In which I continue my studies at Reading University and become more familiar with Southern region locomotives.
Friday 9 February
I hitch hiled home to Orpington today. I caught the 12.05 from Reading South to Redhill. This was hauled by a mogul - the driver told me she was a bad engine although I didn't not the number. Saw a B4 0-4-0T No. 30089 at Guildford. I arrived at Redhill at 13.40 and got home at about 15.10.
Saturday 10 February
I went up to London to see the International at Twickenham (England beat Ireland 16-0). I was very surprised to see a steam engine on the down slow line at Orpington and, as luck would have it, it was held at the starting signal on platform 5. There were two engines in fact, both Wainwright C class 0-6-0s Nos. 31584 and 31717. 31584 was in steam but 31717 was dead and had been half cut up already, it was being towed to Ashford to be cut up. Although I have seen a large number of these, this was the first time I had a good look on the cab, the driver let me come up. The drive is from the right hand side, the regulator is of the push and pull type, being double ended and with the ends bent out to form a good handle. The injectors are both of the live steam type, one on either side, there are the two controls for each one (steam and water). On the fireman's side there is also a valve for steam heating. I didn't get too good a look at the brake ejectors but the brake handle works vertically in a plane parallel to the cab sides, it is fixed to the top right hand side of the firebox. Reversing is by steam. The driver showed me how this was done but I am not too clear at all. There is a small lever which moves across a graduated scale, rather similar to a lever reverse. Reversing is accomplished by putting this lever in the required position and moving across another small lever which moves at right angles to the first. Presumably this is some type of steam valve. I had a look at the fire, the driver was using a lot of blower (handle on the firebox back plate on the driver's side) and he turned it off in order to give me a better view. The grate is quite steeply sloping. The coal was very bad, little better than dust. No. 31584 is to work the last steam-hauled train in Kent on February 25th, helped by a Schools and a King Arthur.
Saturday 17 February
Went to Basingstoke today. I hitched without too much trouble. I had a shed permit but spent part of the morning on the station. There was not a great deal to be seen. I had a talk with the driver of a Standard class 5 and went up on to the footplate. They are very good - much more comfortable than most tender engines. The engine footplate extends back (towards the tender) much further so that both feet are on the engine when firing. Two exhaust steam injectors are fitted. All of the pacifics I saw were rebuilt except one, No. 34006, which was working an up fitted freight - the first time I have seen one of these on a freight train.
There was not a great deal of interest on the shed. There was only one pre-grouping engine, class 700 No. 30368. It was parked behind the breakdown vans and was still fitted with a snow plough - it can't have been used for some time. The cab controls are relatively simple. There are three gauges only, vacuum, steam pressure and steam heating (tucked away on the fireman's side). The drive was from the left hand side, the regulator points downwards and has to be pulled up, reversng is by means of a lever. The two injectors are placed either side of the engine in between the middle wheel and nearest wheel to the driver (most unusual position). The steam valves to these are placed on top of the firebox as usual but the water handles are in an unusual position. Instead of being tucked away they are placed forward and very low down, only about an inch above the floor. It must have been difficult to set these without kneeling down and peering round the opening - there are no doors - unless it was normal practise to set these with the foot! The firedoors were unusual as well, they opened inwards being hinged across the top, the handle was on the driver's side, probably for the driver to operate it thereby saving heat. The grate seems very small, similar to the Midland 0-6-0s.
Apart from this engine there were many ex-Eastern section engines, Schools, King Arthurs, class 5 and class 4 Standards and a solitary W 2-6-4 tank No. 31916 which was quite clean.
I set out for Reading at about 14.55 and got back around 16.10 - one lift straight through.
Saturday 24 February
Went home to Orpington for the weekend. I didn't feel like hitch hiking so I went by train to Paddington on the 11.14 fast. This is the "Capitals United Exress" hauled by Castle class No. 7023. The train was full and I had to stand so I went as close to the engine as possible. It was a good trip, the only thing of note was that the regulator was closed just before Slough. This could have been a permanent way slowing or a signal check.
Monday 26 February
There was a semi-blizzard on my return to Reading. After a good fight on the Bakerloo line I arrived at Paddington at 18.30. I intended to catch the 19.15 but this was cancelled and I caught the 18.45 which stopped specially at Reading. It was a fast run with diesel D822. Arrived at 19.25.