Sunday, 25 June 2017

Tyseley Open Day: Crewing The Pannier...

"A Trio of Castle's - 7029, 5043, 5080" (Pic - K.Felstead)
Hi all. Today I was up bright & early in order to head over to Tyseley for the second day of their June open weekend. The theme for the event was the much anticipated "Castles at Tyseley"; celebrating not only the return of "Defiant" from Quainton but also the latest unveiling of the almost finished "Clun Castle". It was the first opportunity ever to see the three 4-6-0s standing side by side. 5043 was just a kit of parts when she last met "Defiant" and "Clun" hasn't been outside of the workshop for a few years herself. Joining the Castle trio would be the visiting Princess Coronation class pacific "Duchess of Sutherland" and the rest of the operational Tyseley fleet - Pannier 9600, the W7 Peckett and "Rood Ashton Hall". (7752 is currently on holiday at the Dartmouth Steam Railway). Last but not least, another Great Western visitor would be joining the line-up: No6880 "Betton Grange". The Grange is progressing at a fair pace and looked nice in the morning sun alongside "Rood Ashton" and "Defiant"...
Alongside the workshop, the mighty Duchess was brewing up in the company of 9600 and 5043. The device atop the tender at the back of the coal space is the coal pusher - a steam powered aid for the fireman...
5043 was sending a column of smoke gently skyward...
This morning saw the Castle and the Duchess steaming up face to face, making an interesting comparison. The huge size of the pacific is a contrast to the lean, muscular appearance of the Great Western engine. The Castle is big, but the Duchess is something else. They are a large engine indeed...
From the biggest to the smallest, I wandered down through the shed to have a look at No1: the W7 Peckett. She was raising steam at the back of the works. The Peckett tends to only see use at the open days and its always a pleasure to see her out...
I hadn't expected to be doing much during the day, although I was of course available to help out with anything that was needed. To my surprise, I was asked if I fancied firing the Pannier on the demo line passenger shuttles for the morning shift. This is always a pleasant little job, shuffling back and forth with a couple of coaches. Dave was driving 9600 and I soon found myself on the footplate throwing a full shovelfuls in...
From around 10:30am onwards we pottered up and down the demo line at regular intervals with our two coach train. The weather was quite odd, with bursts of sun quickly followed by random downpours. For this event, the LMS Jubilee "Kolhapur" had been placed in Platform 2 at the Warwick Road station...
"Pannier 9600 Stands Alongside 'Kolhapur' - LMS 5593"
We had an enjoyable morning aboard 9600, with our flurry of passengers strengthening to a crowd whenever the rain came down. The firing technique on this job is definitely little and often. A Great Western pannier tank is a Class 4 locomotive and so the effort required to push and pull two coaches is by no means taxing. As long as you keep the holes filled she'll do the job without a care...
Dave kindly let me drive a couple of the trips. I've said before that although 9600 has been in traffic for a number of years now, she is still like new. Everything is tight and fresh as if she had just been outshopped from the works. Its also refreshing to go on an engine where the GWR combi-brake works as it should as some of the more ill-maintained Western's I've been on over the years tend to be troublesome when their brake valves act up. 9600s works just as it should and is pleasant in operation. Its just a lovely engine. Soon enough, just before 1:30pm, we were waiting for the signal to drop into the shed road ready to clear the demo line for the cavalcade...
The 1:30pm cavalcade is always a popular highlight of the Tyseley open days. Today, the Duchess would lead 4965 & 5043. The trio of locomotives stomped loudly up and down the demo line to the delight of onlookers. The run pasts tend to start not far from the signalbox. I caught this view from the window of the box...
The engines bark loudly towards the top of the yard, passing the waiting gallery of photographers, before drifting steadily back down...
Here is a short video clip of the trio starting out on another run past...
The locomotives created a fantastic spectacle as they marched back and forth...
Whilst the big engines had their play, 9600 was simmering quietly on the shed road with the shuttle stock. We were originally to be relieved but a change of plan saw myself and Stuart rostered for the afternoon turn...
The big engines soon returned to the middle road after their fun and it wasn't long before 9600 was back in Platform 1 at the station awaiting more passengers. The Duchess would be coupled to the other end of the train for the rest of the day, allowing us to top and tail rather than propel the stock. Driving the Pannier with the mighty Duchess on the back increased the train weight from two coaches to probably nearer to five or six and so a little more regulator was needed to get the train on the move. The biggest difference was the braking as the pacific tried to nudge you down the hill. You need to keep the brakes on a Pannier above 15 inches if you can as below that the plunger will drop and the steam brake will kick in with unwelcome vigour. Rub the shoes early to gather up the weight and she'll easily slow up with 15 inches or more. It was a very nice afternoon on the engine...
"Driving Pannier Tank No9600" (Pic - M.Creese)
The remaining hours of the day were spent shuttling back and forth. The Duchess would pull us one way and stop before we took control of the vacuum to pull us back the other way. Two trips per 'journey' were completed, with myself & Stuart sharing the duties on the footplate. Passenger numbers were fair right up until the last train at 4:20pm. 9600 had been no trouble as usual...
Once the last train had been completed the Duchess hauled us once more to the top of the yard. We then squeezed-up so that Stuart could uncouple us. With the road set and the signal given, we rolled down into the yard with nothing to hear but the ticking of the vacuum pump. Allowing the Pannier to roll neatly to a stop with a fully closed regulator seems to prevent it passing. The Duchess then propelled the stock back to Platform 1 for stabling whilst 9600 was prepared for disposal...
With the Pannier stabled safely I managed to grab a quick shot of "Clun Castle" before she was put away. The progress in the last two weeks has been fantastic and my hat off to the Tyseley lads for all their hard work. She looks amazing...
"No7029 'Clun Castle' Nears Completion"
Soon enough, under threatening skies, No1 was taking 7029 cautiously back to the shelter of the engine shed. I wonder how long it will be before she's in steam...
Well, after another great day at Tyseley all that remains for me to say is thank you. Thank you to the Tyseley lads for another cracking day, thank you to the photographers who kindly let me use their images in this post and thank you all for reading.  Tyseley is an absolute pleasure to be involved with and I can't wait til' "Shakespeare Season". Until next time, Sam...

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