Saturday, 25 October 2014

Achilles Report No65: GEC Night Run...

Hi all. Today saw "Achilles" return to the GEC Miniature Railway at Binley for their annual Halloween 'Night Run'. I have attended this brilliant event every year for the last few years and normally find myself helping on the 7.25" gauge track driving my mate James' Romulus. However, this year my own engine would be supporting the event, following an invitation to run a few weeks previously. The event would run from 3pm until 8pm and, though it was breezy, large crowds of passengers turned out for rides. I arrived at the GEC site at around 1:15pm and immediately backed the BMW into the compound to unload. The 5" Collett Goods was already in steam, with a 5" Small Prairie arriving soon after me. The engine would today be trialling a new chimney-top spark arrestor, made for me kindly by Mike. The design is the newest in spark arrestors, attempting to relieve the owner of all of the unpleasant smokebox work usually required to fit a standard one. The new arrestor would certainly be put to the test tonight. The blue tank is seen here with the arrestor fitted...
Regular Halloween stalwart "Sgt Murphy" soon arrived to complete the 5" gauge line up, which ended up with four different steamers and an electric loco. Over on the 7.25" gauge line, 'Eddie the Late' had arrived (slightly late due to apparent traffic!) and was steaming up the well known "Archie" the Wren, formerly "Willie". 'Eddie the Late' was attempting to make up for lost steaming up time by banging as much wood in as possible but almost caused a fatal blowback!...
Joining Eddie's shining Wren were "James" the Romulus, "Luna" the Sweet William and "Tom" the big Tich. I didn't see the latter make any movements during the afternoon and I think "Luna" did fail early on, leaving "James" and "Archie" to run the services with aid from the battery electric Y7 Tram, known as "Toby". Back on 5" gauge metals, the Collett 0-6-0 was celebrating the passing of its steam test with a few ECS laps. Unfortunately, loco owner Luke later failed the engine with a suspected lubricator fault: better safe than sorry...
Initially, with "Sgt Murphy" and the Collett in action on trains, I decided not to steam "Achilles". By 3:30pm however, they called for the loco to be lit. It was all ready to go with a firebox stacked with paraffin wood and a boiler 3/4 full of water. The engine was in steam within the next 10 minutes or so and headed onto the track after some quiet simmering on the steaming bay. The engine was first placed on a single coach as both 2-car sets were in action. Following the failure of the Collett, a red battery electric 0-6-0 replaced it. The Prairie had failed straight away with a hand-pump fault. Therefore, the remaining three engines were left to continue providing a good service throughout the afternoon. "Achilles" was steaming beautifully and everything seemed to be working properly, even the new spark arrestor...
After around 90 minutes of running I was ready for a break so "Achilles" retired for a short spell, though she remained in steam. During this time I cleaned the fire and emptied the smokebox as well as re-oiling the motion and checking for any missing or loose bits: you never know! The loco was soon called upon again, this time onto a 2-car set which later became very heavily loaded as "Murphy" and "Achilles" chewed through the long queue of passengers with their 2-car sets. The tank wasn't finding it particularly hard work, except on the climb of the short but sharp bank which seemed to be testing her with heavier trains. The engine certainly didn't like her spark arrestor hat when hauling the heavier train. In fact at one point going up the bank at almost full regulator and notched up, she coughed twice before the arrestor was fired around 10ft vertically into the air, landing somewhere in the darkness behind the train! We must have done around 12 or 14 laps (2 laps makes 1 round trip for the public) on the 2-car set before I decided that enough was enough. The engine was still pulling well but, having been retired at 7pm, over 3 hours of being in steam was making her a little sluggish on the steaming side. Therefore, she was taking a minute or two to remake steam at a station stop which, in my mind, we just hadn't got with the queue we had. Mind you, with over 3 hours of hard public hauling complete, I was very pleased with the performance of the loco. Well done old gal'. The loco was then blown down on the steaming bay behind the Collett Goods...
"The End of the Night with Achilles"
With an hour or so of running left to complete the evening, I was kindly allowed to take Ed's Wren for a run. The 0-4-0 was double-heading with "Toby" the electric Y7 in order to allow her to haul a well loaded 2-car rake. I had a great run with "Archie" and it was most enjoyable to be briefly back on 7.25". The evening ended at 8pm as usual after a successful and very busy running session on everyone's part. I must thank the GEC team for our invite and for making us so welcome as normal. And, of course, a big thank you to the 'Tea Room Ladies' who keep us all fed and watered through this long and arduous night; as if they hadn't got enough to do! Cheers all. Best Regards, Sam...

3 comments:

Petensue said...

Hi Sam Did you manage to retrieve your new spark arrester? Had you fixed up a light in the cab to read the pressure gauge as per the 24 hour run? good report as usual.
Regards
Peter

Sam Brandist said...

Hiya Peter. Yes I did manage to retrieve the arrestor, slightly later on! :) The loco was supplied with a torch by the GEC for the evening. ATB Sam

Anonymous said...

Eddie the Late in steam on time, ran for nearly 5 hours and didn't fail! Not bad!