Saturday, 9 July 2016

Driving "Monty" at Evesham...

Evening all. Following last week's very rare 'train free' weekend, today I was back in the game and thus back on an engine. This morning, bright and early, I was cruising along the A46 bound for the Evesham Vale Light Railway. The weather wasn't up to much coming down; mainly wet and dismal. I had visions of being soaked through on "St Egwin" as the cruel winds of the Vale battered the footplate. The now traditional McDonalds breakfast was enjoyed upon arrival at the EVLR's base of Twyford Station. This steam day ritual has become an absolute must in recent years. I remember many a happy Sunday morning sat blurry-eyed on 3803 at 5:30am stuffing down a McDonalds!... 
Stomach satisfied, I walked into the Mess Room to greet EVLR owners Adrian & Sandra before signing in. Thankfully, I had been spared any risk of a soaking as No300 was on the roster board: "Monty". I hadn't been out on "Monty" this year so I was looking forward to it as she rolled steadily out of the shed into the morning air. As it was a Saturday, the engine had been cleaned out during the week and the heavenly situation of a clean grate, ashpan and smokebox was most welcome. Having had a good look in both the smokebox and firebox, the engine was deemed more than fit for lighting up. I threw a few lit parrafin rags onto the grate before adding a varied selection of wood chunks. With smoke rising steadily from her tall chimney, "Monty" was now ablaze...
"Get That Fire On!"
With the engine now crackling away nicely, it was time to set to with the cleaning tasks: Peek for the Brasses, Pledge for the Paintwork. "Monty" shines up beautifully, having been immaculately kept since her return to service last year. Just as at Statfold, it is always a pleasure to clean an engine that actually comes up nicely. Many a horrid hour has been spent cleaning engines in the past when you find yourself just pushing the accumulated dirt from one place to another - but not with this one! Having cleaned the engine and enjoyed a most welcome cuppa' from Adrian, it was time to do the oiling and greasing. As mentioned in previous posts, Exmoor engines benefit from grease points on the major components such as axleboxes, coupling rods and connecting rods. There are also some trimming pots for drip feed lubrication to the spindles and gudgeon pin for example. With all tasks complete, the engine was simmering beautifully on the shed, providing an attractive sight to the passing dog walkers...
With time having just ticked past 10am, its often the moment to get under way. With a shrill blast on the whistle, I opened the regulator. I like to provide the steam slowly at first, allowing the engine to sort its life out. You can hear the steam whistling down the passages and into the chests. The engine steadies herself for a moment until a rush of water and steam begins to exhaust itself at the drain cocks. Shutting off will then release even more accumulated condensate before opening up again slowly. The gradual approach when warming the cylinders is always the best policy. The other option is to work the reverser in opposite motions, allowing the movement of any trapped water thanks to the change of position at the valves. Slowly but surely, "Monty" moved off shed and out to the mouth of the yard...
"Exmoor 0-4-2 No300 'Monty' Off Shed"
The boiler is blown down here: 1/2 a glass or so. You then steam neatly back into the station and hook up to the waiting stock. Todays set would be a mixed 3-car rake...
On time at 10:30am, we steamed out of Twyford and through the tranquil setting of the country park with the first train of the day. The engine was steaming very well. Having tackled Fishers Bank with the needle refusing not to intrude the personal space of the red line, "Monty" arrived at Evesham Vale. There, through the medium of her Ross-Pop safety valves, she struck fear into watching onlookers. I've never liked Ross-Pop's. They clear the boiler very well but they do go with a bang. I remember nearly jumping through the cab roof on "Yvonne" some years ago thanks to those valves! The decision was then taken to run the fire even lower, though there actually wasn't that much on the bars. By the 11:30am trip, things were looking more promising, with steam maintained but not wasted...
The fire is seen below. Its open cast stuff from Ffos-y-fran: the last of the Welsh steam coal. It certainly goes well in these boilers - you don't need much at all!...
Looking ahead with the returning 11:30am train...
I think I've written before about how quick the day goes at Evesham; its just none stop! You don't seem to be at Twyford two minutes before you're off again with the next trip. We had a good Midday outing before the well loaded 12:30pm departure. "Monty" is a very pleasant engine to be on. The commonly used phrase "it just does what you want" is very appropriate with this one...
"Climbing The Bank With The Returning 12:30"
By early afternoon the fire had been run right down and I was learning what "Monty" would do. Full working pressure is 150psi but running down to 120-ish is more than feasible, even at 100psi she'll do the job. She's very strong and still like a new un'. The engine is seen resting at Twyford before an afternoon outing...
I took the advice of a few others today and opted to do the oiling at Evesham Vale, thus saving time during the run round at Twyford. I tend to oil up every 3 trips or so, just topping up here and there. The watering is also done every 3 trips or so as it helps keep the injectors supplied with cold water...
"Pathing Stop at Evesham Vale"
By the time the 2:30pm train rolled around I was ready for a bite to eat and the footplate duly turned into a relaxing picnic venue. Its nice to eat your lunch at the fire-side...
Lunch scoffed, the engine was back out again with the 2:30pm run...
The very favourable EVLR Tea & Cake was delivered to the footplate in readiness for the 3pm train. You can't beat it...
"Evesham Tea & Cake"
With 120psi on the clock, "Monty" is ready for the "Right Away" with the 3pm...
Climbing up over the hill, away from Twyford, with the 4pm working (the last but one)...
"Through The Round Window"
Prior to the last working at 4:30pm, the engine was watered on the column in readiness for her upcoming disposal. I think she's a very handsome looking machine...
The 4:30pm train still had a fair few passengers on board. Having picked up the final few Play Fort goers at Evesham Vale, "Monty" steamed easily upgrade and homeward with the final train of the day. Guess what?: it still wasn't raining! If I'd have had "Egwin" we'd have had the worst rain in 30 years but with the 'engine with a lid on' it was fine and dry!...
"Last Train Home"
With passengers having disembarked at Twyford, the stock was dragged down further so that it could be accomodated under the station roof. "Monty" was then uncoupled and turned before chugging merrily through the station and out to the yard mouth. With the points changed behind her, No300 steamed gently back into the yard. Having squealed her way through the moaning point work, we stopped on the handbrake at her shed door...
Then followed the traditional disposal procedure: deaden the fire, empty the ashpan, fill the boiler and clean her up. Whilst I sent dust flying emptying the ashpan, Adrian & Sandra kindly set to with the Pledge and cleaned "Monty" up. They're like a well oiled F1 Pit Team - they fly round the thing and the job is done. Meanwhile, Old Slow Coach (me) is still sweeping off the footplate, amid Adrian's cries to get the thing to bed! Note to self, must work faster! The engine was soon put to bed on her final breaths of steam and left for the night in the company of shed-mate "Dougal". What a very pleasant day I'd had once again and my thanks must go to Adrian & Sandra for their kind hospitality. "Monty", as usual, was a great engine to be on and provided a very nice day. Cheers all, Sam...

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great commentary as always. I passed through Evesham last week on holiday, but it was late in the evening and with 4 others in the car, I'd have been severely reprimanded if I'd stopped! Surely you could get a rasher of bacon on that shovel and overcome the Golden Arches requirement???!!
Phil in Northern Ireland

Sam Brandist said...

Hi there Phil. Great to hear from you and great to know you're still reading! I don't know if they've ever tried breakfast on the shovel at EVLR but even then, my commitment to the Golden Arches has perhaps been cemented! I should have bought some shares - thats where I went wrong..All the best, Sam