Monday, 6 April 2015

3803 And The Easter Eggspress...

Hi everyone. This morning it was an early start for Shackerstone, arriving in time for the dawn chorus. Myself and David were aboard the big 2-8-0 No3803. We got into the shed at around 6:45am to begin the FTR and the light up preparations. The loco was still very hot from yesterdays affairs, with 20psi remaining on the clock. David immediately got underway with cleaning the grate and starting the fire, whilst my duties began with the hydrostatic lubricator. I then started my oiling routine, scouting over the dozens of oiling points on the 2884 Class. By 10:30am the engine was ready and feathering quietly outside the shed. The early morning fog had cleared to reveal a wonderfully clear sky and very warm temperatures. 3803 and her open back cab was certainly the real deal for a day like today. We soon left shed to take the engine down for coal, before steaming over onto the waiting 11:15am train. The big 38' then took water, probably around 2000 gallons in total, in order to top up the tender to full. The economical loco would not require anymore water for the rest of the day. David had been gradually making up his fire over the course of the morning, and it was now burning brightly ready for the first departure...
3803 is captured here wearing her recently applied BR plain black livery and sporting another new headboard. This time its the "Easter Eggspress" and the loco is seen ready for the off...
With a right away from the Guard, the first train left pretty much on time. It was a lovely day and the line is always at its most beautiful on these occasions. We were surprised however, despite the sun, to pull into Shenton to roaring crowds. Both platforms were lined with onlookers as the shining black engine strolled in. To be fair, most of them wouldn't be riding today but their viewing of the engine is always a welcome advert for the railway. Returning to Shackerstone, 3803 had warmed up nicely and was performing as we would expect. The 12:30 trip was just as enjoyable, and David was having no problems with the thick smoke inducing new coal. On the 1:45pm trip, 3803 was snapped at Hedleys Crossing by a lineside photographer on the footpath, and the image is included by kind permission...
"3803 at Hedleys" (P.Bunyard)
Leaving Shenton on the return run, David was on the regulator whilst I fired. 3803 was steaming well, though did require more coal than usual with this new stuff. A thin level fire still did the trick, but you just seemed to shovel more coal in due to the smaller lumps. David also took the handle for the 3pm trip and I was enjoying doing the firing. Here, another shot from the same photographer shows the 38' steaming through Far Coton with the 3pm trip...
"3803 at Far Coton" (P.Bunyard)
At Shenton, 3803 duly ran round ready for a prompt departure. Having done some re-oiling of a few parts, the engine was snapped quickly before I reboarded the footplate to make some pre-departure checks...
David took us smoothly back to Shack with the returning 3pm and I was driving again for the last trip. The 38' steamed and pulled well all day and the "Easter Eggspress" proved very popular with the public. The trains seemed pleasingly busy today and plenty of smiling faces were spotted on the platforms. The weather had certainly brought people out! After the final trip the 38' was returned to the shed and disposed after a very pleasant day. I must thank David for his company aboard 3803 and for putting up with me as his Driver. All the best everyone, Sam...

No comments: