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West Somerset Railway Spring Gala

Discussion in 'Galas and Events' started by pete12000, Mar 20, 2022.

  1. acorb

    acorb Well-Known Member

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    Just got back from an extremely enjoyable day. Lovely weather, the Somerset countryside looked wonderful and it was good to see the railway back doing what it does best.

    A few of the staff were quick to admit they were out of practice with big events and a lot of staff were new to this altogether - it was notable and promising to see so many young faces. They have also had quite a lot of bad luck this weekend - there will likely be learning points for next time!

    There is no doubt there has been a lot of change since my last visit - hopefully for the better. Some things however don't change. The friendly & warm welcome, the unique character of this railway, which is both country branch line and seaside line all rolled into one and the promise that this really should be one of the UK's finest heritage railways. Nothing I saw today says that this should be unobtainable. I hope this event has been a success financially and a spring board for better times ahead.

    Well done all, give yourselves a big pat on the back and be proud of what has been overall a great gala!
     
  2. Saint Austell

    Saint Austell New Member

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    See 419 struggled. couldn't pull the skin off a rice pudding that thing.
     
  3. Saint Austell

    Saint Austell New Member

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    Estimating, okay then. Its 2022 GPS exists. But if they wanna speed so be it.
     
  4. Mike S

    Mike S New Member

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    Whilst those at the coal face work extremely hard and some very long hours to make the best of things or come up with solutions the sum of your total contribution is an ill informed comment like that.

    The heritage railway movement is now much better off thanks to your insights.
     
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  5. lil Bear

    lil Bear Part of the furniture

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    Last WSR Gala I went to I did criticise the WSR team for badly handling delays - to which I still stick by for that occasion.

    However I'm happy to give credit when it's due, which for this event I feel it is. WSR Galas had become a bit stale operationally, and so it was nice to witness the Williton shuttle for the first time yesterday (even if the afternoon slots got cancelled). Don't know how you'd got so late first thing, but time did seem to be getting clawed back when I left around 4pm. Spent a good amount of time at Stogumber which was fantastic watching the various trains come pass, we got to see a local, stoppers and an Express! The running commentary from the station team was light-hearted and amusing, and added to the enjoyment even if the diagrams had fallen apart by this time. The trains seemed to be kept moving though, which was good. It was also good to see the work completed on the cattle dock at Stogumber, it might not be the biggest project but huge credit to what has been completed.

    The sets seemed to have been put together right for the loadings, and whilst not crowed there looked to be a good number of people around. Hopefully the event has been a success despite the operational challenges, and well done to those involved for putting on a good show. Look forward to a future visit that might even create less grey hairs for the organisers!

    EDIT: Just read the full thread, unlucky on a signalling failure!
     
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  6. ruddingtonrsh56

    ruddingtonrsh56 Member

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    As somebody who has fired 419 elsewhere (admittedly a much flatter line), I can confirm your statement is categorically untrue - she has plenty of power available and if anything when I was on her she needed holding back, she just wanted to go! Plus she regularly takes 5 coaches up steeper gradients at Bo'ness than the WSR have to tax her with, so gradients are not an issue either

    She is, however, rather particular about how she likes to be fired, and a combination of a sub-optimal batch of coal, an inexperienced crew and a spark arrestor affecting draught can all combine to make the pressure needle drop too low for her to be able to work to her full ability
     
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  7. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    One of the privileges of being loco crew is that from time to time you get to operate visiting locos, which may be of unfamiliar types.

    My experience of such things is that sometimes you get a visiting rep who is very knowledgeable about their charge; sometimes you get copious written instructions but no rep; from time to time you get nothing. At which point you are faced with a loco and think "how does this like to be fired? What shape fire does it like? How much does the water raise in the glass when under way? How do you get it into the big valve?" All sorts of questions that those familiar with it instinctively know, but if it is your first time, you have to find out.

    Not all locos are the same. Some years ago I went on the LNWR coal tank, fortunately with a very good owner's rep. The shape of the fire built was not at all what I would have instinctively done, but it ran very well with that advice - left to my own devices, who knows what would have happened had I attempted what I would consider a "good" fire for one of our similarly-sized Chatham locos?

    Of course, some locos are easier than others. Our driving and firing tests require several days on locos of different types. There's a very good reason why we avoid BR Standards for tests: within their capabilities, they are too forgiving. If we sent one of our tricksier beasts (that we prefer for tests) to a foreign railway, I'd expect the foreign crew initially to struggle to get a performance out of it that we would consider routine. Give a crew a week and they would probably start to get a feel for it - but often a gala, you get on a loco, do a day and just when you are starting to feel a bit more comfortable, you get off and next day someone else new gets on.

    Finally - I know I have referenced it before, but it makes the point. In 1966, Peppercorn A2 "Blue Peter" ran an enthusiast special from Waterloo to Salisbury. It lost 30 minutes on a 90 minute schedule; the crew were down to 100psi and about an inch of water by Andover - despite having an experienced North Eastern Traction Inspector on the footplate and a top-link Nine Elms crew. Basically it just wouldn't run on the soft Welsh coal available, yet was very capable on its normal diet of hard north eastern coal. No-one would say that a Peppercorn A2 "couldn't pull the skin of a rice pudding", yet there you have the perfect storm of an experienced crew on a capable engine almost coming to grief.

