Sunday, 30 August 2015

A Private Do: Traction Engines and Seven & A Quarter...

Hi all. This morning involved another invitation; this time to a steam up at a private site near Twycross. The site is home to a pleasant 7.25" gauge railway as well as providing a stable for about half a dozen full size road engines. Once a year the owners hold a private steam up and visitors with both road engines and 7.25" gauge railway engines are encouraged to come along and join in the fun. I arrived at just before 11am and was immediately put to work 'driving a rag' as Phil put it! With the brasses shined up on 1925-built F-Type roller "Louise", the rest of the day was at our leisure. By midday, most of the engines that were heading out onto the railway were in steam and raring to go. There were about half a dozen steamers in action on the railway alone...
The railway comprises a sort of figure of eight. Trains leave the station on the lower circuit before steaming around and under the high level section via a pretty tunnel. The trains then approach the station again before being switched onto the high level line and climb considerably sharply until they reach the summit and cross over an impressive trestle bridge. The lower section is now below you and you pass over the tunnel roof before descending sharply to the left. The train then reaches the tunnel again and the end of your round trip sees you arrive back at the station again. To continue going around and around if you want, choosing either section, you simply select the route via a common point lever. The home based Rio Grande K36 is spotted below with scale rolling stock...
One visiting engine on the 7.25" was Pete's 0-4-0 Stafford saddle tank from the Fairfield railway, near Pailton. Pete was certainly having a good run and whilst he had his lunch he encouraged me to take the engine for a few laps. Well, suffice to say that didn't take much persuading! The Stafford was running very well; steaming easily and putting in a good turn of speed. To keep ahead of the two large Shay examples that were in action you certainly had to get a motor on! The engine is seen here just before taking water at the station...
Having enjoyed a few good laps aboard the Stafford I returned the engine to Pete who then enjoyed a few more round trips. Cheers Pete for the go! Later on, James is seen driving his Rio Grande 2-8-0 C19 Class on the second part of his round trip...
The railway is very pleasant to both watch and drive and the action seemed pretty much none stop throughout the day. Over in the adjacent field, the traction engines were at play...
The home based collection of about half a dozen engines was today supplemented by seven visiting engines which all came together to provide a great show of power and evolution. The largest engine in the home collection is "Ajax", a 1919-built Fowler A9 Compound Road Locomotive. Its quite a thing...
During the afternoon I managed to drive two of the traction engines: Allchin 1261 and 1915-built Fowler A8 "Victoria". The single cylinder engines are always unusual to drive. The reverser is placed in forward gear before giving a sniff of regulator. If she doesn't go, you can ease off, pull the reverser back and as soon as the crank begins to move in the opposite direction you assume forward again, give it some regulator and she should go. Starting can be quite a bumpy process, followed by the loud rumbling of gears and shafts. Once under way though they are pleasant things to drive though steering is an art-form! Here, JB is seen riding in the bunker of Phil's F-Type "Louise"...
Soon enough, with thanks to Phil, I found myself at the helm of "Louise". "Louise" is a compound roller and therefore starting is a little easier than with a heavy single. JB soon assumed the steersman's position and we set off. "Louise" trundled happily around the field, with myself and JB bickering all the way round as per. "Left a bit John"..."Don't panic, don't panic!": great fun! Soon enough we had returned the roller to her parking position...
All in all it had been a very good day. I'd driven a Stafford, a steam roller and two traction engines: all very pleasant. I must thank the owners of the site for the invite and thank Phil and the lads for letting me play on their engines. Something different is always nice! Once again thank you for reading folks. There will now be a break until our next outing which is Statfold on September 12th as we're off for a well earned holiday in Spain. I'm not going to move for a week! Cheers all, Sam...

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