After last weekend’s dress rehearsal (see “A Lesson in Logistics”), yesterdays’ repeat “Bristolian” from Poole to Bristol went very smoothly. On Thursday evening (after work), we took 5305 LA’s trusty red van down to Eastleigh to begin prepping the engine, arriving quite late in the evening, slightly to the surprise of the gate-guard who initially thought that we wanted access to the shed, but was happy to let us in once we explained that the engine was in the yard and we didn’t need to go indoors until morning. We quickly checked the engine over and lit the fire, then retired to the coach for the night. We were woken early the following morning by planes overhead.... very close overhead. (It’s one thing to be told that the depot is close to an airport, but it doesn’t really sink in until you actually experience them, apparently grazing the rooftops.) The sight was so striking that everyone in the party had a go at getting a shot of Cromwell with a huge passenger aeroplane overhead, with almost identical results: loads of planes until you get your camera out, then none for ages... until your attention is diverted and you put the camera down.....
A plane seen through the cab sun roof.
Because Geoff had been in the previous week’s support crew he quickly sought out Steve (the main liaison between Knights Rail Services Ltd. and 5305la) and was able to arrange power, access to a pit, arrangements for coming back onto shed in the evening and access to the showers.
Cromwell on Eastleigh Pit
We took a break from prepping Cromwell on Friday afternoon and visited the works, which are huge! The shed is so long that you almost expect it to have a different weather system at the far end. While we were inside the shed we were able to see the progress with Manston (the first Bulleid locomotive to be repaired in Eastleigh works since steam days), when we arrived in the shed the engineers had just put her back down on her wheels.
Manston in Eastleigh Works
Following our excursion into the shed, we spent the rest of the afternoon finishing off the prepping, followed by an early night ready for an early start on Saturday.
Geoff and Dave, our formation oil-pouring team at work.
Dave and Kevin carrying out field repairs to the paddle at Barton Hill yard.
The trip itself was a repeat of last week’s sell-out tour by the Railway Touring Company, an interesting route, with plenty of ups, downs and wiggles to keep the crew on their toes, and plenty of attention-grabbing scenery to keep the passengers entertained. Catering for the support crew during the trip was courtesy of “Carter’s On-Coach Catering” a new enterprise which has seen the success of “Blue Haze (a subsidiary of Pakes Painting Services)” and moved into this fast-growing sector. A big thank-you to Andy Carter for volunteering to spend most of the trip keeping the rest of the team fed, particularly as he offered to walk into Bristol during the servicing and buy the supplies so that they would be as fresh as possible.
Andy'Carter, Nick Broderick and two of RTC's train staff.
When we arrived back at Eastleigh, at around 11.30pm we were greeted by Steve from Knights Rail who was ready to guide the train onto shed, and shunt the loco and coach over onto the stabling point. A huge thank-you to him for making our return so simple and welcoming.
After disposing the loco on Sunday morning we returned to Loughborough in the red van, stopping in at the shed while we were there to have a look at what has been happening with the other 5305la charges recently:
Lamiel was in traffic this weekend, it was great to hear that shrill whistle and see the engine backing down onto the water column. Even better to see Rob working away at cleaning and re-bitumening the coal space of the five’s tender, and to see Hugh and Gary discussing the finer points of battery box overhaul. We recently bought a new set of coach batteries (at a cost of about £2,000), so the boxes have been cleaned out and re-painted and the batteries are being installed. Although the Class 33 wasn’t in traffic this weekend, she has seen recent activity with the 4-Big and the Peak has been busy with testing work for Network Rail. New batteries in the re-painted box.
Rob painting the coal space.