So, first thing Monday morning I had to pop down to the shed to receive some timber which had travelled over from Scunthorpe by road for carriage restoration but as it was thought that there might be no-one in at Rowsley to receive, it was directed to us for temporary storage as of course, we are always happy to co-operate and assist Peak Rail volunteers in their endeavours: they are the very essence of a heritage railway.
We have had the pleasure of Jagger's company for part of the week, as he resumed where he had left off with the stripping of the Wickham trolley. On Tuesday news came through that DBS had accepted Andrew's offer for some of the other wagons marooned with sleeping beauty (see 2 weeks ago). Y'see, if it was just the flat wagon, it could be recovered with a big HIAB lorry, like the sort that brought Thelma and Louise down from Scotland. But sat next to it is a 12ton box van, which sort of makes sense as an engine repair shed (I'll explain the thought processes later) and 3 lwb ferry vans. Now, if Andrew is going in to remove one wagon, it becomes more sensible if he takes a crane in and collects the others, hence the negotiation which has now come to fruition. Of course, 3 lwb ferry vans would take up rather a lot of room at Darley Dale, and Andrew's interest is not for himself. One of the three is therefore already sold on for heritage use, a second is awaiting confirmation, but that leaves the third – the roughest of the 3 bit still a timber body so DIY repairable – available for anyone that's interested. So here's a photo to whet your appetite – they'd make a good stores van on any heritage line. Contact Andrew via this or his website if you're interested.
Anyway, on Wednesday he had the day off so went down to the shed with Jagger and resumed work on Adolf, removing the second step assembly on the western side. He recently acquired a new gas torch. This is the type that where, instead of the 'usual' right angled nozzle, the nozzle is in line, which is the sort scrapmen use as it gets into places where a right-angle nozzle cannot reach. I was busy that day, so didn't make it down myself. So my first view of progress was on Saturday, which I'll get to later.
There was a slight panic from the Colne Valley direction when a report came through that volunteer had failed the loco with a banging noise said to be from a propshaft, starting only when the Voith was engaged. That didn't make a lot of sense as the propshaft is rotating whether the Voith is engaged or not, and after phone discussions the fault was traced to what looks to be a fractured bellows near the turbocharger which I suppose we will have to deal with in due course.
By the end of the week collection details had been re-arranged for the 2-HAP, somewhat important as it is obstructing the removal of other exhibits from the Coventry site, so that should happen after Easter – though with yet more snow forecast who can say whether it will go to plan!
Andrew's exploits on Wednesday had run him out of oxygen, so first thing Saturday we hoinked the bottle into the back of the van and took a run down to Matlock to collect another. Charlie was fired up and brought Adolf across for more surgery, so I got my first view of Wednesday's progress.
Andrew set the gas up and found that there was damage to the cylinder valve and it would not seal, so back it went into the van and off we went down to Matlock for another. Now all we have to do is check they don't invoice him for two.
Now Saturday was also a working day for the IDRPG and their AGM to boot, so were in to double-figures in and around the shed. Even Jagger's Grandad ws there to attend the meeting. 1382 went up on the Mattersons, and stands placed underneath (you should not leave Matterson posts under load, it's simply bad practice). That cleared the way for IDRPG volunteers including Toby and Stephen to bring the air receivers out of store and up into position under the loco, reconnecting pipework in the process. Meanwhile Ben and Ashley were outside, cutting and renewing corroded platework in some of the remaining casing doors and exhaust cowl. Charles was as usual painting anything that stood still, another member was solemnly cleaning old paint and rust off oil bath air cleaners, etc., etc. Plumtree, with Jagger and others, was drilling out pop rivets in the slow, unspectacular process that is stripping the Wickham: it doesn't look like much has been done, at least not as much as the man hours expended would suggest, but the roof is almost ready to lift off. I was trying to get some parts made up for a customer's loco, in between fending questions like 'can I use that angle grinder and can I have a slotting disc for it?'; 'Where does this (tool) go?' [Don't tempt me] and so on.
But by 12.30 we had all congregated for the meals-on-wheels service provided by Steph, whose production lines of bacon and sausage sandwiches, fresh iced buns and flapjack had been pushed almost to their limits. Tea requirements too well exceeded the capacity of our generous teapot and slow-boil kettle so mugs were handed out in two waves.
At 1pm I had moved the table and positioned as many chairs as we could muster, ready for the AGM, but in the event things were delayed to await the arrival of another IDRPG Supporter, Dave S from Foxfield. Now, I have been sent one picture of the meeting, and tempting though it would have been, I am not reproducing it as it managed to catch a moment where we all looked bored, which was not representative of the meeting. One member of note, Andy H, was absent, having been booked on a brake van tour. In his absence therefore he was voted 'Member of the Year' though I hasten to insist that this was thanks to his sterling efforts in producing the IDRPG Newsletter rather than his presence of mind to have a prior engagement on AGM day!
