Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of the return of an old friend

19th May 2013

We have been in regular touch with the firm in Sheffield who are custodians of the 3 fan motors this week. With all due irony, the motor from D9500 is undoubtedly the best of the 3, and other than adding a "Speedisleeve" and replacing various seals and rings, having drilled out the corroded fixing bolts, the motor was in comparatively good order. But it has not been completed this week and so no progress can be reported on '901, more's the pity.

A couple of weeks ago, when "James" arrived from the DVLR, I mentioned that 'things had gone a bit awry' but not quite how awry they had been. For a second vehicle had been supposed to rolling up with another loco, sat waiting for us at Foxfield - "Coronation".

If you go back - way back - towards the beginning of this blog you will find a post where we said goodbye to Coronation - I entitled it "Au revoir" but did not think we would have it again. Andrew was forced to sell it by circumstances but a 'first refusal' condition had been made and was honoured. Two years later, and the owner was loosing enthusiasm thanks to various circumstances not relevant here. One factor however was that stripping the engine had revealed crankshaft damage, possibly arising from repairs carried out before Andrew first owned it. Anyway, re-purchase was agreed although things remained under wraps until we were ready.

Anyway, the second vehicle - a normal low-loader rather than a folding neck as we had warned Heanors of the lower than usual buffer beam clearance - had been stuck on a job somewhere and although it had been proposed that the folding-neck trailer that brought James dash on to Foxfield, it was too late in the day and we agreed to re-arrange. In the interim, Ben Riley had asked Andrew to organise collection of his newly-acquired Midland brake van from Shackerstone, and the two moves were judged to be practical by the same wagon on the same day.

As Andrew was away in Norfolk I planned to wander in to Rowsley about 10-10.30 to see Coronation off, then dash off to a supplier and return in time to aid the brake van. First clue that all was not well was a call from Andrew to the effect that Heanors were already 90 minutes late as they had decided to send the folding-neck trailer but another trailer had been left on top and had had to be craned off first. I wrapped up what I was doing and headed off to the supplier's. Getting back at about 2pm I could see that nothing had arrived, so after a quick cup of tea it was back up to the loading area to see Heanors there and the neck down. The driver was a nice-enough guy, maybe Polish judging from the accent, but when I asked him about the second job from Shackerstone he genuinely knew nothing about it. I phoned Andrew and went to get James fired up.

I learned later that Coronation had indeed lived up to our warnings about loading on the folding neck - it had apparently taken the combined efforts of the winch, tractor unit AND a loco to get it aboard, taking up 2 hours. Heanors had, in its defence, not forgotten to take the tip rails to ease the transition, but it had not been enough.

I brought James up to aid Coronation down. The ground around the loading area is firm but not concrete, and a lot of road vehicles drive over it to access one of the Peak Rail entrances, so the rail head is usually contaminated. I was not surprised therefore to find James barely able to hold Coronation back, and more concerned when I saw Coronation bounced oddly at the bottom of the tips. Sure enough, the front right wheelset was in the dirt, as the tip rail had moved outwards.

Our Polish driver was genuinely upset - after all the trouble he'd had getting it on, you could understand why. We put the winch back on and between it and James, pushed it up so far until the offending wheel was back on the tip. He then pulled the loco over a few inches with the tractor unit, and with better control now that the railhead was clean, I brought Coronation safely down onto Peak Rail metals. I gave the Pole a hand dismantling the tip rails and packings, and knew immediately what had gone wrong. The tie bars were only done up finger tight - not enough to hold them to gauge adequately.

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By now Andrew had had a right ding-dong with a manager at Heanors and Heanors were furiously ringing his cab phone. He phoned back when he had reconnected the tractor unit and was ready to go - I looked up and got the distinct impression he was in tears. He turned around and tore off southwards, but Shackerstone started to lock up at 4.30 and he was still 45 minutes away.

Steph and I were planning to blitz Briddon Towers on Saturday while Andrew was away, but as I left home the engine note suddenly changed and I knew that the exhaust on the van was poorly. Steph spent the afternoon at Briddon Towers, I spent it at Kwikfit.

At just after 09.00 this morning Andrew and I were back in Rowsley. We had authority to shunt the siding where most of the locos stand to put those required least at present - "Jack", the Brush, D9500 and the two NBs to the bottom. We had already seen Charlie heading down the line with the works train - fencing at Darley is in progress - so that was the first "Briddon loco" in action for the day. We added the second and third - "Cheedale" was brought across to take Coronation off the front of James, and James then performed the shunt, which apart from the locos listed above included our VBA, the Drewry, a Mk1 coach, a rail crane with two runners and two flat wagons with loads - as usual stopping such trains gently is harder than getting it moving.

We were watched in all of this by Andrew Hurrell, who had turned out to see the shunt, Sentinel "Tom" which he had a hand in rescuing out of the colliery and another look at Cheedale. He tells me the photos he has of our loading Cheedale at Buxton have too many showing the back of my head. Now some say that the back of me is the side they most like to see, but I return the compliment with the back of him, chatting to Andrew.

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I had slipped back to the Country Pile to collect lunches and other bits, and on return had moved on to Tom to get the horn valve on the right hand side desk connected up (this is the new valve with ports in different places to the original) which involved various combinations of pipe and fittings to get from the Enots fittings that Sentinel used to the 8mm plastic pipe that we standardise. With that done we fired up Tom - loco No.4 for the day - but didn't move it as '901 was coupled behind and the Pen-y-Ghent crew were washing it down alongside and had power leads and hoses just in front.

Once Andy had gone Andrew cajoled me into assisting him in putting a tarpaulin over Coronation - this is a task that should not be undertaken without a full compliment of skyhooks. It is heavy, dirty and the loco is a long way up (or to come down from unexpectedly) but eventually it was achieved.

Back on Tom I was unhappy about several pipes we'd put in which wandered around the underside of the desk. At the expense of a few fittings I removed over 2 metres of pipe while making the underside a whole lot tidier. With that Andrew refitted the desk cover at that side, making the loco look complete again.

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And that was about it for the day.

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