Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Atlantics: Small Meets Smaller...

Good afternoon all. Just a very quick post from today. Whilst pottering around in the workshop I noticed that a parcel had arrived at the house. Inside was another new toy: my 00 gauge Bachmann model of the GNR Atlantic No251. I ordered this some time last year, perhaps October time, not long after the NRM had announced their build. 251 is the only survivor of Ivatt's large boilered C1 4-4-2 Atlantic class and is part of the National Collection. The engine is currently at the NRM's other base: Shildon: and is on display to the public. As far as I know, commercially made models of the C1 haven't been available in 00 gauge before and the new locomotives were sure to prove popular. My main reason for ordering one was of course my bigger C1: the LBSC Maisie Atlantic No4436 which I bought last year. With her in mind I had ordered the LNER liveried variant that Bachmann offered, but following some research it turned out that the later model came with the LNER modifications. 4436 never received such mods and remained in GNR condition despite livery changes. This made my order change at the very last minute to the Great Northern liveried 251 model, simply because it came with the same outline and features as my 3.5" gauge engine. This afternoon, both Atlantics were pictured in the garden in the sun. In that picture, the 00 gauge model is completely dwarfed by the live steam 4436, though the small size of the Bachmann engine makes its big sister look even more huge than normal! Hopefully we'll see 251 running on the garden line in the summer. Cheers all, Sam...

Sunday, 26 April 2015

MTEW Sunday 2015...

(Birmingham Phil - Flickr)
Well, day four for me, day two for the event! I arrived at the site at around 7:45am this morning ready to start the days proceedings. Today would be another show day for MTEW 2015, starting at 10am. Not long after my arrival, the site was filled with smoke as the many engines raised steam. This is one of the most enjoyable parts of the event for me, watching Market Bosworth become a cathedral of steam with engines coming around all over the place. Here is a quick snap on the back field with 8 engines in view and steaming up...
The Sunday, historically, is an easier day for me. Don't get me wrong, I'm still rushing around everywhere and talking until my throat is sore, but its generally the day that I can enjoy more than the others. Despite the horrific weather forecast at the start of the week, the sun shone again and the sky was clear blue for most of the day. The ice cream van even came back, showing just how warm it was...we were so lucky! The engines steamed around the site at will and up into the village at their leisure as per. 1:30pm soon came around and it was time to start organising the line-up. Today I was determined to get them in the right place and order. The shot below shows half of the line-up in the grand circle arrangement...
(Birmingham Phil - Flickr)
We managed to get them all together today and the public seemed to really enjoy photographing them all bunched up side by side. We did our usual big whistle (which was completely ear splitting!) at just before 2pm as usual and the 25 soon disappeared into the distance. At that point Phil, one of the engine owners, stood in the centre of the circle and beckoned me over as if trying to tell me of a problem. When I got to him he grabbed my arm, raised his other hand and a second massive whistle up ensued as well as cheers and applause. I was so overwhelmed. The exhibitors later explained that they wanted to show how much they appreciated my efforts for a great weekend: I was overcome. There is so much work behind the scenes over a 12-month period to organise this show and it is such an amazing feeling when people come from all over the country and actually enjoy their weekend. Nothing beats it...absolutely fantastic...
(Birmingham Phil - Flickr)
After the line up the engines began to mill around again for the rest of the afternoon...
(Birmingham Phil - Flickr)
Mr Brett was working away sawing logs using his 4" Rack Saw throughout the weekend...
(Birmingham Phil - Flickr)
Old meets new here, with 6" Burrell GMT "Cranleigh Belle" getting overtaken coming down Station Road...
(Birmingham Phil - Flickr)
Another lovely capture of Lionel's 4" Foster "Safaniya" simmering away...
(Birmingham Phil - Flickr)
Trevor Ives' 6" Burrell Agricultural engine "Dode", another first time visitor in 2015...
(Birmingham Phil - Flickr)
A final line up picture, showing 7 of the well over 45 miniatures in steam today...
(Birmingham Phil - Flickr)
As the day drew to a close, engines were bedding down and I was rushing around paying expenses and saying my many thank you's: the job never stops! Slowly but surely, one by one, the engines began to leave after a very busy, enjoyable but whole heartedly tiring weekend. I cannot thank the exhibitors enough, or any of my crack team that helped in any way over the weekend. I must also thank all of our visitors as, despite the tired looking loco at the head of the train, we still made a good profit, regardless of the bad forecast that was aired at the start of the week. The last few engines would leave early tomorrow morning but as I left the site at 9pm, the place was looking pretty much empty. Its amazing how 12 months work comes and goes over 4 very busy days but what a weekend. I hope you've enjoyed reading the posts about MTEW 2015 and I must thank my two photographers: Malcolm Ranieri & Birmingham Phil (Flickr): for sending in images for use. Thank you all, that's it, done, MTEW 2015. Cheers all, Sam...

