Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of vacuum and lost buses

19th June 2011

Sadly the cunning plan Andrew had hatched last week didn’t work. In fact, not only – when he rang up on Friday lunchtime – was he unable to secure the services of the required contractor, but the “boss” declared she was on holiday that day! He was not at all impressed with such customer service and we may be looking at an alternative solution.

Anyway, as he was over at Norwich Crown Point he didn’t rush home Friday night and instead I met him at 11.45 on Saturday morning, with time for a quick lunch and a blast over to Rowsley.

"Pluto” was still where we’d left it last week, and we continued with the various remaining bits of pipework, clamps, etc. But first I had a battery master switch to change, since the newly fitted one would no longer operate. Andrew also needed a space making in the running plate under where the batteries will reside in order to be able to tighten a crane coupling he had been compelled to locate there. Oxy-acetylene would have been the logical method of creating this hole – sorry access aperture – but for various reasons I opted to cut it out with a 4.5″ grinder – a noisy process giving a pyrotechnic display and numerous sharp pricks on exposed skin, not to mention black dust which turns up in nostrils, hair and up sleeves.

Late in the afternoon the distinctive sound of a 6-cylinder Rolls heralded “Charlie” back from Matlock for a re-load of rubble and gravel. We broke off to hear the news that the raised platform edge and coping stone project was now over 2/3 the way along, but, being higher, required vast quantities of infill which would be heading back down on Sunday morning. After reloading, “Charlie” and train was standing on the loop ready for departure as we headed home.

"Charlie" and works train ready for a prompt departure

Sunday and after a modest start we arrived outside Rowsley to near chaos. A procession of vintage vehicles – thirty or more and including all manner of cars, buses, and an army lorry or two – heading north from Darley, were turning into Harrison Lane (the short link road off the A6) down to the roundabout at the bottom and back up again. Somebody on a motorbike was directing traffic – though it seemed more like he was deliberately slowing it up. We couldn’t turn into Harrisom Lane for the procession was almost stationary and traffic trying to go straight up the A6 was being impeded by the guy on the bike. Eventually we forced our way through, and found car parking for the station had overflowed all the way up the entrance road. Rowsley yard was full of vintage buses – we knew nothing of this but learned later that an event planned for Chatsworth had been switched to Peak Rail at short notice – did the vintage vehicle procession know or were they merely scouring the area for lost buses? Back at “Pluto” we continued with a list of jobs too tedious to recount here and late in the afternoon Andrew borrowed a vacuum pump from the LMS Carraige Association to test the braking part of the new installation. He got to 6″ of vacuum when it became apparent that a vent hole in the vac/air proportional valve (that which he had recovered from D9500) was allowing air in as fast as the pump could suck it out. He stripped the valve, cleaned and reassembled it but it made no difference, but he did at least spot and cure a few other leaks along the way. A couple of times we broke off, hearing the familiar sound of the Rolls – but alas, somebody had brought a bus with a Rolls-Royce Eagle engine powering it.

So, it would seem that we must sort a working vac/air valve and that with that, it should all work, so next week we return to the suction side. We have, as yet, no oil separator for the exhauster and we have been exploring options from complicated fabrications to adapting oil bath air cleaners. But at least with the control side of the work finished I am reminded of a favourite bit of A A Milne poetry, which comes from “Now we are six” – and probably indicates something of my mental age.

Let it rain, who cares
I’ve a train upstairs
With a brake
Which I make
From string
Sort of thing
Which works
In jerks
Cause it stops in the spring
Which stops with the string
And the wheels all stick
So quick
That it feels like a thing that you make with a brake
Not string.

So that’s what I make when the day’s all wet
It’s a good sort of brake
But it hasn’t worked yet.

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