Sunday, 31 May 2015

A Grand Day Out on 3803...

Hi there everyone. Today myself and Eddie were rostered aboard the 2884 Class No3803 at Shackerstone. Having been informed (rather late really) of a Footplate Experience course this morning, my sign in time moved forward to 5:30am. Having arrived and unloaded the car, I wandered up to the shed carrying all of my cumbersome kit. Falling into the shed I turned on the tea boiler before getting changed. The 38' was sitting at the front of the shed, with "Sir Gomer" tucked inside. Having completed all of the usual checks, I immediately set to lighting the engine up. A thick back end fire was made up around the back corners and under the firehole door, in order to be pushed forward later on once the coal had properly caught. With the fire lit and crackling away, it was time for a hot cuppa' whilst admiring the old Great Western freight engine...
The next hour was spent tending to the fire and making it up gradually. The 38' was singing away but, as she wasn't used yesterday (only warming fired), she wasn't as quick to come round as normal. Driver Eddie soon arrived and we had a cuppa' and a natter. Eddie then set to oiling the many, many oiling points on the 2-8-0 whilst I continued to tend to the fire and clean the barrel. All the time, 3803 was slowly making steam. The Footplate Experience participant turned up at 8am as planned, greeted by Foot Ex front-man Mark. As Eddie was still oiling up between the frames, I took the gent through the basic safety rules of the footplate and the controls at hand...
At 9:45am the engine was standing in a very wet platform 1 and was ready to depart for Market Bosworth on the light engine trip. The guests of the participant took this opportunity to visit the footplate and take photographs...
With the token on board and the participant at the helm, 3803 steamed out of Shackerstone and down towards Market Bosworth. The rain was proving annoying by the time we passed through Carlton and so I made preparations to rig up the very best in Great Western weather proofing: the storm sheet. The sheet was affixed ready for our tender first departure from Market Bosworth and made a bit of a difference going back. The weather was certainly not on our side this morning. The 38' meanwhile was now good & hot and was steaming well on this first trip. Our current coal is a Scottish brand I believe and, though extremely smoky, seems to do the job if you put enough in. At 10:30am, the 38' is pictured waiting to depart Shenton in the rain with the stock, forming the second part of the Footplate Experience run...
Having returned to Shackerstone we were thanked for the course and we duly thanked the happy participant. He and his family certainly seemed to have enjoyed themselves, which is always good. I like doing the Foot-Ex's but some footplate crew don't like them: each to their own. The loco duly ran round and took up her place at the head of the now slightly late 11:15 train. Having coupled on swiftly, we departed for Shenton in a cloud of steam. The engine was performing well and a quick run round at the terminus was rewarded by making up a few minutes. Unfortunately, at Shack, we had to chuck a bucket full of coal in the tender as the fast burning Scottish variety was really disappearing fast. During the coaling procedure we had a few minutes to quickly cook our breakfast...Chef Eddie was on hand with my shovel in order to knock up some bacon & egg cobs! The engine was soon at the head of the late running 12:30 trip and the weather had improved enough to remove the ghastly storm sheet...
The 12:30 trip proved successful once again, with 3803 steaming well and a good few passengers on the train despite the wet morning. From the 1:45pm trip onwards, we were joined on the footplate by our mate David. David had turned up all smart, wearing a tie to boot (something I've never seen adorn his neck). The tie lasted a full five minutes before being ripped off and disappearing into his carrier bag with the expression "I hate ties" being uttered in anger. David duly pulled some coal down as we were about to witness a spectacle: Eddie the Late wielding a shovel!...
Eddie fired the 1:45 trip whilst I drove. Its nice to be able to split the day for a bit of variety sometimes. I always enjoy a day with Eddie & Dave; they make great company on the footplate. However, I doubt they feel the same about me as I spend my time constantly chuckling in a ridiculous manner as they look on in disapproval! At Shenton, our rogues gallery of couplers-up found David doing the honours...
A shining BR Black-liveried 3803 is seen here waiting to depart a tranquil Shenton with her 5-coach train. Eddie is just making up the fire...
I was also driving for the 3pm trip, with David taking up the coal shovelling role. Eddie rode in the fireman's seat, surveying the scenery. At Shenton, the rogues gallery of couplers-up captured another mug-shot: Eddie doing the rampant elephant party piece...
We returned to Shackerstone hauling the 3:35pm train with ease. The engine was certainly performing well today and the passengers seemed glad to see her out & about. The engine is spotted during uncoupling at Shackerstone ready to haul the final train of the day: the 4:15pm, though we would need to take another bucket of coal before that...
The 4:15pm trip saw Eddie back on the handle with me on the shovel, and David offering the very best of his constructive (perhaps not the word?) criticism (yes that's certainly the word!) throughout the run: all in good fun!
"Driver Eddie Gets 3803 Away From Shenton"
The engine continued to steam well and, despite David's best attempts to make me over-fire the last one back, the engine rolled into Shackerstone with a quiet 180psi on the clock, 1/2 a glass and a fire thin enough to pretty much poke through and leave. The loco was swiftly uncoupled and pulled up to No11 point in order for me to set the road. Road set, it was time for a quick crew picture after an enjoyable day aboard the old sixteen-wheeler: cheers lads for a grand day out...
"Rogues Gallery on 3803"
After our vane crew shot, 3803 steamed up through the dock road and into the shed for disposal and stabling. The fire was deadened, the boiler filled and everything isolated and secured as normal. As the booked driver, Eddie filled out the FTR report for the day whilst myself and David cleaned up the cab. The loco had done well today and, despite her 10-year ticket being up after this season, is still going strong if handled with care. Considering how many miles she's completed, she's still in good shape. On a final note, throughout the day I'd been filming bits on & about the engine, culminating in the edited video you see below. Have a watch and join us for a brief insight into what we do each day on the footplate of 3803 at the Battlefield Line...

The video turned out as I wanted really, something to look back at, ay. The day had been most enjoyable and I must thank Eddie & David for putting up with me once again: they deserve a medal after spending a full day with me! Thanks for reading guys, Sam...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Sam, that's a great video you made there! You make it look so easy, especially the lighting up to steam ready sequence LOL! All that from one match ay...
I really hope you make some more short "footplate" vids, as they complement the blog very well, but can you make the resolution a bit higher, the max setting on Youtube was 480.
Also, one question, what is the lever for, that Eddie pushes up at 1m56s, you operate the same lever at regular intervals during the vid, like at 5m0s, and again at 5m23s.
My guess (probably wrong) is the steam supply for the vacuum ejector?
Emma-claire.