Due to the portable nature of the Fox hollow Light Railway track it was always envisaged that it could be taken away from home to other venues or events.
The first such opportunity arose on the 20th / 21st January 2007. Our local model engineering society had recieved an invitation to support an international model railway exhibition at a school in Canterbury. The area they wished the society to operate its portable track on was the playground behind the school. On attending the school for a site visit prior to the event it was immediately apparent that there was no vehicle access to the playground. The Society portable track which attends many events through the year is a raised track constructed of steel in six foot lengths, each section being very heavy and it is usually erected by removing subsequent sections direct from its transport. At this site that was not possible and it was felt that the distance to carry the sections from its transport was too far. It was decided however that the light ground level sections of the FHLR would be able to be carried into the venue. Thus with some of the society members the track was taken to the school and by using the point two trains were able to be operated at the same time, with over 300 rides being given to visitors over the two days and a considerable amount of interest shown in our activities.
Above from left to right, top row first; The empty site, Laying the track, Steaming up, Testing, Dixie stood in the station awaiting lighting up and finally the contents of Dixie's smoke box after four hours passenger hauling.
The second away from home event was an attendance again on behalf of Canterbury and District Model Engineering Society to the Canterbury Museum on May 5th 2007 for a special event commemorating the work of Robert Stephenson on the Canterbury to Whitstable Railway, purported to be the first regular steam hauled passenger railway in the world. A site visit in the wek preceding the event showed that the flagstones of the garden in front of the museum were generally level although there was only 20m suitable for ground level track. Again this site had difficult access requiring a quick unload and relocation of the vehicles to the publc car park down the road (which cost each of us £6.50 each for the day - shame on you Canterbury City Council). Everything went well, we arrived on site at 09.40 and between five of us by 10.30 we had a loco in steam and ready to carry pasengers. Due to the limited length of track we only ran one train for passengers and didnt use the point. Unfortunately although there was a steady stream of interested people passing the site peering over the fence of the garden from the street, we only carried 56 passengers over the whole day.
(Yes this is Barry driving a STEAM loco!)
Barry's electric 040 visiting the FHLR this loco has hauled @ 9 adults up the incline on the CDMES track proving itself as a very powerfull loco.
The event did however give an opportunity to run Dixie in passenger traffic for the second time this year and showed up a problem that had not been previously realised. At home there is at least a 1 in 40 upgrade from the bottom of the garden back to the house and on previous runs Dixie has suffered extreme wheel slip over a good half of the line. This had also been experienced on a visit to New Maldon's track in 2006, which was a surprise because in 2005 on the same track it was fine. Watching Barry driving Dixie at the Museum I noticed the rear wheels seemed to be moving backwards and forwards relative to the frames. Careful inspection showed the nuts securing the axle bearings to the frames had loosend by a couple of turns. Whilst this gave no risk of the wheels falling out, it allowed the piston through the connecting rod to push the wheels back and forth causing relative movement betwen the wheelsets and thus causing slip. A quick intervention with a spanner to tighten the nuts brought about an immediate and miraculous improvement in performance and stopped the slipping. All I need to do now is to see how it performs in the garden when we next run, hopefully this will have cured the problem.