Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Speed to the West, the prologue

The Speed to the West gala has of course finished.  Yours truly is sat on a plethora of photos of the event and the run up to it.  I'm hopefully going to be able to play catch up over the course of the next week or so.

A great deal of preparation goes into making an event like the Speed to the West gala happen, which will be glossed over, because for the most part, although necessary, it is dull.  The fun stuff starts when you turn up at Toddington to get it all ready.  I started on Wednesday last week, and then only because my grand daughter's second birthday was on the Tuesday.  Much against her mother's better judgement, I am hoping to indoctrinate her in the ways of Thomas the Tank Engine very soon.

Anyway, I digress as usual.  The Wednesday gang were in fine form and set to work fetching in the pallet delivery from Saturday and placing it in their compound, along with chopping up enough to refill the wood store.
Mechanical assistance was sought...
...but the job was finished off by hand.
Getting the locos coaled and watered was part of the plan too.
Watering 4270
Dinmore Manor put in an appearance on the service train while we were at it.
Some of our visitors turned up too, at one point we had all three tenders and Raveningham Hall on site.  Some wags suggested that we run a tender gala, adding corridors to all three tenders and running them behind Raveningham Hall.
Wadebridge's tender appears
Shortly followed by Raveningham Hall and her tender
At least with all the tenders present and correct, we could go about the business of getting them coaled and watered.
Filling Raveningham Halls' tender with water
Raveningham Hall even turned up with some coal on board.
Thursday was shunt day.  All of the stock needed to be assembled and placed into its start positions.  Neil, Ben and myself headed off in the 73 to do exactly that. 
Neil in a hi-viz t-ashirt in the 73.
 The constituent wagons of the freight train were in a few large chunks which wanted joining together and then the brake vans placing on each end.
Marshalling the freight train at Winchcombe
 We also needed to make up three rakes of coaches.  This involved fetching a rake of five chocolate and cream coaches from Winchcombe and sticking a maroon one on the end, leaving us with 2 rakes of six and one of seven.  The buckeye training had been a little while ago, so I was pleasantly surprised that I remembered how to prep a carriage for having another one coupled up to it, never mind being able to rotate the buck eye into position and lock it in place without the benefit of the special tool
Carriage prepped.
High on the list of things that I learned yesterday was that diesels have lots more gubbins attached to the front of them, which means that when it comes to coupling and uncoupling, you have far less space to do it in.  Even Houdini would have had trouble getting in and out of there in a hurry.

Thursday also saw the arrival of Bulleid light pacific, 34007, Wadebridge.  It always seems like it's getting close when the visiting locos are on site.  Well, I say that, we were still awaiting the delivery of Wells, which was by now a week over due.
Wadebridge arrives
Dan with the Red Dragon headboard that he made
Warming fires were required in all of the locos. 
Steve gets 2807 ready for action
 What will hopefully be the star of next year's gala, 35006 was buffed up and shunted down to Winchcombe.  I had hoped to get a photo line up of all three Bulleids together on Friday, but events conspired against me, 35006 was off down the line to Winchcombe before Wells had arrived.
Ian stands in for Wells in a two Bulleid line up.
  Then the 04 shunted 35006 down to Winchcombe
Passing Hailes
Stopping for a quick check to make sure nothing is getting too hot
Almost looks like a light engine move from this angle

A spot of loco cleaning was called for, no harm in prepping as much as possible the day before.  Wadebridge received plenty of attention.
Getting Wadebridge spick-and-spam span
Wadebridge's wheels in reflection on one of the many puddles in the yard
Dan had the honour of putting the warming fire into Wadebridge
Dan, practicing his left handed firing technique
One of my tasks for the gala had been to organise the trade stands in the car park.  Marquees need heavy weights on each leg to prevent them from blowing away in high winds.  Ade used the FLT to get the weights off of the lorry.
Ade shifting some weights
Putting up the marquee
It's not all a life of glamour in the SLD you know, the sludge interceptor tank in the drain from the ash pit was full and needed emptying.  Not the sort of thing that you want to be faffing about with just before a gala.
Ben risks getting very wet
Still no sign of Wells, all we had was the tender.   But what's this?  Has Wells turned up after all?
What's that where the draw bar should be?
Not exactly what I had been hoping for.  The can of spam seemed to get about a fair bit, photos were sent to me by Steve of it apparently arriving on one of the low loaders.
It's on there somewhere?
Aha, found it.
 The last two photos courtesy of Steve Oddy.

As an antidote to the stress of wondering where on earth Wells was, Ben and Andy went for a spin around the car park on one of the visiting traction engines.
Life in the fast lane.
My antidote to the stress of wondering where on earth Wells was (before some bright park says it, yes I know it's in Somerset, I was interested in the whereabouts of the locomotive) was to make my annual pilgrimage to Broadway with Paul and Judith to check on the progress at Broadway station.

The signal box is really coming on, you can't help but be impressed with it. 
Broadway signal box
 The ex-Henley-In-Arden footbridge was the other main attraction, now lurking in a polythene enclosure ready for grit blasting.  The Broadway group have missed a trick though, if they'd fetched it on down to Toddington for the gala, they could have had it steam blasted clean for free, the same as all our other bridges by a certain few firemen who hadn't quite mastered the art of keeping Bulleids under control. 
Ready for grit blasting
 Entertainment was laid on too.
My old physics teacher and friends serenaded us.
 Given that there had been little publicity, it was very well attended, I understand that emergency supplies of beer and burgers had to be sought.
Early arrivals
 I sampled a few of the excellent burgers, but I washed them down with tea rather than beer, as there was still work to be done.  At 22:30, Wells had finally arrived and landed on our unloading road.  Now came the task of hooking her up to her tender, filling the boiler, giving her a mechanical inspection, bringing her into steam for a steam test at 06:00.  Those involved have been thanked in the previous blog post, but it's impossible to thank them enough, we'd have been completely up the creek without their superhuman efforts.
Better late than never

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