Thursday, 23 May 2013

Cotswold Steam Celebration, the prologue

For me the gala has begun, I've been up at Toddington for the last two days and I'm staying now for the duration.  As the Pheasant Inn is blessed with wi-fi, you're stuck with me making blog entries every day until the gala is done and dusted, or at least you will be if it doesn't mysteriously go AWOL like it did last night. 

Anyway, the good news is that our last gala visitor has arrived. LNER B12 4-6-0 of 1928 arrived yesterday morning.  It was a bit of a struggle to get in the car park:
The double yellow lines are only advisory.  More of a guideline really.
She eventually made it into the car park in the end and was soon unloaded:
Getting her into position
About to let her down the ramp
Unfortunately gravity only took her so far, Ian decided to give a little light assistance:
Ian taking over from where gravity left off.
Steve joins in too
The delivery driver looked on and said "you've got more chance of twineing snot".  An amusing expression that I hadn't heard before.

Steve summoned mechanical assistance and the B12 reluctantly gave in:
B12 gives in and comes quietly.
Andy spotted me with my camera and couldn't resist posing with the nice shiny new arrival:
Andy posing
I spent the morning breaking up pallets for firewood....
... and the afternoon cleaning 35006, P&O SN Co
Merchant Navy locos as I've discovered are big.... in fact 'big' doesn't really do it justice. When we had some, we had smaller aircraft carriers in the fleet. Cleaning one is pretty much a Forth bridge job (and yes I know, it's now covered in long lasting paint, but you get the idea).  Living inside the David Page shed, you'd have thought that she'd be fairly clean, but that definitely wasn't the case, she was caked in dust.  I'd only really got to grips with the top and one side by the end of the day. Should you pay us a visit over this coming weekend, you will be able to see for yourself that 35006 is making very steady progress towards steaming again.  Hopefully it won't be too much longer before the owning group have to make that happy transition from restoration to maintenance.

In no specific order, other things happened too, It was Roger's birthday:
He brought two cakes
We also declared it to be after 8pm in some time zone or other and scoffed the mints as well as the cake.  Howard is passed out on wheelbarrows now and has opted to create a much lighter go-faster wheelbarrow.  Here he is proudly showing it off:
All he needs now is some go-faster stripes
Meanwhile, Pete is no stranger to the inside of fireboxes and cleaning out grates the hard way:
Pete, covered in soot, but still smiling
 In other news, officially announced on Tuesday night, by the Dinmore Manor group is that
Dinmore Manor will now become a resident engine on the GWSR, arriving after her rebuild at Tyseley is completed, somewhere around September.

Dinmore Manor, some years ago during her last boiler ticket
Not only is Dinmore Manor coming here, but also sister loco to our own 2807, 2874 is coming here for restoration from Barry Scrapyard condition.
2874 when stored at the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway
2874 is as you can see still possesses her original inside steam pipes and will make an interesting comparison with 2807 when she runs again.

Moving on to today, the last day before the gala starts has been a bit jumbled, locos have been shunted to their starting positions and warming fires lit.  I found myself assisting in cordoning off and making safe an area in the David Page shed which will be opened to visitors.  I'm on the first shift on Friday to 'police' for want of a better word the shed, so if you read this, don't be afraid to come up and say hello.  Items of interest on display will include the National Railway Museum's 4F, 4027 which is under restoration here as well as 7069, a pre-WWII LMS diesel shunter with a fascinating history.  You will also find 45149 (Peak rather than long departed Black 5) is in there too.  An unexpected extra task was to drive over to Cheltenham to collect the timetables and brochures for the gala as the printer was unable to deliver them. As I have discovered, there is an extraordinary amount of things that have to go on behind the scenes to make a gala happen.  The old analogy to a swan is a good one, serene and calm on the surface, yet paddling like fury underneath.

Visiting ex-LNER B12, 8572 has passed her fitness to run exam:
Ian inspects the smoke box... it was producing smoke, so presumably it passed
 There was some considerable difficulty in getting one of the injectors to pick up.  The problem was eventually tracked down to a large piece of rag blocking the feed in the tender.  Once the tender had been drained, the rag removed and the tender refilled, she was fine.
George draining the B12's tender.... and not a chocolate biscuit in sight!
Once the B12 was passed, she set off for a couple of trips up and down between Winchcombe & Cheltenham on a crew familiarisation trip and also to test the freight train.  As she won't be out on the freight at all during the gala, this seemed like too good an opportunity to miss, so Dan Karl and myself headed off to Dixton Cutting for a photo.  Needless to say one minute earlier the sun was shining, one minute later the sun was shining.  In between of course was a different matter:
8572, not in the sun
 I decided to finish off cleaning 35006 at one point during the day.  I'm afraid torrential hailstones put me off and it's still not quite finished yet.  Sorry.  If I can find a spare moment tomorrow, I'll have a stab at finishing it off.  Don't hold your breath though.

Today was Andy's birthday.  He has reached the ripe old age of 28.  Old enough to know that when it's your birthday, unless you want the bumps, you turn up with cake and doughnuts.  
Andy, filling himself with cake to make himself too heavy for the bumps!
There is no way to explain the next photo, sometimes you just have to accept that things are as they are without trying to delve too deeply into why they are as they are.
Ian didn't believe that I'd post that.  He really should have known better than to trust me.

And finally.  Tina and Phil arrived in what can only be described as style.  Everybody knew that they were on their way, but they caused quite a stir when they arrived on a traction engine.  It took them all day to get to Toddington from Stonehouse, but they made it:
Holding up the traffic in style near Didbrook
Titfield Thunderbolt re-enactment

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