Sunday, 30 September 2012

A Troublesome Day for Prairie 5521 and Shed Work...

Hi guys. I arrived at Shackerstone at 9am this morning, spotting 5521 in the car park straight away taking coal. I walked down to the shed and found a small group labouring away inside. Myself and Dave then cleared the inspection pit of ash ready for Jason and Pockets to bring a newly washed out Peckett "Sir Gomer" inside and put her over the pit. The green 0-6-0 was soon safely inside the shed so the door was brought down to keep in what little heat the two stoves were providing. The engine is now waiting for the boiler man to come in and do a dry check, before she is boxed up, filled and then steam tested. Hopefully she should pass these tests no problem and she'll then be ready for more work; wherever that may take her. Today she was having her mudlids cleaned up with a wirebrush by Jason, whilst the rest of us worked on other little tasks.
We now have two Pecketts in the shed; the other being little "Dunlop No7" who came in from outside on Wednesday. The chassis, tank and cab of the engine are now safely undercover on No2 road, sandwiched between "Blue Circle" and the delapidated chassis of "Richard III". Completion of the little Peckett is planned for August 2013, all being well. It will be nice to see a little engine in action at Shack again, now we've had all of these big main liners.
The GWR 2-8-0 No3803 has been slumbering away on No1 road in the storage section of the shed, whilst 5521 and "SG" have occupied the running shed area. The loco is next rostered for traffic over the weekend of October 13th/14th and will probably be the only steamer on service until next season.
Outside the shed the Prairie No5521 had been out on a late running "Foot Ex" before arriving back with an unhappy crew. The Prairie had blown a Hydrostatic Lubricator glass and had thus been failed. Though the Westerns have two glasses for the cylinders on their lubricators and you only use one at a time, you cannot of course risk losing both. The late running 11:15 public train therefore left behind the Class 08 shunter for Shenton, with 5521 stabled on the pit road in the south yard. Luckily, Fireman Phil is ex-Tyseley and so changing these glasses is in his blood and he whipped a replacement in straight away. The 08 was very late returning and so the 12:30 trip was cancelled in order to make sure that the 13:45 definately left on time, and with steam. 5521 took the 13:45 and returned on time.

All seemed to be going well until a water shortage on the water tower (for unknown reasons) caused the loco to be failed again. She had 400 gallons left in her tanks but this is not enough to do a round trip on safely. The 08 crew briskly started the old girl up again and left on time with the stock at 3pm. We managed to get the Prairie up to full tanks over the course of an hour and so the 4:15 would definately be steam. As the shed was cold and now getting quieter as people left for home, those of us left decided to join the train for a beer on "Jessie". The locomotive hauled us easily to Shenton but on the return run she just could not get the train started. The loco (as she did with us on gala Saturday) was having terrible trouble getting her steam brake completely off. At Market Bosworth (now running late again) the loco was inspected and after some messing around the brakes were off and away we went, arriving into Shack 20 minutes late. All in all the crew had had "a bit of a day of it" but my hat off to them for seeing the day through regardless of the circumstances!
Trouble Stricken 5521 On The Water Tower
After the "interesting" 4:15 trip I said my goodbyes before leaving the train and heading back to my car. I'm off home now. Next weekend I'm not at Shackerstone as my 5" gauge loco "Achilles" is booked to run on Saturday and I'm helping with 7.25" Romulus "James" at GEC on Sunday. Thanks for reading folks. Good evening...

Sunday, 23 September 2012

The Last Day for 45379 at Shackerstone...

