Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of blues and hivi

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.

We got to hear more about D2128's transmission during the week. Apparently our experts were having similar problems to us. When the powershift is engaging a gear, the "servo pressure" should rise from its off-line 80-85psi to around 250 psi. I had a report from the boss that despite their best efforts, it does so in first gear but in second the pressure stays resolutely at the bottom end. At least in his case it drove in both gears (so I consoled him that that was substantially better then we'd had) but the danger is that if the servo stays at only 85psi in second then the clutch might be slipping, and could he borrow back the spare valve assemblies from our other one for comparison? We said of course, but you'll have to collect them yourself as we're committed to the Warring 40s event at Rowsley. So he did.

There was news also on the injectors for "Beverley". Having struck out with 3 other possibles who were unable to deal with Cummins injectors "that old", Andrew found a firm - who just happen to carry out injector work for a well-known engine repairer - who not only knew the injector but had parts in stock. So they should be back with us in a week or two.

And so on to Friday. In the morning Steph and I went over to Rowsley to assemble our "Gazebo" on its allotted plot plus a loaned one alongside, and drop the obligatory folding chairs, card and pasting tables, etc,. etc that go to make up our stand. On Thursday afternoon I had collected some specially machined pieces that would render our "unexploded bomb" operational again and more of a challenge to our visitors to unscrew its fuse without blowing themselves up. Actually I may have made it rather too difficult and may ease the clearances a bit for next year!

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Andrew got home from work and I found myself trekking the 23 miles again in order to put the Drewry ready on its train and "Tom" inside the shed so when not required for our part, we could retire inside and proceed with real work. Readers may recall that we trailed our anticipated involvement with capture by nasty Nazis and saving by admirable American allies. But phone calls Friday afternoon brought forth the news that the plan had changed, and from what we gleaned, it was as though we were just to perform a couple of shunting moves as a token gesture. We drove over to Rowsley on Saturday morning in sombre mood, change into our "costumes" (Jennifer managed to find one pair of green overalls big enough, but Andrew had some "acquired" dark blue jacket and trouser sets so we opted for those) and checked the Drewry over.

Our instructions were to haul our train (2 brake vans sandwiching Andrew's 1943 German flat (ex Peenemunde tank wagon) up to the loading bank where a German motor bike would herald a collection of weapons to be lifted on. After the steamer had cleared the yard we moved forward and waited and waited, expecting any minute to be told we weren't wanted at all.

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Then suddenly Hamish arrived on the bike, with the side car stacked with rifles, followed by other German re-enactors with other weapons. Andrew explained the true origin of the wagon and they seemed rather more excited.

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After we'd loaded we retreated to the far end of the yard and waited for the train to leave, after which. with a few long blasts of the horn to ensure I had got everyone's attention, we moved back forward opposite the station buildings and formed the "firepower" display. (Well OK, I went too far forward and had to set back, but I was only obeying orders.) Each weapon was discharged as the compère described the origin and capabilities. Andrew assured me that the recoil from one mounted gun, even with blanks, was such that it was bouncing itself and its operator across the wagon floor!

With the display over we moved back to the loading bank and saw the weapons off, then took the train just back into the yard (near the loco shed gates) and broke for lunch. We then retired to the loco shed, changed from blue into customary hi-vi overalls and set to work on stripping out "Tom's" casings.

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The silencer on a Sentinel 0-6-0 is not only heavy but hangs from two brackets on separate pieces of casing, so the only way to refit it is to start at the cab and work back forward. With the aid of a hoist we had started fitting the rearmost bolts only to discover that one bracket was cracking and about to fall off. Nothing for it but to weld it up in situ but as we get set up, Rob arrived and deputised us to check the area for stray members of the public (those who deemed the "No Entry" sign at the loco shed gates was not meant to apply to them) then open the gates and man it to prevent any incursions other than the German troops as the battle commenced at five past 3. We changed back into our blues and did as requested, taking up position on the running plate of the Drewry for a close up view of the action.

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Dead on time the German column started from the car park - motor cycle and two cars followed by infantry - attracting some small arms fire from the Allied troops who were after all camping in the trees. By the time they reached us the well-trained German infantry was huffing and puffing a bit but after a few minutes deployed back into the trees to engage the enemy.

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It is difficult to describe the noise of weapon fire and large pyrotechnics close up, save that I suspect some day, some jobs-worth H&SE inspector will compel all re-enactors to wear ear-defenders!

It may surprise you to learn that the Germans lost, and once they were all dead got up to take the applause from the public viewing from the platform. We returned to the shed and our hivi.

One of Rolls' habits was to apply manufacturing standards in fabrication that were overly accurate. Over time, such fabrications as casing sections may warp or "de-stress" and when we came to assemble the bolts in our second hanging bracket they were nearly half a hole out.. After much swearing and cursing we managed to pull the roof brackets into line with a lorry strap and with the holes in the chassis cleaned out with a 3/8 BSW tap, the silencer and rear casing sections were back in. Time to quit.

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Sunday from the firepower point of view went much the same, but we knew better where to be and what was wanted and positioned the train right first time.

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Back to the shed and into hivi and Andrew made a start on manufacturing a new end for the one remaining radiator stay-bar that goes from rad to casing top while I cut some lengths of silicon hose and fitted the new radiator top connection and its clips. With this done, more of the casing parts went back until it was time to do our gate guardian bit again. The battle went much as before, but some canny Germans lay in wait at the coal bunker by the loco shed, so got out of running behind the motor vehicles! Of course they lost again - as one re-enactor said, you don't join the German regiments if you want to win - although this time one was taken prisoner - maybe running low on blanks.

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Back in the shed Andrew went off to add paint to "Libby" while I finished off the remaining casing parts with fresh bolts and packed bits away. My task was to taxi Jennifer back to Sheffield station before returning to the Briddon Country Pile to finish unloading. Like I said, a long Sunday.

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