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!