Weekend Rails

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6th January 2019


Welcome to 2019. Does it look any different?

Andrew declared he would be over for New Years day and Andy H opted to join us. A few weeks ago Andrew was drilling out the buffer beam of 1382 to clear a 2 inch vac pipe, using some large and expensive rotabroach bits. This is part of installing a train pipe for vac brake purposes and the bits, though bought through e-bay so not at full price, were by no means a nil-cost item. Many years ago we set about drilling the buffer beams on Claire for a 1 inch train (air) pipe and as we were about three-quarters of the way through the bit broke and part of it is still in Claire's rear 'beam. We took advice and discovered that we should have had a special arbor with a central drilling to allow coolant to feed through. Until recently that was as far as we'd got, but with the prospect of 1382 we had girded our loins and bought the neccessary arbor and reservoir. But drilling through a buffer beam, unless you have the ability to turn the loco on to its end, means drilling horizontally. Back at Thomas Hills, we had a massive machine for this. Its base was a 4w trolley, it had a central column and drilling took place on a pivoting arm with an electric motor at one end and the drive spindle to carry the bit at the other. Between the two a long flat belt whizzed to and fro within a protective mesh. The column had a lifting eye on the top and so it was normally put in to place straddling the track with one of the overhead cranes, and using conventional twist drills, chewed its way through each buffer beam in turn. (And le'ts not forget, buffer beams on industrial diesels are often quite thick - our 70ton 0-6-0 design at Hills had 8 inch beams, with 5 inch side frames and running plates.)

So thus armed Andrew had attacked 1382 and to his chargrin broke two of his precious bits, despite gravity feeding coolant in. We conclude that the next time we must consider a pressure feed lubrication. But on Tuesday he finished the job at the cab end, producing two useful cores of steel (which have been allocated as dollies for the 'press) and drilled and tapped holes around to carry a supporting flange, and here's the result.[

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Andy H meanwhile was pointed to the front casing section from Adolf. Hill's practice in the 70s was to make cab and casing sections that bolted to angles welded to the running plate. We deviated from that with the cab (by converting to flex mounting) and somewhat altered the fuel tank mountings, but the front casing section looked like going in as Hills intended, as some basic dimensional checks showed that the casing top would then line up with that short bit on the front of the cab, even if no longer bolted to it. So Andy made up two angles from stock, and then by means of bits of timber between Jack's engine and the adjacent turnover stand, propped the ends up while he drilled mounting holes at the appropriate spacing. After lunch we wandered out to show him the Hunslet 0-6-0 arrival and I casually mentioned that I was surprised that Andrew hadn't suggested that he might like to crack on with the shuttering. So Andrew did, and Andy duly spent the rest of the day putting up shuttering boards around our planned plinth.

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What was I doing? Well in between other trivia I was cabling up the instrument panel for RS8, now that my missing crimping tool was to hand. Here it is from the side you won't normally see, but what is this? Is there an instrument missing? Yes, the duplex air gauge has been giving me a headache. It became apparent, working on the back, that the bottom connections were perilously close to the speedo head underneath. I might have got away with it had the tacho head been there, but the two apertures are slightly different. Putting the air connection on - well, no, I couldn't and if I'd succeeded I would have never got a plastic pipe on to it. I tried a cast elbow but that wouldn't clear it either, so you see it there, nearly complete but needing either a special compact elbow or a rear entry gauge.

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This weekend has been a little strange in that Andrew wasn't around Saturday and although I had envisaged popping down for a while, I never got around to it. So it was Sunday only. Andrew had decided he would tackle the radiator end of 1382, but that this time he would put a pilot hole through and then open it up with oxy-acetylene, after all with a support plate it was scarcely important whether the hole behind was aesthetically challenged. But to get at it he needed to clear some space, so first task was to lift the casng front section for Adolf off the B4 bogie, bolt on Andy H's new mounting angles, and put it on the floor ready for the remedial work that it needs.

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For unfortunately it received 'modifications' by a certain firm of cowboys and that, together with some jack rusting, means there is a fair amount to do. Andrew suggested I 'might like' to continue with the shuttering: I decided I might like not to, (having already a long list of jobs to do - which were written on a piece of paper next to my computer at Briddon Country Pile but nevertheless I could remember a lot of them) but later on I did put the little pre-cast stands under the mesh that ensure the mesh is embodied in the concrete, not under it.

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Mid-afternoon there was a knock at the the door and a couple of p/way volunteers came in to pass the compliments of the year and scrounge a cup of tea (willingly offered). I was at that moment stripping down the delivery pipe from the water heater, which has been leaking slowly for several weeks and turning the sink a rusty brown colour. After they'd departed I reassembled it with a dowty seal but I'm not convinced it's much better. Back on RS8, there was nothing I could do but find another vintage duplex gauge with rear ports, so with Andrew's blessing I selected another, but this needed a couple of alterations (the fixing holes were smaller for a start) so I stripped it down to protect the glass and the mechanism, and altered the case before putting it back together and assembling it to the panel. The panel will return with me to Tunstead in the morning.

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With a 1 inch or thereabouts hole through 1382's front buffer beam, Andrew set up the oxy and started getting the hole opened up. It's not quite finished - the joint between the frame headstock and the bolt-on buffer beam causing some entertaining thermal effects - but that'll be for next time, no doubt.

And that about wraps it up for the first weekend in January, except perhaps to report on the on-going battle with spiders on the CCTV cameras. On New Years day as the light fell, the cameras switch from glorious technicolour to black and white. During daylight hours, any spiders web is invisible, save maybe when the resident spider goes for a tour of the estate. But as the camera contemplates changing from day to night mode, it switches over and promptly lights up the web and then tries to adjust against this bright foreground object. When this happens there's nothing for it but to remove said web with a duster mounted on a very long pole. Trouble is, the warmth of the camera not only attracts the spiders, but I suspect the spiders main food source as well, so they hurriedly try to re-build their web and restore their sustenance. I had to wipe one camera on Tuesday night, and again tonight. I think we may have to come up with a different strategy. Suggestions welcome.

So happy new year to you all. I'll be back next Sunday with the usual. See ya then?

More in this category: Of air cleaners and cylinders »

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