Tuesday, 31 December 2013

What A Year...The 2013 Review...

Hi everyone. Let me first wish all of my readers a fantastic and prosperous 2014. Following that, let me apologise for the monstrous length of this post as it has been done to review 2013 which happened to be quite a year. I will try and make the review as quick and easy as possible to read but there is a lot to say: which I will try to consolidate. As I've said (and as you may have read) it has been a very busy year and, though it has pushed me towards my wits end at some points, I am very proud of what has been achieved. We've been to many places, steamed many engines, and even been to pastures new. "Achilles" and the LEGO Railway have both seen use in various places throughout the year, culminating in the latters last show at the NEC in November. The steamy goings on at Shackerstone have gone from strength to strength and the future looks bright for Battlefield Line steam. I also did my first event for the Battlefield Line: Miniature Traction Engine Weekend: which will make a welcome return to Market Bosworth over April 26th/27th with over 30 Miniatures in steam. So sit back, relax and lets take a look at 2013...perhaps the busiest year yet for 'Sammys World'. With 127 posts (not including this one!), 2013 has won the award for the most posts per year since this blogs birth in 2008. Here we go...
"Sir Gomer" Under Cold Test 13/1/13
January: I've never been much of a fan of January. Well, not at all really. The trouble is once Christmas is gone the joy of winter and our so called 'Winter Wonderland' seems to become more of a burden. Everything is cold and damp, chilly and frosty. Motivation for any outdoor task reduces very quickly upon viewing the weather forecast and, worst of all, the railway is closed to the public! However this is of course the time during which we carry out essential winter maintenance work, both on the locomotives and on the railway infrastructure as a whole. January saw me taking part in three days at the shed (one of which was not documented on here I will admit). Various jobs went on, all of which can be read about in the relevant posts...
An Immaculate 3803 Takes A Break - Jan 2013
My own locomotive "Achilles" was the feature of three posts in January. First up was a documented visit of her run at RPMR in her final pre-overhaul condition. By now, after over 25 years work, the little blue engine was getting very tired. Bits were clanking, smacking and fouling all over the place. However, the initially well-built old gal' had stood the test of time for long enough and I felt it was time to get to work. After her successful early January run the engine was stripped to almost nothing bottom-end wise. This allowed new bearings to be made for her coupling rods and connecting rods, as well as a pair of new crossheads. The valve timing was also set during "Achilles" first big overhaul since build...
"Achilles" In Bits - Jan 2013
January also included a visit to the GCR for their fabulous annual 'Winter Steam Gala' which I always try to attend. 3803 was one of the star visitors, which was ironic as out of the many engines in steam we seemed to focus most of our visit on one that we had crewed for 2 years! Finally, the LEGO railway enjoyed a very snowy visit to the fantastic Leamington & Warwick Model Railway Show. February soon reared its ugly head: another grim month. Five posts from this month centred around Shackerstone, with work including P-Way, shed jobs and planning for my first MTEW event, due to happen in April. "Achilles" continued with her overhaul (3 posts) whilst the LEGO Railway enjoyed another outing not so long after the first. This time we attended the Solihull Model Railway Show for the 2nd year running: a very pleasant little event indeed...
The LEGO Railway Revisits Solihull - Feb 2013
March thankfully arrived rather quickly and things duly got back to normal at Shackerstone, with trains returning to Bosworth Battlefield after a 2-month absence. March was a fairly busy month with 13 posts being written in all. "Achilles" bottom-end overhaul came towards completion in two of the posts, which was much of a relief to myself who had horrific visions of it never going back together again whilst I was taking it apart! This month mainly centred around Shackerstone, I will admit. This was because of our annual Steam Gala on March 16th/17th which is always a 'all hands on deck' job. "Sir Gomer" was being repaired at the start of the month ready to take part in the gala, following lengthy valve timing alterations. The two visitors for the weekend were two LSWR beauties: the NRM's T9 4-4-0 No30120 and Beattie Well Tank No30585 from Quainton. The Beattie in particular was a favourite of mine. Up to and including the gala was a very busy time, with many hours spent at Shackerstone shed preparing bits & bobs. Even the day before the gala was manic, with 3 engines in steam! Over the gala weekend myself & Eddie were lucky enough to crew the Beattie for the day, with myself back out on "Sir Gomer" on the Sunday. The day on 30585 was particularly special and, for me, ranks amongst one of my favourite days ever on the footplate. I really liked that little old engine...
