater Heaths, thankfully, the service was much faster and we enjoyed a Full English in the station café. Now folks, prepare yourselves, for the following contains a photo of 'Eddie the Late' about to eat! Here is 'Eddie the Late' about to undertake one of the biggest meals he has ever eaten in his life, being normally used to bringing others to their knees with his hideous 'Three Course Challenge's for which he is notorious in Wales!...
Having eaten our fry up (it was very nice) we returned to the platform to catch another Brownhills train. "Colin McAndrew" was ready and waiting...
We departed Chasewater Heaths at 1:45pm and returned to Brownhills West before detraining. The next stop was the Heritage Centre and the Museum. When Chasewater began its preservation life it was not in the exact location it is now. The M6 Toll decided that its original station would need to move in order to make way for the motorway so one can only assume that a substantial compensation pay-out followed. This money has been well spent on a fantastic heritage centre-style shed which includes a lovely little Museum. Inside the centre stood Chasewater's flagship loco: "Asbestos". A Hawthorn Leslie 0-4-0, "Asbestos" has been out of ticket for a couple of years and is the subject of a £30,000 overhaul appeal. Luckily, to date, over 60% of the money has been raised and so maybe this attractive little engine will move again one day...
Across from "Asbestos" stands Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0 "S100". S100 is a much larger loco and is owned by the same people who own "Nechells No4". The Hudswell is coming along nicely and the chassis looks smart: she just needs a boiler next! Today she was spotted looking outside at her future stamping ground...
Having wandered around the Heritage Centre and the Museum, we came back outside just in time to see "Teddy" and "Colin" departing again. For two little engines they can certainly create some smoke!...
The temperature was now dropping and so we decided to head off after a very pleasant visit. The Chasewater Railway has a surprising collection of industrial stock and offers a steady journey through watery scenery. Why not give it a try? It is so refreshing to see that places like this and Foxfield are upholding the good name of the hard working industrial engine. They may not be perfect for bigger lines and for constant passenger work but on a quiet little heritage railway like this they are perfect. Its so good to see that industrials still have a home. All the best guys, Sam...

Friday, 27 February 2015

Statfold Reborn...

Hi all. Today was a slightly impromptu visit to Statfold. Phil had rung earlier in the week and asked if there was any chance that I could nip over to help with one of their steam test days. Naturally, with over 15 engines to test, boiler testing at SBR takes a good week! 'Eddie the Late' was over there in the morning doing various tasks, and I arrived at just gone 1pm to relieve him. The afternoon was very pleasant, with what seemed to be my first encounter of steam engines and sun in the same place this year. There were six engines in steam today from the Statfold stable, all having safety valves checked, boilers looked at, gauges studied and so on. All the usual boiler test jobs were being carried out and each engine gradually passed with flying colours. The first SBR Open Day of 2015 arrives on March 28th and what a day it will be. The SBR continues to go from strength to strength and it is a truly awe-inspiring set-up that has been created from a brown-field site. My job this afternoon involved keeping fires going, boiler levels up and helping by driving engines around for shunts. Driving "Sybil Mary" or GP39 around in the sun on this calm winter afternoon bore no complaints from me in the slightest! Meanwhile, in the impressive Oak Tree storage shed, just some of the Statfold collection lies in wait...
"Just Some of the Statfold Collection"
I was at the SBR until gone 5pm when I had to head for home. All six of the days test engines had passed with flying colours and reports suggested that all of their previously tested sisters had too. Its amazing how long the SBR has been there now as "Trangkil No4" and Peckett "Harrogate" are now out of use following expiry of their 10-year tickets! How time has flown! I left the SBR today feeling much more enthused; my thirst for steam being quenched for a couple more weeks. Roll on the SBR Open Day! If you haven't visited Statfold before, well, you can't really call yourself a steam enthusiast...it is a MUST SEE! All the best, Sam...

Monday, 23 February 2015

Small Loco Maintenance...

Hi all. Since our last posts regarding "Achilles" and the Atlantic, there hasn't been much on the small steam front. "Achilles" in her last report steamed at Ryton for the near New Year do, and 'Maisie' went up there for the February running day. This post is a sort of stop-gap post about both of them. First comes "Achilles". The tank engine ran very well but the water pump was leaking badly. I've found over the years that if you don't use the engine for a few months and the PTFE packing has chance to dry out then the glands start leaking. Once the packing has dried out it won't seal properly anymore and no amount of adding water will change that: it just needs replacing. With this in mind I opted to do a service on the water pump which means, yes, the loco has to take a fall...
With the loco on her side it is much easier to access the water pump. The drive for the pump is via two eccentrics coupled to the leading axle. With these disconnected the rams can be easily reached. The next job is to remove the two gland nuts and the lowest pair of stainless steel balls, as well as the old packing. The cleaned up parts including new balls are spotted below...
As I put the water pump back together its time to fit the new packing. I use PTFE yarn which I soak in thick steam oil before packing it around the ram within the gland nut body. Then, with a liberal application of steam oil to all moving parts, just connect everything back up...
After a check-up and some cleaning, "Achilles" was put back onto her wheels and onto her storage trolley. The loco will now hopefully be fit and ready for a future outing yet to be decided. However, we are hoping to do some RPMR public running with her this year, all being well. Now, over to 'Maisie'. 4436 ran very well on her last outing to RPMR following her quiet winter, though the lubricator was proving troublesome. A few days ago I stripped the tender off and ran the engine up and down. Unusually, the lubricator worked faultlessly. Perhaps an air lock or the leg stuck in one tooth?...who knows! I'll have to keep an eye on that. I'll probably steam her at home next time just to watch it. It definitely uses oil, and in some volume too! With the steam chest now no doubt full of oil, the tender was put back on. I do like this engine...
The only other job now required on 'Maisie' is to replace a ball within the clack for the handpump. The handpump system has two separate clacks but the boiler end one is sticking open; reducing handpump efficiency by a strong degree and generally being a pain. Another small job that I'll get done soon. All the best guys, Sam...

