Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of gas oil and hedgehog houses

29th July 2018

Back again? Not so many pictures to show this week - one of those weeks where a lot of things happen but scarcely worth photographing. So best read on..

Monday, and it was off to Tunstead as usual. There'd been a mass re-arrangement during the last few days. Up until last Monday, we had shared the 'enclosure' around the inspection pit over which RS8 sits with various 45 gallon oil drums sat on drip-trays, whilst our components, small and large, had been scattered hither and thither within the 'stores'. But all that has changed, and our parts, up to and including the Rolls-Royce C6 engine and the special Twin Disc torque converter, had gravitated into the enclosure, and the drums had found homes in pastures new. Well not quite, for two rather important but innocuous looking steel bars, which form the cross shafts that operate the brake and throttle controls, were missing. After I had spent 10 or 15 minutes looking for them, Andy H took over and found that they had been stacked up behind one of the columns that frame the building. With the crisis over we made a start on work once again. We were joined by a newcomer, Peter H, whom I set to work stripping sand ejectors and had hoped would also make a start on the transmission cooler, but seemed to be fully occupied by the well-rusted ejectors. He is a fabricator first and a fitter second, so it seemed logical later to show him the profiles for the rear engine mounts and hope that next week he'd be able to put them together. That was not to be, but let's not get ahead of things too much. Liam and Jack were still with us, so without more pipe to play with they stripped the side rods, cleaned them up and started painting them. Andy H attacked the power unit, removing the air cleaners and associated ducting (they won't be used) other redundant bits and generally giving it a clean with a view to applying a coat of something to make it look more presentable. Which left me free to potter. I started trying to work out why the vac pipe wasn't sitting where it should. Comparison dimensions from the underside of the running plate suggested that the combination of fittings (elbow, nipple, tee, nipple, elbow) simply wasn't long enough for the drop, yet these are original pieces cleaned but un-separated. I deduced that we needed another inch-and-a-half or so to correct the vertical so Liam and Jack made a suitable barrel nipple up, but the existing parts have yet to be split up.


Up in the cab, I replaced one of the seat bases and measured up the position of the instrument panel, which must be made from scratch as there is nothing of it left and none of the ICI drawings show it. As I have said before, RS8 has loads of unusual, if not downright unique, features and one of these is that the throttle and brake controls are provided at each corner of the cab, with rods and pivots so that all 4 pairs of levers move in unison. At the front bulkhead, this is thanks to the two shafts I mentioned earlier, which are supported in plummer blocks. In the case of the straight air brake, the D&M valve is cam operated and in consequence mounts at 45 degrees through the cab front. The original RS8 valve was in dire condition and I had passed it to a well-known railway pneumatics specialist last year. At last the time has come, I decided, to mount it and so here it is, with one of the plummer block brackets adjacent. We still have the plummer blocks and some of the bearing parts, but new bearings and seals are required before they go back together.


Not all the control levers and linkages survived, and although I am sure there was a drawing in the set that came back from the Bahamas people, I cannot find a scan of it in the collection. Ah well, a bit more reverse engineering to do.

The day went quite quickly, particularly as I felt as though I was popping out to the van for this or that every five minutes, and at one point I paused to watch a class 60 arrive with hoppers. When I went back in and mentioned it to Andy H, he rushed out and returned to tell me that this was a first working of a new traffic flow and the hoppers had been parked up for months. I felt suitably humbled to have witnessed a piece of history.

I got home about 5pm to find that Andrew, having acquired a 'new' compressor on e-bay the previous night, had arranged to collect it that evening at half-past-seven. Since the collection point was Rawtenstall which is about an hour and a half away, this did not leave me much time to prepare and eat something as with Steph away at our daughter's, it was self-service. To cap it all, something unforeseen then happened which meant that Andrew could not accompany me. So he handed over the cash, I cleared some space in the back of the van, retraced my steps past Tunstead and over through Hayfield and Glossop and up around the M60 by Manchester and north passed Bury. Ironically, just where the motorway transforms itself into a dual carriageway A road, I glanced up at a house on one side of the valley and had a sneaky feeling that was where I was going. On up to Rawtenstall, round the East Lancs station and back down on a minor road looking for a house name. And I had been right, it was. Spooky huh? It's a good job I don't do the lottery. Anyway, the guy was ready with the compressor hanging from his forklift, it slid in without trouble, I strapped it down sufficiently (I thought) and having handed over the dosh, retraced my route. The ELR station at Rawtenstall still appeared to be open and doing business, and my memories of the 14s at 50 event came back to me. Pausing only for a quick bit of shopping at Tesco at Mottram, I managed to make it back to Darley Dale just in time to grab a portion of chips to go with the pie in the fridge. I do hate eating late.

Tuesday, and with compressor still strapped in the back I eventually headed off to the profilers, to collect the bits I should have had the previous Friday. Primarily this was the sets of bits to make up the rear engine mountings for Adolf. They'd had been drawn up some time before, but we hadn't really needed them until the front engine mount had been machined at Tunstead, and this had come back with me on Monday, so it was all beginning to come together. Or it might if we had more time to progress things. Tuesday also marked the return of Cheedale following its successful commercial contract, but arrival in this case meant it finding a new home with Claire at UKRL, so we can look forward to more pictures of Flickr from the ends of Leicester platforms.

