Monday, 9 October 2017

2807 Heads of for Christmas Holiday

It's been a busy week for 2807, on Tuesday she had her annual steam test.  That was passed with flying colours, then on Wednesday it was a normal blue timetable day for her, followed by a gold footplate experience course on Thursday.  Friday was a day to cool down, then on Saturday she was prepared for being transported. By the time that you read this, she will have arrived at the Llangollen Railway where she is to see out the remainder of the year. 

I was the rostered fireman on Wednesday and when I found 2807 on one of the pits, the fire from the steam test the day before was still burning on the back of the grate.  The instructions for firemen say that you should always rake it all out regardless, don't try lighting up on it.  I took the view that you shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth, and after a rudimentary clean of the dead ash, left it where it was and carried on from there.  Needless to say, the back half of the grate stayed blacked out for the whole of the first trip and stubbornly refused to catch the fresh coal placed on top. I raked it through at the end of the first trip, lesson learnt!
The remains of the fire on the grate
 Precious little coal had been left in the tender, but it was just about enough to light  up on and get us round to the coal dock to obtain more.
Won't get far on that!
 A new notice has appeared on the fence by the yard entrance advising how to book a yard tour if you want to.
Roll up, roll up, roll up, get your yard tours here
 The cleaner on Wednesday was Luke, who is one of the growing number of amateur chefs that we have in the steam loco dept.
Jolly good it was too, thanks Luke.
The driver was Mark:
Mark on the big red handle
 Luke had a go at firing the middle trip and made a very good job of it, needing little intervention from me.
Luke wielding the shovel.
 A feature of the day was that the railway was over-run by school kids, ostensibly being evacuated.  To the best of my knowledge, WWII finished some considerable time ago (OK, technically Russia & Japan are still at war) , so it seemed like it was perhaps a bit late to still be evacuating children.  Having said that, given the number of questions that they kept on asking when they came up on the footplate, it suddenly made sense that their parents might want to send them off somewhere else for a few years.
Not only evacuees, but unexploded bombs too
Fortunately, the unexploded bomb remained unexploded.

Back on the footplate, the ejector handle was blowing by a bit, presumably the packing inside was no longer sealing as well as it should.
Indoor water feature
 Our friends in the PWay dept have visited again, and the track on road 6 in the shed now extends out onto the apron.
Road 6 inside the shed...
...and outside, while in the background, 2807 simmers at the end of the day
We're inexorably approaching the time when the shed floor concreting project will finally be concluded. 
2807 was back out again on Thursday for the gold footplate experience course.  Once again, yours truly was down as the fireman.  

The lighting up experience on Thursday morning left something to be desired, the heavens opened just as I emerged from the wood store with a choice selection of what had only moments before been nice dry wood.  Needless to say the coal was wet, 2807's storm sheet was down  and it was windy enough to keep blowing out the matches as I tried to light the first rag.  The only thing that I had in my favour was that at least the lighting up rags were not wet too. It had even been windy enough to blow over half of the wheelbarrows by the ash dock.
Yes, I tidied them up again.
John (driver) oiling up 2807's motion
 I was amused to note that a pair of gloves were wedged into one of the steps at the back of the tender.  They were still there at the end of the day.
Who's were they?
2807 all steamed up and ready to go
 The gold footplate day is as you might expect, has rather fewer participants than the silver one, who all get longer on the regulator and shovel.  It also starts from Toddington rather than Winchcombe and features breakfast and lunch in the Flag & Whistle.  At least two of the  attendees had had the day bought for them as a birthday present and they had both only been informed shortly before hand.

For the silver footplate experience, the fireman had to do a talk on the duties of a fireman on board the loco at the start of the day.  On this occasion, the fireman was spared that as he was needed to man the footplate whilst the participants tried out moving the loco light engine along siding 1.  Tim (retired fireman) was on hand to do the fireman's duties talk on another loco, sparing me from having to do it...  thanks Tim.
Learning how to make it go
 One of the participants had dropped out at short notice, so to keep things equal, Phil, one of our volunteers who helps out on the footplate days got roped in to fill the gap.  A nice idea I thought.
Phil grapples with the complexities of stopping in the right place
 Another difference with the silver footplate days is that the participants can also have a stab at hooking on and off if they like, it's not everybody's cup of tea, but some gave it a go.
Wrestling with the elephant trunks
 As usual, the various guests had a tour of the signal box at Cheltenham and had a go at pulling off the signals.
Cheltenham Race Course signal box
 The demographics were definitely white, male & middle aged, but there is absolutely nothing to prevent you signing up for one of these days if you don't happen to fit into any or even all of those criteria.  No previous experience is necessary, though in this case, one had done the silver footplate experience before with Foremarke Hall, and one drives a 7 1/4" narrow gauge loco on the Moors Valley Railway.  One flies hot air balloons which sounded like a fun thing to do, but again experience with hot air balloons is not an essential prerequisite for a steam footplate experience.  One of the surprise birthday attendees was the project manager for building the Tim Mitchell building at Winchcombe.
This chap was more used to 7 1/4" narrow gauge
Lunch time for the assembled throng
Shovelling coal.
2807 parked up at the end of the day on Thursday
The good news is that everybody left with a smile on their face.  Should you want a smile on your face too, the dates for the 2018 footplate experience days will be published sometime in the coming month or two.  I have no idea whether or not they will cover the line up to Broadway or not, however the link to watch is this one.

