But you're all dieing to know the progress on the Plusnet saga (well, at least, it has generated more e-mails and sundry messages than anything else of late). Having let matters lie for a day or so I had started contacting all the other possibles from our present ISP (a subsidiary of TalkTalk) through the likes of Virgin and Sky, and the messages all came back much the same - connecting the line is the province of BT OpenReach and all we can do is book it with them. I couldn't bring myself to ring BT, so Andrew did, and a friendly call centre operator assured him that it would probably only be 2 weeks, and not more than 4. I set to work to go through all the procedure to book it with BT, and would you believe at the end of it all it comes back with a date well into October? Another friendly call centre operator took it on the chin, and obviously has received a lot of flack for Openreach (which on their website says it is a BT group company) as they insisted that OpenReach was nothing to do with BT and only has BT on the vans because they do a lot of work for them. A correspondent assures me that Openreach are legally obliged to treat each customer equally, and I can see now that it does - they are all being treated equally badly. And the latest excuses? The Olympics. Presumably Openreach drafted all their engineers to fix up additional lines for the world's media and are now about to take them all out again, and the backlog which is rapidly increasing in the rest of the country can go hang. Make no mistake - a week ago I was being offered October 6th, after a week, with each firm I talked to clearly accessing the same booking screen, the date was slipping and I have had to settle for October 19th. So if you see a BT Openreach engineer, feel free to grab him warmly by the throat and enquire why he isn't at the Briddon Country Pile reconnecting our phone!
Anyway, Andrew was away on Saturday and while I was babysitting builders and carpet fitters he was, nonetheless in acquisition mode. From time to time we grab an opportunity to purchase something which will be of use to us in the future, be it a battery charger, pipe threader, etc. He has had me chasing over to Hereford and Crewe for Hydralite jacks, and Doncaster for proper re-railing ones. A week or so back, in conversation with a friend I learned he had a set of loco jacks for sale. Andrew latched on like a cruise missile and went to inspect them. In the UK the firm of Matterson are the "Hoover" of the loco jack world. These are like Mattersons, but are an American make, and if anything more heavily constructed. But in essence there are 4 posts, each rated for 15tons (so 60tons together) with crossbeams that go under the loco lifting brackets. Having been stored in a protected condition, but outside, for some time, they will need a little attention before they can be put to use, but with long term projects that require locos lifts like D9500, the Brush and even Jack and James, they will undoubtedly become a significant tool in the future.
Sunday this week was planned for Rowsley and how much easier it would have been had we been moved into the Briddon Country Pile. For Sheffield was split in two with the BUPA Great Yorkshire Fun Run from the City Centre to Middlewood and back, and Chatsworth had day 3 of their Country Fair with traffic queues forming on every access road. But with patience and alternative routes we made it to Rowsley and after quickly taking stock, Andrew headed in to the shed to rub down "Libby's" right hand cab side and apply paint, while I headed over to "Tom" to resume plumbing and wiring. When I had left Tom, I had cut and made up all the remaining hoses on the transmission system bar one, but not swaged them. So I removed these, set up the swager and finished the job before reassembling. A newly-aquired orifice filter assembly was installed into the return line at the tank, and, as this tank was a commercial one with integral return line filter and depression gauge, these came out as anything that has made it through the suction filter, the converter and the orifice with its protective filter cannot be of any importance. Playing around with various adaptors got the transmission pressure sender installed next to the converter inlet, and finally I made up a new drain hose for the underside of the converter. That just leaves the suction filter assembly (bracket for same drawn up and in at the profilers) to complete the converter circuit and a couple of adaptor combinations to get the engine oil pressure and coolant temperature senders installed. A mark of how easy it is to get confused on threads - the oil pressure gauge port is on the filter header and looks like 1/4"BSP, but don't believe it - it turns out to be 1/2" UNF - almost the same outside dia and almost the same TPI. Still, my local supplier loves a challenge...
Andrew had finished painting (has to get it tacky before the kettle comes back on shed) and had joined me. Indeed, he managed to fit the converter drain hose while I went for two mugs of tea. As I had wired up the stop solenoid and secured it he made up the pump linkage and then installed the big air intake pipe from the air cleaner (by the cab) to the front of the engine. Two of his remaining tasks are to make up replacement bellows and tail pipe for the exhaust system, for which I have flanges in process. With those, my last wiring jobs and a second radiator stay we are about ready to fire it up and see just how it behaves.
Tomorrow I am off again for him, collecting a workbench and racking from Oldham and taking all the casing bits from Libby to the shotblasters in Sheffield. That'll be a hire vehicle so I can be relatively anonymous, so woe betide any Openreach vans that get in my way!