Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of work in tandem

1st May 2016

Sunday again. Is it just me or has someone pinched a day or so this week? I could have sworn it wasn't seven days since I was last thinking what to say.

I have spent quite a lot of time this week in the shed and Andrew has too for an evening or so. For example on Monday I was on a call-out for a customer in South Wales. Now I am not keen on travelling on Mondays, not sufficiently anti- to attack anyone (though as you'll see I probably had provocation) but Monday morning traffic southbound, and Friday afternoon traffic northbound is significantly greater and I try to avoid them. But 'urgent' was the watchword and so dutifully I set off and joined the throng of slow moving vehicles on the M1, the M42, the M5 and eventually, the relatively clear M50. As I passed Monmouth, I got a call from site to say that they think they might have cured the fault, but weren't sure. I kept going, and just after Newport on the M4 rang them and they confirmed that the problem was probably now sorted. As U turns on a motorway tend to be rather frowned on (and those new concrete barriers are harder to do wheelies over than the old steel barriers) I went to the next junction and retraced my steps, getting home mid-afternoon and getting down the shed after a much-deserved cup of tea.

Up on Cheedale's roof is one of those old flashing beacons – the type with the quartz-halogen bulb that sits stationary in the middle while a little motor spins a reflector around it like a teeny-weeny radar dish. I've never been too keen on them. I had a chat with one of the manufacturers twenty years ago after one of the ones we had on a loco developed a line of 'melt' in the amber plastic lens in a line all around. The manufacturer's technical guy explained that when originally conceived, they were intended to be fitted to vehicles but only switched on for relatively short periods, e.g. when a tipper lorry came onto site to unload, but had soon become obligatory that they stayed on continuously. The QH bulbs however, gave off a lot of heat (I've been assured that if you work too close to a QH headlamp for long periods you get a sun-tan from it, but I haven't tried it myself) so the air temp within the lens would rise and eventually the actual line of light from the bulb caused the plastic to reach melting point. Thereafter I started fitting Xenon type flashing beacons to locos, and although they give a steady flash with much lower power consumption and higher reliability, a Site Safety officer once complained that they were not as effective as the human eye catches movement ( a biological hang-over from movement equals quarry or predator) which the rotating type gives but the Xenons don't. Anyway, Cheedale's wasn't giving either so I decided to remove it and substitute a Xenon one, but getting it off was a different matter. It had a protective cage over it which was held by three capheads, and was mounted on a plate secured by four more.

It should have been a straightforward matter of inserting an Allen key and unwinding, but no, the combination of unplated screws and a quarter century in a quarry environment (the loco is older but I don't think this is Thomas Hill's work) put them beyond redemption and I was forced to cut them off. Down in the cab the new hour counter was finally inserted and cabled up, though being me I didn't like all the bared cable ends clamped under a brass plate on the end of the circuit breaker and proceeded to fit them with ring crimps to the clamp bolt.

At the end of the shed, above the strip light, I decided to make a start on installing the traywork for the electrical installation, and the first two pieces are now up with a third, which will mean the tray between the two end columns of the building will be complete, is now loosely in place but somehow getting the holes in the right place to hold the tray to the second column with the beam clamps is proving elusive. Two attempts so far and I haven't got it right. Still, there's plenty of other holes in the tray so no-one should notice.

Peak Rail were as usual operating trains on Tuesday and Wednesday, though on the latter day I was out collecting bits from a couple of my suppliers to the north. Thursday though was a non-operating day, and one of those days that deliveries of rail vehicles into Rowsley can be made as the buffer stop can only be removed when passenger trains are not operating. Wednesday evening we were surprised to be hailed by two guys from Allelys in their Escort van. It transpired that they were at Rowsley gates as also was another haulier, and between them they had a Castle class loco (well most of one) and a track machine, but as usual the gates were locked. Despite the fact that we seldom visit Rowsley nowadays, we recalled the gate numbers so that they could get onto site and park up for the night.

Thus when I heard an engine noise mid-morning on Thursday I automatically assumed it was something in the DCC Highways yard next to the shed, but after a minute or so realised it was coming from the railway side so wandered out to see a track machine trundling by at a little above walking pace pursued by the Peak Rail works train which was being propelled, with track machine in sight, by the class 31. In olden days, you will recall, such trains were operated by one or other of Andrew's locos, but since we removed all of Andrew's locos from Rowsley a year ago, in compliance with the demands made by Peak Rail's solicitors, we have received no requests to provide them with such a loco, although one remains available as per the conditions of the Agreement.

