Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Evesham Vale Light Railway...

The Evesham Vale Light Railway is a 15" Gauge Steam Railway based at Evesham Country Park in Worcestershire. We've visited the railway no end of times now and it gets better every time, but our latest visit was on New Years Eve 2008. Operating 1.5 miles of railway including two stations, substantial gradients, a tunnel and 6 steam locomotives (4 of which are operational), the EVLR is slowly turning itself into a 15" Gauge treasure trove! Since its opening in 2003, the railway has developed from a single line of around 1/2 a mile between two stations up to a 1.5 mile line with a large baloon loop relieving the need to run round at Evesham Vale. The main station, Twyford, situated in the country park's car park, hosts a covered 3-road platform area, water column, engine sheds, turntable, booking office and varying sidings. The country park itself includes a large garden centre, a small shopping village and a large expanse of land for walks and picnics. The EVLR operates throughout the year at weekends and is owned by its builders, Jim & Helen Shackell.
An adult return ticket is only £2 (what a bargain) and the journey lasts approximately 20 minutes. After leaving Twyford, the trains pass through the apple orchards and pass the open green with views towards the garden centre. The trees then engulf the line for a meer moment before the train approaches the junction at Evesham Vale. Once passed the junction the train descends on a large right hand at the beginning of the baloon loop. (The image below shows a train traversing the baloon loop with the view over the Vale of Evesham). Following a run around the baloon loop the train passes through the tunnel before curving left into Evesham Vale Station. Here there is a 5-minute or so wait whilst the guard clips the tickets for the return trip and passengers can alight for a riverside walk or simply to admire the locomotive. The staff are always happy to explain the workings of the little engines, a trait which I believe the staff of all railways should hold. Leaving the station, the gradient is a sharp upward one (demonstrated above with Barnes Atlantic "John"). Trains climb hard up the bank before descending back into Twyford. The engine is then uncoupled and turned on the turntable before running round.
Well its New Years Eve 2008 and its the coldest morning I've seen in a long while! I telephoned the EVLR before we began the hour or so journey. The voice on the end of the telephone said that they had experienced problems in the morning with the severe frost but trains would be running from lunch time onwards. We arrived at 1:25pm and quickly bought our tickets before catching the 1:30pm train. 1921-built 4-4-2 Barnes Atlantic "John" was in charge of the day's trains and once the guard had blown his whistle we were away! "John" chugged merrily down the line and after around 7 minutes were at Evesham Vale. After a chat with the driver about the locomotive I reboarded the train with my family and "John" duly started on the climb. The 4-4-2 chugged hard, sounding flat out(!), up the gradient with her 3-coach train. The frosty weather allowed for very good steam effects, resulting in a very good trail of steam from "John" after the attack on the bank! "John" then coasted back around the sharp left hard curve through Twyford Yard before arriving in Platform 1 once again. She was soon turned and put back on the front of the train. The 2pm train left and I decided to play "Chase-The-Train". One of the beauties of the EVLR is that you can RUN(!) ahead of the train and get to many different vantage points all within one trip! This resulted in the lineside photos you see in this blog. I did get many more but I don't want to bore you all with too many!

Now for a discussion about the locomotive. "John" was built in 1921 by Barnes for the Rhyl Miniature Railway in North Wales. Being a 4-4-2, her wheel arrangement is of "Atlantic" specifications. The above photograph shows you everything you in the cab. The large gauge to the left of the cab is the pressure gauge with the "red line" set at 125psi. The smaller gauge underneath the pressure gauge is the "air brake gauge" with the large grey handle below that being the air brake lever. The two gauge glasses can be easily seen with the "push-in" regulator located in between the two. The pole reverser can be clearly seen to the right of the cab. The black lever under the "air brake lever" operates the cylinder drain cocks. "John" also features two steam injectors, one each side of the cab. The locomotive itself however has no brakes but the tender boasts a footbrake! Oh the safety aspects in place in 1921! The 4-4-2 also features a chime whistle and gravity fed sanding gear! In my opinion, this engine is very modern considering she is 87 years old! "John" was restored to her current condition by EVLR staff but still wears Rhyl livery and the letters "R M R" on the tender. Obviously the air brakes wouldn't have been fitted as-built and these were fitted by the EVLR. I was told that "John" was a good steamer and a good workhorse and this was to be proven to me sooner than I thought...
The 2:30pm was about to depart Twyford when the driver said to me..."Would you like to come for a ride on the engine?".Well, when a driver says that, what else is there to say other than..."Yes please thank you!". I clambered into the small tender on the left-hand side. We departed on time and "John" was soon in her stride. The driver opened the regulator gradually wider as we climbed away from Twyford and over the first public crossing. The climb over the bank whilst Evesham Vale-bound is not as sharp as the climb in the opposite direction but this also means that the downward grade is sharper. Once the back was topped the driver immediately shut off and had his hand on the air brake ready to operate it. As he worked the lever the "air gauge" pressure was reduced before rising again with the release of the lever. With no brakes on the engine, a fall in the air pressure meant a jurk from behind as the brakes took effect on the coaches! Once through Evesham Vale junction the driver surprisingly had to open the regulator again to keep the train moving.When aboard the coaches, this particular section of line seems to head downgrade but actually it goes upgrade! How deceiving! Once half way around the baloon loop the line steepens to a very strong upward grade. This saw the driver push the regulator in ALL the way!! The bark was fantastic as "John" forged up the steepest bank on the railway.
On nearing the tunnel the driver shut off before blowing the chime whistle after passing an "SW" board. The brake was being worked "on" and "off" before the train drifted around a tight left hand curve. It was then time to open up again for the final short stretch of straight track into Evesham Vale Loop. Here the train halted as usual with the "air brake" being fully "destroyed". Myself and the driver then stepped off the engine so that the firehole door had the space to open within! With the fire built up and the boiler's water level replenished, "John" was simmering nicely with 120psi on the clock. A few minutes later the guard, Jim, gave the "right away" and, following a blast on the whistle, "John" restarted. Out of the station and up the first part of the bank she went before her driver opened "right up"! The 4-4-2's bark was amazing, especially for 15" gauge. Its a very inspiring and enjoyable feeling...listening to a locomotive in full cry! The engine topped the bank with steam to spare before the driver shut off. The train then drifted the last 1/4 of a mile into Twyford. The "air brake" was once again "destroyed" as the train halted in the platform once again. I gave my thanks to the driver and Jim before rejoining my family and leaving. Another enjoyable day at the EVLR, very very usual! See you in Spring!

Sunday, 28 December 2008

"The Severn Valley Limited" Dining Train...

Having turned 17 the day before,December 28th saw us head up to the 16-mile long Severn Valley Railway.Having arrived at Kidderminster at 11:20am after our 1 hour drive we had a look around the museum before catching the 11:45am stopping service to Bridgnorth.ex-GWR 4-6-0 Manor Class No7802 "Bradley Manor" was in charge.Sister 4-6-0 No7812 "Earlstoke Manor" was waiting at Kidderminster with the 12:15pm "Dining Train" to Bridgnorth.The SVR winds its way through one of England's most beautiful valley's and has 6 preserved stations to show off.7802 hauled the 7-coach rake to Bridgnorth on time,passing unique Stanier Mogul No42968 at Bewdley and Large Prairie No5164 at Hampton Loade.We alighted at Bridgnorth after a pleasant journey and saw some of the other locomotives in the yard.(Above you see "Bradley Manor" at Bridgnorth with the 1:35pm to Kidderminster). Above you see the yard at Bridgnorth.Ivatt Class 2MT 2-6-0 No46443 is far left with GWR Pannier No5764 in front of her.Behind 5764 is the replica of "Catch-Me-Who-Can" followed by out-of-ticket Black 5 No45110 (split from tender).Bridgnorth Shed can be seen in the background.7802 duly ran round and I went to the other side of the line via small cobbled road which runs under the trackbed via an underbridge.(Hence the pic at the top).At 1:31pm 7812 arrived from Kidderminster allowing 7802 to depart Platform 2.We then boarded the stock which would make up the 2:15pm "Severn Valley Limited" Dining Train to Kidderminster,hauled by 7812.It was freezing so we were glad of the warmth of the train!Our table for four was set neatly ready for the first of the 4 courses.If you've never dined on a steam train,I gladly advise it to you! Its very pleasant and enjoyable! 7812 ran round straight away and took up her place at the front of the train.The road to Platform 2 was then set again as we awaited the arrival of another service from Kidderminster, this time hauled by 42968.
The departure time of 2:15pm arrived and yet there was still no sign of 42968.At 2:26pm the Mogul arrived and shrewly coasted into the platform.The road was set straight away and 7812 barked gracefully out of Platform 1.Minestronie was served and was duly polished off! The waiters took away the bowls before other waiters brought around ready-heated plates.Yet more waiters then arrived with varying full dishes of delicious food! I finally ended up with sprouts, roast potatoes, new potatoes, peas, carrots, corn, pork, stuffing, sausages-in-bacon and of course, gorgeous gravy! This 2nd course was then followed by rubard crumble and hot custard for desert and coffee/tea and an after dinner mint made up the 4th course. Oh, plus a hot mince pie! By the time we'd received our mince pies we'd passed Bewdley and were almost back at Kidderminster.7802 was waiting in the coaling road as 7812 rolled into Platform 2.
After we'd gathered our belongings we stepped off the train and headed to the front to take a closer look at 7812. She still shone after a full day out on the SVR! I watched her fireman uncouple the Manor from the train, remembering doing that myself at Shackerstone many a time this year! 7812 then moved forward and this is shown in the above photo. The engine wears one-headlamp to denote "light engine".It was now around 3:35pm and we got in the car and headed home.It had been a very nice day and we were now very very full up from the meal! I'd recommend it to anyone! It was also very nice to see the two Manor's out together for the day. Another sucessful and enjoyable visit to the Severn Valley Railway!

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Exhibiting My Lego Model Railway at Warley 2008!

Over the weekend of November 22nd/23rd the National Exhibition Centre's Hall 5 played host to the 2008 Warley National Model Railway Exhibition. Over 65 model railways and over 100 trade stands attended to make a once again fantastic show! Centrepiece locomotive was the South Tynedale Railway's 0-4-0 "Thomas Edmundson". We took along our 'O Gauge' 6ftX4ft Lego Model Railway for the exhibition with over 18000 people were said to attend over the two days. Our layout received much attention especially, as you would expect, from the younger visitors! I answered so many questions over the weekend that my voice hurt by the end!
The show was open from 9:30am on both days, closing at 6pm on Saturday and 5pm on Sunday. Locomotives of all scales and gauges from 'N' to 'Gauge 1' were on display. Railway societies and associations also attended including the Tallylyn & Severn Valley Railways. The detail on the layouts was amazing and it was hard to believe that they were all created by the human hand! VIP Guest Pete Waterman was showing a DVD of his model railway "Leamington Spa". I actually ended up buying his new book ("A Train Is For Life") which Pete signed for me. In fact, I've already read it! The weekend was a great sucess and I look forward to visiting Warley 2009 next November.For now though, the Lego is back in its boxes and back in the attic for another year until the Town & Country Festival 2009 when it will no doubt be on display again! Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Sunday At Shackerstone

Hello everyone.After spending the previous day on the B1 "Mayflower" and sleeping over at the railway,I signed on at 7:30am once again.1306 was out again and as soon as she was outside I began cleaning the inside inspection pit.Afterwards I was asked to prime the mechanical lubricators (meaning 200 turns on each of them!).A little later on I headed down to the Tea Room for Breakfast before returning to the loco yard to collect some wood with which to light the booking hall's open fire.I returned before lighting the fire.1306 then came off shed."Mayflower" completed the days four trains as a little work was continued on Peckett "Sir Gomer"s tubes.I left at 4:15pm after a sucessful day.I'll be at Shack on December 6th/7th.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

A Day To Remember....On The B1 "Mayflower"!