Hello everyone. A simple day today at Shackerstone. I arrived at around 8am, along with a sizeable team, and we all set to cleaning the rostered locomotive: Black Five No45379. The beautiful Five was on her last turn at the railway, unfortunately. Therefore she was rostered for the five normal service trains to Shenton and back. At 11am the 4-6-0 left shed as the rain began to fall. Once the rain started, it didn't stop. This put pay to alot of jobs, mainly the washout of "Sir Gomer". Everyones enthusiasm just seems to drain away when the rain comes: no surprise really. With the Five off down the line myself and Dave cleared out the pit whilst the others planned to start the 02 diesel and drag "SG" outside. The 02 was of course dead with a poorly battery and so was put on charge for a few hours. The only real enjoyment of the day was to see the LMS beast (45379) pop in and out on the 5-coach train at regular intervals.
The Black Five on Shed One Last Time
Though the rain fell, the owners of "Dunlop No7" were still hard at work on her chassis. They managed to get the cab on in the morning and the tank would be put on later in the afternoon. The loco will be moved into the shed this coming Wednesday for the restoration to continue out of the elements. As yet, the boiler still hasn't left the North End, or begun its return to steam.
I must admit, though I've only been on it once, and she's only been with us 2 weeks, everyone has really fallen in love with 45379. Shes just brilliant. It will be really sad coming down next week when shes gone home. Ahh well, we had a go...thats all that matters.
Eventually, by about 3pm, the 02 had started and dragged the Peckett out into the rain. The next job was to empty the boiler so that the mudlids could be removed prior to washout. The boiler was emptied by opening the blow-down valve (fitted to the foundation ring) wide and simply waiting. We thought we'd waited long enough for the water to fall below crown-sheet level, so we pulled out Backhead Plug A = Wrong decision...Oops!...
A SLIGHT Misjudgement!
By 4pm, cold and wet, and having took a few lids out of "Sir Gomer" I decided to call it a day. I'm off out to a Pub Quiz tonight so really I need to get back and get sorted. I'll next be at Shackerstone next Sunday for more shed work, hopefully in dryer conditions. For passenger information - 5521 will be on service next weekend as 45379 will be on the West Somerset by then. Cheers guys. Sam.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Shackerstone Gala: An Ambition Fulfilled...

