3rd February 2013
Those of my readers who like to think of themselves as regular will be aware that the first weekend of the month is generally regarded as the best weekend, where "things go right". It was a pity therefore that the Saturday was taken up with another Class 14 Owners group meeting, where the company was pleasant (people representing D9516, '20, '21, '23, '26, '31, '37 and '55 were there, and good friends amongst them) but when someone starts asking about the rumoured 10 spare Paxman engines that Swindon had for the '14s?
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.
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.
9th September 2012
As I was saying, on Monday I had a Transit drop-side booked. It was a venerable old machine - "Y" reg in fact, geared down so far that it was best not trying for more than 60-65 on the motorway. I am not a fan of Fords - I ran two Courier vans of theirs in the early 90s - but this one quickly earned a soft spot, especially when after coming to rest at a traffic lights, the speedo would start flicking up to 10 or 15mph...
5th August 2012
It's half past ten of a long Sunday night as I start writing this, and there is lots to say. Going back to last weekend, you may recall that Andrew got called away, leaving me to my own devices. As he had the Monday booked off anyway, he merely reversed his plans and summoned me to Rowsley to "make up for" his missed Sunday. Again I manufactured hoses for "Libby" and "Tom" while he crimped more battery lugs on cables, but otherwise, there was little dramatic to report.
22nd July 2012
It has been another interesting week. OK, not so much of railway interest in the short term - far too much of the week has been occupied with the forthcoming move from Briddon Towers to Briddon Country Pile - which at one point I was seriously thinking wasn't going to happen until some time in August. But by dint of applied pressure we got as far as exchanging contracts on Friday and hopefully completing this Tuesday. So is it then all systems go?
1st July 2012
The last week of the month I suppose lived up to precedent. At the beginning, I had one of those "I'm sorry to have to tell you" calls. It appears that when we were told last week that the spare powershift transmission for D2128 had been tested OK, it had in fact been pulled off prematurely as a more urgent job had arrived. When it was put back on and tested properly not only did the converter seals leak but it made "unhappy" noises which may be a bearing down in the powershift. We knew it was much stiffer to turn the output flange so this was not really a surprise, but nevertheless unwelcome.
24th June 2012
The narrow gauge theme started by the Amberley visit continued this week. On Wednesday night Steph and I met Andrew at Butterley for their annual n.g. open night. (We met for the simple reason that he was on his return journey from Eastleigh.) These open nights have a similar theme - two or three runs the length of the GVLR with resident 0-4-2T "Joan", then the area around Butterley is de-marked into sections and a loco is set on each and visitors are free to have a go.
4th March 2012
Even as I was packing to go away for the (previous) weekend, I got a phone call from Peak Rail reporting that Charlie’s stop solenoid had given up the ghost. Let me explain. Left to its own devices, most engine fuel pumps head to the “run” position, it is what they are made to do. Therefore you need a device to pull the lever on the pump to a position where there is insufficient fuel delivered and the engine stops.
13th May 2012
Back in the 80s, when I was working at Thomas Hills, we had an ultimately unsuccessful deal with the Illinois-based Varlen Locomotive Corporation which brought me into contact with real live Americans. "Kojak" - with Telly Savalas playing the lollipop-sucking detective - was on our TVs at the time and several of our visitors fitted the mould. More than once they would take off their jackets and over their waistcoats I expected to find a leather shoulder-hoster. I learned a few new phrases - "Can we sue?" was one that stuck in my mind perhaps because it came from one of the (I thought) more level-headed of our Transatlantic colleagues.