The first thing I will say is thank you to the owner of the beautiful B1 "Mayflower" for my day on her footplate which came completely unexpected! The day is Saturday November 1st and I arrived at Shackerstone at around 7:20am knowing that 1306 ("Mayflower") would be in steam. The weekend would be the railway's last weekend before it closed until Santa Special season. The B1 had just been lit-up as I walked down to the shed.George & Marie would be crewing the engine for the first two trips.They would then swap with Neil & Steve.At Shackerstone, there is normally no need for a crew change but today was a little different. The day would see the railway's normal "Timetable B" in action.However, at 6:30pm that evening that would be a "Special" leaving Shackerstone.This was to be hauled by the 4-6-0 as well as the other 4 trips so an extra crew was needed to relieve George & Marie.Her owner informed me that if I helped clean and had nothing else to do that day, I could spend it on the footplate! I couldn't believe my luck! I never really thought I'd get a turn on the immaculate B1 but there it was! Thanks again!...
Immaculate is probably still not good enough a word to describe 1306! She is always clean. I don't think, in my 2 years at the railway, that I've ever seen her dirty! The above picture shows her backhead layout. The lever in the bottom left of the picture is for the vacuum brakes. The two gauge glasses and burnished regulator can be seen clearly in the foreground. To the right of the picture can be seen two "cocks". The left is the steam valve for the fireman's side injector and the right is the steam heat valve. The small brass handle just to the right of the vacuum brake is the blower. The silver handle just visible to the left of the regulator is the "pull out" steam valve for the drivers side injector. The small brass contraption just underneath the blower handle is the steam brake control.The three gauges at the top of the backhead are (left to right):-Vacuum Gauge, Steam Chest Pressure & Boiler Pressure. The small gauge in the bottom right of the picture is the Steam Heat Pressure. Unfortunately I don't the names of all the small cocks just under the pressure gauge. However I know that the tiny one directly under the Pressure Gauge is the shut-off for the steam generator...
The driver's seat can be seen above. Everything seems to be under the drivers hand. The reverser can be seen in this shot. The small brass lever to the right of the reverser is the control for the Steam Sanding gear. The Vacuum Brake gears and ejector handle can be seen again. "Mayflower" is of course fitted with the Steam Generator equipment which allows her to use electric lighting. Therefore there is an electric light in the cab and varying headlamps on both the front-end and the tender. The first train wasn't until 11:45am but we were ready by 11:15am. I had cleaned the nameplates and the drain cock pipes with the Brasso and had now also cleaned the cab roof with a special cleaner and some warm water. Once the Class 33 ("Griffon") had moved the 6-coach rake clear of the ground frame points (No11) then "Mayflower" was free. We came out of the 'dock' and I then went "in between" to "Shackle-Up". I had a new experience in coupling up too...connecting steam heat bags! They seemed heavier and more 'clumbsy' (for want of a better word) than the vacuum bags but I got them fastened in the end. 1306 was now ready to go! With George "on the handle", we pulled out of Shackerstone 5 minutes down (due to the shunting of stock) and with the Steam Sanders working to prevent slippage. After receiving the 'Single Line Token' we were away. 1306 soon got into her stride as we set course for Shenton...
We soon reached the 5mph slack at Hedley's and the pace eased. However we soon accelerated once clear of the restriction. It wasn't long before the 10mph slack loomed however and the pace was eased yet again! 1306 was like a "dog out of the traps" however and was soon back up to speed. We slowed for Market Bosworth and passed through the slumbering station. We then chugged happily on the remaining part of the journey to Shenton where the B1 was uncoupled, ran round and oiled up again ready for the return run. The pic above shows the Great Eastern type firehole door. The rocking grate & damper controls can also be seen as well as the "wash pipe" equipment. We left Shenton on time and were soon back at Shackerstone again. There we had a 40-minute (for lunch as it was now 12:40pm) and the 3 of us enjoyed a cup of coffee and a slice of the cafe's homemade cake. (Throughly enjoyable I might add!). It was then time to go back onto the stock for another trip which was completed in good time. On our arrival back at Shackerstone, relieving driver Neil was standing attentively on the platform. Once 1306 had ran round ready for the 3rd trip, Neil & Steve took over. I was allowed to remain on the footplate for the day's last 2 runs & the special! What a treat! By this time I was very much enjoying myself! What a way to spend a Saturday afternoon! The 3rd trip went without hitch and it wasn't before we were off again on the 4th trip. The sky was already darkening as the B1 made her way to Shenton for the 4th time that day. There were a few passengers on the platform waiting for their return train to Shackerstone and the cosy steam heated train offered a welcome retreat from the cold wind and light rain!...
The gas look-a-like lamps were lit at Shenton as we readied ourselves for departure. 1306 already had her generator working powering her own lamps too. We arrived back at Shackerstone on time and then moved into Platform 1 to await the passngers for the evening special. It was now dark, very windy, cold & very rainy. Myself & Steve sheltered in the cab whilst Neil went off to carry out another task. It was only 5pm, and as we weren't due out until 6:30pm we sat for a while, chatting about this and that. All of the signals were illuminated and the only thing that could be seen in the Shenton direction were the lights of the Signalbox! At around 6:05pm "Mayflower" was taken through the south junction and onto the front of the 'Special'. The Steam Heat was turned back on and all was ready. Many ghostly figures were wandering around on the platforms (in the form of the dressed up staff!) as well as the final bulk of the passengers. The Signal was shining green before long, and at 6:30pm we looked out for the guards signal to depart. "Right Away!", and off we went. I'd never travelled on the footplate in complete darkness so was in for another experience!! 1306 chugged out of a very wet Shackerstone and up past the Signal Box. Once past the box, there was no light at all(!)-Only that of the moon shining on the railheads which curved left towards Hedleys and beyond.

1306 was in her stride and it was clear that the driver wasn't listening very carefully to the engine as there was no way of seeing the road ahead! This was somewhat un-nerving but also quite fun. The dynamo's under the coaches kept the compartments lit as we made our way to Shenton. Along the way, we saw many firework displays from villages around the area but nothing else! A walker on Market Bosworth bridge seemed surprised as we coasted under the station bridge and through the platform. The man who we could see in his armchair in the station house didn't seem to bat an eyelid as we rumbled through though!! 1306 then accelerated for the 1 & 3/4 miles to Shenton. On arrival I took the staff to the guard whilst a Dracula sort of character followed my footsteps! We then ran round before receiving "Line-Clear" into Platform 1 at Shackerstone. We left on time but there was one more surprise in store!! At the distant signal, around 1 mile from Shackerstone, we halted, following instructions to do so of course!! Then, in turn, all of the lights in the coaches went out. This must of been scary for some of the passengers! Meanwhile, the cab was still illuminated by the steam driven lights! Following instruction from the guard, we set off again and the lights came back on in the train! Phew! We arrived back at a very wet & windy Shackerstone before I uncoupled 1306 and we ran up to the Signal Box. We then meandered through the points and back to No11 (the Dock Road). 1306 was then driven backwards up the yard and into the shed. With the shed doors shut behind her and all safety precautions for disposal having been carried out, we left 1306 to rest ready for her work the next day.

I thanked my crew and headed to the Bonfire & BBQ which was in full swing! Many passengers commented to us on the fantastic experience they had had that evening. Its always pleasing to hear such comments! My day, I believe, had been my best yet. 5 trips of the line on "Mayflower", 1 of which was in complete darkness! What could be better! With the time now 8pm I was ready for a sit down in the Bar Coach "Jessie" and I managed this shortly afterwards! What a day...I'm very looking forward to the next time. Thank you to 1306s Owner, Support Crew & the engine herself for a fantastic and memorable day!

Sunday, 19 October 2008

More Trains In The Garden...

On Sunday October 19th I ran a few more trains in the garden.2-6-2 45XX No4560 & 0-6-0 57XX No5775 ran together up and down the garden hauling both passenger and freight trains. It was cold but I did have the heater on in the shed.A pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon! The video from the day can be seen below...

