I spent yesterday on the footplates of Excalibur and Pendragon, two of the Exmoor Railway-built 2-4-2 steam locomotives with drivers Peter and Alan, getting to know the best firing technique for these little engines. It's not the same as 'Planet' or 'Agecroft No.1' at MoSI (see here as an example: Easter at MoSI 2 years ago ), much larger standard gauge locomotives on which has been most of my firing experience to date, but I'm pretty sure I'm au fait with it now.
As ever, please click on any picture for a larger image.
A scene of frenetic activity at Rudyard this morning as three 'Exmoor' steam locomotives are prepared for duty; Excalibur in black nearest the camera, Pendragon behind, and in the shed entrance Merlin. The diesel locomotive on the right is drawing empty coaching stock from the coach shed, and I spent some time driving it this morning.
Today the weather was more like spring, and that was reflected in far more passenger numbers than yesterday. We had three 'Exmoor' locomotives in steam; Pendragon, Excalibur, and Merlin. We ran two trains, one every half hour from 11:00 until 16:00, the trains passing each other at Lakeside Loop.
Matt prepares Pendragon.....
....Until waylayed by a playful Alex; "put me down or I'll polish yer nuts!"
It was so busy today that there was not time for practicing steam loco driving, though I did drive the diesel locomotive this morning hauling the coaching stock out of the sheds. Instead, I spent the day as guard on the half past the hour trains.
Alex with Excalibur at Hunthouse Wood station, the terminus of the line, on our first train of the day, the 11:30 from Rudyard
The view from the guards van as we trundle up the valley past the lake on the 12:30 train
Pendragon runs around her train at Hunthouse Wood, ready for the return journey to Rudayrd. Note my guards van (the 'Dog Kennel') on the left.
Pendragon ready to return to Rudyard from Hunthouse Wood
Is that Alan's ciggie or Pendragon making all that smoke? Alan's (our driver's) legs can be seen sticking out of Pendragon's cab before departure back to Rudyard.
When the light is as it was this morning, this end of the lake can be quite delightful. The RLSR waggon in the foreground is used for carrying buggies, bicycles, or other bulky objects. It also houses an electrically-driven compressor for the train's continuous air brakes.
Pendragon and the guards van which I dubbed the 'Dog Kennel' as its small, dark, you can't see out, and you have to bend double to get in and out
Driver Matt at Lake side Loop exchanges tokens with Merlin's driver. Lakeside Loop is where the hourly and the half-hourly trains pass each other.
I drove this last year! 0-6-2 locomotive King Arthur's boiler undergoing maintenance in the workshop.
Today was busy. I expect tomorrow and Monday will be busier still, especially if the pleasant weather continues.