Friday, 10 August 2012

Return to "Alice"...

Hello everyone. After arriving at the headquarters of the Bala Lake Railway last night, we were rostered on the footplate today. Last night we were told that our engine for today would be the cabless 0-4-0 "Alice". The red saddle tank was sitting at the front of the shed when we arrived at 8:30am to steam her up. Eddie dragged "Alice" out into the morning sun using "Trigger" the diesel. I then set about my fireman's duties. The grate and tubes were already clean and therefore I could light her up straight away. Using parrafin wood and rags I soon had a good fire going, with coal being slowly added on top. 
Eddie After A Slip In The Yard
 As she was cold, "Alice" took a little longer than normal to steam up but was still ready in more than due time for the first departure at 11:15. We steamed out of the station towards Bala with 5 coaches on the shackle and under blue skies, with "Alice" steaming beautifully. The 0-4-0ST ran just as well as she did last time we had her and it was a pleasure to work with her.
"Alice" chugged along the side of the lake, rocking and rolling. The water looked as still as glass on this fine day. I don't think I've ever seen the lake so calm. The only noise upon the breeze was that of little "Alice" and her equal yet quiet exhaust beats.
Todays passenger loadings were strong, with most trains being very full: good stuff. The loco continued her good performances throughout the day, with little clinker or steaming problems. You could also leave her reliable injectors running for quite a substantial amount of time whilst not damaging the steam pressure too much. "Alice" seemed to be loving her day out in the sun, just as we were. The views from the cabless footplate are brilliant: you can see absolutely everything. The only problem on days like today is the sun. Indeed, we were wearing suncream!
Overall it was a fantastic day: the loco steamed well, the sun shone and the passengers seemed to enjoy themselves.
By the last trip the heat was getting to me, so much so that I felt like throwing myself in the lake! It looked so cool!
The final trip allowed us a bit of a romp up the bank but "Alice" did need holding back somewhat: she just wanted to race!
The film below was taken by me today. Apologies for the shakes...

Today was brilliant. I look forward to tomorrow. For now its off to the local: the Eagles: for a pint and a bite to eat. Cheers all. Sam...

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