Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of wheels wanderers and scribble

24th June 2018

Gosh it's hot. Anyone would think it's summer., Oh, it is. Well that sneaked up behind me without me noticing.

So on Monday I set about re-designing the trailer brackets again. Our discussions about my Mk2 version while driving to and from North Wales on Sunday had shown me that a Mk2a was called for, and all this PDQ so that the profiles could be ordered. In addition I remembered that I planned a special spanner to access the drawhook nuts on RS8. By early afternoon it was all done, and I reckoned if I entered the finished result for the Turner Prize I might have chance there too My regular contact at the profilers was away, so someone else came back with a query over some other profiles I was enquring after, and I thought all was well.

Tuesday I set off with the two springs from RS8 that require a bit of attention, and for which I judged we did not have the time.

On Friday I was looking in my diary and found a cryptic note for Saturday 'possible xxxx visit'. Trouble was my writing has deteriorated over the years and if I am scribbling fast, it ends up looking like shorthand, but undecipherable. I was still pondering what it might mean when I reached the profilers, to discover that the order I had placed last week (to make up rear engine mounts for RS8) was ready but last Monday's rush-rush effort was not. My regular contact was back and it appears that the person who had come back to me about the enquiry part of my e-mail (and still hadn't quoted me) had done naff-all about the order part, and the CAD file was un-openable to boot. Given that I had said on the e-mail that I would be picking the whole lot up that day it seemed rather a poor show, and said so. As soon as I drove back, I re-sent the CAD file and this time they could open it, so they'll be ready in the latter half of next week. Fortunately, for the moment, they aren't required, as enquiries on Wednesday had revealed that the 'train plan' for this week and the crane company's prior bookings were incompatible, so the sleeping beauty wagons must stay there a bit longer, and the loco that is resident on Andrew's trailer does not yet need to vacate.

So on Saturday morning I wandered down to the shed for my usual 09.30 start time and found both Toby and Charles already hard at it, having signed in at 06.15. The Yorkshire 0-6-0DE, 1382, had already received its pull rods and brake blocks to augment the hangers and crossbeams fitted last time, and after Stephen and Will had arrived, a concerted effort saw the side rods lifted up and fitted too.

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I had tactfully to explain that the large brass washers went outside the side rods, i.e. between the rod bush and the retaining nut, rather than bush and wheel (since the top-hatted bushes have the 'brim' for the purpose of taking the thrust loads)  and with that the nuts were fitted and secured and instantly Charles got started priming and later painting them.

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Both Andrews arrived almost together, (but let it be said from different directions) and soon I was roped in to rolling the Wickham wheelsets out the way and loading the frame of the Wickham trolley onto the smaller trolley that uses Wickham wheelsets but was probably built at Buxton MPD, and then lifting the wheelsets up on top, so the concoction now has Wickham axles top and bottom. (Come on, DO keep up).

The purpose was to start dismantling the wheelsets to their component parts (we know that at least one wheel bearing is kaput, so plan to change them all) but just about then my phone rang. I didn't recognise the number, but the caller reminded me who he was and that they had a visit arranged. Now I knew what the undecipherable was. About 8 enthusiasts duly tramped in and around the site. Feeling guilty for having forgotten I even fired Charlie up for a run up and down. After they had departed I stayed talking to the organiser at the entrance gate, Steph had meanwhile arrived with the lunches and having consumed, Andrew had taken advantage of Charlie's readiness, they had brought the VBA over and unloaded an exhauster which I have found myself agreeing to sell to the IDRPG for 1382. They proceeded frantically to spin it over on the ground to see if it worked - as a rotary its efficiency is somewhat impaired without oil, but nevertheless it sucked at one port and blew at the other, so apart from trying to convince me that it didn't work right 'cos it was acting as a compressor (yeah, right, it's worth a lot more 'cos that's an expressor!) they spent some time measuring up to work out how to fit it. Andy H meanwhile started refitting the windows and apart from raiding my bottle of washing up liquid from by the sink, declared that whatever it cost, the proper tool for doing these rubber mounted windows must be worth it. (He hadn't got one).

Meanwhile back at the Wickham combo, we started trying to remove the wheels from the hubs preparatory to extracting hubs from axles, but had to resort to the gas-axe.

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One of the profiles that had been collected on Friday was the front mount (frame bit) for Adolf. Progress on Adolf has been minimal the last few weeks and needs to get a move on if we are to achieve the goal. The next major task is sandblasting all the 'new' (that is, ex-Thomas Hill 0-6-0) bodywork and the running plate of the chassis. (Andrew has decided on this, citing the corrosion that has occurred where water has found its way under the Hunslet treadplating). So in the background I have been progressing a few bits, such as the front mounts - the rear mounts are drawn too but not yet gone out for profiling as the front mount requires machining so a trial mount of the engine isn't anytime soon).

