Saturday, 2 November 2013

Achilles Report No43: GEC Calls...

Hello guys. Today we had kindly been invited to the GEC Miniature Railway to take part in one of their private Birthday Party days. Having heard that there was a steam motive power shortage at GEC for the event owing to its clashing with another society outing, I offered "Achilles" almost instantly as the engine has simply been sitting on the workbench ready cleaned, since her appearance at the Fosseway show...
The party was scheduled to run from 2pm until 4pm and so we arrived at about 1-ish in order to get things ready. Our arrival in driving rain did not fill me with confidence for the run ahead but thankfully, as "Achilles" was lifted onto the steaming bay, the sun began to shine. As the engine hasn't been run for a few weeks, I did my usual fitness to run checks before filling the boiler via the hand-pump. With her paperwork checked, the engine was fit to light up and so I did so. The electric blower managed to bring the engine around nicely despite the blisteringly cold wind...
The GEC's 5" Pannier Tank of the 1500 class: a 'Speedy' named "Cyril": was also steamed up for the party, with two battery loco's as a reserve. "Achilles" was on the track about 1:50pm and was immediately hooked up to a 2-car set, fully loaded with passengers. For the first 15 minutes or so we ran non stop, until the Speedy joined us to lighten the load with another 2-car set. Being fired on GEC's Daw Mill coal seemed to suit "Achilles" as long as you kept the fire deep. The age old phrase "you've got to have something to bite on" was certainly applicable with this coal. Mind you, with the motto being followed, the engine steamed brilliantly with the axle-pump almost permanently on to counteract all of the blowing off at the safety valves! With 90psi on the clock, the engine simmers in the station with a bright fire... 
Throughout the next 2 hours "Achilles" and "Cyril" hauled several trains of happy party goers. The service was certainly intensive: it was non-stop each time. I lost count of the amount of laps we did but "Achilles" did do well. As is tradition she was carrying her annual Poppy on the smokebox door as a mark of respect for all those that lost their lives, fighting for us so that we may live...
"Achilles Remembers"
After 2 hours of very hard work "Achilles" was starting to 'choke up' a little bit and so was removed from the track at about 3:50pm; being replaced by the Class 08 electric. An inspection of the engine revealed that every tube was clear, the smokebox floor was clear and the chimney deflector was clear. However, the spark arrestor had moved slightly and impaired the blast up the chimney and, once rectified, the engine will be perfect again. I would really like some of that Daw Mill coal for myself. Though very smoky indeed, it produced brilliant results!...
"Achilles" Simmers Down After a Tiring Day
All in all it had been an enjoyable, but very cold, afternoon. Lucky for us that GEC has a well deserved reputation for the cups of tea served there, otherwise the cold may have got the better of us! I must thank my friends at the GEC for having me again, and for inviting the engine over. I was very pleased with the performance of the locomotive and she did very well indeed on some very heavy trains, despite a thick spark arrestor, hard-angle deflector pipe and the water-pump. Well done old girl. Best Regards, Sam...

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