Sunday, 4 January 2015

Return to Shackerstone...

Hi all. This morning I got up and didn't look out of the window before I left the house at 10:30am. I wish I had of done as I probably would have stayed in! Brrr! It was freezing this morning as I made my way over to Shackerstone in the BMW; an excursion which swiftly turned into a scene from Bambi on Ice once the rear wheel drive of the car was mixed with the layer of frost along the Fen Lanes. However, taking it easy, we made it to Shackerstone for 11am. Down in the loco shed it was, as usual, even colder. The car had registered -3 degrees on the trip over and it certainly wasn't going to get any warmer. Upon arrival I found the rest of todays mad party huddled round the stove clenching hot cups of tea...and I didn't blame them! We are now in the closed season where the Battlefield Line goes into hibernation for the winter. However, contrary to popular belief the trains do not simply go back into their boxes until the spring; there is still plenty to do! Today was the usual 'breaking us in' day where we are met with the realisation that we are in for a cold, hard working winter. The engines were huddled together inside the shed, cold but dry.

The first item on the agenda was to shunt some things around. The two Graham's had asked for the box van they've been restoring to be fished out of the cutting siding and shunted in for finishing off, so we naturally obliged. Jason manned the grunting Class 47 whilst the little 02 ticked over on the main. We then shunted the various items from the DMU siding (as it is known) and fished out the van. I then took the 02 over the cross-over and picked off the van from the 47's consist. The 02 then scurried back over the cross-over with the van whilst the 47 propelled the stock back up the cutting for stabling. While the 02 waited, the 47 then dropped back to No11 point in order to gain access to the shed road. It was then time to move the cold bulks of "Sir Gomer" and 3803...
Grunting and moaning, 3803 and "Sir Gomer" were removed from their frost free sanctuary and dragged out into the freezing fog. As they were dragged past the 02, you could imagine that they were under protest! Even Thomas the Tank would be uttering verbal abuse in this weather...
With the steamers clear, No11 was reset and we dropped back with the 02 and the van. Richard then pulled No11 again to allow us into the shed so, after a toot on the horn, away we went. The little diesel hydraulic trundled up into the shed easily, towing the box van behind her. With the box van over and clear of the pit we stopped, braked the van and split off. The 02 was then moved clear and stopped, secured and shut-down. The no doubt judgmental gazes of "Dunlop No7" and "Richard III" are seen here not anticipating diesels in their domain...
So, what else is happening? Dunlop No7: Richard & Brian (owners of No7) have kindly allowed me to do a little update on the progress with their engine. The engine is Peckett & Sons No2130, built at their famous works in Bristol in 1949. Its a 14" type Class W7 0-4-0 and has been based at Shackerstone since 1974. I guess by the name you will know its origins: Fort Dunlop in Birmingham: though her early years were spent with a sister W7 at the Irlam Soap Works, East Lancs. The engine has seen use in preservation but not for long, as firebox problems put an early end to its last 10-year ticket during the 1980s. Since then she has languished in the North End sidings but was unearthed, as seen on this blog, in July 2012, click here for a pic of her then! Anyway, since then the locomotive has changed significantly and I wouldn't be surprised if it steamed within the next few months. The chassis has been overhauled, painted and lined, as has the tank...
The Peckett boiler has been to Loughborough to have a brand new inner firebox fitted. It has since returned to Shackerstone and has been fitted with a brand new smokebox. The boiler is currently sat on a trolley in the loco shed with the holes having been drilled and tapped ready to take just over 300 stays!...
A view inside the brand new inner firebox...
Inside the firebox we can see the holes for the tubes ready to eventually go in...
The progress on Dunlop No7 is quite encouraging as if she steams by July then she'll have been restored from dilapidated condition within three years. When you consider that almost all of the work has been carried out by the two owners and that they've been restoring a Class 04, Class 08, a Steam Crane and a Southern Region Brake Van over the same period its quite amazing really. I look forward to seeing No7 in steam: I like Pecketts. Moving on from No7 we have GWR 3803. The 38' is now out of work until the new season, having run reliably during 2014. The 2-8-0 has been drained and we have quite a few tasks to undertake over the winter but only maintenance bits & bobs. She is seen here relaxing in the shed after coming back in...
In front of 3803 is "Sir Gomer". Our pride & joy I guess as Peckett followers, the OX1 is now also out of service until at least March as there are no trains to pull or passengers to see. No1859 is currently being checked over and sort of FTR'd in order to ascertain what work we have to undertake on her this winter. Now that her axleboxes have been sorted and she's been painted into blue, an assessment is being made to see what needs doing next. Meanwhile her whistle valve has been serviced & repaired and is now looking very smart...
After a good few hours shunting, chatting and drinking tea it was time for home at around 3:30pm. The cold was really biting by then and the only place you could keep warm was by the fire...
All in all a quiet first day back at Shackerstone but one that has a view of more to do. Hopefully the weather will turn just slightly milder by next weekend as working in the shed in the minus' is quite a challenge sometimes. Well guys, that's all for Week 1. All the best, Sam...

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