Arthur and Sid Apparated onto a worn platform and looked around to get their bearings.
“Where are we, Arthur?” was the first question from Sid.
“A transport museum, I brought Molly here once, on our tenth wedding anniversary,” Arthur replied.
“She must have loved that.” Sid chuckled.
“You’d think so, wouldn’t you?” Arthur said, thinking back “She didn’t speak to me for the first half of the day.”
Sid chuckled at this, and enquired as to what they were going to be doing.
“We are going to learn about steam trains today, as well as the other types of trains.”
Sid smiled; he really was interested in all things Muggle, but not quite on the same level of Arthur’s fascination. It was the only way he got the job; no other producers were willing to do it.
“Well, Sid, here we go then, let’s find the entrance and get a tour guide, shall we?” They made their way to the entrance and paid the entrance fee, they also had to pay a little extra for a tour guide. After a quick word, they got the supervisor who would personally show them around.
“How did you manage that, Sid?”
“Told him he’d be on the radio, jumped at the chance.”
The tour guide walked up to them. “Right then, gents. Shall we get going? I’m Mr Ball and I shall be your tour guide for the day. If you have any questions then please feel free to ask.”
Both Arthur and Sid shook hands and introduced themselves. “Do you mind if I do my introduction as we walk, Mr Ball?”
“No, no, you carry on, Mr Weasley; I’ve always wondered how it’s done!”
Arthur smiled and picked up his microphone. “Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to ‘How do they do that?’ Today we shall see the progression from trains powered by steam to those powered by eclektic motors” Sid looked at Arthur sharply; Arthur, however, was in his element.
“We have a very nice man with us today a, Mr Ball, who has taken it upon himself to show us around this wonderful museum. Hello, Mr Ball.”
“Hello there, Mr Weasley.”
“So, Mr Ball, where do we start?”
“Well, we start with the steam engine, and then go on to diesel, and then to electric,” he said proudly into the microphone. They all took a delightful stroll through the museum, and eventually came accross a gleaming steam engine. Mr Ball’s chest heaved with pride.
“Well, gentlemen, she’s about to go on her first voyage since she was rebuilt. Mr Weasley, would you care to assist in starting her up?”
“Yes please!” Arthur was about to jump on board, when Mr Ball stopped him.
“I think you need to get changed first, Mr Weasley.”
Arthur hurriedly got into his new overalls. He already had his new boots on. They climbed into the engine cab. He was immediately struck by the beauty of the workings of the engine. In all his time aboard the Hogwarts Express, he had never been allowed inside the engine room, and now he was going to start one up.
“Well, Mr Weasley, we need to get some coal into the boiler.”
“I’ll do that,” Arthur replied, bouncing up and down on his feet.
Mr Ball smiled; he could honestly say he had never had a client this excited. Arthur was told to shovel the coal into the boiler from the hopper whilst he was presenting.
“Well, listeners, I’m now loading up the boiler. As you can expect there’s quite a lot to go in.” Arthur was hot, sweaty, dirty and thoroughly enjoying himself. “We need to light it now, isn’t that correct, Mr Ball?” Arthur wiped his brow with his sleeve, causing a big black smear across his head.
Mr Ball chuckled. “Yes, Mr Weasley, can you place that oily rag onto your shovel please?”
“What, like this?”
“Yes, that’s right, Mr Weasley, now we light it.” Mr Ball handed over his lighter to Mr Weasley, who looked at it, smiled and then frowned.
“You spin that little wheel there and press that down.” Arthur did as he was instructed; a little flame sprang up and startled Arthur, who promptly dropped it. “Well, I never, and to think, Sid, I have been using little pieces of sticks with red bits on them.”
“Matches,” Mr Ball added brightly.
“No, not really, they were all different lengths and the colour didn’t quite look similar, but there you go.” Mr Ball looked confused and scratched his bottom; he often did this when at a loss to explain things. Only the other day he got into trouble with his superiors. They asked him some questions about a strange request regarding a new radio programme. Mr Ball stood looking at a sheet of paper, for some strange reason, he just couldn’t concentrate on the words. He also had a strange urge to go and pay his respects to his late mother-in-law. So there he stood scratching his bottom. He was rudely brought back to earth, when his boss shouted, “Stop scratching your arse, if it’s that bad, go see a doctor.”
Mr Ball was startled to hear Arthur ask a question. “So Mr Ball you just light this then?”
“What? Oh yes, Mr Weasley, just like that, now place it in the boiler.”
