Sunday, 5 May 2013

A Cracking Day at GEC...

Hi guys. Today I had kindly been invited to help out with Romulus 0-4-0 "James" at the GEC. The loco was taking part in a Birthday Party in the morning, and then the usual once-a-month public running in the afternoon. With the party due to start at 11am I decided to arrive just before 10. James was already there, backing his trailer up to the loading ramp with "James" inside. Once "James" was unloaded we pushed 'him' up onto the steaming bays alongside "Luna". Eddie then arrived with his engine, which we have affectionately dubbed "Willy"...as in "Willy the Wren". Once unloaded the Wren came onto our bay, right in front of the Romulus and then all three engines began steaming up. The red 0-4-0 steamed up in good time and was soon off shed, sparkling. "Luna" had failed early on with a sheered regulator handle, but we would see her repaired and back in action by the afternoon. For the first couple of trips, "James" was the only motive power hauling the 2-car train, and she did it well. Myself and James shared the driving on his fantastic locomotive throughout this session and the afternoon one.
"James" On The Turntable
Eddie then brought his shining blue engine onto the track for its debut public run. Due to the smaller size of "Willy" compared to "James" & "Luna", it was felt that 1-car would be enough. With a total lack of any other motive power, even 1 car was a good offer! The Wren was connected to the coach and it was duly loaded with passengers. The engine then set off on its very first run, both at the GEC and on any revenue earning passenger train. It is seen returning triumphantly with the safety valves feathering in the up loop...
During my stints not driving "James" I was able to grab a cuppa' and take a couple of snaps around the yard...
"Willy" On The Turntable
Driving "James" took its normal course throughout the day...nice & easy. Leaving the station with full boiler pressure of 90psi and 2 cars connected up on the vac, "James" will easily but casually accelerate with the regulator just cracked in full forward gear. The drain cocks can be used when leaving the station for just a few revolutions of the wheel before letting the loco do its own thing. A whistle for the "W"-board on the approach to the section signal is then followed by a little more regulator and, for me anyway, 3rd notch on the reverser. "James" will bark happily upgrade and around the left-hand bend. Once the train is at line speed you can shut the engine off and coast in full-forward gear with the blower just cracked and one of the injectors running. The vacuum brake is very responsive and allows you to easily slow the loaded train in readiness for the facing points and 3mph slack into the so-called Car Park Loop. Here there is another section signal which allows access back onto the main. With the rear coach of the train having cleared the loop you can accelerate in 3rd notch up to a nice line speed and "James" will happily jog along, easily pulling the 2 cars. I usually whistle up and then shut-off steam on the approach to the terminus triangle, coasting in in full forward gear with the injector on. The train can then be slowed using the vac in order to stop at the buffers and then reverse back onto the 2nd leg of the triangle under the Guard's instruction. Once on the 3rd leg of the triangle you check your route (the facing point) and then await the Guard's signal to go. With a green flag having been given you can whistle up and then take "James" carefully away with the drain cocks open for a few revolutions once again. From there its a nice little climb up to the next section signal before retracing your steps at line speed along the main line aside the playing fields. All in all, a very nice trip!

Later on, Eddie kindly allowed me to drive "Willy" on one of his single car jaunts, despite me having never driven the loco before now...
The Wren went very well out on the line and pulled the fully loaded coach fairly easily, and at a good line speed. Well done "Willy"...
Below, "James" stands in a sunny platform in the GEC yard during the dinner break...
All in all, a brilliant day at the GEC. We had "James" packed away and on the trailer by about 5:30pm and then it was off home for all! Thank you to James and everyone else at GEC for a great day.
"Engine Ready" - "James" at GEC Station
Well, next weekend we're off to the seaside with an engine that certainly doesn't fit on 7.25" gauge rails...46233 "Duchess of Sutherland". Thanks guys. Sam.

No comments: