|News archive - October 2005|
It's started to get cold in the mornings up here, so summer is now officially over I guess. Our last outing of the summer was at the end of August, Sam and I had a day at the Stamford SME track. It's a lovely place, in the grounds of a private school where it runs around under the trees - a fairly short circuit laid as an oval around one of the school buildings. They had a long, end-of-season day planned ending up in a barbecue in the evening - unfortunately we were on a short pass so had to leave as things started to get busy later in the afternoon. For me, highlight of the day was this super little "Lion". It's a design I have a great fondness for (having grown up watching endless re-runs of "The Titfield Thunderbolt"), one of my earlier steam memories was being taken, as a lad, by my father to the "Rocket 150" celebrations where the original engine was running - last time it was in steam, I believe and unlikely to be repeated again with the engine now getting on for 170 years old!
Best bit of the day for Sam was being let loose on the society's club loco, a battery electric 08 shunter.
As some of you may remember, Sam's 3 1/2 inch gauge "Juliet" was one of the engines taken in our burglary back in August last year. Of anything we lost, it's the one engine that really hurt - I'd bought it for him to learn on some years ago, it was extremely tatty with horrendous green paint but went well and, of course, he loved it. Having decided that it's unlikely to come back any time soon, I've given him "Pendle Witch" as a replacement on the condition that he restores it - this is the four inch scale Milner Hunslet, one of a pair, that I bought last year.
Having spent some time in the stable attic (the engine, not Sam), we managed to lug the chassis down the stairs a couple of months ago (having put it up there through a hay hatch with the fork truck which is now down at the workshop - it was a sight easier putting it up than getting it down). He gathered up all the bits and we took them all down to the workshop where he has pottered away cleaning and fettling. I've kept a bit of a watching brief on the whole escapade, but have tried to be as hands-off as possible.
It's the ideal engine for a lad's first project - although dismantled it's complete and, though filthy, in good condition underneath and beautifully made in the first place. He Jizered the chassis down before pressure-washing it, reassembled an assortment of bits and then cleaned and oiled everything that moved - the end result is a clean, air-running chassis. The engine was originally dismantled for retubing, somebody got as far as cutting the inner dome off and getting the old tubes out. I ordered him up four lengths of drawn copper tube and a tube expander from our friends at Wicksteed Engineering, he's so far cut it all to length, faced the ends up and deburred them - I'm hoping in the next couple of weeks I can get a new dome made and welded on, he's then set to put the tubes in. He's promised to have it in steam on Christmas Day, I (somewhat rashly) have promised to have some track to run on down in the garden by then...
Back to Stamford again in September for the Casterton Working Weekend - a very good, low-key event with a lot of interesting machinery and a great atmosphere (helped in large part by the local farmers' wives running an excellent bacon & sausage sarnie facility!). I had a couple of hours wandering around with David, we both enjoyed ourselves immensely - best "big lump I'd have most like to have brought home" was an ancient four cylinder Caterpillar, built on a humungous scale. Check out the engine, exposed flywheel virtually in the driver's lap and the superb flyball governor advance and retard mechanism for the magneto.
More pictures of the working weekend
Steam was represented by a pair of Fowler's busy ploughing at the top end of the field with a general purpose engine and a couple of portables running on the belt at the bottom, as well as a good display of very nicely turned out living vans.
More pictures of the ploughing
More pictures of other steam engines at the working weekend
11th October 2005