Saturday, 14 March 2015

A French Connection at Statfold Barn...

Hi all. Today was another training day at Statfold Barn Railway: the delightful 2ft/2ft 6" gauge private line, over at Tamworth. I arrived at 7am after the traditional McDonalds stop. I don't know what the McDonalds staff must think when they see the traditional railway overalls; probably that I'm on my way to some kind of dawn has broken fancy dress party. Once on the SBR site I met up with other crews before we were briefed for the day. There have been even more developments at Statfold since our last run in October, and therefore we had to be trained. One locomotive was in steam: the wonderful Corpet Pannier Tank. This 1884-built 0-6-0 is a true railway relic, with origins in Paris. Having worked in a Spanish gold mine of all places (the Minas de Aller) the engine was restored at Statfold following import. It is the only one of its type in the country. It later transpired that I would be crewing the Corpet with Statfold Employee Will. The job today would involve just simply running trains: "we can do that!". The Corpet would be doing turn and turn about with the 2ft 6" gauge Hudswell diesel "Badger": an unbelievably loud contraption of a thing. By about 9:30am, the first train was ready to leave and so I made up the fire on the Corpet...
The elderly Pannier has no dampers and so you have to be on the ball with the fire on this one to prevent constant blowing off. The Brown valve geared engine steamed out of Station Jnc station easily with a 4-coach train. After a very pleasant run we returned to Statfold to hand over the stock to "Badger". The noisy internal combustion thingy then took the stock for a trip before we took over again. This time, I was driving. The Corpet is unusual in that the regulator is outside the front cab sheet, meaning that you have to reach around. It does have a very pleasant screw reverser though which sets the gear up perfectly. Pulling away, you can notch her up and just keep a breath on. Don't be fooled by her elderly appearance: she is a very strong engine! Once clear of the station mouth and around the first corner you can open her up and, without argument, she's away. Coasting is done in full forward but running along at about 35% with the regulator just open she'll do the job with ease. When you hit a bank, the bark turns into a roar: its a hell of a thing and she's steams brilliantly. For our third & final trip, I was firing again and Will put the Corpet through its paces to provide a brilliant performance. Its a lovely old machine that. I don't think she's the prettiest of engines but certainly the design is strong, easy to oil up and reliable. Myself and Will, naturally, had a good laugh pretending to be Driver Le Boosh and Fireman Le Beech. The typical French accents were rife on the footplate! The Corpet?..."ce magnifique"!

After a very enjoyable morning & early afternoon at Statfold I had completed my training and am now ready for the March 28th private Open Day. I left the SBR at about 2:30pm and joined the A444 for home. However, as is often the way, knowledge of other local goings on moved my route ever so slightly. Destination?: Shackerstone. I thought I'd nip in to drop a few leaflets for MTEW off to a few lads in the Museum, and to have a cuppa' with Jason, who was doing the FTR on the recently arrived 4141...
4141 is our gala visitor and, weighing in at over 70 tons, is quite a tank engine. These 41XX type Large Prairies were both powerful and quick and I think we're all looking forward to seeing what it can do. It'll have to go some way to beat 5542 though. All the best guys, Sam...

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