Monday, 9 May 2016

Testing... Testing... 1...2... 35006

It's been an excellent week for contributions from various members of the steam loco dept.  To kick off with, Neil provided 5 more photos taken during the 1940's weekend:
Pete (l) & Ian, prepping Dinmore Manor
Steve in the process of oiling up his loco (4270?)
 The 1940's were noted for amongst many other things, rationing.  The fact that the following three photos from the 1940's weekend all appear to show our crews over-indulging in acts of wanton gluttony suggests that they weren't getting into the spirit of the event.  Next year we'll have to make sure that they get their ration books stamped.
Steve polishing off a week's rations for his breakfast
Sugar in the tea ration... should be Bromide surely!
Even Steve (l) and Ash were busy scoffing a hearty ration busting breakfast
You'd be forgiven for thinking that we only employ people called Steve.  All the above photos courtesy of Neil Carr.  There are no reports yet as to whether or not Neil exceeded his allotted ration that weekend.

This week has seen a sizeable rearrangement of items in the yard, which required the hiring in of a crane.  As is usually the case, other groups which might want to share the cost of the crane hire took advantage of the situation.  So it came to pass, that Dinmore Manor Locomotive LTD (DMLL) had the boiler lifted off of 3850, to allow work to progress on the bottom end of their loco.
3850's boiler being lifted off of the rolling chassis
Low flying boiler
The newly frames, ready for further attention
The boiler landed on the sleeper pile created for it a few weeks ago
The preceding four photos all courtesy of Mark Young.  The immediate plan is to separate the smoke box from the rest of the boiler and to needle gun the main body of the boiler.  The boiler will remain stored at Toddington now, until it is ready to send it off for overhaul.
Roger wasted no time in getting to work on 3850's boiler with the needle gun.
The orignal intention of hiring in the crane, was to rearrange a few of the containers, which needed to move to allow for the installation of the water pipe for the parachute tank, recently erected in the yard.
Several containers relocated.
The displaced containers, included the toilet block, which up to Thursday at least meant a diversion up to the main car park facilities when needing to answer the call of nature.
An inconvenience.
Preparations have been made for the launch into traffic of 35006.  For a start, marker stones for where to stop it when running into platforms and at water columns etc have appeared.  None of the other markers are labeled regarding which loco(s) that they apply to, but there was no doubting this one:
Pretty unambiguous
There has recently been another steam test for 35006, and some test runs.
Another steam test
Clive looking happy in his work
The above two photos courstesy of Ade Showell.

Wednesday and Thursday were set aside for loaded test runs, the first time that 35006 had hauled any coaching stock since she was withdrawn by BR in 1964, over 50 years ago.  The next four photos were kindly provided by Steve Parker:
New coupling on 35006, just fitted by Steve
Another view of the steam test
The first loaded test run on Wednesday, (l-r), Ian, Mark and Chris on the footplate
Proof that she made it to Cheltenham, complete with the chocolate and cream set.
All went well with the first loaded test run, and no new faults were discovered beyond a few minor items that were already known about and which will be easily sorted in the next week or so.

Thursday was the date of the second loaded test run, and yours truly was down as one of the firemen (2 crews rostered to maximise crew familiarisation).  I'd like to be able to inform you that only premier league crew were selected for this task, but alas, the selection criteria was down to how quickly you managed to respond to the email requesting volunteers.  Smart dumb phones do occasionally have their uses, and on this occasion I was able to respond as soon as the email arrived.  A little while later, a request for a day off from work had been made, and I was now all set for an evening with 35006.

Yes, I turned up at lunchtime on Thursday to start the light up process, a little like a kid at Christmas.  I was even more pleased to discover that Alex was around and she was not only mid-way through cleaning 35006 (a non-trivial exercise), but that she had already cleaned out the grate and was midway through emptying the ash pan.  I'm afraid that she managed to elude my camera, but many thanks Alex.

Something that I hadn't anticipated was that there might be a little bit of painting still going on, but it turned out that there was.  Ian was on hand to put a quick coat of primer on the tender door into the coal space:
As usual, Ian didn't want his picture taking...
...but eventually he relented... note the newly primed door.
The deflector plate was a bit stiff and took a bit of work to extract before I could check inside the firebox.  I was pleased to note that it was relatively straight forward to put it back in again.
Deflector plate
I was the second person to ask about the provision of a pep pipe, Chris had inquired about it the day before.  Several more were to ask later on during the day.  The answer was "no", 35006 has yet to have a pep pipe installed.  It was a hot day and the coal in the tender was dry, I took the view that a series of dousings with a hose pipe would be the best that could be achieved.  At least the tender first run would be the first , so the coal would hopefully still be fairly damp.
Coal being damped down
 Given a clean grate and plenty of lighting up wood and oily rags provided by Alex, I soon had a good fire going on the grate.  Still having 30 PSI on the clock from the day before gave me something of a head start too.
Conflagration commenced
Soon after starting as a volunteer in the steam loco dept, I bought myself all the usual items that a cleaner wishing to progress to the footplate would require, blues, steel toe-capped boots etc.  I also bought myself a firing shovel.  Not having the slightest idea what length of handle would be best, I selected one that wasn't quite the longest of those available, but not far short.  Needless to say, the first time I came to try it out (first official fireman training session on Foremarke Hall), it turned out to be too long in the handle and it was pensioned off to gather dust in the garage.  The cab of 35006 is particualarly spacious, so I thought I'd dust it off and see if it fared any better.  The good news is it did and will henceforth be pressed into service every time that I am fortunate enough to get a firing turn on it.   Curiously the steam loco dept provided shovels (centre and left in the photo below) are wildly different,  the one on the left is about the same overall length as mine (by a process of elimination, the one on the right), but has a much smaller blade.  The other one is far shorter in the handle, possibly the intention is that it should be employed to flick coal into the back corners of the firebox, or more likely (to this sceptic at least) it is just there to make up numbers.
A tale of three shovels
I dutifully took what might have been its first water sample
Chris, one of the evening's drivers turned up to commence the oiling process.
Chris, happy in his work
Ben was down as the other fireman, even though he is a driver
We had to wait a while for 2807 to return from hauling the service train for the day
35006 waits in the south headshunt whilst 2807 runs into the yard
Unfortunately there were a few delays holding up our departure, the 17:20 approx depart time that I had been advised of came and went, and in fact it was past 18:00 by the time we got going.  I had heroically managed to keep her from blowing off for over 40 mins beyond the advertised daparture time, but eventually, when finally out of water space, I had to bow to the inevitable.
Waiting in the parlour road
Finally, hooked onto our stock
Rearward visibility past the tender is fairly limited, the fireman needs to keep a good watch out, especially when negotiating left hand bends, as the driver won't be able to see much.
Limited view
That said, the view when running the right way round is fairly restricted too

