Sunday, 11 March 2012

'Planet' in service again on the MoSI railway

After a few rostered turns on 0-4-0 saddle tank 'Agecroft No.1' it was good to have 'Planet' back in service again today.

'Agecroft No.1' at MoSI

 'Planet' a while ago at MoSI, me firing

As long as it's not raining ('Planet' has no cab) I much prefer crewing 'Planet' to 'Agecroft'. The cab on 'Agecroft' is quite small and claustrophobic, she burns far more coal than 'Planet' so the fireman is constantly feeding the fire from the awkward bunkers, trying to manoeuvre the shovel in the confines of the tiny, smoky cab. And there's the constant roar of the steam ejector which generates a vacuum to keep the train brakes off. On top of all this, the fireman is on the wrong side for getting down to change the point at the Ordsall end of our line.

'Planet', on the other hand, has a spacious footplate with 360 degree views (and open skies!), offers a relatively smoke-free working environment, requires only relaxed firing with plenty of 'shovel swinging' space, is quiet in operation, more interesting to drive with its valve levers and slip-eccentric valve gear, and looks better!

Lighting up 'Planet' this morning

During light-up this morning; Beryl Brown (guard), Bev Pardoe (driver), and Peter Brown (operating officer) chat while we wait for the water tank to fill

This morning as I was preparing the engine when a voice from the past met my ears; Jon Moffatt a former colleague at SPL was standing at the side of the track with his family. The last time I saw Jon was at breakfast in the restaurant of the Holiday Inn Junction 4 M4, where I spent a lot of my working life in my later days at EDS (not actually in the restaurant, but in that part of the world), it being close to the Stockley Park office of the company. Oh wow. How long ago and how not in the least missed are those days in corporate harness. Which would you rather do; get up at 5am for a drive or flight down to Heathrow for a meeting and work 'till 8pm before checking into the hotel, or a leisurely drive to crew a steam loco for the day or show some visitors around Concorde G-BOAC? I even get paid for the latter!

Bev oils around during preparation this morning

I had full steam pressure by 11:30 so we started running earlier than our usual mid-day start. After about an hour I noted a Chicken Chaser (small moped-like device - a Honda 'Stream' in this case) arrive at the entrance to the museum; as I suspected, it was fellow-biker Malcolm and he was followed by Tony on his 'chaser' (a Honda Caren). Pretty soon, they were installed on 'Planet's footplate for a trip up the line and back. The smiles below showed they enjoyed it!

Malcolm, Tony, and Bev on 'Planet' today

 Looking back from the Ordsall end of the line, Beetham tower in the background

 Looking across to the Deansgate to Salford Crescent line, gantries in place for the Manchester to Liverpool electrification

Here's a video from 'Planet' as we propel our train back to the Liverpool Road station

I got to drive the engine for an hour or so as well as Bev took the shovel. What a great way to spend a Sunday; firing and driving a replica 1830 steam locomotive through an original 1830 railway station!



  1. good blog thanks - could you publish photos of the underside from front side and below - cranked axles and valves etc - all of this was grounbreaking

  2. also noted that mosi took some xray photos of "the planet" would be great if these could bd shared - chris