Saturday, 9 May 2015

A "Monty" Day at Evesham...

Hi everyone. Today was the return match at Evesham: round two. I arrived at just before 8:30am before changing and signing on. Owners Adrian & Sandra were already on site and preparing the railway for its day in service. As I walked around onto the shed frontage I noticed that "Egwin"s shed wasn't open; most odd I thought, as she is the general 'training engine' so they say. However, just then from behind the next door, out rolled "Monty": the railways newest fleet addition. Adrian stood proudly as the gleaming red 0-4-2 glistened under this mornings overcast skies...
The explanation that followed was that "Monty" had been pressed into service as both "St Egwin" and "Dougal" were out of action for boiler washout and annual inspection. I must admit, with the unsettled weather that plagued the skies this morning, I was glad of the cab! Then followed the usual procedures: lighting up, fitting the air blower, cleaning the brass, polishing the paint and finally oiling and greasing the motion where necessary. The EVLR has spent a lot of time and money on "Monty" in order to release her into service this year, following a lengthy overhaul. She is a 1996-built Exmoor product, and in her former life was "Markeaton Lady". The engine worked at Markeaton Park on the railway there, wearing a blue livery. It really worked its heart out there and when boiler repairs were required the money wasn't available, thus turning a potential overhaul into a sale. The poorly engine was taken on by the EVLR and now looks completely resplendent. The engine is now named after Simon de Montfort, who's grave is local to Evesham. The "Monty" aspect came from a decision to keep the name easy to understand for children and rightly so, as they are perhaps the railways best customers. By 10:30am, "Monty" stood at the head of the 10:30am train for Evesham Vale...
The first two trips would be taken by Adrian, with me doing the 'water monitor' tasks. I was very impressed with "Monty": she rides well, pulls well and there isn't a knock or a bang in the motion. The overhaul has really done its job and produced a very pleasant and aesthetically pleasing little engine. Through the standard gauge world you do sometimes end up on some real junk, and so its so refreshing to get on something that is so good, so new and so pretty. Below we see a quick cab shot of "Monty", with all the usual fittings in view and the firehole doors slightly cracked for firing...
For the 11:30am trip I was on the handle and was surprised at just how little coaxing "Monty" needed to get the 3-coach train up the banks. Adrian then kindly let me drive for the rest of the day and I had a lovely time. Its a lovely little engine...
Here, "Monty" awaits an afternoon departure from Twyford Station...
Interestingly, each time we stood at Evesham Vale Station, the locomotive and her name were proving very popular. The "Monty" name is very popular with both children & adults alike, with the shining engine being impressive to both. The loco is seen here on an afternoon turn, about to leave Evesham Vale...
For the 4pm trip, I was joined on the footplate by "Egwin"s owner Steve, who was as complimentary of "Monty" as I was. Steve is another of the EVLR's trainers and had something different in store for the return run. At Evesham Vale we uncoupled, drew forward through the point and then reversed around the balloon loop light engine. The loco then stood at the head of the train on the 'wrong end' as it were. This was now a typical EVLR gala-style arrangement. Here we are about to leave Evesham Vale the opposite way...
The reason for this exercise was to get experience driving the other way, down certain banks and up others. I must admit, it was strange for a start but enjoyable once we got "Monty" onto a good climb. The main bank coming away from the station was taken much quicker because the trailing point was now straight through rather than out of the spur, but that was the only real difference. I think I prefer this way around as the engine works harder: great fun! After the 4pm there was one more trip to do before "Monty" was disposed. She went on shed happily where she had her fire dropped, ashpan cleaned and paintwork polished before going to bed. It had been another great day at the EVLR and I must thank Adrian, Sandra and Steve for a most enjoyable day out. All the best, Sam...

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