Friday, 8 April 2016

Statfold: The April-Do Prep...

Hi all. Today, after work, I was in the motor heading over to the delightful Statfold Barn Railway near Tamworth. Tomorrow is the first of three Enthusiasts Days in 2016 and 15 of the immaculate loco fleet were due to be in action. I am rostered tomorrow aboard an engine that I've always had a slight pull towards: the Krauss. This elderly 0-4-2 dates from 1899 and is the pedigree of a German manufacturer. With a large boiler, balloon stack and outside Stephenson's valve gear, the locomotive has an unusual look but I really think it has something about it. Today's tasks saw volunteers in and around the loco shed, cleaning and generally preparing their various steeds for service. My first job on the Krauss was to drop the ashes, with the help of John. A large sheet was placed under the engine to drop the ashes on to and the very clever trap door was then opened to release the contents of the ashpan. I like this idea; its much, much nicer than going in with a rake...
With the ashes dropped, I had a good look around the engine. The Stephenson's link valve gear is very interesting due its presence on the outside of the engine and is one of the things I like about this old gal'. Now for a bit of history. The engine worked at Sragi Sugar Mill in Indonesia, with her main load, quite obviously, being sugar cane. Sragi: the largest sugar mill in Central Java: had a rich steam fleet which were aided rather than replaced by the more modern diesels which arrived later. Steam and diesel later worked hand in hand and the Krauss: "Sragi No1": often worked the returning empties. Sragi had its field lines lifted in 2003, with the locomotives then being used simply to push the wagons into the mill from a road delivery unloading area. The elderly Krauss was saved by SBR owner Graham Lee and departed Indonesia in the company of one of her Sragi sisters: O & K No10705 of 1923. It wasn't easy getting them out. I believe you are not allowed to take scrap from Indonesia and thus the locomotives, despite their condition, had to be steamed to satisfy the powers that be that they worked!

After a long journey to the UK, the Krauss was restored to full working condition by the engineering team based at Statfold and now looks absolutely beautiful. You can see a picture of her at Sragi by clicking here or see videos of her working here. Happily, 10705: formerly Sragi No14: is also fully restored and is now named "Max". The engine was today coupled to her sister and they'll be running together tomorrow. Its amazing how a pair of engines that worked together each day on the other side of the world now have a home together in the UK, such is the magic of Statfold. The footplate of No1 is nice and roomy, with the all-welded boiler clearly visible... 
"Sragi No1" returned to service in 2008 I believe and is an example of the work that can be carried out at Statfold. Today, having only steamed briefly for a steam test since the November cleaning day, the Krauss was shining. Having checked the engine over, both in the smokebox and firebox, I lit a warming fire with 2/3 of a glass of water on the gauge. The old engine then sat in the brief moments of afternoon sun crackling away to herself, care-free on this Spring Friday afternoon...
"Sragi No1" - Built by Krauss in 1899. Shining at 117 Years Old!
Over the next few hours the Krauss gently warmed herself through, having not pulled a train since the September Open Day last year. I left the SBR at around 5pm, with the Krauss now off the peg. The remains of the warming fire were left to die, with the damper shut and gauge glass isolated. I am looking forward to tomorrow immensely and we'll see what this old engine can do. Cheers all, Sam...

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