Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of firsts and seconds

9th February 2014

I headed back down to Rowsley on Monday afternoon and even as I got there, Chris the haulier was there with several lengths of nice long I beam which will make the final stanchions for the shed ends. We unloaded the pieces alongside the shed and off he went. When Andrew got home from work, he headed on down and we dragged the welder half out of the large workshop doors by which means the cables just reached the beams, and he could weld on the base plates. This was an entertaining practice, trying to line the plates up and get them somewhere about square (we fall back on the plus or minus 10mm tolerance of structural steel!) and in the near dark.

I was back in again on Tuesday, to load the 5 stools into the back of the van and later Andrew and I dropped them off at Darley Dale, working on the theory that if the contractors arrived first thing Monday, they might as well have some materials to work with before the train of steel arrived from Rowsley.

Which reminds me, I said last week that I needed to pursue my order for security fencing. If you are thinking of ordering such things, may I strongly recommend you AVOID www.securitydirect.co,uk, which operate from a PO Box number in Barking. Let me put it this way, I ordered this stuff on line on the 7th January, and duly got an acknowledgement telling me it should be despatched in 3-5 days, not especially prompt, but tolerable. When it hadn't arrived after a week or more, I phoned their Customer Service line and got told that they'd sent me an e-mail telling me it would be 14 days. I told them that I had had no such e-mail, and they were equally adamant that I had.

By the third week in January I was getting rather blunt, but they were full of apologies and Customer Service actually rang me on the 24th to assure me that the original despatch had been lost and that replacements would be with me no later than the 31st. I might add at this point that they insisted that this was coming from “another warehouse” which is a euphemism for “we're buying it from somebody else”. Now if their original despatch had been lost, then any decent supplier would be going out of their way to get replacements despatched PDQ and the customer satisfied. Not so, since receipt in another 7 days inferred a “normal” 3-5 day despatch. I concluded that the goods had not been lost, rather, they had never been sent, as securitydirect was either in dispute with the supplier or simply incompetent enough not to have ordered it in the first place.

Of course, nothing was received by the 31st, so all this week I have been phoning their Customer Service department – incidentally so customer-focussed that the department is only open from 2 till 5. And every day, a woman comes on the phone who sounds like the one who I spoke to the day before but insists she isn't. I might add at this point that they have a queuing system that keeps you waiting, playing a selection of music and periodically assuring you that you are “no.1 in this queue” interspersed with that they are experiencing “an exceptional volume of calls” - (yeah, all one of me?) - once for over ten minutes.

Out of this I discover that they have sent me another e-mail (but that they can't get my e-mail address right) that the goods were despatched on Monday but they cannot tell me the carrier or give me a tracking number. Finally on Thursday I do get a tracking number, and it takes only a few clicks to confirm that in fact the carrier only picked up the consignment that day. Having paid extra back in January for 'Express Delivery' (the irony has not escaped me) it arrives Friday while I am out collecting profiles up north. But I have made arrangements for receipt and when I get back it this there, but suspiciously light. Yes, I have my fencing, but the ten pins (steel stakes to hold it up) are advised to follow. I phone Customer Service. Only 5 minutes waiting at No.1 position in the queue – and the woman promises faithfully that she'll be e-mailing me a further tracking note number before 5pm. Nothing came.

You may wonder why I haven't just told them to stuff the order and give me a refund. In hindsight I wish I had, but I suppose it is a mild example of what Roger Ford calls 'Boiling Frog Syndrome” and besides, if I did demand a refund, it would probably take even longer than despatching the goods from their mystical 'other warehouse'.

So anyway, Andrew was off Friday and pottering about Rowsley, doing tasks of minor bracketry for the shed and stripping bits off a Rolls C8 which is being slowly prepared for installation into Cheedale. I, as I said, was off collecting profiles which included bits for D2128 and a new speedo I am manufacturing for 14 901.

Originally our plan for the weekend was to head up to the DVLR at York, but the forecast was pretty dire – high winds and rain – and as the DVLR is an open-air site we switched our plans to Scunthorpe. On arrival I made my regular preparations and descended into the bowls of the engine bay and changed the two washers I had previously fitted under the transmission regulator springs to a single freshly-profiled 5mm “shim”, while Andrew changed the joint on the brake valve regulator which had not sealed last week.

