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Your greatest ever steam locomotive spectacle

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by KentYeti, Nov 17, 2010.

  1. KentYeti

    KentYeti Guest

    Not quite sure where to put this, as it is overseas steam, but not heritage. But others may well have UK steam spectacles to talk of. If anyone wants to join this thread.

    I'm slowly moving towards the end of scanning and posting on my web site my 250 or so 1960-1963 SR steam photos. That has got me thinking about the rest of my collection, and I am taking the first steps towards digitising that for my web sites. Steam from South Africa, Germany and Austria. Plus aircraft 1979 -1986/7.

    Got me thinking about what was the greatest steam spectacle I ever witnessed. The Iron Mountain in Austria is a close contender. Rack tanks blasting up the mountain with the ore train empties from Vordernberg. An 0-6-2t at the front and 0-6-2t at the back. Sometimes the bigger tank locos.

    But one spectacle stands out above all others.

    25NC 4-8-4 3436, "Molly", on the afternoon "all stations", (there were only 9 stops I think over the 135 miles), from De Aar to Kimberley in South Africa.

    [​IMG]

    A two cylinder, 3 ft 6 inch gauge loco on an 18 to 20 coach train. Heavy coaches. 750 tons to over 800 tons. Or was that tonnes?

    I'd photo it leaving Houtkraal, then use my rally cross/autocross experience to drive like the wind on the dirt/gravel road to the small summit after Houtkraal. Then the same for a shot standing on the rocks as 3436 stormed out of Potfontein.

    Then the race was really on! The line climbed around the bends at the summit out of Potfontein and dropped to a long sweeping left hand curve. Followed by a slightly rising straight through Bartmann, before the climb to the summit under "snake hill". I only found that was the local name after climbing to the top a few times on warm April mornings. And it was very near there on that trip that I drove past a Hooded Cape Cobra on the dirt road, as it rose up to threaten me.

    It was a real race. Two medium format Mamya C220 cameras round my neck as I leaped back over the wire fence at Potfontein and drove at over 80 mph to my chosen spot on a small mound overlooking a small water hole at Bartmann. Car door left open, dust blowing around and a sprint to my photo spot to use both cameras, (one with telephoto), as 3436 came past making a quiet astonishing noise, an ear splitting noise, and chucking out clag at an amazing rate.

    That happened most days of the week I was there in April 1984, (I think that year, not checked my notes yet). Attached is the best result from that week. Clear sun etc.

    I'd guess the speed not much below 60 mph despite the relatively short distance from the last station start, and the curving uphill start. Those 25NCs were very powerful indeed.

    Sadly I never got a chance to video this spectacle. On my next trips the passenger train had ended. And 3436 was dirty and run down. But I did ride her cab from Orange River to near Poupan on that double track main line.

    And I took control of this magnificent machine as the fireman dozed off on his seat, and the driver walked down the running plate to stand beside the chimney and film me with my video camera. Such was South Africa in those days.

    Not hearing the driver quite right as he got ready to step out of the cab, I put her into full and 70%. But quickly wound her back to full and 40% as the mechanically fed fire all tried to escape at the same time. Then watched as the speedo hurried up to near 50 mph on the climb out of Oranje River. On the long rising grade and with an 800 tons goods train on the collar. The noise woke the fireman up and he quickly turned on the stoker. Just as well!

    I guess from the lineside that day she sounded a little close to that wonderful afternoon passenger spectacle of earlier times.

    Those were the days.

    Got a tear in my eye thinking of Molly
     
  2. williamfj2

    williamfj2 Active Member

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    Not so much a locomotive spectacle but seeing Canadian Pacific at the Great Dorset Steam Fair this year being towed by 5 traction engines (for anyone interested 2 Burrells, 2 Fowlers & a McLaren, lets just say some were working harder than others) was a sight and sound I'll remember for quite a while. Well it did involve a locomotive!
     
  3. richards

    richards Part of the furniture

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    [video=youtube;-j4TwMaPu3U]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-j4TwMaPu3U[/video]
     
  4. williamfj2

    williamfj2 Active Member

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    IIRC I was near the 2 vans seen as the engines go through Watford Gap. I keep meaning to upload my video of that and all the others.
     
