Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Operating Experience (1)

It's been five months since I last wrote any blog articles on Sentinel 7109. Joyce has been performing better than I'd expected. I'd previously formed the idea that Sentinel locos chuffed about quietly doing their thing but Joyce has a passenger role and a steep gradient to climb every journey.
8th July 2017 - Rapid take-off
(from a video by Callum Willcox)
Finding myself cab-bound on most operating days and short of a thirty foot long selfie stick, I'm heavily reliant on others for photos of Joyce in action. However, many have enthusiastically come to the rescue with fantastic videos on YouTube. (Search for 'midsomer norton steam' and you won't be short of videos to keep you occupied for hours).

7109's blog also began as a means of recording my own engineering restoration activities for myself and anyone else who might find it useful. Thus I'm avoiding becoming a train pictures blog and intend to maintain the original theme. (I reserve the right wander off subject when I feel like it of course!).

To begin with, hauling two carriages seemed a heavy load for Joyce and the best way to climb the 1 in 50 hill was to keep her in 'start' cut-off setting and trudge up the incline at about 5mph for six minutes. After some months of experience, a dual train running day was held in March 2017; for part of the day Joyce was allocated two wagons and a brake van on the up line. It became clear that Joyce hardly noticed this load at all and could be made to 'fly' out of the station, change into 'fast' cut-off setting and ascend the hill without difficulty.

I discussed this with members of the Sentinel Drivers Club and was given the hint that it was wise to open the regulator fully when in 'fast' cut-off. I'd previously been scared of doing this as it felt akin to always driving with my foot hard on my car's accelerator.

However, with this in mind on the next running day, I decided to give it a go with two carriages. To my astonishment, Joyce shot out of the station and up the gradient with little fuss and got to the end of the run in 4 minutes!

I'm now very pleased and educated that a Sentinel is far from a quiet chuffer and can be very much a hard working, impressive steam locomotive.

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