Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of time and screws

20th February 2011

The sudden return of the cold weather on Monday sent a chill through Andrew’s heart. We had, after all, added a considerable quantity of plain water to “Pluto” last Sunday when the cooling system appeared a touch low, so Antifreeze strength was not entirely predictable.

So Tuesday morning I agreed to run back over to Rowsley and drain the system entirely. “Pluto” and 14 901 were sat where we had left them, but the 37/31 combination that we had had to move out the way for had returned to their usual haunts, so I fired up 14 901 to put them back, and clear shed access. Glancing at the drawhooks as I walked by I saw a chain on “Pluto’s” hook, and having unwound the handbrake, set off with 14 901. When I got to the turnout I looked back to see if I’d cleared and oops! “Pluto” was unmoved. The chain I had seen on its hook was its own. After a bit of a giggle I headed back, buffered up, coupled and completed the re-position. Fortunately there was no-one around to see, and you won’t tell, will you?

Andrew and his girlfriend were away for the weekend, so again I had a Saturday free, but any plans I had had for working on anything in the collection were thwarted when I got a request to attend a loco repairer’s works urgently to identify a fault. By the time I got back it was too late to do anything, except plan for Sunday. Steph meanwhile had been utilising our front-room floor for varnishing and priming various pieces of wood for the 14’s cab interior window trims. A seemingly never-ending task, as, with such awkward shapes and no drawings, even using originals as templates appears not to work.

So Sunday, we went back to Rowsley, having loaded a pipe-vice in the back of the van (the one I managed to squeeze in the 407 on its way back from the Aln Valley) to be left in the VBA ready for Andrew to start cutting and threading once BSS have delivered a fresh length of pipe early next week. Steph and I set to work on the trims again, fitting those that she had varnished and pronounced fit. The windows on the 14 are aluminium framed, and the fitting procedure is that steel screws pass through said frames, then the cab sheet, and finally into wooden bars on the inside to which the plywood trims are then screwed. But we had already found that some of the screws had become all too fond of the cab sheet, bonded with it and sheared off on the inside in such a manner as to render their positions invisible. Nothing for it but to attempt to drill them out from the outside in, though getting a twist drill to start and stay in the middle of a slot-head screw whilst a balancing yourself 5ft above the the rails on a narrow walkway should be an Olympic event. In the end I succeeded in drilling out 3 along the bottom edge of a driving window, and screwing in a new wooden bar, and we continued surform and trimming other pieces to make them butt up properly.

“Revenge!” cried Steph. I had never seen her as a Michael Palin before (think “A Fish called Wanda”) but she had got the camera and seemingly nothing better to do, endeavoured to snap me in compromising positions while I did my utmost to progress in the name of railway preservation.

At least she got my best side…

But returning to the same window whereat I had had the pleasure of drilling broken screws out, as I came to mark up and trim a new piece for the bottom, the newly-fitted piece at the left wobbled and ‘came orf in me hand’. Only one screw can still be seen, and that mere shadow of its new self. so that’s half-a-dozen more to drill out next week. Oh bother. In two weeks time the Gwili are due up to inspect the darn thing preparatory to its visit there, starting around Easter, and the snag list of things we must do but haven’t yet doesn’t seem to be getting any shorter.

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The exhauster needs to go roundabout here

Finally I spent a little time on “Pluto”. While Andrew concentrates on installing pipework. it falls to me to design out the necessary bracketry to affix the DVLR’s free-issue exhauster. There are a limited number of places, and with no constraints on time one could come up with all sorts of solutions from hydrostatic drives to (Andrew’s first suggestion) a prop-shaft from front to back over the engine, but we agreed last week that the simplest is to drive it by forming a third point on the two belts that drive the fan. That though requires a bracket to hold it, and without coming outside the casing line does not offer much opportunity. After all, the Foden FD6 is an aluminium crankcase so cantilevering even modest loads some distance may be sufficient to overload such tapped holes that are available. At least it is a rotary (dmu) exhauster, not a 3 or 4 pot Westinghouse, like 14 901 or the Drewry. Here’s the ‘hole’ – hopefully in a few weeks you’ll see how it is filled.

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