Wednesday, 21 October 2015

A new addition to the family...

Alfred's first steaming at home, on rollers, with its new owner

It's a steam locomotive! OK, it's only a 3.5" gauge 0-4-0 Quarry Hunslet (with tender) but it's a real steam engine. It's about as heavy as an old git like me can lift (the tender is lighter!), is superheated, coal fired, two injectors and a tender hand pump. Inside frame Stephenson valve gear with several notches either side of centre via a cab lever.
Malc and I had great fun driving it last Sunday at Urmston Model Engineering Club's track, and last night we went to see it in Sale at the owner's house. I oiled round, lit it up, drove it on rollers, and it runs like a sewing machine! Dropped the fire, blew it down, did the deal, paid the money, took it home!
Been ordering tools, fire irons, rollers etc today.
Hopefully it'll soon be appearing on local club tracks! Pulling passengers!

Here's a video of Alfred being driven round the Urmston smaller track by James, the former owner:

Here's a video of Alfred's first steaming today (22nd October) on rollers as I get used to lighting her up, keeping the pressure correct (high but not so high she blows off), keeping the fire as it should be and most importantly, getting used to the operation of the injectors to keep the boiler water level safe!

Addendum, Sunday 25th October 2015

Just spent a most enjoyable day at Urmston club track running 'Alfred'. Crikey, it's a steep learning curve! With such a small boiler and firebox on these little engines margins are much finer when driving than with a full size engine. You can loose your fire and boiler pressure very quickly if you aren't on top of things. The up side is if you catch the fire in time you get it all back to where to should be pretty quickly.

It reminds me of learning to fly back in 1978, how much there seemed to be to do in the circuit, and not enough time or brain cells to do it all concurrently; height, heading, engine management, radio, positioning etc etc. One felt the pressure of trying to keep so many 'spinning plates' spinning all at once as everything seemed to continuously diverge from where it should be. Then a few years later, the aeroplane flies as though on autopilot. There is seemingly nothing to do! All that frantic 'plate spinning' has become second nature and one wonders what all the fuss was about.

I'm hoping model steam loco driving is like that! One day it will feel a lot less frenetic. But boy, it's fun learning!

One advantage with the steam loco is that, unlike flying an aeroplane, if all gets a bit too frenetic you can stop and have a methodical think-through. Just as long as you keep that boiler water level safe!

A week later:

Another great day at Urmston track. I think I've got the measure of the little Hunslet now, being able to run round the 'test' track continuously with water and fire controlled just fine (like flying ya keep ya scan going and multi-task!). I only stopped to top up the tender water tank.
I also had a go driving 'The Beast', a big 5 inch gauge Baldwin-ish 2-4-2, on passenger trains (so taking members of the public) on the 'big' track around the entire periphery of Abbotsfield Park (with a 'public transport approved' driver sitting behind me). Much easier than the Hunslet! Bigger firebox, bigger boiler, so more reserve in both.
Next week I hope to take the Hunslet out into the 'big track'!

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