Sunday, 17 August 2014

CMES August Steam Day: 'P' for Pleasing...

Hi all. Today was the third and final CMES Public Running 'Steam Day' of the 2014 season. These days have, this year, been specifically put into the running calendar in order to provide steam haulage on the public trains. Almost every other RPMR running day will provide electric or petrol hydraulic traction instead and therefore it is always worth attending on the steam days to see the 'real thing'. When I arrived at 11:30am there were already a couple of members loco's in attendance. With "Achilles" still incapacitated and myself on booked crew anyway, I was quite happy to attend as a member rather than a runner. Unfortunately 0-6-0 Pannier "Victoria" failed early on, leaving the large Manor Class 4-6-0 hauling services alongside a Simplex, a Butch and a Sweet Pea. The service ran well for a while before the Butch retired, followed by the Sweet Pea, with the latter coming off for a light service. Three loco's down and with a large queue in the station, Member in Charge Emma asked me if I would steam one of the society engines, namely 0-4-0 Sweet Pea "Diane". Naturally I was quite happy to do this as I love driving the Pea's on public trains when a load is guaranteed! "Diane" was built by a late club member who was both a friendly guy and a talented engineer. He built the engine to the Jack Buckler design with skill, and "Diane" is probably the best Pea I've come across in terms of giving good, reliable service. She's always been good. The engine, with safety valves feathering, was soon in steam and ready to go...
By 2:15pm "Diane" was in action on the services and "Donald" (the other Pea) had also returned to work. Together, alongside the Manor and the Simplex, the engines began attacking the queue. Slowly but surely, we were getting down them. The Simplex later retired, leaving the two Pea's and the Manor to keep up the service. I was in charge of driving "Diane": a most pleasing experience. The engine steams well, pulls well and just generally does what you want. You can bank the fire up at the station and, once the weight is underway, notch back to 3rd notch and let her go. She'll keep the water level up on the crosshead pump and if she comes more than 10psi below the red line you've done something wrong! She's a great little engine; practically perfect in every way...
"Me Driving 'Diane' With Another Return Trip" (Pic = D.Strapps)
"Diane" performed well throughout the afternoon and needed little coaxing to do the job. I've always had a high regard for this design. In 5" gauge they make for a chunky, powerful engine with lots to give. Their narrow gauge scaling makes for a large engine in 0-4-0 form, though they can bounce a bit with their little wheels on bumpy track. Criticism for them has come at the hands of the Marine boiler, which employs a very shallow grate. However, with a light, bright fire well made up, I've never come across a Pea that won't steam well or fails to pull a good load around a track. Maybe my soft spot for them came with them being the first live steam loco's I ever drove, "John Owen" and "Diane" at RPMR specifically. "Diane"s builder in fact delivered some of my first driver training about 10 years ago! Say what you like about the 'Pea', but "when other engines fall down dead, fetch a Sweet Pea to do the job instead" will remain one of my favourite 5" gauge expressions, they are lovely things...
At 4pm the railway closed and the last train was taken, of course, by "Diane". The engine then worked the ECS back to the bendy beam and into the 'run up road', still steaming well after 2 hours running. Normally you get about 3 hours before the 'Pea's start to play up, depending on how much ash has managed to find its way over the baffle plate to become lodged at the foot of the tubeplate. "Diane" was soon uncoupled from the train and duly disposed. She is captured here after disposal with smokebox emptied, boiler blown down, tubes cleaned and firebox washed out...
"0-4-0 Sweet Pea 'Diane' Rests After A Hard Days Work"
As I say I've always had a high regard for the 'Pea' design: they're great, as shown today by both "Diane" and "Donald". If they can keep up with working heavy passenger trains for a few hours on a track as long as Ryton with a 1 in 100 climb on a strong curve, there cannot be much wrong with them! There are still some non believers but, the proof is there, these are capable little engines. Ahh well, mindless dribbling over! All in all a very enjoyable afternoon both selling tickets and then later driving at the RPMR steam day. That's the last one for this season so we'll have to see what next year brings...maybe "Achilles" may be out & about for next years events...but I won't count my chickens with my run of luck! Thanks all for reading. All the best, Sam...

2 comments:

Petensue said...

Hi Sam Glad Diana steamed well for you last Sunday. We had steamed her on Saturday and checked the operation of the injector and I did about 3 laps before disposal. Only a short run but she did perform well.
See we are rostered together on the track at the Midland show.
Regards
Peter

Sam Brandist said...

Hi Peter. Yes she's a great engine, runs very well indeed. The performance of those P's is very good considering their small great area and depth. The big boilers on them are really free steaming and I really don't see how there can be a better or stronger 5" gauge club loco. Yes mate we're on Friday(?) I believe at the Midlands show. Look forward to an easy afternoon shuttling up and down the track with the golden slipper ;) Cheers, Sam