Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Gone Fishing

Last weekend saw the visit of the "Really Useful Engine" from the Island of Sodor.  It was touch and go, as Sodor is still part of the EU, and given the recent Brexit vote, it wasn't clear whether or not Thomas would need his passport to get into the UK.  The Fat Controller had some very stern words indeed at the border control, and eventually Thomas was allowed in.

Thomas arrived with a small amount of coal in his bunker, which definitely wasn't Welsh in origin, it created quite a bit of clag when I lit the fire.
Has Thomas' emission control software been written by VW?
 I wasn't so bothered about that, as by the fact that there was similar clag appearing in the cab of Thomas too.  Had I not known better, I might have thought that he was wearing a chimney cap.  Even with 20 PSI on the pressure gauge, and the blower wound fully open, the cab was still full of acrid smoke.  Ian (Thomas' driver) suggested that the holes in the blower ring might be blocked and that I might want to take a look in the smoke box and give the blower ring a dust over with the hand brush.
Thomas' blast pipe, with the jumper ring on the top
 I was pleasantly surprised to discover that that did the trick, the blower started working as advertised and the smoke miraculously disappeared from the cab.

There was another small matter to attend to, Thomas rather naughtily takes water from the stream twice a day, the Fat Controller tells him off, and somebody in the crew has to go fishing in Thomas' water tanks to find that a fish has got in there.  All well and good, but it was known that the usual fish used for such purposes had been lost.  A new one had been obtained, but it still needed a fishing rod and line.  Ian located a spare bit of wood that could stand in for a rod and somebody else rummaged up a piece of string.  I tied the lot together as best as I could (to the only obvious attachment point, a label in the fish's belly) and we got Tony (Thomas' cleaner) to demonstrate how he would do the fishing later.
You should have seen the one that got away!
Fish in the tank, and rod and line easily accessible, before we set off to Winchcombe
Disappointingly, the weather forecast wasn't as good as it might have been, and there was plenty of surface water around indicating that it had been raining recently
Thomas reflects on the poor weather
 Thomas' water tanks were some little way down, so we elected to replenish them using the newly installed parachute tank in the yard.  Tony wasn't quite as quick to call for the water to be cut off as he might have been.
Wet boots for Tony
 With next to nothing in the bunker either, Thomas took delivery of a bucket or two of coal to see him through the day.
Coaling up
 Before we set off with our first train of the day, 2807 Henry the big green engine set off down the line.  Given the weather forecast, Henry's crew were more than a little apprehensive.
Henry sets off, Thomas waits to go into the platform and collect his train
 I have noticed that Thomas always seems to visit on his birthday... regardless of the date.  In fact, we have him running for 4 different days each year, and every one of those days turns out to be his birthday.  That's twice as many birthdays as even the Queen has each year.  Given that Thomas was born in 1937, I think that makes him 316 years old.  He's not doing badly for his age.
The combined age of Thomas' crew was far less than 316.
 All the usual fun of the Thomas event was had.  Somehow, Ian & I managed to convince Tony that the cleaner was supposed to do all the activities, such as the fishing in the tanks...
Fish fingers for dinner tonight
...and the pouring in of water from the buckets:
Tony fills the tank, the hard way.
 Ian & I opted to remain in the nice warm cab, especially when it rained:
A decidedly damp Fat Controller
 Well OK, Ian occasionally mixed it up a bit by sheltering in a handy Toad brake van.
Ian, keeping dry
 Tony maintained his unenviable record of getting his boots wet, by calling for the water to be turned off just a little too late once again.
Wet boots again
 Every now and then, Thomas had to leave the platform at Winchcombe and wait in a siding for other trains to come and go, before he could return to Toddington
Thomas & Henry whistle to each other
There was also a friendly diesel running, not sure of his or her name
I noticed that a bus was doing some sort of shuttle service between Toddington & Winchcombe.  It wasn't Bertie, as he's only a single decker.  Nevertheless, it always seemed to be in the right place to greet us when we arrived at each end.

Bertie's friend waiting at Winchcombe
I suspect that Steve Parker took advantage of the bus service, as he appears to have taken the photo below from on board the bus:
A buses eye view...
...A worms eye view
Tony got the hang of calling for the water to be turned off, a little while before it really needed to be after a couple of false starts
Dry boots
After 4 trips to Winchcombe and back, entertaining many young people, fishing in the tanks (twice) and filling up with buckets (twice), it was time to shunt the stock away and head off to the shed for disposal.   The advantage of not having run for too many miles, was that there wasn't a great deal of ash to dispose of...  that makes Thomas "Really Useful" in my view.
I dampened the ash, Tony raked it out
 At the end of the day, I noticed several things, firstly that the loading road (road 5) had been lifted and was in the process of being replaced.  This hampered Thomas' return to Sodor, and he was to be collected on Sunday evening from Winchcombe, instead of Toddington.
Loading road under repair
 Road 6 in the David Page shed is the last one to have the floor concreted, the back half of it having been excavated during the day
Road 6, soon to be concreted
 3850's boiler has been a bit problematical recently, the smoke box had refused to budge when tried initially some weeks ago.  Some measure of brute force at least, if not ignorance had clearly been applied during the day, as the two were separated at last