Arthur looked at Mr Ball who motioned to the boiler. Arthur placed the rag inside and then looked into the little door. A fire surged around the coal, giving out heat and dancing around to its own tune.
“Well, listeners, we now must wait for the pressure to rise before we can start her up. How long will that take, Mr Ball?”
“Oh about one hour, come on let's go and see how the engine works, shall we?”
Arthur and Sid were shown all the workings of the steam engine, which Arthur then told all the listeners in turn. After roughly one hour, they checked on the progress on the pressure gauges and noticed that it was time.
“Mr Weasley, I’m going to ask you to turn this brake here, and also turn this regulating valve here, we will then be off.” Mr Ball swept his hands over the forementioned parts and smiled to Arthur.
Arthur’s smile was threatening to split his face in two.
“Well, listeners, I’m about to start my first steam engine. I have to turn this regulating valve here, and also turning this one here and-” Arthur started turning, but stopped when the engine suddenly sprang into life, startling both Arthur and Sid.
“Keep going, Mr Weasley!!” Mr Ball shouted out over the noise. Arthur carried on and the engine started to move.
“And we’re off! She’s picking up a good bit of speed!” With a screech of metal on metal, and a high-pitched scream of steam, the engine started to pull off.
“She’s moving, Sid, she’s moving. In all my dreams, I’ve never...” A small tear escaped Arthur’s eye, as the sheer emotion of the voyage ripped through Arthur.
“I’ve only seen two sights more beautiful than this, listeners. That is my wife, and my daughter. I think I shall have to sit down now.” Arthur sat down and tried to calm himself down.
Mr Ball motioned to Arthur and Sid to come over and look outside. Arthur stuck his head outside the cabin. The only similar thing he could compare it to was when he was riding his old broom, the air in his face, the stinging in his eyes and the loss of ability to breathe.
“This is wonderful, listeners, we are travelling at about eighty miles per hour, the scenery is flashing by, there’s not a cloud in the sky. There’s only one way to describe this.” Arthur stuck his head out again and shouted, “BRILLIANT!”
They reached the end of the line and they had to go back to the museum. Mr Ball asked Arthur if he wanted to fill the engine with water.
“Well, listeners, I’m about to fill the engine with water, I have to pull this chain here to align the spout with water, then I have to pull this one here, and there she goes.” After a short while, Arthur pulled the wrong chain with all his might, the spout came over to him and soaked him to the bone.
Mr Ball was laughing so hard he didn’t hear Sid place a Drying Charm on Arthur.
“Well, everyone, let that be a lesson to you, always check which chain to pull.” Arthur thought for a moment, and then said: “Mr Ball, is that where the saying ‘are you pulling my chain’ comes from?”
Mr Ball laughed so hard he was in danger of falling out of the engine room. “Mr Weasley, you are a character, now let’s get back, shall we? And I’ll make us some lunch.”
Mr Ball explained to Arthur how he was going to do this, so Arthur could narrate to the listeners.
“Well, listeners, we are going to cook a breakfast in the engine room, first we clean the shovel with this rag, then we place on bacon, sausage and finally the eggs, is that right, Mr Ball?”
Mr Ball smiled and nodded his head.
“We now put the shovel in the boiler for about five minutes, just enough time to butter the bread.
Arthur smiled as he pulled out the shovel and inhaled the wonderful smell of fried bacon, all cooked to perfection. Mr Ball made up the sandwiches and handed then out to Arthur and Sid.
“Well, listeners, I’m about to taste my first Steam Engine Butty, here goes!” Arthur bit down and was overwhelmed by the taste. He finished his mouthful.
“Well, that was a first, ladies and gentlemen. It’s really good, and the tea is excellent.”
The trip back was just as enjoyable as the first. Arthur had a go at stopping this time, which, it has to be said, wasn’t the best part for Sid. “Well, listeners, we are finished with steam, now for a small leap through history. What do you have in store for us now, Mr Ball?”
Mr Ball smiled. “We shall now take a look at diesel-powered engines, which took over from steam, as it turned out to be cheaper, cleaner, and more efficient mode of transport.”
All three walked away from the steam engine, Arthur stopped and turned around, walked back to the engine and patted the gleaming body. “Thank you,” Arthur whispered. He turned around and jogged up to the other two.
It was a brief stroll through the paddock to the diesel engine, which stood gleaming and proud.
“Well, listeners, this is as different to steam as eggs are to bacon. They also go hand in hand like eggs and bacon.” Sid looked at Mr Ball and both chuckled.
