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Of Ashdown down the line

Of Ashdown down the line

30th November 2014

So, back to normal timetable and with the nights drawing in, a slightly earlier start to this week's edition. Several times during the week I have driven over the level crossing at Darley and glanced across to check all was well on the site. And there, forlorn and exposed, has been my forklift, which as you will recall from last week, got so far up the site alongside the shed before effectively becoming marooned in the soft, dirt and  ash surface.  And as it quietly slumbered, its sheer weight has assured its slow but apparent settlement into the ground as if it was taking root.  I did not want it to do so.

Another of the various e-bay purchases Andrew has made of late has been 10 stillages. For in places around the site at Rowsley we have amassed over the years various piles of strategic bits which must soon be relocated to Darley, and handling them loose is not really an option. On the other hand, the VBA van, originally kitted out to be both a stores van and workshop (but in practice, never near enough to a power outlet to make any use of its workbench, benchdrill, etc) needs to be fully utilised as a stores vehicle and stuff stacked in stillages is the best way forward. Ten seemed a nice round number, and an easy load for small lorry, which was lined up for later in the week.

Ringing around for a lift pump for the forklift on Monday, one of my suppliers reckoned he might have the base of one (i.e. the bit with the missing hand priming lever) brand-new and in need of a  home, but I needed to bring the old one up to compare. So first thing Tuesday morning I popped in to Darley and in freezing cold conditions removed the lift pump. The rails did not seem too rusty , and having heard rumour that “Ashdown” might have made a  foray to Matlock, I headed on down to the car park.

IMG 3658-blog

Sure enough, there was Ashdown with the BG, the latter awaiting loading with the various pressies for Santa trains over the next few weeks. I had no time to hang around to see it return though, so headed on and came back to Derbyshire later with the replacement lift pump assembly.

That evening, speaking to Rob, it was reported that Ashdown cruised contentedly along at 10-11 mph, and provided you kept your head out of the window, the noise was acceptable, but that it was “mega-noisy” if you had your head inside!   When Ashdown comes in for attention, that is one thing I'd like to improve on.

Thursday saw the stillages arrive and Friday Andrew had off from work, and made a  start on disconnecting the coolant pipework on 14 901. It also reminded me that I had not put the profiles on order that included new pipe flanges, so sorted that out.

On Saturday, Andrew was due to attend a “Class 14 operators meeting” - in effect a continuation of the meetings that started to bring about the “14s at 50” event. This meeting was back at Kidderminster, but I had opted not to attend and as things worked out had good reason to go to Scunthorpe briefly instead.

Hunting out the things I needed to take with me, I remembered the newly-machined replacement hinge pins for the cab doors and was going to take the Mk3 relay shaft and lever assembly for the parking brake, until I realised that I didn't have any nuts in stock. I had, for reasons that now escape me, specified M10 x 1.25  - fine pitch -  on each end of the shaft but hadn't provisioned any. So with the hinge pins and a couple of other little bits, I headed over and having got business out of the way, headed to the AFRPS sheds. All the locos in the main half of the shed had been drawn out in order to make space for the mobile crane to manoeuvre a heavy load in, and shortly after I arrived, a brake van tour paused to disgorge its participants for the obligatory shed-area inspection.

So here I presented Toby with the new, highly expensive hinge pins, and was immediately asked if I had brought the water pump for the 03s engine.  Imagine my chagrin (not to mention Toby's vociferous deprecation) when I realised that, after all the trouble of acquiring it, said water pump was still in the garage at the Briddon Country Pile. But I got my revenge for as I walked across the shed near where the 03 had been parked, I found 4  of the hinge pins (which Toby, Stephen, Ashley (etc) had assured me were lost), alive and well and lieing on the floor. A few minutes later I found the fifth truant in the debris in the flangeway. I took great pleasure in stressing how expensive the 6 new pins I had had machined (from the one sample they had not managed to lose) had been, and how it had all been so unnecessary. And if anyone out there should be in need of a hinge pin or two for an 03, do please get in touch.

My stay at Scunthorpe was a brief one. After gluing in a  few bits of floorboard and fixing a  reminder sign by the handbrake, I hit the road back, but not before I had been engaged by two visitors one of whom seemed to think that (a) I must be a Tata employee, (b) that these specials were only arranged once or twice a year and (c) that none of the locos here at the shed were ever allowed out round the circuit. (Actually, he started out by asserting that the site had about 900 miles of track, but I had to disappoint him by advising it was substantially less than that). I suggested he visit the society website for more information, but decided not to enquire why he had come at all if he was so un-informed.

I got back to the Briddon Country Pile at half-past three, in time to have a  cup of tea before setting off again for Darley Dale.  I took with me a self-standing work lamp, and had just about refitted the lift pump to the fork lift when Rob arrived from Rowsley armed with haulage cables and a Tirfor. Before long, all was set up and with a  long strop looped around one of the building's columns, Rob started to winch the forklift towards the shed entrance as I “drove” the it, although this mainly involved keeping the driving wheels rotating uselessly while fighting the steering to the rear wheels as they were markedly reluctant to climb over rails, stones or just about anything else into which they came into contact with.

Eventually, and all this took an hour or more,  the forklift front and rear found itself on the concrete of the shed and I did a victory lap before shutting it down, partly because my lift pump had not sealed on the engine block and it was leaking a  little oil. But it is now in its new home and with it we can think about getting the rails positioned and bolted down on She Road 2. And shortly, if all goes well, the first of the residents will transfer down from Rowsley – and where the forklift had been standing would have been in their way.

Today we popped back into Darley to pick up a few bits before heading up to Rowsley.  Preparations for Santas trains are well under way and Charlie was sat in Rowsley platform with the carriages as well as two vans coupled up. After some other jobs had been completed, Andrew turned his attention back to 14 901 and threw out a number of the coolant pipes, formed by welding up various lengths and weights of all sorts. 

IMG 3674 blog

In the front of the engine bay, i.e. right behind the cooler group, is a large base plate that we assume was added by Barclays. It is mounted on the feet that once supported the exhausters, but latterly supported one Bromwade compressor. We had in years gone by planned to mount a second compressor – there is a base provided – but unless we were seriously considering operating air braked stock it wasn't worthwhile. Indeed, 901's single compressor had coped with two 14s together and a rake of air braked stock when this came in behind “Tangmere”.  But the plate does seriously obstruct access  to the Voith oil cooler which straddles underneath, and as the latter is due to be changed for an overhauled spare, and the new coolant pipework wedded to it, Andrew decided to cut it in half and permanently dispense with the unused part.

IMG 3680 blog


For myself I left him to it, having heard and seen Ashdown start up, for Rob was using it to reform the works train and connect it to Charlie ready for another southerly sojourn. I broke off to capture the event, but it was now getting on for 4pm, the light was low, and as the flash simply didn't have the range, I rested the camera on convenient objects to steady it while I took rather longer than normal exposures. As a result I got an “action shot” of Ashdown racing towards me (actually it was going away at only 2 or 3 miles an hour)  but a more impressive one as it waited while  a Lowmac was added to the end (out of sight).

IMG 3681 blog

So that's it for this edition. Andrew is out of the picture next weekend, so will I dutifully spend my time on the collection in his absence? Will I succumb to the season and indulge in an orgy of Christmas-shopping?  I have no idea.


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