There are times where it’s who you know comes into play. I’ve mentioned before my father in law is very involved with the Swanage Railway and is one of the volunteer drivers. He kindly offered to take us down first thing in the morning so we could have a behind the scenes look.
The alarm was set for 5.30 in the morning and I got on my trousers that I bought that were cheap and I could get dirty. Off we headed down on the quiet Sunday morning. We wanted to get there before they started getting the Eddystone ready to go.
All was quiet at that time of morning and we were the first to arrive.
If the locomotive is warm as the Eddystone was from the night before it takes a good 3 hours to bring it up to temperature. You could do it faster but there are different types of metal that expand at different rates and if you do it too fast you will stress the locomotive. If it is started from cold you need at least 8 hours, usually much longer. They will start them on Thursday if running on weekends.
The Eddystone was originally numbered 21C128 and was built at Brighton Works and completed in April 1946. It was a Bulleid light pacific that looked like the Manston still does.
In 1958 it was rebuilt to it’s current form. This helped correct issues with materials used as well as lubrication issues. It was the first to be withdrawn in 1964. After 22 years of sitting quiet and then swapping owners it completed the last rebuild in 2003 in Swanage and has been running here every since. It will go for another rebuild next month.
We got the chance to go under the locomotive and poke about. It’s fascinating to see all the parts that make up the machine.
We did go on the footplate in hopes to watch the firing process. You can see the small flame in the bottom left of the opening. But too many cooks in the kitchen so we left them to it.
The M7 30053 which is a 0-4-4-T and built in 1905 is special to us as my father in law, along with a few others, have worked tirelessly to bring it back to the UK from Steamtown, USA and restore it. It had been outside for 20 years and needed a lot of work. It took from 1987 to 1992 to get it back up and running again at Swanage Railway. Back in 2009 I got to help paint it to get it ready for the Eastleigh Centenary. That was quite something to see.
We got a look at the smoke box of the M7. You can see all the tubes behind the blast pipe. The blast pipe is the exhaust of the steam and makes the chug chug sounds. As the steam puffs up and out of the blast pipe is creates a vacuum which draws the hot air from the firebox through the boiler and heats the water creating the steam.
There is a cat that adopted the railway and goes by Ringwood there. She’s very friendly and loves hanging about and curling up on laps when there is paperwork to be done. Though apparently the owner asked that the cat be kept away as she is tired of the black footprints. There is an easy solution to that! Keep her home. But I think Ringwood would be missed.
In the shed is the 80104 in the middle of being rebuilt. The boiler is out for work. To be inspected and certified requires a lot of work. In order for an inspector to get in to inspect all the tubes have to be removed.
Even though it is a lot of work I can see why the volunteers are drawn to this work. Especially in the quiet of the morning.
It was a real treat despite the early start to the morning. We went on to do other things with the railway that morning which will be my next post. 😊