Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of milestones

6th January 2013

There are some events that seem to denote significant stages in your life. Some you have an element of control over - marriage, moving house, jobs - others occur at times outside your control, and serve to remind you of time passing, like the deaths of your parents. Andrew this week contrived to compel a pleasant, but nonetheless involuntary change in our status, when he awarded us the role of grandparents. Needless to say this was not a solo enterprise, nor was it entirely unexpected (though 10 days early) when his partner (whom I see I have not named hitherto and trust no-one will try to interpret this as in any way Freudian) gave birth to their little boy Jake.

I open with this rather un-railway-related piece because it has, and will continue, to have significant effects on our loco work over the next few weeks or months, as well as maybe lining up one or more additional workers for the future. For example, our plan to spend one day at Rowsley and another at Scunthorpe this last weekend was completely kiboshed as Andrew is officially on paternity leave and learning parenting skills. I understand he has carried out a full fitness-to-run examination and will move on in due course to basic servicing requirements.

Steph and I made the trek to see the new arrival on Friday and returned on Saturday, and being somewhat allergic to cats, I returned somewhat the worse for wear. In consequence, though I dragged myself down to Rowsley this afternoon, I promised myself light duties only. After checking "Tom" over I started it up to give the batteries a boost and see how things behaved. For one thing, I had realised that amongst all the bits of the loco that do work are the wiper motors. I must admit this is an area we are slightly relaxed about. After all, no steam locos running on preserved lines have such namby-pamby accoutrements and many older diesels have obsolete air-operated wiper motors that seldom work properly by the time we have got to them. But "Tom" has standard Sentinel CAV wiper motors (albeit that I think the front motors are the same as the cab door ones, which have a limited sweep) and they actually move when turned on.

But sadly, that is all they do, and being vintage 1960s they have the then-normal plain 6mm or 1/4 drive shaft to which the wiper arm clamps.

But we don't have any: and the only places we have seen offering them are the vintage car restoring boys. These are mostly too short for our purposes and lummy, not exactly cheap. The modern idea is a tapered spline arrangement and you'd think that somebody somewhere would do a conversion adaptor. Yes, the car restorer boys do as well and if it were much more I'd suggest buying 4 new wiper motors! Of course, being me I am tempted to design and manufacture our own arms, you know, a thin laser cut profile, bent and powder coated and incorporating a clamp arrangement.... But then we are trying to get "Tom" into Peak Rail service before next Christmas. So I contented myself with tidying up the cab, assessing what we need to fix the other side cab door latch and looking closely at the next task - to re-engineer the two worn out and obsolete horn valves by substituting a new valve whose size, port position and fixing holes will all be different. I have one on order - or rather it will be when the manufacturer returns from the extended break - and hopefully we can put the two side-by-side and discover it is not a mammoth task.

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Over the holidays, apart from acquiring a proper set of bits to join the return fuel line on D2128, I also spent some time exploring the idea of a hydraulic throttle control. You see the problem is that although 03's have a fairly basic cable throttle, all the manufacturers data nowadays specifies a minimum dimension from the fixed point of the cable outer (in this case, the hole in the cab bulkhead) to the moving part (the bit of the throttle lever out of sight under the desk) which is substantially greater than is available. I imagine there is some good reason for this and long years of designing loco bits and bobs has taught me not to assume that I know more than the manufacturer. Pondering the problem it occurred to me that I could use a hydraulic system like a car clutch, but as the travel of the throttle lever is much greater than one's foot pedal, moved on to the idea of industrial cylinders (intended for air but OK on oil when we are using a similar pressure range) and using different sized cylinders to compensate for the different travels of throttle and fuel pump levers. A spreadsheet analysis came up with a combination of standard cylinders. A CAD drawing showed that the one for the desk simply won't fit. Like a dog with a bone I haven't given up on the idea, but I might just talk to one of the cable control manufacturers and see whether we can arrive at a traditional solution.

Oh, by the way. I know from some of the site reports I get that readers use the "tag cloud" or "tag" tab to read the postings specific to certain projects and locations. Unfortunately, I tried it myself recently and found it has stopped working, so flagged it with my host, who tried it and found the same. Quite why it won't is a mystery (if it works for you, please let me know!) but we will come up with a solution soon: I hope.

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