Saturday, 25 April 2015

MTEW Saturday 2015...

"Saturday Line Up" (M.Ranieri)
Hi everyone. So, the morning after the two days before! This morning I was in McDonalds at 6:30am, arriving over at Market Bosworth at just gone 7am to start the days proceedings. First job, get the shed open and get that kettle on! There were still over a dozen engines to arrive and settle before the 10am opening time, plus more stands to come and fences to put up. Its all go when you've got an event this size! Throughout the day I was filling in boiler paperwork, answering questions, moving stuff into place, fetching coal and god knows what else. But, in honesty, I love it, I really do. This picture-heavy post has been made possible by Mr Malcolm Ranieri who provides me with some of his fabulous images. He is responsible for all of the images seen in this post so please do enjoy. They are in no particular order but I'll do a small description with each one. The weather was fine today, at certain points anyway, and Malcolm managed to record some great images once again. Here, the wonderful 4.5" Foden fire engine is seen in steam and showing off its working water jet...
(M.Ranieri)
Mr Ives' 6" Burrell agricultural engine "Dode" is seen here outside the Goods Shed in the square, coming alongside the Fire Engine with the organ in the background...
(M.Ranieri)
A day visitor for Saturday was a green liveried 4" Ruston Proctor. The engine was one of two of the type at the event though this one seemed to make light work of the climb towards the village centre on Station Road. Here she is climbing away from the station...
(M.Ranieri)
As you will see in these images, with over 50 miniatures in steam you can afford to let a few at a time go off to the pub without it affecting your overall show, and our engines certainly take advantage of that! Here, the Roberts pull out of the yard with their 4" Burrell "Florence"...
(M.Ranieri)
Another day visitor is seen below. This is Mr Newton with his wonderful 2" Burrell Roller. In MTEW's third year, I've finally managed to get a roller there and get it photographed as evidence! These rollers are deceptively rare in miniature, particularly in 2" scale. The engine was hugely popular throughout the Saturday show, and proved that big isn't always best!...
(M.Ranieri)
Talking of big, the two rollers spent the Saturday morning basking in the sun. The immaculate pair are seen here being passed by 3" scale Fowler Z7 Ploughing Engine "Winston"...
(M.Ranieri)
The Suffolk contingent brought another first to MTEW: Mclarens! The Baxter family kindly brought along their two 4" engines: Road Loco "Nevermore" and Showmans Engine "Lady Jennifer". I've been asking for three years now for Mclarens and at last, this year we had some. Actually, we ended up with three...like buses aren't they!...
(M.Ranieri)
Another pair came in the form of the Spalding Foden's. The two 4.5" C-Type examples are seen here putting in a good climb of the bank away from the station yard up the road towards the village. Craig is leading with his blue wagon, with Roger & "Fenland Prince" following...
(M.Ranieri)
Here, the beautiful 4" Burrell Showmans Road Locomotive "Jane" climbs out of the yard...
(M.Ranieri)
The engines were in & out throughout the day, creating quite a spectacle both in the yard and on the road. Here, a good half a dozen examples make a break for it!...
(M.Ranieri)
