Thursday, 1 January 2009

An Afternoon With "Achilles"

New Years Day 2009 saw me once again heading up to my 5" gauge concern, the Ryton Pool Miniature Railway near Coventry. New Years Day has traditionally been a "Members Steam Up" event at the 2000ft long miniature line and today was no exception. I was to drive 0-6-0 Side Tank locomotive "Achilles" which was built over 25 years ago to a design by the miniature locomotive manufacturers "Reeves and Co". The engine represents not a prototype, but a typical dockyard shunting engine. In my opinion, the engine bares a resemblence to the Robert Stephenson & Hawthawn locomotives. From a drivers point of view the loco includes an Axle Pump, Hand Pump, Whistle, Pole Reverser, One Gauge Glass and Automatic Drain Cocks. The two safety valves blow off at 90psi and this provides ample power to the two cylinders. In the photographs above and below, "Achilles" is shown at the track but with no cab. The cab roof and bunker had been removed to allow the engines yearly "Steam Test" to be carried out more easily. (They will be refitted in due course).
Once in steam, as in the top picture, I opened "Achilles" regulator and she moved "off shed" and onto the main track. It was then time to move the reverser into "full forward" and head off around the track. Moving away from the steaming area the track curves left and then right before passing through a "would of been" station. The line then begins to climb at 1 in 100 whilst also curving sharply right on a 180 degree sweep. Once out of the curve the line straightens before crossing a small river bridge. Once across the bridge the line steepens to a further 1 in 70 and "Achilles" barked well at this point. Once the bank is topped the line drifts downwards and across the double track main bridge. After a few twists and turns the line approaches the main station, "Ryton Halt", on a large sweeping right hand curve. A "W" (whistle) board is passed before drivers shut off and roll into the station's "Arrival" platform. This platform isn't covered but this isn't a necessary arrangement as passengers alight here AFTER their journey. The "Departure" platform is the next section of the platform. This area is covered by a large overall roof with benches, a queue area, water tower and booking office.

Leaving the station, the line remains straight before traversing a lengthy right-hand shickane. The track then recross' the bridge before descending back into the steaming area. "Achilles" ran well all afternoon but I eventually "failed" her with a fault in the Axlepump. After unscrewing the feed pipe FROM the Pump and "running" water through it the problem seemed to have sorted itself and a "push" test proved this. "Achilles" was then cleaned down and taken home after an eventful day. I look forward to driving "Achilles" again in the future!

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