Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of casings and converters

14th October 2012

First thing on Monday morning we were back at Rowsley, and after a quick bit of a shunt the casings were coming off the Sentinel and by eleven o'clock the power unit was out and the converter was being swung into the back of the van.

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Andrew and I set off for our favourite transmission specialist - yes, the one that is still pondering what exactly is wrong with the powershift wanted for D2128 - and by mid afternoon Tom's converter was in with the promise that it would be ready, re-sealed and pressure tested, by Friday. We inspected the said powershift - boxed up and sat waiting another attempt to crack its cantankerous behaviour - and discussed its problems.

On Tuesday I had the news that Charlie's pneumatics were playing up and the loco had had to be taken out of use until we could sort it. It had given a bit of trouble on Monday that lead me to suspect the clutch cylinder might be passing, but it was an unwelcome addition to the jobs list.

This week, regular readers may recall, is the one in which my birthday falls. So for those of you interested, my answer to the question "What did you get for your birthday?" is "A flu jab." In fact, it must have been quite the event of the week at Firth Park, for the queue at one point stretched around the corridors of the Medical centre, a grand tour of the waiting room, out past reception through the entrance lobby and 200 yards up the road. I eventually made it to one of the consulting rooms -


"Peter Briddon"

"Date of Birth?"

"Today! In nineteen-fifty....."

"Ah, how sweet. I've got something for you here."

Early Friday morning I was in action again, collecting the louvred door profiles for D2128. The original two full height casing doors had been joined by two smaller panels that will form the access doors on the power bulges. My original plan had been for steel doors with mesh panels, but having cracked the louvre manufacture problem it seemed crazy not to use panels that would match. Next it was off to Rowsley to meet up with a visitor, and drop off bits at the Briddon Country Pile. I also extracted the clutch cylinder from Charlie but to my chagrin, found it in good order, How? Put your thumb over one port and see how much resistance the piston offers. If it falls under its own weight, the piston seals aren't doing much. With that dealt with it was a dash back to the transmission people via Rotherham, a trip made all the more problematic by the M1 northbound being closed and 3 lanes of Friday afternoon traffic being routed up the M18 onto the 2-lane A1. Still, I made it in time to get the converter back aboard, blast back to Sheffield and then on to Rowsley, where Rob had very kindly waited to see it off and into the shed with the JCB.

And so to the weekend. On Saturday it was back to Scunthorpe. First job of the day was to shunt the box van out of its siding and unload the spare Rolls-Royce radiator and man-handle it into the back of the van, where it just fitted between the wheel arches. Then we split up, Andrew heading back to complete assembly of the engine on Beverley whilst I started on the doors we'd brought up for D2128. One of the AFRPS volunteers glanced at the doors and thought we'd started painting them in BR blue, but in fact the two full height doors have a plastic skin intended to protect them from scratching. I decided to concentrate on one side at a time - the power bulge for the compressor (left) side is awaited from the fabricators, so the logical side was the right. The big door was duly drilled for hinges, handles and budget locks and apart from a slight bit to remove on the top edge it is ready for etch primer. The smaller panel was then fitted to the exhauster enclosure with piano hinge and a budget lock, the louvres having been deliberately offset on the panel in order that they fall into the same alignment as the half door above.

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Andrew meanwhile got all the valves and injectors set up on "Beverley" and on our next trip it will be time to fill it with coolant, refit batteries and give it a go. Finally we trialled the completed parking brake calliper and bracket on to the disc.

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Sunday, and after dropping off yet more bits at Briddon Country Pile, we arrived at Rowsley to start prep'ing bits for the power unit to go back in on "Tom". First the radiator had to come out of the van and be walked again over two tracks to where the old rad lay, so that the fan and cowl assembly could be swapped. Although a standard Covrad design, some of the studs didn't quite line up, so holes had to be opened out and some studs were too short (for the stay bar brackets). Another task for me was to open out the holes in the silencer mountings with a blacksmith drill, so that our M16's will slide through without a fight (and anyway, the original design didn't allow for any expansion..).

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Rob appeared after his lunch and said he could spare 10 minutes to get the converter back on before he went off on a track patrol (can't think why, if there was any track missing the trains would have been sure to have found it by now) and we took up his offer.

The technique for fitting a converter is simple. The two toothed friction plates must line up with the drive ring, and the input shaft outside of it must enter the support bearing mounted in the centre of the flywheel, but of course, you can't observe this as the clutch and its friction plates are not see-through. So to make life easier, it is best to centralise the friction plates and lock the clutch into engaged so they don't budge. Then it all lines up and slides in. But for us it didn't

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Our transmission people had sleeved the input shaft as it was worn and pitted. Try as we might, the converter would simply not slide in despite greasing it and cajoling it, and Rob had to leave us. While he was away, we aligned the clutch plates again, and emery'd the input shaft down a few thou. By now we had been joined by Pete W (one of my regular readers) who assisted us finishing the fan cowl change and when Rob returned having confirmed that there was indeed two steel rails intact all the way to Darley Dale, we had another go at getting the converter on. It fought back, but went further than it had before and suddenly, as we finally got it close enough to start pulling it in with the mounting bolts, it gave up and slid the rest of the way in without protest. The remaining pipes and other bits were hurriedly assembled and the power unit is now ready to go back into "Tom".

So finally we turned to Charlie, refitted the clutch cylinder and fired it up to see which valve could be causing the problem. After a dozen or so reversals without any fault developing at all, we shutdown and called it a day. Either it was the cylinder and my removing it settled it, or a valve had been stuck with a bit of dirt which had been dislodged. Unless it happens again, we may never know.

Now, next week's blog should happen provided Openreach and Plusnet do their stuff, and I have been assured by no less than two separate departments within Plusnet that Openreach are booked, it will happen and the broadband connection will be made within hours of the phone going live. On that basis we have booked an even bigger van and Steph and I will be moving house next weekend, though Andrew has managed to re-arrange some work down south and will not be moving until Monday. So all being well, I will be sat in my "new" office on Sunday night writing up whatever antics we have got up to on the collection during the week, or maybe, ranting about the failings of telecoms yet again. We'll see.

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