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Thread: Clip from Grouch's Garage

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006

    Clip from Grouch's Garage

    PLEASE DO NOT REPLY TO THIS in this section

    go to Grouch's Garage

    It's a part of a story...

    Firemen from the Western had mostly hard Welsh coal.

    As they waited to back into the number three platform, one eye on the ground signals, their A3 was 'Papyrus', which was ex-works at Doncaster.
    The boss thought he was doing the driver a favour; it had been very tricky in the middle of the night to get her straight off a non-stopper from Doncaster, where she had taken overwithout a passenger stop from a sick A4 ... when it arrived in London it was on time, late evening, but there was no fire left;
    In the cold morning air the fireman was already on board, he climbled up..

    They looked at each other,
    He smiled, "Swindon eh?" and looked easily in the dim cab light 140lbs and smiled straight off Doncaster fresh and new, he saw that the fireman had raked the fire, an unpleasant thing not exactly common with the ambitious young ones..., "what do you reckon we can make of this b****d?
    "You're the boss" sad the fireman,

    "Build a bit in the centre when I say. What do you think of the coal?"
    "nnnn not sure"
    "OK what engines you like?"
    "Done a bit on 'Castles'"

    Which was like saying, "I can do anything" for some...

    Well he must have been a stroppy guy because he had the blower on before anything could be said and they got ground signal in fog and backed up gingerly an grey mist, pressure was now 200lbs/sq in and 'Papyrus' was now dripping with condensation over it's new paint, snaking vibrating and fainlty rattling on the pointwork over the King's Cross station throat, men in blue boilerjackets with flags were waving and there was the first sun breaking the mist.
    As the fireman opened the firedoor four more trains left into Holloway tunnel, and the driver had a look, the 'new' fireman stood back, and said something about " nazis" as he smiled at someone he recognized... then, "whaddaya think?" ...looking at the fire.

    Have a look and see what you reckon". He nodded towards the pile of coal ... it looked pretty poor.

    They got away 4 minutes late, 2 cars over, and the Holloway was negotiated mostly with sanding, 35% cuttoff and we were doing maybe 20mpg 1 mile out. The fireman seemed to pretty good at predicting the signals and just said. "green"... by the time we got to Hadley Wood several miles ouit still upgrade we were down to under 200lbs again and still late and overloaed and got yellows, and the fireman without much encouragement was upon the tender looking at 60mph for decent hard coal.
    The best stuff was on the bottom, left from Doncaster, but it didn't last long.

    He was covered in soot, the driver mouthed "sorry"..

    So that was a lesson for the GWR fireman; how to 'pull around' a fire with indifferent coal and because of delays were allowed to give 'Papyrus' her head eventually, we got some downhill where we could have gone very fast but it wouldn't have helped the fire so the driver kept the train at 80-85mph., it was tempting to let "Papyrus" go for a short time and be absolutely on time, she was riding beautifully and sure enough there were yellows and then we had to run easily to the crew change; and the driver gave the crew for Edinburugh a good fire but we saved a bit of the good coal.
    That GWR fireman was good, he understood it, but he was ambtious,ended up with a wife and kids working the last A4s in Scotland after a stint on the Somersert and Dorset,

    addicted to engines really going full-out, I think

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006

    Re: Clip from Grouch's Garage

    Quote Originally Posted by robmcg
    PLEASE DO NOT REPLY TO THIS in this section

    go to Grouch's Garage
    Polluting another forum with train gibberish, are we?

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006

    Re: Clip from Grouch's Garage

    Quote Originally Posted by jdm

    Polluting another forum with train gibberish, are we?
    Sometimes the floodgates have to be opened. Not that I would edit or actually read it myself.

    I've read a ton of stuff about firing and driving steam trains of post WW2 and the best practioners of the work, trade, craft, profession whatever, were true artists. I'm not sure if there was ever a parallel in flying or car-truck-driving but perhaps in some aspects of navy...
    Being shift work often away from home it tended to engender something of a particular type; hard sometimes dour men who were given little or no status beyong their own peers.

    Very few made errors. One of the worst was approaching London with an overnighter from Scotland in morning mist at speed at Harrow and Wealdtstone running an express into the back of a stationary suburban train, inconclusive evidence about signals, visibility or fault, and into the wreckage piled a double-headed steam express accelerating from London at around 60mph.

    Britain was quite slow to adopt electro-mechanical signalling for fair reasons... One of the crewmen in the down train survived for some time but never worked again. I think the death toll was comparable to the worst air accidents, but not as high as WW1 tropp train and WW2 Italian accidents which took over 500 lives...

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