Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of days when nothing goes right

15th January 2012

According to the histories, Swindon added a massively heavy cast chimney to the front of their build 03s in order to achieve balance since the locos were front end light. This has never altogether rung true with me – for one thing putting a ballast weight on top of the casings requires a very substantial casing frame and anyway, who would to put it up that high? There again, there is an answer to that, and that is “Autoloc”.

When Redlands at Mountsorrel bought their first robot loco in the early 1980s, it was to be a 48tonner but on arrival from France the commissioning engineer explained that it arrived grossing only 31tonnes, and you added the ballast of your choice in the big open box that was the roof of the vehicle. Redlands added 17tonnes of the punchings from manufacturing washers. Now 1/3 of your loco’s weight sited in the roof does give a whole new meaning to the oft-quoted “top heavy” and when it stopped smartly, it continued rocking fore-an-aft for a while after. I said I didn’t want to be around when they came to re-tyre it.

So as I say, I was a little apprehensive when in a moment of generosity I said I’d pick up the exhaust chimney from the shot blasters. Thus far it had been lifted by hoist, HIAB or forklift, but there was no point in letting my friendly fabricators go down specially for it, they were bringing the casings up in two runs of two parts each as it was. But two of us lifted the chimney into the van quite easily, and it took two because when all is said and done, it is a large lump, but not especially heavy. Later in the week Andrew declared that, but for its sheer width, he could lift it on its own. So I am not disputing whether Swindon’s chimney is an attempt at balancing the loco to the last gramme, but I suspect it is more cosmetic in reality, and had they had their way, would have had a copper cap.

The pressure to crack on with the 03 is quite strong and with that in mind, I had organised quite a few purchases for it and Beverly during the week. Andrew had a Cummins fuel pump spotted on e-bay for Wednesday, so I planned my day to win it for him, only for some so-and-so to outbid me in the last 2 seconds. It should have given me some insight for the weekend that things were not going to go as well. On Friday I ended up doing a round robin. A stack of hydraulic bits and hose, including two made-up 1inch hoses for the 03’s powershift to cooler connections, temperature switches and the 03’s tandem charge pumps from Wakefield, a stack of profiles and finally 40 litres of hydraulic oil planned for filling Bev’s new tank and pipework. Friday night we drove lickety-spit for Rowsley, and collected the big MIG welder.

Saturday dawned frosty, the first real chill of the winter. The van was well-laden with welder, batteries and charger and all manner of sundries as we headed over to Scunthorpe. The AFRPS was busy, with steam and diesel locos out on a brake van tour, and after laying out some bits next to Beverley we decided it best to concentrate on the 03 while whatever warmth there might be was present. Target No.1 was to mount to torque converter cooler. The 03, you will recall, has both a converter and a powershift transmission. On the loco from which they were recovered, Hunslet ran the converter on diesel, the powershift on oil, and had separate charge pumps and shell coolers. Our views on converter medium I explored last week, and in practice the oil can be common for converter and powershift, but they need separate charge pressures and cooling provision. The shell cooler for the powershift is being re-used from the Hunslet, but the converter has a brand new air-blast cooler and needs to be in position before the re-plated nose cone returns from the fabricators. Welding the angles to mount this, in the cold, crisp air, did rather try Andrew’s patience, as did fitting the securing bolts on later, but in the end we got it on.  It then became apparent that the plates I had left with a view to mounting the cooler on the opposite axis now fouled the 1.25″ pipe connections, and needed to be removed. I set to to grind them off but we soon discovered that the release tool to change the blade on the Makita grinder was missing and nowhere to be found in the van. My temper was not improving anyway because when I had tried the profiles together that formed my exhauster base they all fitted together perfectly, trouble was, the whole thing wouldn’t fit the b****y loco. Similarly infuriating was when I came to screw-on the two 1″ hoses specially made to suit the powershift to cooler circuit. Andrew and I had measured them, allowed a little for engine movement, and added 150mm for a little curvature, yet they were both 50mm short.

img 0583 edit
I've got two coolers on the front of my 03..

Having got the new cooler on, the plan had been to install the Centaflex coupling and auxiliary drive shaft that will carry the pulleys to drive the compressor, exhauster charge pumps and fan, but owing to a let-down from a supplier, there were no pulleys. The Centaflex finally got fitted however, after yet more blue language – as the rubber ring has to be under some compression when it all goes together, the bolt centres that it finally achieves are not what it is at-rest state, and getting the screws into the tapped holes requires brute force and teaching it exactly whom is in command, and honestly, it is a close-run thing.

img 0584 edit
The Centaflex is now on the front of the adaptor - one of the 1" hoses peeping in on the left

By now it was 4.15 and getting a trifle chilly, so we piled back in to get on with Bev. We had brought two slave batteries with us and left them on charge while we worked outside, but when Andrew started to swap them over, one of the battery lead lugs came off the cable. It was one of the old hand-crimped ones made years ago, before Andrew procured a super hydraulic cable crimper, but we did not have either tool nor spare lugs, so that put paid to trying for a start. If things weren’t going bad enough, I started cutting hoses for the new feed and return lines from the new res tank, but when I started to swage the ferrules (I have my own swager for hoses up to 1/2″) the hydraulic pump stopped working. Only then did Andrew see fit to report that it had been leaking while in the garage. I was beginning to get mightily fed up with this day. In the end, we finished the hoses, loosely assembling them, Andrew put in the drain tap into the converter bottom, and I fitted the temperature switch into one of the main circuit lines. Then came the best bit of all, Andrew had made up the joint for the tank top, sprayed it and added the filler cap and return line connection. All I had to do was insert the 8 M6 screws through the holes I had drilled last week into the tapped holes I had created the week before. Both had been marked and drilled to the same drawing. You know how I oft-quote that the hardest job in engineering is getting a hole in the right place? Well, three went in and the rest – not a chance….

Sunday: Back to Rowsley to return the welder and continue the rail sawing. It was bloomin cold and somehow spraying the hacksaw blade with water to cool it seemed rather superfluous, but we did anyway. With that complete Andrew felt we ought to fire up the Drewry, which hadn’t been run for months  ( a group were also running up the class 31, covering a significant area in white smoke). Needless to say the batteries were cold and tired and we ended up taking them over to a charger for a boost before the Gardner condescended to fire on any (Gardners have individual de-compressors, which means, on occasion, that they can be started on a couple of cylinders then brought back to full strength). Andrew collected some of his radiator elements that had been in store courtesy of Peak Rail’s S&T department and I rested with the Drewry, watching the temperature slowly struggle to get the needle off the bottom stop of the gauge. That done, we declared it a day.

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