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This new part too requires a big 'ole drilling in it before the two side bearers for the a/v sandwiches go on, and I'll probably add a couple of triangular gussets to stiffen the whole thing to the loco running plate, The profiles had also included some parts to enable the gearbox forward/reverse detection to be changed from the original Hunslet limit switches to sensors, by adding a 'target' to the cross shaft where it emerges out the gearbox casing on the left hand side. Originally Hunslet put one of the (in?)famous latches there. I've removed this and used much the same design as when I re-built the first of these locos for Ford Belgium back in 2000-1, just altered slightly to enable 'in-house' manufacture. More of that, perhaps, as we go along.

As the IDRPG contingent began to head for home, two more visitors asked for a look round, though I had the distinct feeling that only the ex BR locos and stock were of any interest (or recognition). I did my coureous tour guide act anyway. Andrew and I then started on the rear engine mounts for RS8. When RS8 was converted, back in 1959, they used the same Metalastik mounting system that Rolls used and in all probability it was recommended by Shrewsbury. It has been used on Sentinel, Thomas Hills, Hunslet and Barclay locos with R-R engines and probably more besides, but it was a unique design to Metalstik, and to be honest, sixty years on, not a particularly good one. The engine is held in suspension, and must have a bump-stop to protect against the engine mounts getting 'tired' or simply over-travelling. But Metalastik got bought out by Trelleborg, and for a while you could have these specially made (they were left and right handed, and came in different sizes for C6 or C8) and required some quite expensive fabrications to hold them. (Funny story time - on the early Sentinel locos, Rolls had a pattern made and cast them.Then there were a few instances of Sentinels having 'bumps' at Lackenby (for bump you may interpret 'heavy shunt' or 'minor collision' to your preference) and if the loco was travelling forwards at the time, the castings snapped and the engines carried on moving as the loco decelerated rapidly. It resulted in a good spares business in replacement radiators but Rolls changed to fabricated mounts to make them stronger!).

Back in the mid 90s when I had two remanufactured 0-6-0DHs to build for Sheerness steel, I was faced with either adopting a 'proven' design with a very obsolete mount or starting again, and with the innocence of ignorance developed a new mounting system which I went on to fit on a number of locos as required - around us 03 901, Charlie, Tom and Libby have variations on the theme, and a set await time for Cheedale's to be renewed. RS8's too are too far gone so a new set are required, with the added complication that the clutch cylinder drives off the engine side of the assembly, which has required a good few hours to sort out. Phase 1 is to get the frame side of the concoction up and fitted,and here they are, sat in the back of the van ready to go to Tunstead in the morning, and there's another part of Adolf's front mount sat on their left, in case I can get Sigma6 to machine it.

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(If they don't apear to make much sense, hopefully you'll get a better idea next week).

Dr Ben Riley joined us at the Briddon Country Pile last night, and introduced a topic of the 'Stanton coach'. This was a 3ft gauge carriage built by Kerr Stuart and found as a store at a stone quarry in Stanton-by-Dale, just a few miles away. It was bought by the Talyllyn, but was too wide in body width as well as gauge, and too high to clear the bridges. Add a low-density seating arrangement and corroded solebars and the TR scrapped it, using parts to build a new longer carriage with more seats. Now, I rather liked the original, and built a 16mm model that was true to side elevation and adjusted for a '2ft gauge' equivalent. Dr Ben asked me where I had modelled it from and I spent half an hour in the loft going through old magazines until I found the original article, drawings and photos, plus the follow-up letter in a later issue that corrected quite a few details. He tells me that the original bogies are now going to Apedale for a possible replica build.

First thing this morning he and Andrew dashed off to the Quorn swapmeet. Andrew returned with a good 'Yorkshire Grey' badge to use as a pattern for some replicas to go on the locos, and some other bits, while Ben squeezed a porters trolley into the car, though to be fair this was pre-arranged, not an impulse purchase. They returned in time for lunch, and none of us seemed overly enthusiastic to get back to 'real work'. (Too hot) In the end I spent an hour or so getting stuff ready for Tunstead and Andrew popped in to unload some lifting chains and sundries.

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News came in on the subject of Peak Rail this week, and as I know many readers come by just to see the latest instalment in the long-running saga, I don't wish to disappoint. A couple of weeks ago, let me remind you, I reported on the 2017 accounts that Peak Rail plc published, which admitted a loss of over £111,000, (which is over and above the £100,000+ handed over to Grinsty last September as part of what is called a Part 36 settlement. Or put it another way, the real loss, had not an 'anonymous donor' stepped in, would have produced a Profit & Loss deficit approaching a quarter of a million).