On Friday I was headed back to Sheffield, to collect various bits from suppliers including circlips for the wiper motors on Cheedale and fresh hoses for the pressure-pot. For the decision had been made to get Cheedale repainted, although first it must be patch-primed, and if we are to paint it in reasonable time, pressure-pot spraying, where you put the paint tin into a pressure vessel and pump it to your spray gun under air pressure without the use of thinners, has a considerable advantage. We've had the gear for this – from e-bay naturally- sat in the garage for years, indeed, I think it came across from Briddon Towers in the removal.

Talking of e-bay, in addition to the 50W LED floods, Andrew also picked up a batch of 100W floods, which now gives us all the planned lights required. Each 6metre bay should have one 50W and one 100W floodlight, over the centre and up each side, i.e. potentially 450W each bay, but switched so that we can turn on the lights to provide as much, or as little light over each area as we may require, given that there's only normally two of us working in the shed which is roughly 24m x 14m.

Anyway, back to Friday. In the afternoon Andrew had completed his hours so joined me and shortly after wandered up the yard with Dom B to unlock the point clamp on the yard exit turnout so that Dom could carry out periodic maintenance. It was reported back that some work needs doing (one turnout blade is failing to close to the stock rail and is sitting high and requires grinding). Naturally, as Dom enjoyed a cup of our tea, we were happy to offer him loan of one of our generators and grinder if it was convenient for him when he came to do the work.

We had been surprised to hear the Peak Rail loco E1 come down the line past Darley early in the afternoon but was therefore better prepared when it returned with the works train. E1, whilever we have known it, has only worked in one gear, and that was if memory serves first, making it rather slow. We did, years ago, spend some time on it with Rob, discovering in the process that the suction filter for the oil pump was totally gummed up, which explained why the pressure gauge never left zero (we were told it never had since it arrived) and why it wouldn't change up to second, but as it leaked so much oil it really wanted the gearbox out to be fixed properly and we really didn't have the time with all the locos Andrew then owned. So E1 was confined to slow, short shunts in Rowsley and to see it this far south was worth recording, though we didn't know why. So here is a video of E1 arriving back at Darley and believe me, at the beginning it is going flat out; it only slows up when (out of picture) they are getting close to the crossing gates. In the background you can just see the track machine, and whereas on Thursday the class 31 was having to slow for the TM, this time the boot is metaphorically on the other foot and the TM is having to slow so as not to overhaul the works train!

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Having got the circlips (second attempt) I attempted to fit them to the wiper motors. Being only 6mm internal groove diameter, these are b***y small and none of our circlip pliers (of which I think we can rustle up 6 or 7 pairs) would go down that far. In the end, it took two of us to fit one circlip to each motor, but the tally was, if I recall, 2 fitted, plus 2 broken, three bent out of recognition and 6 launched into orbit. The motors are now on the doors (I think I shall fit a notice saying 'These are NOT door handles' – where Hills put them they are too obvious to grab on to) and just await new arms and blades.

We were back again during the evening and Terry joined us for a bit of TLC on the fork lift. Both the hand and foot brakes had been becoming less and less effective over the last few months, and we were worried that maybe a wheel cylinder was weeping on the footbrake. Terry speedily investigated and diagnosed a build-up of concrete dust in the drums, preventing the brake linings from biting properly, and that the handbrake was merely out of adjustment. This dust issue is beginning to annoy me and we must get around to sealing the floor and painting it before too much longer, but it is difficult to prioritise when there are locos wanting to be got out, electrics to progress, drainage out front, etc., etc.

On Saturday I headed in to Matlock while Andrew set off for Derby to collect paint and sundries for Cheedale. When we got down to the shed, it was to see that the Peak Rail train had been reduced to 4 coaches and was being operated by Lord Phil solo, and we gathered from the Darley Dale blockman that the class 31 was out of action with an engine defect, which explained the deployment of E1. Indeed, Dave H, the blockman, popped over a couple of times during the day, firstly to drop off a copy of the new newsletter he is producing for the 'outdoor' engineering on Peak Rail (primarily S&T), and later with his camera to record some of the bits we have made or are making, for the PR S&T department (at no charge) for his next edition.

On my Friday excursion I had stopped off at Paul W's house and left him with a pair of M10 bolts into which he had kindly bored a 6mm hole and met me again at Baslow that night. Thus Andrew's first task was to make two pieces to replace the fractured nylon ones on Cheedale's right hand roller, although the shutter itself is not quite ready to refit.

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Incidentally Andrew was receiving regular updates from Scunthorpe, including pictures on his phone, from Toby K who was gleefully using 03 901 for shunting. I had produced a driver's manual for the loco during the week, but we hadn't had time to get it all wrapped up and e-mailed over.

