For once my Tuesday was clear, for although 14 901 was rostered I was not, and Roy had a day solo with Paul as his Secondman. Rob was down at Darley and gave us the opinion of our concrete, namely that it was quite safe to start taking out the shuttering, so that was immediately put in hand.
But Steph and I had not planned on a whole day there, and packed up for lunch. During the afternoon the heavens opened, but not before Rob had had the ballast packer out on the new headshunt. In fact, I wandered out again for a picture of '901 as it breasted the top of the bank at Redhouse with the last train of the day, but the light wasn't good enough and instead I snapped this view of the yard, looking north.
Through Wednesday more time was put in, getting down DPM, mesh and spreading the final sand blinding layer. On Thursday the Queen came to Matlock. The Royal Train only went as far Derby, and EMT had diagrammed a Meridian in place of the usual 156 or 153 combo (after all, as Andrew pointed out, Meridians have a First Class section, 'Er Madge cannot be expected to travel entirely as the common people do). This brought her to Matlock, where the car park and drop-off areas were sealed off by Police (we had deposited Andrew at Sainsbury's to get the train to work) and thence by car up the A6. Thanks to some inexcusable mischance on the part of her social secretary, the Royal entourage cruised straight past the end of our road instead of turning to the Briddon Country Pile for a cuppa. Steph had already decorated the place with suitable bunting (Andrew's socks and pants direct from the washing machine) but saluted her from the kitchen window as she went by. Instead Her Royal 'Ighness went to some old dump up the road called Chatsworth (which I always think sounds like a rather dubious premium phone service) and met some guy called the Duke of Devonshire. As I am sure has often been observed, he is a long way from Devon and anyway, Devon is not a Shire county. Me? Oh I was down at Darley, starting on the shuttering. Previously I have merely tried to maintain a level for the top of the shuttering northwards, and this has seemed to work, but with the closer distances of this final section, I have tried to check levels with the nearby cast floor and outside foundation blocks and come to the conclusion that achieving level in all directions is darn near impossible. And besides, the slab is a bit narrower on this track than the eastern one (the width of the hard core underneath being narrower) so I am having to trim shuttering over protruding “Z” bars and such.
Incidentally, I have had an interesting exchange of e-mails with a Technical man at Visqueen this week – they who make the DPM what goes under our concrete. The drawings I have from the Structural Engineers use a common symbol/colour for all the DPM up to and between the wallstone courses, leading me to assume that this all was to be done in DPM. But experience has shown that DPM does not stick to mortar, so as there are to be but two courses of wallstone (blocks 215mm high) it would go between them, and I thought, a swift quick to the upper course would have it all toppling down. So I asked the man at Visqueen whether this was right, and patiently he explained that I was correct: the DPM won't stick to mortar, and that they have a material – which is correctly termed DPC or damp proof course – which will stick happily to mortar and must go between the two courses of our wallstone. When I went back to our Structural Engineers' drawings I realised that the confusion arose because they had used that common symbol to represent both DPM and DPC, and nowhere suggested a joint between the two as advocated by Visqueen. So as Principal Contractor I had an urgent meeting with the Client (me) and decided to order Visqueen's recommended DPC with sufficient width to come through the wallstone course and turn down on the inside, there to be glued to the DPM with the Radon gas resistant tape. And that's about as near to Visqueen's preferred plans, the Structural Engineers drawings and the reality of how it's going together as I can get. I hope the Building inspector approves, but as it is all hidden behind the cladding by the time he does his final inspection I don't suppose he'll get to know!
On Friday our grandson was due to arrive for the weekend, and as my daughter and her husband were overnighting Thursday on their way to a wedding that day, I did not go down to site at all, but headed over to Clowne to get more mesh spacers and a new wire tensioner. I got back just in time to receive a delivery from UPS which is a Land Rover propshaft. Andrew has been researching the longest Landy propshaft available to match my preferred dimension to drive the exhauster on D2128, and then grabbed a s/h one off e-bay. Why a Land Rover one? Well, it's simply that they're readily available and likely to remain so, easy to obtain data on, and rated for far higher horsepower than our exhauster requires.
First thing Saturday it was down to Rowsley. Roy had reported that the engine oil pressure gauge had gone full scale while out on Tuesday, and sure enough, one of the wires had come off the sender. If it happens again I shall have to put some fresh crimps on. With that we fired the loco up and went across to the loop, collected the token from the arriving kettle (Lord Phil back from a pay'n'play session) and let ourselves on to the back of the train. Walking up the platform we were approached by the gentleman who had just been the beneficiary of the pay'n'play, asking could he and his wife get cab rides – this was duly set up and they travelled down on the first train with Jan Ford and Mike and came back up from Matlock with Roy and I. They were of course, given the familiar warning to keep their bums away from the engine stop button! In the end they were effusive in their thanks having had a great time from start to finish.
In fact, it was a very warm day on Saturday. Jan and Mike were being plied with copious quantities of liquids at Rowsley and leaving the hot confines of the footplate whenever the opportunity allowed. Thus on one northbound run at Darley Dale, with Roy at the helm and me Secondmanning, we got the starter, the right away from the Guard, and had barely moved half a carriage length when the vac dropped. I glanced back just in time to see one of the kettle crew dash across the platform and back onto Lord Phil!
With daughter and Son-in-law returned to spend some time with their young nephew today, Andrew and I had a few hours to continue DPM and mesh down at the shed. But as we got started we found Jackie Statham, Peak Rail's MD approaching, having been down the south end to view progress on the track alterations. An idea had formed in my mind a few days ago about D9500. We had hoped, at one point, that we might have the loco up and running in time for its 50th, but as usual we were being wildly optimistic. But it seems a shame that it has no part to play in the celebrations at Bury. Still, I had pondered, we could drag it out from the siding, park it on the Rowsley turntable with an information board for visitors, after all, it was commissioned at Swindon on the 24th July 1964. I voiced this with Jackie and got immediate acceptance, so a little job shortly is to shunt it out. I made up an information sheet this afternoon, just wants laminating and mounting on something.
Meanwhile Rob was in a good mood. I get the notices from Ramco about their “general” surplus MOD equipment sales and had spotted one lot in the latest blurb of p/way equipment, the only bit of railway gear in the sale. I had pointed it out to Rob, who put a bid in and had been successful, so had chased over through the holiday traffic to Skegness on Saturday to collect what turned out to be a lot of bits in first class condition. He was highly delighted in his acquisition and left me wondering whether I should have bid for it myself!
Anyway, while Andrew trimmed reinforcing mesh, I laid out and adjusted the last sheets of DPM and together we placed the mesh on top and put some of the spacers in. But by 3 o'clock we had to call it a day so Andrew could have more time with his son. Just before we left site, a phone call came through from a regular reader of this blog, who was in the area with a quantity of “useful electrical bits” that we might find handy for the shed. We had barely finished our late lunch when the doorbell rang.
I am out most of tomorrow and rostered with '901 on Tuesday, which leaves Wednesday and Thursday to complete the remaining shuttering before the concrete lorries (“Mighty Mix” this time) are due at 07.00 Friday morning for the final pour of the floor. Andrew has promised that he will get the wiring of the mesh completed over the next few evenings using my new tensioner. It's a close call, but we should just make it.