Monday, 3 June 2013

Trade Descriptions Act Breached!

After six wonderful days on the railway, preparing for and then being involved in the Cotswold Steam Celebration gala, going back to work last Tuesday was something of a trial.  It was no worse than usual really, but it just wasn't the same. It's hard to believe, but just a couple of generations ago, footplate men considered working with steam locos a job and found something different to do with their free time at the weekends.  It's a strange old world at times.  

Having been rostered down for Sunday to clean the first train off, I was curious to find out what it was going to be.  The B12 and Cheltenham had returned to the North Norfolk & Mid Hants railways respectively, but there had been a question mark over whether or not the BR Standard 4, 80072 would still be with us.  As it turned out, she was still at Toddington and Sunday was to be her last operating day.  5542 was the other loco in steam, so unusually for us we were having a tank engine day.
Mark cleaning 5542
Tanks a lot
Although a driver, Ben had rostered himself to be the fireman and John to be the driver. There is never a dull moment with Ben around, though sometimes inexplicable things happen.  Try as I might for instance, I can't explain this:
Ben defying explanation
This next bit can be explained... well sort of.  819 is the reporting code of the Cornishman (Penzance to Wolverhampton), the only named train to have run on our line. It would more normally have seen a Castle turned out for the service, a BR standard 4 would have been highly unlikely, but  that didn't deter Ben.
More of a grockle than a Cornishman
We were lucky to get away with just using the 819 reporting code, if Ben had got his way, 80072 would have been out with 83N on the front.

Anyway, John & Ben set off on the first round trip.  I decided to join Bill up in the signal box to grab a few photos of 80072 setting off on the first trip before grabbing a bacon roll from the Flag & Whistle.
80072 approaches Toddington signal box
Ben takes the token from Bill, somebody in the first carriage takes a photograph
5542 came out to move onto her stock as well
As I was sat in the signal box with Bill, enjoying a cup of tea, I noticed Dan walk past on the footpath in the field behind.  He'd managed to get a very nice shot of 80072 as she had passed Didbrook:
80072 on the Cornishman by Dan Wigg
The bubble car had set off on the DMU turn but it should have been the three car 117 out instead. One of the cars of the 117 didn't want to start, it had a flat battery.  I joined Ian and Ian (Dept Chairman Ian and Boiler Responsible Person Ian, we have for too many people with the same first name around here) in the search for the problem. They soon established that the battery was flat because somebody had left the destination lights on.  
This is how the destination light switch should be left
I left Ian & Ian to get the DMU's battery on charge and got changed to join John & Ben for the second and third trips down the line on 80072.  Ian (Dept chairman Ian as opposed to Boiler Responsible Ian) decided to join us as he hadn't been out on the Standard before.  Ben very kindly decided that he would let me loose on firing to Cheltenham on each run.  Never having fired from the wrong side of the cab before, I was mildy apprehensive.  I'd heard lurid tales of right handed firemen failing to hit the front left corner, or shooting it all off down the right hand side leaving the left bare.  Curiously I experienced none of these troubles, every round went where it was aimed.  In fairness though, the baffle plate was almost completely worn away, if there had been a rather less threadbare one in there it might have been a different story.  I didn't need to try to fire over the half moon plate either, though Ben did on one of the return trips, with some success.
You don't get too bad a view when running bunker first
Crossing 5542 at Winchcombe
Ian took a turn in the driving seat for one trip
Ben driving, John checking the road ahead, Ian checking the fire
The sun shone, we were never short of steam and all in all a great day was had by every one.  All good things come to an end though and eventually, it was time for disposal on the recently reinstated ash pit:
80072 on the ash pit
I like to think that I'm relatively observant and one of the things that I had noticed at the beginning of the day and had been very pleased to see was this:
If you're a cleaner, you tend to notice things like this
No, not the 6D  (I looked it up later, Chester Northgate, 1950 - 1960, then Shrewsbury, 1963 - 1967), but the SC...  Self Cleaning!  The self cleaning mesh should have pulverised all the bits of ash in the smoke box to a fine enough powder to be easily ejected out of the chimney by the force of the draught.  All I should need to do would be check that there was no signs of water where it shouldn't be and close the smoke box up again.  Simples!
You can imagine the look on my face when I opened up the smoke box door expecting to find a nice clean smoke box only to find that there was no self cleaning mechanism, only a couple of bin loads of ash to clean out.  I've instructed my legal team to start proceedings under the Trade Descriptions Act.  There probably was an ash pan sprinkler on board somewhere as well, but we didn't manage to find that (found the sprinkler for the bunker though), so it was underneath with a hosepipe to damp down the ash pan as well. 

Other things that are newsworthy; Owsden Hall has set off for pastures new.  She has disappeared off to the Swindon and Cricklade Railway to progress her restoration there.  Well most of her has, her boiler is still sat in the yard but will doubtless follow sometime soon. 
Owsden Hall before she left
Ian's (Boiler Responsible Person Ian) Peckett 0-4-0ST is now back on her wheels:
Dwarfed by 35006, but back on her wheels again
I was disappointed to miss out on the re-wheeling, if nothing else I was curious to see how it was done.  She may be the smallest steam loco on the railway, but you don't just grab hold of the buffer beam with one hand and slide the wheels under with the other..... or do you?

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