The Welland Steam Rally is a huge event. And for our demonstrations, as with all demonstrations, we need to practice. This is the second year we have been to Welland and so there is a core of experience, however there were some new faces in the team. So some of the 35 or so participants and their families arrived on the Wednesday. By arriving early we could nab a large camping area together, and get things ready for a practice session on the Thursday. Friday is the first day open to the public.
It was a bit mad just beforehand, as Dan Walker had just acquired about 2 dozen plastic 6-inch pipes from the ex-Elsecar Pipe Carrier (which was sold as a basic flatbed), and they needed collecting from Barnsley. So Dan travelled from Liverpool to Barnsley and down to Welland all in one day and in an Bedford RL pipecarrier! The vehicle really looks good with its intended load on board.
John and I set off in convoy taking the Fordson Escape Carrier and the Austin K2 with Trailer Pump. John’s wife Jan came in a modern vehicle with the children, camping gear and food. The K2 burst a tyre on the way and this resulted in an hours wait for the recovery organisation to send a mechanic as embarrassingly we did not bring the correct wheel spanner with us. Co-incidentally, I had bought two new ones on ebay that week! so that was the first job once we had reached home again.
On arrival, we found that we had a problem with water. It had been very dry, and the water level was low. The safety officer said that we could only take water from the main stream until Thursday evening. The second stream had almost completely dried up and wasn’t viable. So we set to filling the main dam in the arena, the 500 gallon emergency dam in the display area, and a wartime Sportapool dam that John had just purchased. We also filled every available Goddess tank.
Jan had volunteered to organise the catering for the group. This made a huge difference, as eating from the traders can get very expensive. It also made for a real sense of community.
We did attempt to build a pipe bridge using the new pipe, but unfortunately, the poly pipe just isn’t rigid enough. Tony, Dan and I are hatching a plot to get some ali pipe made in time for next summer.
We were unable to run the ‘trailer pump competition’ as planned, but ran it as a twice-daily 5-minute demonstration (see video on youtube), and this was well received by the public. Then came the main display. Sadly, on the Friday, the PA amplifier broke down just before we were on, so commentary was impossible. It also made communication a little more difficult (realistic?), as I used the commentary to give instructions to the participants as well. But we had everything in the arena, and had the 900 gallons pumping from the dam, through four goddesses, delivery hose and collecting head, and finally up a length of new 6-inch pipe to a spout over the dam.
After the day’s display was done, we settled down to a BBQ at the campsite, when one of the organisers drove up and told us that the Showman’s Engines in the Steam Fair urgently needed water, and could we help because the standpipe could not cope. Lucky we had water all ready in the tanks of the Goddesses, so off went two Goddesses and Mick Osman’s Dennis. John got rather wet when water was turned on rather enthusiastically, without realising that Steam Engines have a filter that will only accept water at little more than garden hose flow rates, not 75mm delivery flow rates! The long and the short of it all was that the Rally Chairman was well grateful of our efforts, and the water ban was promptly lifted. We were asked to provide fire cover for the fireworks on Saturday evening, and for the traction engine heavy haulage ring, as the engines had a habit of showering the tinder-dry hedges with sparks.
On the Saturday we did just one trailer pump drill, as our main display was last in the arena. However, just as we were all kitted up an ready to go into the arena for our main display, we got asked to attend a hedge fire. So 4 of our most experienced set off in a Goddess to deal with it. So I had less than 5 minutes to re-plan the display, short of a Goddess and all the people who had practiced making the spout. The goddess returned to join in with the display just in time to help “making up”after the display!
We planned to go for a road run to a local pub for food. Finding a pub with nice, reasonably-priced food that could cater for 35, and had parking for 10 trucks was a challenge, but Jan found one, and recce’d it earlier in the week. It was a great convoy, superb food and a wide choice of real ale. And parking by the road for all the vehicles. Perfect.
We were back in good time to provide the fire cover for the fireworks. This is done with a Goddess at each corner of the field, with first aid hoses checked and primed, and run out. This means that any spark can get doused very quickly before it gets hold. However, one spark escaped our notice by landing in the hedge across the road from the field. It was noticed by a young lad on the roof of one Goddess (actually the cousin of Jonathan who took a Goddess to Mongolia). Although there were some flames visible, we got the first-aid hose onto the roof and squirted water from there, while Ryan went out of the site and down the lane to check it at first hand.
Sunday got off to a good start with a good trailer pump drill. During the main display, as it was the last day, and we had 2,500 gallons of water to get rid of, we relayed water from dam to Goddess to dam as normal and also via a couple of delivery hoses to a ground monitor and watered the arena!
All told, it was a truly superb weekend, with a lot of activity and a lot of equipment. It was a great time making friends and learning to work as a team, with each person doing what they were able.
The big problem for next year is one of space. There simply isn’t room for us to increase the number of vehicles we bring for next year. 10 vehicles was good, but it would be nice to have another RL or two, a Yellow Goddess, and a control vehicle. A 4×2 Goddess would be nice as well.
The final vehicle tally was: Jim’s Motorbike, Roger’s Land Rover, Tony’s Wrecker, Dan’s Pipe Carrier, John’s Austin K2, my Fordson, Mick’s Dennis, and Goddesses from Steve, Adrian, Norman, Chris P, Chris M.
So a final thought. Does anyone know another event in the Midlands, perhaps a bit further North than Welland, which has water, a large arena, lots of space, and a good attendance by the public?
Norman reports on his journey home:
Mechanic duly arrived and asked if we had fuel, the gauge showed three quarters full so no problem there, mechanic duly jumped in, lifted the engine cover and declared “it’s got spark plugs” and I said six of them!
Mechanic phones his boss and said it’s got spark plugs, “spark plugs?” says the boss, six of them repeats the mechanic, by this time I was blue in the face trying not to laugh !!!!!
Well condenser coil were changed, result no spark between points so towed back home we were and for £105 pounds I cannot fault the service provided by Autohome.
The fault? The wire inside the dizzi had got in the way of the weights and were broken off, Araldite will be the answer to this I hope in preventing this from occur.
There is a lower-quality one uploaded by ‘truckphotos’ here
If you have any photos, especially of the NFS trailer pump drill in the arena, that you don’t mind being published here, please would you email them to firstname.lastname@example.org