Wednesday, 21 October 2015

A new addition to the family...

Alfred's first steaming at home, on rollers, with its new owner

It's a steam locomotive! OK, it's only a 3.5" gauge 0-4-0 Quarry Hunslet (with tender) but it's a real steam engine. It's about as heavy as an old git like me can lift (the tender is lighter!), is superheated, coal fired, two injectors and a tender hand pump. Inside frame Stephenson valve gear with several notches either side of centre via a cab lever.
Malc and I had great fun driving it last Sunday at Urmston Model Engineering Club's track, and last night we went to see it in Sale at the owner's house. I oiled round, lit it up, drove it on rollers, and it runs like a sewing machine! Dropped the fire, blew it down, did the deal, paid the money, took it home!
Been ordering tools, fire irons, rollers etc today.
Hopefully it'll soon be appearing on local club tracks! Pulling passengers!

Here's a video of Alfred being driven round the Urmston smaller track by James, the former owner:

Here's a video of Alfred's first steaming today (22nd October) on rollers as I get used to lighting her up, keeping the pressure correct (high but not so high she blows off), keeping the fire as it should be and most importantly, getting used to the operation of the injectors to keep the boiler water level safe!

Addendum, Sunday 25th October 2015

Just spent a most enjoyable day at Urmston club track running 'Alfred'. Crikey, it's a steep learning curve! With such a small boiler and firebox on these little engines margins are much finer when driving than with a full size engine. You can loose your fire and boiler pressure very quickly if you aren't on top of things. The up side is if you catch the fire in time you get it all back to where to should be pretty quickly.

It reminds me of learning to fly back in 1978, how much there seemed to be to do in the circuit, and not enough time or brain cells to do it all concurrently; height, heading, engine management, radio, positioning etc etc. One felt the pressure of trying to keep so many 'spinning plates' spinning all at once as everything seemed to continuously diverge from where it should be. Then a few years later, the aeroplane flies as though on autopilot. There is seemingly nothing to do! All that frantic 'plate spinning' has become second nature and one wonders what all the fuss was about.

I'm hoping model steam loco driving is like that! One day it will feel a lot less frenetic. But boy, it's fun learning!

One advantage with the steam loco is that, unlike flying an aeroplane, if all gets a bit too frenetic you can stop and have a methodical think-through. Just as long as you keep that boiler water level safe!

A week later:

Another great day at Urmston track. I think I've got the measure of the little Hunslet now, being able to run round the 'test' track continuously with water and fire controlled just fine (like flying ya keep ya scan going and multi-task!). I only stopped to top up the tender water tank.
I also had a go driving 'The Beast', a big 5 inch gauge Baldwin-ish 2-4-2, on passenger trains (so taking members of the public) on the 'big' track around the entire periphery of Abbotsfield Park (with a 'public transport approved' driver sitting behind me). Much easier than the Hunslet! Bigger firebox, bigger boiler, so more reserve in both.
Next week I hope to take the Hunslet out into the 'big track'!

Friday, 16 October 2015

Autumn in the Peak

It's mid October, well into autumn, and the high pressure we have enjoyed for several weeks is holding on and is even blocking the jet stream, diverting it north and south of UK. Sunshine is a rarity however, but so far there has been no rain to speak of; just 'anticyclonic gloom' as cloud from adjacent fronts gets caught up in the circulation of the high pressure system.

I decided to take advantage of the weather today and have another ride on the W800 up into the Peak District. Winter is knocking on the door and there may not be many more opportunities this year.

I rode out through Prestbury and Bollington, up Blaze Hill, over the Whaley Bridge road and on to Nab End.

Please click on any picture for a larger image.

Nab End, with Cat's Tor on the horizon 

Lamaload Reservoir is looking a bit low. It was built between 1958 and 1964 to provide drinking water for Macclesfield. 

Past the Cat & Fiddle and onto Axe Edge moor, I encountered to first light drizzle of the day. Here is Axe Edge, looking towards Hollinsclough and the Dragon's Back Hills in the murky distance.

Brief stop in Longnor to buy a sandwich for lunch (from the village store, not the pub, which is still closed at this time!). The drizzle had stopped by now but one sensed it was not far away. 

The delightful ridge-top road from Longnor, between the valleys of the Dove and the Manifold (one of my favorites in the White Peak), brought me to Hulme End. Turning left at the 'Manifold Inn' (formerly the 'Light Railway Hotel') through Ecton took me into the Manifold Valley. For a while the road follows the track bed of the former Leek & Manifold Valley Light Railway (which ran from Hulme End to Waterhouses), including passing through this tunnel at Swainsby.

The south portal of Swainsby Tunnel 

Looking south from Swainsby Tunnel down the Manifold Valley. The minor road follows the railway track bed for a couple of miles south of the tunnel before leaving the valley near Wetton, at which point I turned right for the steep climb out of the valley to Butterton. 