Hello everyone. Today was Day Two of the 2012 Battlefield Line Steam Gala, featuring a varied roster of 5 full size steam locomotives. Today I would fulfill an amibition that I have had for a long time: to fire an LMS Class 5; perhaps better known to all as Stanier's Black Five. To alot of us at Shackerstone the Black Five is admired as THE locomotive; the go anywhere, do anything, pull anything machine. Indeed, we've always wanted one and so when the railway secured 45379 from the Mid Hants for the gala we were overjoyed. She would be the first Black Five to run over the line in its preserved days, though she had travelled over the line in the 1960s during her BR service. The Black Five performed well during the gala yesterday and so myself, Dave and John were looking forward to a good day with her today. We arrived at 5am, walking along the driveway through the pitch darkness towards the shed. After greeting some of the others we walked along the shed to the 4-6-0 before climbing aboard, checking the water and firebox and then cleaning the grate. The loco was then lit up and began singing straight away.
Dave Adding More Wood To The Blaze
As the Five warmed up, the steam pressure rose gradually. Myself and John oiled the loco up whilst Dave cleaned the cab. With 150psi on the clock we moved the Five out into the morning light where we continued to clean before doing some shunting.
Our first departure was not until the 11am passenger and so we had to clear the shed road in order to let 3803 out, who would double-head the 9am freight with "Sir Gomer". The unlikely pairing left on time and were quite a sight as they passed the cab doors of 45379. With the freight in section we moved the "5" back across to the shed road so that 5521 could come out and couple up to the waiting 10am passenger in platform 2.
Soon enough our departure arrived and off we went on the 5-coach train. What a run. The Five sounded in very good voice with four crisp beats leaving the chimney and dissapearing across the Leicestershire countryside. As we steamed to Market Bosworth, Dave fired whilst Britt (John) drove and I enjoyed the Firemans seat. What a beautiful engine. We arrived at Shenton in good time and uncoupled from the train before running into the loop for layover. The train then left at 11:30am behind 5521. This layover again gave us time for a cuppa' and a chat. Our full english had been ordered from the Griddle Car and would be with us when 3803 turned up at 12:20.
A Black Five at Shenton
As we chatted the "5" sat quietly simmering away. We only added coal to odd patches when required to prevent blowing off but also to keep the fire going.
Mr Britt (our driver) is an avid LMS man though favours the slightly larger Jubilee, which employs 3 cylinders and 6ft 9" driving wheels, compared with the Black Five's 2 cylinders and 6ft driving wheels. He insisted that nothing would compare to the 'Jub's "Bahamas" and "Kolapur" but, by the end of the day, he had definately warmed to the idea of the Black Five and seemed to be quite in love with her, as myself and Dave were.
Our Driver: Mr Britt
Talking of Black Fives, for your information, they were quite a notable class. Designed by William Stanier they were a powerful mixed traffic 4-6-0 known as the 5MT type. As they wore Black livery and were often dirty they became known as the Black Five; a name which seemed to stick with them forever. In total, 842 of the type were built at various works between 1934 and 1951. This particular engine (No45379) was built in July 1937 at the works of Armstrong & Whitworth in Newcastle. She was withdrawn in 1965 and went to Barry Scrapyard. After changing hands in preservation a few times it found its way to the Mid Hants and returned to steam in September 2010. Since then she has visited the Churnet Valley and Avon Valley railways and will also be heading off to the West Somerset after her visit to Shackerstone ends. With a 225psi boiler and 18" cylinders she is a bit of a brute and steams beautifully. 
The Happy Team: Driver John Britt & Fireman Sam Brandist (D Hanks)
Anyway, back to us, the 38' arrived on time and we departed at 12:30, after quickly stuffing down our breakfast.
Back at Shackerstone we took water before hitching up the waiting 13.55 freight departure. The 38' turned up on time and as soon as we got the 'Right Away' off we went, with me firing and Britt driving. I fired the 28ft-square grate using a thin technique though also putting the odd extra shovelfull in the back corners. She steamed very well, blowing off as we pulled over the cross-over with 4/5 of a glass in the boiler. We barked out of Shackerstone with the lengthy freight before continuing out into the countryside. The "5" steamed easily and I continued to fire with the doors wide open and the small flap up, with the odd shovelfull being thrown over the flap when required. She held 210-220psi all the way with the injectors being used regularly. At Shenton we had another layover before returning on the 3:15 passenger, which I fired again. Once again, the Five steamed brilliantly: a gorgeous machine. Back at Shackerstone we had another layover, taking part in 'Driver for a Tenner' duties. Our final departure was at 4:45pm (the last trip of the gala), wearing the "Thames-Clyde Express" headboard.
A Tad Off Course: The Thames-Clyde Express at Shenton
At Shenton we ran straight round before departing on time for a good run back.
I must admit that alot of my photographs taken during the day were simply of the Black Five...just for the sake of it! ;)
A Round of Applause Please For Stanier's Black Five!
After arriving back safely we headed back into the shed with the 5MT, before cleaning down and disposing. We then signed off after a fabulous day to remember on 45379. Time for a beer! Well thats another ambition fulfilled. The Black Five is probably one of the only locomotives that I desperately wanted to have a go on, whereas others are mostly progression I guess. She was worth the wait: brilliant. On another positive note, extreme congratulations must go to my friend Dave Hanks who happily passed his firing exam, becoming Shackerstone's newest fireman. Well done mate. Dave has been training for a few years now on a variety of locomotives and mostly with myself & Eddie as booked crew. We always knew it would happen :)
Fireman Dave Hanks On A REAL Engine
 All in all a fantastic weekend at Shackerstone but I am so tired! It was all worth it though, of course it was. Thank you to everyone who was involved in the event, thank you to all the passengers who attended to make the event a success and of course thank you to you; the reader; who makes writing this continuous stream of complete dribble worthwhile ;) . Cheers guys - another one done. Sam.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Shackerstone Gala: Saturday on the Prairie...

