Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of welding skills and broken drills

25th September 2011

You must excuse me, I’m a little pooped. An awful lot of miles this week down to the south coast and back, combined with loading personal possessions for the trip to what we all prefer to call “recycling” nowadays. Just what did my Father want with 4 electric shavers of the Phillishave type?

Apart from finding the Std 8mm cine he took in the 1960s – including the legendary “Tracks Across the Grass” starring me “visiting” the 7.25″ gauge lines of the Malden & District Society of Model Engineers – and acting about as woodenly as an office desk – we turned up large format slides of Bekonscot from the late 1950s and a few other bits of railway interest.

Andrew has enrolled on a course for MIG welding. His employers – a well-known train leasing company – agreed to him having the time off as they do not currently have a qualified welder on the payroll, so he now comes back early one day a week, snacks and disappears over to Worksop. It is already having an effect on his welding, as we discovered on the one day of work together, Sunday. You have seen over the last few weeks a large letter-box hole appear in Libby’s cab side, where plate that had been thinned to nothing from coal and damp needed replacing. The extension cables just reached where “Libby” is now parked, so today he set to work to fill the cab side with metal pieces that were cut ready a year or more ago…

That 'ole late last month

I set the cables up to start drilling holes under the Drewry. You will recall that although the handbrake shaft had been refitted, it had not got the collar at the bottom replaced. So I ran out a 240V cable from the nearest power point added a transformer and set up to drill a pilot hole through the new shaft with my “favourite” Makita drill. This came from e-bay a few years ago and every now and again it develops a fault. It seems to prefer being a hammer drill to an ordinary one, so much so that it goes “continuously” hammer in direct disregard of its switches. It is only a couple of months since it was last repaired, in fact this can only have been its 3rd or 4th usage, when I noticed a few puffs of smoke or steam in the air flow and hey-presto, it goes hammer all by itself. Fortunately we have a DeWalt in the VBA for emergencies. Andrew wandered over. I had not quite succeeded in drilling my pilot hole all the way through but had opened it up to 5mm so that there would not be too much resistance on the flimsy pilot, which seemed to be struggling with the last millimetre or so. “Let me have a go,” says Andrew, who wants my assistance back at Libby’s cab. Never one to refuse No.1 Son taking the load off his ageing Dad, I move aside, Andrew gets into position and ping! The pilot drill snaps. We move to Libby. Andrew has, at my suggestion, tacked a couple of strips to the new plate to hold it flush with the outside of the cab, but it really is a job needing three hands, one for the MIG torch, one for the welding mask and the third to hold the plate from rocking around or falling down. I perform the latter service and get splatter sparks down my neck, but it soon works and I leave him to weld the plate in properly.

Collar on, pinned and having collected some grease, it looks like its original.

With a new pilot drill I complete the handbrake shaft and split-pin it, then move into the cab to drill the 3rd hole for the forthcoming train brake control bracket we fitted a couple of weeks ago. I centre pop it carefully (remember the old adage – a hole in the right place is the hardest job in engineering). And proceed to drill. As it penetrates the skin on the far side, the drill snaps, and a closer look reveals that it is nowhere near where I popped it. Never mind, using the bracket as a jig I opened the hole out and put an old bolt through temporarily.

The filled hole.

Andrew meanwhile, has filled his hole, added an angle to stiffen it from behind (stitched) and dressed off the welds with a flap wheel. With red-oxide added it is hard to see the join, but he will nonetheless, body-filler it to give a smooth result before painting. He has also started on the grip-strips on the front steps – I did the back ones 5 or 6 years ago with stick weld, Andrew now does the fronts in MIG.

Couldn't quite do justice to the pyrotechnics as Andrew stitched the angle on the other side.

Regular readers may be wondering why there has been no mention of 14 901 lately. The truth is, it’s broke. We had no inkling of this until a report came through from Gwili that the engine had “moved” ripping a coolant hose in two. It seems that vibration had been increasing for a while but had gone unremarked. Gwili volunteers extracted the torsional coupling and it appeared that the new part fitted last year had broken circumferentially. It was tripped back to Bradford, to our friends at Centa whose MD is ex Holset and master-minded the work. Not only has he had a new, beefed-up rear part made, but he came to the conclusion that the old support bearing at the outer end had broken up first, causing the increased strain on the rear, so had a new bearing machined and fitted in a modern material (the originals were in Tufnol or summat of that ilk – but there are now more materials based around nylon nowadays than steel). All this was done at no charge and at a time when he  had been laid-low with a virus and had more important things awaiting his attention. The coupling is now winging its way back to Gwili and we may have to go down and re-commission. Never a dull moment.

More in this category: Of wagons and D2128 »

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