Tuesday, 28 October 2014

More Rudyard Volunteering; now I'm a guard!

Malc is away visiting family but the RLSR is operating this week, so I went down there on my own today. There were just three of us in attendance; Joe (who I know from the Churnet Valley Railway), Alan, and myself. Joe and Alan took turns driving and I was instantly promoted to Guard. It's a role I started to pursue on the Churnet Valley but so convoluted was the training for what's essentially a pretty simple job that I decided to stick to Signalling on that railway (a complex job with suitably complex training!). At Rudyard, it's recognised that Guarding is not rocket science; a hand held machine tots up the fares to be charged to passengers, and (sometimes!) prints the tickets. Then I take the fares in cash, tendering change from my cash bag. I also made some station announcements at 'The Dam' intermediate station, and 'Hunthouse Wood' terminus. There's also an emergency brake in the guard's compartment which I can apply if I spot anything amiss with the train. After my first trip up and down the line, I had the job pretty much  taped.

We ran five return trips on the scenic 1.5 mile lakeside line today, one per hour starting at 11:00, the last train getting back to Rudyard about 15:45.

As a bonus for being Guard all day, at Rudyard I got to run the locomotive round between trains (our engine today was Pendragon, another fine little Exmoor loco). This involves uncoupling from the train, driving the engine to the water column, watering and coaling (so easy on these little engines!), then driving it along the station loop line, reversing it onto the train, and coupling up (including attaching the air brake pipes) ready for departure. I then oiled round the motion and topped up the cylinder oil in the lubricator.

'Pendragon' photographed on another day, leaving Rudyard station

Then it's time to wash my hands before selling the tickets for the next train to passengers already in the coaches. When it's time to go, I press a plunger switch on the platform and the barrier alarms sound as the barriers to the car park exit road level crossing descend, and a pre-recorded announcement welcomes passengers to the railway and gives basic safety information. Once the barriers are down the starter signal pulls off automatically, and I give the driver the 'right away'.

At the end of the day I ran 'Pendragon' round from the front to the back of the train, coupled on, and propelled the train backwards into the carriage shed for the night. Joe uncoupled the loco and I ran her onto shed and put one of the injectors on (to top up the boiler with water for next time),  raked out the fire, and put her away in the engine shed.

I'm back at Rudyard on Thursday. If it's a similar day to today, I'm really looking forward to it!


Another day of Guarding, and driving the locomotive during run-arounds. Our engine today was 'King Arthur' (all the Exmoor locos are named after Arthurian characters). 'The King' is the largest engine on the fleet having six coupled driving wheels. She is also considerably heavier than the four-coupled locos, a distinct advantage in the leaf-fall season when fallen leaves can make the tracks slippery and promote slipping by the locomotives.

Me in 'King Arthur'

'Here's Excaliber's' cab, which has much the same layout as the other 'Exmoor' engines. 

On the left is the reverser lever, which controls direction of travel and 'notching up' of the valve cut-off setting. The handbrake is on the right, with the train air brake lever on the cab front wall just above it, together with its associated air pressure gauge. 

The boiler steam pressure gauge is prominent in the centre between the two spectacle windows, with the 'blower' control tap beneath it (the blower sends a variable blast of steam up the chimney to draw the fire). Either side of the blower control are the steam valves for the left and right injectors (used with the associated water taps to feed water into the boiler against boiler pressure). Those injector water taps are either side of the boiler backhead, outboard of the two gauge glasses which show boiler water level. 

Between the gauge glasses is the firebox door, and the two coal bunkers are either side of the backhead (only the left one is visible here). The lever with the yellow handle is the sander (for use if the loco slips on the rail), and below that is the control for the cylinder drain cocks. 

The regulator, which admits steam to the cylinders to make the locomotive move, is the horizontal red handle with silver end, above the gauge glasses. The whistle lever is by the right hand spectacle glass. Just in sight at the base of the backhead are the two boiler blowdown valves.

I'll be back at the railway again tomorrow, hopefully for more of the same!


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