Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Frying Tonight

A couple of our home fleet locos having been off on their holidays, 4270 went first to the Severn Valley Railway for their gala, followed by the West Somerset Railway for theirs.  5542 has also been to the West Somerset too.  Our Operations Manager visited both railways and provided a couple of photos of 4270 from the WSR.
4270 at Bishops Lydeard, photo courtesy of Neil Carr
4270 shunting at Washford, photo courtesy of Neil Carr
The Wednesday gang spent a while cleaning out the tubes of Dinmore Manor with a jet vac.
Now where does this bit go?
Chris (l) and John doing the "Shake 'n' Vac", photo courtesy of Ade Showell
I was down to fire the volunteer fish & chip special on Saturday evening.  An evening turn precludes an early start otherwise you'll go over your working hours.  Nothing for it, but to have a bit of a lie in.  It's a tough job, but somebody has got to do it.

Upon eventually arriving at Toddington, I found to my delight that there was a large number of old motorbikes parked up in the car park, including a pair of Vincent Black Shadows.  If anybody is ever stuck for ideas for a birthday/Christmas present for me, then one of these will do very nicely indeed.  Sit down or stand well clear of fragile objects before inquiring about the price.
You'll find more than beautiful old steam locos at Toddington.
Speaking of old and beautiful, 2807 was down as the service loco for the day, she was pulling out with the second round trip of the day.
2807 heads off for Cheltenham Race Course
I had been forewarned by my spy in the 35006 gang that the tender had received her final top coat of paint.
35006's tender looking resplendent
The BR emblem has yet to be applied, I suspect that as 35006 didn't lose her air smoothed casing until quite late in her BR ownership, that she will be fitted out with the later crest.

From the sides, you would be hard pressed to know that she was actually 35006, the numbers (transfers, which had been getting a bit tatty) have been removed in anticipation of new ones being painted on.
Anonymous Merchant Navy.
She still had her smoke box number in place.  In the foreground of this view is the sump from her tender, recently back from electro-plating.
Foremarke Hall may be away at Tyseley at the moment, but sundry small items are still on site and being spruced up ready for her return.
Tim paints a bit of 7903's cab trimming
Sean prepares a cylinder end cover for painting
Steve paints the firebar supports with heat resistant paint
Meanwhile, the contractors have been hard at work installing the swimming pool pit on road 7 in the David Page shed.
Soon be ready for swimming in.
Over on Dinmore Manor's real tender, most of the new metal plates/brackets have been manufactured, it's now a case of drilling holes and riveting them in place.
Mark Drills, Ian watches on
Judging by the noise emanating from the shed later on, I suspect that they moved onto doing some riveting as well.
A bit later on, Kevin was grinding other parts of the tender
The top half of Dinmore Manor was already sparkling by the time that I turned up, and a small team of people were busying themselves cleaning the bottom end
Dinmore Manor was looking perfect by the time that they had finished.

Time flew by, and soon 2807 returned for disposal prior to the evening fish and chip train.  evening crews get the luxury of having somebody else empty the ash pan etc for them.
2807 on the ash pit
I had viewed this turn as being something of a poisoned chalice. It was my first firing turn since Boxing day, and being a volunteer special, I was expecting that most of the steam loco dept would have been on board, ears straining for any hint of a sound from the safety valves, or worse still the train stopping in the middle of nowhere for a blow-up.  Normally, you move heaven and earth to avoid blowing off as you pull out of Toddington for fear of a round of applause from the mess coach or at Winchcombe whilst crossing another train,  aside from that you're fairly safe.  On this occasion of course, there would be no hiding from them.  In the event, I needn't have been so concerned, only Mark & Sean had booked tickets to ride on the train, the others being too antisocial having worked so hard during the day were too tired and had declined the railway's generous offer of free fish & chips.

The toughest job of the evening was tracking down the "Cheltenham Fryer" head board, which had been cunningly hidden away.
The Cheltenham Fryer, ready to go
The day crew had emptied the ash pan, cleaned the grate of clinker, coaled and watered the loco etc, all I had to do was keep the fire from going out at one extreme, and blowing off at the other and all would be ok.  After only a few false starts I worked out which way round to hold the shovel and all was good.
The day crew had been a little over enthusiastic with the coaling.
The coal rake was nowhere to be seen, either there wasn't one on board, or it was buried under all that coal.

Another concern had been the weather.  2807 has a very open and exposed cab when running tender first and it had rained quite hard earlier on in the day.  Sean had reportedly been seen doing a rain dance in the David Page shed soon before the evening special, but obviously not well enough as mercifully it stayed dry throughout.  Apparently it wasn't so much a ten from Len as a one from Craig Revel Horwood.  Never fear, I don't watch Strictly Come Dancing, I had to make inquiries amongst my friends for a suitable dance related quote.

Regardless of my concerns about boiler control, it all seemed to go pretty much to plan.  The highlight of course was a free fish and chip supper on the platform at CRC. 
Neil tucks into his fish and chips.
Apparently it was too cold out on the platform for any of the other volunteers to join us.  Probably something to do with me having cranked up the steam heating to keep 2807 from blowing off, so they all decided to stay in the nice warm carriages.

There was only one mistake made during the whole round trip, but as it was dark, nobody will have noticed that for the return journey we had the headboard on upside down.  Oops!

And finally, Neil mentioned that he happened to have a photo that he took of one of our gala visitors, 34092, City of Wells.  He took it from the A418 bridge near Haddenham on a down Shakespeare Express sometime in the mid-late 1980's.
Photo courtesy of Neil Carr
With action like this on offer, the "Speed to the West" gala is going to be a cracker.


  1. Talking of Speed to the West, is there any news on the third visitor????

    Has it been confirmed and if so when will it be announced???

    1. Not yet. A draft blog article about it has been written for some while now, as soon as it's confirmed I press the button to publish it. Hopefully it will be soon.