I can't answer all of the emails I get, so some of them do 'fall through the cracks', but one recently leapt out at me.
It was from Vic - a driver and fireman on the Flying Scotsman! The real Scotsman!
I'm very envious of the experiences he must have had.
It's the last three paragraphs of his email that I think paint a superb picture of what it must have been like. Have a read (I asked Vic first if I could publish them).
"Just looked at the "Flying Scotsman bit....Great stuff.
I am ex Footplate Kings + (Top Shed) and had a lot to do on and off with Scotsman a cracking Loco that could at times be a swine as could mallard etc. My favourite Loco was 60800 The Arrow as we called her...(Green Arrow).
I had 2 weeks with Bill Hoole on No 7 Nigel Gresley. Hard work but a smashing Mate and Driver.
Better go I could chew Railways all day.
all the best Vic (N Gauge nut)"
So I wrote back, asking how the Scotsman could be a swine...Here's Vic's reply:
"The Flying Scotsman was a wonderful Loco except when, like other locos she was ready for shopping,then she could be hard work.
I have had the privelege of Firing and Driving the Scotsman and other Kings + Locos including Mallard etc.
But to me 60800 Green Arrow was my pride and joy, a good all round Engine Rode well Steamed well they called them the Engines that helped win the war.
" So then I had to ask what he meant by 'shopping'...
"The term SHOPPING is used when Locomotives require attention due to Drivers reporting the Loco for bad running and leaking tubes etc.
Of course Kings + was capable of heavy repairs but a complete overhaul required very haevy lifting gear,so the Engine would most likley be sent to Doncaster Light Engine (without a train).
I hope I have explained a little better,I tend to forget there are lots of steam enthusiest's out there who do not fully understand the love -hate relationship a person can have when working on these locomotives.
When you are underneath a loco oiling up and it's blowing snow wind and rain all over you and all you have to see with is a flare lamp (parafin).
But a wash in the buckett a cup o tea and all is well with the world you back on to your train and go roaring into the night and all is well.
A big thank you to Vic for sharing his experiences.
But it got me thinking - if you could ask Vic just one question - what would it be? I'd love to know your thoughts.
Don't forget, if you enjoy these missives, you'll love my fave modelling resource, here