Elsewhere - www.andrewbriddonlocos.co.uk - you can see the "official" face of the locomotive collection my son has built up. Here on "Weekend Rails" you can read a blow-by-blow account of our work in restoring and improving them.
11th November 2012
There was frost in the grass as we made an early start across to the M1and then east to Scunthorpe. Andrew, still trying to get his body-clock straight after a few night shifts, was dozing in the passenger seat as I passed a plain flat-bed lorry. I was casually wondering what it was carrying in the red stillage on the back - some sort of engine? - a pump? Hang on, that's our powershift! I roused Andrew, who rang the driver. Yes, it was him. I pressed on, anxious to get in, unlocked and be as ready as possible before he arrived. At Tata's Gate D I drove up the barrier and waited. The ANPR did not recognise me and the light stayed red. Three guards were on duty and one came over.
30th December 2012
It may have been Christmas Eve but that didn't stifle Andrew's desire to get on with some loco work and we headed in to Rowsley. After some tasks for me, we moved over to "Tom", Andrew intending to cut off the remaining bolt holding the exhaust manifold and me to investigate where the feeds to my lights had gone. Andrew was out of luck though - having taken a lot of bits out of the van a few days previous, one thing that had not returned was the 110V transformer and there was no sign of one in the workshops. Slightly disgruntled he went to the VBA to do a bit of sorting while I was left alone in the cab.
14th October 2012
First thing on Monday morning we were back at Rowsley, and after a quick bit of a shunt the casings were coming off the Sentinel and by eleven o'clock the power unit was out and the converter was being swung into the back of the van.
28th October 2012
An astute reader, referring to my expectation to have "Tom" back running by the end of this weekend, questioned whether that was a wise plan given that this weekend is the last of the month. For any new readers we find things "happen" on that weekend and all too often to our detriment. Aforesaid astute reader was probably right.
9th December 2012
It has been a peculiar sort of a week. Back at the beginning, Andrew received news that the IMechE had awarded him his Incorporated Engineer status - that's roughly half way between his degree and becoming a full blown Chartered Engineer. He can now put IEng behind his name. I've had a man in to widen all the doors at the Briddon Country Pile.
2nd December 2012
Lummy, hardly into December and immediately the temperature plummets. It's back to two sweaters to keep my ageing, decrepit frame warm, and the woolly hat to stop the few remaining brain cells from going hypothermic.
21st October 2012
I am writing this instalment from my (old) desk in the (new) office at the Briddon Country Pile. Yes, Openreach's engineer rang me at 08.15 on Friday ("I can't find your house") and by 08.50 the line was connected. Plusnet had promised that the broadband would be on in a few hours, and sure enough it was before the end of the day. Thus the move was on, and Steph and I are now relocated. Andrew, meanwhile, had nominated Saturday to go collect a van full of bits and Sunday has seen him successfully playing trains - er conducting essential trials at a SW Trains depot, located, surprisingly, somewhere south and west(ish).
25th November 2012
This will be a short blog tonight, reflecting the fact that other events have intervened.
On the one hand, Andrew has a considerable amount of annual leave still outstanding, so, in his plans, we will be able to speed up work on the locos between now and Christmas. As part of this, he had last Tuesday free and we ended up at Rowsley after lunch with grand ideas of getting on "Tom" and sorting out its pneumatics with fresh pipework.
23rd December 2012
Sometimes what we are planning is affected by the weather forecast. It is not just a case of "if it snows, stay at home" but if it is expected to rain, we try to aim our efforts at a location where we can enjoy some cover.. With rain like we have been having of late (just you watch, there'll be a hosepipe ban next summer) that has become even more important.
7th October 2012
Back when I was about 20, I was invited to an Open Day at a private railway not far from Southampton, then under the general auspices of the Hampshire Narrow Gauge Railway Society. They had started building a small circuit on land belonging to their Chairman, Barry Curl, in 1967 and I was there the day the finished ballasting the far side of the line and were able to do the full circuit for the first time, with ex Dinorwic 0-4-0ST "Cloister" as well as a selection of Simplexes and one of two O&K RL3 0-4-0DMs.
4th November 2012
It has been a relatively uneventful week here at the Briddon Country Pile. Unlike the continual cacophony of fireworks being let off by the local underprivileged and underfunded youth of Sheffield, the nights have remained quiet and civilised. I did however have the amusement of being rung up by a customer who tried to congratulate me, or maybe Andrew, on our "lottery win", which a third party (who had better remain nameless) had told him about. Neither Andrew nor I play the lottery.
16th December 2012
Andrew had the day off on Tuesday and planned a day at Rowsley, but before he did I hit the road to our favourite pump man to deliver "Pluto's" pump for investigation before returning to Briddon Country Pile. But Andrew had to go it alone - on Monday I managed to break a tooth ["A Mars a day helps you work, rest and wotwozat?"] so I was back off to the Dentist's with half of said tooth in a placcy bag. Sadly the tooth fairy doesn't pay out on half measures.
18th November 2012
I threw in the last two lines of last week's blog just as a way of rounding it off, but I should have known better. First thing Monday morning Andrew learned that, owing to administrative screw-up, there was in fact no vehicle heading to Hollycombe to collect "Jack" despite several prior assurances. To cut a long story short, a vehicle finally rolled in on Wednesday afternoon and despite awkward access, darkness and other such impediments, "Jack" was loaded and on its way before the end of the day.