Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of life in the Vanguard

31st January 2016

So, January is over and we move into month number two of 2016. It'll soon be autumn and I'll be wondering where the year went. We've had some more windy weather in the last few days so some more of the fence panels at Briddon Country Pile have blown down and some time before this summer rushes by and the evenings draw in again I must commandeer Andrew for a time to get it renewed.

But work has been concentrating on Charlie this week, though the need to earn a living has been something of a distraction. Andrew took his son back to his mothers' on Monday, leaving me to get on with other work. Then he was as usual chasing around to exotic places like Cardiff while I spent time climbing over locos in quarries and such, though Tuesday was punctuated by a tour around Sheffield, picking up last year's accounts (there's only two months left before it starts all over again) and various last minute items that I anticipated needing on Charlie, like bolts for the rear mounts (my drawings suggested 110mm long M16s) some pipe fittings and electrical bits.

It was Friday before I got down to anything serious on the loco (and no, I still hadn't got up the enthusiasm to tackle the VAT return, I should have done but you can only cope with so much of a good thing) and then it was to resume my efforts finishing off the last remaining hoses now that the engine was installed, i.e. the return line for the converter and a special hose to form the fuel return from the spill rails back to the fuel pump. Charlie's original line was in steel, but somehow this cracked about 15months ago and we carried out a repair intended to be temporary and keep the loco in traffic. Since the original pipe is apparently made-to-order and no other C6 engine we have has the same arrangement, I eventually sourced a nut and olive stud coupling intended for steel pipes (trust me, ordinary brass olives do not work on steel pipes, you need a tougher one like the old Ermeto range) and brought the new hose on a circuitous route outside the exhaust manifold and round at an angle to minimise restricting access to the fuel filters.

Andrew joined me later and we dropped in the new bolts into the rear mount. Now, I should have double checked my drawing, but I took the dimension off the notes on it and thought no more about it. In fact the bracketry is slightly thicker steel and the mounts have not compressed quite so much as I expected (the engine is sitting slightly out of true but may settle further once the weight of oil in the converter affects the balance) and when we came to try fitting the spacing washers and rebound plate it became all too obvious that there was insufficient bolt thread to secure a nyloc nut. Since there was a plan to have the loco operational by late Sunday if we could, that was a serious shortcoming, so I decided on a cunning plan. Given Andrew's tendency to get up not that early on a Saturday I would pop back in to Sheffield first thing and see about getting some longer ones. After all, I had had a phone call to let me know that a starter motor for a customer's loco was fixed and awaited me (oh, a tip. Don't pressure wash the older starter motors, like CAV and Simms 6”'ers. They aren't waterproof and the water tends to jam the bendix) so I could collect that at the same time.

IMG 1155 blog

So I was up at usual time on Saturday morning and just to prove a point, Andrew was up and waved me away as I left. The starter was collected by 09.00, the longer bolts (plus a few other things to make up the order) by 09.15 and by 09.30 I had acquired a length of Unistrut, sufficient to mount the 415-110 transformer and was heading on my way back. By the time I returned to Briddon Country Pile for a welcome tea and to pick up a replacement torque converter temperature switch, Andrew had headed down to the shed and made a start.

Amongst the bits that had arrived during the week was fresh matting for the floor. You saw the first completed floorboard last week, but that was made up with some of the roll that I had used on 03 901, and when it came to it, there wasn't much left. This new sheet (ordered fro an e-bay supplier) was supposedly due for delivery on Thursday, but instead arrived Friday morning, and at the same time some 48W LED headlights arrived from another e-bay supplier to replace Charlie's old and rather tired rectangular ones. (Actually, these old ones go back to when I was remanufacturing two locos for Sheerness Steel in the mid 1990s. I contracted a firm to wire them up back to the control desks and they fitted these to the first. I didn't like them and insisted on better, but they insisted they'd been bought specially and I must keep them. The trouble was, they used 70w Halogen bulbs, two in each headlamp, and despite being resistive loads, 4 x 70w was too much for the direction changeover relays, whose contacts welded up after some hours. In the end I let Andrew have them (in the early days when he was still in college and not earning more money than me, like now) and with only one bulb in each instead of two, they went on Charlie and arrived that way on Peak Rail. But later Rob found that the headlamps should have two bulbs so 'fixed' them. We didn't know he'd done this until he reported the lights wouldn't change over – yes, the contacts had welded up again.)

