Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of gas and electricity

16th October 2011

Andrew had a day off work this week, and decided to spend an afternoon at Peak Rail on “Libby”. Sadly it was not as productive as he planned, for a substation blew up (apparently quite spectacularly) and took out all the electrics from Matlock to Bakewell. In contrast, he was off to see his girlfriend on Saturday, so enquired “if I had nothing better to do,” whether I might like, weather permitting, to go to Murton and start fitting the oil separator to “Pluto”. I knows my place.

Saturday was a very pleasant day, and after a quick visit to the Doctor’s for a flu jab, I eventually took the van north to Murton, which was a hive of activity. Vince Middleborough was investigating a wiring fault on D9523, Dave Wild was working out how best to renew the rotten timbers that form a flush top surface in the middle of a turnout, others were at work on the 4wheeled carriage “Sylvia” and another pair were continuing work on the new footpath access to the platform. I strung out cables, removed the battery box casing and the batteries and set about mounting the oil separator, aka an old Land Rover oil bath air cleaner. For once, my bracket fitted exactly as it was planned, a length of Band-It strapping securing the cleaner – sorry separator – in the desired spot alongside the propshaft. It has to have the oil level below the input to the exhauster but no more than 12″ – in our case it should be about 6-8″. The separator acts as an oil reservoir, the vacuum in the exhauster drawing on it through a feed line, where it lubricates and gets trapped in the departing air flow, which heads back to the separator where, touch wood(?), the mesh inside catches the oil droplets and they fall to the reservoir at the bottom and start all over again. That’s the theory, whether the Rover air cleaner does this effectively we will soon find out. With it mounted, I then cut two hoses that form the suction and delivery to the exhauster, though I had misplaced the two specially machined hose tails, but not to worry as I hadn’t the foggiest idea which was which on the exhauster anyway! Fitting the two hose tails and the oil line won’t take long next time, then we fit the belts and see if it all works. Hopefully “Pluto” will be fully suctioning in time for DVLR’s Santa traffic.

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One separator - propshaft immediately right, vac res up and right, fluid coupling in forground

Andrew returned Sunday morning and after sorting out a few things, we headed back to Rowsley. Just south of Chatsworth we got a very gassy smell, and deduced that the Range Rover in front was running on LPG. Our first port of call though was Matlock. Peak Rail is slowly completing the signalling installation at Matlock (Riverside) which will enable the present top and tail arrangement to revert to a loco swap.

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"Riverside" headshunt with Network Rail connection in foreground. The box will be left, just out of picture

This involves installing a signal box on a prepared base. The box currently resides on a bogie flat at Rowsley, and is complete with lever frame, so is very out of gauge and scales an estimated 16tons. Lifting that weight (plus spreader-beams) at a not-inconsiderable radius could require a very large (read expensive) crane – even access for box and crane is problematic. Having some experience in lifting Andrew had agreed to cast an eye over it and see if he could suggest any other solutions. With that out the way we returned to Rowsley and while Andrew resumed work on “Libby”, I moved over to the Drewry, which had not seen any action for several weeks. After priming the exhauster I fired it up and checked that all was well – we have an air leak from a regulator that needs sorting and the brake system performs slightly differently to the 14, but then the AV2 is installed in a different manner. After 30 minutes or so I shut it all back down and went to see how Andrew was getting on.

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Andrew applies undercoat to "Libby"

Andrew is very unlike me in some respects – he has the patience and interest to do a very good paint job when time allows. I do not like painting (as any visitor to Briddon Towers can testify) though I attribute this reluctance to being asthmatic (and hence being on the flu-jab list). After sanding, fillering and sanding again, he was applying more undercoat by the end of the day, though if this seems a trifle rushed, we broke off part way through to have an informal meeting with Peak Rail’s MD Jackie Statham and her dog.

Just before we left, we had another look over the Brush 0-6-0DE and Andrew suggested “I might like to” start stripping out redundant equipment ready for a serious attack of the loco next year. I knows my place. As we headed home, we passed a National Grid Gas van on the road to Chatsworth, then another and finally a third in the middle of a meadow with miles of “DO NOT CROSS” tape surrounding it. We could still smell a gassy smell and there wasn’t a Range Rover in sight.

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