There had a been a brake van tour on Saturday, one of the longer ones that actually comes back to the shed for a lunch break and then goes out again, in this case three 20T vans top and tailed by Janus No.1 and Arnold Machin. As we are adjusting the governor, we get a text enquiring if we are ready as they're nearly back. A couple of minutes later the tour draws up on a line nearby. We slam the door shut, fire up D2128 and as soon as the air is sufficient, we work our way across and onto the front of Janus No.1. One or two of the enthusiasts had been given hints that there might be a surprise later – with Arnie idling, Janus No.1 in drive to take a bit of its own weight (but no throttle), D2128 with Andrew driving proceeds to haul the train up the hill and into the Appleby-Frodingham station platform. My task was to watch the instruments in case anything untoward developed, but apart from the smells you expect from an exhaust system that hasn't had this much heat through it before, D2128 hauled its first passenger train as a diesel hydraulic without problem.

IMG 2489 blog

With passengers and cameras dispersed, I took over, ran round, and brought the train down again, though was reminded a little unpleasantly that this is a relatively light loco and cannot stop a train quickly on a steep downhill. Never mind, we put the loco away and returned to the front end radiator intake ducting. I trimmed the 4th piece to length, back marked and drilled it, and then we took all four pieces back out so that Andrew could start spraying them in primer. A slightly annoying defect was noticed that the exhauster pulley, which had been checked before starting up, once again had spat out its grub screw and was loose on the auxiliary drive shaft. It must be refitted properly before the loco runs again.

First thing this morning we headed down to Darley, to pull out the bolts that the steelwork assembler requires, and spend a happy time surforming the Portakabin door which has got wet and swelled. Then it was back up to Rowsley and put the correct flywheel and housing onto that Rolls C8, plus a couple of other jobs in the rain.

We had been talking with Rob during the week and finally arranged with the Railway's management that the steelwork would go down to Darley first thing Monday morning. The new stanchions we'd been welding had been loaded to one of the wagons but they were still down a siding with the rail crane and an 0-6-0DE on top of them. Keen to see things run smoothly, we collared Rob (who was firing today) in between turns and agreed that we would shunt the wagons out last thing, after the last train had returned, but in the event we'd been in conversation with both Peak Rail MD's when he heard the Austerity come back to shed.

Rob meanwhile had had other ideas, and seeing that there were several useful people around, how about we sort the wagons out, make up the train and take it down to Darley tonight. That was fine by us, and as they disposed of the loco, we fired up Cheedale and dutifully pushed the Austerity into the shed, before dashing off and round to the yard. Rob's idea was to take the normal works train (which at a minimum is a Lowmac sprouting all manner of useful bits and two bogie vans, one mess and one stores) to which Charlie was coupled, and add to the rear the railcrane (plus its two match wagons) and the steel wagons (2 loaded and a runner in between which at the moment has a couple of my engines strapped to it) with Cheedale tagging on behind to aid shunting in the morning..

As the rain fell I drove Cheedale while Andrew got wet, putting the railcrane behind the works train, the 0-6-0DE out the way, and then the wagons on the back, before drawing the whole consist clear of the turnouts. Charlie then took over and I waved it away, chasing it in the van to see it across Church Lane and then Darley.

It was quite a sight to watch Charlie, which is after all a diminutive 30ton short wheelbase 4wheeler, in charge of all this lot, with its big brother following up behind. Indeed, it is only the second time that Cheedale has left Rowsley since it arrived nearly a year ago. I wish I could offer you a picture but I had forgotten the camera today and in any event it was dark as the locos were shutdown at Darley, standing on the main line until tomorrow, when first the two open wagons must first be shunted out the way (and unloaded a bit, as the clay has absorbed enough water to put the springs onto the stops).

So hopefully it all happens tomorrow. I must open up at 07.30, and induct more contractors, then aid Rob shunting things around. The concrete panels that form the internal walls are due half on Tuesday and the rest Wednesday. Also on Tuesday they should be lifting the buffer stops and a couple of track panels from the siding in order that we can gain access around at the front of the shed, hence taking down the railcrane. Our foundations meanwhile have all but disappeared under an inch or more of rainwater, but I imagine this is normal for building sites and steelwork erection. Come back next week and see what we've achieved.

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