Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of Sentinel, Lister and York Metro

7th January 2018

Oh dear, starting this a bit late tonight – been watching part 1 of that Strawbridge character trying to build a model railway all across Scotland.

He's using a Roundhouse 0-6-0T called Silver Lady, one of the 'Lady Anne' class. The telly's version is one of the later ones, but the original design, then an 0-4-0T with slip eccentric valve gear and meths fired, goes back to Roundhouse's very beginnings in the Old Cold Store by Doncaster station. Then they introduced an 0-6-0 version called the 'Old Colonial'. I was into 16mm then – I suppose I still am if the row of carriages on the bookcase here at the Briddon Country Pile is anything to go by – and went an ordered a Lady Anne but as an 0-6-0, ie, the Old Colonial frame plates. They grimaced and said 'we knew someone would go and ask for that'. But they made it and mine was the first – and still is. Alas it slumbers today in a cushioned wooden box my father made: nowhere to run and no time to play. Maybe I should move to Scotland.

Anyway, back to reality. Welcome to Weekend Rails 2018.One of my readers congratulated me this week, calling me 'one of the Lord Reiths of the heritage and industrial railway worlds - informing, educating and certainly entertaining in roughly equal measures'. Aw shucks. Lord Briddon of Darley Dale does have a nice feel to it – but it seems the New Years Honours List has passed me by again.

I dunno about you, but I have had this coughing bug now since early December and I've had enough of it. It's not funny for an old asthmatic like me, and although I thought it was easing off after Christmas (the green flem I had been bringing up having turned relatively clear) it went back to green again early this week and by Wednesday Steph and Andrew ganged up and persuaded me to call the surgery for an appointment. 09.00 Monday was the earliest they could offer, unless I declared it to be an emergency. How am I supposed to know that? That's what I want to see a Doctor for. But having coped for 3 weeks or more I could hardly say it was life-threateningly important, even though I'm the most important person I know. So I've sat it out, but it has been sapping my energy somewhat. And maybe that's why I cannot for the life of me remember what we got up to on New Years Day, though the Bucks Fizz and seeing the new year in must have contributed to any memory loss.

Tuesday to Thursday I was largely out on commercial work, meanwhile Andrew had acquired a secondhand Lister SL2 engine. Now brace yourselves, this was not a purchase from e-bay, but Facebook's equivalent. I had had plans for Friday but he reminded me that I had agreed to go collect this if he won it. Well, I was going a bit north anyway, partly to collect M27 bolts for his ramp tie bars, and the fabricated hydraulic oil tank for the low load trailer, to accept the pump you saw a few weeks ago. Talking of which, Andrew went with the trailer for its voluntary brake test on Tuesday and er – it failed. Nothing disastrous, basically the brake drums were a little rusty from two or three years of standing doing nothing, so it has been attended to since and hopefully should get through its MoT on the 15th.

So I drove across the M62, wandering a little as the occasional involuntary coughing fit got the better of me, up the M61 and along the M6 and M55 until finally I drove north to an industrial estate near Thornton Clevelys. The vendor ran a sand-blasting business, and having occasional problems with power supply, had bought this engine for £250, plus a separate generator, and planned to mate them together as a modest standby genny. But now the landlord wanted to relocate him, and use his yard as a lorry park, so he had no need of it. I felt bad handing the money over as we were paying substantially less, but he seemed more concerned that I hadn't heard it 'run'. He picked up the 3 starting handles that came with it and proposed to fire it up.

I had to dissuade him, however noble his intent. It was after all now in the back of the van and I and my cough didn't need a van full of fumes for the trip back. I thanked him for his assistance in loading, strapped it down and pointed the van at Derbyshire.

Saturday, and it was a rather late start that we got down to the shed. After a quick confab it was agreed that I would fire James up and move the loco at the front of track 3A over onto 3B, so that in the near future we could manhandle the Terrypicker into position and finally address Row A floodlights. But Steph arrived with her Micra for a check-over before she went off today to our daughter's for a few days, and the Micra was a touch low on oil. I couldn't remember what grade was preferred, so we ended up going back home for the manual, finding that 15W/40 was acceptable within the current operating temperatures (and it would end up blended with what's in there anyway) returning to the shed and topping it up. Meanwhile Andrew had found a home for that racking I had acquired last week, not spread across the Dudley versions as I had forecast, nor as a stand-alone in the container, but in a new location in the shed, whereupon he had completely filled it with linbin after linbin from the Barnsley purchase a few weeks ago. There's still quite a few on the floor still needing a home.

With Steph happy, he set up the chop saw to start producing lengths of rectangular box section to make the ramp tie bars for the trailer, and for some reason I got it into my head to secure pieces of wood to the underside of the roller shutter on 3B. I did 3A long ago. Basically, when I designed the floor, the recesses for the tracks deliberately had the rails some 20mm higher than the surrounding concrete. This was to ensure that should we bring in a loco with severely worn wheels, 'double-flanged' in the vernacular, it wouldn't proceed to chew up the concrete of our floor. But of course, the doors stop when they touch the rails, leaving gaps like letterboxes at each side which do tend to let in a draught. They don't so much now, though something to reduce the gaps in the flangeways wouldn't be a bad thing.