Patch priming of Cheedale had been in progress, as had filling the last holes in the right hand side of the cab bulkhead where once an Eberspracher or Webasto heater had been fitted to keep the driver warm in the Tunstead micro-climate. Although this heater was still fitted when first we inspected the loco, it had been half-inched before we got to collect it and even the feed pipe (it ran on fuel) left open so that when we came to turn the fuel on, it proceeded to leak onto the ground. Trouble is, they are very effective heaters for canal boats and caravans – Andrew was even involved in fitting them on dmus of Porterbrook's – so cheap or 'free' ones are sought-after.

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We were also keen to see 14 901 return to operation and in the morning I had made a start on a battery tray to go in the 14's box. For the last 6 years, the batteries have sat in their box with little to stop them sliding around, and on one occasion at Gwili they managed to disconnect themselves on a bad rail joint, but having geared the alternator to run at relatively high revs, the loco happily functioned until a station stop when it mysteriously died! But the battery box bottom has succumbed to tin-worm, so I set too to make a tray in wood that could support the batteries, place their weight on the stronger angles at each side, and stop the batteries from going walk-about. All of this from material to be found in and around the shed (Scrapheap Challenge, wherefore art thou?) including offcuts of 03 floorboards. Even the screws had been used once in concrete shuttering.

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With Andrew back from Derby and after lunch, we returned to the shed and got the batteries installed, and I put the power on and checked that everything powered up like it should after the wiring changes made up front. The oil pressure switch had its wires inverted but otherwise all seemed in order. Andrew having got as far as he could on Cheedale for the day, went out and added a few new steel keys to replace some of the original Peak Rail wooden keys, which, though sort of there when the track was handed over 14 months ago, were sufficiently rotten that they had disintegrated since. While he was out there, three enthusiasts came up the path and photographed the locos, but although they said 'hullo' to him, went off without asking anything. He came back afterwards and started investigating the 14's Voith drain connection, as a full oil change is due, but in the event this was left for Sunday.

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Somehow, Sunday morning didn't happen. I had a slight migraine, Andrew slept on and so it was only in the early afternoon we made it down to the shed. I had brought with me an empty milk bottle, y'know the modern day 4 litre plastic type, with which to fill the fuel header tank on 14 901. As you will recall, the header tank was replaced during the last 12 months to one which is mounted to the casing top, has a level switch (which the computer doesn't know about yet) and a level sight gauge to get around the problems with the previous one – vintage me 2009 – which occasionally ran dry without warning. But whereas the old one was sufficiently clear of the casing top to get its top plate off and add fuel directly, this one was rather closer, although I had had the presence of mind to put a breather in the middle on a ¼ BSP tapping in the top. I had assumed that I could remove said breather, insert a 6mm plastic pipe and fill it thus from outside the loco, but I had underestimated how darn near impossible it would be to pour fuel down into this pipe, under the side of the casing roof, up inside and down into the tank. It looked like I'd spill more than I'd fill. Reluctantly I took a 50mm hole cutter and added a further hole in the roof, and filled it directly from above with a funnel, adding some 12 litres of so of diesel, enough to run the engine while it pumps fuel up normally. Later I found some profiles that suited making a flap to obscure said hole: just need an M8 wing nut to finish it off.

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The priming pump having been reconnected, Andrew couldn't resist giving the oil system a prime and as I had turned the batteries on, the run solenoid pulled in correctly and the oil pressure gauge in the cab moved up, so all was ready for a start, save the lack of coolant and change of oil(s). But first Cheedale was dragged out by James and given a pressure wash, to get rid of as much Tunstead as possible, plus the verdigris from standing under the trees at Rowsley. Particular attention was paid to the rad elements, having taken the grille off for painting yellow.

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The Voith contains something of the order of 63 gallons, but it was low at the end of Peak Rail operation and we had lost some when changing the cooler from whence it had been leaking. So we set up an empty 45 gallon drum and using a combination of spare hoses, attempted to drain it directly. Had we done so, it would still be dripping now at a rate of about 1 gallon per hour. So a flurry of hunting located a spare hose that we had made for Coronation but then replaced again with something else (so Andrew told me, I really didn't recall) but of a much bigger diameter than the Mk1 version, and together with a ¾ tap and a couple of 5 gallon drums, I was left filling one drum after another and transferring the small drum into the big drum while the other was filling. Thus one 45 gallon drum is now full to the very brim (actually not a a bright idea, as even oil expands when it gets warm) and two smaller drums are close behind and it was still draining steadily when we broke off this evening.

Andrew moved Cheedale back in with James and then transferred the hose to the 14's filling point (which I had set up earlier with air vent open and fill vent valve set for filling), and set about adding plain water first to see where any leaks might be. And sure enough there was a big one – he had forgotten to put a plug in one pipe on the engine. Never mind, the ornamental pool had been drying nicely.

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