Sunday, 30 November 2014

Return to the Footplate...

Hi there everyone. Here we are again, as quick as a flash, its the Santa Trains! This morning I was rostered as Fireman aboard GWR 3803 at Shackerstone. Naturally, this meant a fairly horrific out the door time of about 5:30am, to make the railway for 6am. I always find getting in early is the best way to ensure that you get out on time, as the chances of something being wrong with the engine if you come in late seems to (sods law) always double. Arriving at around 6am, I started by grabbing all of my kit from the car: everything but the kitchen sink. It was then time for the 'terror walk'. This walk, undertaken mostly in darkness, takes you up to the loco shed but due to the overwhelming weight of all of your kit you just sort of moan & groan your way there, dragging and heaving, huffing and puffing. Falling into the engine shed and switching on the lights, the bulk of 3803 stood in front of me...
Having checked the engine for water and condition, the next important job is to feed the cat...
As can be seen, the process of feeding the cat is soon followed by the appropriate measure of being stared out by the cat until you feed the cat again...
The cat has featured on the blog a few times. It has more names than the Ian Allen book but the most popular of its several alias' seems to be Morris. Morris is perhaps an unusual name for a female cat but nevertheless it has been dubbed so. We think its well over 15 years old but nobody seems to know, she just turned up one day about 5 years ago and has been a railway resident ever since. Leaving the cat by the stove, it was up onto the footplate to start messing about with the fire-irons. Driver Brian and Trainee Richard soon arrived before I made my way into the hot firebox to clear the grate and check the condition of everything. Grate cleared and firebox & tubes dry, the engine was lit up. Our first train was at 10am which I fired, with Richard firing for the remaining Midday and 2pm departures. Here the shining 38' is spotted waiting for the Midday train...
All in all this was an easy day on the footplate but a busy day on the train with some great passenger loadings for the first Santa weekend. The loco steamed well, pulled well and looked well and I'm sure the three of us had a pleasant day. I'm next on the 38' next Sunday so, all being well, that'll be good too. All the best guys, Sam...

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