In the yard area, the organ was playing, the awning displays were doing well and the working area was showing off 4" Rack Sawing and 6" Flour Milling. Here, 4" Garrett "Betty" and 4" Burrell "Wendy" run parallel down the drive...
(M.Ranieri)
The only none steam segment of the event was the railway; such are the things we take for granted. The Class 25 was sporting our brand new "Not So Miniature Express" headboard as it approached Market Bosworth with a Shenton bound train...
(M.Ranieri)
The watering area was a muddy and busy area throughout the day as usual. Here, Ian's impressive 4" Case takes a drink. Its fantastic that we've managed to display a great selection of engines here at Market Bosworth, from most makers and in most scales...
(M.Ranieri)
Below, three engines from the popular 'Black Country Live Steamers' society rub shoulders. From left to right they are a 1.5" Allchin, 3" Showmans "The Griffin" and 4" Garrett "Jack"...
(M.Ranieri)
A slightly more local engine came in the form of Lionel's recently repainted 4" Foster Agricultural "Safaniya". This is a well travelled engine and carries the proud pedigree of the Foster design which is rather numerous in the miniature world due to its strength, reliability and popularity...
(M.Ranieri)
Here, two of the Showmans engines rub shoulders. 4" Fowler "Sir Henry" and 6" Garrett "Michael" stand alongside the Goods Shed...
(M.Ranieri)
Bob Seaton's wonderful meccano display was again proving very popular...
(M.Ranieri)
6" Burrell DCC "Wandering Star", 4" Garrett "Betty" and 6" Garrett "Michael" in the yard...
(M.Ranieri)
Two Garrett's: "Betty" and "Michael"...
(M.Ranieri)
An unusual shot now, taken from the backhead of Izzy's 6" Savage "Firefly" as she works the Flour Mill to the enjoyment of onlookers...
(M.Ranieri)
A perfect pair: the 4" Burrell pairing of SCC's "Gemini I" & "Gemini II"...
(M.Ranieri)
At 1:30pm each day, it was time to start sorting the line up, starting with the three big engines and then the other 50! Saturday's turned into a bit of an M25 traffic jam of steam but it still looked impressive!...
(M.Ranieri)
And the big whistle up sounded fantastic...
(M.Ranieri)
Engines big & small...
(M.Ranieri)
A trio of Foden's...
(M.Ranieri)
Fabulous foursome...
(M.Ranieri)
A traffic jam of steam...
"Traffic" (M.Ranieri)
The wonderful and elderly looking big Allchin General Purpose of 1903, kindly brought along by owner Arthur Henton. This engine has been in his family since it was bought brand new from Allchin in 1903!...
"The Big Allchin" (M.Ranieri)
We even had a double-header, in the form of the two "Gemini"s!...
"Gemini I & II" (M.Ranieri)
A final view of the day, this time the Allchin again...
"Allchin 1261 of 1903" (M.Ranieri)
All in all it was a fantastic day and the sun shone on us (thank goodness!). We even had an ice cream van on site and you can't really grumble at that! We had around 55 boilers in steam at Bosworth today, with 51 of them being miniatures. Sunday won't see that many, perhaps 45 miniatures as historically we have half a dozen day visitors but still, a fantastic turnout once again. We closed the gates at 5pm but that wasn't the end for me. I had to strip the shed to prepare for the later band, staff the 6pm exhibitor train, staff at the band performance from 8pm and wait until they'd finished, packed up and loaded and left. I finally got away at gone midnight! What a long day and the third of four for MTEW overall! Oh well, all for a good cause. My bed calls... 

Friday, 24 April 2015

MTEW Friday Set-Up...

