Sunday, 10 July 2016

Achilles Report No74: CMES July Steam Day 2016...

Evening all. Today saw the second of three annual Steam Day's take place on public running at the track of Coventry MES. I was rostered for crew along with the local Lover Of A Lie In: Eddie the Late. With only a week or two left on her current steam certificate and not alot of other engines looking likely to turn up, I opted to take a well polished "Achilles" along for a run. The club's main steam haulage protagonist: Emma: was also attending and so the pairing of "Achilles" with the larger society Sweet Pea "Diane" was a fair possibility. I arrived at the track at an early 10:30am, with Dave already there unloading his impressive 5" model of a rebuilt Scot. I duly unloaded the blue tank engine and her kit from the car before waiting out the appropriate time to steam. Naturally we still had to get the cars out and marshall up a train to pull, as well as "Diane". With the three engines for the day now on the steaming bays, light up time was chosen for Midday. Sure enough, right on time, "Achilles" was crackling away with a good fire of parrafin wood in the box...
"Brewing Up For Public Service"
"Achilles" has never been one for brewing up slowly. Ever since I've known the engine its come around very quickly and without fuss. By 12:30pm, the two engines were marshalled together ready to 'double-head' (a loose term on 5" gauge!) around the circuit and up to Ryton Halt. As always, on the first lap I was poised and ready for something to go flying off. The tank engine has only ran twice this year so far and this third outing would see her working much harder than she has done for a good while. Nevertheless, we arrived at Ryton Halt with the engine still in tact...
The afternoon was a busy one, particularly with steam engines. During my earlier recollections of Sunday's at Ryton, it was a 'good day' if you did 70 tickets! These days, 200-odd is average and 300 not unheard of. Ed, as Member in Charge, suggested we shouldn't rush and that turned out to be a very good plan. There's nothing worse than setting out with an engine down the nick because you didn't want to hold up the queue for a minute or so. The first few trains behind the pair were fairly light, getting heavier as 2pm neared. "Achilles" was steaming surprisingly well, blowing off on most trips with the boiler near full. The axle-pump replacement effected last Winter certainly did the trick: its never been so good! The two engines are caught here preparing for the off with another run...
"Achilles and Diane" (Pic - D.Strapps)
With "Achilles" and "Diane" flying around on one set, the other rake was trundling about behind the rebuilt Scot. I was surprised at the performance of the little engine today I must admit. She isn't a weak engine by any means but you'd be surprised at even the weight of a dead Sweet Pea if you had to pull one! The engine is much smaller than a Sweet Pea, though a 3-car performance at Ryton has been done with it once or twice. I think we were helping the train along, if only out of the station and up the hills. There was no way that "Achilles" would even attempt to pull the train if the Pea was shut-off: the equivalent weight would be 5 cars and a dead Sweet Pea at that! Even so, she ran well all afternoon and pulled all the trains that "Diane" did, as a pair...
"Taking Water at Ryton Halt"
We pulled our last train at around 4pm, with "Achilles" steaming down to the bendy beam light engine. The exhaust was inaudible and the effort completely minimal with just me on the drawbar once again - I bet she felt like an almighty weight had been lifted! Now uncoupled from the truck, the engine backed gently onto her steaming bay ready for disposal. The rebuilt Scot had come off slightly earlier than us, with the final train being hauled by the battery box professing to be a Class 31. "Achilles" and the Scot were no doubt eyeing up the now lone 37' as an intruder in their ranks...
"Blowing Down"
Well, what a very pleasant afternoon. I was peppered head to foot in oil marks and coal smuts but it was worth it to let the engine have a bit of a chimney shaker. She had run very well indeed. As far as I can see nothing has dropped off either so that's twice as good! Soon enough, she was home and back in the workshop alongside the jealous Atlantic...
With the boiler now pretty much cool, I cleaned off some of the accumulated oil and ash from the barrel. The paint on the barrel really takes a battering on this one, particularly when the boiler is at full pressure. But, its not a 'shelf engine' so work marks are unavoidable. I must thank Mr Strapps for sending in the image included earlier in the post, and of course everyone that attended today for contributing to an enjoyable afternoon at Ryton Pools. I think Ken would have been proud of that performance old gal'. During the afternoon, the steam engines carried 303 passengers, most of which looked in disbelief at the "real" coal fires and the "actual" oil. Saying that, a guy did try to tell me what a good diesel-outline "Monty" was yesterday - I despair! I'm guessing his surprise at the amount of effort being put in to try and make a diesel-outline look like a real one had gotten too much. Cheers all, Sam...

No comments: