Friday, 21 December 2012

Getting 3803 Ready...

Hi everyone. Today, after finishing work for Christmas (YES!) it was off over to Shackerstone in the damp afternoon air to help prep our engine: 3803: for tomorrow's turn. When a locomotive is due to work both days of a weekend, the majority of the preparation work is carried out on the Friday. The most important part of this prepartion is the warming fire which, not only warms the engine through slowly so as to prevent potentially harmful speedy expansion of the boiler and firebox, but also allows the crew (us) to come in at a relatively reasonable (5:30am) time, rather than 8 hours prior to the time at which the loco is required to work. Eight hours is probably about right with an engine as big as 3803, from cold to working. Jason was on hand to light his first warming fire today, so myself, Eddie and Dave could get on with the job of cleaning 3803 and breaking up tomorrow's lighting-up wood. Normally the engine gets cleaned on the morning of service but, as we thought it would potentially be our last turn on 3803 tomorrow, we felt we would make a big effort with her - despite the awful weather forecast!

Cleaning an engine can take many forms. The bottom end is cleaned with a parrafin & oil mixture so as to remove grease and provide a shine to the black and bare metal livery. The sides of the smokebox are blackened and shined with steam oil, whilst the door is polished up using Auto Glym. The boiler barrel & cylinder covers are also polished and the red bufferbeams are parrafin washed. The running boards are cleaned with white spirit so as to be clean & shiney but not slippery, and of course all of the brass and copper is shined up with the traditional Brasso, as are the whistles. All in all, after a few hours work by a good few hands you can end up with a very clean locomotive. However, 3803 is very, VERY big!
Where Do They Get These Drivers?! - Eddie Cleaning 3803
One of the jobs which I tend to enjoy is Brasso-ing up the whistles. The 38 carries two Great Western whistles as per design: a regular use whistle and a deeper-pitch Brake Whistle. However, just lately the 38 has been carrying a multitude of different whistles, as has "Sir Gomer". I personally like an engine to carry its original whistle but this replacement is particularly nice. It is a Britannia chime; the same as those carried on 'Oliver Cromwell' and 'Britannia' herself. Though the 38 is about as much an express engine as 'Sir Gomer' is an A4, the whistle does sound brilliant and with 225psi roaring through it can create some brilliant tones. When you are driving 3803 at 25mph through the countryside you feel like Casey Jones blasting that thing!
3803 Is Now A Britannia Wannabe!
Cheers guys. Sam.

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