Monday, 27 May 2013

Cotswold Steam Celebration - Flawless Floorless Firing

Once again, the 3rd day of the Cotswold Steam Celebration gala dawned and I dragged myself out of a nice warm bed in the Pheasant Inn to the railway.  Writing this blog turns out to be something of a mixed blessing at times.  I had planned to just turn up and start cleaning one of the first pair of locomotives to leave shed in the morning and when I had finished that move on to whichever was next in the queue.  Out of the choice of two I settled on 80072 as it was a visiting loco & I hadn't cleaned her before.  Hardly had I fetched the fist batch of  lighting up wood across to Ian who although a driver was down to fire her, I was collared by Clive who was booked on to do two light ups, 2807 & 8274.  He had noticed from Friday's blog that I had lit up 8274 for Steve, leaving him with just the one loco to light up and thought that it would be an excellent idea if I did the same for him.  Consequently I didn't touch 80072 and found myself lighting up 8274 instead.  Armed with the important piece of information that she needed to have enough steam up to move herself onto the pit long before she was booked to take out her train, I got the grate cleaned and lit up in a rather smarter fashion and managed to find a bit of time to give her something of a clean as well.
Fire in her belly... the lit up 8F
8274 started off with a pretty much full glass of water, but I am happy to report that I handed her over to Clive to fire for the rest of the day in a state where the fire was healthy and the pressure gauge was up, but steady.  No blowing off.

People have now managed to spot me when I'm wandering about with my camera and in some cases avoid me if they don't want there picture taking, in other cases act up for the camera and in yet other cases feign not wanting to have their picture taking, but do, yet not admitting it. Today I switched to stealth mode and fitted a long lens to my camera to catch most people unawares.  Should you decide to pay us a visit tomorrow (Monday), or indeed at any other time, see who you can recognise as you make your way around the railway:
Ian, raking forward coal on Cheltenham
George on 5542, Chris hiding in the shadows.
Nick spotted me as he was cleaning 5542
Clive, pulling forward coal on 2807
Paul, one of the gala organisers and as will become apparent, star turn of today's proceedings
A rather more recognisable version of Mark
Sean.  A little thing like a bad back wouldn't keep him off the shovel
Jonathan, cleaning Cheltenham with no small amount of style
Andy, oiling up Foremarke Hall (I think)
Karl, Mark, Jonathan & Dan.  I'm sure he wasn't, but it looks for all the world that Mark is picking Karl's nose.
Once again Tina wasn't wearing any makeup, so I wasn't allowed to take her picture.
No such problems with Ben, whether he is wearing makeup or not.
Andrew oiling up 8572
Clive chuckling at Paul's misfortune
Mark (landmark birthday later this year)
Simon (owners representative for Cheltenham)
A rare sighting of Brian
Brian wants two sugars in his tea!
Neil, taking a picture of me, taking a picture of him.....
 After 8274 disappeared off shed, I decided to help out with one of the last to leave, 8572.  There was much to do to clean grime off the top of her boiler and smoke box, so I set to work.  The right hand side of her boiler was unbearably hot, the left seemed just pleasantly warm.  Curious indeed, Nevertheless I gave her something of a going over and was pleased enough with the result to take a photo of her just before she left the shed:
No names, no pack drill, but yet another person in the dept said "please don't put that on the blog, nobody outside the railway knows that I smoke".  Once again, I anticipate the arrival of another well stuffed brown envelope if my silence is to be maintained.

Yours truly it turns out is not immune from being insulted.  Having got up at 04:15 every day since the gala started, I've found that I'd prefer to have that extra 5 minutes in bed rather than have the grief of shaving.  I've lost track of the number of people who have given me stick over it. Mike has mentioned it almost daily.  Brian was sent off to do the breakfast run and when it looked like he might not be back in time before I had to set off to cover my turn chaperoning passengers on the brake vans, Tina said "Don't worry about it, you need to lose a bit of weight anyway".  Whatever my reasons are for coming to the GWSR, it clearly isn't to have my ego boosted.  Ben went some long way to making amends for the stick that I've got though ,by very kindly allowing me to drive Cheltenham from road one up towards her coaching stock.

Speaking of Tina, one of the crews played a trick on her.  She had been expecting to spend the day at Winchcombe babysitting the thunderbird engine.  A nice easy number, just keep her lit up but not blowing off.  Ben and Ian arrived in the Cheltenham and said that her and Andy (who was in on the trick) should go up and inspect the footplate.  No sooner had she got up there than the right away was given and they were off, with Tina unexpectedly on the footplate and pitched into having to fire a strange loco. I caught up with her later at Toddington, and by then she was rather more relaxed about being stitched up.  Reports that she was seen later sticking pins in effigies of Ben, Ian & Andy have so far been unsubstantiated, yet each has reported sudden sharp pains.

Tina, back at school
 For yours truly, it was a second day of chaperoning the brake van rides in glorious sunshine.  Yesterday I spent the day in the Queen Mary brake van, today, just for a change I thought that I'd have a turn in the Toad instead.
Entering the apparently haunted Greet tunnel
Being pulled along by 8274
 Speaking of 8274, she was blowing off in the platform at Cheltenham.  Clive blamed it on the fire that I had put in when I lit her up.  One thing that I have noticed, is that it's always the cleaner that gets the blame.

Dan somehow became the "fat controller".  I think that we need to feed him up a bit if he is to do the role any justice
Approaching Gotherington behind 8274
Ben came back to chat to the passengers as we waited with 2807 in Gotherington loop
A "light feathering" of 2807's safety valves
Pete on crossing duty at Winchcombe
Kites near the line at Cheltenham
Steaming past the kites, hauled by Foremarke Hall
Foremarke Haul on the move
The brake van rides are excellent value for money at £5 on top of the standard ticket price for a one way trip between Cheltenham and Toddington or Toddington to Cheltenham.  If you're around on Monday, I can recommend it.  I'm afraid that I won't be chaperoning you, but you'll have an excellent experience anyway.  I'm rostered down to be RSF in the morning, which basically means that I encourage crews to get them and their locos to the right place at the right time.  I have invested in a cattle prod by way of a means of encouragement.  In the afternoon, a couple of lucky people will be chaperoned by me on the footplate of one of our locomotives.  Try not to let my presence put you off.

And finally... Paul has probably got through reading this far in the hope that somehow I had forgotten, or in some out of character fit of mercy decided that he has suffered enough already and let him off the hook.  Just about everybody who was on the railway knows about this by now, but just in case you weren't, here is what transpired.  Paul was rostered as fireman on 8572 today.  There is a rocking grate, the mechanism for which is concealed beneath the floor boards of 8572.  So far so good.  Paul lifted up the relevant pieces of floorboard from the footplate and placed them for safe keeping on top of the pile of wood that he had fetched up onto the footplate for lighting up the loco.  You really don't need me to tell you what he did next do you!
A rather cremated floorboard
The other floorboard wasn't quite so lucky as this one!
Missing floor boards from the footplate
Paul will never be allowed to live this one down.  Mercifully the owners representative saw the funny side (along with everybody else who heard the sorry tale), and Brian set to with wood and saw to cut up some replacement floorboards.  Paul will henceforth be known as the flawless floorless fireman.

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