Tuesday, 21 April 2015

New Starters

The water column in the yard at Toddington took a significant step forward on Wednesday as the support for it has been erected.  The next three photos of that job were all kindly provided by Peter Gutteridge.
Erecting the column
Standing back to admire a job well done
 Peter obviously has considerable skills with Photoshop, certainly far better than mine anyway, as he faked the water tank on top of the support in this next photo
How it will look when finished
 News also from one of our erstwhile home fleet, it seems that the Great Central Railway (North) have taken out an advertising campaign on the backs of buses featuring 8274:
Photo courtesy of Craig Simmons
Let the train bus take the strain.

Saturday morning and yours truly was down for the one steam train running on our green timetable.  There had been a flurry of emails earlier on in the week to the effect that two of our new recruits from the recent recruitment fair would be starting today and could we show them the ropes and make them welcome. 

When I arrived, I was more than a little pleased to discover that some kind soul had left a pile of wood for lighting up with by the cab steps of 4270.  I have no idea who it was, but thank you very much who ever you are
Lighting up wood.
Howard was the rostered cleaner for the day.  He ended up showing the two new starters Anthony and Andy the ropes.  As has often been said before, you can't hope to pass out on the 4' 8.5" gauge kettles until you have mastered the 240V variety:
(L-R), Howard, Andy & Anthony with the all important tea.
Somehow I seem to have managed to avoid getting photos of any of them actually cleaning 4270, but I can assure you that they did and we finally set off with her looking perfect.

Cliff was the driver for the day, caught here in the act of getting to one of the more inaccessible lubrication points:
Cliff at work.
 Dinmore Manor has finished her boiler washout and maintenance programme over the course of the day and has been passed as serviceable again.
Dinmore Manor at the start of the day
 Over the course of the week, I stumbled upon a bit of video showing in greater detail what took place in BR days during a boiler washout.

After a while, we were ready to leave shed.
Steamed up and ready to go
Another key thing to acquaint our new starters with was breakfast.
Breakfast time... Jonathan had appeared by now too....
...I'd forgotten that he likes just about everything in his, including the kitchen sink in his.
We took Anthony along with is for the first round trip, leaving Howard to look after Andy back at Toddington.  I asked Anthony if he preferred to be called Anthony or Tony, to which he replied "Dave".  Obviously, why on earth didn't I think of that!

It's not just a case of letting the new recruits sit back and relax when on the footplate, there is a lot to learn and it's never too soon to start.  Before we set off, Howard instructed Dave in the fine art of hooking up a loco onto its stock.  First remove the vacuum pipes from dummies on both loco and stock, then hook on the coupling, screwed up to 4 threads from the end, followed by steam heat if required and finally connect the vacuum pipes together.  Simples!
Howard and Dave coupling 4270 onto the stock
Lineside fence renewal at Didbrook
Cliff & Dave in the office.
 The Permanent Way gang were at work on the line at the skew bridge north of Gotherington.  As we approached, a deer darted across the track in front of us, decided that it didn't like it on that side after all and darted back again.  If you have very good eye sight, you might just be able to see its hind legs in the photo below as it crosses the line for the second time.
Hadn't read the Green Cross Code
Crop from above photo showing just how close we came to cooking venison steaks on the shovel.
And the P Way gang only a little further up the line, hard at work.
 We had set off with a slightly depleted tank of water, so chose to replenish the tanks at Cheltenham, another opportunity for Dave to acquire new skills.  He managed the most important one, which was to keep himself dry.
Dave topping up 4270
 Unusually, the Cheltenham Race Course station platform 2 gang were busy on Saturday.  I'm not entirely sure what was going on here, but from their blog, I suspect that it was something to do with the station name board.
Cheltenham platform 2
 Out and about on the line, I noticed several lineside photographers including this pair:
Lineside photographers
 We didn't stop to check their lineside passes, but something tells me that these two wouldn't have been able to produce them if challenged.  Annual lineside passes are available and if interested, further details on how to obtain one are available on the main GWSR website.  For your money, you not only get an orange hi-viz vest marked with the year for which it is valid, but the list of locations that are out of bounds and a Personal Track Safety (PTS) booklet providing instructions on how to keep yourself safe whilst on the lineside..