3850's boiler & smoke box
And finally, Foremarke Hall is back in traffic for the first time since the gala.  She featured on a double header on Thursday, and will be operating on all running days during this week at least.
Foremarke Hall, basking in the sun on Saturday

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Dinmore Manor Sets Off With Her Bucket & Spade

Having not been at the GWSR last weekend, I can't bring you much news of what transpired there.  I am aware however that the Dinmore Manor group have made a bit of progress with 3850:
Removing the running plate at the front...
...front running plate removed...
...Dan gives it a pressure wash.
 The reason for the strip down at the front of 3850, of course is to gain better access to the cylinder block.  The cylinder block is split top to bottom, in much the same way that the country is over the EU debate
No need for ultra-sonic testing to find this crack
Work was not restricted to 3850, the Collett, 3,500 gallon tender is coming along well.
Mark Y attaches the tender plate
Mark H fills it with water for the first time in preservation...
...and checks the newly fitted float gauge.
Many thanks to Mike Solloway for kindly providing all the photos used up to this point.

Although I wasn't around, I have spies everywhere.  Andy posted through a few photos of the activities on Sunday.  35006 has dropped off of the roster until July, 4270 and 2807 taking over the mantle for last weekend.

Andy has done an excellent job of hiding behind the camera and only showing photos of his crew on 4270 on Sunday. 
4270 being prepped for service (photo courtesy of Andy Beale)
Taking on water
(photo courtesy of Andy Beale)
 The day was a fireman training turn for Graham, under the tuition of Tina.  Tom was the cleaner.
Left to right, Graham, Tom & Tina. (photo courtesy of Andy Beale)
Tina (photo courtesy of Andy Beale)

So where was I last weekend?  Well, I joined in the Dinmore Manor Loco LTD's day out on the Dartmouth Steam Railway & Riverboat Company (DSR), as Dinmore Manor was launched into traffic there for the summer season. Dinmore Manor has once again packed her bucket and spade and set off for the seaside. Don't worry, she'll be back again later in the year.  Last year, Dinmore Manor was restricted in the number of carriages that she could haul, as a stipulation of the hire agreement of the tender that she was using at the time.  Now she is using 3850's tender, that restriction is lifted, so she can be used on the longer trains that the DSR runs at the weekend.  Unfortunately, the timetable on Saturday has just a single loco in steam, so hopes of seeing her working with the Planet's Favourite Prairie (5542) were dashed.
Heading off in observation carriage, reserved for DMLL
No sooner than we had arrived at Kingswear, than most of us headed back up the line to Churston, to see how well Dinmore Manor coped with the 1 in 60 climb out of Kingswear up to Churston, with 9 carriages.
Not only did she look good, she sounded good too.
Heading off to Paignton
 When Dinmore Manor returned, we caught the train back down to Kingswear and took the ferry across to Dartmouth.  Various groups scattered in different directions to scavenge for food in the local eateries.  The station building at Dartmouth was built when the Dartmouth & Torbay Railway harboured the desire to extend across the river Dart into Dartmouth itself, but the railway never got any further than Kingswear.  I believe that it is the only railway station in the country never to have been served by trains.
The railway equivalent of the pub with no beer
 Like last year, a highlight of the day was a trip along the river Dart on the paddle steamer, Kingswear Castle.
Kingswear Castle
 Once again, like last year, after a little persuasion by Mark, we went down to the engine room in small groups to inspect the works
Full steam ahead
The stoker's tea appeared through that little port hole at one point (galley on the other side)
Two cylinder condensing power plant... note that rope...
...it drives the cylinder lubricator
You also got a good view of the engine, by looking down through that hatch in front of the bridge
Martin & David, enjoying the view from the pointy end of Kingswear Castle
 Whilst we swanned around on the water, Dinmore Manor set off from Kingswear on another round trip.
Steel, Steam and Stars Masts
 The tour of the river over, it was soon time to make our way back to Kingswear to catch Dinmore Manor's last train of the day back to Paignton.
Entering Greenway Tunnel
 I had planned to try and get everybody lined up with Dinmore Manor for a group photo at Paignton, but it was like herding cats.
Well, Mark at least got the idea, but nobody else was to be seen
 Much later, some of the cats were eventually herded into roughly the right position:
Dinmore Manor supporters club
The question of the day, was where will DInmore Manor be hired out to next summer so that we can enjoy a day out with her again?  I quite like the idea of the Orient Express myself.

And finally, some video footage has emerged on Youtube of Dinmore Manor running on Saturday.  Click here to view it.