Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of stripping without the tease

27th November 2011

We should, I suppose, stop being optimistic and try to avoid planning anything significant for the last weekend of the month – and even include Friday. We had a provisional promise – well, OK, that doesn’t make a lot of sense, but he did say “he’d try to…” – that on Wednesday the flat wagon at Scunthorpe, upon which the 03’s casing bits have resided for the last couple of years, would be shunted out from the very far end of the AFRPS’s longest siding and put round the front ready for us to collect and take them back to Sheffield for shotblast.

On the strength of this, Andrew booked Friday off work and I nearly booked a wagon. But the deadline went by and with no positive news we instead went our separate ways, me to do some (revenue earning) work and Andrew for a quiet day painting “Libby” at Rowsley.

He reported that his ex-german flat wagon was now in use, having become the carrier for PR’s Austerity boiler, now on its side for attention, and he got various more bits primed and undercoated.

Saturday: The start was not as early as he would have liked but we headed over to Rowsley with some more scrap for the skip and a rendezvous with the S&T store. Before even the palvan arrived at Rowsley, those nice, friendly S&T guys had allowed Andrew to stash some bits in their stores but they were now dropping hints that they’d like their space back, and anyway, we needed some components destined for the 03. Some years ago, when “Claire” was at Wirksworth, we had planned to upgrade the transmission cooling system with a separate cooler and bought two brand-spanking new ones. In the event, the first was fitted to “Beverley” and ironically, as “Claire” is no longer a part of the ‘fleet’, the second is going on the 03, also at Scunthorpe. So this was to come out of the store, together with one of two fabricated oil reservoirs which I drew up and had made when I was at RMS Locotec. In the event the RMS project didn’t proceed – the two locos they were intended for worked in a potash loading area and were corroding away fast: it was felt that upgrading them was not really worthwhile. Eventually I ‘acquired’ the tanks and with a bit of modification the first should be usable on the 03, which needs a fairly ‘low-profile’ (=squat) reservoir as it must be lower than the return line drain on the transmission. While we were there, Andrew finally took a decision on the marker-light mountain. When the ex BAOR Hunslet 0-4-0DHs finally met their end about 8 years ago, he recovered all the marker light assemblies, and being to European standards, comprised two different fabrications – a tall ‘U’-shaped one with both red and white markers, and a ‘V’ shaped one with a single white light. Given that the markers are about 6″ in diameter and carry a single domestic sized (but 24V) bulb (from those simpler days when bulbs were bulbs and not electrified spaghetti) the U-shaped boxes looked monstrous and I voiced my dislike of fitting them to anything: me and Andrew had just agreed to disagree. But, as a sign of Andrew’s growing maturity and good-taste, he finally decided that the twin ones could be scrapped, although we might use the lamp assemblies built into a cab structure (the NB 0-6-0 is in mind but that is a few years off) so I spent an hour carefully stripping out the lamp units, lenses and wiring and chucked the steelwork into the bin. Andrew meanwhile took his nice new tin of black paint and his nice new top quality paint brush and started applying paint to the cab side of “Libby”, only to get quite disgusted as temperature was getting the better of the job, causing ‘curtains’ in the paint. Eventually, he retired to take out his frustration in the VBA, the objects receiving his ire being the two ex Class 31 exhausters whose motors are to be removed and scrapped. I ran several more barrowfuls down to the skip as the dusk drew in. On the good news side, a phone call confirmed that over at Scunthorpe the flat wagon was recovered and awaits our visit to uplift the casings.

Sunday: We had been expecting a visitor at home on Friday to assess a small collection of ex D9500 trifles that had been awaiting him for several weeks. He had cried off, but promised to present himself at 09.00 on Sunday morning, so we were suitably readied in good time. Needless to say by 09.50 he was still fifty miles away and it was gone 11.00 by the time he’d arrived, professed himself satisfied and we could get on our way. More scrap was in the back of the van and I was in charge of moving it to the skip while Andrew assessed the results of yesterday’s paint and tried again on the side skirts. He was not at all happy with the results. Glossy, yes, very much, but smooth and even? No, well below the standards he has set.

I moved on to the Brush. These locos were built with the Rolls-Royce DV8N engine, probably for no better reason than they were British-built. The DV8 was a problem-child for Rolls. Intended as a 1000hp engine in its turbocharged/after-cooled form, it was weak on the big ends and never sold commercially above 750bhp. The DV8N however was its normally aspirated form, rated at 445bhp in a number of locos, and so rated here at first. But the combustion characteristic of the DV8N was less than satisfactory. For those enthusiasts of diesel engines who misguidedly believe that it should produce “clag” (for the rest of us, that is smoke, soot, unburnt hydrocarbons and sundry other undesirable by-products, some hazardous to your health), the DV8N was a contender. As even Rolls’ employees would concede, it was a ‘dirty’ engine. Now, if it was plumbed straight through a generous silencer to atmosphere, this was not, in the 60s and 70s, a problem. But for tunnelling use, all emissions are unwelcome and Brush had routed the exhaust system through a water-wash. To feed this system a large L shaped water tank was built in under half the cab floor, compelling Brush designers (though after the battery box, I use the term loosely) to squeeze large contactors, all pneumatic valves and half a mile of pipe and conduit under the remaining half. And it was all to no avail – eventually the engines were de-rated to 427bhp and the water wash abandoned in favour of fume diluters. But the water tank, around and about which the whole cab appears to have been assembled later, remains. (As an aside, the Rolls-Royce Motors Report to Shareholders one year featured the Brush locos on the cover. Such was the awareness of the Publicity Department who produced it, they had assumed that, because it was a loco, it must be one of those built by R-RM subsidiary, Thomas Hills, and were rather embarrassed when Hills management pointed out that their own parent company was plugging a competitor!)

A small part..

..of what we're removing

Andrew keeps telling me that it will look better once we’ve stripped it all out. But I think that the fitters and sparkies at Loughborough must have been demented contortionists to begin with, and with an inherent hatred for all those who might have the temerity to follow in their wake. For such is the volume of pipe and ‘objet d’mechanique‘ in such a small place under the floor that there is nowhere to swing a spanner – and metric bolts, like Unified, have a machining tolerance that ensures that moisture and corrosion take hold. Say what you like about Whitworth and BSF – they’ll undo when metric lock up, screech and eventually shear. Being late 70s build, this loco is all metric, and Brush seem to have used setscrews twice as long as they needed to be to make sure that unwinding was a long and torturous process. Some idea of the jungle we have entered can be seen in the attached photos (sorry, no arty 3/4 views again this week), but Andrew having joined me by half-two, various floor boards, brake valves, distributor pipes, conduits, seats and clutter have now left the building.

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