Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of jeans and barrel pumps

29th December 2013

I suppose this must go down as one of the most unusual Christmases I can recall. Steph having gone up to our daughter's the previous Friday, had then transferred to her sister's in Barnard Castle and I was supposed to join them on Christmas Eve, but in the event wasn't feeling well so left departing Briddon Towers until first thing Christmas morning. The roads were quite quiet, indeed, in the 130 miles I counted 13 goods vehicles actually on the road (including two AA recovery trucks and 3 milk tankers) and reached Barnard Castle at 10.30. Knowing that my brother in law is a keen walker, I had brought my work boots which served me well as by early afternoon we were out tramping, crossing the Tees and gaining the trackbed of the former Stainmore line at its junction with the branch to Middleton-on-Tees, and following the main line for half a mile or so before turning back.

The following morning Steph and I bade them farewell and returned to Derbyshire, and Boxing day or not, by 3pm Andrew and I were back in Rowsley. With the new shed lighting we were able to address the remaining brake units for the Mattersons, and although one decided to be particularly awkward, the other dropped into place almost straight-away. By five o'clock we were plugging in the control panel and testing it through – again the brakes stop the motors perfectly. A concern we had had previously about No.3 post – that it would go up but not down – had, with the aid of circuit diagrams from Mattersons, looked most likely to be a limit switch problem, and sure enough, waggling the bottom limit switch, even though not showing the “jack at limit” warning light, got the post to respond correctly. We'll give that bit of TLC later. Meanwhile there are two damaged ammeters on the control panel. We stripped one out and it is probably repairable, but the other is more serious and I will consult the manufacturer when they return to work for a current ('scuse the pun) replacement. Once that is sorted we need to get them formally inspected and passed off for lifting, as there are two or three locos we must lift before they are transferred to their intended home at Darley.

Friday was another day of socialising.

On Saturday we endeavoured to split our efforts over two locos. On the one hand I have a one in for a customer which I had promised to make a start on, so we gave the batteries a bit of a charge and tried topping up the coolant (but the hose wouldn't reach) while firing up the Drewry and moving it over to the ash pit. The plan for the day on the latter was to change the oil and filter and while the old oil drained into barrels, we took the sump drain plug and tried to identify what thread it was without success, for later conversion to a tap. When however we came to draw our oil from the Peak Rail oil store, we found, to our considerable annoyance, that our barrel pump, which was certainly there on the 16th and by repute, on the 23rd, had grown legs and walked off, leaving the delivery hose detached and neatly coiled up (minus its jubilee clip). This did not put Andrew in a good mood, and he began to point out that on our traditional logic that “things go wrong on the last weekend of the month” that things ought to go especially wrong on the last weekend of the year. Nevertheless having found another barrel pump that worked after a fashion, he started to refill the sump. I meanwhile, was hiding back in the cab – firstly Surforming the end of the removable floor panel until it would go back in again (the timber has swelled a bit since August) and then starting to rebate round the battery box lid using a selection of chisels. Again, back in August I had for speed left the box lid resting on the floorboards but the cab door cleared it – after a couple of months the timber had swelled slightly and door would no longer pass the lid so rebating the floorboards to allow it to sit lower was the only solution. Being an ex-Stanley Tools employee, it eventually occurred to me that a Trimming Knife would probably be as good a tool for the purpose than a chisel, and so it turned out to be.

By twilight Andrew had the oil replenished, the filter changed and topped up, so the engine was fired up to check there were no leaks, etc. One casing door had virtually seized both its retaining catches, so we added these to our mental list of outstanding tasks. The floor however, was not finished.

There are times when Andrew and I can be of such an accord that it becomes spooky. When we had set off to Rowsley in the morning he was aware that the particular jeans he was wearing were on their last excursion as they had developed a split in the material on his backside. When we got home in the evening I detected a cool breeze and found that I had a perfectly matching tear in mine. Denim just isn't what it used to be.

IMG 2357 blog

This morning we headed back in to Rowsley, and with permission, fired up Cheedale and brought it round, firstly to shunt two box vans onto the back of the works train and then extract my customer's loco and put it on a track nearer the shed and in range of the hose-pipe. This involved moving the three wagons with our shed steelwork on, and the columns, having become filled with rainwater once again, made impressive waterfalls as I shunted them to and fro. The loco was duly filled with water (temporarily, but we aren't expecting any significant frost for the next few days) and was duly topped up with oil and after a number of checks, fired up, but a couple of other defects prevented us going much further.

We returned to the Drewry, I finished the floor with my Trusty Stanley 199 while Andrew removed the offending casing door, stripped and freed the catches and reassembled them. The cross-linkage we had put together in the summer for the train brake control had been removed for painting, but first I decided to make some improvements, as for some reason that I don't now recall, I had lasered the holes for 12mm pivot bolts but welded in a 10mm. So I extracted these and after cleaning the holes, put in some M12s for Andrew to weld in place, after which we sprayed them in primer ready for a top-coat in the morning.

And talking of doors, trawling round the 'net I came across another security door manufacturer whose prices seem much more reasonable than the £750 I was moaning about a few weeks ago -again that is one I will follow up on as soon as this annual holiday period comes to a close. Which is as good a way as any of leading in to wishing you all a Happy New Year.

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