Saturday, 10 September 2016

"Jack Lane" Returns: A Wet Day at Statfold...

"Contemplation On Jack Lane" (Pic - I.Whitfield)
Evening all. So, after another great season, the third and final Statfold Barn Railway Enthusiasts Day of 2016 has drawn to a close. This morning I was in the car before 5am, making my way over to the headquarters of the SBR. There was of course the now traditional McDonalds stop on route before continuing to Statfold to enjoy my breakfast before we were let into the site. The weather on the drive over could only be described as absolutely foul and it wasn't going to get much better for most of the day. Anyway, with breakfast enjoyed and the car unloaded, we wandered across through the rain to the shed frontage to sign in and collect some tools. The Hayling lads (who camp on site) do a sterling job of lighting the embryo fires in most if not all of the engines on these early starts and so I found a very wet "Jack Lane" crackling away outside the carriage shed with the time just having turned 6am. With the wood burning brightly, I added a good quantity of the Scottish coal before allowing the green 0-4-0 to get on with it. They always say "a watched pot never boils" and this is definitely the case with steam engines. At 6:30am, "Jack Lane" was warming through nicely...
As the first of the days light began to appear, the crews around the site were preparing their various engines. Statfold is often hidden by a cloud of smoke & steam at this time of the morning and today was no exception. "Jack Lane" is fairly simple on the oiling front, with wick-feed axleboxes and the standard inside Stephenson's valve gear. There is a mechanical lubricator for the steam circuit and front mounted cups for the cylinders. This was the scene on shed at 'Statfold 2B' as the light came up...
Quarry Hunslet's were produced in a few forms by the Leeds-based manufacturer and found fame in the Welsh slate quarries. Many of them survive in preservation and there are three originals based at Statfold. New builds "Statfold" (2005) and "Jack Lane" (2006) were built from scratch at the SBR and have remained in active service there since then. "Statfold" is currently undergoing its 10-year overhaul whilst "Jack Lane" is fresh back into use. They are an attractive, pokey and workable locomotive and have might far beyond their size. I've had the pleasure of crewing a few examples at both SBR and Bala over the years and have always found them to be nice little engines. You may be wondering about the name: Jack Lane was the base of the Hunslet Engine Company in Leeds. Below, a forced-flash image of "Jack Lane" showing the outside rods, inside eccentrics (two per side) and the mechanical lubricator. The leaf springs are also evident, located just above the running boards...
As time drew on we began to wonder where 'Eddie The Late' had got to but none of us had even checked the time at this point. Then he came wheezing in apologising for his lateness which, in hindsight, had he not mentioned it we wouldn't have noticed! So there you have it folks, everyone's favourite alarm clock snoozer 'Eddie The Late' has done it again! Apologetic, Ed offered to make us a cuppa' for his shame and so we wandered up onto the shed frontage. Many engines were being prepped all around...
Back at the engine things were going nicely. "Jack Lane" was coming around gradually whilst our coupled-on mate for the day (the Corpet) was doing the same. Our Off-Shed times at Statfold seem to get earlier each time and this time we were off well before 8am. Due to the size of the railway now and the amount of locomotives and stock that require positioning before running can take place, set-up and wind down take longer and thus we need to be on the ball. When the call came, Driver Eddie took "Jack Lane" down and around the sharp curve into the headshunt, with the Corpet hissing along behind us. The Corpet then hauled us up into the platform to couple up to the waiting stock: the L & B set. The unusual pairing of the Krauss and the Davenport then joined us in readiness for our upcoming ECS positioning run...
At this point we normally have a nice cob and a cuppa' before the Safety Briefing. With the briefing complete, we all returned to our steeds before setting off on our various duties. Soon enough, we found ourselves at the balloon loop with the L & B set. The Krauss and the Davenport had returned to Statfold with the train staff which would be returned to us on the next arriving passenger train. It was wet and rather chilly as we awaited our path on this late Summer Saturday...
"Waiting At The Balloon Loop"
When the next Low Level train arrived we received the "Right Away" from the Guard before steaming back up to Oak Tree Halt. A welcome addition on the platform there was a staff 'Tea Stall' which we duly patronised. When the next train came in, we received the staff for the Statfold section and away we went. Upon our arrival back at Statfold Jnc Eddie turned to me, no doubt to say "now wasn't that a wonderful run", before noticing that his tea had emptied itself neatly all over the floor. His face of disapointment was priceless. We were then uncoupled before using the turntable to access the shed frontage via the running shed through-line...
Whilst on shed we coaled up the bunker on "Jack Lane" before the shunt signal came off allowing us down into the headshunt once again. Our next train would be a freight working, hauling one of the SBR's attractive wagon rakes. This time the Corpet was leading and took us easily down to the balloon loop once again. Passing "Isibutu" at Oak Tree, her crew were most amused at our soaked condition on "Jack Lane". It was very pleasant today to have the company of JB & Alex on the Corpet. They were very pleased to have at least some of a cab and certainly looked dryer than us! Their chuntering over the cab back-sheet whilst in the reverse direction gave us a good impersonation of Waldorf & Statler of Muppets fame. They were quite reminiscent of that pair leaning over the balcony offering 'constructive' criticism!...
"Waldorf & Statler Review Our Performance"
Following a "Right Away" from the Guard, Driver JB got the Corpet underway out of Cogan Halt with the freight train...
"Driver JB At The Regulator Of The Corpet"
Meanwhile, Driver 'Eddie The Late' on "Jack Lane" looked more like a member of the RNLI in his traditional holiday wear of a hooded mac and gloves...