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Steam Shed Sunday at Shackerstone...

Hi all. Another visit to Shackerstone today for our weekly Sunday working. Todays update centres around "Dunlop No7". Myself & Jason were actually working on the paint job for GWR 3803 but naturally, as I've said, there isn't much to say until its finished and we can show it. Until then, other updates come first. "Dunlop No7"s boiler is todays subject. Having been fitted with a new steel inner firebox by contractors at the Great Central, the boiler is now being stayed. Over 300 stays hold the firebox for the W7 Peckett safely in position and each has had to be individually made and fitted. For those not in the know, stays are threaded at either end and screw through the outer firebox into the inner firebox. The non-threaded section of the stay then occupies what is known as the water-space. The stays act as added strength for the firebox which is under a lot of pressure from both sides. In the firebox, immense heat is suffered from the roaring fire. On the outside of the inner box, perhaps 140 pounds of steam and boiling water will be attempting to crush the box at every inch of its material. Therefore, the stays are used to hold the box inside the boiler and to stop it 'bowing': known in the steam world as quilting. The current stays are being fitted at the sides and backhead as the crown-stays (firebox crown/roof) are in and the foundation ring is fitted. The foundation ring is the term used for the section which holds the inner and outer together at the foot of the box & boiler, allowing the ashpan to be fitted and air to come in. Naturally boilers are open at the bottom for this purpose. Below, we see an example of a stay...
Here we see a shot of the backhead with the firehole ring prominent. A couple of stays can be seen fitted in some of the lower rows. The four plates are currently covering the orifices where the water gauge glasses are fitted, with the regulator linkage sitting central at the top...
Meanwhile, further up the shed was Class 02 D2867 "Diane". "Diane" was having the final touches made to her paintwork before completion of her winter overhaul. The engine will soon be returned to service, shunting in the shed yards. 3803 is coming along nicely and will be in service in fully finished BR plain black over our gala weekend of March 28th/29th: hope to see you there. Next Sunday?...its back to Shackerstone! All the best guys, Sam...

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Shackerstone Sunday...

Hi all. Another day at Shackerstone today from 10am until 4:30pm, working away in the loco shed. My task, along with Jason, was once again GWR 3803. We have been working every weekend (apart from last weekend when I was ill) on 3803 for some weeks now and she is receiving some good old fashioned TLC. Still, unfortunately, no pictures to show of 3803 apart from her bufferbeam number above. Our project...well. You may have spotted on the Battlefield Line website that our Spring Steam Gala will be held over March 28th/29th. Our visitor is GWR Large Prairie No4141, courtesy of the Epping Ongar Railway. To join 4141, 3803 will of course be making an appearance but, perhaps a different one. We are currently working away on 3803's transformation from GWR to BR. Yes, 3803 is being out-shopped in full BR plain black livery for the first time in preservation. We are currently undertaking all of the work necessary to allow this to happen and therefore the locomotive is not being shown until the gala weekend. Want to see her finished and fit for action? Then why not visit our gala! Speaking of paint jobs, the little Class 02 diesel shunter is now pretty much finished and is looking very smart...
The 02 has been repainted by a small band of 3 or 4 volunteers and has also been fully serviced. After a coat of varnish, the locomotive will be ready to return to work shunting around the various sidings of Shackerstone. D2867 "Diane", as she is known, has always been a handy little tool and hopefully will be so again but perhaps looking quite a lot smarter...
"The White Walled Tyres of D2867"
So, there we go folks...a black 38! Naturally now that the news has spread to the railways own website I have no problems in saying that the job is being done but no pictures of the locomotive will be displayed until the gala weekend when she appears...its only fair. Suffice to say though, she'll look grand! All the best guys, until next week, Sam...

Thursday, 12 February 2015

The Ryton AGM...

Hi all. An interesting evening out tonight, nattering and supping tea at Coventry club. The annual general meeting was upon us again and provided all the formals followed by a video presentation of the events of 2014. Featured in two different liveries was my tank engine "Achilles" with a glimmer of newly arrived C1 "Maisie" in the November section. A pleasant little evening out. All the best, Sam...

