Monday of course, it was RS8 day at Tunstead. Jack and Liam have continued stripping down the old vac pipe, thoroughly cleaning the malleable jointing pieces, and cutting, threading new pieces of galvanised pipe to go between. While they were down at the workshops so employed, Andy H, Allan and myself set about refitting the left hand side sandboxes, which had been cleaned and painted. The right hand side need to await the satisfactory completion of the vac pipe which runs up that side.
One thing I had underestimated - just how much 2" vac pipe would be required. I thought a 6.5 metre length should suffice, which was daft as the loco is nearly 6metres long - so I have promised to purchase another length and provide some 4m of it to complete the job.
I had also driven three-quarters of the way to Tunstead before remembering that whilst I had picked up lunch, bottled water, clean overalls, etc., etc., I had left behind those gearbox shims that I had been waiting so long for - aaagh!
The managers at Tunstead like to see visible progress, and so if at all possible a 'big lump' has to be added every week. By the end of the day we had, with the aid of a lorry strap, squeezed the fuel tanks up a bit and so got bolts through them into the cab structure (which ties that all together), added the unique walkway protection and put in a couple of the handrails which further secures it all. That brings us in need of a cab floor, and they reckon they have suitable 'recycled' timber available for that. When I started this project, I looked at the cab entrance door (which is only half height and arrived with the remains of a dexion strip with foam rubber taped to it on the upper side) and considered whether it would be a good idea to fabricate a recess and so bring steps into the cab with better headroom. I suppose I had better make a decision yeah or neigh on that tomoorow, else there'll be timber there regardless.
You can see all too clearly in this last photo that the vac pipe is sitting at an angle. We can't see why, since the pipes and fittings are the same as original, but it just doesn't want to co-operate and the longitudinal which emerges from under the buffer beam is determinedly angling away from the frames, yet the piece further up is equally determined to sit outside the valances. But ICI did it all with very few clamps and so far as we can tell we have them in the places where ICI had them, and no spares left over. Are we confused? Yes. Are we going to get it right? You betcha - somehow.
With no major wagon or loco moves scheduled for the week Andrew started planning the weekend. During last week, I forgot to say, the replacement bellows unit for 14 901 had arrived from South Wales, so an excursion to the Colne Valley Railway was on the cards. In theory we could have spent some time in the workshops getting the bracket assembled to the bellows and the joints made up ready. but what time we did get in down there was committed to tidying up and preparing for a visit of the sand-blast contractor, plus a bit of shunting to re-arrange things. The Petter PH1 that used to be in the 'Wickham' (I use quotation marks as, you will have gathered, there appears to be nothing of the frame that is Ware-made) was sold on ebay to a gentleman down near Cambridge, so Andrew offered that we would drop it off during that trip.
So Saturday came and with a lot of sweat and a few expletives, a PH1 was walked up a plank into the van (sort of reverse-pirating - the forklift would have been so much easier but requires a major shunt) and together with the bracket, elbow, fixings and a sheet of exhaust gasket material, we set off for Castle Hedingham. A queue on the link road from the A1 to the A14 brought us to a stand. Traffic coming down the slip road ahead seemed to be forcing its way through but in the distance cars moved freely - we concluded that there'd been a prang at the end of the slip and sure enough, there was a Traffic Officer and a recovery truck, plus a Morris 1000 Traveller - colloquially known as a 'Woody' I believe - but with a mangled front wing and bonnet. Oh dear, what a sad end to a day out in your collectable car. Anyway, we made it to the CVR by about 1pm and after signing in and bumping into the rep for Morris Lubricants made it to the loco.
On these occasions teamwork comes to the fore. Although Andrew had insisted on finding a sharp Stanley knife to cut this exhaust jointing (plus our wad punches, big 'ammer and a piece of plywood) I had brought an amazingly versatile cutting tool. It looks cheap and tacky, and is/was made by the firm of Tullen in New Zealand. My parents gave it to me - well , over twenty years ago now - but it still chomps its way through materials that otherwise give us headaches. The jointing sheet is a laminate, silver-grey in colour but one layer is I think a thin aluminium, which makes it so difficult to cut. But the Tullens slice through this stuff relatively easily, except where you are so close to an edge that the laminate disintegrates and the aluminium layer twists between the blades (and leaves sharp bits sticking out). So Andrew marked out all 4 of them and punched the holes, and I cut out the shapes, and today have little scratches over both hands.
The CVR were open but were running the occasional freight train powered by an 03, whose crew came over to gossip. One of them looked at a pipe section and asked if this was the culprit - no, I tactfully replied, that is an elbow, the 'culprit' is the nice new bit which you can't see because Andrew is just bolting it in!