“As the steam engine was full of curves and bursting with power, a bit like my wife really-" Sid did laugh out loud at this bit.
Mr Ball spoke up. “You're not saying your wife’s an old boiler, are you, Mr Weasley?”
Arthur spluttered and blushed. “Heavens no, what I meant to say was full of life and majestic beauty.”
Arthur wiped his brow with his handkerchief, clearly thinking he had wormed his way out of that one, and looked at the other two figures doubled up laughing. He frowned, and continued:
“Well, where was I? Oh yes, this engine is showing strength and a manner that clearly means business. Is that right, Mr Ball?”
“Yes, Mr Weasley, we stopped making things for atheistic splendour and decided to go for practicality more than looks.” Mr Ball turned away and mumbled, “A bit like my wife, but there you go.” Mr Ball sighed and looked at Arthur. “Yes, this engine has almost twice the power as steam, which meant it could pull more carriages, which in turn meant more paying customers.” Mr Ball clearly thought this wasn’t right, but he kept his thoughts to himself. “Well, shall we go inside?”
“Yes, please,” Arthur replied. Arthur nodded to Sid, who pressed the record button.
“Now, listeners, once more we find ourselves in a roman engine room, we can see that diesel engine in there, I hear you ask, what is a diesel engine? Well, it’s basically the same as a petrol engine in your car. Fuel is pumped into the chamber and then ignited by glow plugs, very similar to spark plugs. The ignition then forces the piston down and in turn, turns the drive shaft. All of this is repeated thousands of times a minute, is that right, Mr Ball?”
Mr Ball nodded his head and looked over at Sid who, by all accounts, was clearly impressed. It would appear that Arthur was listening at Longbridge. “Yes, Mr Weasley, that is indeed correct. But obviously on a much bigger scale.”
“Indeed, listeners, this Eegine is almost as big as the carriages, but where does the driver sit, I hear you ask. At the front, which is where we are going now.”
All three left the engine room and made their way to the driver's cabin. Mr Ball climbed in, followed by Sid and finally Arthur.
“Well, there’s a lot more space here,” Arthur said, looking around.
“Yes that is correct, and you now sit down to drive theeEngine.” Mr Ball motioned for Arthur to sit in the driver's seat. “Would you care to start her up?”
“Yes, please, can I really?” Arthur was once again smiling like a loon and bouncing on his feet. Arthur sat down and nodded to Sid, who in turn pressed the record button.
“Well, listeners, I am now sitting in the driver's chair, I have in front of me the control panel, I have a wide view ahead of me I have a speed-omitor, which tells me how fast I’m going, various switches and dials, and lots, I repeat, lots of lights. Should anything happen to the engine, we will know what to do and how to do it. Isn’t that correct, Mr Ball?”
“Er, right yeah, we’ll know how to deal with it.” Mr Ball looked flustered for a second, but regained his composure.
“What’s this, Mr Ball?”
“That, Mr Weasley is the accelerator.”
“OOOHHH! Can I have a go?” Sid asked excitedly.
“I don’t see why not, Mr Weasley?”
“Well, maybe he can have a go after; I have to show the listeners first.” Arthur was certain he sounded like a three-year-old, but this was his programme, and that was all there was to it.
Mr Ball, sensing this, decided to press on. “Well, if you would like to just press this button here.” Mr Ball pointed to the start button. “We shall be off.”
Once more Arthur hesitated and closed his eyes to press the button. There was a loud splutter followed by a billowing of smoke from the exhaust, when the engine roared into life. Arthur looked at Sid, who looked shaken, but otherwise okay. Mr Ball closed the door to the engine room and the sound was almost cut out.
“Well, listeners that was a sight, or should I say sound. We now realise the air breaks, yes that’s right, listeners, they use air to stop themselves, fascinating really.” Arthur released the lever and a hiss of air escaped. “Oh yes, we push this accelerator here and we’re off, we’re moving, Sid, we’re moving!!”
Arthur turned to look at Mr Ball and smiled; Mr Ball came over and placed a driver’s cap onto Arthur’s head.
“I have to say, listeners, it’s a lot smoother than the steam engine.”
“Yes, that’s right, Mr Weasley. Technology had given us better suspension; instead of metal, we use the same thing that will stop us.”
“What, the air? You mean to tell me that air is holding us all up? Fascinating, absolutely marvellous!”
Arthur looked back to Sid, who had suddenly lost his enthusiasm for a drive.
