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This weekend Carnforth Steamtown was a wonderful site, full of the ghosts of engines past and the presence of present engines. Our support coach was stabled in the steam shed for the weekend and it was a very atmospheric place to spend the night. On Friday evening there was a ‘Night Steam’ photo event featuring three big green engines a red one and a black one. As you’ve probably guessed, two of the three green engines were 70013 and 30777, alongside the newly painted 46115 “Scots Guardsman” with 5690 “Leander “and 48151. It was truly an impressive sight – and was only slightly marred by the torrential downpours at intervals through the evening. I’m pleased to say that the weather on Saturday and Sunday was much better.

 (This is a photo taken early on Saturday morning before the visitors arrived, showing the line up).

Before the rain started on Friday evening we had a chance to get some cleaning done.

On Saturday we had to be up and about early as a number of “early bird” tickets had been sold allowing people to access the site from 8am. It was really quite busy all day, lots of people admiring the engines, some interesting chats with people who had worked them in 1968, plus a lot of younger visitors, some of whom were probably seeing steam locomotives for the first time. We had all the regular questions, plus some which caught us off guard, one of my favourites was “how much did this engine [30777] cost? So I began to explain that at the end of her working life she was donated by the Nationalised Railways to the National Railway Museum, so had never been sold and so we (5305LA) didn’t own her but that everybody in the country did, in a way, own her, but that when she was built she probably didn’t cost many thousands of pounds, although with inflation what seems like a small amount was probably enough to buy several houses.” It was probably a bit more complex an answer than a seven year old expected.

During Saturday our team had a discussion about the problem of the Arthur’s still-not-quite-right reversing rod. As there were five of us from 5305LA on site and two of them are full-time steam engineers we laid plans to carry out more repairs on Sunday . Craig contacted the West Coast staff and made arrangements to use the workshop first thing in the morning.

So first thing on Sunday morning we set to dismantling the reversing gear on 30777 and ‘just’ taking it round from the engine to the workshop, where Craig and Rob heated it up and tweaked it into shape.

 (Craig and rob heating the rod.)

Then we had to wait an hour or so to allow it to cool down enough to be handled, so we went and had breakfast. By the time the rod was cool enough to carry it was after 10am and people were already thronging the site so carrying the rod back to the engine was a bit of an obstacle course, not least because we had to cross several tracks. Putting the rod back up onto the running plate was interesting... but we managed in the end. Sadly, although the treatment had made an improvement, it still wasn’t quite right. We made all the adjustments we could but by lunch time it was clear that the rod would have to come off again and be taken back to the workshop for some more “deep heat” treatment. By this time the crowds were quite thick, so I imagine that we caused a bit of a stir, although we were a bit too focussed on carrying the rod and not tripping up on a rail to really look around. The rod is about twenty foot long and like everything on the Arthur is built Big (and heavy).Once again we had to wait around for it to cool off, which was handy because by that time we were all hot & bothered and felt about 4” shorter than we had earlier in the day. So there was much relief when after we’d hauled the rod back into place and put the pins in the second time we had full travel on the reverser. We celebrated by sounding the whistles on both the Arthur and the Brit and inviting visitors to have a look on the footplates for the rest of the afternoon. Many thanks by the way to the support crews of the other engines and the West Coast staff.

(View from the footplate of 30777)

Getting the repairs done to 30777 means that she can return to traffic so during the weekend our team had meetings with various key people and let them know that the engine is available for traffic and we are hoping to get back onto the main line again very soon – as soon as we have confirmation we will post the news here – keep reading.

70013 is nearly ready to go on the main line, there are just a few niggling little jobs to finish before we can arrange a test run and get certified to haul trains, again we’ll post here as soon as there is news to tell you.


By Info | Monday, July 28, 2008 | Tags : 30777

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