Weekend Rails

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Of weights and windows

8th December 2013

The phone line between the Briddon Country Pile and the Structural Engineers got warm at the beginning of the week. Far from picking up an old drawing, as I had thought, the burying of the foundation pads below ground level in fact had a very important and insurmountable reason - the damp-proof membrane.

Well, it's not that entirely. The DPM around here has to be extra thick, because we are in one of those areas of the country where Radon occasionally makes its presence felt. Now I always thought that Radon occurred only in such areas as Cornwall, where decaying granite released it, but it seems that decaying limestone leaks it too, and we have a fair amount of the stuff in this area. So the DPM not only prevents our shed from turning into a paddling pool, but stops the nasties permeating up through the concrete. Faced with this reasoning, I had to accept it, but conversely we cannot lose 300mm out of our height – we are not overly endowed with it under our planned crane – so there is nothing for it but to manufacture some extension pieces to bring our side columns back to ground level. On Tuesday afternoon I bowed to the inevitable, the drawings arrived from the Structural Engineers and I launched 4 enquiries out to prospective contractors.

Interesting the different responses. One of the 4 was on e-mail to me at 8.10 the following morning and viewed the site after lunch. The other 3 remained silent. By Friday I resorted to following them up to make sure they had received the enquiry – I had after all put in a request that they acknowledge receipt and indicate whether they intend to tender. Two said they'd got it but admitted they hadn't looked at it yet. I couldn't get hold of the last.

Meanwhile I started sourcing the material for Andrew to weld up our extension pieces.

On Friday I finally got to talk to our CDM co-ordinator. There are times I despair at how this whole project is running away out of apparent control. I mean, take doors. Since one is not allowed to use the roller shutter doors as the planned emergency egress in the event of fire, it follows that there must be two personnel doors in strategic places. If I wandered down to Wickes, I dare say I could source a good quality door, frame and furniture for £200-300. I could probably design my own and make it for a similar cost. But a commercially manufactured door, fabricated in plasticised steel, with the furniture and especially the panic bar and such that the Building Inspector expects, all complete and ready to insert into my building, was quoted to me this week at about £750 – that's £1500 for two.

Because our build will take over 30 days, it is notifiable to the H&SE, and anyway comes under the CDM regulations. CDM – no, not a certain chocolate bar, rather the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007 - apply to all building projects that are not domestic. According to the helpful “what you need to know” leaflet “CDM 2007 is not about creating unnecessary and unhelpful processes and paperwork”. It is thereafter worded in such generalities that, like the Emperor's new clothes one can hardly dispute its assertions. Appointing a CDM co-ordinator to compile such 'necessary and helpful processes and paperwork' adds to the overall costs, and the first groundworks tenderer checked whether we came under CDM as “I will have to make suitable calculations in my costing” (read – add some on for compiling and complying with necessary and helpful processes and paperwork) and I am left to grin and bear it. Oh, and I said last week that I am Project Managing the thing. I have learnt this week that I am not a Project Manager, I am the Principal Contractor. I suppose I had better think about charging myself a fee for the appointment.

On Saturday we headed over to Scunthorpe. It was not a particularly early start, for Andrew had been out all Thursday night overseeing a class 458 move, and his sleep patterns hadn't recovered. Besides, I had bought some M10 grubscrews at Andrew's request to replace the ones that had gone missing from the taper lock pulley and wasted a good half hour or more unable to find them. We arrived at Scunthorpe to find the AFRPS' Yorkshire 0-6-0DE “Arnold Machin” idling, the 03 outside and Sentinel “Tom” nearby and Toby and Stephen ready to head over to the weighbridge. We formed up an unlikely trio – Arnie, D2128 and Tom -Arnie hauling and Tom idling. I rode D2128.

TaTa has a three part rail weighbridge, so it was easy to straddle the loco over a joint between two sections, weigh the leading axle alone with centre and trailing together, then push it forward a few feet to weigh leading and centre with the trailing axle alone. This we did both with D2128 and Tom, before re-forming the three and heading back with Tom at the helm. As we expected D2128 is light at the front end with the rear axle heavy (in fact normal 03s are heavy on the rear axle by about 2 tons, we're just a bit lighter throughout) and Tom was around 15tons leading and centre and 17 on the trailing axle, which in all probability is because of the weak spring, and we will deal with in due course.

IMG 2344-blog

On our return we dealt with a few miscellaneous tasks until, looking for something else in the front of the van, I found the M10 grub screws! Andrew proceeded to try to fit them in the gathering gloom of a December evening, before coming to the conclusion that although the other bush had been M10, this bush needed M12!

IMG 2350 blog

So we returned D2128 to the shed and held a conference at the front. We need to add about a ton to increase the overall weight and to balance the loco better (it will still be a ton or so lighter than an 03). The best place for this is at the front, where it has maximum leverage to even up the axleloads. From our point of view, whilst we could squeeze some substantial ballast blocks behind the buffer beam, getting them in there and secure is a safety nightmare. Far better to add it to the outside of the buffer beam, or to be more specific, make it thicker. Thus we have begun by measuring the places on the buffer beam where every bolt, rivet or whatever comes through. Next we will print a full size version on paper to check it all lines up and eventually add some 50mm or so to the front of the loco and bolt everything back on to it. You'll hardly notice the finished result, but no doubt someone will have a winge, somewhere.

IMG 2352 blog

After Andrew surfaced today we took the short run to Rowsley. Santa traffic was very busy, but with the steamer away the diesels can play and we were to put Ashdown and the Drewry into the shed to continue work. But first we sorted out the missing unloader line from the ep valve up to the secondary compressor on Cheedale, before starting it up to shunt, and were much gratified when at 100psi on the gauge the needle stopped rising, and slowly but silently drifted back.

While Andrew continued sorting out pipework on the Dizzy, I set up the grinder, checked my marks from last week and started cutting out the side of Ashdown's cab. Part way through the afternoon we were joined by Toby, one of the regulars from Scunthorpe, come to see what else Andrew owns, and regular visitor Andy Hurrell who dropped off some drawings. My Andrew had a bit of a battle with the pipework, at one point hitting himself in the face with a spanner, and in the instinctive reaction of moving his head back, colliding with the sandbox behind. His opinion of the quality of the fitters I once employed has gone down a point or two.

Taking a break he held the window up in position until it fitted, and then I drilled through and bolted it to the cab side. We had hoped to weld the little corner pieces in to the apertures to finish the job on both sides, but there was insufficient time before the kettle was due back and I had to add the customary gaffer tape into the corners for the present.

After we'd put the locos back, we carried the last 3 Matterson brake units up to the back of the shed where the Mattersons reside (I'd collected them on Friday) and fixed the new fan for Libby to its hub ready to be re-attached to the fan drive.

This week Andrew has a day off, so we have an additional day of work scheduled but he is away for the weekend and I might have time to myself. Or I might be drawing up steelwork. Or celebrating my promotion to Principal Contractor.

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