© UkSteam.net 2012 Lighting up a Steam Locomotive. Here we go, this is section will describe a normal morning where we open up the sheds and prepare the engines for duty 0400hrs Get up, dressed and a quick brew before heading for the sheds at 0445hrs, that's am to the non initiated, i'll show you what 0500am looks like in photo's later just in case you don't know. 0500hrs Arrive on shed and check the roster board to see which engines are out this morning. Check in with the duty fitter then open the shed roller doors. The duty fitter then inspects the firebox of the engine as well as checking gauge glass water levels (vital), and safety checks such as , regulator closed (throttle), engine in mid gear (neutral), tender brake on (handbrake) Drain Cocks open, blower off and dampers closed. When the fitter is inspecting the firebox he is looking inside to check that the fuseable plugs are in place and are serviceable (not blown), the firebox interior is serviceable, no weeping or leaking stays, the brick arch is in serviceable condition, the flues are not damaged or blocked and that the grate has no damaged fire-bars and is clean and serviceable. Once the duty fitter is satisfied he give permission for us to put a fire in. This is probably the only job where you can get up at 4am, start a fire and not have to go to court. There are varying methods of how to start a successful fire in a locomotive, i have been doing it for about 13 months now and have lit 12 different types of locomotive so please bear with me as there is no perfect way but this way has always worked for me. Some cleaner prefer the scorched earth approach to getting the fire going but i use the NYMR "Mushroom" method. We need the following to get a good fire going:- a. Coal b. Wood c. Kerosene Soaked Rags d. Lighter We begin by using a small piece of wood with a kero soaked rag wrapped around it, we light it and place it in the rear left of the firebox, this lights up the interior of the firebox and allows us to place the coal with greater accuracy. Once the firebox has a light in it we begin by covering the grate in a layer of coal approx 6" deep over the entire grate, so get shovelling ! When you are satisfied you have enough in (this comes with experience) it is time to place half the bucket of rags you have on the coal. Ideally place them about 3/4 of the way down the brick arch ( You want to get the brick arch nice and hot as quickly as possible). With rags in place it is time to put the wood on, place the wood across the interior of the firebox on top of the rags in such a way that will encourage the fire to spread. Don't use too much wood, i find 6 or 7 decent pallet planks does the trick, keep one back as a match for later. When you are happy with your wood toss the rest of the rags over the wood, spread them over it if you are a good shot. Now at this point we digress a bit, on an A4 i tend to build 2 fires one either side of the firebox as they are really wide but we will work on the basis it's an LMS black 5. I like to then put some very small coal (If your scottish you'll call it DROSSE.). This ignites really easily and starts it off really well but doesn't swamp it. Lastly we light it, this can be pretty spectacular depending on how you have built your fire so if you value your eyebrows keep your head away from the fire-hole door. Using your last sliver of wood wrap your last rag around it, hold it inside the firebox, locate your trusty ZIPPO and light the rag. Once it is well alight toss it onto the pile of rags and wood. It should catch nicely now. 0530hrs At this point your fire should be nicely alight and it's time to tidy up a bit, no one likes a manky cab. So shovel all the coal up that you missed the fire-hole door with (the old joke is "more on the floor than through the door") and brush around. Pick up any old rags stick them in your rag bucket and go re-fill it with rags and soak them in kero ready for the next day. 0545hrs "Time for a brew I think"