    Tom
     
  8. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator

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    was the cause of the poor steaming not a collapsed brick arch ? once realised and removed on servicing engine ran well for the next leg
     
  9. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    In what way? Looks as though it might have been priming judging by the exhaust.
     
  10. acorb

    acorb Well-Known Member

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    I managed to have a chat with the crew, after she had just waltzed up the bank to Crowcombe. The driver was grinning ear to ear and just said simply 'I enjoyed that', the (young) fireman had a look of satisfaction of someone who had finally mastered the situation. He stated the firing of the loco was completely different to anything he had experienced before, he was showing another interested volunteer how he had made it - apparently it was especially thin, although I am not an expert on such things!

    Strangely, Caledonian locos are not that common in Somerset, so no surprise that it took a while to get used to it, but as the crew stated - on Sunday she fully redeemed herself! Shame the afternoon trip was pulled, seemed I struck lucky.

    I had a trip behind her on the East Lancs. Load was 4 or 5 and she positively flew along. Suspect the crews were more used to her there, they have got a few ancient locos of their own!
     
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  11. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    Very interesting on the role of guest locomotives - I can't help but wonder if that's compounded other issues with 419 on it's tour, especially if it's sweet spots are different from the normal fare of the railways it works on.
     
  12. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    A classic example of when it's a really good idea if a loco crew, however experienced they may be, listens to owner/specialist advice when working with an unfamiliar locomotive. True of heritage railways and also true of the main line.

    The most dangerous person to have on a footplate, in my view, is one who claims they know what they are doing and doesn't need advice on either driving or firing. That, of course, may be true but a little humility ahead of arrogance can be in the best interests of everyone.
     
  13. steam_mad

    steam_mad Member

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    It is perhaps worth clarifying that the owners representatives that have accompanied 419 on her visit south have been extremely experienced members of SRPS staff. At the WSR gala, for example, the rep on Thursday & Friday was the head of the steam department - a former boiler inspector by trade - and the workshop manager was on the footplate on Saturday & Sunday. Both have been on the footplate at Bo'ness for decades and know 419 inside out having been involved in more than one overhaul of the loco!
     
  14. maureen

    maureen Member

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    It performed very well on the SVR and the ELR I had some brilliant rides with it.
     
  15. Bail5029

    Bail5029 New Member

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    Hello from said young fireman! I loved my day on 419. She's a credit to her owners (the reps were both brilliant) and the issues experienced the days prior were out of the control of any crew. The failure on Saturday gave us time to modify the spark arrestor whilst repairing the other fault in order to run in Sunday (the effort to do which was incredible to witness!). It's a shame that more crews won't get to have a go on her in such a fit state but at least the owners go away with a spark arrestor that does not hinder performance. I'd quite happily fire her on load 4/5 over the WSR. The engine is certainly capable!

    On a side note, nearly all enginemanship on the WSR is to a very high standard and if there are negative cases, then they are addressed in the appropriate manner. I can't comment on Saturday night, 5:15AM book on the next day made me avoid that one!
     
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  16. 49010

    49010 Well-Known Member

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    If that was the Sunday afternoon trip from Williton to BL then I agree with you she seemed a very different beasty to the earlier performances. Admittedly she only had 2 MK1s on tow but the bark coming form her chimney was pretty fierce and for my money she redeemed herself with that trip.

    I heard that (so, OK, standard rumour mill caveats), following problems with her spark arrester, the owners had driven another down from Scotland overnight - what must be 400 miles plus. The need for spark arresters was evident from the many patches of lineside that showed signs of burning - I assume some being deliberate / controlled burns and some others, (one on Sat in particular near Watchet) being accidental.

    Anyway, I had a marvellous time at the WSR, one of my favourite lines. Making reasonable allowances for the fact that this was the first full on Spring gala in years, recognising that all that rolling stock is now getting on a bit and therefore temperamental, I thought it was a really good one. The trains were well loaded but not Death by Rucksack territory. Nice to see so many young staff and, judging by the lineside, a hell of a lot of PWay has been renewed which is always a good thing.

    I take my hat off to you, and thank you.
     
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  17. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator

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    No drain cocks open until the end , loco working hard, relief valves in a state of total panic, really priming so lots of water carry over.

    an esteemed loco engineer didn't pull any punches on facebook and several loco owning groups were in a state of panic on the brutality meeted out to the loco tinged with relief it wasn't theirs

    rumours someone suspended
     
  18. 5944

    5944 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Priming so badly the pressure relief valves are operating on the cylinders. The water is pretty much coming out of the safety valves too. Shut regulator, open drain cocks at a minimum to try and get back some sort of control of the situation.
     
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  19. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    ...which only goes to show that some comments really are complete tosh and easy to say when they are made by an anonymous contributor. :rolleyes:
     
  20. LMarsh1987

    LMarsh1987 Part of the furniture

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    A very enjoyable two days back on the WSR with fantastic weather and a great selection of locos on show. The highlight for us was the late evening passage through Nornvis Bridge with the pair glinting nicely towards the Summit, as expected the Manor was sounding superb, though none of the assembled gallery had any inkling of what happened at the bottom of the hill in regards to the priming. Thanks to the WSR for great a show we both enjoyed our time on the trains, though the issues at lineside on Sunday were challenging. I hope you enjoy some of the action we managed to capture.
     

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