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Driving 5" Gauge at Midlands Model Engineering 2008

Every year,in mid October time,the Warwickshire Exhibition Centre on the 'Fosseway' between Coventry & Leamington hosts the Midlands Model Engineering Exhibiton.The event includes all types of engineering from railway locomotives to traction engines/steam rollers to tanks,trucks,cars,planes & fairground organs! Many engine owners,societies & traders exhibit at the exhibition each year and the five-day show was just as popular this year.My society,Coventry Model Engineering,was its 3rd year of exhibiting there in 2008 and each year we take along a "Portable Track" of 5" gauge.However,we do not have to provide our own locomotives! Polly Model Engineering produces kits of & ready-to-run 5" gauge steam locomotives. Therefore, they provide a locomotive which we drive on our track giving FREE(!) rides to public during the show. This then gives them advertisement of their products and relieves us of the burden of taking one of our "Sweet Pea"s.They normally provide their stalwart "Polly V" which is a 2-6-0 Side Tank model very much resembling a GWR Small Prairie except without the trailing pony.However,this year things were a little different when the company provided their brand new prototype model,"Caroline"!This engine was an 0-4-0 'Well Tank' designed on the narrow gauge O & K engines that were built in Belgium.
The new engine was named "Caroline" and wore a beautiful yellow-lined green livery.I was rostered on the "Saturday PM" shift driving on the portable track.This shift would last from 1:30pm until 5pm.(Or that was the plan!).I arrived at 10:15am and after half an hour or so quickly taking in the sights of the exhibition (very briefly I might add!) I made my way to the track to familiarise myself with the new engine and the man I was going to spend the afternoon with,her builder! He was very pleasant and seemed eager to answer any questions I had about the engine.She was much smaller than the "Polly V" but very smart.The "Well Tank"s were 'fake' and water was carried in the two tanks which surrounded the cab.But there was enough capacity in them to last a good few runs up the track.Features included a mechanical lubricator,injector, crosshead pump, manual drain cocks and more.However, the most unusual thing about the engine was that, when you put the pole reverser to the forward position the engine went backwards.And when you did the opposite, she went forwards.This took a little getting used to and did catch me out a few times during the day but I got the hang of it in the end!
"Caroline" was nice to drive.This was mainly because it was a new engine I believe.The cab layout can be seen below and there is also a view of the "Polly V" which relieved "Caroline" at around 2pm (above).The trouble with the portable track is that the rail quality isn't great.Therefore you are far more likely to slip.Me being the "careful" driver I decided to use the Drain Cocks for one of the runs and this ruined the clean shine on the railheads! After that,"Caroline" slipped up the hill terribly.But it was a fearsome gradient and she was after all, only a small engine.There was no doubt in the power of the engine it was just a lack of weight on the wheels which slightly let her down.We had one car on the back and this would allow for a driver plus 2 children+1 adult OR a driver plus 2 Adults. The start of the station was hard. You needed to get a good turn of speed up as quickly as possible before even thinking about reaching the top! But the engine did pack a punch! There was no doubting that! The "Polly V" replaced her at around 2pm so that "Caroline" could be put on the Polly Models Stand.The "V" is much bigger but still slipped on that sort of a gradient with wet rails.Sometimes even with only the driver on.If the track was flat then we'd have 3 times the load behind it!
The layout of the cab of "Caroline" can be seen above.The far left "Cock" controls the "Bypass" for the Crosshead Pump and the "Screw" on the left is the Handbrake.The Pressure Gauge,Regulator,Gauge Glass & Gauge Glass Blow-Down can be seen quite clearly and so can the pole reverser (painted black).On the Manifold can be seen two controls.The "Bar" on the left is a push-valve for the whistle whilst the "Cock" on the right is the Steam Feed for the injector.The bottom right-hand side "Cock" is the Water Feed for the injector.The Firehole Door is pretty self-explanatory whilst the "Cock" just to the right of the regulator is the Blower.The small silver "Allan-Key" looking device which pokes up from the floor is the "Drain Cock" lever.All in all this cab was very simple and easy to drive from and I had an enjoyable day driving both engines up and down the track.The "Caroline" model is available now I believe and I wouldn't mind one myself. Dear Santa...

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Another Day On "Thomas The Tank Engine"...

On Sunday October 12th I was rostered as trainee on Thomas the Tank Engine. Jan and Adrian were the main rostered crew.I signed on at 6:30am my day began with chopping wood for the lighting up process.Once Adrian had lit the fire then it was time to start cleaning.The engine playing "Thomas" was 0-6-0 Hunslet Saddle Tank(!) "Jessie".The engine is normally based at the Llangollen Railway and has been converted from Saddle to Side tank to fill in for the railway's out of service Jinty Tank on Thomas duties.The engine seemed very powerful and was put through its paces many times during the day.The loco's "main valve" in the regulator had been blanked off to stop her being "thrashed".This,in my opinion,is a very good idea! At 9am the engine was just about ready and we sauntered down for coal in the North End Yard.The engine was then put on the front of the day's first train,the 10am for Shenton.On the journey,the engine performed admirably and we left Shenton on time for Shackerstone.B1 "Mayflower" then took over for the next 4 main trains.Meanwhile, "Thomas" was left to entertain the crowds at Shackerstone along with 2-2-0 Aveiling & Porter "Blue Circle" & 0-6-0 Class 04 (04 110). During the 4 layover's between the following main trains,"Thomas" took the 'Daisy Shuttle'.
This involved the engine being hauled to Hedley's Crossing by the 2-car DMU ("Daisy") before hauling it back.I had a go at firing some of the shuttles but couldn't seem to get the balance right. The main lesson I need to learn is that coal does not produce heat as soon as it is thrown through the firehole door.This is easy to forget in my opinion when you're worrying about the pressure gauge reading and the water level!But we managed to get back to Shackerstone each time without hitch and for the last shuttle we were on the front end."Thomas" pulled to Hedley's and "Daisy" pulled back.On arrival back at Shackerstone there was no time to waste as "Thomas" had 5 minutes or so to get onto the front of the final main train to Shenton of the day,the "Tea on Thomas" Special!We quickly ran round into Platform 2 and buffered up to the head of the 6-coach load.The sun was starting to set already so produced a lovely orange glow on the railheads towards Hedley's.We left Shackerstone and Jan fired down to Shenton whilst Adrian took over as driver.What better way is there of spending a Sunday afternoon than chugging through the countryside on a steam locomotive footplate??There is none in my opinion! We reached Shenton on time and I uncoupled the locomotive ready for the run round. Once run round I coupled us up again and all was ready for the run back to Shack.Jan then informed me that I would be firing back to Shackerstone,under her guidance of course!

We left Shenton on time and my eyes were firmly fixed on the pressure gauge.The engine's blow-off pressure was 160psi and the needle stuck to this position for the first part of the journey.Approaching the three bridges the engine was still accelerating upgrade and I was informed to put three shovels under the back.The white hot heat of the fire was unbelievable.I haven't done much actual firing "down the line" and so I am not yet used to these sort of temperature.When you're firing in station limits the fire isn't half as hot! Anyway,under the three bridges we went and Market Bosworth could be seen in the distance.Adrian "shut off" and I then had to put the "feed" (injector) on whilst the needle still read 160psi.I managed to get three shovels to the 'front' before we reached the platforms and I left the doors open just a crack to allow some 'top air' into the box to lighten the smoke a little.Once under the bridge it was time to accelerate again so I shut the doors and turned off the injector.We were off again.Whilst Jan worked the doors I was instructed to put "3 under the back" and "3 over the front"."Front right" was a bit thin so I added an extra one there.When the driver shut off it was time to open the doors again and get the feed on as the needle clung to 150psi.

