Sunday, 6 December 2009

Working With The Eastern Lady at Shackerstone...

Today I got to Shackerstone as early as I could (just before 8am in the end) as I was due to be helping out with the immaculate B1 No1306 "Mayflower". On my arrival, the 4-6-0 was glimpsed outside the shed, standing alone in the non-stop rain. I took the chance to hide within the confines of the 'cosy' sheds, where I found the "Mayflower" team who had got the same idea! At around 9am the rain stopped and we quickly set to work cleaning the locomotive. I set about cleaning rods, wheels, sand-pipes, brake blocks, frames, steps, runners and the bogie! At last, just before 9:50am, the locomotive was ready. With the first train at 10am there was no time to lose and 1306 soon rolled off shed before hissing loudly through the cross-over to the Signalbox. 1306 then backed down onto the front of the train before she was coupled up. The "Steam Heat" was then switched on to warm the coaches before the 'Right Away' was received from the Guard. 1306, after a shrill whistle, carefully eased out of Shackerstone, bound for Shenton as I wandered off down to the Booking Hall. Once inside, I was greeted with the sentence, "Do You Know Anything About Lighting A Fire?"...(The open fire in the Booking Hall was yet to be lit!). "Erm, Yes" I replied, pointing to my coal, oil and dust covered boilersuit! With no provisions to light the fire however, I headed off back down to the loco shed to retrieve some old wood and a rag...
With my provisions in hand I returned to the booking hall before banking up newspaper, wood and a few small lumps of coal on the fire-grate. Then, using a sprinkle of paraffin, I lit the fire. It went very well! I took out any ashes from under the grate and then, played the waiting game! After about 20 minutes or so, the fire had properly taken hold and I soon left for the sheds. There, Gerald gave me a cuppa' and we had a chat about 1306 and her duties for the 'Santa season'. Soon, a loud rumbling was heard and 1306 rolled noisily past the windows of our Machine Shop/Tea Room! I was then invited onto the footplate for the next two runs. I just rode on my first run (the 12 noon train) but I was allowed to have a go at firing on my second run (the 2pm train). I must admit, I fired with "varying" degrees of sucess, ranging from keeping full pressure to bringing it down to 50psi below this pressure but nothing anywhere near drastic! I very much enjoy firing the B1 though it is very different to other full size loco's I have fired to due to her Eastern-type Firehole Flap-Door, which only gives half the shovelling room of a normal firehole door! It takes much practise (I'm slowly getting there) to not hit the door when trying to fling coal to the front of the box!...
After these very enjoyable two runs I left the engine and her owner took my place on the footplate. Thanks very much to the owner and the crew for my go today, VERY enjoyable as usual! The B1 soon left for Shenton again on the day's last train, the 4pm. I was then collared into helping my colleages Carl & Craig in a shunt using the used & abused 0-4-0 Class 02 Shunter "Diane". With a bright headlamp attached (as it was dark!!) we set off around the yard and the shed area with the '02'. With the shunt half done, 1306 soon returned with her steam powered electricity generator providing her electric headlamps and cab lighting. It was now around 5:30pm and my lift home was beckoning and so, after gathering my things and saying my goodbyes, I signed off at 5:40pm and headed for home. Thanks Phil for the lift back! Well, it has been another long day but, next time I'm at Shackerstone it'll be an even longer one, with a 6am sign on I might add! Yes, I'm rostered for a day-turn on the B1 on Sunday December 20th and, to be honest, I can't wait! More posts coming soon everyone! Best Wishes and Thanks for Reading...

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