Friday, 11 June 2010

Happy Birthday Thomas! (part 2)

The Battlefield Line celebrated Thomas's 65th birthday over five days. I've already briefly described the first weekend here.

Saturday, 1st May was the official birthday but I missed that (something about a turntable). I missed the 2nd of May as well, but I was Thomas's driver on Monday 3rd May as Adrian had kindly offered to share the day with me. I arrived around 6.30 a.m. and Adrian and Steve were just lighting up so I started oiling round. There was very little coal in the bunker so Adrian fired up 'Bo-Co' the diesel (actually a Class 25 so not quite right) and dragged Thomas to the north end of the station for coaling. Adrian used the loading shovel to fill the bunker and then propelled Thomas back to the inspection pit where we started from. I was able to complete the oiling and inspection while Thomas 'brewed up'. We were ready for 9.30 a.m. and took Thomas down to stand in the north end of the platform. This allowed 'Daisy' the DMU to follow us into the south end of the platform and load passengers for the first 'Daisy Shuttle' of the day. Once 'Daisy' was out of the way, we moved across to the waiting 5-coach train.

Thomas made light work of the journey to Shenton and back. 'Henry' took the second service to Shenton whilst Thomas was engaged in races and other entertainments around the station. We coupled to 'Daisy' for the third 'Daisy Shuttle' of the day.

Jan collects the Single Line Staff as Daisy pulls the third 'Shuttle' out of Shackerstone (photo: Sam Brandist)

There were more races and diversions whilst 'Henry' was 'down the line' with the third train of the day to Shenton.

By this time, the site was packed with visitors and not everybody had been able to join the Shenton train. It was decided that the following Shenton train would have to be reinforced to six coaches. Once Thomas was joined to 'Daisy' for the next shuttle, we moved onto the main line clear of the crossover. This allowed 'Bo-Co' to go into the DMU siding and attach the vehicles stabled there, including a green-liveried passenger coach buried at the back. 'Bo-Co' carefully 'pulled out' the string of vehicles until the passenger coach was clear of the crossover. With the crossover reversed, 'Bo-Co' propelled the vehicles towards Thomas, waiting with 'Daisy' on the main line. Once buffered-up to Thomas, the coach was coupled to Thomas, allowing the other end of the coach to be uncoupled. 'Bo-Co' could then take the other vehicles back through the crossover, and stable them in the DMU siding. In the meantime, the braking system on the coach was tested, using Thomas to create various levels of vacuum in the brake pipe whilst Adrian on the ground checked for correct response on the coach. Adrian then climbed into the far end of the coach to keep a lookout as the 'boxed in' Thomas propelled the coach into Platform 1, dragging 'Daisy' behind.

Thomas boxed-in by the Green Coach and 'Daisy'

'Bo-Co' came onto the Green coach from the north end and coupled on. Thomas then uncoupled ready for the next 'Shuttle' departure. Once 'Henry' arrived back from Shenton, Thomas and Daisy went down the line to Headley's Crossing. By the time the 'Shuttle' got back, Henry had moved away from the main train and 'Bo-Co' had attached the green coach to the other coaches and moved to the south end of the 6-coach train, ready to take the diesel-hauled round trip to Shenton.

The last Shenton train was 'Tea with Thomas' and Adrian took over as driver, giving me an early finish to a most enjoyable day.

My pictures taken on both weekends (plus a few Sam has let me use) are here.

Anatomy of another 'Jinty' is a collection of detail photographs of 47327. It's interesting to look at the similarities and differences between this locomotive and another member of the same class (47298) shown in Anatomy of a Jinty.