Sunday, 23 June 2013

A Cracking Day with "Sir Gomer"...

Hello guys. Today we had a three man crew on "Sir Gomer": myself, Eddie & David. The three of us haven't been on together since myself & Dave passed our firing exams and so it was nice to be back with a crew that was quite a regular thing a couple of years ago. Naturally the loco in service today was "Sir Gomer": Shackerstone's stalwart 0-6-0 Peckett. Myself & Dave met at the gates at 6:45am, and proceeded up the drive to the station and onward to the loco shed. The Peckett stood warm inside as the wind and rain pelted the shed walls. The forecast was varied but the morning weather certainly didn't offer much hope of a hot summers day. I checked over & lit the Peckett whilst Dave made other preparations. The loco began singing almost instantly, though we opted to keep the fire in the traditional 'heap' (required with this Welsh coal to get it burning before spreading it across the grate) for a little longer than normal. This process not only got the coal fire burning strongly, but also stopped the engine from coming around too quickly. It has been discovered that the Welsh coal is a bugger to keep calm once you have a good bed down, and so keeping the heat lower first thing in the morning is paramount in preventing indoor blowing-off! Eddie arrived at about 8am and he & Dave oiled the loco up whilst I continued to watch the fire. At about 10:15am we went down for coal before taking "Sir Gomer" across the cross-over to the signalbox. The loco was then backed down onto the train...
"Sir Gomer" Poses
With three of us on the footplate the day is a lot easier as the duties are shared. One thing that we don't share though is the cooking...Eddie does that! Eddie cooked us the usual tasty breakfast cobs on the shovel (in the traditional manner) prior to our first departure at 11:15. Eddie drove the first train, whilst I fired, and we had a good run to Shenton before running round. As usual the Welsh coal was proving hard to match heat-wise, and the loco blew-off most of the time...
"Once More Into The Breach Dear Friends" - About to Leave A Wet Shenton
The return run from Shenton at 11:50 saw the loco perform equally well, blowing off most of the way back. You can tell when you've got "Gomer" right as she'll make steam against the regulator when its open, and against the injector when its shut. You can't really expect anymore for an industrial with cylinders of this size on a 10-mile round trip. She does go very well. For the next two trips David drove whilst I fired. Again, "Sir Gomer" steamed very well apart from the last mile or so of the 3rd trip (the 1:45) where she began to get a little choked up. The high heat and large ash created by the Welsh coal has the tendency to cause thin but hazardous patches of clinker, which Eddie was quick to rake through before he fired the 15:00 with me driving...
Driver Dave & Eddie Wait For The 'Right Away' at MB
One thing I do really enjoy about days on the footplate is that often I get to drive a trip or two now - it certainly breaks up the day. Owing to the 'fore' & 'aft' motion created by the waddling industrial engines, I always try to drive the engine as carefully as possible. If you accelerate quickly, though she can cope, she'll bang the train a bit due to the unbalanced nature of her design (nobody bothered if the Mountain Ash coal wagons got a shaking!). My trip driving was very pleasant and I enjoyed it very much. On the final run Eddie drove whilst David fired and I enjoyed a cuppa' whilst surveying the scenery on this damp afternoon...
With the loco uncoupled at Shenton before running around the 4:50pm departure, I decided to grab a quick pic whilst the sun cautiously came out a bit...
Pretty Peckett
After a good run back from Shenton with the 4:50, the loco took the train into Platform 1 at Shackerstone before running around via the signalbox and returning to the dock-road ground frame (No11). From here its just a short chuff up the hill into the engine shed...
"Sir Gomer" Awaits The Road to the Shed
"Sir Gomer"s fire was raked through thoroughly before she was put into the shed with the pressure gradually coming down. The boiler was then filled in the usual manner and the loco was left simmering with about 70psi on the clock and a dead but still very warm fire. As can be expected, it is not advisable to cool engines off too much or allow them to cool too quickly and so you always leave 'something' on the bars. All in all a very enjoyable day on the footplate of the Peckett saddle tank at the Battlefield Line. Thanks to Eddie & David for great company during the day. Also thanks to C.Simmons for sending in the pic of us in front of "SG". Best regards, Sam...

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