Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of stopping and starting

4th March 2012

Even as I was packing to go away for the (previous) weekend, I got a phone call from Peak Rail reporting that Charlie’s stop solenoid had given up the ghost. Let me explain. Left to its own devices, most engine fuel pumps head to the “run” position, it is what they are made to do. Therefore you need a device to pull the lever on the pump to a position where there is insufficient fuel delivered and the engine stops.

You can of course, have a solenoid that does only that – the Yorkshire DE locos traditionally had them – but if you have an electrical failure, the batteries go flat, blows a fuse or even some wally turns the batteries off, you have no power left to operate the solenoid and so stop the engine, and heading home leaving it to run out of fuel is rather frowned upon. So most solenoids have to be energised to pull the pump to the ‘run’ position, and a big spring pushes the lever back to ’stop’ if the power is removed. In fact it becomes two solenoids in one, the smaller having sufficient pull to hold the pump in ‘run’ against the spring, but a much bigger one is required to pull it over against the spring in the first place. To do this takes 30 or 40 amps and at the end of its travel it opens a contact that disconnects the big coil and leaves the job in the hands of the little one. Making sure that contact opens at the end is rather important, else your solenoid has an operational life of a bout 10 minutes, by which time the “parfum de electrique meltee’ has probably pervaded as far as the cab. Even then, the big solenoid eventually starts to break down – I remember changing Charlie’s when I had it on hire at Ford Halewood about 1998 and I think we have done it once since. No wonder some tight-fisted operators replace it with a bit of string but thus circumvent the automatic shutdowns in the event of no oil pressure or overheat.

Charlie though had to wait until Thursday – I would have done it Wednesday but it was on a works train at Matlock as they progress the new signal cabin – when I got in and changed the solenoid for one of our stock ones, and checked it over. It tied in with picking up another part of the radiator fan assembly for the 03.

Andrew was back on the car-hunting trail on Saturday, and having returned very late the previous night after a long drive all my plans for Saturday – finish the 03’s panel, etc, etc, came to naught. Instead I promised to be up early Sunday.

The weather however was not conducive to outside work, and much to Andrew’s chagrin he had heard from Scunthorpe that in order to get a dmu carriage in the shed for roof repairs, Beverley had been turfed out again. This is becoming tedious. Nevertheless we had visitors booked for 11am to see Beverley so we went, getting there for 10. While Andrew filled the cooling system temporarily with plain water, I had the cushy job of refitting the direction lights in the desk. The gearbox has limit switches which close to provide an indication of which way you may expect to move when you release the brakes, and these ought to feed two indicator lights at each side of the desk. We removed these years ago with the intention of changing them for modern LEDs, but later counsels have prevailed and I was under orders to fit them back, with various lens assemblies cobbled together from bits Andrew had collected over the years. I had just finished making the last connection when the visitors arrived, but it was pot luck whether I got the lights right, wrong or half and half as I had hastily cabled the 4 bulbs and screwed them into their lens holders with little regard for what went where. Thanks no doubt to it being the first weekend of the month, I had managed to cable the lights the right way round, and the visitors were impressed, whereas I was astonished.

Not only was Beverley parked on top of the 03, but the Bagnall 0-6-0DM had been left foul of the turnout to it and needed another loco to move it out the way. Andrew got to start up “Janus” 0-6-0DE “No.1″ in order to do this, but having been on the external jobs was now somewhat wet and cold. I started Beverley and having got air pressure (and Andrew remembered what isolating valves in the control system he’d turned off!) the loco trundled happily up and down the line to the headshunt so that our visitors could get a ride and a feel for the beast. They listened to the hunting that the 12litre Cummins still exhibits and came up with some new suggestions as to where the problem is, that we will trial in a week or two.

After they’d gone, we sheeted down the engine of Beverley as best we could, and being now soaked through, Andrew took the unilateral decision to call it a day. No pictures taken because of the weather, but more planning and a bit of progress on the 03 panel at home in the dry.

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