Monday, 28 September 2015

3850... Going Out in Style

The concreting project in the David Page shed has come to a conclusion for the year. Excellent progress has been made and roads 7,8 & 9 are now finished, with only the protective coats of paint to be applied before they can be signed off as fully complete. The concreting has been suspended now as with the running season drawing rapidly to a close, we need to start getting the locos indoors again. Road 6 is the only one left to be done and that should be a relatively straight forward process when the time comes. I have received the following report and photos from Chris regarding this project.
Levelling off a section
More concrete being tipped in place
Three cheers, job done.
 “As you can see we have had a very good response from the Steam Department member’s for the final push to complete this season’s concrete laying of the floor inside the David Page Shed.

A BIG THANK YOU to all those who have come along on these “pour days”to make it all happen.

A huge amount of preparation has been taking place over the last few months or so, to ensure that the two pours a week on Monday’s and Wednesday’s could proceed.
This included the lifting of the track, ballasting, compacting, track replacement, jacking and levelling, all before we could even lay damp proof membrane, shuttering, steel reinforcement and then the concrete. PHEW!!
All of this would have been considerably slower were it not for the persistent help of Neil and Tim to ensure it happened and their hard work. This together with the logistic support from Mark and John keeping us going forward meant we got the floor down before the Loco maintenance season and any frost.

The next phase will be to seal and paint the floor area and we are looking forward to having that done in the coming weeks. Anyone good at painting?”

The above photos and report, courtesy of Chris Blake.  
 When last seen, we left Dinmore Manor's real tender propped up over her wheels.  I am delighted to be able to report that during the week, she was finally lowered onto them completely and also parts of the brake mechanism have been fitted, she is coming together at last. 
Starting to look the part
On Sunday, a bit more work was carried out:
Kenneth (l) and Chris fit the under keeps.
 This is extremely good news as Dinmore Manor's owning group (DMLL) are keen to get the tender into traffic before starting on their next project which leads me nicely onto the fact that 3850 (the next project) is now almost at the end of her boiler ticket, with just 2 days left to run as I publish this blog post.  If you want a last chance to ride behind her, then Tuesday the 29th and Wednesday the 30th are your final opportunity for a few years.

3850 is most definitely not going out with a whimper though, she has been out running on our line every day since the 22nd, including not just normal passenger services, but a footplate experience day, a shareholders special evening and a photo charter.  Her last day will hopefully be rather special too, but we'll leave that until next week.
3850 wore a DMLL headboard especially for the event, Mark H tried to fit it and escape before I took a picture:
Nice try Mark.... and happy birthday.
 3850 was already in steam after the footplate experience day on Friday, when Mark Y and I took over for the shareholders special on the evening of Friday 25th.  The plan was for a round trip of the line (including out to Laverton), kicking off at 7pm.  Before that, we offered any shareholders or their guests the opportunity to drive 3850 along siding 1 initially, and later when we had a signalman present, most of the way out to the section signal and back.  Unsurprisingly this proved to be extremely popular .
David, who manages the station shop at Toddington gave it a go.
A bit of a step up from the OO and N gauge models that he sells
For some people, it was their very first go at driving a steam loco
 For others, it was far from the first time at the controls:
Bob the Builder Boiler Inspector
Rob tentatively applies a bit of steam
 We must have seen the best part of a couple of dozen people take part.
The driving element over, Donna & Malcolm joined us on the footplate for a while
Mark, with food
 At this point, I had the choice between belatedly prepping my fire for departure or heading off to the buffet, way back down the train and grabbing something to eat.  Anybody who knows me at all, will know exactly what my course of action was.  The next time we do one of these turnouts, I'll have to see if I can borrow a tender with a connecting corridor, so that the crew can have deliveries made to the footplate whilst on the move. 

The various sections of the line all included usually two, occasionally one footplate passenger, mostly the winners of an on board raffle.  I seem to recollect it being said that this was Colin's first trip out on a footplate.