But the Part 36 was a settlement figure as at February 2017, plus costs. The costs, I am led to understand, as at September last year (when the £130k payment was made) were £22,500, and it is difficult to see whether provision was made for this in the accounts. Instead of paying, however, Peak Rail management attempted to dispute the costs, offering considerably less. Where two parties cannot agree on costs, there is a legal procedure called a Costs Assessment Hearing, and Peak Rail apparently decided to go for this. We understand that a hearing date was set for somewhere about June 25th This was a risky policy - legal souces say that, especially in the case of a Part 36 (which is in effect a capitulation and admission that your case isn't strong enough to risk going to Court for a full hearing) the Courts tend to regard this as a waste of their time and unless one side has submitted something ludicrous the result seldom saves anything. Given the size of solicitors practice Grinsty employ it is unlikely that they would have put in anything that wouldn't have stood up to Court scrutiny, so we were expecting that we might hear the results of the Costs Assessment Hearing just before the plc's AGM next Thursday. Not so, for news came through that Peal Rail's solicitors have apparently conceeded defeat and PR has undertaken to pay Grinsty's Part 36 costs within 14 days. But it is no longer £22,500. Thanks to interest, and the additional costs accrued arguing about the costs themselves perhaps, it now amounts to £29,500. Now remember that Peak Rail agreed in March to pay the costs Grinsty incurred mounting an injunction application from last June (when PR foolishly attempted to coerce Grinsty into terminating legal action). We had heard hints of how much this March agreement amounted to - and it was well into 5 figures, and probably accruing interest ever since, because it still hasn't been paid. But it's in a  different category.- the £29,500 is an undertaking made to the Courts - failure to pay up on time is a much more serious matter. Perhaps the anonymous donor is already checking his piggy bank, or another Director drawing down his pension pot to keep the Company trading,

Before last year's AGM the Auditors 'Notes to the Financial,Statements' did not go out with the accounts booklet to shareholders and no copies were handed out at the AGM. The Board refused to entertain any discussion on the Grinsty case other than that they had a 'robust defence' - which after 3 months was abandoned in taking up the Part 36 offer. The 'Notes to the Financial Statements' were duly filed at Companies House and revealed that one note gave details of the Grinsty case which might have raised serious concerns with the shareholders had they known. This year the Auditors report to Shareholders is missing. It will be interesting to see a copy at the AGM, since this year's 'Notes to the Financial Statements' includes a diatribe about accounting policies which I do not recall seeing before, and is certainly more stark than last year's (once you got to see them!). It reads 'The directors have prepared the financial statements on the going concern basis which assumes that the company will continue to trade for the foreseeable future. The validity of the assumption is based on the directors' assessment of future cash forecasts and revenue projections. If the company was unable to trade, adjustments would have to be made to reduce the value of the assets to their recoverable amount...' Yikes! Heavy stuff. Repeatedly placing the onus on the directors and warning not to expect the full asset value on the books if things went belly-up. Last year it talked generally about 'The preparation of financial statements requires management to make judgements, estimates and assumptions...'. and ' The judgements.... ...that management has made in the process of applying the entity's accounting policies...' I'll leave you to judge whether this is simply the words of a different Auditor, or whether there is a more ominous underlying message (- but see the postscript below).

Anyway, one of my visitors on Saturday admitted that he was a regular reader and had still not bought a copy of my novel 'despite all the plugs you're giving it'. Look, if I don't plug it nobody else will, but woe betide anyone else admitting to not having bought one before touring the Darley Dale yard. I may make production of a copy for autographing a condition for entry. Hmm, Not a bad idea really.

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Postscript

I returned from Tunstead on Monday to find a response from Peak Rail's Auditors to an e-mail I had sent them last week. From this, in summary, I have gathered that a change in the law came into effect during the last 12 months. Peak Rail plc publishes abbreviated accounts as per a resolution from 2012. The 'new-style' Auditors Report runs to 3 pages and only now appears with the full statutory accounts which the auditors say will be available for examination at the AGM - abbreviated accounts no longer need to be accompanied by an Auditor's report. It was also revealed that the full accounts come with 23 notes rather than the 8 that accompany the abbreviated accounts. Also excluded is the statutory cash flow report (and associated notes) but the detailed income statement is not part of the full statutory accounts. The selection of information is dictated by what is felt will be of interest to shareholders attending the AGM.(who makes that decision is unclear). It indicated that nothing untoward was found during the audit, other than what would be expected of a company returning a loss for the year and having current liabilties on the balance sheet.

More in this category: « Of a Father's Day trip out

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