Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of a snowy, steamy Sunday

10th March 2013

After the exertions of last week, I am pleased that this week has been a little less demanding. Indeed, as Andrew was away with partner and their child for the weekend, Steph and I took the van up to our daughter's in Darlington on Saturday, taking up a wheelbarrow and a piano stool and returning with a vacuum cleaner and a wardrobe - not a bad swap really.

But I had arranged with Rob that I would be in to Rowsley on Sunday to do a bit on Cheedale and it had been left outside the loco shed specifically for me. It was the "Blazing Saddles" weekend at Peak Rail and I had already seen the exhaust of passing Austerities from the kitchen window at the Briddon Country Pile. Sadly I had also been watching the snow falling - not heavy and melting immediately at ground level, but perishing cold in the wind.

When the "light-fingered individual" removed the Eberspracher heater from Cheedale's cab, (Buxton Lime have confirmed that it was not removed officially and no-one was aware it had been removed - I expect it is now on someone's caravan or boat) they did so by snipping through a bundle of control cables where they emerged at the bottom of the instrument panel, some of which would be live. So I started by removing some of these, and was rather startled when the front wipers suddenly started working! That the switches were "off" was bad enough, but it did mean that someone had left the battery masterswitch on, so I turned that off and they stopped. I continued undoing various ad hoc connections for the heater and radio. As Andrew and I are not keen on capillaries and even less so on mechanical gauges where fuel and lube oil are piped all the way up to the desk, I had planned to start running out additional wires to enable us to change to electronic gauges for pressures and temperatures. So I set about drilling holes in strategic places to run a fresh flex conduit out to the back of the engine. I also set about removing parts of the former donkey engine casing that adorns the right hand side in front of the cab. In due course we will return the loco to its original outline and reinstate the handrail.

While sheltering in the engine bay I spent some time trying to figure out where the converter leak is - the converter temperature switch connection is wet, and there is a clear trail around the body of the converter, but the usual places (such as the rear seal) are dry and it may turn out to be, as Andrew hopes, merely a loose pipe or a cooler leak.

Running the engine up later in the afternoon (to check that I hadn't accidentally disturbed something important) I tried the wiper switches again and discovered that either the front left or right switches bring both front wipers on, but the other running slowly, while trying the switch for the solitary remaining rear door wiper brings the front ones on too! The motors I don't think are original, and need to be insulated from the cab structure (being intended for automotive use, they are earth return) so they are cross-connecting through the cab. Somewhere I have some insulating nylon top-hat bushes bought for this very purpose.

But for now I had a front row seat as the Blazing Saddles event came to a close and no less than 6 Austerities (5 in steam) were around the Rowsley pit. Such a number of steam locomotives in action together cannot have been seen here for many years, probably not since BR times.

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More in this category: « Of belts and bases

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