Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of Charlie back to life

7th February 2016

They say that all human life goes through courtrooms. As we sat in the waiting area outside Court 7 of the Chesterfield County Court building on Monday, 1st February, Andrew and I had no reason to question it. A few yards away, a gentleman, dressed in trainers, jogging bottoms and wearing a baseball cap, and who from his demeanour was clearly influenced by what I assumed was excessive alcohol, asked Peak Rail's Jackie Statham if she'd like a coffee. Was he trying to chat her up? A few minutes later we looked over to see that he was now sat, fast asleep face down on a table. Some time passed and there was a crash. Perhaps a restless sleeper, he had slid off the chair and now rested on the floor with the waste bin that had been in the way as his pillow.. Andrew went and informed Irene, the Court Usher, who came over and got on her phone. Two security guards arrived: roused him, raised him and aided him off into the fresh air outside. The man's legal representative now had a problem – in Court the Judge was calling for his attendance, but the security staff wouldn't let him back in.

That little vignette provided some amusement in an otherwise sad day, and I have to admit that this has been a saga which we have kept out of this blog for the last year, but you might have been reading between the lines. In 2014 14 901 operated 58 days of trains for Peak Rail, none in 2015. Charlie, Cheedale and Ashdown were shunting and running works traffic in 2014, then they were brought down to Darley Dale and parked.

Under the Agreements which we had signed with Peak Rail, the consumables required to operate these locos were PR's responsibility and in March last year we submitted an invoice to cover them. The invoices were mine, since I sourced most of the material and could therefore provide a clear VAT-trail for PR to reclaim, but the charges were without profit. Sadly, PR declined to pay and their intransigence compelled us to start a Small Claims Action through the legal system. I do not propose to go through the complete tale: it is long, complex, and regrettable, but for as an objective and unemotional report as I have been able to prepare, I have published a 'public statement' on Andrew's site and will provide a link to it at the end.

So, back to more palatable matters. E-bay this week yielded another useful item. Andrew spotted it and discussed it with Dr Ben, but as he was at work at the time it closed it was agreed that Andrew would bid for it and low and behold, won it, a cast-iron worksplate suitable ultimately to go onto the MR bogie well wagon. (Not that I'd recommend putting it on a genuine item, sadly there are too many light-fingered individuals nowadays, having lost 2 or 3 loco worksplates from locos when they were hired out in my YEC days. Actually, when I was more involved with n.g. I had a worksplate and PLANET badgeplate manufactured from originals in glass fibre resin, which had a pleasant yellow colour not far removed from recently-polished brass. So close a match in fact that somebody was half way through removing one before realising that it didn't possess the weight of brass. )

IMG 1163 blog

The work has concentrated on Charlie again this week, with a couple of evenings put in for good measure, the re-wiring was completed and the casing section lifted back over and put on the loco. That sounds simple, but first it meant firing up 'James' (whose batteries were a little tired and in consequence couldn't both crank the engine and pull over the stop solenoid – result no smoke and no 'go' until Andrew held it over by hand) in order to pull 14 901 out so that the forklift could access where we'd placed the casings, then put it all back afterwards.

Naturally, as the casing came off Charlie, it fits perfectly back on. Well no, actually it didn't, but we put enough bolts in to stop it moving and got on with refitting the exhaust system. Here the commonality between Charlie and Cheedale began to help, as Charlie's silencer is clearly on its last legs so we substituted Cheedale's. A new length of 'elephants' trunk' – the 5 in diameter wire-wound ducting that connects the air cleaner to the engine air intake, was cut but longer than the old as Thomas Hill had provided a fabricated right angle bend which had a 1inch nipple on the side to provide a feed to the compressor. But the tin had rotted clean through, and Andrew wasn't entirely happy with the compressor drawing through a common filter (I don't know why, though it does become something of a long, narrow pipe connection between the two) so I fitted a short piece of plain steel duct and used the new grey pvc elephants' trunk to span the gap and make the bends, though it did require additional support, which came from Cheedale again. Cheedale is going to get some new parts.

IMG 1162 blog

Although the engine oil had been changed last week, Andrew only got around to changing the oil in the air cleaner today and found to his surprise that it was over-full, which may be through carelessness or the level may have risen from the amount of semi-solid sludge lurking in the bottom. An over-full air cleaner though could easily increase the atmospheric depression and contribute to issues with the engine smoking and being slow to make air pressure. We'll see how it behaves.

With the exhaust and air systems in place, the rear engine mounting bolts were swapped to the longer ones and the rebound plates set up and the bolts tightened. Andrew fitted the fan assembly, while I battled with the top supports for the radiator, which refused to line up, and required some thick packer plates which did nothing to make it any easier. It was as if the casing structure had gone slightly trapezoidal, or the radiator was slightly out of vertical, I assumed the former. In the end with Andrew straining to pull the casing to one side, I managed to encourage the bolts to pick up on the tapped holes in the radiator frame.