"Fisherman 'Eddie The Late' On 3904"
Having steamed around the balloon loop we were stopped on the approach to the junction hut as the next train was just pulling in with our return token. The two green locomotives waited impatiently for the off...
After a pleasant run back up to Statfold, with "Jack Lane" running in reverse of course on the inside, the pair were asked to remain on the back of the freight for the next run. The beautiful bulk of "Isibutu" would haul the train but, having struggled out of the balloon loop last time on wet rails, banking assistance was a possibility. "Isibutu" is a huge machine on 2ft rails but still only has four driving wheels which don't carry all of her potential adhesive weight due to the addition of the bogie. Even so, the big Bagnall got on alright hauling us neatly through the sodden fields on the back of the freight. By now my cap looked like it had fallen in the tank - the peak actually provided a nice guttering effect! After our run with "Isibutu" we were back on the front again and immediately left on our fourth trip of the day, with the freight train yet again and with "Jack Lane" still on the inside. Our roles had reversed on the engines by this point and myself & Alex were at the regulators...
"Corpet & Jack Lane" (Pic - G.Cryer)
The rain was easing slightly as we reached the balloon loop for our brief rest stop...
"Myself and 'Eddie The Late' On Jack Lane" (Pic - C.Bassett)
Leaving the balloon loop bound for Oak Tree, the rain kindly let loose once again...
"On The Move" (Pic - G.Cryer)
Things were bleak as we arrived back at Statfold in the fairly hideous weather...
Just then the Davenport steamed in with the Krauss leading her and we all commented on how well the old American engine sounded. The Davenport's driver: Will: wandered across for a natter and Mr Whitfield duly caught us gassing...
"Chewing The Fat" (Pic - I.Whitfield)
The freight rake duly departed on another run whilst "Jack Lane" and her French partner steamed down through the station before being given the signal to go up onto the shed. After only a few minutes the shunt signal assumed the 'off' position once more and we were soon back in the headshunt awaiting our next move. The merriment amongst the crews of the pair is highlighted below...
"Happy Crews On 'Jack Lane' and the Corpet"
The beautiful "Isibutu" duly steamed in with our next working: a passenger set...
When the Bagnall had stopped safely in Platform 2, we were given the signal to set back and the Corpet duly hauled us up into the station to couple on...
Eddie duly made up the fire in preparation for an imminent departure...
Another vanity image of myself aboard "Jack Lane" as the rain continued to fall...
"Driving 'Jack Lane' at Statfold" (Pic - I.Whitfield)
Following our fifth trip around the fields we were uncoupled from the Corpet after arrival back at Statfold. The French 0-6-0 duly steamed up onto the turntable before heading to the shed frontage whilst "Jack Lane" awaited some shunting duties. Driver Eddie resumed his place at the regulator once again. The time was fast approaching 3:30pm and plans were afoot for the large task of winding down ready for the cavalcade. We were placed in the Goods Siding to await a shunt release job with the freight wagons that we had hauled earlier...
"Freshly Overhauled 'Jack Lane' Simmers In The Goods Siding"
When the freight train returned "Jack Lane" was duly called up onto Platform 1 road to couple on, but not before 'Eddie The Late' was captured in his traditional pose...
Having shunted the freight train into the Goods Siding with lots of effort from the 2006-built 0-4-0, the engine was returned to the headshunt to await the next move. She would be used to put the coaches away in the new carriage shed and so, having swapped roles again, we banked the ex-Bredgar rake into the new shed with the little Simplex doing its best to pull from the leading end. I had to give "Jack Lane" most of the regulator to do that job as the climb up and around that sharp curve is certainly steeper than it looks! She sounded a treat climbing up into there as the assembled audience looked on...
"At The Carriage Shed" (Pic - I.Whitfield)
With the 0-4-0 still steaming well, we returned to Platform 1 road to collect the recently arrived L & B set before putting that away too. The Quarry then ran light engine out into the headshunt before being sent yet again into Platform 1. This time we coupled on to some waiting vans as well as the Hudswell Clarke "Alpha". This would be our cavalcade formation and we duly joined the others in the line. "Jack Lane"s screaming hooter was blown to start the chorus of piercing whistles, thus ending the days formal proceedings. The engine then steamed back out onto the Low Level railway to join some of her shed-mates as we awaited a path back towards Statfold Jnc station and the sheds. "Jack Lane" still looked a treat...
Having been shunt released from "Alpha" and the vans, I took "Jack Lane" up through Platform 1 and onto the turntable. After turning, we steamed across the traverser and into the traverser shed where the engine was disposed. The little engines were to be disposed of in here and "Jack Lane" came to rest alongside much older sister "Cloister". She was built in 1891, a mere 115 years before "Jack Lane"! I think it was quite poignant if a bit poetic to enthuse over the situation...
"A Last Look At 'Jack Lane' At Bedtime"
With the fire raked through, the boiler well filled and everything in the appropriate stabling position, we left "Jack Lane" for the night after a brilliant day. I must thank the SBR for their hospitality and their invitation once again as well as of course my late arriving companion 'Eddie the Late' for his company. I must also thank JB & Alex for their humorous company during the day as well as Mr Bassett, Mr Cryer and Mr Whitfield for kindly sending in images for use in this post. It is much appreciated! Click here for Geoff's great rail diary site. Finally, click here for a great video of the days events. Thanks for reading this heavy post everyone and I hope you enjoyed the ridiculous ramblings once again. All the best, Sam...

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very good. You painted a great picture there and I could imagine myself involved in the proceedings! All the best. Phil in Northern Ireland.

Ian Whitfield said...

Good read Sam - pleasurable day