Saturday, 4 October 2014

Achilles Report No63: Public Running at GEC...

Hi everyone. Today "Achilles" made a rather unplanned visit to the GEC Miniature Railway at Binley for their 5" gauge public running day: the last of the season. The original intention was to go to RPMR for the steam up but, following the awful rain in the morning, the destination changed to the GEC as they got in contact and said that their club loco was out of action. By the time the rain cleared it was past 1pm anyway, and the GEC's running time of 2pm - 5pm would herald some better weather. With the chance to give two steamers on the GEC's final running day for 5" only of 2014, we changed course and arrived there at around 1:15pm. The blue tank engine was duly unloaded and preparations were immediately made to steam. I think it must have been some time around autumn last year that "Achilles" actually made her last visit to the GEC. This was definitely the first time for a while and the first time in her new, brighter colours. The engine hadn't been cleaned, apart from the dome, since her last steaming for the test at RPMR a few weeks ago, but it was still presentable enough, having been rained on for most of that previous run. The loco was duly steamed up using a mixture of house and steam coal. By 1:50pm, the engine was blowing off lightly on the steaming bay with 90psi on the clock and was ready for the off...
The other engine in steam today was what I like to call "The Baby Gomer". The Hudman family's 0-6-0 Peckett look-a-like in its shining livery of bright yellow looked quite a contrast to the blue of "Achilles". The Peckett had been ready for a while and headed out to the track before "Achilles"...
The two 2-car rakes began the service at 2pm as planned with no passengers initially queuing. This early lull gave the two engines a chance to get into the swing by enjoying a few light engine laps. The GEC track is unusual as, though short, it is quite challenging as the station lies on a sharp downgrade, with a sharp upgrade following soon for the ascent of the bank. This plays around with your water level quite a lot, particularly as the station track cambers to the right so that, with an engine that has a gauge glass on the left like "Achilles", no amount of water ever seems enough! The two locomotives performed brilliantly, hauling varying loads of many passengers throughout the afternoon. There was a slight problem with "Achilles" when, without warning, the water pump just gave up. Looking around the engine I could see no reason why so retired from the track at just gone 3pm to check over the problem. The electric Class 08 took our place. Having checked the engine thoroughly on the bay, I decided to 'crack' the two chambers of the water pump. One was straight to water, the other released some air before water emerged. Then, that was it, it worked perfectly again. Its very odd when things like that happen but better safe than sorry. The tank engine was then stoked up again (as 50psi had remained on the clock throughout the pit stop) and duly returned to the track. The rest of the afternoon saw both engines continuing to perform well as the weather, though breezy, gradually improved into sunshine...
The Peckett retired at about 4:20pm, with "Achilles" leaving the track probably 20-25 minutes after for disposal. Both engines had performed well and the little Peckett for one never seems to have any trouble. "Achilles" is seen here after a successful, revenue earning afternoon at the GEC...
"Days End for Achilles"
The loco was duly blown down, grate cleaned and tools packed up. Following loading into the car we returned home and I was pleased with the engines performance on her first public running since overhaul. I think I'll service the water pump next as that hasn't been done for a while, and generally check its operation. There is also some attention required to a leak on the handpump feed which looks like the nut has just backed off slightly during refitting of the boiler. That should be a 2-minute job: fingers crossed. The locomotive is next planned to run at the GEC's Halloween night on October 25th when we again hope to do some good work on the public trains. Lets hope she does well! The engine isn't going to the Midlands show this year for Coventry MES (she went last year), "Maisie" is going instead. All the best guys, Sam...

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