Sunday, 22 July 2012

Friday July 20th - Exchanging orange overalls for blue

Report from Dave Clark

Steve and Ian

Having enjoyed a Gold Fire and Drive day in 2011, the chance to do the new Platinum day with nearly 30 miles on the footplate was just too tempting to resist.

Arriving at Winchcombe yard at about 7 a.m. I met Steve and Ian, my fellow participants, and we walked round to the loco stabling yard to meet Tony and Ben, our driver and fireman for the day. After introductions we got cracking on Foremarke Hall with the brasso and rags, while Tony oiled round and Ben checked everything underneath.

Just over an hour later the three of us were enjoying a hearty breakfast in the Flag and Whistle. On returning to Winchcombe we boarded the train and adjourned to the RBr where Tony briefed on us on the workings of the steam locomotive

Regulator closed, vacuum brake on, small and large ejectors closed, and reverser in mid gear.

and general H&S, and Frank, our organiser, explained the day's schedule. We then moved to BSO 9000 and, in turn over successive trips to Cheltenham and back, enjoyed a full round trip driving and two separate down and up trips firing.

While at Cheltenham we all had turns up on the back of the tender, helping with both watering and pulling coal forward. Also while at Cheltenham we had an interesting tour of the signal box. During engine runarounds, coupling and uncoupling were also on the itinerary. After the final run, with Foremarke Hall back in the yard, we three remained on the footplate while the engine was used to position both 5542 and 2807 in readiness for Saturday's operational requirements.

Flap down, blower slightly on, and the rear damper open. Ben's soap tin on the drip tray!.

"Right!" "Three down each side, two under the door, and three down the front". "Then a further two in both back corners".

The big smile says it all!

With the shunting completed we then assisted Tony and Ben with engine disposal, which included shovelling the watered down ash from the pit into wheelbarrows. After a quick clean up, we eventually left at about 7.15 pm. It was then home to a welcome shower.

Grateful thanks are due to Tony, Ben, Frank, and our Guard and travelling Signalman, and everyone else who made it such an enjoyable day. If you have never done a "Fire and Drive", then I can thoroughly recommend it. We have a lovely railway, and viewed from the footplate, with the sound, smell and feel of a working engine in such close poximity, it is something not to be missed.

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