  5. Johnny E

    Johnny E New Member

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    McLaren traction engines are superb. Have a look at some of the Youtube vids of Boadicea.
     
  6. williamfj2

    williamfj2 Active Member

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    Hmmm, as I took the thread of the rails (ba boom) I'll try to bring it back, hanging out of the first window behind Oliver Cromwell on the 1 in 49 to Goathland was fantastic, a sound to remember!
     
  7. Sheff

    Sheff Part of the furniture

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    Bryan, you stole my thunder (or that of 25NC's flat out!). I was working in Swaziland in 85-86 and managed to spend a few days along side the Kimberley De-Aar line during our round SA tour in 85. Double headed and single headed freights were the order of the day, with the pit-stops at Orangie River being something to behold, as the loco's were watered and had their fires cleaned in around 10-15 mins before hammering away up the bank. We also stayed at the famous B&B at Witput station one night, and after dinner I heard a weird sound like an aircraft taxing. Grabbing my camera I dashed out just in time to see the sole active 25 condenser coming passed in the twilight - another unforgettable moment.

    We (me, wife and 1 year old daughter paced the trains on the parallel dirt round, often with the wife holding the wheel whilst I leant out of the window with my Canon's. Must get the transparencies scanned - I may have some video to, if I look hard enough.

    Other than that, it would have to be the Duke over Shap in Sept 2004, a completely awesome climb with load = 13 and speed near to 50 mph at the top. Just thinking about that noise still makes the hairs on my neck stand on end.

    And in third place, I think would be Saturday night's fireworks spectacular at the CVR.

    (I've excluded my own footplate experiences on the KWVR years back as nothing can really beat doing it for yourself!)

    Iain
     
  8. 50002

    50002 Member

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    If you mean the shock & awe type of spectacle, it would be Turkey 1975. A freight somewhere in the Taurus area, can't remember exactly where but it had 2 on the front and 2 bankers: train engines were a Skyliner and a German type 3-cylinder 2-10-0. banked by another Skyliner and a 2-8-0.

    But the spectacle I shall go to my grave with, because it happened so frequently and the sound was so thrilling, would be the evening York Goods (660 Down) storming up the grade between New Barnet and Greenwood box with a 50A V2 on 40 to 50 fitted wagons, holding 35 mph and sounding like only a V2 could in the brave days of old. O ye people of the present day - if you think you know what a Gresley loco really sounds like, take it from me: you don't!
     
  9. spindizzy

    spindizzy Active Member

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    She took Can pac around the arena on her own this year!
     
  10. spindizzy

    spindizzy Active Member

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    Tangmere taking its load up the Folkestone Harbour branch last year unassisted was quite a sight.
     
  11. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Very difficult to choose a "greatest ever" but if I must choose then it's Jan 1st 2002 and bridge 4 near Aobaougou on the BaoShen line in China. Perfectly still morning and good light. Way in the distance a plume of steam can be seen approaching but it then stops. Two QJ 2-10-2s then head past coupled light. Eventually the plume of steam becomes three and the train is on its way again. Scarcely audible at first, the steadily mounting thunder approaches as 3500 tonnes of coal is hauled up the grade by double headed QJs and a banker. The exhaust hangs in the air for ever and you can trace the train's progress way back into the distance. Finally in a cacophony of sound the train crosses the viaduct and climbs past with its monster load. The sound just goes on and on until finally the train arrives in Aobaougu loop to pass a southbound working. Then we chase ahead in our minibus to witness the same train depart Aobaougu and continue the climb to Dongsheng. Absolute magic but I've a few more experiences that come real close - double headed Class 19s over the Montagu Pass in pouring rain and fighting for every inch, 4472 on the eastbound climb of Lindall Bank on icy rails, footplating the lead loco on a heavy freight on the Jing Peng Pass, 71000 over Shap in 1995, 03001 from Berlin to Dresden the same year, 6233 over Shap in 2009 and last but not least the day my beloved 34081 moved under her own steam for the first time in preservation - maybe not the greatest ever spectacle but certainly the most emotional.
     
