Sunday, 31 May 2009

Sunny Day In The Garden...

Before the good weather dropped off, I managed another nice day in the garden. Many of our 00 gauge steam locomotives had a good run up & down the garden as a well as a few turns on the turntable. Why can't the weather stay like this all the time?!

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Another Evesham Vale Light Railway Visit...

As mentioned in an earlier post, the Evesham Vale Light Railway is a 15" gauge steam railway based at Evesham Country Park. The line runs for around 1.25 miles through the tranquil scenary of the park's apple orchards & open fields. We tend to visit the line at least once, maybe twice, per year and it is always worth it. Today, following a discussion earlier in the week, myself & my family paid another visit to this friendly little line. We all took a ride on the train for the very reasonable fare before my family left me at the railway and headed off to the garden centre which lies only a few yards away from the line's main station, Twyford. I remained at the railway to take photographs, video, and of course enjoy the atmosphere! Today, the line was due to be busy and so the owners had laid on two steam locomotives:-"John" (mentioned in earlier post) & "Count Louis". The use of the two locomotives allowed the running of two trains using a token system. Trains ran to an intensive 20 minute timetable from Twyford Station with the two little Atlantics taking the strain admirably.
"John", which we took a ride behind on our last visit, is a 1921 built ex-Rhyl Miniature Railway Barne's 4-4-2 Atlantic locomotive. Utilising a 120psi boiler, the engine wears the RMR's smart Red livery. Bought by the EVLR in the year 2000, the locomotive has received a full restoration which was completed around 3 years ago. "Count Louis", is an ex-Fairbourne Railway locomotive, designed by Henry Greenly and built in 1924. Following her full restoration, including the fitment of a new steel boiler, the engine is painted in a green livery and display's the FR's logo on her lengthy bogie tender. The image above show's "Count Louis"s cab and controls. The regulator can be seen in the centre of the fittings, as can the two water gauge glasses. The handle to the bottom left controls the air braking. The locomotive also features two injectors, a pole reverser and a large mechanical lubricator situated on her right-hand running boards. The locomotive has been restored to a fantastic standard and looks very much at home running alongside "John". The driver did comment however that the engine was working 'to capacity' and as was "John", due to the heavy loads and the line's gradients, which can be as steep as 1 in 65 at some points.
Looking at the two Atlantic's closely, it is hard to see any big differences between them. The main difference is that "John" carries a 3-axle "rigid" tender whereas "Count Louis" carries a larger bogie tender which is obviously a little more comfortable in its riding. Another difference is that "Count Louis" carries her mechanical lubricator on the right-hand running boards whereas "John" carries her's hidden under her front bufferbeam. "Count Louis" also carries her air brake pump very noticeably on the left-hand side of her smokebox, as can be seen in the images. However, internally, a major difference is that "Count Louis"' boiler runs at a higher pressure of 150psi, compared to "John"s 120psi. Though the boiler pressure is higher, the driver commented that the extra 30psi is simply "a reserve" as it simply cannot properly be used due to adhesion factors. Also, the driver commented that the engine isn't really generating major power until around 8mph and seeing as the train often doesn't exceed this speed then certain amounts of power remain unused. However, all in all, the two locomotive's are absolutely fantastic sights to see running on the line and both wear their shining liveries proudly.
Though the two Atlantic's were out today, 0-4-0 Tendered locomotive "St Egwin" remained resting in the shed after working throughout the "half term" holiday week. Meanwhile, the railway's ex-Longleat 0-6-0 Tendered locomotive "Dougal" was away for fitment of a new boiler off site. The locomotive will be returning in the next few weeks ready for a return to service soon. Also, 1946-built 4-6-2 LMS Pacific 5751 "Prince William" is still undergoing a full overhaul which is taking place, as far as I know, off site. Finally, 0-4-0 American loco "R H Morse" is in store awaiting an overhaul. However, it is unlikely that this engine will be overhauled any time soon as she is simply too small for the capacity of the line's ever increasing train weights. I was very priviliged to see the two Atlantic's working together and it was certainly a sight to remember! The EVLR is open at weekends and during school holiday's throughout the year and is well worth a visit for any steam enthusiast or family alike! You can visit their website for more information at
Finally, the video above is my footage from the day. The two shots taken of the Atlantic's on the 1 in 65 bank running back towards Twyford are very audible indeed! It is no doubt that the locomotives were working at full regulator on this climb! I hope you have enjoyed this post and will hopefully visit the very friendly EVLR one day...More posts coming soon....Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 28 May 2009

More Changes On The Garden Railway...