Here there is a 10mph slack so there was a chance to build the fire a little more with a couple of shovel fulls thrown into the middle of the grate.Once out of the 10mph the driver accelerated again so the firedoors were shut along with the injector feeds.The 5mph slack was soon seen and at 145psi we coasted through with the doors shut.Once out of the "5" the driver accelerated once more but the pressure rose a little too.Climbing towards Shackerstone towards Hedley's crossing it was time for another "3 under the back" and "3 over the front".Even though it was hard work I was having a very good time! The driver shut off at the top of the bank but with 2/3 of a glass of water we left the feed off,as well as only having 140psi.Under Barton Bridge we went and No2 signal was clear.The pressure was again rising as Jan handed the 'single line token' over to the signalman at Shackerstone.On arrival in Platform 2 the injector was put on again and the doors opened a crack to calm the safety valves down.Meanwhile,I got down from the footplate to uncouple."Thomas" then,after moving through the North End points,passed Signal No7 and proceeded to the preparation yard for disposal. After disposing of the engine we all headed to the Mess Room to sign off.

All in all it had been a very good day with the highlight for me being able to fire the last run back to Shackerstone.Thanks for that Jan! Couldn't have done it without your guidance!

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Saturday at Shackerstone

Hi Everyone

Today I was at Shackerstone again and it was day out with Thomas.0-6-0 Hunslet "Jessie" (of the Llangollen Railway) was playing Thomas.After signing on 6:45am myself and Joe prepared a fire to complete the nealing of tubes.Nigel & Mr Britt were preparing Thomas whilst we worked. The fire was lit and began to heat up. Once Thomas had gone off shed at around 9:30am, Dave & Joe brought the Class 02 shunter into the South Yard before dragging "Lamport No3","Sir Gomer" & the Lowmac wagon (full of tubes) out of the shed.

Throughout the day myself and Dave nealed the tubes whilst Joe had a go at cleaning up the front tube plate.B1 "Mayflower" passed us every now and again with the services to Shenton.Joe left around 1pm but myself and Dave continued with the tubes.By around 2:30pm we put the last completed tubes on the Lowmac.We then used the 02 again to push the cavalcade back into the shed.The fire was left to burn down for an hour or so before I got the hose on it! This would dampen down the ash of course so that there would be less dust. Dave then headed up to the station whilst I 'pumped' the outside inspection pit due to the fact that the day was wearing on and a few hours later Thomas would be over the pit.I then got treated to a footplate ride to Shenton and back on Thomas' footplate with the "Tea on Thomas" special.It was good run and "Jessie" proved herself to be very powerful and reliable.I would be on the engine all day the following day and the post about that will come very soon!

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Back to Shack...

Well its Sunday October 5th and I'm back at Shackerstone again.The place was awash with heavy rain for most of the morning and it was quite cold.After signing on at 10am it was off down towards the south yard.The cosy covering of the loco shed was the only shelter available and I gladly took its offer of dryness!2-2-0 Aveliling & Porter "Blue Circle" was now with her loving owner and few willing volunteers getting her cleaned up.She will be steamed next weekend as the Thomas Character "Fergus" at the railways Thomas Weekend."BC" normally stands outside covered up but as we had some shed space then we thought we might as well have her in the dry, much to the delight of her cleaners!Behind "BC" was,as always,the lovable B1 "Mayflower". Once again "Yvonne" was behind "Mayflower",followed by a Lowmac wagon,out of service "Sir Gomer" & out of ticket "Lamport No3".

The day's main train motive power was the Class 20 (20 166 "River Fowey"). By just gone 12pm a big fire consisting of paper, pallets, coal, cardboard, oily rags & sleepers(!) had been lit in the preparation yard.Myself, Andy, Mr Britt, Dave, Joe & Graeme were going to have a go at nealing some more tubes.The fire was a bit bigger this time and by 1pm it was roaring and the first 12 tubes were in the fire.(This was of course after myself & Mr Britt had brought the Class 02 shunter around to the back of the shed to drag "Lamport", "Sir Gomer" & the Lowmac out!!).We had no gas equipment this time so it would take a little longer but as the hours went by more and more tubes were nealed.(We think we're very nearly 2/3 of the way there now.Another days worth of that and we'll be finished!). By 5pm we'd all had enough and the last nealed tube was put back on the Lowmac.

Mr Britt then restarted the 02 and myself & Andy "watched him back" into the shed.It had been another long day but more progress had been made.Myself, Mr Britt, Andy & Joe then retired to the washroom to 'sign off' (doing so at 5:30pm), after passing a very clean & shiny "Blue Circle"! I'll be back at Shack this coming Friday and staying over until Sunday night due to the Thomas Event.I am rostered on as 'trainee' on Thomas on Sunday so that should be fun!Meanwhile, on Saturday myself and Joe will be finishing the nealing of the tubes! Thanks for reading everyone and have a good evening!

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

"Thomas" at Shackerstone

Hello everyone.I've just been informed that I'm to trainee on Sunday October 12th during the Battlefield Line Railway's "Day out with Thomas" event.I've also been informed that I'm on 'Thomas' himself (which I believe is to be played by Hunslet 0-6-0ST "Jessie"-converted from Saddle to Side Tank).I'm very much looking forward to it!I'm also at Shackerstone this Sunday for more work on Peckett "Sir Gomer".

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Another Working Sunday At Shackerstone

Today,like most Sundays(!),I spent my day at Shackerstone. The day started at 10am as the days service trains were not due to be steam hauled.The order of locomotives in the shed went as followed:-
0-4-0 Class 02 Diesel Shunter "Diane" (front)
4-6-0 LNER B1 No1306 "Mayflower" (over pit)
0-4-0 VBT "Yvonne"
0-6-0ST Peckett No1859 of June 1932 "Sir Gomer"
0-6-0 Bagnall Saddle Tank "Lamport No3" (back)
"Sir Gomer" and "Yvonne" were seperated by a 'Lowmac' wagon mounted on which were "Sir Gomer"s brand new tubes ready to be heated and then cut down."Sir Gomer"s boiler holds 164 tubes, 155 of which are to be replaced.The other 9 tubes have been replaced in recent months and so these did not need to be removed.Mr Britt fired up the 02 Shunter and then he & myself 'ran her round' through No11 (a ground frame) and to the back of the shed.After negociating a nasty set of very tight points we reached the two roads which lead into the back of the shed. Andy opened the doors and in the 02 ("Diane") went.I coupled her up to "Lamport" before releasing both steamers' handbrakes.
Mr Britt then dragged "Lamport","Gomer" & the 'Lowmac' out of the shed.The two pictures above show old "Lampy" & "Sir G" basking in the suns rays."Lamport" hasn't seen light of day for a while and I was glad to the get the chance to get a pic of her outside instead of in the darkness of the shed!We then lit a large fire whilst Mr Britt prepared his blow-lamp sort of set-up.6 tubes at a time were then laid out with one end in the fire.The other ends were then heated until they were 'red hot' by Mr Britt.Myself,Andy & Graeme then helped to swap,turn and stack the tubes.Over the next 4 hours or so the same system continued.We all had alot of soft drinks to compensate for the heat of the fire,the blow-torch and the hot sun.By the time we'd all had enough (around 4pm!) we had heated both ends of 50 or so tubes and with 5 still in the fire we decided to add one more for good measure!We then finished heating the last 6 tubes of the day before piling them onto the wagon.The blow-torch equipment was put away before Mr Britt restarted "Diane".
"Diane" then pushed the ensemble back into the shed ready for next Sunday's work which,as you may have guessed,is the same job!Once this work is done however the tubes can be cut to size and polished before fitting commences.Once retubed,"Sir Gomer" will HOPEFULLY have a new lease of life and will be back in traffic once more.But for 76 years of age she still looks good! Meanwhile,away from the shed area,4 trains were operated on the 5-mile line to Shenton with diesel-haulage.The first three trains were hauled by Bo-Bo Class 33 (019) "Griffon" with the trip being handled by visiting Class 20 (166) "River Fowey" (pictured above).All in all it had been a good day and after locking up the shed myself,Andy,Mr Britt and Graeme made our steady way to the staff room for the all important job of 'signing off'.In my opinion the day was worth it and was certainly much more enjoyable than it would of been if we had nothing to do!I hope to be at Shackerstone again on the Sunday after next so we'll see what that day brings!Thanks for reading folks and have a good evening.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Trains In The Garden

