Sunday, 29 October 2017

Tyseley Open Day: Welcome Back "Clun"...

"The Turntable Line-Up" (Pic - M.Tattam)
The Tyseley Open Days always boast a fabulous display of Great Western steam locomotives and the addition of the turntable provides great photographic opportunities. Today's public celebration to welcome No7029 "Clun Castle" back into steam was well attended by enthusiasts from across the UK and the six operational members of the 84E fleet were in action for all to enjoy. I arrived at the Birmingham site at around 6:30am, finding the engines dotted around the yard. I was asked to light up Pannier Tank 9600 which had only had a warming fire yesterday having not been in use. She was down by the lean to alongside a simmering 5043...
Clambering up into the cab I found a strong water level and a warm back head. It wouldn't take long for the Pannier to start bubbling away once the fire was lit. I cleared the remaining ashes from the grate before adding a sprinkling of coal. Tony & Craig kindly broke up some wood which was duly passed up onto the footplate whilst I prepared some oily rags on the shovel. A few minutes later, the ignition rags were lit before being thrown into the firebox...
With the rags blazing away on top of the coal, I added a mound of wood in bonfire fashion before closing the firehole doors. The wood could be heard crackling away as the flames took hold and a tell tale plume of smoke rose steadily skyward from the chimney. Once the wood was well underway I added a good few shovelfuls of coal to cover the flames before leaving the engine to get on with it whilst I started oiling up. All around, the other five locomotives were being readied by other members of the Tyseley team. 9600 is a variation on the 5700 Class Pannier Tank, employing 17.5" cylinders and a 200psi boiler. I like them: I always have. They make for a free steaming and, I feel, incredibly strong tank engine which can be the master of most preserved railways.

Around 9am the Ruston 88' diesel shunter was coupled up to us to drag us down to the ash pit. I crawled beneath the simmering Pannier, bent over like a split pin against the brake shaft. With much cursing the pan was eventually emptied - this is the romance of steam! A much dustier Sam then drove 9600 onto her allotted turntable road to await the crowds that were already gathering in the car park...
At 10am the public were allowed into the site and the sound of clicking cameras filled the air. I was still going around 9600 with the oil cans, preparing myself for the inevitable bout of contortionism that comes with trying to squeeze yourself between the frames. Some go in underneath, aided by the luxury of a pit, but I find it much 'easier' (a term used loosely) to go over the top as I can see better. In my younger years I found it much easier to slide beneath the tanks on these 5700s - the level of groaning has increased as time has passed! Meanwhile, up in the cab, pressure was rising steadily as 5043 backed down beside us on the adjacent road...
Shortly after 10:30am "Clun" was unveiled to her public. The immaculate Castle: the youngest of the trio: was then lined up alongside sisters 5080 & 5043. 4965 & 9600 were also part of the popular spectacle...
It was fun baby sitting 9600 throughout the morning. I love the BR lined black livery; much nicer than the plain black that is seen so often. Historically, I believe that the lining was reserved for engines which worked the Paddington ECS...
The trio of Castles made for a fabulous photograph...
"7029, 5080 and 5043" (Pic - M.Tattam)
Though six of the collection were in steam, the undoubted star of the weekend had to be 7029 herself: Tyseley's iconic pioneer. Martyn Tattam has kindly sent in a number of the images used in this post and this capture of "Clun" is beautiful...
"A Portrait of 7029" (Pic - M.Tattam)
Following the lunchtime cavalcade involving the three operational 4-6-0s, "Clun" spent the afternoon on the two-coach shuttle train, top & tailing with 7752 (L94)...
Once the double chimney Castle had dragged the red Pannier one way, 52' summoned her strength to pull the younger 4-6-0 back towards the platform...
I later had three trips firing 52' up and down, with Driver Ray Churchill on the handle. Its quite an honour sharing the footplate with a man of such experience: Ray has travelled far & wide piloting all kinds of traction during his main line steam career. Back on the shed, the immaculate Peckett 0-4-0 was basking in the sunlight. One of the W7 Class 0-4-0s, 84E's little engine shows just how lovely a well preserved Peckett can be. For me she is the benchmark of industrial steam...
Down in the platform the star of the show was waiting for another run...
I was soon lucky enough to have my first footplate ride on "Clun Castle" and to fling a few shovelfuls of coal into her firebox...
Here, "Clun" waits at the stop boards at the extremity of the Tyseley site as she looks out promisingly towards the main line. One day soon she'll be out there again and I can't wait for that day to come...
As usual the standard of Tyseley's restoration is impeccable and "Clun" is a beauty to behold. The cab is stunning: a mass of burnished steel...
The engine rides like a brand new one: firm, stable and smooth as can be. She's beautiful, just beautiful. Well done Tyseley, you've done it again...
"Aboard 7029" (Pic - M.Tattam)
After my very enjoyable couple of trips on the new Castle I went back to 9600 which was about to head back to the shed with Batesy in control...
"9600 On The Turntable" (Pic - M.Tattam)
We spent the next half an hour or so shuttling up and down the running yard before dropping 9600 onto the shed. As I drove her in, I let her coast down the yard as far as possible before halting her outside the shed on the steam brake. The Panniers have a much better chance of seating their regulator valves if they roll in to a stop so you have to resist the temptation to give it that last breath otherwise they'll tend to pass. 9600 is another lovely old thing and a pleasure to work with...
I then disposed 9600, ensuring that the boiler was well filled and the fire calmed but warm enough to prevent quick cooling. The slower you can bring these old things down the better. As the sun set and the Autumn darkness rolled in, 7029 was pictured simmering quietly outside the shed, no doubt dreaming of her imminent return to the main line. She is a lovely engine and it almost feels like Tyseley have grown a new Castle as I've never seen "Clun" in steam until now. Welcome back 7029...
All in all it had been another great weekend at Tyseley welcoming back "Clun Castle". My hat off to them: she's another fine machine. I've now been with Tyseley for over two years and its been such a thrill experiencing these locomotives on the main line. It really has changed my hobby and I'm so proud to be involved. My contribution to these engines is nothing short of insignificant compared to that of most but still I feel proud to have done my small part. Great stuff. Cheers all, Sam...

2 comments:

Roy said...

I always enjoy reading your posts Sam but I am concerned that this might be the first ever post that doesn't include a pic of your breakfast :-)

Sam Brandist said...

Hi Roy. Great to hear from you - so glad you like the blog! Yes I was worrying it was getting too much for everyone seeing the same pictures of the same breakfast but now I know otherwise I'll be sure to add some in the future! All the best, Sam