Hi everyone. Well, talk about a pulling your hair out week! The weeks leading up to MTEW are always busy. People are emailing, people are calling and I am running around trying to get everything sorted. This week I've been making dining tickets, finishing seating plans, editing camping plans, preparing welcome packs and generally making the final alterations to everything that has been planned up to now. The house has been a wash with wristbands, tickets, welcome letters, boiler legislation, risk assessments and god knows what else. Yesterday I was at Market Bosworth throughout the day and, kindly aided by Ralph & Dave, we cleared the Goods Shed and put up all the bunting. The first engine arrived yesterday evening; a 6" Savage all the way from Reading...
Today I was ready for action but the entire operation was going to be nothing short of time consuming and draining. According to my book, around 40 of the miniatures would arrive today as well as a few stands, two awning displays, the miniature railway and three full size engines too! Add to that unloading coal, filling water tanks, organising tables and putting up fencing and you've got one pretty busy day on your hands! I arrived at 8:30am and immediately got underway erecting signs and putting up posters both in & around the site. The first engine today turned up at 10:30am, casually followed by many, many others. One by one they entered the site, caravans and trailers and the kitchen sink in tow. Its lovely to see everybody again, it really is. Some engines have travelled quite a distance to be with us this weekend, from destinations such as Suffolk, London, Chesterfield, Buxton, Spalding and many other places besides. I cannot stress more how much I appreciate the time & effort put in by our exhibitors to be with us for the event. Throughout the day I was running around everywhere: driving the digger, filling in paperwork, setting people up, welcoming people, unloading stuff and much more. I was literally running around everywhere. I was tired but happy in my work. My grand team of Eddie, la family Simmons, Dave and Izzy were all brilliant and really kept me going with their enthusiasm. With the help of Chris & Dave, we managed to fill most of the horrendous driveway potholes using the JCB and some old spoil; a job that I was immensely pleased that we got done. The thing is, when you've just filled potholes, what you really need is a steam roller or two. Where on earth would we get one of those? Well, cue the entry of our two Avelings!...
The two rollers were followed by the beautiful Allchin General Purpose traction engine and the three of them were soon settled in their position for the weekend. Both of the rollers kindly rumbled up & down the drive well into the evening, flattening the roadway well as they did so. The last engine came in at 10:10pm and when duly settled I went home completely drained but happy. We'd booked in well over 30 throughout the day, plus all of the other bits & bobs. One engine that wouldn't be with us though was unfortunately 3803. It doesn't matter how much you plan these things, something always goes wrong. A supplier issue with the replacement springs for the 2-8-0 meant that she would not make the weekend, instead sitting failed in Shackerstone shed. The lads did manage to get a war-wounded 25 into action though so not all was lost. Much to my amazement, when I got home there was a phonecall at gone 11pm. It started with, "Hi. We're lost...": never a good sign! It turned out they'd gone to Shackerstone and so, via phone, I directed them through the dark of the fen lanes to reach Market Bosworth some 20 minutes later. We never rest at Market Bosworth, not until everyone is in! Best Regards, Sam...

Sunday, 19 April 2015

MTEW Prep: Sweeping & Tidying...

Hi guys. Just a quick one from today. I was at Market Bosworth Station from just after 11am until around 5pm, starting my preparations for MTEW next weekend. The Miniature Traction Engine Weekend is, this year, bringing over 50 examples to the old Goods Yard as part of its annual steam exhibition. The engines will be running around freely on the yard there and will probably be venturing out onto the road quite regularly too. My plans are now well underway but there is still much to do before next weekend. Todays jobs, kindly aided by Mr S & family, included setting up the water tanks, mowing & cleaning the grassed areas, tidying up and stock taking on equipment, such as fencing etc. All in all a worthwhile and useful day in preparation for the madness of next weekend! All the best, Sam...

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Atlantic Report No6: Evening Steam...


