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 really...it 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"....