Saturday, 9 April 2016

Statfold Surprise With Sugar Loco Sragi No1...

"Sragi Sisters" (Pic - G.Cryer)
Evening all. Today was just fantastic: another day on the footplate at Statfold Barn. Having prepped our engine: Sragi No1: yesterday, I arrived at a very wet Statfold at about 5:45am. The weather could only be described as "completely foul" and a hot cuppa' seemed like the best option before getting on with the job in hand. With a steaming cup of tea sat on the driver's side, preparation could begin. In the dim light, the grate was cleaned and the boiler water level checked. The fireman aboard Sragi No14; sat right behind us; kindly gave me a well soaked paraffin rag to light up with and the heat of a good flame was soon felt on the footplate before being dropped into the firebox... 
With the accelerant-soaked rag raging away on the grate, some good dry wood was added with coal gingerly placed on top. The coal in the bunker was a horrendously smoky variety that needed a lot of air through it to get the desired results. Nevertheless, No1 was soon crackling away to herself as the rain slowly began to ease and the levels of light gradually improved to reveal the two engines...
By now, booked Fireman and everyone's favourite late arrival "Eddie the Late" had turned up and another cuppa' was enjoyed whilst catching up on the week's gossip. It was then time to set to with the brass cleaner and the oil cans. "Sragi No1" employs outside Stephenson's motion to provide her valve events, which gives good access to most components with the feeder. The axleboxes were a little tricky to get at mind, and required the smaller No14 to give her elder shed-mate a slight nudge in order to allow access to the box tops. Whilst all this was going on, No1 was brewing up; though perhaps a little slower than we imagined she would. Some blocked tubes were soon remedied with the quick insertion of a trusty tube-brush and matters gradually improved.

