Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of Bombs and burns

7th August 2011

Our plan, as we thought it was at this time last week, was to spend the weekend at Rowsley operating the Drewry “WD72229″ at Peak Rail’s Forties event. But we already knew that the original plan for a “Troop Train” had had to be scrubbed and as the week wore on, Andrew announced that he would therefore drop me off at Rowsley on Saturday and head on elsewhere. Of course, Steph and my daughter Jennifer were committed, as for several years they have run a stall (”Make Do and Mend”) at the event which started off trying to educate the younger visitors on what life was like for kids in that decade, with such practices as peg-dolls and knitting – quite alien to a generation brought up with the concept that anything involving entertainment involves the movement of electrons.

More recently, it has developed into other straightforward activities, and last year Steph used her woodwork classes to make a series of wooden boxes with a slot to carry a fascia on which was an image of a naval ship. With the boxes placed on a bright blue groundsheet (”the sea”) it becomes a game called “Bomb the battleship” – the bombs being bean-bags thrown from off the groundsheet.

“Bomb a battleship”

Friday morning Steph and I had ventured over to assemble the Gazebo and drop some of the larger lumps off ready for a Saturday morning set up, and on my return home, I set about a bit of bomb-making. Now, before any computer-snooping-system in MI5 gets all excited, I had better add that the bombs in this case were completely harmless. In fact, it was inspired by some cylindrical plastic oil reservoirs that came from the auction of Jarvis stores (See “of auctions and actions”). Andrew was for binning them, but I saw a potential as dummy bombs, all they needed were fins at the back. With characteristic careful pre-planning, it was thus the afternoon of the day before the event that I get down seriously to their conversion. Having drawn an accurate template on Autocad to match the shape of the cylinder, I then hacked out 8 from 1/4″ ply with a jigsaw where no two were quite alike, nor fitted the cylinder anywhere near as well as their pattern, but managed to stick them all with some very runny epoxy. One finished bomb was intended as a collection box, the other as a pretend “dis-arming” game which was conceived like those games with a wire loop that you must pass along, but not touch, a rigid shaped wire. Steph had come back with a game from a charity shop that provided a buzzer and lamp, and although I had envisaged two pieces of pipe, one inside the other, I had no time to make this and instead, had a brain-wave to utilise a reed switch. Somewhere in the house I had been given a dozen or so which had lain dormant in a box for probably 30 years or more. Amazingly I found them, glued one in what had been the filler neck, raided a fridge magnet, hung it loosely on a wire from the screw-cap and hey presto, as you unscrewed the cap the bomb might – or might not – go off. You can see it at back right of the photo, but sadly the system suffered from to rapid-assembly and broke down during both days. But then real bombs didn’t work every time.

and a flypast from a Spitfire

Anyway, with no duties for the Drewry to perform I drove with Andrew at Long Marston on Saturday. We had some bits to collect from a gentleman who had amassed a considerable quantity of ferrous-trifles there but was preparing to move out. We came away, as anticipated, with two compressors, spare radiator elements for the Drewry and two very heavy lengths of 2.5″ duplex roller chains as spares for “Charlie”. Various deals were also explored and I may be back before the end of the month. I have been a few times at ‘LM’ recently – it is 5 years since the last of Andrew’s locos left, and 10 to the month since Barclays Bank withdrew the overdraft on my business that operated from there, so a lot of memories were passing through my mind, some good, some bad. We hit the road back, the van not overloaded but definitely aware of the weight, and rolled into Rowsley after the activities had died down to unload them.

Sunday: With Steph and Jen loaded and on the road to Rowsley, we headed north to go see “Pluto” at Murton. DVLR staff had, as I expected, been overcome with the urge “to see what it sounded like” and had run it for a while the previous weekend, so needed little arm-twisting to let it come out top-n-tail on a passenger train or two to see how it coped. But first we had a bit of a check over to do, chains and axle bearings to lubricate, that sort of thing, and I experimented with positions for the oil seperator. In truth there is only one place where it can go and fit the stipulated difference in height to suit the exhauster, but I could only sketch out suitable ideas for a bracket to put in hand.

"Pluto" ready for the 1.15

After a quick lunch, “Pluto” came off shed and took up position on the front of a train with the resident 88DS Ruston at the other. I was driving, (so took no photos) and my planned triumphal start out of Murton was slightly tarnished by Andrew pointing out, just after the Guard’s whistle blew, that I was still selected for the opposite direction. And yes, OK, we did slightly over-run the stop mark at the far end and have to set back a bit to clear the run-round, but who cares? With the DVLR’s own brand of flange lubrication on the loop road (grease on the side of the rail head) I crept round and coupled up to the 88DS to double-head back -

“What weight is yours? asked the 88DS’s driver

“Twenty-two” I answered.

“That’s only 17″ says he, slightly crestfallen. What is this, Top Trumps? Care to try for horsepower?

With the 88DS waiting for a second run

“Pluto’s” exhaust is still distinctly blue – as with most two-strokes there is a tendency to carry lube oil over in the purging stage and this has caused a build-up in the exhaust sytem – you can see it oozing from every joint – too much idling, not enough work. Hopefully it will dispose of the residue and burn cleaner as it works more at Murton.

Repositioning D9523 at the end

“Pluto” hauled the train back and the two then transferred to the loop at Murton while the 03 did a run. Andrew then put “Pluto” on the front and top-n-tailed there and back. By 3 o’clock we had to wind down – Andrew because he was away for work tonight and me because I must head back to Rowsley for my part of the demolition. “Pluto” returned to the loco siding, collecting the class 14 and pulling it back into place behind it. OK, in terms of progress, little was achieved today, but it was FUN.

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