Me with 30585 - Gala Saturday - D.Hanks
Following a cracking day on 30585 I returned to do some driving & firing with "Sir Gomer" on the Sunday...
Me Driving "Sir Gomer" - Gala Sunday - D.Hanks
Two weeks later, on Easter Saturday, myself & Eddie were out with the T9...and the less said about that the better (she got the better of me if truth be told!)...
The Greyhound With A Nasty Bite - March 2013
The weekend after the gala but the week before the T9 saw me at Statfold Barn Railway. The annual March Open Day went ahead despite severe snow fall and freezing conditions. However it was a much reduced roster with only 7 locomotives in steam rather than the full roster of about 15. We had a cracking day (though totally freezing) aboard newly restored "Sybil Mary"...
"Sybil" In The Snow - March 2013
Moving swiftly on to April I spent some time at Shackerstone, both on site and with "Sir Gomer". "Achilles" completed her bottom-end overhaul and steamed again at RPMR, which was a welcome relief. The biggest thing that happened in April though, by far, was my first MTEW event at Market Bosworth Station. There were 24 miniature traction engines in steam over the weekend. The weekend before we rode over to the site with Phil's beautiful Aveling & Porter Roller "Louise", which proved a very pleasant day...
"Louise" the Aveling & Porter Roller - April 2013
The weekend itself went very well and if you missed it you can see a large gathering of Miniature Traction Engines at Market Bosworth Station again over April 26th/27th 2014. If anyone has an engine to exhibit, please don't hesitate to contact me. Here is a shot from the Saturday evening of the event with engines preparing to head to the pub...
Traction Engines of Market Bosworth - April 2013 - M.Heseltine
May was a very busy month in 2013. I certainly had a lot to do. "Achilles" had two outings for a start. I also had a day on "James" at the GEC and the LEGO Railway attended a Charity Day at Radford Semele. I also visited the Evesham Vale Light Railway where Mr Bell gave me a very pleasant footplate ride on "St Egwin" and also the Paignton & Dartmouth Railway in Devon...
"Seaside Manor" - Paignton - May 2013
Never turn down a footplate ride!...
"St Egwin" - Evesham - May 2013
As well as the already mentioned outings in May, we went to Bala! God, doesn't it just get busier & busier?! Myself & Eddie went to Bala for a weekend and did two days on the footplate of "Maid Marian"...
"Maid Marian" - Llangower - May 2013
It was a very good weekend and it was a shame we only did one in 2013. However we have three weekends booked for 2014 so watch this space...
Bala Characters - Bala - May 2013
As if that wasn't enough for May 2013, we also did two railtours! Good lord! Oh, and I did a days firing on "Sir Gomer"! The two railtours, as fate would have it, were both hauled by the awe inspiring and immaculately kept LMS Princess Coronation Pacific (or the Duchess to me and you) No46233 "Duchess of Sutherland". The first trip was a Premier Dining outing with PMR Tours (who I highly recommend as an Operator) to Scarborough. This was a cracking day with my good lady and the Duchess gave a great performance. The second tour took us to Carlisle via Shap, returning via the S & C with the 'Boys Day Out'. The formidable Duchess again gave a cracking performance and we had a fantastic time. After an extremely busy May, June was much the same!...
In Love With Josephine - Statfold - June 2013
"Achilles" had three outings in June and performed very well indeed. As usual, I spent some time at Shackerstone and did two firing turns on "Sir Gomer" as well as shed work. I also spent a day on a Class 31 diesel (31 101) and, though I hate to admit it, driving it was rather pleasant...for a short while. I also spotted two main line tours, hauled by A4 No9 and "Nunney Castle" respectively; both in the Nuneaton area. Without a doubt my most enjoyable day in June was spent at the fantastic Statfold Barn Railway on the footplate of No2 "Josephine" with Driver Jason. I must admit, it was a cracking day (see post). "Josephine": looking perhaps like an 'ugly duckling' of a loco at that time: was tremendously powerful and roared like a Black 5 on the Lickey. Brilliant! Lets crack on with July...