After the meeting some work resumed, but members started to depart after half-past three (some had signed in at 7.30 that morning!) and by half-four it was back to just Andrew and me. Andrew was still cutting away at Adolf's running plate - he is nibbling it in stages, but the rear left steps will be left for cab access at present. We cannot really trim the running late down to correct width with the cab still in place, and as early TH cabs like this split into top and bottoms like Sentinels, with the doors bolted to each section, it will have be stripped of doors and windows before splitting and lifting off. But then its casings and fuel tank must be removed too for modification and sandblasting, so as the HATRAMM is not yet ready we will have to look at how best to handle them.
Late on, as I shunted Adolf back across, I realised just how little clearance there was to the shunt signal and memories came back of our earlier exploits back at Long Marston, when Adolf and its brethren first returned from Germany (BAOR). Adolf itself was picked because (a) we could get it to start and (b) it had the lowest mileage (1300 in 14 years, but then the highest was only 5900) and we took it round the camp as regularly as we had excuse to do. Near one office the Army had erected concrete posts to prevent cars being parked too close to the tracks. Adolf uprooted one and scraped another (fortunately it was a Saturday so there were no cars and no-one to see). We tended not to take that route after that, and being just like any Army rail network, there were nearly always alternative ways to get anywhere.
Sunday, and after setting various clocks forward, we picked up a few bits from the shed and headed down to Rocks by Rail to get on with the work on Ludwig Mond. Sadly RbyR suffered a robbery recently, and by the nature of how it occurred, and the planning that had gone into it, it clearly wasn't opportunist. Whether that has had an effect on morale or whether they were all saving their strength for Easter weekend, there were few volunteers on site but Roger W was awaiting us and after formally returning the Avonside sand box lid that I borrowed to use as a pattern for the set for RS8 (it hasn't had a mention lately), Andrew in particular, cracked on. Since we were last there Ludwig had suffered the indignity of draining its fuel tank through what turned out to be a corroded pipe under the cab floor on the left hand side. This tied in with a known vac leak in the same area and was being attributed to a build-up of corrosive material (under the cab floor and on top of the running plate) over the years which successive owners had left untouched. Extracting the damaged bits however, neccessitated removing pipework at the left hand corner just behind the rear axle, and required progressively more and more pieces to be unscrewed, as it became apparent that elbow X couldn't turn within its space so length Y needed to go to free it up, and so on.
The collection of sections made quite a pile. The vac leak was a section of pipe which just above floor went into an elbow. Andrew tapped the pipe with a chisel and it instantly disintegrated: it was egg-shell thin. The fuel leak similarly was a 1 inch pipe to the external drain tap, but the corrosion had tapered the last half-inch of pipe to the point where it had pin holed under the weight of fuel. But a surprise discovery was a half-inch formed air pipe that had also gone through – this time a length of rolled, welded pipe rather than sold-drawn. The corrosion had eaten away on the seam and explains why it took so long to build air up – in fact rather impressive that it got pressure up at all!
Now it would have been nice to have replaced all this and had the loco back ready to go again, but where pipes pas through the 30mm running plates, the holes have been such a close fit from new that the pipe and running plate have corroded together as one and no amount of twisting or hammering will dislodge them. Nothing for it but to bring down the oxy-acetylene and have the loco outside where Andrew's new straight-ahead gas torch can be directed like a walking stick. So that's the next plan of attack, as the loco is needed shortly.
With all that achieved , measured, tidied and a cuppa consumed, we bayed farewell and returned to Derbyshire, in time to unload the van, measure up some bits on 1382 and be home in time to hold a strategy meeting with regard to the on-going Peak Rail debacle.
Finally, I have an exciting Press Release to share with you all:
NEW PARTNERSHIP TO EXAMINE THE VIABILITY OF MANNED MOON LANDING
In the next few weeks, in partnership with major Derbyshire-based rocket manufacturers and after several years of data analysis, several computer programs and a ouija board, Briddon Engineering will be issuing a tender for bids to examine the tendering process essential to determining the issue of a tender to seek independent studies to assess the viability of a manned moon landing. Such a bold step will re-open a method of transport that has not been utilised since closure of the route in December 1972. The partnership will principally be co-operating to provide a launch vehicle and capsule capable of travelling approximately two-thirds of the way to the moon, whence it will be conveyed onward by the little green men that currently quarry considerable quantities of cheese there. Thus restoration of the earth-moon route by Briddon Engineering and its partner organisations will restore an essential supply of cheese and the viability survey will include the costs involved of cheese distribution over a wider network and benefit to the moon tourism industry.
Note to Editors:
It is almost April – do not ask for a more accurate timescale.
(With thanks to Alistair Gregory for the original concept).
So what's ahead for the week up to Easter? Well, I didn't anticipate half of what's happened this week so other than welcoming grandson's arrival for the Easter holiday I don't really know. I do suspect that some sparks will fly, even if I can't tell you about them – yet.