I have always had an interest in railways and so I have always had a trainset! Over the years the collection of locomotives (mainly steam) that I have has grown quite alot and so has my trainset! In June 2005 my 00 Gauge Garden Railway was operated for the first time.At the time it was very basic and only comprised one circuit.In August 2006 the extension was opened and this made the railway about 5 times longer than its original length.Since then little bits and bobs have been added but nothing major.The railway is named the Sutherland Steam Railway and serves 4 stations.The main station at Sutherland includes a signal box,junction,engine sheds,water tower,storage siding and run-round area.The next station is Grantham and is a small "picnic" halt/request stop.Trains next pass Ashford Junction where there is a signal box and spur.The spur leads down to the 5-road electrically operated turntable.
The 3rd station is Ashford which is another small request stop.Trains next round a 180 degree inclined curve which takes them around the turntable area.After this curve,trains descend into Chilvers.At Chilvers Station there is a water tower and a large run-round loop with signal box and gantry.To make operations "realistic",trains "run-round" here and then head back to Sutherland BUT the line continues through a tunnel before descending into the garden shed via a bridge.The garden shed is the centre of operations where we have a 3-stabling roads and a reception siding.Trains leave the south end for Sutherland and arrive into the north end from Chilvers.The locomotives which we ran today were 4-6-0 King Class No6009 "King Charles II" & 2-6-0 43XX Mogul No5328.Also seen out & about was 0-4-2 14XX No1436. Next post coming soon!

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Shackerstone(?) to Statfold (?):-How Simpl...icity(!) Can You Get?!

....I said this wasn't to be the last I saw of "Emily",and it wasn't!(Above Pic-"Emily" is readied for service).The day after the glorious Shackerstone Flash Floods(!) we were to prepare the 3-ton Wallis & Steevenson Steam Roller for her homeward journey.After starting at 7:30am,myself, Joe & Phil began to ready "Emily" for her 13-mile long stint.Her fire was lit just as the heavens opened and our lovely polished brass was marked with raindrops once again.Oh well,can't be helped.By 9am we had a bit of steam and were getting ready for a prompt 9:40am departure.By the way,"Emily" had been sent to attend the Shackerstone Festival but as this was rained off she had no reason to remain at Shackerstone.So it was decided to take her home today (Sep 7th).Anyway back to the story...
"Emily" was ready on time and at last (!!) our final crew member,Chris,arrived.The trailer (a relic in itself being bought from Swindon Works!) was attached and as soon as we were aboard "Emily" steamed out of Shackerstone for the last time,for now at least!Once out of the drive the roller barked up and over the Shackerstone "Big Dipper"/Humpback Bridge before decending into the village and then out into the countryside.Phil drove whilst we three trainee's took it in turns to steer.Chris went first and took us to the small school at Congerstone. Meanwhile,myself and Joe were hiding under one of the rollers' sheets to shelter from the rain!At the school,I swapped with Chris who joined Joe in the trailer as I tried my hand at steering.It is good fun(!),if you get the chance then have a go!From the school we ambled at a steady 3mph through the small villages of Bilstone and Little Twycross.At around 11:50am we reached Twycross.Hear the water supply had to be replenished and the following pic shows us there:-
Once refilled,our journey continued,myself and Joe now having swapped steering duties at Twycross.Chris and I sat in the trailer as the sun revealed itself for the first time that day! We were now on the A444 and after a little while we passed Twycross Zoo on the left. A few pink flamingo's and the odd elephant could be spotted for the trailer and even a waving zoo staff member! A bit further up this busy road we turned off to the left in the direction of Austrey. From here the journey grew quiet once more,besides the sounds of "Emily" roaring across the countryside of course! Just as a note,the other engine that had been at Shackerstone coutesy of Statfold was Marshall Traction Engine "Mary".She had left 20 minutes after us but we saw nothing of her throughout the journey!Back on the Wallis,we had reached the steep hill which took the road down into Austrey village itself.Here the handbrake had to be screwed down and the drain cocks opened as well as Phil having to use the odd bit of reverse to slow the engine down!Myself and Chris also walked alongside the engine with "chocks" to hand.However, once the downward slope had been conquered,we reached the "Bird In Hand" pub...After enjoying a refreshing drink in the now very warm sun we set off again for the village shop which of course,like all good shops,had closed just before we got there! It was now 2pm and Phil said we were probably halfway to Statfold.We continued to Newton Regis with Chris now back at the wheel with Phil continuing in his role as our only driver!Myself and Joe leisurely lay in the trailer as we continued steadily towards Newton.Once there,Phils work associate Richard arrived to help him out.So,from Newton, Richard drove and I steered.We steadily made our way ever-closer to Statfold but it would still be well over an hour before we actually managed to get there!At the last village before Statfold I swapped with Joe and he steered us down to the main road which was the final stint to Statfold. From there to the end,Richard and Phil manned the engine...
After another 20 minutes or so,we triumphantly rolled into Statfold with a good old blast on the whistle! We had made it!(Above Pic-Joe,Phil & Chris at the Bird In Hand).It was now around 5pm!It had took over 6 hours to make our merry way from Shackerstone but it had been a good run and a good achievement.We were all very tired but we still had to uncoupled "Emily" from her trailer,dispose of her and put her to bed. Once all this was done,Chris left.But myself and Joe were given a lift back to Shackerstone by Phil and his wife.Its surprising took 6 hours to cover 13 miles by steam roller, and around 20 minutes to get back again! "Emily" was put to bed by just before 6pm and at the back of the shed stood the Marshall looking like she hadn't even been anywhere! They must have got back alot faster than we did! Oh well, a good time was had by "Emily"s crew and probably "Emily" herself too!

