Saturday, 16 March 2013

Steam Gala Day 1: Beautiful Baby Beattie...

Hello guys. Well, after months of planning by the railway, publicity in the steam rags and anticipation on our parts, the 2013 Battlefield Line Steam Gala had arrived. Myself & David were first on site this morning, arriving in the rain at 5:30am. I was of course rostered on Beattie 30585, with Dave being rostered on 30120. Carl also turned up early and made us both a nice cuppa' whilst we prepped our engines (Carl was out on "Sir Gomer" today). 30585 had had a good warming fire the day before but was not on steam yet. I cleaned the grate with the far too short fire-iron that came with the engine and also checked the firebox, which was nice and dry. The gauge glasses showed 3/4 of a glass and so I lit a strong fire with a pile of parrafin-soaked rags and some rotten wood, which always burns well. Soon enough the baby Beattie was singing away, though the pressure gauge seemed uneager to rise its needle. Driver Eddie arrived at around 6:15 and set to oiling the locomotive up underneath before I ashed her out. 30585 came round surprisingly quickly after 40psi and, even with the blower off and the damper shut, was feathering at the first safety valve within a matter of minutes! There was nothing we could do to keep her quiet.

In the morning rain we drew 30585 out of the engine shed in front of a gang of hardy photographers. We were due off shed at 8:15 in order to drop down into the North End and pick up the freight train, which was due off Shackerstone at 8:45. Right on time we slithered down the yard with the two reps on board, before picking up the stock; made up of four wagons and two brakevans...
30585 With The Freight In The North End
As usual with an engine I've never been on before, I was trying to work out how 30585 went...from the firemans side. I tried her on a flat fire with the hot burning Welsh steam coal for starters. We departed Shackerstone on time with our two reps (Adrian & Paul) present: one on the footplate, the other on the brakevans. Once Driver Eddie had got the 2-4-0s big 5ft 7" wheels to gain grip on the wet rails, we steamed triumphantly out of the yard and across the cross-over, collecting the token as we passed the box. The creeky wagons that we were pulling are rarely used (only for gala's and the occasional P-Way train) and so seemed to drag behind 30585, though she seemed to cope admirably. Due to the Beattie only carrying 600-odd gallons in her small tank, we were forced to take water at Shenton on each trip. This was done using our old petrol-engined water pump and a long hose, with water coming off the old Milk tanker that was positioned there yesterday...
Beattie Drinks at Shenton (Still Raining!)

Returning to Shackerstone on the freight, it was clear that Beattie was a fantastic steamer. With a flat fire and maybe the odd extra shovelfull in each back corner, she would keep 140psi-160psi (full pressure) all the way, with the train being slowed & halted on the steam brake. The injectors, though fiddly, seemed to inject a good stream of water and barely touched the pressure...just what you want! 10 miles later, we were already enjoying ourselves immensely. The NRM'S T9 was already waiting on the stock as we pulled in with the freight, and departed on time at 10am. We then performed some shunting demo's with Beattie and the freight wagons, whilst "Sir Gomer" steam heated our waiting 'local' set. Our local train departed at 11am with Adrian on the regulator, as he is a passed driver at Shackerstone as well as the keeper of 30585 at Quainton. I fired the trip whilst also eating my breakfast, alongside Eddie who was stuffing his down. You cannot beat a breakfast off "Jessie" the Buffet Car...
Throughout the day the Beattie & the T9 shared the services. The two runs to Shenton with the local set (a 10T Box van and two Blood & Custard Mk1's) were probably my favourites: very pleasant. At 1pm & 2:30pm we operated shuttles to Market Bosworth only, top & tailed with the powerful "Sir Gomer". These two trips were very enjoyable, with Beattie putting on a good show on the way there, and "Sir Gomer" showing just what industrials can do on the way back...
30585 Leaves Shackerstone On The Local, "SG" On Rear (Photo - J.Shadbolt)
Throughout the day Beattie's strained water capacity was taking its toll. We seemed to take water all day long (even more than the Pannier's did when we went around the Midlands!). The water filler is in the bunker on the Beattie, with the bag dropped in through a hole you dig in the coal. I tell you what, you need to be careful up there. One slip with the boot can go two ways...1) you fall off and break your neck, 2) the Beattie gets an unhealthy supply of coal in its water tank! Despite the water filler, I cannot convey how lovely this locomotive is. I would put it right up there with some of my favourite locomotive's that I have crewed over the years. At 140 years old Beattie would put most newer locomotives to shame, even "Tornado" in my eyes. Genuinely, a fabuous engine.

Me With Beattie at Shackerstone (Photo - D.Hanks)
As the day drew on we seemed to be very busy, with our last departure at 4pm with the second local, all the way to Shenton. I drove this trip with Adrian firing and Eddie along for the ride. The Beattie was just as good from the drivers side, and limped along quite happily. Starting off in full forward as usual on this slide-valve engine, she would wander away happily with the local. Once over 5 or 10mph I would notch up two or three notches, and cruise at about 4th notch with the regulator cracked so as to keep the engine chuffing along. To change reverser position you had to back off on the regulator to almost shut, otherwise she'd throw you through the cab front! With the regulator shut the loco had to be in full forward gear, as per slide valve locomotives. For those who do not know, a slide valve engine needs to be in full gear when cruising to prevent the valves from rattling around inside the valve chest (more travel = less speed). In a similar case, a piston valve engine is brought back into a "drift position", usually a notch or two before mid-gear, reducing the travel on the valve in this case. Below, I can be seen on 30585 having driven her from Shack...
30585 At Shenton (Photo - J.Shadbolt)
The afternoon had been a little brighter and dryer on the weather side of things, and passenger numbers had been very good indeed. However, under darkening skies, we pulled off the train at Shenton to take water at the tanker and then...the RAIN CAME DOWN (and did it!). Below, 30585 climbs out of Shenton with the last local in the pouring rain, with me firing and Eddie driving again...
Beattie Steams Back to Shack On The Local (Photo - S.Adkins)
Back at Shackerstone, "Sir Gomer" was ready to depart with her usual gala-Saturday evening run. The T9 waiting in the North end headshunt whilst we (with 30585) shunted the local stock up into the south yard for stabling overnight. Eddie then uncoupled the affectionately named 'Beattie'...
After a brilliant day crewing 30585, we disposed of her in the north end yard and joined the final departure of the day from Shack for a beer: the 6:30pm behind the beautiful T9. Below, Mike Snow's fabulous video of the gala, showing 30585 and 30120 at work in Leicestershire. The final shot of the Beattie is driven by myself, steaming through Far Coton...
 
All in all, an absolutely wonderful day. Honestly, I really, really enjoyed it. Fabulous engine and a fabulous day on the Battlefield Line. Wonderful. Regards, Sam.

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