We fired up 14 901 and although the tail pipe is once again banging away at the cowling, all seemed to be OK though it could do with a bit of a run, which hopefully it'll get in a week or so. We set off back at 4pm, skirting the suburbs of Cambridge to avoid the departing masses from the Duxford air show, and meandered some miles north west of the M11 up a long windy lane to deliver the PH1. The buyer was, when it came to it, much relieved he hadn't had to come and collect as we recounted our efforts loading it. His home includes a paddock area where horses roamed and he told us, a wooded area beyond. But he had a stables to build and so on, and had bought a dumper truck whose PH1 needed TLC. We stacked three pallets up behind the van and walked his PH1 onto them. He generously rewarded us and we resumed the trek home.
We had planned a full day down at the shed but for reasons I won't bore you with, that didn't happen and we only got down there after lunch. Andrew resumed a general tidy up, partially because the shed desperately needs it but mainly because next week we have the sand-blast man coming and need to have everything that we want doing accessible. For unlike last time, when it was blast-away and only get to prime when he'd stopped for lunch or finished for the day, we have a cunning plan of wheeling bits out for him to blast, then wheeling them back in and swapping for something else, and spraying inside at our leisure. And high on the list was the cab and superstructure for Adolf, most of which was still attached to Adolf's frame.
When we put Adolf together, some twelve years or so ago, I tack welded it to the frame and bolted the sections together. In those days I did all the welding (by stick), but now my position has been usurped by Andrew who of course did a proper welding course whereas I got taught by a Welsh farmer. The front casing sections were now only held by two tacks, so I ground these out while Andrew repositioned pallets of bits to produce some manouvering space. The two casing sections were then unbolted - interestingly most of the bolts were plated M8's which undid without problem, apart from one plain M10 which fought back. The forklift then brought them, and the fuel tank, down.
Adolf's running plate itself will be sand-blasted (but not we think this week) in order to clear the years of rust before we start weldng mounts and such on.
Those bits on top are pieces of a frame from within the cab that we cut out to clear the gearbox and kept in case they were needed. Still don't know if they will be. There's a section cut out of the casing frame (right hand assembly) where an inferior company cut the original to mount a compressor and threw away the roller shutter door in favour of a 'ventilated' lift off door made out of flimsy steel with 'linbin' backing racks welded in. That's headed for the scrap bin and the casing frame will be repaired. Andrew was moaning last week that we were making insufficient progress on Adolf - hopefully you'll see much more shortly.
The realisation that our Ferry Van had been involved in weedkilling sent Andrew on a Flickr-hunt, and as a result he found a number of photos of the Chipman train and sure enough 738961 is there, its distinctive yellow stripe standing out. There's a sample here.
For those of you who turn to this blog for Peak Rail news, I can confirm that PR paid Grinsty some £29,500 last week, being the costs associated with the Part 36 offer they accepted last September. The costs which were stated in the AGM to be fixed at £12,000 - relates to an injunction application which Grinsty made last June after Peak Rail attempted to block the departure of a carriage unless Grinsty desisted from legal action. Peak Rail agreed to pay that cost in March, but the final sum has still not been agreed and is said to be over £15,000 and still rising. For myself, after PR insisted its defence to any writ for defamation from me was that the statements made were true and they could prove it, my solicitors have written, reminding them that under the defamation protocol they should have provided such proof, and giving them until July 27th to come up with it. This week, after much heart-searching and not a little re-drafting by other members of PRAG, I have written to the ORR for the first time ever. I have drawn to their attention that PR insists that they can prove I have made multiple spurious complaints using information provided to them by the regulator. Since, as I have said in these pages before, I have NEVER made any complaint to the ORR about anything, I have sought either a written confirmation of that fact and/or a statement as to what the ORR or its inspectors have provided PR that might give PR grounds for believing that I was responsible. Given that their filing system and records should easily show that I have not been in contact, the former should be a straightforward exercise, if time consuming. The latter though might open up a can of worms: we'll wait and see. Meanwhile Andrew had another letter from the PRA. It seems their Board meeting scheduled for last Thursday had so many apologies given in advance that the whole thing was postponed. Was there a football match on? (I don't care for football) Or might some Directors prefer not to be party to the matter?
PRAG has been drawing up a 'vision' document, and I was hoping to be able to issue it as a download tonight, but it's not quite ready, so bear with us, it'll be worth the wait. It portrays a picture what PR ought to be, a thriving heritage railway with a turnover of £500k per annum and rising, providiing a better environment for both visitors and volunteers, and one ready to take steps forward on a sound financial footing.
For the moment, it may be fiction, and that leads me away from PR and into a plug for my novel. I finally got the courage up to ask about how sales are going and I find that less than 10% of you have actually bought a copy. This is not good enough. What have I got to do, come round and hammer on your door? Come on now, repeat after me - I must go onto Amazon and buy a copy of 'The Railway to Merhead'. Again -