Monday, 8 June 2015

Seeing the Light

Cast your mind back to Sunday 31st May.  I had been rostered for some time as the fireman for whatever was going to be train 1 on the Sunday.  When the loco allocations were sorted out, that transpired to be one of our visitors, Bulleid pacific, 34092, Wells.  Jonathan was down as cleaner for train 2 that day, which was going to be 2807.  To say that Jonathan is mad about Bulleids is a bit like saying that the Pope is Catholic.  Mike, who had been down to be the cleaner on train 1 was approached and a swap of turns arranged.  Mike is a dyed in the wool GWR person, so he wasn't too difficult for Jonathan to persuade. 

Sunday the 31st dawned, and I bumped into Jonathan in the mess coach.  He looked about as chirpy as anybody could at such an ungodly hour.  He asked after the previous evening's photo charter.  I replied that it had gone as well as could be expected with just the one loco, and that Wells had been failed with a collapsed brick arch, we would be out on 2807 instead.  Somehow I managed to keep a straight face and convinced him that his day on Wells wasn't going to happen, right up until the point where I clambered up on to Wells to start the process of lighting her up.
Jonathan, lovingly cleaning Wells
Mike, helping Tina light up 2807
One of the oils cans on 2807 appears to have had some sort of an accident.  It looks rather like it has been run over by a train.
Seen better days
 There was simply no containing Jonathan's delight once he knew that we really would be out on Wells
No need for me to say "Say cheese"
Even Neil threatening to anoint him using the strange blue oil can didn't dampen his enthusiasm.
Irrepressibly happy
Jonathan wasn't the only person who was very keen to get out on Wells, John, a pioneer driver of the early days of the GWSR had booked himself a place.
John (l) and Steve, the driver for the day.
 John was keen on getting a photo of himself in the driver's seat, so I took one with his camera for him and then grabbed one with mine for this blog.
John at the controls
Bulleids patent lubricator and glove drier.
Poppies growing near Bishops Cleeve crossing
Once down at CRC, all was looking good,  I had prepped the fire during the run round and everything was where I wanted it for heading back to Toddington.  Three minutes before we set off back, whilst I was hooking on to the carriages, one of the loco's owners appeared and suggested that it was a bit cold in the carriages, and could he have some steam heat please?  This was the cause for a bit of concern on my part, hooking on the steam heat would instantly send a lot of steam down the carriages which I had ear marked for sending to the cylinders. Normally, you get to find out that steam heat is required as you hook onto the stock for the first trip at Toddington.  As soon as the steam heat valve is turned on, you notice the pressure gauge and water levels drop back considerably.  Under those circumstances of course, you would have plenty of time to whip the fire up a bit and bring the pressure and water gauges back round to where you want them.  I had three minutes.  There was nothing for it, but to bale in a load more coal and hope that I'd be able to keep up with the changed demand for steam at such short notice.
Starting to get some steam down the carriages
Looks like I did then
 As you can see from the photo above, I managed to do it.... and then some.  The safety valves went off for a while in the vicinity of Bishops Cleeve in what was otherwise an uneventful day for them.
Crossing 2807 at WInchcombe
 I have no idea at all about where on earth that disc code says that we're going, I doubt that there was a SR disc code for Toddington.  It probably says Bournmouth or some such unlikely destination.
Or perhaps it says Padstow?  Who knows?
Jonathan topping up the water.
Half a dozen boy scouts visited the footplate whilst we were waiting to start the second trip.  I say Boy Scouts, half of them weren't boys at all.  You'd have thought that Boys Scouts would be for boys,  the clue's in the name.  It's beginning to look like Billy Connolly wasn't too far wide of the mark after all. 

I made amends for my earlier cruelty to Jonathan by letting him fire the middle trip.  Jonathan is well advanced in his fireman training, so I handed him the shovel with some confidence that he would be fine.  Curiously he said that as he had never fired a loco with a wide fire box before, could I let him know if he was about to do anything stupid.  Apparently a morning on Wadebridge and one round trip on Wells the day before meant that I was now considered an expert on firing these things.  Oh dear!  
Jonathan building up the fire
We acquired another footplate visitor for the trip down too.  I didn't catch his name, but apparently he reads this blog.
Mystery guest.
Crossing 2807 at WInchcombe
Jonathan needn't have been so concerned. As it turned out he had a very good round trip, acquitting himself very well.

This posing in the driver's seat mularkey is getting out of hand, this time it was David, manager of the shop on Toddington platform 1.  I'd have provided a link to the shop's website, but it's currently being updated.
David in the driving seat.
And it doesn't end there.  For the third trip we were joined by Richard of the diesel loco dept. 
Richard, seeing the light at last.

Richard seemed to be enjoying himself.  I expect that he will be applying for a transfer to the SLD any day now.

