Sunday, 1 April 2012

April Fools On 3803...

Hi guys. Well, what a beautiful day. Myself & Dave arrived at Shackerstone at 5:30am in frosty conditions. After driving up the misty driveway we unpacked our cars and headed to the shed. The 38' was inside; warm-ish but showing nothing on the clock. We checked her over, cleaned the grate and lit a new fire as quickly as possible. We had two Footplate Experience participants today; one of which was the father of one of my Team Leaders at work (no pressure!). The Foot Ex guys arrived at 8am to see the locomotive coming towards the end of the prepping stages, before myself and Pockets took them out at 9am for the actual course. Generally, courses start with a safety brief, loco brief and a chat about the railway in the yard, beginning at 8am-ish. We usually have two participants who share the driving and the firing, in conjunction with the loco crew. Today, Pockets was teaching Driving, whilst I was given the task of teaching the Firing. First we leave Shackerstone light engine and head to Market Bosworth (3 miles away). One participant would be driving, the other firing. We stopped just south of Hedleys (around 1.5 miles) to swap roles: that way both participants would get the chance to drive the loco both ways, both hauling the train and light engine. At Bosworth, the participants swapped again, and again just south of Hedleys. Drawing back into Shack we coupled up to the 4-coach train, aboard which would be the families of the participants.

Leaving Shackerstone at around 10am we steamed up the bank towards Barton with one of the participants driving and the other firing again. This time we would be going all the way to Shenton & back. The participants swapped at Bosworth for the run to Shenton and then myself & Pockets ran the loco round at Shenton. The participants then shared the duties on the way back to Shack, under blue skies. Back at base, we uncoupled the loco and pulled her over into Platform 2 to present certificates and to pose for photographs. The participants and their families had their photograph took with myself & Pockets (their crew) before we rejoined the loco ready to undertake the 11:15 public departure. Aboard this trip, the Foot Ex participants & their families would be riding the train with lunch provided too. I think the Foot Ex courses at Shack (at £250 each) are good value for money for what you get, considering you get to drive the large 2884 Class 2-8-0 too. Anyway, for the 11:15 we were joined by Carl (2nd Driver) and Dave (Trainee) for the rest of the day. It was a great day all told, with all of us sharing the various duties in the sunny, warm weather. 3803 steamed, pulled and performed very well as usual. We steamed back in on time at 5:10pm and duly disposed on shed. Another great day on 3803! Thanks to Pockets, Carl, Dave & the Foot Ex guys for a great time. Cheers all. Sam...

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