The early part of the week was more than a little complex. I had been experiencing a tooth-ache last Sunday, which got worse overnight and so on Monday I legged it over to my dentist's and was diagnosed with an abscess forming over my Upper right 5 which was duly numbed, drilled through to drain and then temporarily re-filled. I can look forward to further work there in a month or two. Back from Sheffield, I dived over to the local machinists with a drawing of the handbrake relay shaft for the 03 and the one surviving cab door hinge pin, which they promised to machine up new for Friday. As I also needed a large slogging spanner to be profiled for a job I put together a few other profiles and e-mailed these to the profilers.
On Tuesday I had to remain at home as on Wednesday I was having another exciting afternoon as an outpatient guest of the Northern General Hospital. By the afternoon however, Andrew was concerned at the drop in temperature and possibility of frost, so popped in to Rowsley that evening and drained down both 14 901 and Ashdown, as both merely had plain water, the former as we intend to re-jig the coolant pipework and the latter since we had the water pump replacement.
Late Thursday afternoon I had a rendezvous with Gary Hibbs of Heritage Shunters to pass back a piece of equipment, and while I was there had a look over D9525, which has been undergoing protracted overhaul since it was last out in 2010. Various bits of platework behind the battery boxes has been replaced (we had to do the same with 901 back at Elsecar) and painting is currently in hand.
I'll draw a veil over Friday save that, having run up t'north to collect the profiles and a drum of anti-freeze. I drove through flooded roads to get to the machinists to find that they had completely forgotten their promise to get my bits done!
Up to Thursday, we had, as I said last week, intended to go to Scunthorpe to work on the 03, but as we watched the daily weather forecasts Andrew amended his plan along the lines that if the weather was good we might stay and work on the shed. Neither alternative came true – the weather was rotten and Andrew got the call to go and sort out a problem that had prevented an emu leaving Wabtec, so spent most of the day in Doncaster.
Consequently it was left to me to head down and fill the 14 with fresh water before it went in to traffic for the day. As the hose pipe won't reach where it is stabled over the pit, and life isn't long enough to fill it with 5 gallon drums, I fired up Cheedale and aided by Roy and Dave Lee, pulled 901 down to where the Austerity usually warms up, and refilled the cooling system. One of its idiosyncrasies is that, although it has a 2” BSP filling point, the pipework underneath is much smaller and restricts the flow, so you cannot turn the hose pipe on to full flow as it just overflows, despite the additional venting port we put in on the cooler group (the same vent point that BR failed to incorporate and is nowadays said to be the root cause of a number of cylinder head failures on the Paxmans). Even then it takes nearly 30 minutes to get the system anywhere near full, as air and water regularly fountain out of the new air bleed and the cooler group gurgles like my tummy did after my visit to the Northern General Hospital. Eventually however I judged it to be OK, the loco was started up and I saw it on to the train. All this in continuous rain which meant that I was well-soaked.
Even then the drama was not over, for at departure time only 16” of vac could be raised and much searching took place before a leak was found and the vac restored to its normal working level. I headed home to dry out.
Later in the day I popped down to Darley to collect a couple of bits, and found Rob, who showed me the week's progress, with the turnout fully screwed down and levelled. Since then, no less than 14 wagon loads of clay and earth, comprising 90% of the “arisings” from the foundation and floor excavation, had been relocated, and the remaining 10%, which is largely ballast and ash/soil, will be spread out along the old trackbed which formed the siding next to the footpath (the track accessing our shed on that side will be somewhat farther over). Although at the time, both that 'bed, and the area immediately in front of the shed, were several inches deep in rainwater.
Those of you who remember the front views of the shed will remember that a large telegraph pole was sited slap in front of the doorway. Those “in the know” assured us that it went at least 10feet down into the ground and we were wondering how to get it out. We need not have worried – Rob, while digging out the clay had become entangled with some signal wire. Once he had realised and disentangled it from the JCB bucket, he followed it back and found it was attached to said 'pole, and the 'ole for the 'pole had become a slot by 3”. It turned out to be easy then to extract it – and the “10 feet underground” turned out to be barely six, and 18” of that came through the mixture of ash, ballast and tarmac that had been added during Peak Rail's occupation after it had been initially bedded. I can remember drilling holes for telegraph poles above Quarry Siding on the Talyllyn back in – was it 1967? [I was of course a volunteer barely out of my pram] - and their poles were much smaller in height and girth, yet we had to drive this hand-turned auger down as deep into the embankment. While we discussed plans and progress, I heard a hoot from the direction of Matlock and assumed 901 was about to burst through under the overbridge, but such is the way the sound of the horns carry that the blasts must have been for the next crossing a half mile further away and a minute or three later there were further calls for Redhouse and the signalman started to open the gates. 901 came through under the bridge, head- and codelights really bright in the dull, damp air and cruised past into Darley Dale station.
I have been back on a commercial job today, a long thankless task of drilling out taper pins and knocking the stuffing out of crankpin nuts with the new slogging spanner. But we broke off to entertain Simon L, who until Friday had been Andrew's boss at a certain rolling stock leasing company, but from tomorrow is joining RAIB. We had to look after him very carefully, as he had determined that for these two days, he was in limbo between one occupational pension/insurance scheme and another, so dropping dead or being injured over the weekend would be exceedingly expensive. We passed him back to the bosom of his family in as good a condition as we had found him, after showing him round some of the collection including Cheedale and 14 901.
As we came out of Rowsley shed at half-past six, the air was distinctly chilly, and so 901 has been drained again as it is not wanted until next Sunday.
So as I say, not much in the way of progress this week, and the camera has been much travelled but come back unused. What is in store for us next week, I don't know, but you'll be as welcome as ever to come back and see.