Trains are now running six days a week, with a number of visitors taking the opportunity to ride up the Kensey Valley this month in some of the beautiful recent weather!
The beginning of the month saw the anniversary of the world speed record for steam locomotives. The record, 126 mph, was set on the 3rd July 1938 by the A4 locomotive ‘Mallard’ on the London and North Eastern Railway. Although our locomotives are much smaller than Mallard, and unable to run at anywhere near her record speed (particularly as our speed limit is 15 mph!), we thought this great British achievement was worth commemorating. So, 75 years on, on the 3rd July 2013 the 11 o’clock passenger train commemorated Mallard’s record breaking run. With our ‘top link’ driver Nigel Bowman at the regulator, locomotive Covertcoat was steadily accelerated up to 12.6 mph and continued, at that speed, to Newmills. Only one-tenth the speed of Mallard’s record, but our own way of saying ‘well done’ 75 years on!
The recent heatwave has seen Lilian in daily use for the past few weeks, as her open cab allows our drivers to remain relatively cool in the heat. Velinheli has also had one day’s use during the heatwave. With temperatures now cooling a little, Covertcoat and Dorothea will be taking their turns on passenger trains, alongside the two cabless Hunslets, over the next few weeks. Unlike many steam railways, all of our locomotives are in working order and take turns in use on passenger trains; Managing Director Nigel Bowman commented “As a mature railway, we have achieved our aspiration that all our locomotives have been returned to working order. We are in a position that we are able to pull any one of them out of the shed and light them up.”
Recent work to the locomotives has focused on the injectors fitted to Velinheli and Dorothea. The injectors on both locomotives are backhead mounted injectors of the type originally used on the locomotives when in the quarries (Lilian and Covertcoat have been fitted with more modern replacement injectors) and, although able to add water to the boiler succesfully, they often require fine adjustment to ensure no water escapes from the injector overflow. Velinheli’s owner James Evans has been busy remanufacturing injector cones and testing them on Velinheli, with a view to improving her injectors. Once the optimum setup of injector cones has been found on Velinheli, the cones in Dorothea’s injectors will be modified likewise.