Saturday, 22 March 2014

Return to Statfold...

Hi guys. Now & again a privilege is extended to you which you cannot refuse. One of these privileges which I've had the pleasure of accepting over the years is the opportunity to crew steam locomotives at the wonderful Statfold Barn Railway near Tamworth. This unique centre of narrow gauge preservation is now one of this gauge's 'big boys' and commands the largest privately-owned collection of narrow gauge steam locomotives in the country. I have been lucky enough to be allowed to crew for the SBR next Saturday at their Spring Open Day, and this will be my fourth open day turn, and fifth SBR crew turn overall. I am so pleased to have this opportunity and appreciate it very much: as I should. Today was all about training. We had been invited over to the SBR in order to see the new signalling system that has been installed. The dual-gauge 2ft/2ft 6" route is now fully signalled using compressed-air actuation from the new but period-looking signalbox at Statfold Junction. The signals really set the place off, and make it look like a real, preserved railway. The system is also very cleverly designed, and allows trains to be safely signalled whilst also giving off a professional and atmospheric look. We were taken through the signalling system thoroughly today; both through classroom theory and then practical lessons aboard the steam engines. There were three engines in steam today: the Corpet, the Fowler and Hunslet "Trangkil No4". Phil had invited me over early to help get the engines ready and the first task was to oil up the Corpet and the Fowler. I am booked out as Fireman on the beautiful Corpet next week...
0-6-0 Corpet Pannier Tank of 1884 "Minas de Aller 2"
The Corpet is a beautifully simplistic engine and yet, due to her unusual looks, seems to make herself look more complicated than she actually is. The 1884-built 0-6-0 is actuated by Brown valve gear; a concept which conveys movement via the use of a hefty rocker-shaft through the framing. Though it may look cumbersome to the eye, in practise it is very effective and provides a smooth ride. The Corpet is also very powerful and can easily handle the train-weights and gradients of the SBR. The morning steam-up session certainly seemed to be full of promise for the day ahead, with blue skies and warm sunshine in abundance as the engines came round...
0-4-2 Fowler Side Tank No13355 of 1914 "Saccharine"
With the Corpet and "Trangkil No4" now in steam and raring to go, we steamed down for coal. Coaling was to take place manually from the SBR coal wagon stationed in the Bay Platform. The two engines moved down off shed one by one, and were then signalled into the bay for stabling. Once coaled, the loco's awaited their first duties...
"Ready for Action"
The format for the day included an in depth line-walk with a full discussion on the operation of these particular signals. As railway rule books (depending on which railway you're on at the time) may differ slightly, a signal may not always be signalling what you expect and therefore a bit of route-learning or peg-learning as it were is nothing short of valuable. The new SBR signalling system consists of both shunting signals and stop signals. The arms are upper quadrant-style, unlike the GWR style lower-quadrants one can encounter on some outings. The non-arm signals are made up mostly of dolly's (disc signals) with one exception in a colour light signal on the blind-bend on the approach to Statfold Junction from Oak Tree Halt. After our very informative line-walk and 90-minute classroom session, we were treated to a run out with the engines. First, myself & Eddie had a very wet, cold but enjoyable ride aboard "Saccharine" the big Fowler. It was just our luck that the moment we stepped onto the footplate it began to pour with rain! The next trip was enjoyed in slightly better weather. This time we were aboard the Brake Van behind "Minas de Aller 2" (the Corpet). The engine is captured here during a brief stop at the Balloon Loop...
Following our second familiarisation trip we decided to call it a day. My 7:30am sign-on mixed with the cold wind & rain was certainly taking its toll. I must get used to being out early for steam engines again now that winter is coming to a much anticipated end! We will be back at the wonderful SBR next Friday for the prep-day and then of course we're out for the Open Day on March 29th with the Corpet. Best Regards, Sam...

2 comments:

Petensue said...

Sammy Hope you and Eddie have a great day tomorrow. It looks as if the weather will be kind for you. Looking forward to reading about on your next blog.
Peter

Sam Brandist said...

Cheers Peter! We had a grand day out on the Corpet at Statfold. Lovely time. I think Eddie very much enjoyed his time on GP39 up there too. Great stuff! :)