Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of casing tops and e-bay flops

30th December 2012

It may have been Christmas Eve but that didn't stifle Andrew's desire to get on with some loco work and we headed in to Rowsley. After some tasks for me, we moved over to "Tom", Andrew intending to cut off the remaining bolt holding the exhaust manifold and me to investigate where the feeds to my lights had gone. Andrew was out of luck though - having taken a lot of bits out of the van a few days previous, one thing that had not returned was the 110V transformer and there was no sign of one in the workshops. Slightly disgruntled he went to the VBA to do a bit of sorting while I was left alone in the cab.

It wasn't hard to identify the problem - hiding away in the bottom of the relay box were 3 snipped off wires from my initial stripping at Telford that had been overlooked. After a little time identifying which was which, they were soon extended with bullet crimps and connected to where they should have been. One code light however failed to work and had to be opened up and "tweaked" until it did. Last but not least on the lighting front was the cab - when acquired, Tom had a massive flameproof light assembly which, apart from requiring 2 man hours to change a bulb, came well down in a cab where headroom was already restricted. An old friend of mine does wood turning as a hobby-cum-business and produced me a mounting for the new lamp assembly (a Thomas Hill standard) and I managed to mount this slightly crooked but left it for the moment. Darkness fell and we called it a day.

Andrew was away for a day or two over Christmas so it was Friday before we were out again. Plan A had been to continue on Tom, but the weather forecast was dire so instead we headed to Scunthorpe where at least there is a shed, even if there are a few holes in the roof. Andrew had been promised, when Beverley was towed out the week before, that it would be back under cover in a day or so so that he could continue painting, but alas it was still outside so I got him all to myself on D2128. First task was to pinch bar it forward until it was under the hoist, then lift off the middle casing section (which fits over the front and rear sections) and lift the rear piece down to the ground. Sadly, during our transmission re-fit it managed to get slightly distorted and no amount of forcing it with lorry straps would get the bolts anywhere near. In the end, we heated up the angle and bashed the living daylights out of it whilst maintaining pressure with a lorry strap until the radius looked about right and the hole centres at the outside were somewhere near.. Then Andrew ground it off flush and, once cooled, painted over the heated bits.

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Then it was back up on to the loco and gradually all the fixing bolts went back in to place. There remains some new holes to drill and tap through into the angle from the front cab bulkhead before the joint is firm and sealed, but at least the casing tops are back in place and the air induction hose from the 'mushroom' down to the cleaner. The front compressor "bulge" was also bolted in (you can see it in the photo) and as we drove home we were listing out the remaining jobs before we run the loco again, which will probably be by the end of January.

On Saturday we repaired to Briddon Towers, banished Andrew to the highest room, and bade him pass us all the junk down to Steph and me. Everything from Spice Girls posters, through old computers to brake block patterns, liberally layered in dust, now occupy the upper floor of the house for further sorting.

Sunday - and after Andrew had done a quick trip to IKEA to collect the bits missing from the wardrobe bought by his sister as his Christmas present, we headed again down to Rowsley, this time with the transformer. I was delegated to cut the recalcitrant bolt while Andrew sheeted "Jack" down. We would have preferred to do this while the loco was dry, but with the weather we'd had of late there was no chance so today's 'damp' was as good as we could get. Cutting said bolt off took only seconds - setting up the power supply, cable and grinder to do it took ten minutes and as much to put it all away! I then removed the complete manifold and cleaned the cylinder head ports before reporting to Andrew and, as he had forgotten to bring them, heading back home to collect the manifold joints. Rolls-Royce manifolds generally are sectional- the mid two ports being a common casting and then "modules" go out forwards and backwards until the end cylinders. Each section is a dry (casting on casting) joint and if it doesn't seal up you add a bit of Gun Gum. However, you don't really want to separate it into its constituent parts unless the need arises, and in theory the bolt holes should all line up - except of course that No5 had had no bolts at all.

In the course of putting it all back we realised why it had not had bolts fitted - I ended up removing the injector lines to cylinders 5 to 8 and cursing the designers at R-R for making the whole arrangement so cramped. Eventually they all went back on and while Andrew did a final check over that all was tight, I adjourned to the cab and adjusted the cab light mounting until it fitted properly. Finally, the moment came and after a bit of prolonged cranking (it had, after all, 4 injector lines to refill) Tom's engine came back to life with a satisfying difference in noise (all exhaust seemingly going where it was supposed to) and even a cab light to watch the instruments by. Once again we started listing out the remaining tasks before Tom can go into Peak Rail works service, even as "Charlie" trundled by on the loop.

Some weeks ago Andrew drew my attention to a battery electric miniature loco on e-bay. It had a low starting price and was described as 7.5" gauge - which was possible as it is used in some parts of the US. The advertiser was a Colin Skinner of Harrogate, and because of its size, he wanted cash-on-collection. Perhaps because of the quoted gauge, I won it surprisingly cheaply (I would have paid more) and sent him a friendly message asking when would be convenient to collect.

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There was no reply, so after a couple of days I sent another. Still no reply.

Imagine our surprise when the same loco, riding truck and piece of track and quoting the same 7.5" gauge are suddenly listed by a seller in Preston with a higher starting price. Whilst it was tempting to ask the seller the question "Is this not the same loco I won on auction number...." it was hardly likely to get him to admit, but I went through the rigmarole of contacting e-bay, getting Skinner's mobile number and trying to communicate with him as per e-bay's "disputes procedure". Needless to say Mr Skinner would neither answer my calls nor return them when I left voice mails, I never thought he would.

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Meanwhile someone asked the Preston seller to measure the gauge properly and surprise, it was 7.25" whereupon bids rolled in and it went for much more than I had supposedly bought it at. I formally complained to e-bay, and received a standard letter that promises "behind the scenes actions which you will not be able to see" - but in reality there is little or nothing e-bay can do, I didn't think there was. And since Mr Skinner had an e-bay rating of 0, giving him a damning feedback will scarcely worry him.

So that about wraps it up for 2012. In truth, there are a number of things going on behind the scenes, which, unlike e-bay, will start to be seen during 2013. I hope you will all be here to read them.

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