The Bicester visit was fun but short - with a 2.5 hour journey each way it is rather galling to be on and off site in just over an hour, and yet again when I looked around I was struck by how quiet it was compared to when I was involved professionally in the 1980s. Then you would drive on from security and probably see at least one or two locos shunting in and out of warehouses, and then a couple stood outside the loco shed between duties and maybe see another roll in from the other end of the system. In the course of our allotted hour, we saw only one loco, and that was hardly overworked with a mere 3 lwb vans. We did however bump into a few old friends, and ended up at a nearby watering hole nattering for an hour, that made it more worthwhile.
Our meeting back in Derbyshire was quite wide-ranging, from plans to utilise 14 901 on its return from commitments at Gwili in April, through the need for "Libby" to vacate, albeit temporarily, the shed at Rowsley while an influx of Austerity 0-6-0STs appear for the March do, through to preliminary thoughts of how to use WD 72229 at this year's 40s do in August. If it all comes to pass, I may have to dress up as a Nazi and get killed this year. But I suppose it is another thing to add to my CV.
By Friday I was heading up to collect a load of profiles which together will make up various parts for Beverley and D2128. Andrew was down at Norwich Crown Point and would not be back until Saturday evening, leaving us just one day to spend at Rowsley this week. I was tempted to add pictures of each and every bracket, but, although I am always quietly proud of my creations, I have to admit that to the layman, one bracket may look rather like another, so I will content myself with one photo of the biggest and heaviest, to whit the base and support feet for the exhauster that will be going on to "Beverley". Profiled out of 20mm plate, it will definitely add to the adhesive weight of Bev once its gets painted, drilled and its mounting pads welded on (though the base assembly itself will be bolted to the pads for the sake of anyone, not just us, who might need to take it of again in the future!).
While Andrew was practising again for his Boy Scouts' Welders badge, I had been out on "Tom", firstly installing the new horn valve (though as yet, not piping it) then investigating whether those wiper arms we brought back from D2128 would suit "Tom's" cab doors. But while the assorted bracketry was cooling off, we had promised ourselves to get "Tom" in to the shed (i.e. in range of the welder) and attempt to secure a length of traywork to support the battery master cables from under the cab to the starter motor. When Tom came into Andrew's possession a rather mankey, loose trunking was serving that purpose, and would have been installed before the casings, and probably the power unit, were in place to make access easier. We had promised ourselves a length of tray, but getting Andrew, welding mask, etc. in to the loco and under the cab was another matter. To cap it all we had expected the steamer - WD132 "Sapper" was out in traffic - to be coming back to shed about 4.15 but someone had told us wrong as at about 4.00 it was chuffing around the corner and we were in its place. But with a bit of hurried tidying up Tom could move clear over the crossover and enabled a posed shot of the two side-by-side in the spring (?) sunshine.
There was also a minor crisis as I had hurriedly disconnected the voltage regulator prior to Andrew's welding (they are prone to being destroyed by spikes) and although I had thought I had got the wires back on the correct terminals, on starting up the charge circuit did nothing and I had no wiring diagrams with me. But we had the next best thing - two other locos on site with the same wiring box, so Andrew opened up Charlie's and we conferred over mobile's until we found the two wires I had transposed.
With the train service out of the way, we had authority to shunt the yard to extract the DR flat wagon and the North British 0-6-0DH. For tomorrow - all being well - a lorry will arrive with a generator (bought from deepest Norfolk to yield an engine) and depart with the Paxman 6RPH presently loosely stored in the NB as it has been sold to a "collector of Paxman-ilia".
But extracting both those items took up over an hour and a half, and saw the highest temperature so far recorded on Tom's engine, but it still hasn't passed the 50 deg C mark and Andrew is resigned to investigating whether the thermostat is defective. So tonight Tom is sat out near the loco shed with the NB and flat wagon for company, and I have to zip to Sheffield first thing tomorrow and still get back to assist in the loading and unloading, after which Andrew will join me after work to shunt things back again.