Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of e-bay and railtours

28th June 2015

E-bay has been a recurring topic for the week. As you know, we keep pour eyes peeled (well Andrew does) for bits-n-bobs, tools and the like, which will be of use at prices we can afford. Sometimes they have gone through without hiccup, others have been thwarted by people who refuse to honour the price the auction closes at. I have had the seller who simply refuses to answer e-mails or calls (and whose item, a 7.25” gauge loco, promptly turns up listed again by someone else) or the one who declared that “it had been stolen the previous day” (and yes, that too was re-listed a few days later by someone who was “doing it for a friend”). This week a new seller (rating 0) who had listed some material at a starting bid of £0.99, when no-one else bid, told Andrew that there was £2000-worth and he wasn't selling at £0.99, ring him and we could strike a deal. Now, I was under the impression that if an auction was completed then a contract existed, but all the so-called FAQs and help pages are strangely quiet on that. We haven't rung the guy, but we will probably give him a negative rating.

Andrew is still keen to see the crane beams put up in the shed and part of the reason for acquiring a new mag drill was to proceed with drilling the two beams sat inside the shed area ready to go back up in the middle two spans. To do this he needed to turn the first over and because of where they currently lie, that meant using his new bridge to get the forklift over the centre. Late Tuesday therefore saw the bridge used in earnest, with me driving, the first crane beam was swung right back to the walls and the second carefully lifted such that it could be turned over. Of course, when it went, it went suddenly. The momentum momentarily lifted the back of the forklift, then the beam was over, the weight came off and the back came back down with such force as to send a minor tidal wave across the pond between the rails. It all happened in a fraction of a second, but proved Andrew's bridge to be well up to whatever we might throw at it.

On Wednesday this week we were graced by a visit from regular reader (and old friend) Roger W and his wife, who proceeded to donate a quantity of fire extinguishers and a space heater. Hopefully by the time the weather turns cold we will have an enclosed space in which to make use of it. Then the news came through that Terry had done a spot of wheeler-dealing and returned from a job up north with a cherry picker. We have yet to see it (he's attending to some defects on it first) but we are assured that its first port of call will be to Darley to assist on shed works - to whit the eave beams on the last row of purlins. Talking of which, after a lot of pondering over CAD drawings, the solution for bracketing the eave beams that have been supplied (instead of that profile which I had been expecting) came to me and as a result a fresh set of adaptor plates has been ordered from my favourite laser cutters. They should be ready about Wednesday this week.

So anyway, by Wednesday night we had removed the worn out tyres from the back of the forklift, disabling it again, and on Thursday I headed over to Sheffield with them. Removing the wheels on this type of machine actually means stripping the wheels and its taper roller bearings off the stub shafts, and revealed more evidence for our little T50B having had some major disaster in the past. You will recall that when we changed the kingpin needle bearings and oil seals, we found that the kingpin was only tapped for grease at the bottom, whereas the Cat manual shows nipples top and bottom. The one on the other side has two nipples, suggesting that one might be a “non-genuine” replacement. Now as we took the wheels off, we found that the “genuine” side has an oil seal at the back, but the other has nothing. So I tried to source some replacements...

It is a Cat forklift, and Cat's UK agents are Finnings, so I tried them in Chesterfield. Not us, they said, you need Briggs Equipment in Cannock. Not us, said Briggs, you need 'Impact Parts' somewhere near Derby. That took a bit of finding, as it was actually Impact Handling at Long Eaton, but at least they did list Cat forklifts as their specialities. The Long Eaton office referred me to their parts department at Corby, who wouldn't do anything without a truck serial number, which I have yet to find. Eventually, by refusing to go away, I explained what part I wanted and the approximate age of the truck and asked what were my chances of their being able to help me? Unlikely, the man said, there isn't much support for trucks of that age.

Maybe I should set up repairing old forklift trucks for the heritage forklift market – T50Bs a speciality.

