Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of engines, cabs and radiators.


9th December 2018


It's that moment come around again where I sit at the keyboard and wonder what to write.

Still with me? Well of course last Monday was Tunstead day and progress on RS8. And with a distinct feeling of deja vu, just before I set off in came an e-mail from Tarmac advising that Andy Hn, the expected welder for the day, had phoned in sick. Aaagh. With no George and no Greeny, it was just Pete C, Andy H and myself and it could have been a really depressing day, but didn't work out so bad in the end. Having been confident of the need to leave the cab area free for the welder to refit the window frames, etc., I had not ordered up more pipe fittings so progress in the control air piping wasn't going to be much, if at all. I had gone though with wires and flex conduit and crimps, so made a start on pulling through cables from the distribution box through to the various bits of the engine, though even here I was hampered with a limited supply of 20mm flex conduit fittings. At last though I did cut the multicore cable to length, though will probably decide it is a few inches too short later! Andy H and I had a discussion about how the casing structure goes together: although we have both been there when the locomotive was dismantled, memories can be fickle and by consulting old photos which Andy had on his phone, concluded that we must put in the radiator and its close-fitting interface piece before dropping the casings over the top.

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That's fine but with the rad fan mounted by shaft directly off the front of the water pump, I deduced that either that and its shaft needed to come off or the fan cowl needed to be on the engine first, in order to enable the radiator to slide vertically in to its mountings underneath. As the fan cowl was already off for painting (it's RS8's original rather than the one that was on the rad we're now using) we dropped that over the fan shaft, raised the fan on strops and lowered it down. That went reasonably smoothly, although getting the fixings in from underneath did tax patience and tightening them in the limited available space left the occasional bruise.

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At this point we realised that the fan cowl was the wrong side of the compressor drive pulley and no amount of waggling could get it round. In the end, we had to take the compressor off again to get the fan cowl on. And this revealed that firstly, re-using RS8's old fan cowl was a shrewd move, as it had been re-drilled and the fixing studs lined up with the second set of holes, but resulted in an open slot above the rad core which needs blanking off, and secondly that the fan extension is too long and the fan sits too far forward. (Fans are at their most efficient when their tips are close to the ducting of the cowling. RS8's is well inside and needs to be moved back a couple of inches.) Another thing that would have been easier before putting the rad back on would have been to remove the bottom outlet connection, which was a standard R-R aluminium casting with one stud so close that not even a ring spanner or a socket would fit. We managed to round the nut with open-ended spanners and in the end, Pete C squeezed in underneath the engine and drilled it away. One of this week's tasks will be to refit the top and bottom coolant connections, the latter being bolted direct to the rad bottom tank.

Pete C and I together went over the measurements of the air pipe fitting that I need for the bulkhead. Having been told years and years ago that Enots used a metric thread, I was not surprised to find that a thread gauge for 1.75mm pitch fitted perfectly, but what was the major diameter? 39mm looks about right, but with 1.5 inches being 38.1, it is difficult to decide. One of my suppliers reckons that they may know someone still with something on the shelf (the suggestion being that it's 28mm Enots although that does seem an awful lot of wall thickness) but they themselves no longer make 'specials' since their machinist had a stroke. It may yet be a job for Sigma6, but aspirations of getting RS8 run-able by Christmas are rapidly receeding. So, I came away from Tunstead a little despondent, but at least RS8 has begun to look more like its old self again and if the casing top goes back on this week it will be much nearer looking like the quaint old beast it used to be.

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Not much else to report during the week, save that on Thursday I popped in to collect something and went in to the Portakabin to check the swingbin. Basically the Portakabin has developed a leak in the roof, sufficient to bring a section of plasterboard ceiling down but I hadn't exactly determined where, although I had made some effort to re-secure the waterproof roof sheet on top. Then it became apparent that it was leaking through at one point, and I had put a 25 litre waste bin under the drip last weekend. On Thursday I looked in and found the bin full and overflowing. Seems it requires more attention than I realised. On Friday Andrew was around and so we popped up to Rowsley and collected a couple of bits from a 'stash' of parts that are very inaccessible and hence still there. We'd have liked to bring some others but they are mostly too heavy, so contented ourselves with recovering an SAE1 flywheel housing from an N-series Cummins.

First thing Saturday Adolf's 855 was lifted, the old SAE0 housing dropped off and the SAE1 substituted.

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No need for a flywheel yet, for now it was enough to secure the back of the engine, add the rear mounts (after a bit of thread cleaning and removal of plant life due to several years open storage) and line everything up on the loco. Naturally it all fitted properly this time and with a few minor adjustments with a big hammer (our forklift lacks side shift, otherwise it would have been more elegant) was in place. It will have to come off again in due course for the flywheel housing to be properly fitted.

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Andrew tacked things down and then spent an hour or two welding everything in solid.

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I meanwhile was able to make a start on cabling up RS8's control cabinet. To recap, RS8's wiring will be similar to Thomas Hill's 1970s standard, i.e. a distribution box on the back of the engine, connected back to a control box under the desk which contains 3 or 4 relays and thereafter a point where all wires come together to be joined. Usually I put in too few connecting points (M5 brass setscrews through a Tufnol base) though I was improving with 03 901 by planning out on the schematic where everything logically should have a junction point and then counting them up. RS8 only requires 3 relays (the 4th is normally for direction changeovers and RS8 doesn't have any form of direction indication) but I didn't believe what a small total it would be, so put more in and then found I had insufficient room to put the fuses on the board so relocated them outside. But anyway, I made a start though with periodic requests for assistance from Andrew this was rather fragmented. For Andrew, having finished the engine mountings, wanted to progress the cab and that meant lifting the cab base fabrication back off and turning it on its side so he could make the cab corner fabrications fit.

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Returning on Sunday, Andrew continued with the cab corner and I with the panel, and apart from the voltage regulator it is all done, so I took out a number of the M5 bolts and regret not moving the cables over a bit, though I may decide to re-arrange it before I'm satisfied.

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After lunch Andrew dragged down a wacker-packer that he'd borrowed from our next door neighbour and compacted the ground out the back of the shed where he wants to lay concrete and has selected a date that suits him for that event. Before then we must lay down reinforcing mesh (sat nearby) and erect shuttering to contain it, but these are merely minor activities in the great scheme of things. For me the rest of the day was spent collecting up all the bits needed for Tunstead tomorrow and yes, I've got bits to do in the cab just in case there is no welder after all. Andrew meanwhile came back inside and got both the rear cab mounts in place, then we tipped the base upside down so that he could deal with the corrosion around what was the bottom edge of the cab, where there had been 1.5 inch angle iron which had trapped moisture and caused jack-rusting.

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We'll be adding probably 6 x 50 strip to stiffen the edges and provide the base for the flooring, though adding that without causing distortion will be a challenge. For today he's wire-wheeled all the loose and not-so-loose rust off and primed it to prevent fresh corrosion forming. So that brings us to the end of this week's work installment, but Andrew has been doing a lot of thinking of late. The outcome is that two of the locos are to be offered for sale and I will be updating his website (www.andrewbriddonlocos.co.uk for anyone who hasn't been awake for the last few years) with that this week.

Finished your Christmas shopping yet? Not thought what to get for that railway enthusiast (or mildly interested) friend? Why not treat him or her to a copy of 'The Railway to Merhead' to take their mind off the brussels sprouts and indigestion? Available from Amazon in either paperback or Kindle, or the paperback from me at £11.95 plus £3 p&p. See you next week.

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