Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of shortages in suck and luck

6th November 2011

No two ways about it, the world is going daft. If you have read this blog for long, you will know that the last weekend of the month is one where everything goes wrong, and the first weekend of the new month is marked by significant strides forward. Yet last weekend everything went smoothly – this weekend, progress has been marginal. During the week, Andrew and I had one of those deeply philosophical discussions about us being spread to thinly between all the various locations over which the collection is homed.

There is little we can do about this – Andrew is proud to have rescued a number of locos that otherwise would by now have been melted down in a Chinese steelworks, but bringing them all back towards working order is a task both time consuming and expensive, and sometimes I think some groups assume that we have nothing else to do and loads of money to do it with. Take the 03 for example – we had hoped to have the power unit in the loco in May – check back, you can see week after week when the on-site contractor at Scunthorpe said at the last minute that their crane was unavailable until we despaired and brought another contractor up from Chesterfield at double or treble the cost. And everything is being done outside at the mercy of the weather – I can’t think of anyone doing a “proper” repower of a loco in the open since Cummins repowered the first MoD Vanguard in their car park in Daventry in the 80s.

Next weekend Andrew is Best Man at Chris and Kim’s wedding in the West Midlands, and this Saturday was their combined Hen and Stag do (yeah, sounds strange to me too) so Andrew had to be there for late afternoon. Thus we agreed to make an early start for York, to drop two batteries on “Pluto” (spare ones, actually off 14 901 and thought to be dodgy but proved OK when tested) and test the new exhauster drive. We duly arrived on site, lugged the batteries into place but despite tightening the battery terminals had lots of smoke and sparks when I turned the key. Fortunately the positive post was “etched” but not too badly so the terminals were all cleaned, lathered in petroleum jelly and the loco started. With clear plastic oil feed tube, Andrew could watch the oil being drawn up and initially it went so far then stopped, so we re-routed the tube to get a smoother, continuous climb from the separator and on the second attempt, the oil feed was sucked up the pipe by virtue of the vacuum it created. But there was the rub, it only dragged itself up to about 18″ and wouldn’t maintain when the engine returned to idle. We checked our lines for leaks, but as our departure time neared, we had to admit defeat. Is it just that the exhauster needs a good run-in to get it to seal properly? Is it simply old and tired and needs new rotor tips? It is not our exhauster, (it’s DVLRs) so we know little of its history. But it goes to illustrate my point. All the work we thought we needed to do to get the loco fully serviceable has proven to be insufficient: so now we must add more time and expense and of course, that means delaying other locos at other places.

Andrew made it home from the “do” at 3am Sunday morning, so our departure was a little tardy. Scunthorpe was back as our destination but although I had prepared a long list of things to do we completed very few of them. Andrew went to work inside the nice, warm shed on “Beverley”, refitting the casing front piece (it took the two of us firstly to lift it into position) and addressing the matter of the suspect oil cooler that has caused the loco to contaminate the oil with coolant when running. I meanwhile, was left to the raw outdoor winds on the 03.

The ‘driveline’ on the 03 now comprises the engine, the torque converter and a two-speed “powershift” gearbox. Of the three, the most heat under full load probably comes from the converter, with the engine following in second the powershift well in third. The engine will of course, have its radiator (I ordered the anti-vibration mounts during the week) and in front of this will be a separate air-blast matrix for the converter. But to dissipate what heat comes off the powershift, we need to re-use one of the oil-to-water heat exchangers that came with the transmission when we acquired it from the MoD/Ramco tender. (It’s along story, but in my days running the Yorkshire Engine Co I was contracted to recover the powershifts, converters and associated gubbins from the MoD’s 5 ex BAOR Hunslets and return them to Bicester for possible re-use. Several years on, personnel and policy changes and we buy two of them back!)

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The oil-to-water heat exchanger for the powershift

I do not have a drawing for these coolers so a quick run over with a tape measure reveals that we have a problem. At 32″ long and 8″ broad there are no obvious places that it can go without obstructing other essential bits (the exhauster is proving a bit of a swine to locate and might need to be remotely driven with a propshaft down the side, but that’s where I wanted to put the cable runs…). Andrew comes out for a conference and we agree that it needs to go up the right hand side and it is high time we finished removing the remains of the handbrake relay lever. The bracket for this is held on with 4 fitted bolts and a variety of large, larger and ginormous hammers are required to drift them out. The last split pin is removed, pin knocked out and dropped away.

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The old handbrake linkage is finally gone - the heat exchanger will go along the top

Andrew returns inside. Back in the cab, I re-survey the plan for the parking disc brake. During the week I have identified a proprietary brake unit and how to operate it. Too early to order it yet, but good to know how it all fits together. Andrew has also asked me to check that the holes in the desk match those I measured on the 03 at Rowsley last week, and while I am in there I decide to get the instrument panel surround off (it needs shotblasting and the cab front cleaning up where it resides). Talking of shotblasting, we need to deal with the casing tops, dumped on a wagon and pushed about as far away from AFRPS shed as the ARPS can – I wondered whether I could split the nose cone down but a few trials with suitable spanners suggest that they are not going to come apart easily.

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Casing tops and nose cone piled together on a wagon...

If you ever see photos of the 03’s undergoing overhaul in BR workshops, you always see the casing side frames still in place. We now know why – some of the bolts are behind the sandboxes and are impossible to access. Getting D2128’s off and the rust treated behind (at the cab) has always been Andrew’s plan but dealing it with this outside has become a major issue and a delay. As we drove home we came up with a cunning plan: the most important part being that we leave the damn things where they are!

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