Hi everyone. Well, finally, after all that anticipation the gala has arrived! I arrived at Shackerstone in darkness at just before 5:30am and waddled up to the shed. Everyone was there and getting on with preparing their various engines. My driver Adrian and trainee Dave were already with 5521 and were cleaning her grate. We checked the firebox before Dave got a roaring fire going. The prairie started singing almost immediately and was quick on the road to the boil. 3803 and the Black 5 were also lit, with "Sir Gomer" being lit not long after. "Blue Circle"s owner turned in at around 7:30 in order to get steam up on his Aveling. At one point we almost had to evacuate the shed as five smoking locomotives inside it created quite a dark atmosphere. Indeed, we could hardly draw breath! Dave was certainly doing his fair share of smoking us out using the Prairie...
'Good Lord, Dave!'
Soon enough "Sir Gomer" moved out from the shed and stood in the south yard raising more steam. It was so nice to see her home (and clean) again.
We got 5521 steaming pretty soon and the blower was put on at 40psi. I must admit you could barely tell that it had a blower; it was pretty much useless! The 5521 engine rep later explained to me that the prairie has been fitted with a Pannier blast pipe and thus the blower ring is part of the exhaust port for the vacuum ejector. Therefore, not only is the blower loud (as the ejector is) but there is also no real concentrated draft, so the blower requires a little more steam than is required on the 38'. I was a little worried that the loco would not make sufficient steam in time for our 9am double-headed departure with 45379 but luckily she proved us wrong. We ashed her out manually (no hopper on this one!) over the pit before taking her outside. The Black 5 had already gone off shed and was sitting in the south yard whilst 3803 stood in front of us. The freight train was still being marshalled by the 08 shunter as we finished raising steam and cleaning the Western outside the shed.
The steam locomotives were all waiting for their turns and the photographers were already out in force. It was fantastic to see all those engines in steam and ready to go. In my 7 years with the Battlefield Line I've never seen such a sight on shed. Luckily the freight was marshalled just in time for the departure at 9am and we steamed out into Platform 1 road on 5521 at 8:55am. We buffered up to Pockets' brakevan with the loco before I coupled it up. The train was at least 10 wagons long. The Black 5 then dropped down on top of us, feathering at the valves. At just gone 9am the Guard blew his whistle and waved his green flag and so we were off. I wasn't sure how 5521 was going to steam (having never fired her before) and so kept a thin, level fire with an extra few shovelfull's in the back corners. Gradually; with much hissing from the drain cocks on both loco's; we pulled away. Slowly but surely, over the crossing and past the signalbox we puffed.
Fireman Sam Brandist Looks Out from 5521 Departing Shackerstone On The 9am (N.Bates)
We seemed to be working the Prairie very hard with the Five virtually doing nothing. However she did sound in very good voice. The Pannier blast pipe created a fabulous draw on the fire. In fact, when firing, you had to be careful to hold onto the shovel as she really did try to suck it clean out of your hands! At Shenton; 20 odd minutes later; the duo were uncoupled and the Five ran round onto the new head of the train, leaving 5521 on layover.
We had a cuppa' whilst we waited for the arrival of 3803 on the first down passenger at 10am. The Prairie meanwhile simmered quitely away to herself, showing off her massive air compressor used during her mainline visit to Poland a few years ago.
The layover allowed us to relax and chat, sharing a joke with my great crew of Adrian and David.
Aidy & David
The 38' arrived a little late so we ran round straight away and took up our place at the head of the train. I fired the loco once again, with 5521 then taking us back to Shackerstone with Adrian on the regulator.
After a spirited run back (attempting to make up time) we took a little water on the column before time forced us across to the south pit road, where we parked up behind a simmering "Sir Gomer".
Little "Gomer" with 5521 Behind
The day went on with 5521, 3803 and 45379 sharing the departures, whilst "Sir Gomer" and "Blue Circle" circulated at Shackerstone, with the latter offering Brakevan Rides. The sun was also on our side, continually shining all day.
Our third and final departure of the day was from Shackerstone at 3pm. I drove this departure whilst Dave fired and Adrian enjoyed the views. Another layover at Shenton was rewarded by the arrival of 3803 for our double-headed (oh yes!) run back to Shack. Today was the first time I've been on a double-headed train, let alone two in the same day! The fabulous pairing left on time and we had an absolutely brilliant run back. I chuffing loved it.
Westerns Ready to Leave Shenton
Following our arrival back at Shack, "Sir Gomer" departed on her 5:45pm return passenger. The Peckett ran the whole line on her own without fault before handing over to 45379 for the 7pm "Pie and Chip" special out of Shackerstone. We joined the special as 3803, "BC" and 5521 had already gone to bed. Enjoying a pie on the train behind a Black 5 over a bottle of real ale was brilliant and well deserved we thought. I eventually left Shack at 9pm for home. Tomorrow I'm on the Black 5 and thus will be in at 5am once again. I cannot wait!

Finally, here is a video taken today by Mike Snow of Steam on the Web. It really is a great compilation of what occurred today...enjoy...

Cheers guys. Sam...

Friday, 14 September 2012

Shackerstone Gala: So Much Work...