Hi everyone. This evening my LBSC Maisie Atlantic was taken to Ryton Pools for a run on the miniature railway. CMES operates members running evenings on the third Wednesday of the month and this was the first of 2015. When going to the evening ones for a quick outing, the smaller Atlantic is the obvious choice, saving all of the heavy lifting involved when dragging the tank engine around the workshop. I arrived at around 5:40pm at the CMES track site as the weather for the evening looked very promising. By the time the 6:30pm start time rolled around, 4436 was pretty much ready for her run. Steaming proudly onto the track with drain cocks hissing, the fire was made up before a spirited few laps. The engine is now running well and is running in nicely. The boiler is very free steaming and the axlepump works fine, apart from needing some repacking. The handpump is to receive some attention in the near future though as it isn't working as it should. I managed to film some of her run tonight, making up the clips featured above. I hope that 4436 will be at the track again in a few weeks for the third Wednesday run in May. Cheers everyone, all the best, Sam...

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Driving at Evesham: Something Different...

Hi everyone. Today I was out again: this time on my way to the Evesham Vale Light Railway up at Evesham Country Park. The story behind this was that, a few months ago, I noticed on the EVLR website that the railway was asking for more volunteer locomotive drivers. 'Eddie the Late' had already applied, and was about to undertake a days familiarisation. I've always been interested in Evesham and indeed it has been reported on many times throughout this blog, but I'd never really considered trying it out until now. It may not be full size, but it has several brilliant plus points: its friendly, its picturesque, it runs all year and it has three different loco's in traffic at once. These reasons are noted but are not the only ones! Anyway, after 'Eddie the Late' reported that he had enjoyed his day out at Evesham quite a lot, I decided to try it for myself and the railways owner, Adrian, duly contacted me to arrange a date. Due to other commitments, the date arranged moved right up to today but, as I drove down through the morning fog along the A46, I was looking forward to a day of 15" gauge steam.

I arrived at the country park for around 8:20am before changing into my overalls. Adrian and his wife Sandra (operators of the EVLR) were already there and beginning to open up. I'd met them both a few weeks before during our visit with Ed & John. Adrian welcomed me before taking me around onto the shed frontage. Opening the door on the left-hand shed, there stood "St Egwin": loco for the day. "Egwin" has also been featured on here a few times and I've travelled on the footplate on a few occasions as a passenger. With a good shove, the 0-4-0 rolled out into the morning mist. Adrian then took me through the light-up procedure. Everything has its place here; its all very organised. With the fire lit, an air line is attached to the chimney and the fire gently drawn as it catches...
With coffee at hand, we went through the preparation of the loco together, including stoking, oiling and, perhaps most importantly with an immaculate engine like this, cleaning. "Egwin": around 11 years my junior: is an Exmoor product and has all the mod-cons including roller bearings and air brakes. The oiling takes a matter of minutes, with most points being done with a grease-gun. I nearly fell on the floor when Adrian replied to my question about oiling the axleboxes by saying, "they get greased every 6 months"! This modern engine is also apparently completely maintenance free a lot of the time. The bottom end has done many miles over 12 years and is still good, whilst the boiler has been checked and had some tubes but nothing more: its tight as a drum! At 10:15am, with 15 minutes before the first of 13 departures from Twyford Station, "Egwin" left shed. The next job was to blow-down the boiler via a tap on the drivers-side, by about 1/3 of a glass, clearing any scale that may form at the foundation ring. The 0-4-0 then casually backed onto the 3-coach train.

