Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Ivor: The best laid plans...

'Dai Station' reads the local paper's report on 'Ivor'.

In my previous 'Ivor' post in 2008, I described how we spent the day giving shuttle rides with one car of the 2-car diesel railcar. A similar operation was planned for the following Saturday, 23rd August, but plans don't always work out as intended.

This time, I was 'marked' as driver on the Diesel Multiple Unit (back to a two-car formation with the brakes repaired). Preparing the DMU for service isn't quite as simple as 'turn the key and go' but it's much quicker than on steam, so I had the luxury of signing-on around 08:30, instead of a couple of hours earlier for steam. Before running passenger trains, an inspection run is normally carried out along the length of the line, visually checking that the track and route is safe. My arrival time allowed for the DMU to carry out this inspection.

'Mayflower' was to operate the service train. On arrival at the shed I found the '02' diesel mechanical shunter next to 'Yvonne' not in steam, then 'Ivor', wreathed in smoke and finally 'Mayflower', with its crew completing preparation. There was no driver present for 'Ivor' and the trainee fireman had 'blacked-out' the fire so as to produce plenty of acrid smoke but not a lot of heat. So my thought of having a nice, clean day went out of the window as we set about improving matters in Ivor's firebox. It was clearly going to be some time before 'Ivor' would be in steam, so I made my way to the DMU siding to get the 2-car unit ready. Gerald said that the '02' would not start and I knew that, if the worst came to the worst, we could shunt with the DMU. However, Gerald had located a battery charger, allowing the '02' to be put on charge for a while. Eventually, the '02' started-up so I moved the DMU to the north end of platform 1. This allowed the '02' to drag 'Yvonne', 'Ivor' and 'Mayflower' into the south end of platform 1. 'Mayflower' was uncoupled and made her way to platform 2, ready to take the first Shenton service at 10:55. The '02' propelled 'Yvonne' and 'Ivor' to the outside pit. 'Ivor' was still struggling to make steam but I had to leave again to make the inspection run to Shenton with the DMU. On my return, 'Ivor' was 'off the mark' but steam pressure was rising only slowly. It had been suggested that the smoke tubes were blocked and, although I was dubious, we carried out a quick 'tubing', after the '02' had returned to the shed road with 'Yvonne'. The 'tubing' dislodged very little soot but, at long last, we had a decent, bright fire and pressure started to rise.

Now it was time to "oil-round" 'Ivor'. Most of this was carried out by the trainee under instruction as, once 'Mayflower' returned from Shenton, I was scheduled to take the DMU on a shuttle trip up the line to Headley's Crossing. After the shuttle trip, the DMU was 'stabled' in platform 1 and I returned to a much happier 'Ivor'. Once the second Shenton service had left, 'Ivor' was able to move into platform 1, where all available hands made the locomotive a bit more presentable. Before 'Mayflower' returned, 'Ivor' had to be parked out of the way, allowing 'Mayflower' to run round whilst the DMU was on its second shuttle trip to Headley's.

So, for the rest of the day, this pattern repeated, with the DMU dashing up to Headley's each time 'Mayflower' arrived back and 'Ivor' standing in the platform (or steaming up and down the platform) but moving out of platform 1 when 'Mayflower' returned. When 'out of the way' was the north end sidings, the coal bunker on 'Ivor' was replenished. There was a variation when the service train arrived back after the fourth trip. This time, the DMU had been positioned in platform 2 so that 'Mayflower' could arrive in platform 1. Once the DMU had disappeared up the line on the fourth (and last) shuttle, 'Mayflower' could run round, pausing at the water column at the south end of platform 2 to take water. Whilst 'Mayflower' was down the line on the fifth run, the DMU was disposed in the DMU siding. Finally, 'Ivor' made a final appearance in platform 1 before heading for the outside pit for disposal. Disposal of a steam locomotive is always rather hot and dirty work, particuarly at the end of a shift when everyone is getting tired. Once the job was done, it only remained for the '02' (still coupled to 'Yvonne') to pick up 'Ivor' and put 'Yvonne' and 'Ivor' in the shed for the night. The '02' was stabled just outside the shed.

After working on 'Ivor' and the DMU on Saturday, I was happy to have a day off on Sunday. But I was 'marked' as DMU driver again on Bank Holiday Monday, 25th August. The weather was kind and we had lots of visitors. This time, 'Ivor' had a driver, so I was able to stick to my rostered 'diagram', doing a line inspection trip and four Shuttles to Headley's Crossing, coupled to 'Ivor', who pulled the train back to Shackerstone each time.

My pictures in 2008 of 'Ivor'.

My post on the 2007 'Ivor' events.