On Wednesday I got around to phoning BSS once again to see about my galvanised pipe. I was assured that they had no transport problems so my order was finally processed for delivery the next day, with BSS forecasting it would be arriving towards lunchtime. Thus Thursday morning I planned to catch up on some paperwork before heading down late morning to be ready. In fact, by just after nine the driver phoned to say he was there waiting so I dashed down to open up. Up to now, the compressor was still in the van, but in the afternoon we got time to shunt everything around and get our forklift over to lift it out, at which point I found that my strapping had singularly failed to restrain the compressor – it had repositioned itself from where it had been loaded. Never mind, no harm done, we lifted it out but cracked on with releasing two locomotives for departure.


In the mail came the expected letter from the Peak Railway Association, returning Andrew's cheque and telling him that a Board meeting had rejected his renewal following complaints about his conduct from Peak Rail plc. One of the Articles of Association of the company allows Directors to reject an application for membership. There is no article that extends that to a renewal, and the letters that have been sent to both me and Andrew specifically refer to our renewals, not applications. Now, a Director who works within the Articles of a company – the constitution, if you like - is protected by that company and can reclaim all reasonable expenses. But a Director who acts outside those Articles is said to be 'ultra vires' and the Company may not legally reimburse him or her: they are personally liable for their actions. Watch this space. Still on with Peak Rail, Friday was the day we requested clarification from solicitors acting for PR to respond to the letters my solicitors had issued a few weeks ago. Their previous reply had not followed the defamation protocols. The letter duly arrived on Friday, and is a much more concise affair, written perhaps by a more experienced person. I am not going to comment further save to say that far from 'putting me in my place' as was no doubt intended it has unwittingly opened up a whole new can of worms, plus actually handed us ammunition to use in response.

And still on the subject of Peak Rail, the Peak Rail Action Group released its manifesto 'Peak Rail – a vision for the future' or just 'vision' for short. (I have used the term manifesto since that is how it was introduced on NatPres, but it's not quite what I would call it). I was idly adding it up and I think 6 different people wrote or contributed to it. It was released through the National Preservation forum and I am making a downloadable copy available here (if I can remember how). Comments coming back so far include those who assert that it was all that was supposed to happen anyway (yet after 20 years since PR opened to Rowsley, it hasn't been achieved by the present Board – whose fault is that?) through to 'where's all the money coming from?' 'Vision' is meant to be just that, a chance for undecided shareholders and members to see just how PRAG wants to take the railway forward. Of course it will cost money. But if you have a plan, a concept of what you want to achieve, and your members and shareholders sign up to it, then you've a much better chance of achieving it than locking the Board room door and ruling in secret. 'I want money to achieve this' will always win over 'give me money'.

Oh, yes, the weekend. For various domestic reasons we didn't get down to the shed until lunchtime, and started a massive shunt around to take advantage of some vacated spaces. We had just about finished and were bringing Ashdown down to the shed when I had a phone call from a visitor and we broke off for drinks and a chinwag. Space inside has been improved by putting the cab base for Adolf temporarily onto Adolf's chassis, and moving the Wickham frame onto stands ready for priming. I rigged up a temporary cable onto the starter unit for the compressor and we gave it a test, finding a few leaks that need attention before positioning and formally commissioning it. At the other end of the shed, the hydraulic power pack we collected from North Wales a few weeks ago was finally fully dismantled, and the fuel tank drained of its gas oil, with a little spilled on the floor in the process. My overalls and jeans stank of it as well, but at least it's done.

Sunday too was a late start, not encouraged by the weather that had transformed itself from too hot to too wet. But in between showers Andrew had popped outside and ended up speaking to 3 people who were looking over the fence from the footpath. He volunteered me and they came around to the proper entrance. I did my usual tour-guide impersonation explaining the history behind each item and earning a contribution to the Donations tin at the end. Otherwise it was very much a tidy-up day with little visible progress, though I did get the opportunity to convert one of the Hunslet BAOR lamp binnacles into a prototype hedgehog house, after Steph found two in the grounds of the Briddon Country Pile. Other ex BAOR light boxes are planned to become nesting boxes. Recycling and re-purposing equipment with an environmental application, aren't we good? The gate valve on the new compressor had leaked so Andrew changed it for a ball valve and then we re-tested the compressor up to working pressure to check unloader function. I transferred the fuel from the power pack into James - we haven't used it much of late since it was uincomfortably low!The remains of the hydraulic power pack, now just an empty fuel tank and a couple of wheels, was taken outside. It's a bit heavy for just Andrew and me to get in the scrap bin – we have a collection of lumps, mostly off Adolf, awaiting a visit from a lorry with a crane on – which will tidy up outside and boost the scrap bin contents – that's if a certain Toby K doesn't beg any more as 'garden features'.

So that's about it for this edition. I'll see if I can remember how to attach a file for downloading and with that, wish you adieu until next week.


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