Sunday, 10 August 2014

Four's a Crowd?

The concrete floor of the David Page shed has made significant progress lately.  I have received a few photos from Chris Blake of work on sealing and painting the section that has already been laid.  The work here being done by Tim, Tim, Peter & John:
Photo courtesy of Chris Blake
Photo courtesy of Chris Blake
I poked my nose in the shed on Saturday morning to find that this section now finished and that the Peckett and Foremarke Hall's tender had taken up residence:
First section of floor finished
Not only that, but a fair bit of work had taken place on the next section, road 9's track had been lifted and some work was taking place on installing drainage channels:
Road 9 gone, 360 degree excavator at work on the drainage
 Just in case you were worried about where the rest of Foremarke Hall is, the bottom end is over on road 7 (boiler at Tyseley).  Just because she is currently out of service doesn't mean that she has been forgotten about, a team of people were around to carry on working on her.
Foremarke Hall
Jamie kindly sen me a few photos of Dan out on his first solo firing turn during the week on the 8F.  Dan's been wandering around looking like "the cat who got the cream" ever since he passed out as a fireman and who can blame him:
Dan peering out of the office window
Fireman Dan at work
Both the above photos courtesy of Jamie Christie.

Saturday was another crew training day.   Ade was down for driver training and me for fireman training:
Ade oiling up 2807 from underneath

Meanwhile Tina and Steve got on with some cleaning once the fire was going
My steed for the day was the 8F.  She hadn't been out on Friday, so I arrived expecting to find a largely clean grate with just the remnants of a warming fire at the back end.  This wasn't at all what I was expecting to find:
80 PSI
Nor was I expecting to find this rather nice BR Lucas firing shovel:
Worth a bob or two!
The 8F had been brought into steam the day before for work on her injectors. The BR Lucas shovel has now been reunited with its owner, so no need to rush over to Toddington in the hope of "liberating" it.  My problem was that not only did the 8F have 80 PSI on the pressure gauge, but the water was nearly out of sight in the top of the glass.  I am pleased to be able to report that somehow I managed to get her ready to leave on time without blowing off at all.

To create space for the shed floor works to take place, 35006 needed to be pulled out of road 8 into the sunshine:
2807 starts off the shunt
35006 works on topping up her suntan
Work is proceeding well on 35006, a quick look inside the cab revealed that most if not all of the fittings are in place and piped up now:
35006 cab interior... looking good
 My firing instructor for Saturday was Cliff.  Cliff had a cunning plan which was that I should do the light up and the driver do the oiling up, thereby leaving Cliff free to appear at some point much later on.  It proved to be a difficult to get a driver to take the turn and eventually Steve was signed up for it.  Unfortunately, Steve was also driving the evening fish and chip train, if he arrived early enough to oil up the 8F, that would have taken him over his permitted hours.  The solution of course was that Cliff should arrive early and do the oiling up, so that Steve could arrive late and sign in just before departure time.  Best laid plans etc.

Usually on a fireman training turn, there are just three people on the footplate, the driver, the instructor and the trainee.  This week was rather different.  For the first round trip, Val, the wife of Mike, one of the members of the 8F's owning group appeared with some friends for whom she had organised footplate passes.  We took one of them down to Cheltenham on the footplate and then they changed over and we fetched the other back to Toddington.  Chris Bristow did the same thing for the second round trip.  For our third trip, we'd promised Graham, a new cleaner (but already a fireman on the Llangollen railway) a trip out.  We worked it out later, that there had only been just the three of us on the footplate for just one trip from Toddington as far as Winchcombe in the whole day.  I'm afraid that there were just too many of them and I was too busy with the firing duties to do any noting of names or take many photos etc, but here are some photos of a few of our visitors:

They all seemed to enjoy themselves and they also managed to keep out of the way enough for me to get on with firing etc.  Traveling on the footplate is a very pleasant way to spend your time.  I believe that there are still a few spaces available on the 7th of September and 5th of October if you'd like to try it

Part of fireman training is to be able to safely bring a train to a stop in a station in the event that the driver becomes incapacitated.  Steve thought that a good way to learn would be to drive the loco away from the stock in platform 2 and up to the water column on platform 1.  Steve would tend to my fire whilst I did that, and sure enough he baled some in.  When we got back on the stock, I was informed that "We're off in 20 minutes, best get your fire sorted".  Needless to say there was a little at the back of the grate and a fair bit up the front, with nothing in the middle.  Expletives have been deleted at this point.  I made a valiant attempt to get fresh coal on the live fire, get them caught alight, spread them across the grate, get more coal on, and by the departure time of 25 minutes to four, I was ready, with well over 200 PSI on the clock and somewhere over three quarters of a glass of water along with a good fire. At this point, Steve took delight in telling me that he had "misread" the timetable and we weren't actually off for another twenty minutes. Even more expletives deleted.   I'm not exactly sure how, but somehow I kept the 8F from blowing off until the real departure time.  Another valuable lesson leaned, never trust your driver!
Steve (L) and Cliff.
New cleaner, Graham at work on the 8F
 Normally a cleaner wouldn't expect to get to do any firing on somebody else's fireman training turn, but for the last trip, Steve decided that I should try and stop the train in Cheltenham Race Course Station.  On previous occasions when this has happened, the "dieing" driver has launched into some Oscar winning performance leaving me in no doubt as to what was going on.  Steve's performance was rather less dramatic and I had to ask him "Have you just died?".  The reply was "Yes" (apparently dead men do tell tales), so I grabbed the regulator and carried on in his place. This was a little further back up the line from Cheltenham Race Course station than might have been expected. As Cliff claimed to be dead too, I asked Graham to grab my shovel and keep any holes that may appear in the fire filled, run an injector whenever the pressure got a little high along with dropping off the token at Cheltenham.  I am rather less confident with the brakes on the 8F than on a Western loco, but it all went ok, speed limits were observed, horn sounded at the appropriate points, though Steve, (in spite of being recently deceased) did sound the horn once just as I was reaching up for it.  We even stopped somewhere in the platform rather than just short or way past it in Hunting Butts tunnel.  Graham seemed to relish having a few minutes on the shovel too.  I was looking to blame him if we blew off in Cheltenham (if there is one thing that I've learned in my time at the GWSR, it's that the cleaner always gets the blame).  Graham was wise to what was going on and kept the fire in good shape for me to prepare for the return journey without causing us to blow off.

1 comment:

  1. :-)
    They certainly made you work and think hard about what you were doing!
    Well done, your rose to the challenge!