Sunday, 7 October 2012

A Tranquil Day with "James" at GEC...

Hi guys. Today I paid a visit to my friends at the GEC Miniature Railway once again, having ran there with "Achilles" yesterday afternoon. It was the final 7.25" gauge public running day of the 2013 season and three steam locomotives were rostered for service: "James", "Luna" and (on a visit) Eddie's 0-4-2 "Archie" (formerly "Roy"). I was there to lend a hand with my mate James' Romulus 0-4-0, also named "James". Reading back through this blog you will find that I have had many turns on "James" and throughly enjoyed all of them. Therefore, I never turn down the chance of a go on this engine. "James" arrived on site in his trailer at around 1pm and we duly unloaded him, prior to unloading "Archie". The red 0-4-0s were soon on the bays and preparations were made to steam them. "Luna" was already in steam, having been used for a birthday party in the morning. "James" was filled with water and then lit up on the electric blower before warming through slowly. With such a large boiler the Romulus normally takes around 20-30 minutes to steam up.

A Good Fire in "James"
"Archie" was steaming up alongside "James", with owner Eddie doing the honours. The little Maxitrak 0-4-2 has recently put in some successful performances and so I invited Eddie up to the GEC to try his loco out again. The loco was soon in steam and simmered happily away on the bay, whilst his larger brother "James" continued on the electric blower. "Archie" was acquired brand new from Maxitrak and has had a little "new engine syndrome" with a few bits coming loose and going out of time - but, thats normal isn't it. With a new engine; once you've ironed out the creases; you can get no-end of successful, reliable running.
Eddie then went off to do some route-learning on an ECS special hauled by a visiting Class 20 electric, leaving me to look after "Archie". The Class 20 failed at the terminus triangle and so "Luna" was quickly deploid to collect the stricken train. (Oh the drama that unfolds!). When Eddie eventually returned on the train I had brought "Archie" down onto the turntable with the regulator just cracked and the steam chest drains open to clear the condensate. The 0-4-2 and his driving truck then took water before steaming into the up-yard for stabling. With "Archie" being on test he would not be hauling any passenger trains so would have to slip in between the three service trains, whenever a path was available. The GEC 7.25" gauge track is capable of having 6 trains on the track at any one time, in safety. Public running began at 2:30pm, with "Luna" taking the first trip. "James" (driven by me) then took the next 2 trips whilst human James rode on the coaches with his children.

A Happy Eddie with His Locomotive "Archie"
Whilst I was returning on my second round trip with a free-steaming "James", I was halted at a red signal at the car park loop. In the distance "Archie" appeared and steamed past with Eddie at the controls. The little 0-4-2 seemed to be going well as I got "James" underway again with his fully-loaded 2-car train.
As usual, "James" was a pleasure to drive. He is free steaming and smooth on the regulator, with the injectors picking up everytime. After my 2nd trip, James took over on his engine for 2 trips before we started alternating each trip. The trains seemed very busy for a normal running day but, hey, thats money in the pockets of the GEC, ay?! The red 0-4-0 was very clean, with brasswork shining and his yellow No5 on the tender looking nice and bright.
James Blasting The Whistle As "James" Backs Off Shed
The GEC Tea Room Ladies were on fine form as usual and served us cups of tea to our footplates on a regular basis - thanks ladies! A mate of mine from the GEC said I only go for the tea - "Well, that and the train driving!". Seriously, the GEC is a brilliant place with a friendly atmosphere - well worth a visit. Later in the afternoon Eddie offered me a go on "Archie" so, having received a path from the signalman, off I went. The little 0-4-2 went like a dream, blowing off most of the way with the firehole door cracked slightly open. Returning to the station I pulled up at the car park loop again, at the same red signal. "James" and James then appeared at the top of the the hill with a down passenger train, whistling loudly as it passed me by. Myself and Archie then steamed away back towards the station before reversing back into the yard for stabling.
Passing "James" with "Archie"
After a few more trips on "James" it was time for the running to end and so we continued back into the yard with the Romulus, parking up alongside "Archie" on the bays. The two red engines were then blown-down whilst "Luna" took out an ECS run in order to collect the signals in.
"Steamy Engines"
All in all it had been a fantastic day. Thank you very much to James and everyone else at the GEC for having me again, and to Eddie for letting me drive the lovely "Archie" (formerly "Roy"). I'll next be at the GEC on October 27th for the annual (and brilliant) Night Run.
Cheers Guys - Sam

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

A most enjoyable day and some good photos. Thanks for posting. Eddie

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