Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of needle guns and paint

20th November 2011

On Wednesday this week I was back down to the shotblasters to collect the bits of 03 they had in and get a price for dealing with the casing rooves and nose cone. The Scunthorpe firm were a disappointment – £450 – I reckoned that was twice what it ought to be and sure enough that’s roughly what the Sheffield firm estimated. Of course, it’s only worthwhile if we can keep the cost of transport within reasonable limits, (they are too bulky to go in the van) so Andrew is on a mission to find a cheap transport vehicle, preferably with a HIAB on to simplify loading at Scunthorpe.

On Thursday my favourite profilers delivered – which was a surprise as I always go and collect – and proved yet again that putting my postcode into Satnav does not get you within 250 metres of our house: actually it doesn’t even get you on the same road. And don’t try telling me my postcode is wrong – we’ve occupied Briddon Towers since 1978 and would have found out by now. So a few drawings were run off and on Friday I was smiling sweetly at our local machinists (who are run off their feet) about creating the auxiliary drive shaft and a few other bits, as I collected the front end-adapter for the Cummins.

Andrew was off again Friday night, leaving me “free” on Saturday, but with the promise that I would pop into Rowsley and collect our air-line that goes with his needle gun. By the time I got there, it was nearly dark – “Lord Phil” had just about completed its ‘driver experience’ work for the day (known colloquially on Peak Rail as ‘pay and play’) and Charlie shunted in a while later with the works train, so I decided to see just how well the camera coped with night scenes.

"Lord Phil" back at the stabling area

"Charlie" heads into the sidings with the works train

Sunday dawned foggy. Andrew arrived home around 9.30 and we loaded up the van to head to Scunthorpe. Although Steph later told me that it had been a nice sunny afternoon back home, it remained cold and misty in TaTa-land, as you can see from the Hunslet BoBo propelling the flats loaded with slabs (through the cab door).

Away in the mist is the CEW and rail plant

The cold was giving Andrew problems with finish on the paint at home – the shotblasted lower gauge panel and instrument casing frame were to be turned out in Halfords finest gloss spray black like the upper panel, but it was coming out all matt. So we brought them over, remembering that the AFRPS loco shed, linked on to the plant steam lines, was nice and warm and would suit the paint better. While it dried, we attacked two of the profiles which will shortly form the base of the radiator where it mounts to its a/v. Being gas cut profiles, the holes tapered so we opened these up true and drilled out the smaller ones for the a/v securing bolt. Next we deployed the air hose and Andrew set to work with the needle gun.

Years ago I had a needle gun. It would demolish paint like rabbits in a lettuce patch but every action has an equal and opposite reaction and your wrist took the brunt of it. Nearly as bad was the numbing effect of the cold exhaust air over your fingers, and the tendency for the whole tool to dismantle itself from the vibration. Andrew however has a Trelawney needle gun, which I gather is to my old device as a Mercedes is to a Skoda. Apparently it incorporates some shock-absorbing technology that makes it smooth and easy to use. I wouldn’t know, he would never let me have a go on it. The other memorable bit about needle gunning is where all the shards of paint get to. It’s not just the obvious places like your hair (less of a problem for me than it used to be) or lodged in any woolly jumper, but it’ll come out like a flurry of snow when next you drop your underpants or reach into a pocket. Anyway, we undid the tarpaulin covering the 03’s prime mover and he climbed inside, cleaning up the front of the running plate where the angle that supports the nose cone will shortly be refitted. I left him to it and headed to the storage van, tipped the radiator over and checked that the profiles we’d drilled now correctly bolted to the bottom, though they need painting next. By the time I got back Andrew was at work at the front of the cab, forcing a gap between casing frame and cab sheet so that the Trelawney could poke its needles into the gap behind.and all over the front which will be obstructed by the fuel tank when it goes back in. I headed in to the cab, removed the floorboards and trialled my paper template (printed 1:1 from the CAD drawing) against the gearbox input flange as a final check – paper is much cheaper than machined steel. I had barely finished when Andrew moved in to deal with the inside cab sheet, where the instrument panel will locate, then after running over everything with a wire wheel on a grinder, broke out the red oxide and started to paint the exposed metal. I took my chance and got his permission to try out his Trelawney. Within 60 seconds he has grabbing my attention and complaining about the noise! I pointed out that I was no louder then he’d been (he’d had the ear defenders on, of course) but he declared that whilst his had been essential, mine was, for the moment, cosmetic. I did a bit more anyway and yes, if my memory of neede gunning bogie wagons at Llanuwchllyn is anything to go by, the Trelawney is a much smoother gun to use – though still heavy to hold above your head when attacking a cab roof.

Above the control desk, where the instrument panel will return

The areas Andrew deemed essential were duly red-oxided, and as the day grew dark we rescured the tarpaulin and packed up. Winter is definitely here, but with a thought towards next Summer, I have been asked to put out a plea. Steph works at a school in Sheffield, and we’re not talking the posher parts. Every summer they have “New Opportunities Days” where groups get to go on educational expeditions. Steph has proposed a two day exploration of new uses for disused railways, incorporating industrial archeology with leisure pursuits, and including Peak Rail, the National Stone Museum and sundry trackbeds. But school funds are limited in these austere times, so if anyone out there could dip into their pockets and offer a bit of sponsorship…..

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