With a right away from the Guard at 10:30am, away we went. "Egwin" politely laughed at the 3-coach weight, steaming easily along the track. The EVLR is 1.25 miles long but has some stiff gradients to contend with. The track goes up, down, up, down. Therefore, water should not be kept too low nor too high. For the first two trips (taken every half hour) I was water monitor, and generally watching Adrian's moves as he drove the 0-4-0. At Evesham Vale station, there was the usual break on each trip for the public to admire the cab and controls...
For the 11:30am trip, I was on the regulator. Its a ball-valve type which is silky in operation, with a screw reverser controlling the slide valves. "Egwin" gets away easily but the braking is fairly alien to us 'vacuum men'. Adrian did comment that I was "driving it like a standard gauge engine". What he meant was that you give bursts to vacuum to find a position and feel the brake, but with air there's no real time gap so the brakes come on and off in that time, thus jerking the thing. After a couple of trips though I was beginning to get the hang of it. As the day wore on the sun came out and it was very warm on "Egwin"s footplate. We hauled one or two 4-coach trains, with the last coach being taken on & off as required by the loadings. "Egwin" is seen here awaiting an afternoon turn...
All in all, its just very pleasant. There is no rush, no stress, no heavy lifting. The engine steams well, pulls well, stops well and the passengers are calm & friendly. The timetable of 13 trains is quite tiring by the end of the day but it does provide good intensity for the visiting public and less waiting time too. After a brilliant day driving & firing the green Exmoor, we returned her to the shed for stabling and disposal. The fire was killed, the boiler filled, the ashpan & smokebox emptied and the loco then cleaned all over again. Finally, with the last breaths of steam, "Egwin" put herself back in her shed for the night. I'd had a lovely day and was very grateful to Adrian & Sandra for making me so welcome at their railway. I am planning to return on May 9th for another go at it :) All the best guys, Sam...

Monday, 6 April 2015

3803 And The Easter Eggspress...

Hi everyone. This morning it was an early start for Shackerstone, arriving in time for the dawn chorus. Myself and David were aboard the big 2-8-0 No3803. We got into the shed at around 6:45am to begin the FTR and the light up preparations. The loco was still very hot from yesterdays affairs, with 20psi remaining on the clock. David immediately got underway with cleaning the grate and starting the fire, whilst my duties began with the hydrostatic lubricator. I then started my oiling routine, scouting over the dozens of oiling points on the 2884 Class. By 10:30am the engine was ready and feathering quietly outside the shed. The early morning fog had cleared to reveal a wonderfully clear sky and very warm temperatures. 3803 and her open back cab was certainly the real deal for a day like today. We soon left shed to take the engine down for coal, before steaming over onto the waiting 11:15am train. The big 38' then took water, probably around 2000 gallons in total, in order to top up the tender to full. The economical loco would not require anymore water for the rest of the day. David had been gradually making up his fire over the course of the morning, and it was now burning brightly ready for the first departure...
3803 is captured here wearing her recently applied BR plain black livery and sporting another new headboard. This time its the "Easter Eggspress" and the loco is seen ready for the off...
With a right away from the Guard, the first train left pretty much on time. It was a lovely day and the line is always at its most beautiful on these occasions. We were surprised however, despite the sun, to pull into Shenton to roaring crowds. Both platforms were lined with onlookers as the shining black engine strolled in. To be fair, most of them wouldn't be riding today but their viewing of the engine is always a welcome advert for the railway. Returning to Shackerstone, 3803 had warmed up nicely and was performing as we would expect. The 12:30 trip was just as enjoyable, and David was having no problems with the thick smoke inducing new coal. On the 1:45pm trip, 3803 was snapped at Hedleys Crossing by a lineside photographer on the footpath, and the image is included by kind permission...
"3803 at Hedleys" (P.Bunyard)
Leaving Shenton on the return run, David was on the regulator whilst I fired. 3803 was steaming well, though did require more coal than usual with this new stuff. A thin level fire still did the trick, but you just seemed to shovel more coal in due to the smaller lumps. David also took the handle for the 3pm trip and I was enjoying doing the firing. Here, another shot from the same photographer shows the 38' steaming through Far Coton with the 3pm trip...
"3803 at Far Coton" (P.Bunyard)
At Shenton, 3803 duly ran round ready for a prompt departure. Having done some re-oiling of a few parts, the engine was snapped quickly before I reboarded the footplate to make some pre-departure checks...
David took us smoothly back to Shack with the returning 3pm and I was driving again for the last trip. The 38' steamed and pulled well all day and the "Easter Eggspress" proved very popular with the public. The trains seemed pleasingly busy today and plenty of smiling faces were spotted on the platforms. The weather had certainly brought people out! After the final trip the 38' was returned to the shed and disposed after a very pleasant day. I must thank David for his company aboard 3803 and for putting up with me as his Driver. All the best everyone, Sam...