It's hard to tell from this angle, but Wells has a BR(S) cylinder pressure gauge fitted, in contrast to the LNER one fitted to Wadebridge.
None of our home fleet of locos possess a steam chest pressure gauge, but it was quite instructive to watch it.  Coasting down hill towards CRC, it hardly read anything at all, going the other way, it was an entirely different matter.
Jonathan even found a moment to take a few photos himself
Exiting Greet tunnel
2807 was replaced by the class 24 for the last round trip for train 2
Jonathan cleaning out the ash pan
Once back on shed, I noticed that more tubes have been extracted from 2874's boiler. 
Work continues on 2874
If you look carefully, you'll be able to make out Steve at the far end, he had made a big enough hole in the smoke box tube plate (which was wasted away beyond the point of further service) to be able to get himself in there.
Steve down at the far end of the boiler.
Parked up next to each other at the end of the day, Wadebridge and Wells did look rather good.
Seeing double

I received a few photos and videos of the spam cans taken during the gala from Chris. Unfortunately the videos play upside down and I have no means of correcting that.  Chris helpfully suggested standing on my head or viewing them in Australia, but I'll spare you that.

I particularly like the photo below of a certain "licenced to kill" loco blowing off in one of our stations during the gala.  I know that I wasn't the culprit, but I don't know who was.  This will doubtless be the cause of much wild speculation on a well known social media site with many hapless firemen getting the blame, even those who weren't fortunate enough to get a turn on her.
James Bond blowing off.  Photo courtesy of Chris Crump.
I try to avoid working (as in the day job) at weekends as much as possible, but last weekend, the day job got in the way and I ended up many miles from home earning a crust.  Never fear gentle reader, one of our recent intake of volunteers very kindly stood in for me and captured a fine collection of photos of the activities in the SLD on Saturday.  All photos from here on courtesy of Donna Ludlow.
A spam can has taken up residence in the mess coach.
I believe that Donna managed to get in a round trip, possibly on 4270, which involved breakfast:
Keeping it warm.
Not cooked on the shovel.... standards are slipping!
Watering 4270 after breakfast.
DMLL were having a bit of a tidy up, putting various miscellaneous fittings into appropriate containers.  I have another photo of the people involved at work, but I'm informed that one of them didn't want to be identified as his wife didn't know that he was there.  You know who you are and you know who to send the brown envelope to.
A tidy up of some of odds and ends
Speaking of Dinmore Manor, she is off on her holidays, starting with a couple of weekends on the Epping & Ongar Railway.  Meanwhile, back in the David Page shed, work on her tender is progressing well:
Wheels in the progress of being  needle gunned and primed
Here caught in the act of needle gunning one of the wheels is Seb, a recent recruit to both DMLL and the GWSR.
Seb Needle gunning
The DMLL Facebook site features a lot more information about this, so I've shamelessly nicked the following from there:

"As part of our commitment to help develop and pass on skills to younger people we were most pleased to have Seb Welsh undertake his first day of work experience with DMLL today. As part of his BTEC Level 3 diploma in Engineering college course we have worked closely with his college to ensure we were able to meet the needs of his course and offer the valuable work experience placement time that is essential to him completing his course. We are now registered with his college as an approved work experience provider and look forward to working not only with Seb over the coming weeks but potentially further students from the college in the future should they wish to choose us for their placement."

 Foremarke Hall's tender is just about the only major part of that loco left on the GWSR, and it would appear to have been hooked onto a "Really useful engine" with a view to extending its range.  No doubt it will end up with fish swimming about in it when the Thomas event comes round in less than a fortnight's time.
Actually, I think that the tender was just being painted
2807 was receiving a bit of TLC on Saturday, and a "foreign body" was discovered on top of the brick arch.  Best guess is that it was the mortal remains of a brush for cleaning out the flue tubes.
Foreign body
Elsewhere in the David Page shed, the Permanent Way gang along with some assistance from the SLD have been at work getting road 7 and the south end of road 8 ready for concreting
The permanent Way gang at work
The north end of road 7
The south end of road 7, including the pit which now has rails
After her starring role in the gala, 35006 is back in the David Page shed for her restoration to running order to continue.  There had been a few issues with the blower valve, which Steve was reassembling after repairs had been made.
Steve reassembling 35006's blower.
Not sure what these bits are, but they look interesting
And finally, Donna sent me a few rather artistic photos taken during the gala when she took a ride out on the freight train.
I suspect that Donna had spent some time with the Brasso on Dinmore Manor's nameplate
Bursting out of Greet tunnel
Speeding through the rain
Thank you very much for standing in for me Donna, it is much appreciated.


  1. Is there any way of finding out what is happening at Broadway or CRC ?

    1. Hello Anonymous,

      The CRC2 blog link has reappeared on the main website's news link. There hasn't been an update since 23rd of May, but the link has returned. There is a new chairman of the Broadway Area Group, Roger Brindley, who will be ensuring that a new Broadway blog is set up. Like you, I have been missing my regular fix of both blogs and hope that they return to their former glory as soon as possible.