Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of coughs and sneezes

22nd December 2013

There are times when the wide range of people now reading this blog comes home to me. Like when one day this week, Andrew popped down to Darley to recover something from the container, and as he left and was locking the gate, was engaged in conversation by a man walking his dog. After revealing that he (the dog-walker) is a lapsed Peak Rail member and asking after the site clearance taking place (sidings, it seems he helped lay) he suddenly declared “oh, you must be Andrew Briddon” - and that he regularly reads this blog.

It also adds a burden of responsibility – there are times, like tonight, when I would much rather curl up in front of the tv, but I know, even as I write this, there will be people logging on waiting for the latest instalment. And it's going to be late tonight, for apart from the fact that Steph is up with our daughter (which means I had to cook tea when we got in) I have also had to run Andrew over to the out-of-hours GP in Chesterfield. For he has been suffering the last few days with a severe something, be it a cold, flu, consumption or whatever; starting with a nose that wouldn't stop running and latterly severe coughing fits, and a throat that has needed a lorry-load of “Soothers”.

Anyway, if you hadn't quite realised Andrew had been away all last weekend, but returned Monday lunchtime and not wishing to miss out on the remainder of a day off, dragged me down to Rowsley to continue work on the Drewry. He was sorting out additional plumbing lines to various valves, and hunting out a couple of reservoirs, one for air and one for vacuum, and leaving me to get them cleaned out. Later we tried to decide on a location, and finding no really suitable spot, opted to promote the smaller res from vac to air, and assemble a new even smaller res for vac (they are only capacity reservoirs, so their actual volume is arbitrary) to get around the constraints of space and access.

On Tuesday I was on tenterhooks as the first two quotations had come in. The first, from the firm I expected to be the highest (but recommended by our Structural Engineer), turned out to be about twice as much as my gut feel of where the prices ought to be, and the second, though substantially more than I'd hoped (like 30%) was at least affordable. I had though only sought the prices on Wednesday anyway, and the third duly came in late in the afternoon (after ringing me up first thing to ask a load of highly esoteric questions to which I only had partially-informed answers) and fell between the two. I went back to the two cheaper tenderers and asked about start dates and duration, and as the cheapest – sorry, I should stop using such emotive terms – the most cost-effective - tenderer was also happy to start early in January I've told him he has the job. He has also offered a reasonable price for assembling the steelwork which we may take up.

Nonetheless, this is the easy part. Before he comes on site I have to organise signage, welfare facilities, get another track panel lifted, etc., and my request for a further meeting with Peak Rail's MD to sort out the nitty-gritty was greeted with a response that can be summarised as 'not before Christmas, please!'

On Saturday, despite Andrew's coughing and periodic difficulty getting enough breath to talk, we headed over to Scunthorpe, but it was to be a short day, because we had an errand to run on the return leg and I had earlier let Andrew sleep on, reckoning he needed it. When we got there, there was a rail tour on, with the Janus at one end and BoBo 81 at the other, but D2128 was out of the shed so while Andrew disappeared into the front of the casings armed with M12 grub screws, I headed into the cab with an overhauled sanding valve. From time to time I would hear cursing from up front, sufficient to keep me informed that (a) he hadn't succumbed to the infection and (b) he couldn't get the grub screws to fit. Eventually he took one of the grubscrews out of the other taper lock bush and found that it would fit in the second and in fact neither were M12 but 7/16 UNC. Oh well, third time lucky I suppose. At my end, I was not having a great day either, as once we came to fire D2128 up, I tested the new sanding valve and it promptly started leaking. Chances are as soon as I operated it I shifted some dirt in which has stuck under the valve seat. Bother.

The tour participants had been mingling during this time, and some seemed rather disgruntled that we had the cheek to be getting in the way of their photos. I was asked, by a lady-enthusiast no less – (actually hang on, that should be a 'rail enthusiast of the feminine gender') what the number of the Sentinel was and where had it come from. I was happy to provide her the information, though suggested that “Peak Rail”, whilst true, might not be exceedingly helpful!

We were disappointed that firing D2128 up did not seem to interest them much, but once they had departed, we did a number of tests with the powershift, watching the servo base pressure and the delay before engagement. (What had we done about the grubscrews? Well, each taper lock has, for the moment, one grubscrew in only.) What was also frustrating was that the unloader valve which I had set up a few weeks ago on shop air supply failed to have any effect on the compressor output, and we were up to the 120psi mark before the safety did its stuff – though at least having a sanding valve continuously blowing did give somewhere else for the pressure to go. Andrew and I have agreed to give it one last go with a Westinghouse control valve (to see if it is a volume issue) and if that fails, investigate whether the compressor unloader assembly is somehow at fault, since toggled manually (as you can do on these Broomwades) it works correctly. Remember I had this cylinder head and its unloading arrangement professionally overhauled so it ought to work, but seeing that it was late 2011 I don't think they'll accept a warranty claim.

Leaving Scunthorpe at five-thirty and after tanking up on diesel and Soothers, we headed south to Lincoln and a village on the far side. Last Sunday I had been up first thing to win something on e-bay. Our building steelwork supplier had envisaged our holding the building to the concrete with Rawlbolts. Our Structural Engineer refused, arguing that the 5ton crane provision creates too much strain, as the Rawlbolt only goes some 200mm or so into the concrete. He advocated 'normal' holding down bolts, which are 450mm long, with a socking great rectangular plate at the bottom and are cast in with a cone of waxed cardboard so that the bolt may be angled a bit to the top at assembly and then the whole caboodle grouted in afterwards. Andrew had casually put “holding down bolts” into e-bay and come up with a guy with 70 for sale, complete with cones, starting at 99p. In the end I had to pay quite a bit more, but still substantially less than the £600+ it would otherwise have cost, and thus became about the first (and I fear, last) component on this build to be under-estimate. We collected them just before seven, and headed back through wind and rain.

First thing this morning Andrew took them down to the container and then we headed in to Rowsley. "Cheedale" was started up and the Drewry brought into the shed to be in range of the welder. While he concentrated on mounting and plumbing the reservoirs, I started by stripping the cylinder head from another Broomwade, and then, as it was a bit of a cool wind outside, I headed down to the Mattersons to start wiring the first of the refurbished brake units.

IMG 2354 blog

Once Andrew had declared he had completed welding, I went back and reconnected the Drewry's voltage regulator before returning to finish mounting a second brake unit and wiring that up.

Eventually, all was ready and we drew the Drewry outside to fire it up. With air pressure and vacuum raised, we did static tests on the brake system, checking that the loco brake applied in response to an application on the train brake side, and then making the changeover so that the dizzy was proved to work on either vac or air sensing. With a few minor issues regarding the changeover procedure, it all worked satisfactorily and so only a few finishing off jobs remain.

IMG 2355 blog

IMG 2356 blog

Finally we dragged out the cables, plugged in both the Matterson units that had the brakes on and tested them – whereas before when you released up or down the motors spun on briefly as they came to rest, they now stop instantly as they ought.

So, as this is the last instalment before Christmas, I shall take the opportunity to wish you all a very good Christmas and hope you will continue to log in next year. But although we're planning the usual social visitations this week, we will, so far as I know, be back on the locos next weekend.

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