Today was time for more changes on the garden railway. The main task was to replace some old track panels (which had been in place since 2005) with new ones. The location of these panels was situated at and around Sutherland Station. However, before the work began, we noticed a modest new change we could make to the track layout. Since 2006, when we completed the extension, the railway crossed the flowerbeds via a thin, lengthy wooden bridge. However, today we noticed a different, tidier and "safer" route for a trains to take. Instead of going across the flowerbeds the track could simply curve around the end of them. So, we set to work. The first task was to drill the stone wall ready for the wood-base (for the track) to be screwed down. This was completed relatively quickly as we are so used to it by now! The new line, a 90 degree right handed curve, was then laid and fastened with any gaps being filled with cut down straight panels.
As can be seen in the image above, the railway now curves around the back of a conifer tree. Orignally, the line cut in front of this particular tree on "Grantham Bridge". The bridge is now confined to history and we feel that the addition of this 'new curve' has given the railway a whole new look on this particular section. Trains now pass the site of the engine shed whereas before they only passed the end of the loco yard briefly. This new layout will hopefully benefit all operations into and out of Sutherland Station in the future...Look out for more posts...Coming Soon!

Monday, 25 May 2009

Battlefield Line "Anything Goes Gala" Day 3

Today, after signing on at 5:40am to help light up B1 "Mayflower" again, I had another nice day on the Thompson-designed engine. We did the 3 rostered trips without any problems and it was much more clement with a cloudy sky rather than the striking sunlight of the day before! I'll be back at the railway for the Thomas event in a couple of weeks time...More Posts Coming Soon!

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Battlefield Line "Anything Goes Gala" Day 2

After staying on site overnight in the railway's sleeper coach, I got up at 5:40am ready for a 6:00am 'sign on'. George, the day's driver, soon arrived and we made our way to the shed. "Mayflower" was simmering inside with 20psi still on the clock from the day before. George made the necessary checks before Pocket's, the day's fireman, arrived. Myself and Pockets then went into the inspection pit under the locomotive and then filled the inside oil-pots. The 02 shunter was started before dragging "Mayflower" out of the shed into the morning sunshine. The forecast had promised lovely weather throughout the day and we were definately looking forward to it! Once "Mayflower" was outside I set to cleaning the bottom-end (wheels, frames, rods etc) whilst Pockets lit the fire. Meanwhile, George filled the mechanical lubricators. As the fire began to take hold, the locomotive began to make steam once again. She simmered quietly as I continued with my cleaning.
The locomotive's owner soon arrived and set to cleaning the boiler barrel. After finishing the bottom end, I climbed up into the cab and began cleaning the cab brasses. At 10am the morning DMU service left for Shenton, meaning that we had only 45 minutes or so to move the engine off shed and make our way onto the stock. After putting away the cleaning materials, we moved 1306 off shed at around 10:30am. Once she was coupled to the train, myself, George & Pockets went to get changed into our smart overalls. Once changed, we awaited departure before the DMU returned. At 11am we got the "right away" from Shackerstone and "Mayflower" barked up the cutting towards Barton Bridge. We made it to Shenton in good time before returning tender first. On arrival back at Shack at 11:55am, we had an 85 minute wait until our next service so we pulled into platform 1 to display the locomotive. A party of my family then arrived for a visit and a train ride, resulting in the picture of me in the cab (above)! My family visited the footplate and were surpised at the size of the 10ftx4ft firebox of 1306. They also tried out the very comfortable leather fireman's seat! At around 1:10pm, we got 'the road' from the signalman (Danny) to cross to Platform 2 and couple back up to the stock for our 1:20pm train. Pockets allowed me to fire on this journey which was, to say the least, very tiring, due to both the heat and me not being used to the 10ft firebox! At Shenton we ran round quickly and recieved 3 pints of squash from the Buffet Car which, I must say, went down amazingly fast! I also fired on the return run which also included a 2:03pm booked stop at Market Bosworth Station so that passengers could leave the train to view the ever increasing amount of restoration that is taking place there. (The image above was taken from the window of the train as we returned to Shackerstone. It shows me leaning out from the B1 to check the coaches). Once back at Shack, it was time to uncouple the loco again before trundling back into platform 1 for a 95 minute wait until our last service. This time we parked in the shade of the large trees near the footbridge as the heat was becoming a little too much for us! However, we soon cooled down once we got into the shade and enjoyed an ice lolly each! My family commented on how lovely the B1 was and what a lovely day they had had before leaving. The 95 minute wait soon passed us by and we were soon back in platform 2 at the head of the 3:50pm train to Shenton, our last run. Pockets built up the fire whilst George made the final checks. The locomotive's owner was also on the footplate for the last trip. We made our way briskly to Shenton before quickly running round for the last time. We left Shenton on time at 4:25pm before chugging happily back to Shackerstone. After uncoupling from the train for one last time we sat on the end of the stock whilst 37 905 departed with it to Shenton on the 5pm. Once the train was clear of the station, we received the all clear to proceed to the water tower. After watering, myself & George crossed the B1 back over into platform 1 before Andy adjusted the ground frame. We then proceeded into the "dock road" before chugging up into the engine shed. "Mayflower"s boiler was then filled, the ashpan emptied, the wheels chocked, the water treatment added and the footplate doors locked. She was then ready for the next day's work. We then locked up the engine shed before returning to platform 1 to the staff room before signing off...See you tomorrow 1306!

