Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of wagons and D2128

18th September 2011

It has been a busy but sad week in the run-up to my father’s cremation at Bournemouth. We were surprised at how many came – the chapel was full to overflowing – and in the “wake” afterwards we learnt how many New Milton area residents were on his publicity circulation list. It seems that he had a group of avid readers of all Andrew’s press cuttings, and I was asked “you are the one who was on Scrapheap Challenge, aren’t you?” by people I’d never met before.

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DR wagon in foreground, 3 plank behind

The major rail event of the week though was the transfer of two wagons from Long Marston to Rowsley. One was Andrew’s, the other belongs to Dr Ben Riley, and avid collector of ex LMS (MR) rolling stock, owning approximately 3 carriages and 5 wagons. And “approximately” is about right when you see the pictures of the 3-plank open and gather that this is in better condition than one of the others! In fact, I learned, it came as a “job lot” – he acquired the ex LMS Ambulance carriage from the Stratford & Broadway group (whom I hear will gradually vacate ‘Marston for Midsomer Norton) and this came with it. Andrew organised the move of the Ambulance carriage some weeks ago – this has an obscure history. It was discovered in Hamburg circa. 1975 with a family living in it, but how it got there, even what LMS number it was, is a mystery. Repatriated in 1978, it was initially planned for a museum but eventually found itself at Long Marston as a guest of the Royal Engineers. When they left S&B took it on, but with no restoration work carried out and stored in the open, it was deteriorating. Ben is another young, talented and enthusiastic man who sees a challenge in projects that others have dismissed as too far gone – no wonder he and Andrew get on so well. But back to the real events of the week.

My first photo shows the two wagons on the loading pad at Long Marston. The one in the foreground is Andrew’s, and it too has a peculiar history. Indeed, a well-known Rolling Stock database lists this as “unknown wagon, circa 1943″. Built as tank wagon for the Deutsche Reichsbahn, it was to transport fuel to Peenemunde for Hitler’s V1 and V2 weapons programme. When the Allies over-ran the production facilities, they grabbed all the technology they could and Britain ended up with the tank wagons. Back in the UK the Army saw no benefit in the tanks, which were made of aluminium, and the wagons were converted into flat wagons. Gradually their numbers reduced and this is thought to be the last. I had already been instrumental in saving it once: its future was again in jeopardy and this time Andrew stepped in. Working out that the two could – just – be squeezed on to a single flat-back trailer, he engaged our old friends Spectrum Freight.

Spectrum run a number of units fitted with their own cranes, and sure enough our old friend Sam was waiting when I got to Long Marston. He had moved the ex-Darley Dale footbridge back to Rowsley from Butterley (another job Andrew sorted for Ben who has a finger in that area of Peak Rail too) but that was over a year ago, before this blog started on Railnuts.

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Loading the Deutsche Reichsbahn wagon

Loading the German flat was not a problem, confirming our supposition that the wagon weighed 6 tons, and then the unit repositioned to lift the 3-plank open. That Rolling Stock database lists this as a 3-plank, ex-Midland Railway, and who am I to argue, but I see nothing on it that specifies MR to me – I would have thought it a 3-plank private owner. The axleboxes, usually the best place to find the owning company’s initials, comprise three belonging to Harrison & Camm Ltd, a Rotherham-based wagon builder and repairer established in 1861 but limited only after 1896.

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That spring is going to need attention...

The last axlebox is a later Wagon Repairs Ltd replacement. As a timber framed wagon with no paint it is in shocking condition. S&B got it from MG Rover about 15 years ago and it hasn’t actually deteriorated much (more) in the interim. We hooked the lifting chains through hastily created holes in the floor in order to secure to the wheels – the only place you could be reasonably sure that it wouldn’t collapse when lifted.

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Go on, dare you to model this, standing in some remote corner of your layout!

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On the A6

Once aboard, Sam decided to sheet it down, on the basis that 50mph on the motorway might cause structural failure if exposed to slipstream! Eventually he arrived at Rowsley – 2 hours later than expected owing to a detour that the office had called on him to do – and we reversed the process. Off came the 3-planker, to be pushed out the way by “Charlie”, then the German flat was unloaded and the two were whisked away for temporary stabling.

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at Rowsley

TITRT - This IS the real thing!!

Sunday: Somewhat exhausted, Andrew and I decided that the weather was good enough to head over to Scunthorpe and continue work on D2128. It was the first time I had seen the engine and transmission in the loco, and Andrew was relieved that it was all still intact and welds holding! Although we could have done this earlier, there were many parts on the Cummins that were not required for D2128’s installation, but accessibility on the box van was limited. So off came the immersion heater, the Barber Colman throttle control, the old instrument panel and close-up fan drive arrangement. Back went the alternator (borrowed earlier)and on went the “safety links” (an emergency limiting arrangement should the front a/v mounts fail).

The panel progresses

Andrew spent some time in the cab, adjusting the brackets and trialling the upper instrument panel, now painted and partially populated, then set to to release all the bolts holding the casing side frame to the left hand side of the loco. We have always intended to take these off, but given the amount of rust between it and the running plate/cab, Andrew decreed that it must be cleaned up and painted and as I want to stay the top of the radiator from it, it cannot be postponed much longer. But some of the bolts are hiding behind the air receiver, so in the end that had to come off too. By now it was after 4 o’clock, the clouds were gathering and Andrew declared it time to pack up.

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