Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of Tom and the Drewry

28th July 2013

If you thought last week's blog was a little terse, then let me explain. Late in the week my computer had gone kaput. It had been struggling for a while, acting strangely, the usual error messages popping up with increasing regularity and certain pieces of software inexplicably taking up 99% of processor time, that sort of thing, but suddenly it went black. So I dug my father's old one out of storage, and was writing last week's instalment with the casing open and my two hard drives cabled up but sat on a shoe box alongside. Of course, Windows suddenly decided that as the hardware had changed radically,

I had 3 days to re-register my copy of XP, and after moving house I had absolutely no idea where that might be. So on Monday, a new one was ordered from e-buyer and I have spent much of the week finding and re-loading software.

Meanwhile, Ben Riley had inspected my assembly of his frame in the cab of the Drewry and decided that it was not up to his standards. Apparently it was slightly trapezoidal, OK maybe a lot skew-iff, so he and Harvey took it to pieces and reassembled it. Harvey tactfully consoled me that it was really a two-man job to get it true.

Meantime Andrew had an evening in the early part of the week cleaning and painting the strips around the bottom of the cab where the floorboards need to go, and to his consternation, put a screwdriver right through the cab side under the beading that forms the bottom surround for the left hand cab door. At 68 years of age it has lasted well, but some more extensive TLC may be called for when we have a proper base to work from.

On Saturday, as agreed, I was heading over to Scunthorpe to do Driver Training on “Tom”, though first I had two suppliers to visit so it was nearly 1pm before I got there. Tom was sat at the end of the siding where the 03 used to be, with two wagons behind, so with 4 prospective crew in tow I took them over the main components, what to check, what does what and finally, having talked them through non-lapping brake valves (most AFRPS locos have the self-lapping Type Ws) and the peculiarity of the Sentinel control system, we started up and took it up and down the yard. Of course, certain people were anxious to take it farther afield, but as we reached the top of the headshunt (which is on a significant grade) on about our 5th or 6th run the engine died. As the tank is fairly low, and the fuel take-off at what was now the uppermost corner of the fuel tank, it was possible that Tom had taken a gulp of air, so we elected to tow it around to the fuelling point with Janus No.1.

So off we set, with Tom locked in neutral on the final drive and out for a leisurely ride. The final stage, across the far side of the plant, was to propel Tom across a turnout, round a curve and up to the fuel pumps. Our relaxing ride took on a different hue when Tom's leading axle decided to depart the four foot eight and a half.

photo0020 blog

(Sorry about the pic, I only had my phone on me). It was not difficult to see what had happened, there was a clear diagonal line across the outside rail head where the sharp curve, a dipped joint, two rails abutting with different worn profiles and the Janus propelling with maybe the screw coupler a little too tight, had combined to overcome gravity

On a large industrial complex such as the steelworks, such mishaps are shall we say, not entirely unheard of, and a team is on 24 hour call out, so we did, and within 5 minutes a pick-up truck arrived with bits of timber and short lengths of bull-head rail, and Tom was encouraged back on to the road. One of the re-railing crew was fascinated – he had apparently worked in the steelworks long enough to remember some of the Normanby Park ones being transferred to ApFrod when the former nearby works closed.

As a precaution, we fired Tom back up and drove it the rest of the way to the fuel point. Fuelling would be easy if only Tom had the fast-fill provision of the steelworks locos, but as all he has is a filler cap on top of the tank, Toby balanced himself on top with a plastic funnel and carefully opened the valve so as to hold the flow within limits. He was therefore stuck there some time, but as we passed half-way up the tank it was pointed out to me that a leak had developed behind the fuel gauge, so rather than waste the precious liquor I stopped Toby filling any further and once the level has lowered, we will have to re-joint the gauge.

Thus far Tom had idled perfectly, so assuming there was nothing more to worry about we set off back in convoy, with the Janus leading. We cleared the fuel road turnout (taking the joint very carefully) and almost immediately the engine died. It re-started though, and we set off to catch up with the Janus, all but a hundred yards being traversed before it died again.

After another few yards the Janus was disappearing off into the sunset and we were stranded., as this time the engine wasn't responding and we had no tools. Fortunately after travelling a half-mile they realised they were going solo, so came back to find out what had happened. We vented the air down, put Tom back into neutral, and the Janus once again took us on a leisurely ride.

Until about half-way, that is, when the Janus stopped rather smartly. It has been suffering recently from occasional instances when the governor/unloader combination sticks and having unloaded, fails to re-load. Toby went forward to batter the offending valve into submission with a piece of wood and it having surrendered, we set off once more.

Back at the AFRPS shed, with a large screwdriver for the bleed valves, we pumped out a remarkable quantity of air from the fuel pump and Tom condescended to run without hassle. Whether the problem is a spin off from its road trip, gradient and derailment I don't know. We'll monitor it and if it recurs, make a thorough check of the fuel system for leakage

Today, again, I had no Andrew to boss me around, so headed in to Rowsley to progress the floor on the Drewry. I was rather reminded of the stories during the Second World War of the Nazi's making Jews dig their own graves before executing them – there seemed a certain parallel, not with the same seriousness of course, in that I was replacing the cab floor so that I can be killed in it – not once but twice, at the same time on Saturday and Sunday. Or so I am lead to believe, I don't yet know exactly where or how this is to take place. Though people were talking today that somehow I am hauling German war material (or should I be posh and call it materiel) and get strafed and bombed by the Allies. Quite why a British WD Drewry is working for the wrong side is beyond me – maybe I'll screw plans up by gaffer-taping a Union Jack to the cab roof.

The Drewry still resides on a siding not exactly handy for the parking area or power, so hauling material, tools and power cables requires much walking, and after cutting each successive plank to length on a Workmate on the grass outside, then marking and adjusting it as battery boxes, pipes, cables and sandbox lids are encountered, each time required climbing up the three steps and into a void until sufficient floor appeared to make a conventional landing.

By 5 o'clock I was getting tired but soldiered on. By eight o'clock I had had about enough -there are 4 pieces left to do, right at the front and will need much trial and error to get to fit. All this cut with a trusty jig-saw, which, half-way through the afternoon I realised is lacking half the teeth on its blade. All pause for jokes about giving the planks a nasty suck.

img 2086 blog

At a pinch, it can run like this, but Andrew has muttered that, when he returns this week from deepest Norfolk, “we” might put in an evening to get it finished. Actually, I was thinking I might carpet it....

More in this category: Of suspension and regulation »

This site runs on a system that employs Cookies to establish a link between your web browser and our site. This link is required to deliver to you the page you requested, let you see any photos or videos or to use the contact form. The Cookies that allow this to happen are automatically downloaded to your device (pc, mobile, laptop etc) when you click onto our site. If you set your web browser not to accept Cookies then its probable you will be unable to use Weekend Rails properly. Click to Accept (or the message stays visible). To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our Privacy Policy.

I accept cookies from this site