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Coughs and Sneezes...

Hi all. Today it was the usual Shackerstone Sunday. However, due to the flu that had struck me down in the week I decided to play it safe ready for my early start for work tomorrow. With this in mind I simply nipped to Shack for a bit for a look around and to pick up my MTEW advertising bits & bobs. On the way home I called in at Shenton where I had a welcome cuppa' with Chris and Jo who then helped me put up the banner. I'm very pleased with this MTEW aid and it will be at Shenton from now up until the event. Hopefully I'll be better this week and back in action ready for next weekend. All the best guys, Sam...

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Atlantic Report No5: Just About Cracked It...

"Atlantic Outing" (R.Mathieson)
Hi all. Well, here we are, Atlantic Report No5. In the last post we saw my 3.5" gauge LBSC Maisie resting up in the workshop whilst a boiler band was repaired. The band; which suffered a paint reaction a few months ago; was kindly repainted and lined by The Steam Workshop ready for refitting to the engine. Last week, whilst faced with a few free hours, I decided to look at the C1's tender. The tender had been dragging on the rail-head due to its overly long guard-irons. The irons were removed, shortened slightly and the axleboxes and springs were checked. The rear box on the right hand side was tight in the horns and was locking up so I removed the box and cleaned the faces before oiling them well. The tender now runs better and the irons clear the track. With the work done, I repainted the bolt heads that I disturbed and then gave the green livery a polish. The tender is seen in the late afternoon sun in the garden last Tuesday...
"The Tender In The Garden" (3/2/15)
Anyway, back to today. Whilst the locomotive was languishing in bits in the workshop awaiting her band, the tender was now fit and ready to go when required. Today was the monthly CMES Steam Up and "Achilles" was waiting in the wings to stand in for the stripped down Atlantic. However, at the last minute, the band turned up in this mornings post and so, after a quick rebuild and spit polish, No4436 made it to Ryton Pools by 1pm! To be honest, not only was the loco lucky to be there but so was I. I'd been off work ill during the last part of the week, full of flu. Thankfully I was feeling better today and could get out for some air as there is only so much daytime television one can stomach. 4436 is seen here steaming up...
One of our Shackerstone cleaners: Reece: was visiting the track today and sent in quite a few pics of No4436. Here she is having steamed up and sitting pretty, ready to go...
"4436 In Steam" (R.Mathieson)
With 80psi on the clock, a good fire in the box and the safety valve beginning to lift, the moment of truth had arrived for 'Maisie'. Opening the regulator gently in full forward gear, away she went. The loco ran freely ("hurrah"!) and steamed happily around the track, attacking the bank in fine style...
"4436 On The Bank" (R.Mathieson)
I made quite a few laps with No4436: probably 8 or 9 or so. She was steaming well, her axlepump was working at good capacity and the tender was running freely. She's a bit of a racehorse and will out-run a 5" gauge engine on a good length of straight track. The wheels are bigger than "Achilles" as she stands! 4436 is seen here during a photo stop on the tight curve at the foot of Ryton Bank...
It was pleasant to be out with a well performing No4436 at last. She did start to tighten up a bit towards the end of the run, later determined (so I believe) to be the mechanical lubricator not working. This isn't really surprising as the engine is still only on her third ever visit to a track, having only been steamed 5 times in total. The lubricator rachet isn't working correctly and will require some attention before something goes wrong. The 4-4-2 was given copious amounts of oil through the blast pipe to tide her over once the run had finished. The Atlantic gets away on a final run...
"Atlantic Success" (R.Mathieson)
So, there we have it...4436 runs! With some adjustment on the mechanical lubricator to make it work when we want it to and a new ball in the foundation ring clack the engine should be fit & happy, ready for service. When she'll run again now is anyone's guess at the minute as its only fair that "Achilles" should be next out. We'll see. Thanks for reading folks. All the best, Sam...

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Shed Sunday at Shackerstone...

Hi everyone. Today was another Shed Sunday at Shackerstone. I arrived on this chilly morning at 11am and snapped some very uncaring sheep near the railway gates...
Down in the shed myself & Jason would be continuing to work on GWR 2-8-0 No3803. Behind 3803 currently stands "Sir Gomer" and, behind her, the Class 02 shunter. The Class 02, D2867 "Diane", a Yorkshire Engine Company product of 1961, is now nearing the end of its brief winter overhaul. The engine and gearbox has been serviced and the whole thing rewired. Richard was captured just putting the finishing touches to her refurbished electric lights...
I left the railway at around 4:30pm today for home. It was very chilly indeed and it sounds like there's more of a cold snap to come. I always enjoy winter right up until New Year and then after that these dark dreary months just drag on. Oh well, at least we're now half way through our 2-month closed season and trains will soon return to the Battle of Bosworth fields. You may well ask "Why No Pictures of 3803" - well, there will be, soon. All the best, Sam...