This cheery group, were outside the boundary fence, no problems here:
Friendly bunch.
For the second round trip, Andy joined us on the footplate.  There's a bit of a knack to getting vacuum pipes connected and disconnected, especially if they are new & stiff.  The expression most often used is it's like wrestling with two elephant trunks.  Heaving the coupling onto the hook can be a bit challenging too.  He got the hang of it though.
Andy heaving the coupling into place.
 Andy's day job is driving trains for Chiltern Railways, so being with us is a bit of a busman's holiday for him.  Apparently modern air brake pipes are a lot easier to deal with than our good old fashioned vacuum brake pipes. 
Andy at a less strenuous moment
I have mentioned before that the lineside has been neatly trimmed in many locations and is looking much better for it.  I had fondly imagined a large team of people out and about with drive along type grass cutters doing this work.  I was surprised to see just one solitary chap out with a strimmer on Saturday.  He must have been extremely busy if he managed to do all of that by himself.
Solitary strimmer
Another essential activity is that undertaken by the lineside drainage team.  At least there was two of them hard at work.
Lineside drainage team at work
Andy soon got the hang of watering locos, note that without needing telling he has perched himself above the water level so that his feet will stay dry if the tanks overflow and he has settled on the far side of the boiler from the safety valves.  They weren't going to blow on this occasion, but it's a good habit to be in.
Upon arrival at Toddington after the second trip, Ade was keen to show his son Matt the essentials of hooking onto the stock.  Most parents just stop their children's pocket money or ground them for committing misdemeanours, I wonder what Matt can have done to deserve this?
No doubt he'll be ringing Childline now.
For the 3rd trip, Howard joined us.  I'm afraid that I unintentionally handed over the shovel to him with rather less fire on the grate than was ideal, but to his credit he managed to recover it and we got to CRC and back with no major drama.
Howard in Greet tunnel
Hooking off at CRC
 When on the move, the fire is too bright to be able too see what shape the coal is in on the grate and where it is wearing thin and would benefit from the application of more coal.  A popular trick is to use the shovel to direct air being sucked in through the fire door hole onto the grate which gives you a clearer view of what is going on in there.
Howard demonstrates the technique...
...and then fires accordingly.
 Being the green timetable, there was a diesel running as train 2.  The first time I tried to get a photo of 47376 as we crossed it at Winchcombe, the battery in my camera died.  Divine retribution for pointing my camera at something that wasn't steam perhaps?  I always carry a spare charged battery, so next time round I got the shot.
47376 arriving at Winchcombe
 And that was it, once we got back to Toddington, the day was done.  There was an evening fish and chip special going out with our stock, so we didn't even have to park the stock in the north siding, just leave it in platform one and go to dispose.
Howard topping up the water for the last time of the day
Cliff looking pleased after a hard day in the office
 We had quite an audience waiting for us as we got back to the ash pit.
They've found the kettle
 Unusually, the fish and chip special was being hauled by a diesel, 37215.  I believe that you can run some diesel cars on old chip oil, I wonder if that was the plan here.
 Disposal has recently become easier with change to ashing out the smoke box in the morning, on Saturday however, I had about as easy a time of it as you could hope for. First, Howard was keen to rake through the fire for me to lift off any clinker and level it down to being thin and bright.
Howard rakes through the fire.
 And then the two new cleaners, Dave & Andy joined by another new starter, Donna were desperate to help extract the ash from the ash pan.  All I had to do was supervise them.
Andy (l) and Donna (r) scrape out the ash, Dave (far end) damps it down with a hose pipe.
 They were back in the pit as soon as we had moved off emptying the ash into the ash dock.
Emptying the pit.
Full marks to all three of the new starters, all keen as mustard!

The running loco for Saturday had been originally rostered for 2807, but sadly during the week she had experienced another failure of the gasket on the feed to one of her clack valves and had been stopped.  She was sat on shed waiting for some attention on Saturday morning:
2807... wearing her chimney cap at a jaunty angle.
This had come as a bit of a disappointment to Brian (a member of 2807's owning group) who had fetched along his prospective in-laws to see her in steam.  They had come all the way from Australia, so can't easily get back when 2807 is serviceable again, but nonetheless we hope they were pleased with 4270 as a substitute on the train.
Brian, prospective father-in-la and 4270
Brian and his better half.
When arriving at Toddington at the end of each trip, I had noticed that people were working on top of 2807 by her safety valves.  I haven't heard if they were successful or not, but next weekend's War Weekend requires three running steam locos, and with 5542 still on holiday on the West Somerset Railway, we will be needing her.    

Matt kindly posted me several photos of the work that was taking place in the David Page shed whilst I was busy swanning up and down the line on 4270.  Unfortunately there was little by way of description, so all I can say is that it appears that some work was done on the new ash pan for Foremarke Hall, but I can't be much more descriptive than that.
Ash pan being lowered in the shed.
Sean looking happy about something
I think that's Jonathan in the mask
No sign of any work being done at all here.
Finished for the day?
 Matt also provided a few photos of 4270 passing by.  You'll remember that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Dan was complaining that she was blowing off light.  Well that was my experience too, usually around 180 or 190 PSI, but not consistently at the same pressure. I knew that getting my excuses in early would be a good idea.
4270 setting off
No idea what was happening here.... sorry
The previous seven photos all courtesy of Matt Showell.

I noted on Saturday that the boiler of another significant new starter that will be joining our running fleet in the near future had received a top coat of paint and was now looking very smart indeed:
35006 freshly painted
And finally, whilst we are still waiting for our third gala guest loco to be finalised, I have good news regarding the two that are confirmed.  There will be an evening photo charter using both Wells & Wadebridge double headed on the Saturday evening after the gala on the maroon rake.  Details will very shortly be available by any of the following means:

30742 charters website
30742 charters facebook page
30742 charters flickr page

Places are strictly limited, so be quick 

1 comment:

  1. Apologies for the lack of description with the photos, blame my dad, as I always do for these things.

    Work was being done on the ash pans for Foremarke, which revolved around fitting the doors onto the bottom and sanding down the surface. Mr Perks can be seen, wire brush in hand. Sean was mocking him a great deal for his inability to find the off switch, instead deciding to try to eject the disk as it was spinning.

    In the final shot, Phil can be seen modelling his new range of shorts, perfect for any hard-working railwayman. The piece of metal Dan is heating to bend is - I assume - part of the lever system for opening the ash pans.