If you’ve read this blog or get my EDM Models newsletters, you’ll have got a bit of an idea I do a bit of driving of steam engines. Here we are at the beginning of November and I’ve realised that I have done quite a bit of driving and have been too busy to write about it.
In my logic York to Telford, well that’s half way to Wales so I head for Boston Lodge after the show for some driving on the FR although I have learnt my lesson now and not booked to drive on the Monday. Some rest is needed.
The week turned into mostly a week of double engines with a day driving the Square followed by three days of Soupy. Well it would have been all very routine except for running out of coal on DLG and having to arrange for the coal man to meet us at TyB on the way down. We were taking no chances the next day though and laid in a spare supply.
The end of the week was noteworthy as Paul Chetter joined us to record as many engine sounds as possible for DCC decoders. The one I really needed is the one for my L&B Manning Wardle kit and for the imminent Heljan one in 009. I drove Lyd on the Saturday and we had it miked up for sound.
We had a `moment’ approaching Garnedd Tunnel wondering if the microphone would still be there on the way out. We also got DLG and the three NGG16’s done over the weekend.
After that it was home for not very long before we were off to Devon to unload a loco and look after it for a week. Lyd went to the L&B for their gala and I went down to unload it, prep it and drive it through the gala weekend.
It wasn’t all Lyd though as I did find an Axe to grind one afternoon.
I did make one very silly mistake though. With Annie coming down to join me for the weekend I booked us in at Moorlands which used to be the Woody Bay Station Hotel and is just through the fence from the engine shed. The usual problem when staying in a B&B when playing with steam engines is that the early start means you miss the second B. With our other two crew staying in Lynton I ended up as the lighter upper each day whilst they had their breakfast. When they turned up I got to go back to the hotel for mine.
Its all very quiet at stupid O’clock in the morning!
I think its fair to say that we had a great time and Lyd was very much admired. The form for each day of the gala was that Lyd and Isaac took it in turns working the passenger trains on a one every half hour timetable. Around lunch time each day we got to go on shed for an hour as the freight train demo was supposed to do its stuff. At this moment Lyd became a mobile BBQ. Friday was sausages, Saturday was sweet & sour chicken wraps (Kevin can’t do the wraps so he had chicken fried hula hoops straight from the shovel) and Sunday was another sausage day fresh from the Lynton food festival.
Here are just a couple of photos
Lyd really did look the part on the L&B coaches and got a lot of admiring looks, loads of photos.
There are plenty of pictures of the gala online but I would recommend getting a brew and watching this one for a good look at what went on
Lyd had one more working day in Devon on the Monday for a photo charter for 30742 charters and the day broke blowing a gale and throwing horizontal rain at us. It was cold wet and miserable on the loco so it must have been great fun stood in the field! It did result in some moody shots though
No, we’re not finished yet. Less than a week after getting back to York from Devon it was back to North Wales for some driving during the run up to the Festiniog Railways annual Victorian Weekend. This is a `must do’ event every year but more so this time round. The run up to the gala was fun though with a couple of days thrashing eight cars up to Blaenau with Linda. 8 is her full load and you spend a lot of it on the limit of adhesion so there is a real sense of achievement with each successful trip.
The real deal started on the Friday and whilst there was loads going on it was all about this engine. Loved by many but this had a particular pertinence for me
Eleven years previously I drove Merddin Emrys out of Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog with the mixed train on its first run since a major overhaul to return it to traffic following several years out of traffic with boiler trouble. I project managed that overhaul and to say it went down to the wire would be an understatement – it was still in the paint shop the day before!
Ten years later, in September 2015, I drove it on its penultimate day in service as it came to the end of its ten year boiler ticket.
The plan was to turn it round quickly but with a bogie overhaul to do and some quite major firebox repairs needed a year was always going to be tight. In addition its had new smokeboxes, chimneys, domes, clack valves, cab valves, some cosmetic amendments and a full repaint.
It was close, it first turned a wheel on the Tuesday before the event and spent the weekend on light duties with selected crews looking after it. On the Friday it was out to double head with Taliesin, also making its debut after work done. I was driving Taliesin on the Friday.
Saturday it was my go with Merddin Emrys. The loco had a long day going off shed at something like 07:00 with the first crew on then my fireman and I took over at around lunchtime and would work it well into the night.
One of the troubles with galas is there is always someone wanting to point a camera at you and this is never more the case than when you are having to squirm around underneath the loco to oil it up.
Someone also has the bright idea of keeping the engines in the old engine shed so disposal involves more squirming about on the floor
It all pays off in the end when you get to drive Merddin Emrys and someone takes a cracking picture like this one
That probably is the end of playing trains for this season although there might be a little burst of activity around Christmas. Nothing rostered but I will be in Wales and who knows what might happen.
Finally, for more of what went on at the Victorian Weekend get yourself another brew (plus a snack as this one is an hours worth) and watch this video
Time to get some work done now!