Saturday, 12 April 2014

Ivan has a new machine!

......And here it is! A Piaggio MP3 3-wheel scooter:

Ivan's new (to him) Piaggio 3-wheel scoot

Many decades ago Ivan took a motorcycle test and therefore had a full motorcycle licence. As with all of us, over the years his driving licence has been physically renewed from time to time, and at some stage his entitlement to ride a motorcycle disappeared from it. He only noticed this when he got back into biking a few years ago and fancied something bigger than his Honda SS50 (50cc bikes can be ridden on a car licence). DVLA at Swansea were as much use as a chocolate teapot in tracing back his 'big bike' entitlement, saying they have no record of it. Strangely Ivan's wife, who has never sat on a motorcycle in her life, has mysteriously acquired a full 'big bike' entitlement on her drivers licence! 

Civil servants, eh? Don't you just love 'em? They screw up, and then they 'have no record' of it!

Ivan has no documentary proof of his 'bike' entitlement, so is powerless to challenge DVLA's incompetent self-serving indifference. That left him with three possibilities: Restrict himself to bikes of 50cc or less, take the time-consuming and expensive 'Direct Entry' full bike licence course and test, or think 'outside the box'. He chose the latter, with a Piaggio MP3 450CC three-wheel scooter.

These trikes can be driven on an ordinary car driving licence, so Ivan found one for sale on eBay and purchased it. Today we enjoyed an outing to the Churnet Valley Railway at Cheddleton for him to get used to it. We gathered this morning at Malc's, and to keep speeds down while Ivan became familiar with this unusual steed, Malc and I used our little Honda C90s.

Malcs house this morning; his C90 on the left, Ivans MP3, Ivan, my C90

I led on the outward journey, onto the Alderley bypass, down the A34 to Congleton, then a 'small lanes' route cross country to our destination. Out past Congelton railway station to Hightown, Dane-In-Shaw, and over the saddle of Bosley Cloud before bearing right for Rudyard via Biddulph Common and Brownslow. From Rudyard we found the diminutive Devil's Lane up and over the moor to Longsdon, onward to cross the Caldon Canal and its feeder from Rudyard Lake (canalised here to form the canal's Leek arm) and the Leekbrook to Stoke 'Moorland & City Rail' line at Horse Bridge, and into Cheddleton 'the back way'.

At Cheddleton Station, after securing the bikes, we walked down to the workshops where ex-BR diesel electric locomotive 47524 was undergoing restoration. This engine entered service with British Rail in 1966 and was withdrawn from service thirty years later.

47524 undergoing restoration in the Cheddleton workshops of the Churnet Valley railway

47524's restored engine room with the massive diesel engine and alternator removed so the locomotive's structure can be properly accessed

The boiler of S160 locomotive No.5197 nearing restoration completion in the workshop. It was a 'Driver Experience Day' on the railway for my 60th birthday, driving No.5197, that first got me involved with the Churnet Valley Railway. Followers of this blog will be aware that I have been a qualified signalman at Consall on the railway since early last year.

5197's firebox, with thermic syphons (the large pipes) visible 

The other end of the boiler - the smokebox tube plate 

Outside in the yard is 5197's restored frames, smokebox saddle, and cylinders on temporary wheels 

Two Polish tank engines were acquired for the railway and one of them is almost fully restored in the yard. It has successfully steamed to Froghall and back, but its air compressor isn't yet working so it has only a hand brake at present. These engines are too large for the UK loading gauge so during the restoration the width across the cylinders was reduced by eliminating lagging space between the cylinders and cylinder casing, and the bunker modified so it will fit our railway. The class 47's central roof section can be seen on the flat waggon to the right of the locomotive.

The simple footplate of the Polish tank engine

The only train running today was a Photo Charter, and it soon appeared at Cheddleton in charge of the hired-in N7 tank engine 69621 from the East Anglian Railway Museum, which has been a Cheddleton resident for a couple of years now. This loco will be out of boiler ticket in July this year, so won't be in service on the CVR for much longer. The N7 stopped in the platform and we visited the footplate for a warm!

Here's a short video of the N7's air pump operating. The loco has only air brakes as it was designed to run with air braked stock on suburban services out of Kings Cross and Liverpool Street. It also has an ejector to provide vacuum so it can work vacuum braked stock, such as ours on the Churnet Valley.

'Sophie' approaches Cheddleton. The photographers wanted to take pictures at Leekbrook so the N7 and train were shunted into the bay platform to allow resident Class 33 diesel loco 'Sophie' and train to be run from their parking place north of the station to a position south of the station to allow the Photo Charter to reverse out of the bay, and proceed northwards to Leekbrook. But then the sun began to shine and the photographers decided to go the other way - to Oakamoor. The track between Froghall and Oakamoor may soon be lifted (don't ask!), so this may well be the last train to make that trip.

While the above shunting was taking place, Ivan borrowed Malc's tool kit to tighten a loose mirror on his machine

We followed the same route home, except that from Congleton we used Giantswood Lane to Hulme Walfield and Trap Street to the Holmes Chapel road at Jodrell bank and a fuel stop at Chelford. A pint at the Bird In Hand at Knolls Green was called for, and while enjoying that a small group from Stockport Walkers, who had been walking round Tatton park, appeared. I used to walk regularly with them in the Peak District after I retired in 2008.

The little bikes and Ivan's trike were soon tucked away in their respective garages - just before the rain started! On Monday we have a trip to Crich Tramway Museum planned - and on that outing Ivan's new steed will be accompanied by Malc and I on our big bikes and so will be able to 'stretch its legs'; I might even take the mighty Griso!


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