  12. Premier.Prairie

    Premier.Prairie New Member

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    ..last but not least the day my beloved 34081 moved under her own steam for the first time in preservation - maybe not the greatest ever spectacle but certainly the most emotional.


    I agree, there's nothing quite like when your own 'baby' takes her first steps!

    John
     
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  13. KentYeti

    KentYeti Guest

    I thought a V2 would get mentioned here before long!

    Never experienced that spectacle myself. But it was truly legendary back in real steam days!

    Couple more SA photos. Fitting in with Sheff and his tour. I'll probably do a web page called "Coal South". As that was the finest doubleheaded spectacle on Kimberley to De Aar. 40 bogie wagons and circa 2,400 tonnes. Until I get my digitisation going I'm limited at present to prints I had done some years ago, but the one below thundering around the Potfontein curves is not bad. Followed by a "just after winter dawn" shot of, I think, 3482, storming up the bank from Modderriver with Northbound coal empties. Can you see the feathered gricer waiting to get a close up view?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Thanks Steve for correcting my very basic coding error!
     
  14. Steve from GWR

    Steve from GWR Active Member

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    This makes the above two images show OK - tag with not [image]

    [IMG]http://www.germanhikes.co.uk/SummitPostPhotos/CoalSouth-01.jpg

    [​IMG]
     
  15. David-Haggar

    David-Haggar Active Member

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    For me it has to be the ride behind Cromwell on the SSE last year. The noise the Brit made coming out of Leeds and work up the steep gradient was magic.
     
  16. Gwenllian2001

    Gwenllian2001 Member

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    Double headed Pannier Tanks hauling the ICI Tanks up the Seven Mile Bank en route to Dowlais. It was theatre in the round at its best. Unforgettable.

    Meic
     
  17. Robert Heath No.6

    Robert Heath No.6 Well-Known Member

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    Robert Heath No.6 taking a freight out of Foxfield Colliery, "assisted by" Lewisham :D. "It sounds like a castle on Dainton", as someone once said of the loco...
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HL48XrFYkq8 (around 02:20 in the vid). Filmed on an analogue tape and does the run no justice, but it gives a small taste!


    Aside from that, Cromwell on the GC's new year's day trains this year was pretty impressive, although it's possible that the darkness and a few drinks helped with that one :lol:.

    Oh, and Dora shoving 8 DSBs out of Wansford!
     
  18. 32110

    32110 Member

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    Again in South Africa, seeing a GMAM with about 17 passenger vehicles pounding up the Mantagu Pass between George and Oudtshoorn, gradient about 1 in 36.
     
  19. Big Dave

    Big Dave Member

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    Meic

    You lucky devil I know the area well and would love to have seen those panniers on the Dowlais tanks.

    For me a sight and sound I will never forget was 45110 & 48773 with 13 on battling up the Luxulyan valley in some of the worse conditions I have ever seen.

    I pre preservation days the Lickey incline could and did provide some spectacular sights and sounds usually from the bankers the train engines were often to be seen taking it relatively easily letting the bankers do the lions share.
    44871 & 70013 proved what many of us new that a couple of good engines at speed would go up ok as they did with 13 on.
    Was this perhaps the biggest unbanked load taken up by steam power alone.

    As for road engines Fowler Super Lion for me drag CanPac about all day easy.

    Cheers Dave
     
  20. RalphW

    RalphW Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Administrator Friend

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    Alway difficult but mine are varied but all seem to be on the footplate. Date order :-

    1. 2002, First drive at Wolsztyn out to Lesno.
    2. Nov 2006, Footplate of Baldwin 2-8-0 heading north from El Maiten.
    3. May 2007, Footplate of NC25 in Zimbabwe heading north from Sawmills. Start at 1.25

    4. June 2007, Footplate of 5407 Hellifield to Carlisle with Peter Walker at the regulator.
    5. July 2010, Footplate and drivers seat of Garratt heading for Plumtree, Zimbabwe.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2016

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