|April 2006 news|
Things are starting to get a bit more organised in the new workshop (although only a bit - no hot water yet, only just got all the lights working, compressor still not plumbed in...). Rather disconcertingly, the old maxim that you expand to fill the space available is being proved daily in front of my eyes. Only three months ago the place looked huge, with the racking fast filling up I can see a time when I could be pushed for space (yet again!).
More pictures of the chaos...
In one of the pictures you can see a black 4 inch sale Foster that came and went recently - it disappeared before I had a chance to photograph it, I'll grab some pictures next time I'm visiting the new owner - they're worth posting up, it was a particularly well-built engine finished in a very appropriate, plain black livery - rather a change from a lot of agriculturals about which do tend to get rather "dolled up" (I've just had a Burrell go through which we stripped of its Showmans lamps, steam siren, flags, rally badges - it looked like a Christmas tree when it arrived).
I had business in Harrogate last weekend, David came along to lend a hand (which is always appreciated). I'd intended to go in the posh new van (well alright, 137000 miles and six years old, but it's new to me) which is quick and quiet. Unfortunately, it's also two feet shorter than the antique Transit, so at the last minute (Saturday morning, 6.30) it was all hands to the pumps, unload the 4 inch Clayton and a 5 inch locomotive out of one and into the other as I panicked about having enough room on the way back.
It was a good choice as it turned out, the Transit was groaning by the time we'd finished loading (first in the rain, which then turned into hail which then, as we finished and shut the doors in a wet, perspiring heap, turned into radiant sunshine). A quick consult of the navigator showed us that, as lunchtime was upon us and York but twenty miles distant, a trip to the Railway Museum would provide both a decent meal and a couple of hours harmless amusement
More of the NRM
As I've mentioned before, I visit the NRM regularly - I think an annual visit should be compulsory for all school children up to age eighteen (and possibly beyond). I always see new things, I'm always amazed at the amount and quality of the exhibits and can never quite understand how you keep that many hundred of tons of machinery in spotless, dusted condition. This visit I wanted to see the "Flying Scotsman" display and spend the rest of the time in the archive - the hall in the NRM where they display a huge amount material which always used to be buried away behind the scenes. It's all stacked up in a gloriously chaotic jumble of models and nameplates and statues and furniture and signals and signs and... you could spend a week just in the one hall and still keep seeing new things. Whenever I walk in, it always reminds me of the last scene in "Raiders of the Lost Ark".
I grabbed a couple of days away last month, father and I took off down to the West Country and had a look around the West Somerset Railway and the Lynton and Barnstaple. We arrived at Woody Bay station on the L&B after an hours drive across a foggy Exmoor, with a driving rain coming down sideways. Somewhat to our surprise, not only did we get a warm welcome in the shop, the rostered driver for the day was most keen to start up the diesel and take us for a ride to the end of the line, which seemed dedication beyond the call of duty to me! Instead, we spent a happy half hour in the engine shed with the chap, hearing all the latest goings on.
More pictures at Woody Bay
Currently without a steam engine of their own, the Lynton & Barnstaple have used engines borrowed from other lines - until recently Jim Haylock's new-build "Emmett", latterly "Bronwyllyd" from Bressingham. I remember riding behind this engine as a boy during summer holidays spent visiting steam railways. Originally built without a cab, once it arrived in the middle of Exmoor, it wasn't long before management received complaints from the engine crews (mainly to do with hypothermia). After a quick consult with Bressingham, the engineering department at Woody Bay rigged up rather an ingenious wooden quick-fit cab which, whilst not adding much to the overall aesthetic of the engine, certainly keeps a bit of the Devon rain off. I look forward to seeing it running on my next trip down, which should be in early summer.
Finally, a request "from the office" as it were.
I get many, many phone calls and emails in a day. I do try to answer them all as soon as possible, your patience is always appreciated (and sometimes, it may seem, taken for granted, for which I apologise). What does help me with phone messages is a short, clear message left on the answer machine, preferably with your contact number repeated (if you want me to call back). In the last few months I have had several messages that neither Mrs P nor I can decode - they're either spoken at machine-gun rate or very quietly, with what appears to be high volume Wagner playing in the background. Thankyou in advance for your clarity and brevity.
11th April 2006
January 2006 - Moving to
new units, grit-blasting my hands, shiny Romulus
October 2005 - Stamford SME, Sam starts the restoration of "Pendle Witch", Casterton Working Weekend
August 2005 - New workshop, Thurston Pacific back from Cleethorpes
May 2005 - Berkely Light Railway, dodgy boiler certificates, full-size ploughing engines at auction
January 2005 - digging
October 2004 - initial planning for the garden railway
July 2004 - Fowler ploughing engines in Yorkshire
May 2004 - Moving the workshop, a 9 1/2 inch gauge garden railway
Apr 2004 - Holiday in Shropshire & The Severn Valley Railway, LNER liveried Black 5
Feb 2004 - Refacing a Tangye slide valve, new acquisition 10 ton Aveling roller