Hi everyone. Well, what a day! There was just so much to do. I arrived at Shackerstone at 8am and found the Black 5 just about to be lit in the shed. She would be slowly warmed through during the day and given a fitness to run exam prior to tomorrow's big gala. There was a large steam department crew forming at the shed front and soon everyone had a job. I for one headed down to start cleaning up my loco for tomorrow, which would be Prairie No5521. The 2-6-2 turned up looking a little dirty and so I set to with the polishing mop and some Autoglym so as to bring up the tanks and smokebox. I was quite happy with this task as you could really see a difference. Meanwhile, Carl & Samantha were cleaning up "Sir G" whilst the two Andy's, Shelley and Steve took the Black 5. Dave, Danny, Miles and Mic meanwhile were cleaning the 38 up. "Blue Circle" had already been cleaned and looked fit for a king. We broke for lunch at Midday and then continued with our tasks throughout the afternoon.

Other jobs included lighting warming fires, cleaning brass, chopping wood, shunting, filling tanks with water, tidying up, getting the real ale onto the train, p-way and god only knows what else! The shunting of the freight began at 6pm and continued until 8:30ish under lamplight and night time shunting signals. I was in command of the 02 shunter with Danny in charge of the 08. Together we worked on, getting the train together, if only into 3 seperate sections. The remainder of the shunting would be done at first light, allowing the freight to leave on time at 9am tomorrow morning. Meanwhile I had also lit up 5521, attempting to slowly bring her around into light steam in order to use the injectors to get the water level up. There was only 1/4 of a glass in there and this would dissapear when heading down the slope out of the shed in the morning. With the help of Dave I was able to get the level up and we left the loco with 70psi on the clock and a full boiler, at around 7pm - all ready for tomorrow! I eventually left the railway at 9:30pm, with most jobs now complete and ready for what promises to be a fantastic day tomorrow. Lets hope we're busy! What a day...I'm tired! Thank you for reading folks. Here's to a fab gala. Cheers...

Monday, 10 September 2012

Shackerstone Gala: Unloading The Loco's...

Hi everyone. Today I left work at 2pm as normal and continued straight over to Shackerstone in the Saxo. Driving in up the driveway I could see the tell-tale signs of a large road trailer. Sure enough, there was the filthy exterior of "Sir Gomer"; freshly returned from its visit to the Chinnor Railway. The Peckett was waiting to be unloaded from Mr Antell's trailer and was duly untied. We then made up the ramp using the heavy rails and strengthening bars before bringing the 0-6-0ST slowly down and back onto home soil. The 1932-built loco was then hitched up to the Class 08 before being dragged up the loading road and into the north end sidings. As soon as "Sir G" was out of the way there was a loud noise (almost like an air-horn) and the sight of orange beacons signalled the arrival of Reid Freight's red truck, with a slightly tree-infested 5521 on board. The Prairie (owned by Bill Parker) was brought up by Reid's following a visit to the Swindon & Cricklade Railway. The Western 2-6-2 stood proudly on the back of the trailer whilst preparations were made for her unloading...
5521 was soon unloaded by the Reid guys, whilst we shunted the Loadhaul (JCB) around and coaled the Peckett. When the Prairie was unloaded the Class 47 diesel was pressed into action and shoved 5521 and "Sir G" up through Platform 1 and Ground Frame No11 before climbing up into the loco shed. 3803 had to be pushed back slightly to allow the pair access but a small shunt soon relieved this. Outside it had just begun to rain and so we had definately got them inside just in time! The shed was still alive with activity, even though it was already 8pm. I left at 8:30pm as I was beginning to grow tired after being in work at 6am this morning (cue many tiny violins!). I must admit the gala is really coming together now. The Black 5 will be arriving tomorrow...oh yes! Cheers guys. Sam...

Sunday, 9 September 2012

A Flying Visit to Kingsbury...

Hey all. Today, as the sun shone, myself and Maisie headed over to Kingsbury for an ice cream and a walk along the lakeside and the trackside, of the Echills Wood Railway. We didn't travel today but, as it was 'Narrow Gauge Weekend', the trains were operating an intensive service and there was plenty to see. The best place seemed to be Picnic Junction (as its called) where you could sit on a bench and watch all manner of engines pass by. Amongst others there was a large American named "Douglas", a Shay, two Romulus', an Exmoor Tinkerbell and many more. Two engines that I know well were double-heading a rake of coaches around the large route. These engines are "James" and "Trojan". "James" is of course the red Romulus (pictured) that I occasionally help with at GEC. "Trojan" is an engine that I used to help with at GEC but I have also spent time driving her at Rugby. The latter is a regular at Echills Wood these days, rather than GEC, but "James" flies the flag for steam up at Binley, alongside the Sweet William "Luna". I did get a wave off James & Kevin as they passed us at the junction, before they dissapeared into the distance. A nice little outing. We're off for a 99' - Cheers guys. Sam...