Later I assisted Andrew dis-assembling a supercharger, but that's a long story.

Today and another late-ish start but instead of turning south we headed north and up to his trailer. Andrew wanted to check that my tank fitted: I was a bit apprehensive lest a combination of mis-measurement and under-the-weather-when-drawing-it-up meant that it didn't. But apart from chiselling out some bits of floor timber to give space for its feet to bolt to the trailer chassis, and cutting a hole in a plate underneath to allow the drain to peep through, all appeared OK so we headed back to Darley Dale.

This time Andrew was doing all the shunting. Charlie was started and drew the train forward. I took the van around to the front of the shed and unloaded the tank, Andrew returned and we were about to unload the Lister when we were hailed from the footpath. 'Any chance of coming in to view the Frank Hibberd?' This impressed Andrew: someone who actually wanted to see 'Pluto' had to be someone of quality, not one of the 'Can we see the BR shunters?' clan who don't seem to think industrials have a right to live. So I went down to the gate, and let the two of them in. It turned out one of them works at Heysham Nuclear PS, where Locotec has a Sentinel on long term hire, a loco that both Andrew and I worked on (me on design, him on spanners one summer) when back at Locotec in Wakefield. It was one of the Sentinels that RFS had acquired and re-engined with low-emission Cat engines for Tunnel work.

At Wakefield I had added a train air compressor, and modified the control system both pneumatically and electrically complete with Deadmans pedals. And since I haven't many pictures to show this week, here's one of it outside the workshop at Wakefield in November 2006.

IMG 1679 blog

The test track was such a squeeze that if I wanted to use it, everyone had to move their cars, and it was just long enough to test the deadmans timer in motion and stop before hitting the boundary fence.

IMG 1688 blog

And here's another photo inside, showing the Sentinel desk but with my instrument panel. Andrew recalled having to do an awful lot of fillering to achieve the paint finish you see, whereas our visitor, over a mug of tea, was telling us how they have recently repainted and named it.

IMG 3862 blog

IMG 3864 blog

While I was conducting the grand tour, Andrew unloaded the Lister so at last I'll show you a photo of it. When I got back, I set about drilling the holes to mount the filler/breather and level gauges to the tank that you can see in another photo, but first the tank must be cleaned and painted, so for the moment they remain on one side. Andrew returned to his trailer ramp tips, after all, he has barely 10 days before its first job is planned and a lot of rails to fit first. I suspect that week commencing the 15th might be hectic.

IMG 3865 blog

As the two tracks in the shed are not symmetrical over the building centre line, when it comes to using the Terrypicker, there is much less 'floor' under Row A and the stabilisers are in the 4ft. Getting the Terrypicker there was something else, but together we positioned so that hopefully I can get at lights 1 to 3.

We did sit down once again to discuss what we're going to do, as 'shed work' nears the end and loco work resumes. The Wickham is in prospect, but although we are agreed that the PH1 is neither big enough nor smooth enough, we cannot decide whether to use this SL2 and if we do, whether to drive through the original Ford box (the interface would be a challenge as Ford did not match any industry standard, if indeed there was one at that time) or go hydrostatic. There again there's still that Lister TS3 in kit form, and a 3 cylinder is smoother in operation than a twin. But it has been decreed that Adolf will be the major job for 2018, and Pluto, which has patiently spent two or three years adorned with all manner of things on its footplate, should be dealt with and put back to work. Will this happen or will we change our minds? You'll have to wait and see.

This week I became proud owner of my fourth website domain, it's all to do with Peak Rail and I'll share it with you when it's been uploaded in a few days time. Shareholders are continuing to pledge their shareholding to regime change and others keep ringing me up asking for news. Some fascinating stories of the early(er) days of PR keep coming out of this, the days when progress towards re-instatement was actually being made. Back in 1987, when I was at Thomas Hills, we 'muscled in' on what if I remember correctly was an IMechE 'do' at a hotel in York. PR members installed a panel of track for us in the Hotel's car park next to the river, and we put a Steelman loco on display, with a marquee next to it containing several engines and a final drive wheelset. We upstaged the whole event, but one of my readers this week told me the other side of the tale, that passers by asking what they were laying track for, were told that it was the first part of the new York Metro, and, as the track faced the river, they added for good measure that the bridge was being put in next Tuesday. The residents of York must be a gullible lot, for they apparently swallowed this story hook, line and sinker and were livid that they had not been informed of this development in the local press or radio.

Oh, nearly forgot. Today Railways came out this week, and carries an article on Andrew's collection. Not seen the finished result yet.

So that's about it for this week. Will the Doctor have a cure or will it be a 'go to bed, take paracetamol and drink lots of fluids'? Will we make a decision as to which Lister goes in the Wickham or shall we go for a best of three? Well, don't look at me: come back next week. Have you really anything better to do?

More in this category: Of anti-biotics and bus bars »

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