“Well, listeners, I must be honest with you, I don’t really get a feeling of speed. Do you find that, Mr Ball?”
“Yes, Mr Weasley, it’s because you’re encased in a cabin, and not out in the open.” After they reached the end of the line they decided to turn back, this time letting Sid drive the engine. They left the locomotive and walked to the next train.
”This, Mr Weasley, is an electric locomotive.”
“WOW, Eklectic, brilliant!” Mr Weasley was jumping up and down on the balls of his feet and grinned as much as Ron when he heard he’d made Quidditch Keeper. They climbed into the driver’s cabin. Arthur saw the array of buttons and dials. Sid leaned into Arthur and whispered, “Don’t touch anything, please!” Arthur spun around and frowned.
“Well, Mr Weasley, do you want to see the motors?”
“Yes, please!” Mr Ball took them to the engine room, where Arthur’s first thought was, “It’s so clean.” There was a huge control panel showing all manner of lights and switches, as well a signs for motors and other systems.
“Where in the name of Merlin do you start?” Arthur blurted out.
Mr Ball chuckled. “Well, first of all, we must look outside and above.” All three looked outside the door. “Do you see the power cables?” Both Arthur and Sid looked up and nodded. “Well, it all starts there.” After telling Arthur all about the science behind it Mr Ball let Arthur tell his listeners all about it. Arthur for his part tried to put it into terms the normal everyday Wizard/Witch would understand.
“Wel,l listeners, this is an electric locomotive. We start with the power cables, which deliver roughly 11,000 volts of power. Now a normal everyday household appliance only uses 240 volts of power, so I hope you have an idea of the size difference. The power or voltage is connected to the overhead cables by a hopper, which is always connected. Now the train doesn’t use all of this power, oh no, it has to go around the entire country. The voltage goes through a transformer, which basically transforms 11.000 volts to 415 volts, in a three phase configuration, is that correct, Mr Ball?”
“Yes, yes splendid, Mr Weasley.”
Mr Weasley smiled. “Now the voltage goes through contactors, very similar to a light switch, only bigger. This in turn gives power to the motors, which turns the motor, giving drive to the wheels.” Mr Weasley sighed and rubbed his head. “There are many, many various components that govern the process, but hopefully we will cover that in another programme, but that is the general structure. Now, which button do I press first, Mr Ball?”
Mr Ball chuckled. “Well, first of all, we have to phone the controller at the station, just to tell them we wish to start.” Mr Ball explained at the looks of confusion on both Arthur and Sid’s faces.
Arthur turned to Sid and smiled. Arthur was shown how to phone and the correct procedure to follow.
“Well, listeners, I’m about to phone the controller.” Arthur dialled the number, he jumped slightly when it rang and he almost dropped the phone when someone answered.
“Hello, it’s Arthur Weasley here. I would like to inform you that Locomotive 150373 is ready to start; can we have permission to disembark?” Both Mr Ball and Sid heard laughter over the phone and the operator speaking, “You mean you want to get off, ok then, mate, roger and out.”
Arthur looked at Mr Ball. “I think he wants to speak to Roger, is he here?” Mr Ball laughed.
“It’s ok, Mr Weasley, just turn the key, which will start her up.” Arthur nodded and turned the key.
There was little noise to start with only the mild humming all but gave away the fact the engine was on.
Mr Ball spoke up. “Mr Weasley, all you do is push the accelerator forward, and we shall be off.”
Arthur smiled as he pushed forward the lever. “Well we are off, listeners, it’s strange, also very quiet and smooth, you can hardly hear a thing, just the humming changing pitch.”
“Yes, Mr Weasley, that’s the gears changing.”
“So the engine stays the same speed? Fascinating, simply marvellous,” Arthur mumbled.
“Well, listeners, there you go. We have three different types of locomotives. You have the beauty and grandeur of steam, the brute strength of diesel, and the efficiency of electric. I have seen and now driven all three, and can honestly say my favourite is the steam. There’s just something more romantic about steam engines.” Mr Ball smiled and spoke up. “Well, Mr Weasley, we are definitely in agreement there. You should try the Orient Express. I took my wife on holiday for our 25th wedding anniversary. One of the best holidays we have ever had.”
Mr Weasley smiled, and was suddenly struck with an idea. “I think I will do that, Mr Ball, that sounds excellent.” Arthur knew what he was going to do with his first week’s wages, and if he could swing it, he may get to drive the thing as well.