Monday, 4 May 2015

A Days Driving: The Return of 3803...

Hi all. Today I was booked to drive the Great Western 2884 Class 2-8-0 No3803 at Shackerstone. Following the now completely non negotiable McDonalds stop, I arrived at around 7am. The trainee for the day: Jamie: was in the car park just unloading his kit as I arrived. After signing in and reading the notices, we wandered up to the loco shed where we found David; the fireman for the day. 3803 was still showing 20psi on the clock from yesterdays exertions and, sure enough, lurking beneath the frames were a pair of brand new springs. The springs were fitted on Saturday and the engine had managed a trouble free day in service yesterday. I did my usual job of FTR-ing the loco whilst David & Jamie cleaned the grate, emptied the ashpan and lit the fire. I then started my lengthy job of oiling up the locomotive, starting with the hydrostatic lubricator in the cab. The engine left shed at around 10:30am and hissed over onto Platform 2 road in order to take water and buffer up to the waiting stock for the first train at 11:15. The legend that is Fireman David is caught here watering up...
With the 3000-gallon tender now full, 3803 rolled back the short distance onto the train. All coupled up, it was time for me to fetch the tea. With a sunny day in prospect I was determined that we'd have an enjoyable outing, though we did leave late on the first train. It was, I may add, no fault of ours or 3803s but some late arriving passengers. In this preserved railway setting we have to try and wait for our customers where we can but this does knock your time back. Anyway, getting away around 8 minutes late, 3803 barked out of Shackerstone under Barton Bridge. From there, we're in pretty much open countryside. The black 2-8-0 ran easily down into Market Bosworth, ticking and spitting away. A few passengers joined us at Market Bosworth before we continued on for Shenton, where we enjoyed a sunny arrival...
The first trip seemed relatively well loaded, with 60-odd passengers aboard. 3803 was running well and looked a treat in the midday sunshine. She is seen here heading tender first up through Carlton towards Hedleys, with me looking from the drivers side listening to the engine...
3803 Returning to Shack (M.Heseltine)
The second trip saw us leave Shackerstone just about right time, though an influx of questions and answers from the admiring public did slow up our run round. However, we are always happy to chat as that's half the game with our hobby. The second trip was most enjoyable once again, though it was (much to David's amusement) coats on for the return run...the breeze is chilly when you aren't firing! For the third trip David took the controls and I decided to have a crack at firing. We had a paying footplate passenger on this trip in both directions; quite a rarity but all good money for the railway. David is seen here in control...
At Shenton, 3803 duly ran round and David is spotted here, in between coupling up. I had stopped to take a quick snap having checked the axles for heat and reoiled the wheel back faces...
After a good run back to Shackerstone we decided it was time to take coal. This new Scottish stuff does seem to burn away quicker and so you seem to use more for the same gain. Therefore, we played it safe and put a bucket or two in using the JCB. The loco then had to take up her place at the head of the 3pm trip, and we even had another paying footplate passenger!...
For the 3pm trip, I took her down to Shenton and David brought her back. Jamie was getting on very well with the fire and no problems were encountered, apart from a distinct lack of tea! For the final trip I was back on the handle again and David was firing. Having had to water again we had lost another few minutes and the culmination of the days lateness meant that the 4:15 trip left 10 minutes late but that isn't bad considering. The 38' is pictured here being prepared to leave Shenton with the 4:50 trip, though the lamp still has to be moved to top bracket to signal 'local/stopping train'...
After a good run back to Shackerstone, the big 38' was moved steadily into the engine shed for disposal. At this point we have to fairly well kill the fire, fill the boiler, isolate everything that needs isolating and fit the chimney cap. The loco is also scotched (chocked for the aeroplane lovers) for safety reasons, though the handbrake is also firmly applied. The engine is spotted here during disposal...
In front of 3803 stood a line of silent industrials. From right to left they are "Sir Gomer", Dunlop No7 and "Richard III". It shouldn't be too long before "Gomer" can groan about the place again, and No7 should resteam sometime this year, but I have little hope for No3...
All in all another grand day aboard the footplate of 3803 in good company. I must thank Jamie & David for their efforts today and I'm glad to say that the railway made a good profit today with some good loadings and busy trains. All the best guys, Sam...

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