Saturday, 22 June 2013

In Love With "Josephine"...

Hello everyone. Today was another of those very nice occasions when I get invited somewhere to do what I love doing. I had kindly been invited to fire at the Statfold Barn Railway: the fantastic multi-gauge facility near Tamworth. The SBR has been mentioned a few times on this blog and if you read back you can see some posts about it. The last time I fired/drove here was in March on the lovely Quarry Hunslet "Sybil Mary" - arguably the coldest day I've ever spent on a footplate! Today the weather was much better and the event was a private function organised for a party of guests. Two of the SBR's large collection of narrow gauge steam locomotives had been rostered for the days work. These were ex-Penrhyn Avonside 0-4-0 "Marchlyn" and the much larger 0-4-2 Hunslet "Josephine", which myself & Jason were to crew. Built in 1936 and originally 3ft gauge, the green locomotive was re-gauged to 2ft in preservation and came to Statfold from the now defunct Durley Light Railway in late summer last year. The event was due to start at 4pm and run into the evening, therefore meaning that we were required on site to light up at just after midday. Here, "Josephine" is being pushed up the steep incline towards the engine shed by 2ft 6" gauge diesel "Badger"...
Once on the shed, "Josephine" was checked over by myself whilst Jason prepped "Marchlyn". I lit "Josephine" up using a few paraffin-soaked rags and a small mound of dry wood. Coal was then added around the edges and of course on top. Being Daw Mill coal, the engine soon had a roaring fire and thick smoke erupted from her chimney. Though the colliery has very recently closed, it had a reputation for good coal and it is certainly easier to get lit than the Welsh stuff...
"Fire in the Hole"
The observant amongst you may well be able to notice some strange things about the 0-4-2s appearance. She was originally a Hunslet saddle tank, just like Statfold's other big 0-4-2 "Trangkil No4". However, the owner at Durley found the driving position difficult and I believe it was adapted to become a side tank, with the original saddle tank becoming part of Durley's water tower. The footplate was also lowered, as can be seen at the rear of the loco in the photograph below, about 6" or so. The cab was also changed and given oval window openings which allow for better visibility for drivers of various heights. The boiler I believe is of Kerr Stuart design and the valve gear is also from a similar stable. Though the appearance is unusual, I really think that this engine has something about it. It looks strong and well built, whilst also showing clearly that it should be a saddle tank. As the engine is nearing the end of its current 10-year ticket, I believe that the plan is for her to re-emerge from the magnificent Statfold Works as her former self, with a saddle tank...
Whilst "Josephine" & "Marchlyn" steamed up, myself & Jason were oiling the pair. "Josephine" has the usual Stephensons valve gear, whilst "Marchlyn" employs the popular and easy to maintain Walschaerts variant. I find it fairly therapeutic oiling up a locomotive, particularly on a well kept shed road and on a sunny afternoon such as today. On a narrow gauge engine like this you can do everything from the outside and no pit is required, just a bit of bending under the tanks here and there! All the time, the loco is getting hotter and making steam. Ian ("Marchlyn"s fireman) had arrived and soon both locomotives were ready, having been watered from the attractive column. The carriage shed is down the line from Statfold and so both locomotives duly departed from the engine shed for the short journey to Oak Tree. "Josephine" rolled along happily, with her big wheels making her feel like she could go very quickly, and the pony truck made her ride very well too. The added addition of a brilliant steam brake was also a great advantage...
"Josephine" Simmers Near The Carriage Shed
The cab on "Josephine" is also very large, with everything required in easy reach. The regulator is very free and the locomotive is sensitive and performs well...
The locomotive, as stated, carries Stephensons valve gear and is easy to oil up on the outside. This variant of the valve gear employs only one slide bar with the crosshead surrounding it and the gudgeon pin hanging below. The power from the connecting rod and coupling rod is then transferred to the axles via cranks...
Inside the frames are the leaf springs and, as per, each cylinder has two eccentrics (fore & reverse) which key onto the rear driving axle...
Anyway, back to us...at the carriage shed we used the small but very impressive "Marchlyn" to shunt the coach rake together...
Ex-Penrhyn Avonside 0-4-0 "Marchlyn"
With "Marchlyn" having pulled the train out, "Josephine" backed up onto the rake before hauling it forward to clear the yard point. The Avonside then continued to shunt the wagons back in to clear the running line. The big 0-4-2 was sitting at the head of the train in the warm afternoon sunshine, with the fire burning well and 145psi on the clock (full pressure 160psi)...
"Josephine" And Her Train of Beautiful Coaches
From Oak Tree we set off with me driving "Josephine". In first notch on the reverser she pulled away with little regulator and the drain cocks hissing. With the drain cocks shut she quickly got the weight moving and her beats were very loud. Three large coaches and "Marchlyn" proved very little resistance for "Josephine", even when going uphill. She steamed very well, and leaning from the drivers side as she walked along the track chuffing well was a very pleasant experience indeed. In fact, its probably my favourite experience of footplate work. Having arrived at Statfold station with the train we then hand-coaled the two steamers as start time neared. The plan for the evening was to top & tail all trains with the two loco's, out of the station & down the line, around the balloon loop and back. "Marchlyn" required assistance from "Josephine" on the steeper hills, but the 0-4-2 required no such help!!...
At the balloon loop, the fireman on the rear loco jumps down to change the points for the train once it has come back around. Below, "Marchlyn" and "Josephine" push-pull around the loop with the Avonside leading...this is a BIG chuff...
Throughout the evening we gave various rides to around 180-odd guests and the two locomotives performed very well. From a firemans point of view, "Josephine" steamed brilliantly with a fairly thin fire, as long as you kept the holes filled. The injectors were very responsive and, particularly the firemans side one, filled the boiler fairly quickly. We had a lovely time...
Here, my favourite 'quick pic' of the evening..."Josephine" simmers in the balloon loop with "Marchlyn" leading...
"Photo of the Day"
Later in the evening, for the last two trips, we got to swap locomotives after many runs on the wonderful "Josephine". Driving "Marchlyn" was a cracking experience. For a small 0-4-0 it seems very powerful and yet unbelievably sure-footed too. From how it looked when it first arrived at the SBR, "Marchlyn" has come on leaps and bounds and has been a fabulous restoration job. I'm sure that "Josephine" will return in much the same condition after her 10-year overhaul...
One Last Look at "Josephine"
Having returned the coaches back to the shed after being well-fed by the kind guests and giving them a few more late evening rides, "Josephine" & "Marchlyn" headed off for disposal. It had been an absolutely fantastic day and I must thank Jason for his company (and for being my driver) as well as the kind owners of the SBR for allowing me to come and do what I love doing on their fabulous railway. Thank you all - it was brilliant. I am now a really big fan of "Josephine" - what a cracking machine, even after nearly 10 years of hard work! Thanks for reading guys - sorry for the length of this post! Cheers, Sam...

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