The other firemen in the department will no doubt want to know the important facts.  Although the red line is nominally set at 250 PSI, the first safety valve lifts somewhere between 240 and 245.  I didn't find out where the other two start to lift.  There is an element of hysteresis in the safety valves, once lifted, they stay open until the pressure has dropped back to somewhere between 220 & 225. 

Both injectors pick up cleanly given about a quarter of a turn on the water feed and about a full turn on the steam.
Just blown off.
Regular stops were made to ascertain the temperatures of bearings etc at various points around the loco, to make sure that the lubrication system was being effective.  Normally this would involve a driver pressing the back of his hand against a wheel centre to check that it wasn't too hot, but the 35006 group were rather more empirical in their approach, employing modern technology that Mr Bulleid could only have dreamed of.
Steve... phaser set to stun!
...then again around the driver's side...
...and finally up onto the running plate to get at the centre motion.
Ben fired the return journey, while Chris did the driving:
Ben shoveling coal
More temperature testing at Winchcombe
Then Neil drove back the final leg from Winchcombe to Toddington.
About to depart Winchcombe, Neil at the helm.
Clear view ahead... well on on my side anyway
The only failure that I was aware of was a rather embarrassing fault that occurred with the whistle, which jammed on as we were running back onto shed at the close of the day.   Steve fixed it in a few seconds once we were on shed.  As teething troubles go, it was a pretty minor one.
Non-stop whistle
Next off was to put 35006 safely to bed once she had been checked over and cooled down sufficiently.
Inside the smoke box.
Those distinctive Bulleid Firth Brown wheels looked rather nice illuminated by the yard lights
Simmering in the yard
She looked rather good entering the shed once she had cooled down enough
There were precious few people in the know to record the event from the line side, however this photo from Jason Houlders has very kindly been made available for publication here.
Thursday night's loaded test run as seen from three arch bridge
Overall, my impressions were very favourable, she doesn't need a great deal in the firebox to cope with seven BR mk1's on our line, and the injectors picked up cleanly without any difficulty.  Very noticeable to me was that the ride in the cab was extremely smooth, the cab is also extremely well protected from the elements, not a bad place to be on a wet day.  Comments from the other side of the cab were full of praise too, the brakes and regulator appearing to be popular.  The reduced number of items to be oiled up (in spite of the fact that it has one more cylinder than any of our other locos) also went down well.

And finally, I couldn't help but notice the excellent metal adverts for the "Swindon Built" steam gala in various locations, which is now rapidly approaching (28th-30th May).  Do come & see 35006, Peninsular & Orient S.N. Co in steam for yourself at the gala, which will feature her first public passenger carrying runs.  An unmissable treat will be to be on board as she hauls 14 BR mk1 carriages, plus guest BR Standard 9F, 92214 at the rear (making an equivalent of load 18) on the Saturday (28th) only evening train from Cheltenham Race Course up to Toddington.   The other guests are Ivatt 2MT, 46521 (like 92214, courtesy of the Great Central Railway) and Collett, Manor class, 7812, Erlestoke Manor (courtesy of the Severn Valley Railway and the Erlestoke Manor Fund).
One of the gala signs at Cheltenham Race Course
It's a stunning line up, don't miss it.


  1. Southern Man in Exile10 May 2016 at 12:52

    Wonderful to see her in steam. I look forward to the sight of her at Broadway...

    1. That will be 2018... assuming that the Broadway fundraising goes to plan. If you haven't done so and you'd like to help with that:

  2. Excellent blog post! Good to see the crane being put to good use with 3850, but not 2874? I thought she was ready for a boiler lift too, even if work can't start immediately? Or was it feared the two boilers might get mixed up if taken off at the same time? :)

    1. It was a shame about 2874, but we haven't got a space agreed to park her boiler yet. As soon as 3850's disappears off for refurbishment, 2874's will take its place.

  3. Ah fair enough, thanks.