Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of excess and dearth of smoke

9th December 2012

It has been a peculiar sort of a week. Back at the beginning, Andrew received news that the IMechE had awarded him his Incorporated Engineer status - that's roughly half way between his degree and becoming a full blown Chartered Engineer. He can now put IEng behind his name. I've had a man in to widen all the doors at the Briddon Country Pile.

He had Wednesday off though and after a few other tasks had been completed we ambled in to Rowsley to resume work on "Tom". First job was to refit that new plug in the radiator header tank with PTFE and then get the cooling system filled with 50/50 antifreeze mix. (Rolls always advocated 50/50 - I suspect a little paranoid about the corrosive qualities of ethylene glycol - the reason you should never water antifreezed coolant down - and their effect on the much-vaunted C-range cylinder liners. Actually, I once had a chat with a Cummins engineer who'd reckoned he'd run an engine on 100% anti-freeze and recommended it - but I suspected he hadn't had to pay for it.) Meantime I had swapped both the new valves we had fitted before back to the originals to see if they had really been necessary, and when we fired the loco up, found that the 5/2 was required as the original is stuck. You might recall that when we changed the poppet valve for clutch out I postulated that the fault in the system was usually something far removed, and this was the case. We also put back the various fuses to have a crack at the lights and while the rear head and white code lights functioned, that was it (the cab light has yet to be fitted but the wires are live). With the new 5/2 back in operation I started to drive Tom up and down the siding by the loco shed in an attempt, yet again, to get some heat in the block, but try as I might the temperature gauges stayed at about the 40 degree C mark.(It was darn cold). Andrew was talking to Paul Wainwright back outside the shed, when, for effect, I decided to set off from the shed 'giving it some wellie' after several up and downs with only moderate throttle. The acceleration was quite acceptable, I was vaguely aware of much smoke being emitted, and after 150 yards or so I caught a sound which seemed familiar. I looked around and there was Andrew running lickety-spit and shouting himself hoarse at me to stop. (Sentinel cabs were definitely built in the days before noise levels were considered an issue). It seems that my impressive departure was all the more dramatic for the quantity of sparks that shot through the radiator and likely, in Andrew's view, to pose a threat to the well-being of the core. And who am I to argue with with an Incorporated Engineer? We had suspected that either a manifold joint or an injector sleeve was blowing, now we had somewhat stronger evidence, and Andrew will re-joint all the exhaust manifold before much more running takes place.

Andrew was away on Saturday at the girlfriend's, but before Steph and I celebrated a free afternoon by gracing the shops of Matlock with our presence, I spent a couple of hours at Rowsley with the intention of checking out the front lights. First I spent a few minutes on another matter and when finally I came over to start on Tom, parked outside, I was aware that a bell was ringing continuously inside the shed. One of the steam loco crew was nearby collecting something from his car, so I enquired whether it was a burglar alarm or a fire bell, and he predicted it would be the fire alarm - D8 Pen-y-Ghent was on the train and maybe they had started it up in the shed? I took my courage in both hands, unlocked the shed door and sure enough the fire alarm panel had more lights on it than Tom and probably more than the proverbial Christmas Tree. The shed was filled with a lingering fog starting at about 10ft above the rails and heading up to the roof. Bear in mind P-y-G had come off shed and done a full run to Matlock and back - so this had been hovering in the air for well over an hour. I pressed the reset button and the noise died away, but I cast a careful eye over in case there really was a fire.

Back finally on Tom, the conduit run that feeds the front lights had been loose (the saddle clips had corroded through) and while we had the engine out we had added a couple of new clips by tapping the ballast blocks. The conduit terminated in a box at the front left of the loco from whence the wires went off to the various light fittings, and which had once in the past had an engine bay light, but long since removed. I had a look at the rather rough and ready wiring inside and decided to re-terminate the cables into the choc block that was mounted across the back, but checking first to see if there was continuity through each light, which there was. With the cabling reconnected, I switched on the electrics and attempted to find a feed - any feed - to the front lights without success. Presumably they are disconnected somewhere in the cab - maybe something which, many moons ago when I started rewiring the relay box back at Telford, I have overlooked.

On Sunday, having managed to bring Pluto's batteries back to apparent health, we headed up to Derwent Valley confident on getting Pluto back into action in an hour or so's work. But no such luck. Certainly the batteries now turned the engine over easily and after a few periods of cranking we had filled the new oil filter and obtained pressure, but subsequent efforts yielded no smoke or signs of 'imminent go'. The pump was clearly bled through, so in the end Andrew removed the injector lines and found that for some reason, the pump was simply not delivering, and no amount of tinkering with throttle lever or stop lever would make it do so. Disappointed, we pulled the pump back off and brought it back for further attention.

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