Saturday, 7 June 2014

Statfold Grandeur with "Trangkil No4"...

Hi everyone. Yet again today myself & John had kindly been invited to crew a locomotive at the Statfold Barn Railway, this time for their summer open day. A total of 13 of the SBR locomotives were in steam and the day began, as usual, at 6am on shed. The weather forecast was a mixture of thundery storms and sunshine though, as we lit the engines, the dark clouds were already rolling in. Myself and John were rostered on the much admired Hunslet 0-4-2 "Trangkil No4", built in 1971. "Trangkil" was the last steam locomotive to be built at Hunslet's Jack Lane works and was supplied new to the Trangkil sugar mill estate, Java, Indonesia. She worked out there for 33 years before being made redundant and was repatriated in 2004 to become part of the Statfold collection and was thoroughly restored. Since then she has become a regular and reliable SBR performer and we were glad to be aboard her today. I lit "Trangkil" up at 6am after the usual inspection, and continued to tend the fire and clean the brasswork throughout the morning. Trainee firewoman Caroline was oiling around the engine, whilst driver John joined in with the cleaning. By 7:30am, the engine was beginning to look smart...
Just after 8am, having had our breakfast and a cuppa', we were asked to leave shed and join "Marchlyn" at the head of the first train. As a positioning move, after the 9am safety briefing we would steam down the line, double-headed with "Marchlyn", and traverse the balloon loop before halting in the platform at Oak Tree Halt, where the Avonside would return to Statfold leaving us behind. As we left shed, the rain came down and we even spotted some lightning in between the regular crashes of thunder. Later, with the safety briefing complete, we returned to the engines and were prepared for the off. With a green signal and a right-away from the Guard, "Marchlyn" and "Trangkil" steamed out into the fields. Having run down the line and around the balloon loop as planned, the pair romped back up the bank and were separated at Oak Tree. The powerful 0-4-2 "Trangkil" is spotted here after the Avonside had left...
Leaving Oak Tree after having been passed by the first freight train, "Trangkil" steamed easily back up to Statfold Junction on a light, bright fire. The 160psi blowing off pressure was easily maintained and the Gresham & Craven injectors certainly provided great boiler filling capacity when required. Having had a successful first run, we returned to the shed to join the queue behind about 3 engines, meaning that 3 round trips would take place before we'd be required again. This layover allowed time for a cuppa' whilst "Trangkil" simmered merrily away to herself quietly. For the second trip, Caroline fired and we enjoyed another swift, easy but very wet journey. Following a second layover, "Trangkil" was out again, this time facing chimney first and with myself on the shovel again. This Hunslet was supplied new with a brilliantly quirky steam generator and electric lighting. She has both front and rear headlamps with both dim & full beam settings, as well as a cab light too. The generator; mounted on the drivers side near the smokebox, provides good lighting with minimal steam consumption as the input is 'governed' internally by a winding mechanism. So, for the third run at about 1pm, we thought we'd again demonstrate the lighting across the dark fields. Here, "Trangkil" arrives at Oak Tree with her very wet third journey. Note the brightly shining electric (but steam generated!) headlamp!...
"The Bright Light of Trangkil" (Pic by Geoffs Pages)
After another very enjoyable run on our third journey, "Trangkil" was proving to be a consistent and powerful performer and, apart from the occasional sticking of the backhead injector clacks, she was pretty much fault-free! Having enjoyed yet another coffee whilst on shed, John allowed me to drive our fourth and final journey at around 2:30pm. The weather, as if by magic, had changed dramatically and, if you compare the image below to the one above, you can hardly believe it! "Trangkil" is unusual to drive in a way, when light engine, as she doesn't have a steam brake, only a handbrake, and that is operated by the fireman as it stands on the opposite side of the cab to the driver. Throughout the day I'd been working the brake when light engine, but when myself & John swapped you almost felt out of control when driving! Still, as soon as you were on the train and had the luxury of air braking to stop you, all was well again. "Trangkil" was very pleasant to drive and was another good experience. She was very responsive and enjoyable to work, and the 'full size' Britannia chime whistle is certainly a popular item to play with! Here, I drive "Trangkil" around the bottom bend ready to climb the bank...
"Driving Trangkil" (Pic by Geoffs Pages)
Here I am opening the regulator slightly wider to get the weight of the train well underway at the foot of the bank. The loco climbed the bank beautifully in second notch on the reverser and about half regulator...
"Opening Up" (Pic by Geoffs Pages)
Here is a quick capture of mine when the sun went in again, showing John oiling up the large 0-4-2 ready for some shunting and the finale cavalcade...
Having performed some shunting, we took "Trangkil" down the line for the cavalcade under instructions from the signalbox at just after 5pm. All 13 locomotives again joined the line-up prior to the big finale whistle...
In front of us for the cavalcade stood the shining example of 'Big is Beautiful': Bagnall 4-4-0 "Isibutu". "Isibutu" had ran down with GP39 the Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0...
Following the cavalcade and many blasts on "Trangkil"s very loud whistle, we returned the 13 locomotives to the shed frontage where they were all disposed. "Trangkil" was disposed, cleaned and checked before we headed off for something to eat after a most enjoyable day. I must thank John & Caroline for their company as well as Phil and the owners of Statfold Barn for allowing us to crew for them again: we always have a lovely time. Another fantastic day on the footplate! Best Regards, Sam...

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