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.
E-bay has been a recurring topic for the week. As you know, we keep pour eyes peeled (well Andrew does) for bits-n-bobs, tools and the like, which will be of use at prices we can afford. Sometimes they have gone through without hiccup, others have been thwarted by people who refuse to honour the price the auction closes at. I have had the seller who simply refuses to answer e-mails or calls (and whose item, a 7.25” gauge loco, promptly turns up listed again by someone else) or the one who declared that “it had been stolen the previous day” (and yes, that too was re-listed a few days later by someone who was “doing it for a friend”). This week a new seller (rating 0) who had listed some material at a starting bid of £0.99, when no-one else bid, told Andrew that there was £2000-worth and he wasn't selling at £0.99, ring him and we could strike a deal. Now, I was under the impression that if an auction was completed then a contract existed, but all the so-called FAQs and help pages are strangely quiet on that. We haven't rung the guy, but we will probably give him a negative rating.
So, first thing Monday morning I started ringing around bearing suppliers in Derby and Sheffield, getting a range of prices and availabilities on the needle roller bearings we needed to restore our forklift to action. But the fifth supplier not only had two in stock, but gave the best price too, so I abandoned the search and set off for Sheffield.
It has always been a British tradition not just to talk about “the weather” (“Britain has no climate, only Weather. Discuss” was an exam question that my old geography master used to trot out about once a week) but to mock the efforts of those whose job it is to forecast it. Meteorology (which surely ought to be the study of meteors, not weather) in the UK probably reached its nadir when Mr Fish declared that there would be no hurricane, but over the last few years I have come to the conclusion that they doing it pretty well.
As regular readers will know, the weekly title for this blog – other than it always begins with “Of ..” is often a complete blank right up until I finish the closing paragraph. This week however, the title became obvious by Friday night, and I will leave you to decide which of us resembles Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel.
I picked the title this week and wondered whether to start off with a “hell fire and brimstone” sermon. You know the sort of thing, you can find it on obscure satellite and cable channels, with some smartly-suited guy sat behind a desk, pronouncing how Man has lost his way and only by following the word of the Lord (or his interpretation of it) in the 'good book' (pick title of yours or his choices) can we redeem ourselves and gain ever-lasting salvation. (And there's a thought, we all know what is meant by the “good book”, but what would we understand to be meant by a “bad book”?) But then sermons aren't really my style. Meandering reminiscences, technical dissertations, maybe, but sermonising on Weekend Rails? Hardly.
My apologies to those of you who logged in last night looking for this – sometimes on Bank Holiday weekends I maintain the rhythm and post on Sundays, at other times I may be too tired and postpone until after the Bank Holiday Monday. This week has been one of those.
Some months ago I talked about an old photograph I had acquired at a table-top sale at the school nearby, which showed a Hudswell,Clarke 3ft gauge 0-4-0ST on the contract that laid a water main through Chatsworth, and resolved once and (I hope) for all the identity of the loco, for the authority on such waterworks lines, the late Harold Bowtell, had concluded it was something else.
First thing Tuesday I had visitors to attend to at the 'shed. This was fine but there was also something Andrew had spotted on e-bay and as he'd be out at work, counted on me to try and secure it. So I put a bid on it just before I set off for the shed, and once down there had a phone call from my visitors to say they were stuck in traffic and so would be late, and I contented myself with drilling a few fixing holes through the marked up purlins until I broke a pilot drill in the hole saw.
Golly, Sunday again already. It hardly seems a week since I was sat here writing this. The grandson was returned to his mother's on Tuesday, restoring tranquility to the Briddon Country Pile for another couple of weeks, and you'd think from that all manner of things could progress once again, and you'd be right, and then again wrong.
On Tuesday this week I donned a suit, not something I do that much nowadays, partly because the rules of “required dress” have changed (I used to agonise when going out on a call for Hills, or my own company later – should I put on a good suit to make a favourable impression, or something less sartorially sanguine lest I had to climb under a mud-covered, oil-dripping loco?) and partly because at my age, I don't think I need to make such an effort to fool people into thinking that I know what I'm talking about.
A fair amount of variety in the illustrations this week, and for most of them, I must thank Steph as she has been around to record some of what has been going on. That of course means that even camera-shy me has turned up in a few, but I hope that won't put you off your breakfast/lunch/dinner.
Ah, a portion of my faith in human nature has been restored. For in the latest Railways Illustrated has appeared a picture of 03 901 taken during the lunch break on the February 28th tour, and a write up to go with it that has managed to get all the details correct.