Mark (l) and Colin.
The "SPM" above Mark's head stands for "St Philips Marsh" in Bristol where 3850 was shedded when new.  The shed plate carried on the smoke box door is 86E, Banbury where she spent a lot of time in BR ownership.
The round trip was mostly undertaken after dark, something that I'd not done for a while.  A very different experience to firing in daylight.  
3850 in the dark at Chletenham Race Course, photo courtesy of Mark Harding

The Saturday and Sunday were just normal running days for 3850, however the other steam loco running was 2807, so the GWSR was effectively putting on an impromptu heavy freight weekend, with the earliest surviving example of Churchward's 28XX 2-8-0, 2807 out at the same time as one of the later ones of Collett's updated version, 3850.  The similarities are striking, the most obvious differences being the larger cab (with window and hand rail that extends to the roof), coupled with a tool tunnel on the fireman's side of the Collett variant. I had a go at capturing the pair of them together for posterity at various times and locations over the weekend.
2807 (r) with a warming fire, 3850 in steam on Friday evening
3850 waits at Winchcombe as 2807 arrives
Aside from the stars of the show, I also found Peter and his wife 'busking for Broadway' at Winchcombe:
and very good they sounded too.
By way of contrast, a certain amount of heckling went on as I was waiting for the shot of 2807 & 3850 crossing each other at Winchcombe:
(L-r), Steve, Clive, Kenneth & Jonothan.
Bearing in mind that there was a photo charter with 3850 on the 28th, for which the loco had been requested to be 'weathered', a note had been left on the notice board asking that she wasn't to be cleaned for a few days before hand.  After that, she was looking fairly grubby already, but to give her an extra boost, a select team of anti-cleaners descended on her on Sunday after the service trains had finished, armed with a variety of gungy coloured poster paints, to finish the job off.  As the select team consisted of two people, and I was one of them, you won't be too surprised to discover that all the photos are of the other one:
Mike, painting on gunge....
....and spraying on gunge.
 3850 was looking just as unloved and uncared for as she did at the end of her days in BR ownership.  I was disappointed to note that for the last two days of her service, there are no cleaners rostered.  I'd have loved to have been a fly on the wall when one turned up to clean 3850, only to discover the enormity of the task facing them.  

The photo charter was supposed to kick off at 09:00 on Monday morning, but it seemed a bit of a waste to have 3850 in steam on Sunday evening and to have Mike around as a model, so I fetched my camera.
3850 and Mike posing by the ash pit.
Joining the crew on Monday morning before the charter kicked off for a spot of breakfast, cooked the traditional way seemed like a good idea too:
The first shovel full of a three shovel breakfast
(L-r), Paul, Mike & Steve, ready for a day's work
The photo charter was blessed with exceptionally good weather, here is selection of  photos of 3850 enjoying her day in the early autumn sun.
An unconventional view of 3850 through a dew coated cobweb at Winchcombe
A more conventional view on chicken curve...
... and at Didbrook
The obligatory pan shot
3850, making equine friends at Stanway viaduct
The gallant crew, (l-r) Steve, Paul and Mike
Back lit at Gotherington
Clag inducing effects employed in Dixton cutting
Still cleaner than a certain brand of German car!
Yet more clag, this time just short of Greet tunnel
Arriving back at Winchcombe
Arriving back at Winchcombe, yet again
Thank you to every one involved in putting on the charter, from the crew, Steve, Paul & Mike, the guard, Keith and the signalman, Dave.  Many thanks too, to the Carriage and Wagon dept for putting together an excellent freight train, and to those who shunted the stock, to the admin team behind the scenes, the photographers who supported the event and to Martin Creese (AKA 30742 Charters). Thank you to the people who conducted her steam test and FTR exam. Thank you to the West Somerset Railway who released 3850 a couple of weeks early, so that she could take part on the shareholders special and the photo charter and of course Dinmore Manor Locomotive LTD for allowing  3850 to take part in the charter and for allowing her to be weathered for it.  Sadly she will very soon be stripped down and the whole process of rebuilding her ready for her next 10 years of service will start all over again. 
And finally,  even more excellent news, we have yet another fireman in our ranks.  Ed passed out on Sunday aboard 2807. 
Inspector Irving (l) and Fireman Brooks
Ed was so chuffed at passing out as a fireman, that he rather ill advisedly gave me carte blanche to say whatever I liked. I'll be uncharacteristically kind though and restrict myself to;  Congratulations Ed, great to see that you've made the grade.