Saturday, 13 September 2014

Driving "Marchlyn" for Statfold...

"She's A Good Un" (K.Eyre)
Hi all. Today, already, it was the final Statfold Barn Open Day of the year: the big September bash. I was rostered to drive 1933-built Avonside 0-4-0 side tank No2067 "Marchlyn". The engine is remembered for working at Penrhyn quarry and, following years of active service, eventually found herself on a plinth in Tennessee! Happily, SBR owner Mr Lee purchased the engine and brought her home before providing a full restoration. The engine is now in perfect working order and, as I would find out today, is quite a tool. I arrived, along with most of the other crews, at 6am. The car park was still in darkness as we drove in, with some chimneys already sprouting smoke just over the way. One such engine was "Marchlyn", which had just been lit up by my fireman: Keith. The Avonside was lit from cold, as were the other small engines, though the morning was quite mild so she wouldn't take long to brew up. Straight away, I began oiling up. The Avonside employs some nice features such as axlebox feeders. Simply fill up the feed box twice and that should do the day, though I filled them a few more times just for good luck. The rest of the oiling was self explanatory as on most engines.

For cylinder lubrication, the engine employs two globes fitted above the steam chest covers. The globes, when cold, will not give the thick cylinder oil much incentive to hurry along and so time is taken between other oiling jobs to refill the globes. Once satisfied that you have initial oil in the cylinders, the globe base taps can be shut-off and the globe chamber filled before shutting the top tap too. The engine will move off shed with drain cocks open, as per practise, therefore expelling most of the oil in the globes so, for the first move off shed, the globes would be left shut on the strict understanding that the oil I had already drained through into the cylinders would do the job: simples! The regulator is fed from a displacement lubricator which sits just behind the dome cover. The regulator on this engine is, for maintenance purposes, outside the boiler and is connected to the dome, with two lengthy steam pipes working their way down to the cylinders from there. The displacement was filled in the usual way: open drain, drain the water, take off the top, shut drain, fill with steam oil and put the top back on. The feed to the lubricator would not be opened until the engine had steam. The oil would then be displaced and would feed the regulator throughout the day. Whilst I oiled the loco around and did my general checks, Keith was busy with the fire and, in the background as always, time was ticking away. "Marchlyn" was nearly ready...
"Marchlyn" would today, as has become a usual thing, be working with Penrhyn sister "Sybil Mary": the Port Class Quarry Hunslet. The matching liveries of the two 0-4-0s makes them ideal partners and therefore they would again be top & tailing the Goods Train. Following the safety briefing, "Sybil Mary" was taken down the line on one of the first moves with the goods train in tow. Then, myself and Keith got the call. Taking her steady, I gave the Avonside a breath of steam and off shed we went. I'd already done the usual warming through process to expel much of the condensed water from the cylinders. The engine was brought down the gradient steadily on the handbrake before waiting at the start signal. When the Quarry returned, the train was dragged into the Goods Loop with "Sybil" blocked in, allowing "Marchlyn" to take up her place at the new head of the train...
Throughout the day we seemed to be none stop. Normally an SBR open day will require engines on the 'old railway' to wait on shed for an hour or so between turns but not today! The Goods Train is out every 3rd run meaning that we come in and we only have the time it takes for the next passenger train to reach Oak Tree and for the next returning one to get back to Statfold and then we're out again. If you get more than 5 minutes or so you're lucky! However, no complaints my end, it was great to be moving so much! Our first train came at about 10:30am. With the right away from the Guard and an acknowledging whistle from "Sybil" on the back, I gave "Marchlyn" some steam. Slowly but surely, she got the weight moving and we were away. With the land-rover following the goods and carrying the staff, into the section we went. "Marchlyn"s very effective footbrake was fantastic in operation, steadying the train up with ease. I was very surprised with that feature, apparently only fitted to the five Avonside's to this design. The train was heavier than I thought though: there was a good few tons there. The engine didn't care though, she was away. Going around the tight and climbing balloon loop did call for the odd bit of full regulator but she wasn't straining, she pulled easily. This little engine can do some really hard work! After a fantastic first run we are captured being dragged along by "Sybil"...
"Hanging Off The Back" (G.Cryer)
Our second chimney first run also came very quickly and was most enjoyable, followed by another run on the back. I left the third trip in the hands of Keith whilst I had a go at firing. The engine steamed well for me and was generally a pleasure to be on. No problems with her at all...
"Keith in Control" (G.Cryer)
I must thank Mr Geoff Cryer, who I finally met today, for sending in yet more pictures. Geoff has managed to catch me in shots many times over the years but we've never met face to face. At last, today, we managed it. Geoff keeps a wonderfully interesting diary of his rail exploits both in preservation and in the days of industrial NCB steam. His posts are well worth a read. Click here for the diaries. Geoff joined myself and Keith on the footplate of "Marchlyn" for the short run from Oak Tree back to Statfold. He recorded a little bit of film aboard the little Avonside which I have included for your interest...

As the day wore on things continued much the same. "Marchlyn" was running well and there were many people around: over a thousand we were told! The timetable was certainly impressive, with departures from Statfold every couple of minutes on both railways. There were at least 14 in steam on the railway, with probably the same number in steam on the event field in the form of full size road engines. It was a great do and you have to take your hat off to the hard working staff and owners of the SBR for making it all possible. Later in the day, "Marchlyn" is captured passing "Howard" (formerly "Josephine" before her sex change) with Danny & John in control. Note the size difference between the Tattoo type and the diminutive Avonside...
"Marchlyn" and "Howard" (G.Cryer)
Here is one of those vane shots, insisted upon by my friend Ken. Here we see Keith is undecided whether he wants to be in the picture whilst I pose despicably on "Marchlyn"...
"Posing Like A Fool" (K.Eyre)
We did our final trip at around 3:45pm, with "Sybil" in control. The job now would be the winding down of everything ready for the 5pm cavalcade. As the goods is merely a photographers thing, that was knocked off first; though it probably did the most miles! The first task was release "Sybil". For this, I had to drag the train out of the loop up to the stop board (the limit of shunt) and then propel back once "Sybil" was clear. I had been told to get the engine as far as she'd go into the loop so that the wagons could be stowed with shunting space behind them. "Marchlyn" was pretty much in the roof as we slowly attacked the tight, climbing siding. With the wagons secure, "Marchlyn" was later sent on a light engine run: part of the staff collection. The engine, without the clanking wagons behind, sounded like a dream. There wasn't a knock, a bang, a clank: nothing. This is a really good job and a really lovely engine. You cannot really fault anything about it. I know I may say that a lot but you really can't with this one, it does exactly what you want, when you want and with ease: perfect. Following the cavalcade we returned the engine to the shed where she was checked and disposed. Keith had the fire just right and we were able to leave the engine in a fit state fairly quickly. It had been a brilliant day and a really fantastic achievement for the SBR. Its a pleasure to be involved and, certainly, a pleasure to drive "Marchlyn". Its a wonderful railway to work on.

If you would like to see some great shots of the days running, click here for a youtube video I like. I must thank Geoff and Ken for sending in some of the pictures used in this post and I hope you've enjoyed reading it. All the best guys, Sam...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lucky you Sam! Marchlyn has quite a nice crisp bark!
Emma-claire.