Saturday, 20 December 2014

Christmas Cracker with 3803...

Hi there everyone. Well, Christmas is pretty much here now and the Santa Specials at the Battlefield Line have been in full swing for a few weekends. This morning I was rostered aboard GWR 3803; the large 2884 class 2-8-0. I arrived at 6:30am to find the "Gomer" crew of Carl & James already there. Carl then kindly made me a cuppa' whilst I went to look at the condition of the 38'. Three quarters of a glass of water, a still burning warming fire and a good pressure on the clock: perfect! The tender was full of coal & water, the loco fairly clean and the fire fit to be continued by adding more coal as & when; what could be better? Fellow crewman Pockets then turned up and decided that he would like to fire for the day so I began the oiling duties. Starting with the hydrostatic lubricator on the footplate, you can then start making your way around the rest of the engine. To put it into perspective, off the top of my head, there is the following to oil:
  • 32 Axlebox Pots
  • 8 Coupling Rod Pots
  • 2 Big Ends, 2 Little Ends
  • 4 Crosshead Oiling Points (2 Each)
  • 4 Eccentrics
  • 2 Brakeshaft Oiling Points
  • 6 Trunnion Points
  • 4 Valve Rod Points
  • 2 Rocker Arm Points
  • 2 Die Blocks
  • Reachrod Pin
  • 6 Points on the Expansion Links
  • 2 Weighshaft Pin Holes
  • 4 Coupling Rod Pin Holes
  • 2 Piston Gland Pots
  • 2 Pots for the Vac Pump
  • Front Step = Large Pot (2 Points Within), Top Hat
  • Front Bogie Pin (Grease)
The points above add up to 89 alone, and that's just off the top of my head. When you are actually oiling up the engine you make your way around in an orderly manner, oiling everything as you go. There are probably more points that I can't recall at this exact moment but the engine isn't in front of me as I write. As well as all this you also oil other non oil point parts like buffer shanks, shackle screws, buffer faces, wheel back face, slide bars and so on and so on. There is a lot more to oiling a loco than most people believe. Many parts will last the day on one oiling but I tend to oil slide bars every trip or so, and oil the wheel backs every other trip and the die-blocks: just a habit. Anyway, back to us, Pockets had built a good fire by the time I'd finished oiling and the loco was ready to leave the shed at 9am. "Sir Gomer" was all ready, cleaned and polished and left the shed to steam up onto the back road to allow us out...
Having checked the engine over thoroughly, I warmed her through and did the usual brake tests before we left shed. 3803 was then put onto the head of the 10am Classic train, whilst "Sir Gomer" was already heating the 11:30 Deluxe. The pair are pictured here before we do our vac test prior to departure...
All of todays trains were fairly well loaded and the 38' performed well with its various tasks. We even ran generally to time which is a god send in itself. We were joined on the footplate today by the new SRS President, Mr Johnson. As a trainee I spent many enjoyable days on the footplate with 'Jono', particularly when paired up with Mr Britt as their continued mocking of one another made the day fly by! With the combined efforts today of Jono and Pockets, the stick I got was constant and thorough! Following two successful first trips: one with the Classic and one with the Deluxe: Pockets used the shovel for its other Whilst the 38' simmered away ready for the 1pm departure, he was busy cooking our sausage cobs...
Stomachs replenished, the loco is later spotted waiting at Market Bosworth for the 5-minute interval with the Classic train. The forlorn wooden bodied wagon to the right is also wooden framed with only the casual holding hands of the wood-worm keeping it together!...
Following the 1pm trip it was time for another Deluxe at 2:30pm before, finally, a last Classic trip at 4pm. By now we had only lost 7 minutes of time which is a far cry from last weeks 85 minutes, though the extenuating circumstances of last Sunday must be considered. 3803 performed well throughout the day, steaming & pulling easily. She returned to the shed at about right time and was disposed of appropriately. It had been a very pleasant day with Pockets and Jono and it now really feels like Christmas. Have a good one, one & all. Merry Christmas...

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