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Battlefield Line "Anything Goes Gala" Day 1

The railway's "Anything Goes Gala" ran from today, May 23rd, until Bank Holiday Monday, May 25th. The locomotive roster was headed by LNER B1 No1306 "Mayflower" and today, was supplimented by the Class 25, 31 (101) & DMU. I arrived on site at around 12:35pm and, after chatting with 1306's crew and then the signalman (Joe), I went into the shed and began cleaning the injector clack from Aveiling "The Blue Circle". The B1's last trip was at 3:50pm and, for this, myself and two of my collegues walked up the line to video her. I managed to get to the Shackerstone Distant signal at Congerstone Bridge where I got a short clip of the loco chugging past. We then returned to Shackerstone to our individual duties. I finished cleaning "BC"s clack and then signed off ready to stay the night on site. The short video clip I filmed can be seen below...

Sunday, 17 May 2009

A Day In The Garden...Shame It Was Dark & Damp!

Hi all. The video was taken today when I ran my 00 gauge garden railway again. It was damp, windy and a little cold but the trains still ran very well. GWR 56XX Tank No6600 & Black 5 No45156 "Ayrshire Yeomanry" flew the flag for steam today whilst the Class 08 Shunter & the Class 50 were pressed into service on special duties, such as ECS and shunting. The 50 also hauled the final train. More posts coming soon! Enjoy!

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Another Sunday At Shackerstone...Two Weeks Until The Return of Steam!

Today work was continuing in the shed on both "Blue Circle" & "Sir Gomer". Meanwhile, "Mayflower" stood shining silently. I first finished painting the frames underneath the Peckett's footplate floor (began last week) and then went off to help Pockets with a job outside the shed. A collegue then set to work needle-gunning even more of "Sir Gomer"s frames, ready for priming and repainting later on. (We feel that we may as well tidy the engine up cosmetically whilst the boiler, and the engine for that matter, are out of service). "Sir Gomer" will probably take a couple of months to complete but progress should improve rapidly once the boiler returns as it will then be a 'mad push' to rebuilt the fittings and fixtures before replacement of the saddle tank & cab. (The engine will be retaining her current livery of Green, lined in yellow and black).

Meanwhile, "Blue Circle" was beginning to have her valve gear rebuilt. (Most of the gear has been remachined to improve the engine's performance and operation). Also, parts of the boiler cladding had been repainted (in gloss) into the engine's regularly Blue Circle Blue livery. (The engine is now coming back together well and is rostered to return to public service on the first day of the railway's June Thomas event, June 6th). The engine will be turned out in fully repainted Blue Circle Blue livery as "Fergus" for the event. (The event will also feature the B1 "Mayflower"). Our "Thomas" for the event will be played a MR 0-6-0 Class 3F, or 'Jinty', tank locomotive.

It is now only two weeks until steam trains run to Shenton for the first time in 2009! The immaculate B1 No1306 "Mayflower" will be steamed over the weekend of May 23rd-25th (Whitsun Bank Holiday), taking part in the railway's "Anything Goes Gala"/"Volunteer Weekend". It is hoped to also run a few diesels during the event as well but it is likely that 1306 will haul most, if not all, trains to the Battlefield on each day. After Whitsun, your next chance to ride behind steam at the Battlefield Line will be June 6th/7th/13th/14th during the line's fabulous Thomas event. Three steam locomotives ("Mayflower", "Thomas" & "Fergus") will be taking part as well as the DMU ("Daisy") and, with no doubt, a few diesels. Check out the railway's website ( ) for more details and to book tickets now! You can even enjoy "Tea on Thomas" on the last train of the day! Please come along and have a magical Day out With Thomas with us at the Battlefield Line Railway.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Mayday Weekend at Shackerstone

This weekend was the Battlefield Line's "Postman Pat" weekend and Class 31, 101, was hauling the five trains to and from the Battlefield. Meanwhile, work in the shed was continuing on "Sir Gomer" & "The Blue Circle". My tasks included cleaning out "Blue Circle"s rear water tank (using a scraper, dust-pan and brush) and the painting "Sir Gomer"s frames under the footplate floor. One noticeable difference in the shed today was the reappearance of B1 No1306 "Mayflower", which had returned from Llangollen on the previous Thursday night. A noticeable change about the engine is that she is now facing Shenton, whereas before she always faced Shackerstone. (Maybe this will make it easier for photographers!). The engine will steam again over the weekend of May 23rd-25th, taking part in the railway's "Anything Goes Gala". Please come along and take a ride behind this beautiful machine as you fare will help support the railway! Or, even better, why not join the society and help run the various locomotive's that we have on site? We are always on the look out for new members of any age and skill!

Meanwhile, Peckett "Sir Gomer" remains as a set of frames with the boiler still a few weeks from completion at Llangollen Workshop's. More posts coming soon!