Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of the return of Jack

18th November 2012

I threw in the last two lines of last week's blog just as a way of rounding it off, but I should have known better. First thing Monday morning Andrew learned that, owing to administrative screw-up, there was in fact no vehicle heading to Hollycombe to collect "Jack" despite several prior assurances. To cut a long story short, a vehicle finally rolled in on Wednesday afternoon and despite awkward access, darkness and other such impediments, "Jack" was loaded and on its way before the end of the day.

Most locos reaching Rowsley, even from the South, do so by way of Chesterfield, Baslow and Bakewell thanks to a low railway bridge at the south end of Matlock. However, "Jack", and its brother "James" were built for low bridges at their original owners of South Yorkshire Chemicals at Parkgate, and even raised on the deck of the trailer, would clear the Matlock bridge with a foot to spare. At 08.00 Thursday morning Jack and its conveyance were somewhere south of Derby. As I waited at Rowsley about 09.30 Rob had a phone call from someone who had spotted it between Cromford and Matlock Bath and just after 10.00, it arrived at the unloading area.

Back in 2006 we put Jack together at much expense in time, miles and above all, parts. It was one of the first two Andrew bought - from Ford at Halewood in 2000 - and although I tried to persuade him that, as it was incomplete, he should recover what spares might be usable on James, he insisted on retaining it for the future. When Hollycombe's "Commander B" was coming out of traffic for boiler work and the museum were looking for a diesel to cover, it seemed ideal, and we brought it back to life with replacement engine, torque converter, radiator, etc., etc. It left us in full working order, old but adequate paintwork, brand new batteries, etc.

before and after

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At the time it arrived "Charlie" was down at Darley Dale and Rob went off to collect it and the works train. We partly got Jack down the ramp under gravity (the loco had returned with no batteries and no coolant) and eventually the JCB was used to aid it on to Peak Rail metals while I rode the handbrake, should it be required.

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On Saturday we spent an hour or two at Rowsley for Andrew to get a closer look at Jack, after which we headed off south for a meeting of Class 14 owners which took up most of the afternoon, returning via a pre-arranged collection of parts near Stafford.

Sunday we had first to unload and reload the van, before dropping back in to Rowsley to pass over a repaired hydraulic motor for the 2ft gauge ex WHR tamper that Andrew used to own. Then it was on to Scunthorpe. Would the ANPR recognise me when I arrived? To my surprise it seemed that it did, as after a moment the barrier rose.

We split our efforts between both locos at the AFRPS shed. First Andrew hoisted the prop-shaft into the position on the back of the new powershift in D2128 while I rammed a bolt or two through. He then left me to set up an air line to "Beverley" so that he could trace and remedy various air leaks.

With all the propshaft bolts fitted, I journeyed underneath with the intention of refitting the main drain line from powershift back to reservoir, but the bolts that fitted the old unit would not fit the new, and after close examination, I decided that somehow this was tapped M12 rather than 1/2" UNF, an indication perhaps of just how bespoke these transmissions were. Again, when I came to install the fitting to the inlet port for the converter fluid, it turned out to be in not quite the same position as the old unit and the hex of the fitting fouled the converter body.

Andrew meanwhile, found that the most significant air leak was coming from a plastic pipe that we had fitted in place of copper, but running adjacent to the exhaust pipe had, like Icarus, got too close. He called me over to help unbolt the exhaust cowl so that he could remove the pipe and renew it in a hydraulic hose, having brought the parts in anticipation.

We both got interrupted by steelworks security, who had been alerted by a white van acting suspiciously near the AFRPS shed. I declined to ask how a van could act suspiciously, but assured him I got this a lot and put it down to my age. He went away contented that he hadn't had to tackle hardened criminals.

Back under D2128, I was rather hoping that with the drain now connected the remaining powershift connections might not contain oil, but of course as I flicked the blanking caps off the cooler connections out it came. Andrew came under and between us, we fought the stiff hoses into position and screwed them up tight.

Later on, Andrew called me over to aid him re-set the compressor unloader. and I returned to D2128 to refit the gearbox pistons and cylinders. The cylinders have been off while I came up with a scheme to introduce perception head sensors to determine gearbox direction, then Paul Wainwright kindly tapped them out in 24 hours so that I could refit them this weekend. Special adaptors are needed for the sensors are the odd-ball electronic thread of M12 x 1 and once these are ready I can get it all set up.

But for today, it was drawing to a close. Andrew wanted to get some paint applied to Beverley ready to refit the exhaust, but we had no time. Similarly I wanted to make a start on the left hand side power bulge and door on D2128, but didn't.. Ah well, at least things are heading the right way.

As we left the steelworks, the barriers were up and no attempt was being made to stop traffic in or out. Has the ANPR broken down? Can't it work in the dark? Does it think we're still on site? All these questions and more will not be answered in next week's blog...

More in this category: Of teeth and Technology »

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