Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of dust and distraction

28th February 2016

We used to say that the last weekend of the month was when everything went wrong, but for some time now the last weekends of the months appeared to pass by without anything untoward occurring. Of course, it couldn't last, could it?

As I have oft said before, e-bay is a useful place to obtain things if you keep your eyes open. This week has seen something of an abundance of riches. It all started off with one of our many conversations about progress on the shed building, and in particular the floor. We had always planned that the floor would eventually be painted, but the logical order of things has been to move all the panels (cutting of which produces much dust) before dealing with the floor in sections.

The trouble is, that in the meantime, the dust has been building up to the point where we are walking around on a downey layer of loose concrete chippings and grains. Andrew declared that what we needed was an industrial vacuum cleaner, and proceeded to bid for two different ones on e-bay, without success. Then I spotted someone advertising four – well three-and-a-half really – who was only down at Belper, and for a few pounds we became proud owners. A day or so later we popped down to Belper and picked them up.

IMG 1252 blog

In contrast, the dual air pressure gauge which I acquired (because Andrew was busy and I thought he wanted it) should have been a straightforward matter of collecting from just off the M1, and a section of which I traversed three or four times this week, but it became apparent that the vendor wasn't keen, and after a couple of weasel-worded replies that didn't even get as far as giving an address or saying when he'd be in, I got the message and Paypal'd him the total including postage.

But the piece-de-resistance was on Tuesday evening, when Andrew got it into his head to bid on a quantity of concrete sleepers. These were DowMac pre-stressed ones for FB rail, and having won them he had me text our favourite local haulier who came back straight away with the question – could he pick them up tomorrow? It seems he was nearby with an empty wagon. Various communications whizzed in all directions and at 8am Thursday I was on site to draw the train clear and allow him to unload all 31 of them in a pile before heading off on his way.

Now, you might be asking what do we want 31 concrete sleepers for FB rail for, and funnily enough, we don't. What we want is about 25 sleepers/chairs for bullhead rail to extend that bloomin' siding. Anyone out there care to swap?

IMG 1256 blog

Andrew was away Friday night and on his return stopped off at a supplier in Whaley Bridge to discuss concrete paint, and so arrived back at the Briddon Country Pile with a large tin of sealant. Plan A had been to get over to Scunthorpe, but one of his employers locos had been involved in an ooopsy-daisy down in Devon and there was every possibility that he might be asked to drop everything and go assist in its recovery. So rather than be heading the wrong way and be two hours from even starting, we changed to Plan B and headed down to the shed.

After Charlie's departure there was a space in the shed, but a lot of clutter. We started tidying up and, with the logic of progressing things as best we can, decided to remove the panels from the rear corner – where the electrics and sink, etc. are to go – and relocate them. Because the corner panels are bolted together, they cannot be dealt with separately: it is all 4 or none at all, so with the forklift we set about lifting all 4 out. To get that far of course required moving Cheedale and Pluto out of the shed and even a quick shunt with the 14 to get out the 'bridge' to put at the end of the line we call track 3A.

With the two side panels out there is enough space to refit the rear two, though handling the panels, hanging from the forklift hook, roughly 5.9m wide and 1m high and weighing about a ton calls for careful handling. By the end of the day the two rear ones were back in place and 170mm of insulation stuffed down behind: and despite numerous updates from his colleagues on site, there was no call for Andrew to dash down to Devon.

So for Sunday we planned to get the other two panels trimmed down and put back in place, and so started off the day by fuelling up the Stihl saw (which is still – or should it be stihl- on loan to us from a kind reader). To minimise the dust inside we had moved the panels right up the shed and had the end of the panel stuck outside for cutting, and were most of the way through the first cut when one of our neighbours arrived to complain about the noise.

This was a surprise as there is no line of sight to the house concerned and being in the lee of the building, I would not have expected the noise to carry either that loudly or in that direction. Nonetheless, we discussed the problem, agreed merely to complete the job we had to do to get the first panel back in up the side, and having assured her that we do wish to be good neighbours and will schedule all further such work on weekdays, we were able to get the rest of the panel cut, although the job was probably made longer by the blade becoming dull.

After we'd finished cutting we popped around to let her know and generally be sociable, before returning to shed and attempting to get the panel back in. Of course, it wouldn't fit, and having promised not to use the Stihl saw again today, that meant removing bits with a combination of a 9inch angle grinder with a masonry disc, a hammer and chisel. Plus trial and error to see if it would fit.

And of course we did the one thing we'd tried repeatedly not to do, and left a fork-shaped indentation in the interior of the wall cladding. Aaaagh! Too busy watching what was happening at the bottom while the forks are up out of sight. Fortunately it did not get as far as even denting the outside layer, but by now tempers were getting frayed, Andrew got his foot in the way of the panel as it swung on the hook, etc., etc. Eventually the panel condescended to go into place, and behind it we squeezed no less than 300mm of insulation – nasty glass fibre stuff at that. (It isn't 300mm everywhere, but because of the pedestrian door, this section is awkward).

We finished the evening by mounting the 415-110 transformer up on the column, but Andrew isn't satisfied and wants to improve the mounting.

At least I can make a start on setting up the sink at long last, and maybe the water and water heater. Ooh, it'll mack it seem reet homely.

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