The oil seal did, incidentally have a makers name and part number on it, but the firm is or rather was a US one and from what I could find it had been taken over by the Dana Corporation and amalgamated with a firm in Germany, and whose website didn't recognise my part number. Ah well. With two new tyres on my wheels I headed around to my preferred oil seal supplier and asked if they like a challenge? They're still working on it – for the moment, the forklift has gone back together with the old oil seal at one side and nothing at the other, but it wouldn't take much to put new ones in.

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As a said last week, 03 901 had been requested for a tour on Saturday at Scunthorpe, and amazingly by about 07.35 on Saturday morning we were on the road. As I muttered last week, I took the wiring diagrams and Andrew had produced a couple of emergency jumper cables with insulated crocodile clips “just in case”. We arrived just about 09.00, signed in and got our ovvies on, I did the usual checks on the loco and oiled up the side rods while Andrew checked the water pump belts over and checked the coolant level. By about 09.30 the engine had been started up, rapidly made air and I was ready to move off.

Except nothing happened. No matter what, 03 901 was refused to engage drive in either forward or reverse. That was interesting, as it meant that neither sensor was at fault (the direction lights were illuminating) and with the test meter, the power to the gearchange switches stopped around about the “No Direction detected” relay. Kicking myself for not testing it fully when I was there last time, I was getting a bit annoyed, but to alleviate the pressure Glenn took the brake vans to the platform with Janus No.1 to collect the party. Andrew's jumper cables came into play, I shorted out the relay and the loco moved. The Janus returned with the party, we swopped locos, and Glenn and I took the 03 out while Andrew returned to shed.

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It was another of those try and cover new tracks tours where I simply drove while Glenn picked the route and got the clearances by radio. First call was the Rail Service Centre, then back down and through Trent yard No.5 road, then around the outer periphery of the site clockwise down to the Mills Exchange sidings, where we paused to shunt a wagon. Then a couple of forays up little-used lines on the west side of the Bloom and Billet Mill, before heading south between that and the Medium Section Mill to emerge past the Slab Bay, pick up the outer circuit again, up the long hill and north to the Rod Mill, before retracing our steps, back north past the Torpedo Repair Bay and set back at the AFRPS shed for a lunch break.

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With crew and passengers replenished, we set off propelling past Winn's sidings again, before taking the line due south to the Northants Bridge, where we took the right hand line and eventually ended up at the BOS plant (south side). Here we set off propelling again, back up the other line to Northants Bridge, where we reversed, taking the left hand road, the so-called Plate Iron Hill, round past the Mould Shop on “Stripper Loop” (no scantily clad ladies seen) and ended just beyond the Billet caster, which is on the other side of the BOS plant where we reversed earlier. This time though, I actually ran round, and then we set off turning sharply north, passed the Medium Section Mill on its east side, and continued around the outer side of the site, through the Mills Exchange sidings, but in the opposite direction to the morning tour, and a novelty for me too. As we came past the Anchor Exchange Sidings we intended to swing right and come around past the Heavy Rolling Stock workshops, but as we approached the junction Glenn was advised that there were shunting operations ahead of us which would occupy ten minutes or so. Rather than sit around waiting, Glenn took us back into Trent yard, up track 6 and back out through track 9 for variety – the majority of the sidings here are homes for bogie bolsters and container flats with various defects, some of which may never run again.

Time having been used up, he now headed around the Heavy Plate Mill; heading for Heavy Rolling Stock. Ahead of us, Janus “51” had two bogie wagons wanting repair but coupled at the wrong end to access the HRS sidings. We duly met up at Barclay's Loop, took his two, and with 03 901 now in the middle, proceeded back to where the HRS sidings branched off, deposited 51's two, came out and left space for 51 and a third wagon to come up and access the sidings as well, then resumed our run onward.

By now it was after 3pm, and Glenn muttered “they'd had their monies-worth” but we had had a request to get near the loco sidings by HRS, and there's a line known as Basic Hill which gives a birds eye view over those sidings, well apart from a few trees, so we proceeded up that, paused for a couple of minutes, then headed down again and back towards the Frodingham station platform.

