So, there we were on Monday having a quick meeting with the contractor and reviewing progress to date. We are all agreed that the floor design wants modifying, and that none of us can work out exactly how we are supposed (in reality) to get the DPM to go the way the drawings show it, so I have gone back to the Structural Engineers with fresh drawings and asked them to come up with an alternative scheme. Meanwhile I was sorting out the personnel doors, and the concrete panels that will form the inside walls of the building up to head height. We had agreed with the contractor that work would commence on the steelwork on the 17th February, and I planned deliveries accordingly.
With many years of building and re-building locos behind me, I have come to understand it from the clients' viewpoint when they visit to view progress. The customer is anxious to see his loco assembled as quickly as possible and arrive on his network. Progress therefore, is perceived in large lumps. Because he is not very every day, he forgets exactly which tooters and squeakers were fitted when he arrived last time. He will remember the large pieces – the engine that is now installed but wasn't there before, the cab that now has its control desk fitted, and so on – but the little bits he cannot remember and does not see them as progress.
And so, Weekend Rails breaks into another year. Yet before I quite say bye-bye to 2013, there were two days this week when Andrew was off work and I was apparently available. So on Monday it was back into Rowsley – I had some work to do on a customer's loco but we brought Ashdown in to the shed (having drawn Austerity “Lord Phil" outside for a while) so that we could reach it with the MIG welder, and having removed the new sliding windows, Andrew cracked on with welding in the radius'd corner pieces and filling the holes for the old bolt holes from the original wooden droplight frame. For comparison sake, you may decide for yourself which looks better- (the welded bits had been hurriedly primed and sprayed back to prevent rusting).
I suppose this must go down as one of the most unusual Christmases I can recall. Steph having gone up to our daughter's the previous Friday, had then transferred to her sister's in Barnard Castle and I was supposed to join them on Christmas Eve, but in the event wasn't feeling well so left departing Briddon Towers until first thing Christmas morning. The roads were quite quiet, indeed, in the 130 miles I counted 13 goods vehicles actually on the road (including two AA recovery trucks and 3 milk tankers) and reached Barnard Castle at 10.30. Knowing that my brother in law is a keen walker, I had brought my work boots which served me well as by early afternoon we were out tramping, crossing the Tees and gaining the trackbed of the former Stainmore line at its junction with the branch to Middleton-on-Tees, and following the main line for half a mile or so before turning back.
There are times when the wide range of people now reading this blog comes home to me. Like when one day this week, Andrew popped down to Darley to recover something from the container, and as he left and was locking the gate, was engaged in conversation by a man walking his dog. After revealing that he (the dog-walker) is a lapsed Peak Rail member and asking after the site clearance taking place (sidings, it seems he helped lay) he suddenly declared “oh, you must be Andrew Briddon” - and that he regularly reads this blog.
Having had not one but two minor migraine's this week, it would appear that I am feeling a little stressed. I have had 3 on-site meetings, two with potential contractors and one with the CDM co-ordinator (and if you don't read this blog every week, I suggest you drop back and read last week's or you won't be able to keep up).
The Briddon Country Pile is far too posh to have a house number. Our house has a name, and is said to be on a road, but if you arrive by Satnav, it takes you up the road and you have already passed the side turn where we are before the voice announces you have reached, etc. This week the new fan for Libby was delivered – by a neighbour. It seems that Tuffnells, having taken the consignment correctly addressed to the house name, decided to allocate it a house number on their consignment notes, and better still, a number that is at the other end of the road. The (not-so-near) neighbour accepted delivery, but then asked the postman where this house was – Bill, our postie, directed him to us!
First thing Monday morning Andrew and I zipped down to Darley, arriving on the dot of 07.30 and finding a tractor, trailer and a small 360 degree Kubota excavator sat outside, and Paul on the phone wondering where we were. We got him in on Darley yard and set up, then left him to it.
Well now, this weeks instalment may be a disappointment. It has been a quiet time. Amongst other things, I've been down to the Eurostar depot at Temple Mills. (That's Temple Mills on the East side of Borisville: I gather there was some sort of sporting event held near there last year.) I've been in to lots of rail depots over the years, but never before have I had to empty my pockets, and pass through a metal detector whilst my personal particulars are X-ray'd, not to mention a nice (but not English) lady searching my car. Of course, were I to work at a Heathrow I daresay all this would be commonplace and not raise an eyebrow, but it just seemed so unnecessary just to get into a rail depot.
22nd September 2013
As I have said before, there are weeks when I am doing too much unpaid for the “collection”. This week has been one such. On Tuesday, although D8 Penyghent, was rostered according to Peak Rail's website, in practice we had been asked to provide and man 14 901 as D8s regular driver had a hospital appointment. I had been hoping that, by now, we would have had drivers trained up and ready to enjoy this experience, but although I am 'keeping up the momentum' on training (as per my instructions), we have no-one yet who has had experience of driving in passenger service and with all these person-carrying things in tow. So it was down to me to drive the loco, supported by one of my trainees to act as Secondman, and, as he to was not signed to act as a pilot, Rob S to perform that role. And I was under strict orders that I must do all the driving.