Saturday, 8 September 2012

A Quiet Day with 3803...

Hi everyone. This morning at 6am I arrived at Shackerstone for another day firing 3803. I lit the loco at 6:30am having checked the water, firebox and mudlids. Soon she was 'singing' away in the shed whilst I watched her, with a hot cuppa' in my hand. Outside it was getting light and it looked like we were going to get some good weather for a change. At 7:30am, as usual, I trotted across to the signalbox with my breakfast: usually a tin of soup these days. Unlocking the signalbox door I stumbled inside to use the microwave. Looking down from the box you could clearly see the 5-coach set sitting peacefully in the platform as the birds sang in the trees above the cutting. With my now hot breakfast in hand, I locked up the box and continued back to the shed. At 7:45am trainee fireman Will arrived and at 8am driver Eddie arrived. We then set to cleaning the large, green locomotive; built in 1939.
"Quiet in the Box"
Around the side of the shed, little Dunlop No7 (a Peckett 0-4-0) is still making overhaul progress. Today I noticed that the wheels had come back from their turning and had quite a nice profile on them again. Well, thats another small step towards getting her going again.
"Thank Goodness - I've Got My Wheels Back!"
We left shed at around 10:30am before getting coal. We then headed over onto Platform 2 road and coupled up to the 5-coach train. Eddie then cooked breakfast for us on the shovel of 3803. With our tasty breakfast wolfed down I began making up the fire; using the shovel for its arguably correct purpose! Grey smoke soon started to evacuate the chimney as 3803s fire began to roar. With 200psi on the clock and 4/5 of a glass, off we set on the first train of the day at 11:15, with Eddie driving and me firing. 3803 steamed very well as normal and it was very pleasant out on the line. We returned on time and were soon ready to leave on the 12:30, with myself & Eddie having now swapped roles.
For the 1:45 trip I took a back seat, letting Will fire and of course Eddie drive. For the 3pm I was on the regulator again whilst Will continued on the shovel. 3803 was in her usual fine form and the weather really was on our side.
3803 at Sunny Shenton with a Good Fire in the Firebox
For the 4:15 trip I was on the shovel again as Will enjoyed the ride and Eddie did the driving. It had been a very enjoyable and worthwhile day. Sharing the jobs is always the best way as, not only does everybody get a go, but also you don't get too tired doing one particular thing. It was a very nice day today. When we got back on shed at 5:30 we noticed the result of the efforts made by the steam department guys that attended the shed today: a shining Lamport No3, freshly cleaned from top to bottom and freed of her 1/2" thick layer of dust!
All in all a very enjoyable day. Cheers guys. Sam...

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Repairing 3803 at Shack...

Hi there guys. A simple night tonight. After leaving work at 3pm I continued straight over to Shackerstone and began cleaning the wheels & frames of 3803 in the shed. Jason and Carl arrived within an hour and we set to in the smokebox of the Heavy Freight 2-8-0. For the last few weeks the locomotive has been squeaking from the drivers-side piston valve. As the problem has slowly got worse and worse we decided to take action. The hydrostatic lubricator feeds oil along piping under the boiler cladding, into the smokebox and into a check valve, before feeding it down the steam pipes to the cylinders. However, we did wonder if any oil was getting through and so removed the drivers-side pipe which connects the steam pipe and the check valve. Naturally, living in a smokebox, the pipes were covered in thick soot and so we got filthy in there. The piping was cleared of its blockage using the air compressor and oil was also manually poured into the steam pipe. We then reconnected the piping and cleared away our tools before shutting up the smokebox. We'll have to see how that goes on Saturday. The firebars which failed the loco last Sunday have been replaced with examples from a Bagnall 0-6-0 of all things! I left Shack at 9pm - * yawning *.  Cheers guys. Sam.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

A Busy Day at Shack Loco...