IMG 1160 blog

You can see the new 48w LED headlamps on the front of Charlie, though they don't look particularly impressive in the picture, when they are lit up, well that's a different matter, and of course they're each 22watts less than the halogen bulbs they replace, so easier on the relay contacts! The only snag is that although the lamps themselves are no deeper than a traditional headlamp, the bracket that comes with them is short and vertical, so there's no way of overhanging the lamp away from the casing structure. For the front I was able to put a hole through the casing top and route the mounting bolt horizontally, but the rear is the fuel tank and I had to make up little plates to hold the lamps further out.

IMG 1161 blog

Charlie's rear handrails in particular have had a hard life. They're a bit bent here and there, and the columns, which were once screwed down to tapped plates welded to the walkways, had been welded up at some point in the past but one column had parted company and floated a couple of inches towards the fuel tank. We needed to do a medium term repair, which meant persuading the column back into its correct location but Andrew's initial battles using large G cramps were unsuccesful. So I toddled out to the van and brought back the screw jack and forced it outwards that way so that Andrew could weld a piece of angle to hold it all in place. Another task that has been going on is to replace as many as possible of the rubber hose connection with silicon. Again. You'll see some of them in the pictures and you'll also note that we don't use Jubilee clips. This is as a result of working with Cummins on repowers – their research showed that the Jubilee or worm-drive clamp does not in fact give an even force all the way around, but Tee-bolt clamps – though you do have to get the right size as there is much less adjustment - do a better job. Andrew had found a supplier of both near Burton-on-Trent so had picked some up on his way back from Birmingham. They have been a standard 'fit' for us for some years now.

By late this afternoon we had bled through the hydraulic oil as far as the converter charge pump, the fuel through the filters to the fuel pump and filled the cooling system with plain water (just until we've sorted out any leaks, then it's 50/50 anti-freeze) and it was time to try and start it up. I reconnected the batteries and to my dismay nothing lit up like I expected it to, and in fact only one thing at first appeared to work, and that was the coolant temp gauge, which proceeded to casually wander over from the left hand side to the right hand side and into the red. That's still to investigate on the snag list. Admittedly there were two reasons why the alternator warning light didn't come on – firstly the alternator and regulator were still disconnected (protection from Andrew's welding) and secondly the bulb had blown, but it was still a bit of consternation.

My oil pressure LED wasn't showing anything either, though that at least did not take me long to trace – I had pressed the wires onto the tabs inside the console whilst in situ - unscrewing it and pulling it out into the light revealed that they were all wrong!

Pressing the start button did at least pull in the run solenoid on the pump, but the starter didn't crank. Took a while to work out that volts were reaching that starter, but that, as the main cables were not marked red or black to reveal their polarity, I had put them back as they felt they wanted to go and they'd decided that change was as good as a rest. Swapped back over the engine condescended to crank.

The procedure we adopt on these occasions is to leave the high pressure injector pipes off at the injectors and allow the engine to crank over until fuel reaches the top of the pipes. Then attach them to their injectors and things generally start to happen culminating in the engine running, roughly at first until all the injectors start working together. Hopefully along the way you see oil pressure forming (after an oil change, when the system is still filling filters and pipework, it can be an anxious few seconds before that needle finally moves off the bottom stop).

But today Charlie was a bit of a worry, as various fuel leaks kept revealing themselves from filters and, something of a surprise, from the bodies of the injectors themselves – although fresh from overhaul, for some reason each of them had to be tightened up and the spill return banjo-bolts reset afterwards. But with all these niggles identified and rectified the engine finally ran, but then cut out after a few seconds. It was Andrew who finally determined, from his vantage point on the outside, that this was due to the stop solenoid de-energising as the timer relay finished. This timer relay provides a temporary feed to energise the stop solenoid until the engine has fired and thereafter hands it over to a 'latch' which passes through the oil pressure switch and the converter temperature switch (and the engine coolant temp switch if you have one) but somehow this isn't finding its way back to the 'run relay' under the desk. For the moment we used the manual toggle on the relay to hold the solenoid in regardless while we ran the engine to settle it in, boost the batteries and attend to further miscellaneous leaks. Maybe, I've a wire crossed and the fault on the temperature sender is connected – literally – to the latch circuit that should go to the stop solenoid. Given a bit of daylight and a few undistracted minutes I should be able to resolve it.

So Charlie is back to life, leaving us with a list of issues to attend to before it moves under its own power again, though that day is now very close. Grandson is due back next weekend for a 10 days visit, and I may be on my own for 1 or 2 days, so quite what I'll get up to remains to be seen – not that there's a shortage of things to do, whether its shed or loco, or even just having a good old tidy up.

So I'll close there with that link I promised.

Public statement

See you next week.


From Michael Bentley:
Hi Guys, Oh,what a pity that PR did not use common sense and reach a settlment prior to any court case. They say there`s only one winner in going to court or having to engage legal counsel and that`s the legal profession. Hope common sense prevails and matters are soon settled...Seems to me there's a lack of railway knowledge as well as common sense. Thanks for the weekly reports, so much appreciated, even when you're frustrated through lack of progress - as you see it.... roll on next week.

From Paul Wilson:
Just to tell you when I read the latest news on Weekend Rails it made my day, funny or what? Humour is very uplifting. Thank you.

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