From Butterton via Onecote I came to the ancient Morridge ridge way road where I turned north for a few miles to the view point overlooking The Roaches and Hen Cloud, but there wasn't much of a view today. On earlier rides this year this has been a pleasant place to stop for lunch and admire the view, but today as well as not much of a view there was a bite to the east wind and some rain in the air, so I decided to press on and have my lunch somewhere lower and (hopefully) warmer.

I descended off the high Peak through Thorncliffe down to the Tittesworth Reservoir Visitor Centre where, in more sheltered conditions, I could enjoy my picnic lunch. The water level at Tittesworth is pretty low as well, as one might expect at this time of year. Like Lamaload, it was built to supply drinking water, this time to Leek, Stoke on Trent and surrounding area.

After lunch I continued around the oddly-named hill of 'Gun' to the Leek road south of Rushton Spencer, which I crossed to pass over the shoulder of Bosley Cloud and down into Congleton. The delightful road through Hulme Walfield, Clonterbrook, Gleadsmoss, and Lower Withington brought me to the giant radio telescope at Jodrell Bank. The rain was back by now and felt a bit more serious, so it was good to get under cover at Chelford petrol station to fill the tank (this lovely W800 returns around 60 mpg on this sort of ride).

Four miles later I was home. Where there had been no rain at all!


Sunday, 4 October 2015

Early autumn catch-up

I enjoyed good weather in North Wales (see the previous entry in the blog) and that continued for the rest of September and into early October. I've had a few runs out into the Peak District on the Kawasaki W800 and the mighty Moto Guzzi Griso and can certainly recommend the home made soups at the Hulme End Cafe in the old terminus of the Leek & Manifold Light Railway near Hartington in the White Peak. It makes a great lunch stop on a ride out.

Hulme End cafe is in the old L&MLR engine shed at the former terminus of the narrow gauge line from Waterhouses. The old station building on the left is now a visitor centre.

Here are a few other trips out:

Please click on any picture for a larger image.

Saturday 19th September. North Rode Transport Show

 A sunny but hazy day. The W800 at the North Rode show, in the lovely countryside between Macclesfield and Congleton

 A brace of little grey Furgys

Lovely lunch; a pint of excellent bitter straight from the barrel, and a locally-made growler (pork pie!) 

Hazey Bosley communications tower on Sutton Common overlooks the classic commercial vehicle display 

Twin SU carburetors on this Lagonda 

Tractor line up

Wednesday 23rd September. National Trust trip to Stainsby Mill

National Trust Volunteers from Quarry Bank Mill enjoyed a coach trip to Hardwick Hall and Stainsby Mill 

 Nether Alderley guides Carolyn and Rose outside Stainsby Mill (Stainsby guide in the background). As a miller (and guide) at the National Trust's Nether Alderley Mill my main interest wasn't Hardwick Hall, but this mill. 

The mill's water wheel. This is surprisingly modern, being a suspension wheel with rim power take-off, just like the much larger 'Great Wheel' at Quarry Bank Mill. The water wheels at Nether Alderley are older technology wooden-spoked with axle power take-off

The Hurst Frame at Stainsby. The near and far vertical shafts drive the two sets of mill stones, while the chain in the foreground works the sack hoist to lift the sacks of grain to the top of the mill. 

One set of mill stones. Like ours at Nether Alderley, these are French burr stone. 

This is the winnower, where the wheat is separated from the chaff. It is not in working order and isn't required as, like Nether Alderley, the mill today uses clean grain. 

The belt-driven blower for the winnower 

Looking down into the 'sectioned' drying kiln. The fire would have been in the centre brick pillar, the brick arch on the right would have encompassed the entire kiln, with the drying floor of pierced tiles supported on the beams. 

The kiln fire place - just like ours at Nether Alderley. The kiln in these mills was mainly used for oats, to 'crisp' the husks so they can be removed by de-husking stones before the oats are milled.

Sunday 4th October. Acton Bridge Steam Rally

My W800 today at the Leigh Arms, Acton Bridge, home of the annual steam rally

On arrival I'd parked outside the pub car park, but soon moved inside among the engines

A be-flagged roller 

 Avellana, back to back with a half-size miniature engine

A smart Foden, 'King George V' 

The Leigh Arms though coal smoke 

 'Little Audrey', a Davey Paxman engine

 A quarter scale miniature simmers in front of a steam waggon

'Oberon' is nearest in this steam line-up 

Close up of 'Avellana', a smart Aveling and Porter engine. It's a compound as indicated by the smaller high pressure cylinder and larger low pressure one as can be seen here. 

This is 'Betsy', the Late Fred Dibnah's roller. It is now owned by Fred's sons. 

 My W800 among older machinery

Well, rain forecast for tomorrow. The first in weeks. But what a great 'Indian Summer'!