As usual with SBR volunteer days, we were kindly provided with a bite to eat and a bacon & sausage cob accompanied by yet another hot cuppa' was the order of the day...
After the 8:25am Safety Briefing, the crews returned to their varying steeds in preparation for the days first moves. The two Sragi's: No's 1 & 14: had brewed up on the turntable and thus had to be moved to allow "The Goose" (the rail-bus) to use it for turning. Coupled together for the day, the two sisters hissed cautiously down through the station and into the yard for stabling. The engines are pictured on the recently laid headshunt...
Our first call to service came not long after and the two engines steamed up into the station with their drain cocks ejecting the condensate from their cylinders. Once coupled to the train, we awaited the right away whilst surveying "Fiji" through the cab window. Notice the small gearbox for the regulator linkage on the spectacle plate...
Shortly, an earlier working returned and this would allow us a path into the single line section to Oak Tree Halt. With a "Right Away" from the Guard and the road ahead set, the two Sragi's whistled up and rolled out of Statfold's Platform 2. The second engine: No14, now named "Max": collected the train staff and we duly acknowledged this action. Passing the shunt limit, Sragi No1 steamed easily out into the fields. Taking things easy at first, I was soon surprised at the power contained within this elderly engine. For a locomotive born in 1899, she certainly had some poke. She got the train away easily, with the help of her smaller shed-mate, and both regulators were soon closed for the descent towards Oak Tree. Having exchanged staffs and passed another working at the half-way stop, the engines chugged easily to the balloon loop where they were held briefly in order to let the High Level train depart, hauled by the big Fowler 0-4-2...
The two Sragi's then had a good blast around the loop, with both engines feathering gently as they did so. The run back to Statfold was most enjoyable and I was most impressed, even at this stage, with Sragi No1. The Krauss made light work of the run and we steamed triumphantly back into Platform 2 with an ear to ear grin adorning my face. Having been shunt released back into the headshunt, the next run would see "Max" leading. "Max" is a smaller engine than the Krauss and thus the elder 0-4-2 aided the run where necessary. At the balloon loop, "Max"s crew of Driver John and Fireman Max were certainly enjoying their day aboard the immaculate 0-6-0 O & K...
"Fireman Max (left) and Driver John On Sragi No14"
Eddie was swinging the shovel and making up the fire...
"Max" left the recently opened Cogan Halt: the new balloon loop station: with the Krauss simply holding her own and the pair are captured slowing for the flag check...
"Max (formerly Sragi No14) Rounds The Balloon Loop" (Pic - G.Cryer)
The run back to Statfold was once again most enjoyable and, whilst we awaited another shunt release, the opportunity was taken to get a crew shot with the coal shovelling late comer that is of course "Eddie the Late"...
"A Happy Crew On Sragi No1"
The intensity of today's SBR service was plain to see: there was always something going on. There was a time when a day on the footplate at Statfold was a fairly leisurely affair but now its got to a point where you are always on the go: its just fantastic! Our third outing saw the Krauss leading again and we had a good run to the balloon loop on the heavier passenger rake with newly-restored "Alpha" also tailing as dead weight...
The newly-extended balloon loop spur allows High Level trains to take over Low Level services, with the former being given preference as per the running notes. Here, "Isibutu" is in charge of a High Level service as it 'loops' us...
The heavier passenger rake was certainly that: heavy! Even so, Sragi No1: still eager to impress: got the train away smartly, with help from the younger "Max". The Krauss was impressing me to no end and was in good voice as she barked around the balloon loop with her pressure needle seemingly nailed to the red line...
"Sragi No1 Takes The Strain" (Pic - G.Cryer)
Once the gradient around the balloon loop is conquered, the engines gently descend towards the small signalbox. Having received a green flag, you collect the token before accelerating into the single line section, bound for Oak Tree...
"The Two Sragi Sister's Well On Their Way" (Pic - M.Waldron)
During the embryo beginnings of the SBR, the team went off in search of engines to operate on the new railway. Once the return of Britain's last steam export: SBR's "Trangkil No4": proved just what could be done, the team visited Indonesia; with its sugar mills that were still worked by steam on a daily basis; in 2004. Mallet No5 and O & K No614 were rescued from Pakis Baru whilst at Sragi, No1 & No14 caught the team's eye. I think that it was very lucky that the team visited Sragi when they did. Steam operations are forever curtailing and an elderly survivor like the Krauss is something that was desperate to be saved. I also love how two engines like No's 1 & 14 can work together day in, day out throughout their lives and now also spend their preservation lives together miles from their original stomping ground. Well done to Statfold for saving such a lovely machine

