Sunday, 22 June 2014

Fourth Time "Alice": A Gremlin In The Ranks...

Hi everyone. Well, we arose this morning to yet another sunny morning, though feeling a little 'beached' after those 3-courses last night: cheers Ed! I thought for this post that I'd include more pictures and ramble less as most BLR outings are generally fault free and easy going. However, the fickle finger of fate which caused "Achilles" to implode the other day had found its way to Wales today, and "Alice" and her crew were in for a day of it! (For those not regularly reading, the 'it' in this case is a series of unfortunate events!). It was another 8:30am start at the shed (much more leisurely I feel than 5:30am!) and "Alice" was soon being dragged out into the morning sun by "Trigger"...
"Alice" ready for uncoupling and prep (so far, so good!)...
At 9am, a coal fire is now lit and the engine is singing merrily away in the sunshine whilst Eddie cleans the brass...
We went for tea as usual at 10am and I enjoyed my daily ham & cheese Panini (don't judge me I'm on my holidays!). When we returned to the shed, "Alice" was simmering away nicely with about 50psi on the clock and a light, bright fire: unlike "Achilles" who's wheel would have fallen off by now! A coach party on a 'Great Little Trains of Wales' excursion soon arrived and we were only too happy to discuss the engine and her workings with them before leaving shed. Leaving shed, the first problem occurred: "Alice" 'coughed' (primed) all over my brand new white shirt..."damn"! One expects a dirty shirt by about midday, but not before the first train...ahh well...moving on. At the coal heap I, unbelievably, managed to coal the engine without falling out of the wagon as would have probably happened with todays luck, before the engine was put at the head of the 11:15am train. We left on time in a good state, before a fallen telegraph wire was almost cut-up by "Alice". The wire had simply come loose...no matter, we'd stop on the way back. On the way back, having been held up at Bala, we stopped, losing about another 3 minutes and using more steam to start up and attack the bank from stationary. Nevertheless, "Alice" did well. The run round at the base was brisk but correct, though we only had 4 minutes before the next departure due to our lateness. We left slightly late with the next train (an annoyance of ours!), only to be held up at Bala losing further time. There was also a wait at Llangower on this train and so the break at the base was lost again. Nevertheless, we battled on. On this trip, with me firing again, the hot weather was beginning to cause me injector problems. But, with some tweaking, they kept working. Eddie runs "Alice" round here at Bala with the just-arrived 2:25pm train...
Oiling before the return...
A portrait of "Alice"...
"Alice" runs passed the ground frame which I had just used to allow her access back onto the main line during the run round...
"Alice" is seen here having just backed on to the bang on time return run...
Here I am seen doing up the slightly (much!) lighter than standard gauge screw link coupling...
Here, "Alice" is marching along beautifully with the returning train, leaving Bala...
However, the gremlin then struck again as "Alice"s firemans side injector refused to play ball. A combination of the hot weather, warm feed-water and some crud in the feed line was the cause I believe. Having used the drivers injector for most of the run to Llangower, I had managed to sort the problem with the fireman's side as we continued for home, still on time. With the crud freed and the injector working perfectly again, "Alice" left Llangower only a minute or two down, steaming well and in fine form...
Eddie: looking like Toad of Toad Hall in this picture for some reason: was pleased, as was I, that time was kept in difficult circumstances...
However, true to form, the fine fickle finger of fate then appeared from the clouds and a problem with the track was spotted ahead. "Alice" was carefully brought to a stop before assistance was called. The problem wasn't serious but did require some P-Way tools to sort. As quickly as possible, the train was secured and the passengers informed of the slight delay before "Trigger" and the very reliable BLR track team appeared. The track was rectified to a high standard in quick time, rigorously checked and then given the OK. They were very efficient I must admit. There was then the time-saving suggestion of "Trigger" hauling us back to save the diesel having to clear the section with the token before we could continue, as per the rules. However, the gremlin struck yet again as the tow bar had been left behind! The diesel then returned to the base before we were allowed to continue, at full steam, on our journey. "Alice" romped up the bank with the returning train in good voice, though was very 'hot' from standing at the foot of the bank with a good fire (we had been ready to attack you see, before we stopped). Therefore, as well as arriving at 4pm: the next departure time(!): "Alice" blew off...a cardinal sin! The gremlin strikes again!...
"Alice" Blows Off
We ran the little engine round as quickly as possible, but not before Eddie accidently soaked my shirt with the hose as he removed it from the tank...this gremlin certainly knew how to do the job right! The last train left 15 minutes down unfortunately, but it could have been much more if the team hadn't been so effective and the engine so reliable. The passengers certainly understood and we received many pleasant comments as to how the day was handled in sometimes trying circumstances. Well done everyone! We completed the last journey without mishap (thank goodness) and "Alice" returned easily with happy passengers. It had been a most eventful day, and far more stressful than usual...but interesting none the less! After all the thank you's and goodbyes, it was time for home again with a 120-mile journey ahead. Cheers guys, Sam...

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well done Sam for triumphing over adversity. Now I understand what Eddie (of toad hall) was on about. Emma-claire.

Sam Brandist said...

We managed to laugh adversity right in the face...about a week after! :D