Saturday, 13 August 2011

Chelford Traction Engine Rally

I first attended this rally back in the late '60s when it was organised by the local Parish Council. It's still a major event on the steam buff's calender and today Mike Hyslop, Graham Robertshawe and myself went along.

An Aveling & Porter roller leaves the display ring

The weather was lovely, and the smell of coal smoke among the beautiful parkland of Astle Park brought back memories of these rallies of decades ago.

Not much has changed!

Coal smoke and steam among the Cheshire parkland at Astle Park

Two of several fairground organs at Chelford. These use continuous punched card rather like a Jacquard loom to produce the music. The organ in the lower picture gave a lovely rendition of 'The Battle of Britain' march!

These magnificent steam-driven 'gallopers' have been attending the Chelford rally for as long as I can remember

There were miniature engines, like 'Helen' here, as well as full size

Stanley Steam Car (last of its type) among the big engines

A 'big engine' in the display ring

This delightful small-scale 'Case' tractor has some novel (by British standards) features which are also exhibited by its full size counterpart. The valve gear (see picture below) is of a type I have never seen before, using a 'sliding block' to vary the valve timing. There is a friction clutch in the flywheel to transmit the drive to the wheels instead of the dog clutch or simple gear-engagement seen this side of the Atlantic. The boiler, smokebox, and firebox are 'one piece' and un-lagged, and the live steam take-off is external from the top of the dome.

The unique valve gear of the 'Case' traction engine. The selector lever is just out of shot, in the quadrant middle right, with a green rod connecting it to the 'sliding block' and determining the position of that block in the rocking 'channel', centre of the picture. The thicker green rod from the 'sliding block' that leaves the picture on the left drives the valves. If the 'sliding block' is in the centre of the rocking channel, the engine is in neutral. The bock being positioned at the top or the bottom of the channel puts the engine into forward or reverse gear.

A final look at the 2011 Chelford Rally, as 'Little Mac' leaves the ring. Driving home from Barton Airfield to Congleton (where we then lived) one Friday evening in August 1978 I had just completed my first solo flight during my pilot training. I was still metaphorically 'up in the air' with the euphoria of flying an aeroplane on my own for the first time. On the straight part of the A34 south of the 'Davenport Arms' I met 'Little Mac' coming the other way. Exuberantly I flashed my headlights and blew my horn, and the little traction engine's crew responded with enthusiastic waving and whistle-blowing! 'Little Mac' has always been a bit special for me since then.

(Once again, photos taken on my phone so not good quality. Still worth enlarging by clicking on them, though!)


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