Saturday, 29 March 2014

Statfold Success with "Minas de Aller"...

Hello guys. Today at 5:20am I was on the road, bound for Statfold. By 6am, most of us were on the shed frontage lighting up the locomotives. Fifteen examples from the wonderful SBR collection would be in steam today for the enjoyment of the many guests. Upon arrival I checked over our locomotive: the Corpet: before lighting one of the rags I had put in the firebox yesterday. Straight away the green 0-6-0 began crackling away as thick smoke rose from her chimney. All around, the rest of the engines were being lit up and the shed area became very atmospheric under its layer of smoke! Opposite us, two of the Quarry Hunslet's were slowly getting warm: "Statfold" and, behind her, much elder sister "Sybil Mary"...
Driver John arrived at around 6:30 and began oiling up the Corpet as I continued to tend to the fire and finish off the final cleaning jobs, such as the brass-work. The Corpet carries the unusual Brown valve gear; a method of actuation which utilises rocker-arms in order to transfer the indirect-drive from the piston rods to the leading cranks. The engine is also outside-framed, making everything easy to get at. Though it looks complex, the arrangement seems to work very well and the Corpet is a proven, elderly machine. Built in 1884 by Corpet-Louvet of Paris, the engine was rescued from Spain and was "Minas de Aller" No2. Minas de Aller is Spanish for Aller Mines and I believe the engine worked in the Aller area: a strong coal mining location. This engine: No439: was one of five of this type based at Minas de Aller and worked in service until the 1960s. She was preserved in Spain initially but arrived at Statfold in a dilapidated state after Mr Lee bought her in 2010. After a thorough rebuild to sparkling, original condition the engine steamed again in May 2012. We certainly had no trouble with her this morning, she steamed up easily behind the Hudswell Clarke 'GP39'...
An unusual factor with the Corpet is the lack of any kind of dampers. Therefore, once you've lit a strong fire, the primary air flow is considerable and uncontrollable. This is not a Statfold modification - I don't think it ever had a damper by the looks of it. This, for the Fireman, means that No439 should be treated carefully in terms of coal consumption when full steam is not required for a while! She was lit from cold at 6am this morning and by around 8:00am she already had around 40psi on the clock. I can't even say there was a big fire in the box' - there wasn't. I guess its just the level of draft that's being drawn all the time, even without the blower. She steamed up beautifully and the fire was soon left to burn through, leaving just a very light covering on the grate in order to keep the loco nice & hot. She sat pretty on shed through the 9am Safety Brief and awaited her turn patiently. Trains began full operation at about 9:40am, once everything had got safely into position. As we were blocked in by other locomotives, we were the second-last to leave shed, about 11am. The loco was then backed down to the new shed-road disc signal to await the road, with the fire now back up to 'running standard'...
With the signal 'off', we steamed down to Statfold Junction past the attractive signalbox. The loco was then given the road & the shunt signal to steam into the bay platform to collect our passenger stock. Once coupled up, away we went! Our first run was in reverse and we collected the token before steaming out into the fields. The engine chugged along nicely with the fairly light 2-coach train and we exchanged tokens at Oak Tree before steaming down the bank. The loco then ran easily along to the Baloon Loop, which we traversed before heading back out onto the main. After a good run back up the line, we were soon sat watching the resting Corpet from the comfort of the station bench in the warm sunshine...
Once we had been 'shunt released', it was time to head back on shed. John then uttered the infamous phrase: "fetch coffee lad"...
At about 1pm it was our turn again and away we went, back down to the station...
For this trip we would be running forwards and with the heavier passenger train to boot. With a good fire in the box, the Corpet blew-off most of the way! Once she'd got the weight moving the needle just crept up until the Salter safety valves lifted. The trouble with Salter's is that now & again once they've lifted they don't shut straight away. For example, the Corpet runs at 150psi full pressure, but the Salter's didn't knock off until around 125psi! Sometimes if you're chugging along at a good pace the vibration can shut Salter's bang on time but if you're on shed or rolling along slowly then they stay open for all to see! One of the SBR's roving photographers: Jeff Cogan: was out in the fields today and captured this fine little shot of the Corpet chugging happily along with the heavy passenger train...
"Corpet In Full Steam" - J.Cogan
After an enjoyable second run, we were back on shed again and it was time to put some more water into the boiler...
"Injecting Water" - K.Eyre
I took a quick photograph of the basic cab controls early this morning, before the brasses were cleaned. The attractive pressure gauge is situated at the top, with the steam brake visible beneath it. Below the steam brake valve, left & right, are the two injector steam valves. The next row of valves is the sanding lever (left) and the blower (right). Finally we have one gauge glass and, in the event of an emergency, two test cocks. The large screw reverser can be seen on the right and the handbrake is on the left. The regulator is on the manifold outside the cab on the right hand side, just out of view. All in all a primitive layout but the age of the locomotive (130 years!) should be considered...
We had one more bunker-first public round trip before returning to shed again. The engine was later utilised on two shunt-release duties and also an ECS run to Oak Tree at around 5pm. Here the engine is waiting for the disc-signal to change into the 'off' position on the Oak Tree approach. I drove the engine down from Statfold and, despite a heavy regulator, she is a pleasure!...
With the main rake of coaches put away, the Corpet joined the rest of the engines for the cavalcade and 'big whistle'. We then returned to the shed. I must thank Ken Eyre and Jeff Cogan for sending in images for this post. Here's one from Ken in the name of vanity...
"Fireman Sam on No439" - K.Eyre
Following the cavalcade we returned to the shed and disposed of the Corpet, along with the rest of the engines. It had been a most enjoyable day and I must thank the owners & staff of the railway for inviting us along to crew once again, and for making us so welcome...it was a grand day out! Finally, I will leave you with a few shots that Mr Hanks sent me of the other engines in operation...
"Eddie and Dan-Dan Aboard GP39 at Oak Tree"
"Peckett 'Harrogate', Hunslet 'Trangkil No4' and Bagnall 'Isibutu' On Shed"
"The New Engine, ex-Fiji Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0 Tender"
"Jack Lane" in the Garden
For a video of the events of the day there is a good one on Youtube here. Thank you very much for reading folks and I hope you enjoyed this post. Cheers - Sam...


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