"Fulstow" at LWR - July 2013
Myself & Maisie were on holiday in Lincolnshire at the start of July, and visited the Lincolnshire Wolds Railway where a baby Peckett hauled our train. We also popped in and saw the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway where I wangled a footplate ride completely by accident on "Mountaineer". These are probably Lincolnshire's two main little railways...
CCLR - July 2013
July also saw a family outing on the "Shakespeare Express" behind permanently immaculate 4900 Class 4-6-0 No4965 "Rood Ashton Hall" between Birmingham and Stratford. This was another Premier Dining run and was most enjoyable. 4965 performed well despite having a Class 47 behind her tender to guard against fire risks. This is one thing that one could get into a large rant about. The powers that be insist that mainline steamers get shoved by a diesel during the hot weather, mainly because nobody cuts the line-side vegetation anymore. In steam days it was kept down to guard against fire risks, now its just allowed to go wild and look untidy, as well as providing fire risks to steam tours...
4965 "Rood Ashton Hall" - The Shakespeare Express - July 2013
All of this mindless dribble must be wearing you all out by now. If I were you I'd have a cup of tea...
Tea with One - Shakespeare Express - July 2013
Also in July I did a days driving at GEC on "James" and a few days at Shackerstone. 3803 returned to the Battlefield Line in July and I had a go on it on its second day back in traffic during the very busy 'Rail Ale' weekend. Dr Busker again returned in 2013 and we were there to watch him at Market Bosworth on both evenings of the 'Rail Ale'. August got going right away and 14 posts appeared on this blog that month. I had three days out on the footplate of 3803 that month, and "Achilles" had two outings. We also visited two steam rallies: Cromford and the fabulous and awe inspiring Great Dorset Steam Fair at Southdown. The latter was certainly an eye opener! I was also very lucky to be invited to drive for a day once again at an extensive private 7.25" railway in Warwickshire. What a busy year!...
Great Dorset Steam Fair - Southdown - August 2013
September was here very soon and provided another 9 posts for the blog. "Achilles" had two outings and I did two days on the footplate at Shackerstone. The LEGO Railway was dusted off again during September and attended an exhibition in Hinckley. September also heralded a return to the wonderful Statfold Barn Railway where I spent two days as part of the annual Autumn open day. There were many engines in steam and myself & John spent the Open Day on new-build Quarry Hunslet "Statfold". It was a brilliant day...
Me Driving "Statfold" - September 2013 - D.Hone
October was another busy month with 11 posts in total. Outings included crewing 3803, driving "Polly V" at the annual Midlands Model Engineering Exhibition, running "Achilles" and visiting the GWSR at Winchcombe for an 'Elegant Excursion'. November, thankfully, was a little quieter with only 7 posts. Mind you, November is pretty much a dull month some times. I spotted two beautiful Black Fives, ran "Achilles" at the GEC and did a days firing on 3803. We also helped in painting "Sir Gomer" into her plain black livery and then followed her to the Epping Ongar Railway where I acted as an engine rep, along with Jason. We also attended the amazing Warley National Model Railway Show for the last time with the LEGO railway. That was a brilliant weekend and an enjoyable month...
"Black Fives by Night" - November 2013
And one of the old gal' just for fun...
"Achilles" at the GEC - November 2013
And, finally, at last, "hurrah!"...its December. With 11 posts in December it was another busy month but...to be honest...I'm not going to describe it! Its only just happened! As I have said guys you are welcome to read through any posts on this blog. Everything that has been written about here is included somewhere on this blog in greater detail. What a fantastic year 2013 has been...but very busy! Finally I must thank you all for continually reading this blog...it is a privilege to write it for you. Thank you very much for reading guys. I hope you will continue to do in 2014. Thank you. Best Regards, Sam...

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