Hi guys. Today I got to Shackerstone at around 8am, finding Dave, Jan and John prepping the GWR 2-8-0 No3803 inside the shed. The engine was rostered for 5 round trips of the line as usual, taking passengers to Shenton for the Bosworth Battlefield; five miles away. A sizeable team was forming in the shed ready for the day and with the quick passing of time 3803 was off shed and off down the track at 11:15. The objective of today was to do some shunting and generally tidy up the shed and the so-called yards at either end. The 02 diesel shunter was in action for most of the day, busying itself with various movements. Occassionally the 38xx would come and go, making smokey departures with her 4-coach train.
The 38' Gets Away With The 12:30 Train
At the side of the shed the overhaul of Peckett Dunlop No7 is slowly continuing. The frames of the loco have been paint-stripped and primed throughout with the wheels having gone away for tyre-turning. The boiler is currently under assessment but is apparantly not in too bad a condition. The cylinder ends and steam chest covers have been removed to reveal healthy looking slide valves; suprising really after 30 odd years out of service! The engine is hoped to be finished in a years time, returning to steam on the line she served in the 1970s. 
Having a little session driving the 02 around, I took the little diesel out of the north yard and into Platform 1. I then continued under the caution of the signals up to the south yard before backing into the shed's little-used No2 road. With the rear doors of the shed open I brought the 02 inside and coupled up to the very poorly-looking chassis of RSH 0-6-0 "Richard III". "Blue Circle" was not in the way today as she was in steam and offering Brakevan Rides along Platform 1 (normally she would be stationed in front of the RSH). With No3 coupled up we pulled her and the out-of-ticket Bagnall "Lamport No3" out of the shed. "Lamport" was then placed on the pit road which leads down to Platform 1 before we put "Richard" back inside again, in "Lamport"s place. The Bagnall is planned to be cleaned up and left out on static display at the gala. Poor old "Richard" is still awaiting restoration as we simply do not have the time at present, what with "Sir Gomer" and several visiting engines popping in and out.
"Blue Circle" seemed quite happy (as usual) chortling about with Pockets' 25T Brakevan in tow. Passengers seem to enjoy this unique little loco, especially when they can take a short ride behind her around the site!
Though an avid steam fan, I do find it good fun driving the little 02 around. Its fun because its so small and can ride over any track quite comfortably; perhaps throwing you around somewhat in the process. It is a simple diesel mechanical operation. The Rolls-Royce diesel engine powers the 0-4-0 wheel arrangement via air operated levers in the cab. If air pressure falls below 70psi then braking is affected, as are the direction changes and drive applications. However, at 110psi the world is your lobster and the 02 will perform almost any shunting task, hauling loads far out-doing her small stature.
With alot of the shunting done the attention turned to tidying the shed. However, at about 3:30pm we got the dreaded call: "the 38' has failed at Shenton". In this rescue situation the Single Line staff must be brought back from Shenton and then carried into the section on the rescue loco. Without the staff no train can go into the section, regardless of whether the other train has failed in a stationary position or not. Danny took up the challenge of a brisk drive to Shenton to collect the staff and Adrian; our diesel driver. A small group of us then headed off down to the North End where we attempted to fire up Class 47 "Jimmy Milne". Luckily the 47 did not give much hastle and we took her into Platform 1 before awaiting Adrian. With the staff and driver on board we were given both of the signals required to get us into the section and, with haste, off we went. The 47 took us light engine to Shenton where the 38' would be waiting.
Driver Adrian Checks The Speed
It was very unusual arriving at Shenton to find a loco and train in our way but obviously this is a rare situation! 3803 had failed with a broken fire bar. The bar had snapped and fallen into the ashpan with the gap it left behind causing other bars to part before also falling into the pan. In total 4 or 5 bars had dropped and so continuing back to Shackerstone under her own steam was out of the question. "Jimmy Milne" was quickly coupled up and off we went, about an hour late.
"Jimmy Milne" & The Stricken 38' at Shenton
We made a good run back to Shackerstone and called at Market Bosworth as normal. The 47 was decoupled at Shackerstone and, as she was running low on diesel owing to her not being 'penned' for traffic for a while, the 08 shunter was called upon, leaving Shackerstone 90 minutes down with the last departure of the day. It is very rare to see the 08 on the service train but needs must as people: no matter how late: need to get home.
After a stressful but rewarding day we all retired to the Bar for a pint before heading home. I will next be at Shackerstone on Thursday night after work, to see if we can do anything about the failed Class 38. Cheers guys. Sam.