On Saturday, it was time to prepare 2807 for her journey on to the Llangollen Railway, where she will spend the remainder of the year.  A team of people swarmed all over her to get her looking her best, as well as raking out the remains of the ash that I had left on the grate, and emptying it out of the ash pan.

2807 sat on the pit where I had left her on Thursday
 Cleaning the grate wasn't the only task in hand, the 2807 group brought out their secret weapon to blow through the boiler's tubes.  Apparently the vacuum cleaner that they use was purchased prior to current EU regulations restricting power consumption, which were unaccountably drafted without considering the fact that domestic vacuum cleaners might be used to blow through boiler tubes.
Bruce(l) & Graham with the much modified vacuum cleaner
 The "Indoor water feature" noted on Wednesday was also attended to, the ejector seat being re-cut and new packing inserted.  Hopefully it will be dry now.

The task of getting Dinmore Manor's old tender serviceable again was underway.  The welding underneath had been successfully completed without the need for several brackets to be removed, which saved me a job.  Next job was to get some top coat on the wheel sets:
Eleanor doing her Rolling Stones impression  (Paint it Black)
Jeremy got in on the act too
First coat of black finished
 The tender vacuum reservoir has been removed, so Kate & Jack gave it a thorough clean up before putting a coat of rust inhibiting primer on it:
Kate (l) and Jack cleaning the vac reservoir
Kate was a little reluctant to relinquish the power tools for a paint brush

Now primed.
Sundry smaller items received a coat of primer too
35006 has been experiencing issues with the lubrication to the driver's side cylinder.  In order to isolate the fault, the owning group have borrowed a Wakefield lubricator to try out and see if it cures the problem.
Borrowed Wakefield lubricator on the left
Bob examines the oil feed non-return valve
Steve blows an airline through the passageways of the borrowed lubricator
Keith and Tony extricated over 40 tubes from the boiler of 3845 which will be used on 3850.
Tubes being cut
 The task was not made any easier by the amount of scale in the boiler and soot still in the tubes.  The boiler had obviously not been the recipient of much TLC towards the end of its working life on the big railway.
The first of several barrow loads of scale
Towards the end of the day.
A collection of cut out tubes
 You might have noticed that 4270 has not been featuring much lately.  She has unfortunately suffered from a crack on one of her driving wheel's balance weights and has been sent to Crewe for attention.  At the time of writing it is expected that she will be back in traffic here a little later in the year.  She can't get back soon enough as far as I'm concerned, she has the most weather proof cab of any of our home fleet locos and is the ideal loco to get on a cold winter's day.

A notice has appeared on the notice board in the mess coach:
Do you really need that extra shovel full?
The shovel appears to be full of the old round pound coins, which cease to be legal tender in less than a week from the time of writing, so perhaps the best thing to do with them is stick them in the firebox.  I doubt that they will burn very well though, you'd probably be better off shovelling a certain brand of smart phone instead.


  1. As a participant of the "Gold" experience on Thursday can I express my thanks to the crew and the other volunteers who gave us a wonderful day. A great experience and great fun as well - highly recommended!! (PS - you forgot the bit about running out of coal requiring a quick trip to the yard to top up!). PPS - love the Blog.

    1. Thank you, I'm glad that you enjoyed it. We didn't quite run out of coal, but it was close enough to warrant another bucket load for the final trip.

  2. A great, (and different), blog. Very interesting, especially after just reading the book, "The ramblings of a railwayman", albeit on the Southern at Guildford. It opened my eyes to the goings on of firing various SR engines, as does this blog. I like the poster about coal conservation. Very 1950's except that £1 coins were not about then. Do you know who created it? Regards, Paul.

    1. I presume that the coal conservation poster was conjured up by one of the management committee, if you're lucky, the guilty party will read this and put their hand up to it.

  3. You will notice that once again, although sparse all the coal had been shovelled forward On the Monday ready for your light up. Once again you are welcome, however I will point out that once I am in post this service will cease :-)

    1. Thank you Paul. I am disappointed that the free coal pulling forward service will no longer be available. I presume that once you are in post, it will become a chargeable extra, in which case, please send my bill to the head of department.