Friday, 1 January 2016

Achilles Report No72: New Year Steam...

Hello everyone. Happy New Year to all of my readers and welcome to the first post of 2016. Today was an outing for "Achilles". We had planned to be out and about on Christmas Eve but rain stopped play on that one unfortunately. Our destination for todays run was the GEC railway at Copsewood (Coventry) following an invitation by Graham a few days before. It was bitter, really bitter. I'm aware that New Years Day isn't renowned for boasting tropical weather but this was something else. Even so, "Achilles" was soon unloaded from the car and was steamed up slowly on the steaming bay. There were three locos in action in total, with a 3.5" Conway joining me on the raised track whilst the Hudman family's Quarry Hunslet was trundling about on the 7.25", happily steaming up and down the field...
The engine was steamed up in the traditional manner, with paraffin-soaked wood providing the basis of the fire before coal was added on top. The stiff breeze whirling up through the ashpan did tend to beat the electric blower somewhat with the firehole doors open during firing!...
Soon enough "Achilles" was in steam and clearing the condensate from her steam circuit. The engine hasn't been on a track since June and even today would be a test run. I did steam her at home the other week with, lets say, mixed results! Having expelled most of the water from the auto drain cocks, the 0-6-0 was coupled to one of the GEC trucks before the fire was made up ready for the off. I'm currently using a mixture of house coal and steam coal which seems to work well. The bigger house coal provides a thicker bed whilst the mix of steam coal seems to lessen the smoke...
For the next hour or two we trundled happily around the track. "Achilles" was in good form and the two new water pumps were working just fine. The engine has had weak pumps throughout my ownership of her as the old ones were fitted in the late 1980s and were well worn. The new ones really do the job and I'm pleased with the results of the replacement. The blue tank engine was also steaming well with minimal effort required to keep the pressure up near the red line...
The Conway: a recently completed engine on test: soon retired and "Achilles" had the raised track to herself. This, signals permitting, allowed for some continuous laps and four or five at a time were completed with ease. The engine now does what you want and I'm quite content with it. After a successful run, the engine steamed easily back up the loading ramp and onto an ashing-out road ready for disposal. She is seen here blowing down...
With the fire out and the boiler blown down, "Achilles" was carefully loaded back into the car ready for the short journey home. As the heater in the motor began to warm up, the feeling gradually returned to my grateful hands! It had been a VERY cold run but well worth it and I must thank the GEC lads for their hospitality and good company. All the best, Sam...

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