Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of not painting

30th July 2017

OK, fanfare,roll of drums. Seven years ago this evening I plucked up courage to write my first blog entry under the umbrella of Pete Waterman's Railnuts site.

It wasn't all that much, just a paragraph in fact, and no pictures: and here I am, older, wiser and with readers running into the hundreds, some of whom get vociferous if there are no pictures. Perhaps one day the HRA will run a competition for the best railway-oriented blog site – after all they award the best society magazines and might move with the times: but they'd probably restrict it to Facebook only.

Sorry, just dreamin'. So what's been happening in the Briddon empire this week? Well, after his spectacular destruction of a cutting disc last Sunday, Andrew was anxious that we got the remaining beams cut with a bandsaw or something, so I ran them over to my friendly machinists after checking they had something that could cut them at a slight angle (around 4.5 degrees) together with a sketch showing the sizes wanted. On Friday morning they rang me to say they couldn't find the sketch. Andrew, who had gone down to the minor injuries unit as one eye had been swollen all week (impact from grinding disc fragment or infection? – we are still none the wiser) phoned them with dimensions from his memory.

On Wednesday, Andrew and I got down to the workshops in the evening and instead of spraying the engine turnover stand like he said he would, he decided to cut the box sections that will form the intermediate supports under the ramp beam. (3 supports in I beam, 2 in box per side). I had been down late in the afternoon and had wandered across to the station (in truth I was willing myself to get on with another coat of that intumescent paint but was avoiding making a start) when the last train of the day was about to come through. A father and young son were on the platform. The boy was disappointed that it was too late for a train ride, and I suggested if they wanted to come over and see the locos, I'd show them around. Once the PR train had gone by they took me up on it, and I was barraged with questions from a five year old, mostly how fast could each loco could go. Father was a signalman and a Land Rover enthusiast, so we had plenty in common, and of course, the boy got a train ride after all. They promised to come back another day and ride Peak Rail properly. I patted myself metaphorically on the back for good Public relations and for doing something that meant it was now too late to do any painting.

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I was in Darley Dale Friday morning to see a lorry-full unloaded. First off was the majority of a B4 or maybe B5 bogie – it's been stripped so far it's hard to tell. This will yield us a pair of wheelsets for the PCV as an interim measure and thus in the short term only the other end bogie needs to be built up (with new SP120 bearings) to get it wheeled again, and then the first bogie brought up to the same spec later. That leaves us with the frame of the stripped bogie, and I've suggested that this might be a good basis for a pair of transporter trolleys that he's been planning that would enable us to roll a stripped chassis outside for shotblasting after it has been de-wheeled.

As the bogie was coming out of the south-west, Andrew planned the lorry to collect a Cummins NTA855 from a farm near Hereford. Reputedly having only done a few hours, it was a genset but the generator had been sold off, leaving the engine, unsupported at the flywheel end, sat on its bedframe. What happened to the radiator I don't know, but the engine came up on e-bay and Andrew decided to snaffle it.

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The lorry driver had felt unwell the previous night and had ended up in A&E: diagnosed as a possible gaulstone he clearly wasn't at his best and it was good that he saw the job through. The bogie was railed and the Cummins put on the well wagon as the heavens opened.

Saturday morning and Andrew and Steph were off first thing to get grandson, leaving me to look after our two miscreants who were to be supervised by one of the mothers. They arrived armed with white spirit, pink rubber gloves and safety glasses, and rather to my disappointment, it all came off quite easily, though even washing the paint down afterwards still leaves a bit of a mark, as you can see by the picture of the VBA end. Some of the graffiti, they said, wasn't them but another lad whom we know about (but haven't got photo evidence of) but for the last six weeks the yard has been free of invaders as the word seems to have got around.

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So our two young men got the graffiti off in around 2 hours, which was a small price to pay as I'd expected (hoped?) that they'd be at it for ages with sandpaper. I guess bitumastic paint just ain't what it used to be. Once I'd said I was satisfied and they had apologised once again I got back to cable-tray work as I'd picked up another 12m during the week. The tray now reaches the south-eastern corner of the shed and is as far as I expect it to go. Once the columns are finish-painted I have a few extra fixings to make to render the tray more rigid, but that won't stop me laying the first few wires along its length over the next few weeks. Even the 5 core 3-phase cable has dropped by about 5p/metre since I last bought some, but it is still about £100 for each of the two remaining sockets.

But by lunchtime I was feeling a bit jaded, and headed back for some lunch. I did initially intend to return but after a while decided I had some commercial work to do so stayed home. Andrew meantime, had included a visit to Colne Valley in his itinerary, as the fuel pump on 14 901 has been being a little cantankerous, and the presence of dirt in the old header tank lead us to conclude that some is in the hydraulic governor and causing it to stick. Really we could do with a mechanically governed pump, but they weren't common, as Rolls normally fitted hydraulic governors or separate Woodward ones. We're still looking into that, but in the meantime must get this one cleaned, checked and back on the loco. Fingers-crossed that nothing serious is found as the hydraulic governors are totally and utterly obsolete.

Today we were expecting Plumtree, Phil G and Jagger over and as they arrived with the intention of doing whatever we needed I suggested either that they apply second coats of intumescent paint, or progress the slot-drain out back. I hoped they would take on the former, but they decided on the latter and during the day (and in between cups of tea in two cases) extended it, height adjusted, packed and sealed at the joints, past the half-way point of the shed. First though Phil G kindly presented Andrew with a collection of lorry straps he had acquired over time, and then deployed two of them with a spare sheet to protect the newly-acquired Cummins. After they'd gone home, in fact much later as Andrew had also headed back, there was a very heavy shower which filled the trough where the slot drain is to go until the water level reached the trough bottom and when I came out, after the rain had stopped, it was to see a very satisfying flow of water down the completed section and away into the underground drain. I was trying to come up with a suitable drain/train joke but still haven't.

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I had some parts to pack for customers (month end y'know) in between making the tea for the above-mentioned personnel and when Andrew arrived, he was determined to progress the ramp, as it is getting urgent, so here he is marking out the beams and adding the stiffeners to keep the flanges from twisting under load. But when he came to check two of the sawn off beams that I'd collected from the machinists, he found the angles were incorrect and realised he'd given them a wrong dimension, working from memory. Since he is forever telling me of things that I should, but cannot, remember (brain cells, brain cells, wherefore are thou?) it is comforting to know that even he cannot remember everything perfectly. It does though mean that I will have to get two more pieces cut for him this week. Shucks

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Also this week we have a working party from Tarmac on Wednesday and Thursday. Under my guidance (hopefully nothing more physical for me than making tea) they will progress the chassis strip down of RS8 so that we can get near to craning it onto the stands waiting outside and getting the shotblaster in again. They'll take the drawings I got back and get them scanned. I suspect I might be up again at Tunstead soon to guide them on the bits they have got.

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Oh and a final postscript – nothing more through about those JATE blocks, so I thought I'd put a picture up and see if that triggered any more responses. Until then, see you next month.

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