Friday, 23 December 2016

Peak Rail Santa Specials

Peak Rail Santa Specials operate from Rowsley, where all passengers board and alight, to Matlock Town. 'Technical' stops are made at Darley Dale in both directions. In 2016 trains were operated 'top-and-tail' by visiting locomotive 'Ring Haw' (0-6-0ST Hunslet 1982 of 1940) at the south end of the train and either resident Class 31 or Class 44 diesel-electric at the north end. Jan was rostered as the driver of 'Ring Haw' on Tuesday 20th December and Thursday 22nd December.

Events of Tuesday 20th December 2016

'Ring Haw', highlighted by the afternoon sun, ready to start the last train of the day from Rowsley on 20th December 2016.

I was rostered with Keiron R. as fireman, working with 'Penyghent' at the north end. The load was six passenger coaches plus a 'BG' luggage van to store the presents which Santa Claus would distribute to the visiting children. 'Ring Haw' rather appealed to me. It is a '14-inch Hunslet', less powerful than the 'Austerity' 0-6-0ST locomotives (which were based on the '16-inch Hunslet'). It served at the Nassington Iron Ore Mine near Peterborough until withdrawal in 1970. It is now based at the North Norfolk Railway and the owners limit its use to the equivalent of a 4-coach load so 'diesel banking' was specified on parts of the Peak Rail route. Following clearance by the Railway Inspectorate, it was also specified that the diesel locomotive would create the vacuum brake even when 'Ring Haw' was working the train, so the vacuum ejector in the cab of 'Ring Haw' was simply used the driver's brake application valve.

Whilst 'oiling round' I had plenty of time to notice the similarities with the 'Austerity' tank locomotives - two inside cylinders with slide valves operated by 'Stephenson' Link Motion.

'Ring Haw' at Peak Rail: View from right-hand foot framing, showing slide bars and valve rods.

As far as lubrication is concerned, a number of conventional oil cups with trimmings and oil holes have been retained but a large mechanical lubricator is now fitted to 'Ring Haw' serving not only the cylinders and the regulator in the dome but also the axleboxes, slide bars, piston and valve glands via copper pipes fitted with the appropriate non-return valves. Oil with an SAE of 680 is used in the mechanical lubricator.

'Ring Haw' at Peak Rail: Mechanical lubricator mounted on the left-hand foot-framing.

Unusually, the axlebox hornguides are grease lubricated from a separate system fed from grease nipples mounted along the top of the main frames.

The saddle tank is pierced by the dome which accommodates the regulator. Externally, the dome mounts two Ross 'Pop' safety valves side-by-side together with a high-toned whistle. The saddle tank does not extend over the smoke box.

'Ring Haw' at Peak Rail

The cab layout is typical of industrial locomotives - right hand drive with a two-handled regulator, steam brake valve capable of being operated from linked handles on either side of the cab, two gauge glasses and two Davies and Metcalfe backhead injectors. The Davies and Metcalfe vacuum ejector and the steam heating shut-off cock with automatic pressure regulator are, of course, features added in preservation.

'Ring Haw' at Peak Rail: View of boiler backhead viewed from driver's side of cab.

'Ring Haw' steamed well and was economical on coal and water. Keiron and I had an enjoyable day carrying out four round trips to Matlock Town as we helped to provide the proper 'Santa Special' experience which relies on the work of a large number of volunteers.

Events of Thursday 22nd December 2016

Once again I was rostered with Keiron R. as fireman, working with 'Penyghent' at the north end and the same 7-coach load as on the Tuesday, carrying out four round trips to Matlock Town. 'Ring Haw' gave us no concerns during the day.

'Ring Haw' at Matlock Town, with 'Christmas Pudding' headboard, ready to be pulled back to Rowsley.

As on the previous Tuesday, we lit the engine lamps for the last round trip as it was already becoming dark (the Winter Solstice had been on Wednesday, 21st December, giving less than 8 hours of daylight). At the end of traffic, 'Penyghent' uncoupled from the train and headed smartly up the loop until clear of the crossover to the Headshunt (which I prefer to call the 'Third Line'). Meanwhile, Keiron uncoupled 'Ring Haw' from the train and, in possession of the Single Line Token, we headed towards Matlock until clear of the South Ground Frame so that Keiron could turn me into the loop. Once clear of the points, I gave three short whistles to Keiron (the old British Railways whistle code for "Clear of All Running Lines") and, once Keiron had rejoined the engine, we followed 'Penyghent' to the North End.

I stopped clear of the road crossing until 'Penyghent' passed us, heading for Shed Road 2 then I followed suit and we also stabled on Road 2. Whilst we went about disposal duties, Harvey C. used the Bucket Loader to refill the bunker ready for the following days service. Then it was complete the paperwork, sign off and return home.

My Pictures

'Ring Haw' at Peak Rail.