The plan is to mount one facing forwards to act as lookout, and one turned down to provide light in the drawgear area. We don't yet know just how effective they'll be. Thomas Hills tradition was to use one spot and one flood, the spot to shine forward and the flood to illuminate the buffers/drawgear, so we're following the basic principles, but we don't know quite how powerful 48w of LED will turn out to be.

So anyway he resumed work on the floor on Saturday, leaving me the engine area free to crack on with rewiring.

IMG 1153 blog

I had spent some time last week making up the connecting box. As I said before, Thomas Hills mounted theirs over the torque converter, and easy though this was with the engine out (and on Cheedale, with extra casing length, it is quite satisfactory) on Charlie the back of the converter is under the cab and getting at it was a strain. Given that the lid had been left off, and there was a surprising amount of general soily muck everywhere, and the Kopex conduits were going brittle and had separated from their ends, the existing wiring installation was due a facelift. But moving the connection box to a different location meant that the existing cables from the control desk would no longer reach, so a 24 way SY armoured multicore was a required instead. Sometimes I take fresh cables for the pos and neg for the alternator all the way there (the 03 is like that) but on Charlie I have brought those cables through the connection box.

I had bought a couple of plastic enclosures (posh name for a box) the smaller intended for Charlie and the larger for a repair to the Mattersons, requested by our safety inspector. Inside said box was a piece of Tufnol, with countersunk M5 (and M6 for the alternator) studs, which I had made up last week. A bracket to carry it off the engine mounts had also been created (I spray painted it on Friday) but when it came to it, I decided it was too small. With a 35mm holes for a cable gland for the 24-way and 21mm holes for the various conduits heading off around the engine, there wasn't enough space on the sides of the enclosure. I took an executive decision, took the larger box and decided that it would serve with the original Tufnol plate and proceeded accordingly

Meanwhile after finishing the two floor panels with the fresh matting and aluminium edging, Andrew took the radiator to the door and proceeded to clean it up with the pressure washer, as it was badly clogged with more of this soily muck. I wouldn't mind, but it's not as if you go 'off-roading' with a loco. He followed that with the fan assembly and then while they were drying, he shimmied underneath and refitted the clutch cylinder bracket.

By the end of the day I had virtually finished all the engine end of the wiring, and between us we had swung the radiator back into place and secured its base mountings.

On Sunday, not as good a start as Saturday but we pushed on. After a few tidying up jobs I finished the last two cables into the connecting box and lidded it off, then decided where to drill holes through the Thomas Hill relay box under the desk. I really should have done this before the engine and converter were refitted- it took a while to work out where the two holes needed drilling, and where I could get myself to hold the power drill in that location. Indeed, I suspect that my 35mm hole saw needs pensioning off, as with all the smoke and heat it produced I fear it wore its way through rather than cut.

IMG 1154 blog

Andrew went to work on the engine now I had vacated it, draining the old consumed oil off and changing the filters for fresh. I started the task of re-connecting my new SY cable into the corresponding positions in the relay box. As I've said before, TH had a common wiring scheme but I was to realise that (a) the box was upside down to the diagram and (b) it wasn't quite the same. Round about now our good friend Andy H arrived to carry out a more detailed survey of the shed to come up with a properly calculated wiring diagram or the full 3-phase installation. So in between swapping tales of loco events past he made copious notes in his book and various explanations from us as to how we thought our lighting and socket outlets would need to be. Actually at the same time as Andy arrived, and Andrew let him in at the gates, two enthusiasts from the southwest asked if they could look around so Andrew gave them a quick tour.

Sadly around 5pm we had to break off for a meeting, so we didn't quite get as far as running Charlie, although I have but a few more cables (the 12-way SY that I put in to the instruments a week or so ago) to connect before it is good to go electrically. Perhaps we''ll put in a few evenings this week, if our respective work doesn't get in the way. The VAT return? Oh, what better thing can one do on a Saturday night than sit at a computer entering invoices and such. Yeah, we really know how to live it up here in Derbyshire.

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