Just a bit of history info for you..."Emily" was built in 1927 and is a "Simplicity" roller. The inclined boiler was designed to not take us as much space as a horizontal boiler,giving her a much tighter turning circle.Her boiler pressure is 130psi and she is a 'single gear engine'.She is also a single cylindered engine as apposed to a compound.One of her original jobs saw her work for Parry's of London and there are memories of her steaming through the narrow london streets on route for more work!But now the hard work is over and "Emily" remains a beautifully preserved Steam Roller.

So thank you Phil and thank you "Emily"...We had a long,tiring but fantastic day!

Simply Wet,Damp & Simplicity at Shackerstone

Following the disgustingly bad weather which the Midlands (and probably the rest of the UK!!) encountered this week,the Shackerstone Family Festival,due to be held September 6th/7th was unfortunately cancelled.This left many people dissapointed,none more so than the hard-working volunteers who had strived to organize it.But nevertheless the show and the railway went on(!). LNER B1 No1306 "Mayflower" hauled the days 5 main trains.Meanwhile 0-4-0 VBT "Yvonne" was steamed on the Saturday AND until 2pm only due to the appalling weather! 2-2-0 "Blue Circle" didn't appear, also probably due to the adverse weather...
"Emily" Steams Up
I had nothing to do on Saturday so having cleaned "Yvonne" a little I headed with Phil to meet "Emily", a 3-ton Wallis and Steevens Steam Roller.It was throwing it down with rain as Phil lit her fire and she began warming through.After steaming up and all the necessary checks carried out,myself and Phil took "Emily" out onto the driveway and turned her around. I then sat happily for a good few hours keeping "Emily" ticking over and fired up.At around 2pm,a small party of steam department staff had gathered,following the putting away of "Yvonne".So, after an attachment of her trailer, "Emily" headed off on the 1-mile ride to Congerstone with a few different steersmen at the helm but with Phil remaining as driver of course! It rained throughout the journey and the sun only came out as "Emily" was disposed of later on! But a bad day had been made good,for some of us at least, in my opinion and this was not the last I was to see of "Emily"....

Friday, 29 August 2008

Romney Hythe & Dymchurch Railway Visit

Davey Paxman Pacific No8 "Hurricane" - New Romney
On Tuesday August 26th myself and my family visited the famous 15" Gauge Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway in Kent. It has always been one of my ambitions to go there BUT its always been a little "too far" for just a day out! So we decided to stay the night and come back Wednesday afternoon. Tuesday saw "Rise & Shine" at 4am(!!) ready to leave at 5am for Hythe.We arrived just before 9am in the car park at Hythe Station after a good run with a 30 minute or so stop 100 miles in. The first train from Hythe was due to leave at 9:50am and the station itself opened at around 9am.After buying our "Rover" tickets we headed out onto platform 2 where at least 10 coaches were waiting to form the first train. At around 9:40 Bo-Bo Diesel No12 "John Southland" arrived from New Romney ready to haul the train. After turning she was coupled up and was raring to go!...
Coaches Linked Via Couplings and Vacuum Pipes As Per Standard Gauge Practise
With the coaches being linked via chains then you do feel a slight jolt every now and again, especially when setting off from a standing start. Anyway, back to the day. With No12 at the head of train we set off,2 minutes late but this was to be made up in the journey - and believe me, it was! The main thing to remember is that the RHDR is double track for 8 miles of its length! It is very much a mainline in miniature! Leaving Hythe on double track the trains run behind houses and passes many foot crossings. There is then a low bridge and a level crossing (or two!!) before the train leaves this suburban environment and heads out onto the Romney Marsh. Views of open fields and rolling hills are to be enjoyed as the train heads towards the first station along the line,Dymchurch,5 miles from Hythe. The trains do actually have a speed limit of 25mph and, as they are 1/3 scale, when they are doing 25mph it feels like they are doing 75mph! It is a very heart-racing experience from the start! We left the train at New Romney, where the diesel is captured...
"John Southland" At The Head Of The Train From Hythe
Dymchurch seems to be the most popular town on the railway's route.Here there is a two-platform station and in the town itself there is a nice Beach,a Fun Fair,a few quaint shops etc. From Dymchurch,the line continues double track to St Marys Bay.And,from there,the line continues to New Romney,8 miles from Hythe.Here,we left the train to await the days first steam service from Hythe.At New Romney there is a Model Railway exhibition,Cafe,Shop, Engine Sheds,a 4-Platform Trainshed,a Carraige Shed,Erecting Shop,Signalbox and more. Once we had left the train,"John Southland" left for Dungeness:-the end of the line.Meanwhile, we had a look around the impressive model railway exhibition which also includes alot of information regarding the railway's construction and history as well as displaying a few live steam models. It is well worth a visit. After pausing afterwards for a snack we awaited the arrival of our steed which would haul us the remaining 5.5 miles to Dungeness...
4-8-2 Mountain Class No5 "Hercules" Arrives At New Romney
Dungeness Nuclear Power Station
From New Romney, the line leaves southward through a pair of tunnels with low clearance(!). "Hercules" is very true to her name.Baring eight driving wheels she is a very powerful locomotive. "Hercules" and her sister No6 "Samson" are the only 4-8-2 locomotives in operation in the United Kingdom.They are unique! Anyway,back to the journey.Once through the tunnels, the double track soons turns into single.From here the line is single for the rest of its length. 12 minutes or so later, the train arrives at Romney Sands Station. Here there is an island platform and a passing loop to allow Dungeness bound trains to pass New Romney bound trans.Romney Sands is situated on the bleakest part of the Romney Marsh.Surrounding the station is a sizeable caravan park.Leaving Romney Sands for Dungeness,trains accelerate once again,passing a couple of level crossings.To left of the train at this point,views are mainly of gardens and their walls.However to the right hand side their are views across the unusual Romney Marshland. Nearing Dungeness,the lighthouses can be seen.The journey from Romney Sands to Dungeness is advertised as 18 minutes but a few minutes before the station the line splits to form a great circle/baloon loop...
Once in the loop the trains reduce speed a little as they approach the station. Opposite the station building is a Lighthouse Museum.Visitors can climb the stairs and enjoy spectacular views across the Romney Marsh and the sea.The station only includes on platform but boasts a shop and cafe.The imposing nuclear power station looks quite un-nerving in a way but seems to fill a hole in the landscape.Dungeness is very bracing indeed! There is a shingle beach and alot of railway visitors leave the train at Dungeness to visit the lighthouse and the beach itself.Trains only wait at Dungeness for 5 minutes and soon depart for New Romney via Romney Sands once again...
A Slippery Departure by No8 "Hercules" from Dungeness