I think it would be worth taking this opportunity to discuss the importance of other SBR kit. Statfold must have one of the most well travelled locomotive fleets anywhere as our engine and her sister came all the way from Central Java, Indonesia. Other examples running today were resident in India, Spain, Fiji, America and South Africa! If you haven't yet visited SBR - you need to...you'll be blown away by it. Sragi No1 is just one example of what you'll find. The shining engine proudly displays her large headlamp...
"Sragi No1 Rests After Our Third Return Trip"
After our third outing of the day, Three Course Challenge lover and instigator Eddie was desperate for some nourishment. Thankfully the passing tea crew could oblige and he was soon chowing down on a chocolate cake, without fear of any cab floor crumbs...
We tailed the same train we had just hauled in straight back out again, meaning that we were back on the front for our fourth haulage outing: much to John's dismay! Before the fourth run we were taken off our current passenger set and put briefly on the shed: our only visit to the shed frontage today!...
"Sragi No1 On Shed" (Pic - M.Waldron)
The next working consisted of the interestingly varied freight train. We hauled it down to the balloon loop with ease before accelerating back facing the other way...
"Sragi's On Freight" (Pic - J.Whitfield)
Here we are watering at Oak Tree on the return of the freight...
The other engines were also busy and the railway was putting on a great show...
Having received the road and a green flag from the Guard, the two Sragi's got the weighty freight wagons underway before enjoying a storming run back up to Statfold. The engines were certainly looking the part when Geoff Cryer captured them...
"Sugar Mill Loco's On A Short Freight" (Pic - G.Cryer)
Having returned the freight with me still on the handle, Eddie finally agreed to swap sides on "Max"s outing in the lead: our fifth trip of the day. After another good run, we were placed at the head of some ECS, bound for Oak Tree as events began to wrap up after a great day. The weather was taking a turn for the worse as the engines set out...
Having left the stock at Oak Tree and returned to Statfold tailing the Peckett, the two engines were immediately sent back out light engine. There is always method in the madness as, quite obviously, engines will be trapped at the balloon loop if they don't have possession of the appropriate token. The two Sragi's therefore steamed down to the balloon loop to release the top & tailed 4-loco train. The now 6-loco configuration is captured here leaving the balloon loop: the Krauss was the second engine...
Following this move, and a little shunting, it was time for the obligatory Cavalcade and Whistle Up before the 15-strong line-up began to go its separate ways again. Some of the engines went into the sheds at Statfold Jnc: namely the ones planned for use at the upcoming Miniature Do: whilst others went down to Oak Tree. The Krauss was sent to Oak Tree, along with "Max" and the two Brazil's. Having being turned and shunted into place on her remaining breaths of steam, the Krauss was soon resting in the cosy atmosphere of the roundhouse after an absolutely brilliant day out...
The 117-year old lady was soon disposed and secured for the night and we gathered our belongings from her footplate before the damp walk along the track back up to Statfold. It really was a fantastic day and what a lovely engine this is. For something built in 1899 that spent her working life toiling away on a sugar mill system, Sragi No1 is a special machine. She's pleasant to drive, she's strong, she's sure-footed and she rides the track well. I must thank Eddie for a most enjoyable and humorous day and of course thank the SBR for their continued putting up with us. Also thank you to the photographers such as Geoff Cryer, Jordan Whitfield and Max Waldron for sending in images for use in this post: it is appreciated. It was a lovely day out with the Sugar Mill Surprise: Sragi No1. To see a cracking video of the days events, click here or to read more of the fantastic tropical setting of Sragi Sugar Mill, click here. Finally, perhaps something a little poetic...
"When the signals were green
Did you sit by the line
And watch, for the fire in the sky
And a scream and a roar and the shivering ground
Old 'Oliver Cromwell' goes by
Did you fancy your hand at the throttle and brake
With steam driven into your soul
Or to stand with the driving wheels under your feet
And shovel a mountain of coal"
Requiem for Steam - Dave Goulder

Cheers all, Sam

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Sam, that was an enjoyable read! At last a nice long post, it's quiet out of season isn't it!
I couldn't help but notice that the dual-gauge track at Statfold seems to have been removed. I couldn't see much of the 2'6" (I think?) outer rail left.
Any idea why?
What has happened to the wider gauge stock?
I really must get back to Statfold again soon.
Great read as always,
Kind regards,
Emma-claire.

Anonymous said...

Sam,

A great report from an excellent day - see you next weekend for the Miniature Steam event.

Cheers,

Mark

Sam Brandist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sam Brandist said...

Hi Emma,
Glad you enjoyed the read - we had a good day on a good engine. Yes, you see right, the 2ft 6" rail has been removed where possible. This is due to future changes at SBR and some troublesome point-work near the signalbox. The dual gauge was very complicated and only 3 steam engines in the fleet are of that gauge anyway. Any wagons that were 2ft 6" have all been converted to 2ft and I believe that Pakis Baru 1 for example is due for 10 year anyway so its a good time to give it a break. Its a shame but its all in the grand plan. Many thanks for the comment, Cheers

Sam Brandist said...

Hi Mark,
Thanks for the comment. Yes, looking forward to the Miniature Steam Rally. We're all set now, all systems go. Just need some sun and a lot of tea! :D

Anonymous said...

Hi Sam,
Thanks for the answer. Do you think they'll re-gauge the 3 steam locos, or just not run them any more?
Many thanks, Emma-Claire.