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INDIAN STEAM RELICS

A FIREMAN'S PERSPECTIVE

By   Hal  Hughes

Former Fireman  Grade A  Northern  Railway  Delhi  Division  Saharanpur

 

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16 Apr.1853 - 16 Apr.2002

 

FOUR  DAYS  AND  THREE  NIGHTS  IN  THE  LIFE  OF  A  FIREMAN  GRADE A

Dehradun  Express  from Saharanpur to Delhi [<<Page-1] [<<Page-2] [<<Page-3] [<< Page-4]

Flying Mail  from Delhi to Amritsar [Page-1 ] [Page-2>>]

STAY TUNED FOR THE FOLLOWING UPCOMING SECTIONS:

Flying Mail from Amritsar to Delhi

Dehradun Express from Delhi to Saharanpur and sign off 

[Click here for more STEAM LINKS]


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The Red Fort, Delhi. (Photo by Terry Case).

Flying Mail from Delhi to Amritsar:-PAGE-1
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After a good sleep I awake at about 07:30 . I get out of bed and call the Ast’ Cook and give him some tea leaves , atta, flour, ghee,  for  paratha’s .   I eat 2   with my breakfast with 2 fried eggs which I will pay for as well as the vegetable curry that I order to eat with the other 4  paratha’s  that I will be taking with me for lunch on the way.

 I then go to the bathroom and have a wash and shave then I make my way back to the dining room where I wait until the Ast’ Cook brings my breakfast.  Back in my room to change into my working gear I polish my shoes to water proof them or they would fall apart in about 3 trips.   I am now ready for the call man to arrive, and sign his call book.

I go over to the Drivers’ Room and have a chat with   Mr Collis the Driver,  who is still having his breakfast ,  I then go back to my room and make sure that I have put everything away in my Khana box I lock it and put it out side the door ready for the Running room Khalisi to pick up and deliver to the locomotive, the time is now 08.30.

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EM 922 as preserved  in the Delhi Railway Museum. The engines were built as express locomotives and even in their late years were entrusted with fast trains such as the Flying Mail. They were replaced in the 1960s by WP class, which enabled operating authorities to run trains of greater capacity and weight, but with no improvement in speed. (Photo by Terry Case)

Leaving the Running Room I make my way over to the Shed man’s office where I sign on (09.00).

I then look around the Running Shed to find the locomotive and climb on board the footplate. I first  check the water level in the gauge glasses,  the steam pressure and the state of the fire in the firebox by this time Gurbux  Singh the 2nd fireman has arrived on the footplate as have the tool box and oil containers.     Gurbux takes out the trimmings and fills up the oil can and goes round the locomotive putting the trimmings in and filling up the oil boxes. I take out the hand hammer and go around the locomotive and  check everything that has to be monitored, climbing in below the boiler to check the valve gear.  On the EM class atlantics the valve gear is inside the frame under the boiler.

    I then make my way to the front of the loco, to the smoke box, which  I open it to make sure that it has been emptied of ash.  I then check all nuts and bolts around the Petty Coat blast pipe and super heater tubes having satisfied myself that everything was in order I close the door but do not tighten the nuts down as the Driver will want to have a look at it as well, I then make my way back to the footplate.

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WL 15032 being prepared on shed, the engine is having its motion cleaned as the shed foreman casts a critical eye over proceedings. 1/1/80. Godhra. (Photo by Terry Case)

Now that I am back on the footplate I turn on the blower,  then   I rock the firebars getting rid of the ash I operate the Drop Grate and take out the big hook and push out any clinkers that might be in the firebox; having done that I pull the Drop Grate back in place and fix it with a big pin through a hole in a bracket.   Next I even out the fire remove the big hook and put it back in a tube in the tender , pick up the shovel and put on a good fire, about 20 shovels of coal;  5 in each back corner 10 spread evenly over the grate area and close the firebox door.  I am now ready to put on the steam injector to fill the boiler, when the boiler is full I turn off the steam injector and the blower.  I then check that the steam cock to the Steam Lubricator is off, I open the drain cock and drain off the water in the lubricator then open the filler plug with a wrench  and fill the lubricator with Steam Lubricator Oil; once it is full I replace the filler plug and tighten it up with the wrench; turn on the steam and wait till the water is full in every sighting glass then turn on and set up the right amount of drops per minute.

   Gurbux  is now back on the footplate which he starts to dust down,  starting with the boiler  fittings,  the cab roof, all the built in tool box’s then he sweeps the footplate and  damps it down with a few buckets of water.  I take out the Gauge Glass Protectors and clean them before fixing them over the gauge glasses next I take out the brass decorations and fix them in place on the boiler face above the firebox door etc.  I wipe down the regulator,  reversing gear handle,  window sills, and driver’s seat .     

By now Mr Collis has arrived and is going around the locomotive checking it over, after he has had a look in the smoke box   I shut it  and this time I tighten up every nut with a wrench.  I return to the footplate and turn on the blower, collect an oil light with an open flame and return to the smoke box  and hold the flame up to the door moving it right round  checking to make sure that the door is sealed.  If it was leaking ie not sealed the flame would be drawn in at the part it was leaking due to the vacuum created in the smoke box by the blower.

   Mr Collis  moves the locomotive under the water column,  I climb up on the back of the tender and pull the  column over  and turn it on.  I return to the foot plate and turn the blower off , Mr Collis climbs on the back of the tender to check the coal that was put on  in Delhi, we have 1 tons over load again.  Gurbux climbs on to the tender and turns off the Water Column and pushes it away from the locomotive. The time is 09:15. Mr Collis tells Gurbux to put on the water for a mug of tea each,  when it boils I make three mugs   give the driver and Gurbux theirs and take mine to my side of the footplate and stand there drinking it. The Morning is getting quite warm now my shirt is wringing wet with sweat and so are the top part of my trousers , but it will get much hotter as the day goes by.

10:30 now Mr Collis gives a long blast on the whistle Gurbux gets off the locomotive and has a look under it and around it shouts alright climbs back on the footplate and the Driver cracks open the regulator and we move off towards the end of the Loco Yard to wait and pick up a Points Man to take us through the Delhi Yard and then to reverse back on to our train, The Flying Mail.

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Over the inspection pit, a CR WP 7656 having finished its run from Agra on the Taj Express cools down over the pit at Agra Cant. shed. 9/1/80. (Photo by Terry Case)

Over to Part 2 =>

All Photos on Flying Mail section Part 1 and Part 2 are courtesy Terry Case. For permission to use them on your own website, please write to Terry Case direct at: caset@benalla-college.vic.edu.au


Dehradun  Express  from Saharanpur to Delhi [<<Page-1] [<<Page-2] [<<Page-3] [<< Page-4]

Flying Mail  from Delhi to Amritsar [Page-1 ] [Page-2>>]

STAY TUNED FOR THE FOLLOWING UPCOMING SECTIONS:

Flying Mail from Amritsar to Delhi

Dehradun Express from Delhi to Saharanpur and sign off 

[Click here for more STEAM LINKS]

Comments? Questions? E-mail me at:    hal.hughes1@tiscali.co.uk


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