Monday, 27 July 2015

Play Day for the PFP

Yes, I know, nothing posted here for almost a fortnight, a shocking state of affairs.  You just can't get the staff.   To misquote the late Sir John Betjeman, I was "Summoned by Fells" and consequently out of interweb access for a week or so. I like to think of it as "Time off for good behaviour", but I don't think that I'm kidding anybody apart from myself.  Before I embarked on my ramblings in the Lake District though, I had a couple of firing turns, a week ago Wednesday and a week ago Saturday. 

Before that though, the last blog post feature on 35006 having passed her boiler test prompted Roger to send me the following photo of Ian setting 35006's safety valves. 
Photo courtesy of Roger Bush
Not a job for the faint hearted.

Anyway, Wednesday 15th, was a firing turn for me on the "Planet's Favourite Prairie", 5542.   It was also a driver training turn for John under the tuition of Mark.  Chris appeared early to clean the PFP on what started out as a fairly miserable morning weather wise.
Chris cleans the PFP in the damp.
 Meanwhile, in the David Page shed, I noted that contractors have made inroads into fitting the shuttering on road 7 in readiness for further concreting
Road 7
 The only other train running on the blue timetable was the DMU, which we crossed at Winchcombe.
Tony exchanges tokens with Bob.
 At weekends, we run the red timetable for much of the running season, so I rarely get to do a blue timetable.  As far as steam is concerned, the blue timetable is rather like train one of the red timetable, but with the added bonus of a run out to Laverton on the first trip.  It was so long since I'd had to fire a loco out there, that I'd almost forgotten what to do.  NB, for next year, the loop is being lifted and relocated to Broadway station.  If you fancy going out to Laverton behind steam, then this season will be your last chance for a few years, except for special timetabled events like the steam gala when trains will be top and tailed.
Running round at Laverton
 Peering closely at the above photo, you can just make out a 360 degree digger at work on the embankment in the distance.  For more information about what was going on, please take a look at the Broadway Extension Blog.

There's always a lot to do in a short space of time if you have to run out to Laverton and back, we got the Station Master to assist with refilling the PFP's water tanks.
"Ooh, I've never done this before!"
John (l) and Mark, in the Planet's Favourite Office
 At the end of the day, there was an unexpected bonus.  One our resident locos, Dinmore Manor has won the prestigious "Engine of the Year Award 2014", from the Everything GWR website.  The award was waiting collection in Mark's in tray.
Mark and the plaque.
I believe that the plaque will end up being mounted somewhere in Dinmore Manor's container at Toddington for her volunteer support group to inspect.

 Come Saturday, I made a late start as I was down to fire an evening train.  As usual, there was plenty going on with Foremarke Hall's tender
John wields a paint brush
(l-r), Steve, John, Tim & Phil admiring their work
Work was also taking place on Dinmore Manor's tender.  Mark spent a while cleaning up four new tender safety links, two for Dinmore Manor's tender and the other two for 2874.
Mark at work
Tim went on to paint them with rust inhibiting primer
 The wheels for the tender got a second coat of paint
Eleanor painting the wheels from 7820's tender
 More riveting was taking place by the drag box
Phil inspects the work and consumes a lollipop
Ian heats the rivet, Rob holds the rivet in a pair of tongs
Rivet being inserted, Mark prepares to turn the head of the rivet over

Dinmore Manor Locomotive LTD have set up a display board advertising their locos (2874, 3845, 3850 & of course 7820, Dinmore Manor) and the benefits of share holding/volunteering alongside the one that the 2807 group recently installed by the coal dock.
David painting the supports
David, David & Mark, fixing the display board in place
 Mark thought it was rather unfair of me to take his picture when he was in a position that he couldn't really escape from.  On the contrary, all is fair in love, war & blogging!
The finished display board.
 Hopefully some of our other loco owning groups will erect similar displays in the near future. 

For the evening, I was booked down as fireman on an owner's evening with the PFP. 
Driver Andy makes the cabside number plates sparkle before we set off
Sat at Toddington awaiting the 5542 group's guests
 Owner's evenings are always good fun, crucially, there is invariably free food laid on for the crew, in this case fish and chips. There is no more surefire way of guaranteeing a happy crew than free food.  

Directors, shareholders and their relatives/friends all wanted to come up and see their loco and as expected a few wanted footplate rides too.
Andy with John Wood of the 5542 group.
Our first passenger, I seem to recollect that his name was Keith, sorry if I got that wrong
The PFP's shadow on the hillside
Andy, posing for the camera rather than tucking into his fish and chips.
Fish and chips scoffed, Andy set off to find out who was to be our footplate passenger for the way back and the departure time.  "We're off at five past" he said.  "Ok, what time is it now?"  I asked with the thought that I needed a bit of time to prep the fire and get the water level up.  "Four minutes past", Andy replied.  I seem to recollect that I said something like "£$&@%*#~", but it could quite possibly have been "#*>%&£@".  Anyway, some ferocious shovelling followed and somehow we made it back without needing to stop for a blow up.

Once the PFP had been safely tucked up in bed, a cup of tea consumed and a shower taken, it was straight off to Lake District for me to trample over the fells and also to sample some narrow gauge steam on the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway and at Threlkeld Quarry.  

And finally, modern men are supposed to be "In touch with their feminine side".  I haven't a clue what that's supposed to mean, quite possibly that we're expected to take more than one bath each year or even change our underwear occasionally.  There again, it might not, what do I know!   What I do know however is that if I had to have a dark side to be in touch with, then diesel hydraulics would be that dark side. Hymek, D7076, which was the guest loco for this year's diesel gala is one that I'm pretty sure that I haven't clapped eyes on since it last ran for BR.   Anyway, Neil (who was driving D7076) kindly pulled the lever marked "Clag" when he noticed me on the over bridge between Toddington and Laverton.
D7076 on its way to Laverton (thanks Neil)
 The return from Laverton was just a bit too late for a full blown sunset, but it didn't make for a bad photo anyway.
D7076 silhouetted on Stanway Viaduct
Do not adjust your web browsers, normal steam service will be resumed next week.

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