I got off the loco and leant against the fence, and found my hand being shaken by almost every passenger and thanked for a great day out. Two however hung around, having asked Glenn for a run up the station loop to the end of the headshunt. We climbed back aboard, they came in the cab, I set back, Glenn re-set the turnout and I gave 03 901 a fair bit of throttle just to make an impressive acceleration., We stopped a few feet short of the stops, they thanked us and passed an additional donation to Glenn for the funds, and we put the brake vans and loco away.

I've described this tour at length to give you a feel of what an AFRPS tour is like and how it is completely different to a normal heritage railway. Brake van or carriage, the passenger trains give way to freight - and may even become “mixed” in the name of good relations and keeping the traffic flowing. The scenery is definitely not in the pastoral mould and the repeated stops – to nip forward and reset turnouts - plus numerous ungated level crossings where the rule is that road gives way to rail, and nearly always does, sharp curves that make the flanges scream plus heavy FB rail – some of it with 6 bolt fishplates... I could go on (and probably have).

Back at the shed I removed the jumper cable and investigated further, and found the problem almost immediately. The “No-direction” relay had been wired wrong all along but until the sensors had been connected, it hadn't been operating. Now it was one of those automotive relays which are cheap and reliable but the bases have crimps which latch in and are a b****r to change if you get it wrong. In the end I succeeded, but in the process disturbed two other wires which came out of their crimps. By now it was gone 5pm and my temper was getting a little short. So we've left the loco to be sorted when we next go back and my stamina has returned.

While I'd been out Andrew had been helping Ashley and Jo on the brake rigging for 1382, cleaning the pulls rods and their nuts with taps and die nuts. The conduits for 03 901 had been primed and sprayed orange, and the water pipes for 14 901, which had come with us, were welded on the inside of the flanges using the Midi-MIG.

On the way back we made a slight detour from one of our usual routes back to the Briddon Country Pile from the M1, and Andrew collected some 30 Whitworth ¾ drive sockets- another e-bay purchase.

The weather was wet overnight and the forecast said it wouldn't stop until late morning, so we set off after lunch to Darley. First was a massive shunt, clearing one shed road so that we could bring in the Midland bogie well wagon, take some bits off and put others on, then re-arrange things outside in a sort of order that Andrew has in mind as to which loco should be on which siding.

Thereafter Andrew decided it was time to extract Cheedale's front drawhook. Like most industrials, Cheedale faced one way through its working life and so one end drawhook and chain took all the load. The 3-link is badly worn but cannot be removed because of the running plate overhang, and as the rubber spring elements have had it too, the whole assembly had to come out.

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So that's about it, but I started on e-bay and I might as well finish with it, as Andrew picked up two more items during the week. The first is a collection of pipe fittings, which one of us is going to have to go and collect, and the other is a Rolls-Royce C6TFL. It's currently stuck on someone's 4 wheel trailer so we've got to organise a Hiab lorry to collect it, but Andrew envisages that, re-dressed, it could form a replacement for James or Jack which would be a long term solution for the engine problems in the latter and the tired under-powered unit in the former.

Oh, but I did promise myself that I'd do a couple of plugs before I finished off this week. Years ago, back in Railnuts days, I used to look forward to a blog that George Morris produced about the work that the group he is with in Sweden is doing. This is on what I would describe as inter-urban electric trams – I may be wrong but these are so unlike any emu in the UK, with plenty of varnished timber and such, that it is worthy of greater readership. Anyway, George has decided, like I did, to give his writings a greater exposure, and while he hasn't recovered all his Railnuts postings, he has at the moment released a “what's been happening” survey to bring the converted up to date and a taster for new readers. I'll put a link on my links section, but for the moment, you can find it here. And finally, one blog I always keep an eye on, for no other reason than I like the style, is the p/way blog for the Strathspey railway, which again is on the links page.

So that's it, until next week.

More in this category: « Of flashings and showers

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