I haven’t been keeping the blog up to date during the last few months.

Our club was shut for a while but has now reopened for members only with some sensible precautions. We hope, that as time goes by, we will be able to do more even if we still can’t have the public in. Our club runs on an “always open” basis for local families to come and have a ride in return for a donation. We also run more organised events at Bank Holidays etc.

Now the club track is open, I have been driving Liza Jane quite frequently and have ventured onto our ground level track too.

In the spirit of this blog (i.e. possibly helping other owners and builders), I thought I would share some of the key lessons learned from my running to date:

Steaming up – it is very easy. I fill the boiler to half full using a silicone tube attached to the blowdown valve. I use paraffin soaked lump wood charcoal with one fire lighter to get things going. Once alight, I add a layer of charcoal. Once that is all well alight start adding coal.

Oiling and lubrication – the lubricator is now working well and after a long run I can’t see through my glasses due to the thin layer of steam oil! I lubricate using bearing oil on all the inside and outside moving parts. I am a bit haphazard but work on the principle that you can’t have too much lubrication.

Running – this is a learned skill. I have found that the extra effort of the gradients on the ground level actually help with running and keep a good head of steam. The axle pump is very good and means that generally I don’t bother with other forms of topping up the water level.

End of run – I put a good slug of steam oil in the valve chests and roll her back and forth in gear to get the oil into the cylinders. Once home I spray everything mechanical with GT85 and then wipe down.

Cleaning – I use a combination of Showroom Shine (which is car clean and shine product) with a micro fibre cloth and Mr Sheen wipes. Either way, I have tried to avoid scratches but I think we have to accept that over time a few scratches from soot/grit will happen. I also clean out the smokebox and then use a flu brush to clean the tubes. I have just bought a bronze flu brush and nearly got it such – apparently you have to turn it down to fit your tubes so I will try and get it on a belt sander when I can.

Mechanical maintenance – I have put Liza Jane back on the workbench to adjust the suspension (my lock nuts were not doing their job), also been round with a spanner checking every eccentric etc. I have also had an issue with my injector and have bought a new one and will see if that works better.

Most recently, we had a new Polly on the tracks. One of our members (John) has just finished the O& 0-6-0 and I think that you will agree that she looks great. John helped me a great deal in getting Liza Jane through her steam test and it was a pleasure to return the favour.