Steam Recumbent Bicycle Madness

Happy New Year All! Interesting little Youtube find here!

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Lunch time find

Okay, so I know this isn’t exactly going drive the internet wide with excitement. Or perhaps many SparkArrester visitors but I thought it was worth a share. While out on a stroll during a lunch break I happened to stumble across (Not Literally it wasn’t a liquid lunch break) this rather nice looking cast iron drain cover. What is happening to me….never thought those words would come out my mind.

Griffith’s Self Locking Plate, Railway Foundry Reading

Cast Iron Drain cover

Anyone got any further history about the Railway Foundry Reading let me know I’d be very interested hear more about it.

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Steam on the Mainline.

I popped out the other morning to take advantage of seeing the rather lovely B1 ‘Mayflower’ thundering through Oxfordshire on the St David day special. I hope to grab a few more shots this year round our way of steam on the mainline, preferably before the completion of hideous electrification of Gods Wonderful Railway ruins the countryside and subsequently all future images.



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Happy Christmas

Well  what a year! Looking back lots has happened this year, I passed my Group G on my mates 6ton Aveling roller! We’ve covered off some miles on Old Timer including taking in the NTET road run, which was a voyage of discovery….turns out Bedford’s not flat, who knew! Been to some really good dos, met some great people and done a touch of roading on some different bits of kit which is always good too.

We ended the steam season with a small 10 mile run to a Christmas do at Hungerford, Berkshire. I think it was probably one of my favourites of the year, it was great to have one last run out and have a couple of Christmas beers with friends. I even got in an 1hr’s generating shift on the Burrell showmans, Philadelphia! To top it off we had a lovely frosty run home the next day which led me to get the below image, probably my favourite shot of the year.

Have a Great Christmas and a Steamy New Year! SA


OT at Hungerford Lock Dec 2014

OT at Hungerford Lock Dec 2014



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Great Dorset Steam Fair 2014

Okay I’m not going to go off on one about this years Dorset weather and conditions etc, I’ll leave that to the online forums!

For me I was somewhat taken back and a bit overcome with this years special, I thought the WW1 exhibition was not only very a remarkable and incredible collection of items but overall very very moving. Whether it was the marvelously compelling songs of the period being belted out at the sing song in the WW1/National tent, courtesy of Dr Busker and friends. Or the haunting sound of the power hammer in the makeshift forge sounding like gun fire. Or the incredibly detailed field camps and recreation soldiers in uniform walking round and on occasion crying out, “get you head down solider” to the people walking through the trenches. It just got me…. I have to admit I found it pretty emotional! It certainly put today’s modern life well an truly in its insignificant box! How lucky we are and lets not forget it.

So enjoy the pictures and well done to all involved with this fine WW1 centenary special.

Oh one last thought, I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking this too if you went. When I saw the band of Burrell brothers chopping them off driving Carters rides in the ‘period fair’ (Sort of, we’ll ignore the 1930’s Ark) I thought why an earth is there any other fairground at the show! It was a brilliant atmosphere and looked great, it left the showlers and other conversions in the general line up somewhat lacking in that special Dorset atmosphere. I said to Joby I hope he does do Dorset again for it was (for me) the essence of what the show should be, old shite and more old shite driving it. (I mean that in the nicest possible way!)

Should just say, well done Neil Gough! Gigantic is truly a sight to behold, what a great job!


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Sentinel S6 Firing

There is always another engine to have a learn on! This weekend it was the turn of the Sentinel for me. I’ve always fancied a chance to have a go firing a Sentinel having had a soft spot for these Wagons since childhood. It’s fair to say it didn’t disappoint, I stepped out the cab buzzing with the feeling similar to your first time on an engine. It was great, very different (to be expected) to a Traction Engine or Roller but more akin for me to a railway engine. With swirling coal dust in the cab, heat, a roar from the fire and blast up the chimney it again reminds you how a steam engine is so alive compared to other forms of machinery.

Setinel S6 firing chute

1934 Setinel S6 steam waggon firing chute

Now I’m not gonna get carried away with only a relatively short run of 20 miles under my belt in the cab, I can’t claim to know anything but I can say it left me wanting more! The Sentinel shared in common a few traits with the Shand Mason Fire Pump I steam, they both behave like a model steam engine, by that I mean if you’re not on top of the steam and water you could soon be in trouble. For example it didn’t take long for the S6 to eat it’s water up, soon as you fill it and you’d soon see it coming back down the glass again, bit like a Yo Yo! But you soon get the feel for this and adjust your response, to maintain the engines needs and make sure the boilers delivering everything required of it from the driver. As long as you keep the thing cooking up in the red line she’ll spin along happily all day I’m sure of that. (With the right coal!)

I think it’s fair to say that a Sentinel can be easily overlooked on the rally field as a bit boring, but on the road it really makes you realise how awesome they were and are! The sense of power is completely different from a Traction Engine, where with a TE your slow and full of power up or down,  most steam wagons were built to tick along on the flat at fair pace with loads. So it’s only natural that when you hit a hill they’re gonna slow down, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the way the waggon stuck it’s claws into the road, once in full forward she just kept going. In synchrony the cab temperature goes up too as the pull on the fire increases. The run we did was a fairly hilly route with a good long climb to finish the day with. I rather cheekily had an app running on my phone that recorded our progress just to see what we did on this route, climb and average speed etc. I’d like to point out we weren’t pushing the waggon at any stupid rate, that’s not our sort thing. We kept it safe, steady and professional just like it should be! But I thought the results would be interesting all the same.

20.8 miles

1hr:06mins Moving time (We did have a quick stop for a slurp from a stream)

18 MPH Average speed

37 MPH Top speed

744 Feet elevation gain including a 2.5 mile 300+Ft elevation climb at the end!

The obligatory pub stop for a quick half to end the run finished off a great day in the cab, thanks to Richard, Harry and Kate for the chance to have a go on the shovel! I look forward to the next time, I only hope next time we have more miles to eat, and who knows even a load on too to have a proper experience Sentinel Waggon firing!

1934 Sentinel S6 Steam Waggon, 2014 Oxfordshire.


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GDSF 2014 – Macs hitting the road

Exciting news released today about this years show, read on here!

Two Mclaren 10hp Road Locos Boadicea No1652 and hopefully Newly out Gigantic No1332 (All being well & in WD colours) are going to wake the Dorset countryside up with some spectacular barking on the 16th Aug with a decent load. We hope!!!

1652 at Fawley Hill Steam Rally 2013

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