We visited the lighthouse at Dungeness and another train duely arrived behind the locomotive I had been so eager to see,No6 "Samson",the other Mountain Class 4-8-2.I took this picture in passing but it is my favourite of the 200 or so I took over the two days!...
My Favourite Shot - No6 "Samson" Barks Into Dungeness
We took a walk onto the beach before returning to the station ready to board the next train back to Dymchurch.This train was hauled by No8 "Hurricane".Now,another interesting fact about the RHDR,it has one of the longest light railway vehicles anywhere!At 32 feet long,"Gladys" is a very special coach.She is a fully licensed observation/bar car with facilities such as a central serving area and gas stove(!) for boiling a kettle! She is a 15" gauge Buffet Car! We managed to sit in the first half of the coach and enjoyed a nice cup of tea each! Anyone who visits the RHDR, try and catch a ride in "Gladys",she is so comfortable to ride in.Meanwhile,"Hurricane" hauled us back to New Romney via Romney Sands.Here she was relieved by No6 "Hercules"."Samson" stood in the trainshed on one of the stock storage roads simmering between turns.The RHDR seems to timetable locomotive workings by trying to make sure that each loco only does two full round trips or there abouts each day.This is of course a good idea to save on loco wear and it allows the drivers to take a break.Not only that,it allows visitors to travel behind many different locomotives.At Dymchurch,we alighted for lunch."Hercules" continued to Hythe...
No8 "Hercules" Departs Dymchurch

After a walk around Dymchurch and a spot of lunch we headed back to Dymchurch ready to catch another train to Dungeness.As luck would have it it was "Hercules" again! She took us to Dungeness and from there, she left for New Romney where she would be disposed.At Dungeness,we alighted and enjoyed a cup of tea in the cafe.Soon,No3 "Southern Maid" arrived from New Romney and she would take us all the way back to Hythe.After a chat with the driver I found that all of the locomotives on the line operate at a 180psi maximum boiler pressure. The driver promised us a good run and he was true to his word! "Southern Maid" 'flew' back to New Romney,and after taking water at New Romney powered the final 8 miles back to Hythe. Built in 1926,"Southern Maid" was the RHDR's 3rd locomotive.The driver did give us a good run indeed. The top speed recorded on the speedo according to his recollection was 24mph.Not bad at all! At Hythe I was told that he is nicknamed the "Flying Reverend" as he is also a Vicar! A very nice person to talk to indeed. From Hythe we left for our hotel after an enjoyable day...
"No3 Arrives at New Romney"

After catching up on alot of sleep overnight I managed to persuade my family to drop me off at the railway for a few hours before we went home! The only thing that I had not managed to do the day before was have a ride behind No6 "Samson".And as luck would have it, she wasn't rostered for service on the Wednesday.I stood waiting on Hythe station wondering what would turn up,knowing it wouldn't be "Samson". However, dissapointment turned to joy when "Samson" arrived pulling the train!!It turned out that "Hercules" had failed and "Samson" was deputising for her! I then rode "Samson" from Hythe to Dungeness and back to New Romney. She had 14(!) coaches on and still managed a fair turn of speed!...
No6 "Samson" Rolls In From New Romney

At New Romney I had another look around and was offered a tour of the sheds and of course I jumped at the chance.No5 "Hercules" (failed with a broken gauge glass) and No8 "Hurricane" graced the main running shed whilst in the storage shed behind the running depot was No4 "The Bug" (a tiny 0-4-0) & 4-6-2s No9 "Winston Churchill" (limited mileage) and No10 "Dr Syn" (out of ticket)...
No4 "The Bug"
No10 "Dr Syn" - One of the American Pair
From here we caught No3 "Southern Maid" back to Hythe with the "Flying Reverend" once again.In the car on the way home I had time to enjoy the memories of the railway.It was a very good experience and a 5-star first visit! Here is some information for you regarding the railways steam locomotive fleet:-
4-6-2 Pacific No1 "Green Goddess" (Under Overhaul At Hythe)
4-6-2 Pacific No2 "Northern Chief" Built 1925 (In Service)
4-6-2 Pacific No3 "Southern Maid" Built 1926 (In Service)
0-4-0 No4 "The Bug".Heavily involved in the building of the railway.She was then sold due to her slow speed.She then ended up on a scrapheap in Belfast before being bought again by the RHDR and restored to working condition.(Working Order But Not Used On Mainline).
4-8-2 Mountain Class No5 "Hercules".During WWII this engine was heavily armoured and formed the RHDR's armoured train who's crew always claimed that they shot down at least one enemy aircraft.(In Service).
4-8-2 Mountain Class No6 "Samson".(In Service).
4-6-2 Pacific No7 "Typhoon".This engine was built as a 3-cylinder machine but the 3rd cylinder has long since been removed.(In service).
4-6-2 Pacific No8 "Hurricane".This engine also had a 3rd cylinder but this has also been removed.They has always been thoughts of making her a 3-cylinder machine once again but none have materialised as yet! (In service).
4-6-2 Pacific No9 "Winston Churchill".Along with her sister No10,these two locomotives were built as American style Pacifics. No9 has a boiler ticket but has a limited mileage allowance due to her needing an overhaul.
4-6-2 Pacific No10 "Dr Syn" - She is out of ticket pending overhaul.
4-6-2 Pacific No11 "Black Prince" - The most recently acquired steamer,arriving in the 1970s.Currently in the erecting shop at New Romney.(Condition unknown).
"Samson" On The Hythe Turntable

Sorry I wrote so much folks but I hope youve enjoyed reading this if you managed to get to the end without getting bored! I just had so much to say about this fantastic railway.If you ever get the chance to go and visit then I would definately 100% recommend it!All of the staff are very friendly,the journey is very exiting and the locomotives are superbly kept.Thanks for reading everybody.

Coventry MES At Country Festival 2008

The Beautiful 5" Gauge 'Pansy Class' No5717 "Victoria"

The Country Festival (previously Town & Country Festival) was reheld this year at Stoneleigh Park following a one-year gap.The show,I must admit was a little smaller this year but still attracted MANY visitors! It was held over the weekend of August 24th-26th (bank holiday!). Attractions included Monster Truck Shows,Classic Cars,Fun Fair,Crafts,Food And Drink Hall, Celebrity Guests, Trade Stands,Model Exhibitions and much much more! As usual, Coventry Model Engineering Society (which I am a member of) exhibited at the show. I took along my 32mm (O Gauge) Lego Model Railway (for the interests of the younger visitors!) and my Wilesco Roller (to show off a simple and affordable steam engine).The stand also contained many 3.5" & 5" gauge locomotives as well as stationary engines,remote control vehicles,wagons,hot air engines, vacuum engines and informative displays.The centrepiece was a very impressive 7.25" Shay locomotive owned by one of the society's members.
My Lego Railway

Over the weekend many visitors took an interest in both the layout and the other items on the stand. One of the main points of interest in my opinion is that society keeps as many items "moving" as possible. Therefore at least 20 stationary engines were running on air and their were at least 5 different hot air engines to be seen in operation.The locomotives on display ranged from the 3.5" Gauge 0-4-0 'Sweet Violet' Class Saddle Tank to the 5" Gauge Pansy Class (57XX Pannier Tank) and then of course up to the 7.25" Shay.I attended all three days 9:45 until 5 (show times 9:30 until 6) as well as the Friday Night to set-up! It was a very long and draining weekend but good fun and very interesting as usual! Roll on Country Festival 2009! Well done CMES, another great stand!