Weekend Rails

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Of galas and kinked pipes

6th April 2014

Aaah, where to begin. So many disparate threads this week. Welcome to the first blog of April. Again, my apologies to those of you who had difficulty last week. Some little s*d managed to get into the site and added a “script” that put the server into a tizz. Other ISPs latched on and blocked access and it took a number of hours for the good news to filter through after it was fixed. Indeed, one reader phoned me Monday afternoon to say he could get it on his phone, but his office computer still insisted the site was down. Ah well, all passwords have been changed, all computers scanned for malware and I will remain vigilant.

 The Battle of Darley Dale resumed on Monday and carried on until Thursday.

IMG 2620 blog

After a day on his own, my contractor called in re-inforcements, and along came Derek and John. Derek regaled me with tales from the footplate, as he had been a fireman in the 50s before leaving BR for health reasons. He had then been in civil engineering, and with his and John's expertise, the battle turned in our favour. But first, the water that was collecting in the depressions which represent where our tracks will be had to be got rid of, so with Rob's blessing I borrowed  a submersible pump from Rowsley and pumped it away down one of our new drains.

With a scary amount of stone, starting with “sugar stone” and moving on to MoT type 1, the shed area was gradually turned back into a civilised grounding, and you can almost see where the recessed area for the jacks is, and of course the two sections where our rails will go. Next task is to get the stone blinded with sand and start laying damp proof membrane (DPM), but of course around the edges we need to get the base course of foundation blocks in as a permanent shuttering.

IMG 2626 blog

Doing the job properly, I issued an enquiry – on e-mail - to the Builders Merchants who are located on the other side of the railway to our building. That was Tuesday. On Thursday I chased it up to make sure they had received it and was promised a quote later that day. Such is the quality of customer service I have yet to receive anything, and have instead put the enquiry out to 3 other builders merchants. The first one has come back, but where I specified 2000 grade DPM he has quoted only 500 grade, and where I called for 19mm 'Korkpack' he has quoted 12mm. Good score for response time, not so good for actually offering what was specified. Is this sort of thing endemic to Builders Merchants?

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The timber merchants in Tansley however, continued to give good service and happily cut up a sheet of 1/2” shuttering ply into sixty pieces. For who-ever comes to lay the concrete for the track section needs to insert 120 fixing points to hold our rails in place, and each pair will be positioned by pushing a pad into the wet concrete. I put them in the portakabin at Darley on Friday afternoon as I made a final inspection of floor progress. That evening, once Andrew was back from work, we headed in to Rowsley and split the torsional coupling off the propshaft from D9500, and brought the torsional part back with us.

On Saturday, Andrew had a class 14 event group meeting to attend at Bury, and headed off with the torsional coupling in the back of the Golf as it is destined to end up on D9537 (it wouldn't fit the engine we have for D9500 and we will have a more modern one in due course), leaving me time to myself. A few tasks got done, notably some exploratory drawings for the shed and final assembly of the new speedo for 14 901, before I succumbed to temptation and headed in to Rowsley. I wanted to try adjusting the fuel pump rack on James, to see if it would improve the engine performance which currently is lacking. But to be honest what little effect I had appeared to make it worse not better. I suspect we may have to have the pump off again. I returned home shortly after Andrew, who reported significant news on the class 14 50th event. It now looks as though there will be 8 visiting locos, making ten in all. Now I know people will always tell you that their event “mustn't be missed” and something in it will “never be repeated”, but this has got to be one wholly unique gala, if only for the number of 14s in any one place (and D9526 has never been away from the WSR before in preservation) since they left industry. But don't take my word it – go look at the website (14s-at-50.com – or there's a link in the link's section) – er, but maybe after you've finished reading this?

And while we're on the subject of galas, it looks like there'll be an AFRPS gala again this year, but in October. Both “Tom” and D2128 are expected to be in action, so Andrew and I sat down on Saturday night to come up with a list of things that we need to do on D2128 before it is “ready”. Like I have said before, we do always seem to have too much on the go.

Looking at such a list for the immediate future, I suggested to Andrew that we should make an “early start” on Sunday. Maybe I should have applied reverse psychology and proposed a late start as the “early start” translated into finally leaving the house at 11.55. First it was down to Darley to collect all those plywood pads, and then up to Rowsley. Andrew wanted to get on with Libby's air cleaner, but had promised to take time out to sort out a casing door on 14 901 which had become so stiff to operate that I had taken to using a large adjustable to get leverage on it. Strange really, as it was the door next to the lube oil priming pump so gets more use than most of the others. In the end, I lifted it down and presented it to him, and it took him most of the afternoon....

My first task was back on 14 901. In fact I had been doing a bit of the cabinet end on Saturday, to whit, putting in the cables for the new speedo. Now I had to open up the instrument panels, remove the old non-working speedo head on one side (they were there just to fill the holes, the fact that one is marked as 0 to 100mph is, we have always assured people, not aspirational). In went the new speedo and to it went the wires that I had picked in the muti-core coming from the cabinet. While I was in there I traced a fault in the feed wire to one horn on the opposite side desk, and found a defect on the sanding control buttons that I was unaware was even faulty.

Anyway, Andrew was anxious that the pads got drilled ready and so I set up and got them under way. I had printed off a template from the CAD drawing which I could simply lay over the pad, mark in four places, join two points together with a square to represent the centre line and drill through with a 21mm hole cutter on the remaining two dabs. Of course, if I place 2 or 3 together I need only mark out the top one and do it easily, eh? Wrong. I tried that, and the snag is that the plywood clogs the hole cutter, lifts the cutting teeth off the wood and the drill's rotary energy converts to friction. The smell of smouldering plywood (and smoke) is a clue that this has taken place. No, it worked out best that each pad was marked individually, drilled and the hole saw cleared out before the next one. All in all it took me 3 hours, but they are now about ready. Part way through Andrew presented me back the repaired casing door, how kind.

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But Libby's air cleaner is now back in place, and as he had promised to get around to refitting the wheel on Dave Timperley's tamper (or was it Dave Tamperly's timper, I can never remember) he disappeared off leaving me to check 14 901 over and fire it up. The first thing I realised was that the driver's air brake gauge is acting oddly – think I may have crimped the pipe when I had the instrument panel out. But as the loco finally moved off, I sadly noted that the speedo didn't respond. But this wasn't entirely a surprise – when I stripped the movement out of the bought meter, I found that all the wires inside were red , so wrapped a piece of sticky tape around one to tell me which was pos and which neg.

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But that was several months ago, and maybe my memory isn't what it was. On return to the shed I zipped over to the van and dug out a screwdriver, then opened the cabinet and exchanged pos and neg at the plug on the pcb. Off I went again and this time the speedo needle moved. We tried a quick calibration, with Andrew running alongside judging that my indicated 6mph was about right, before he ran out of puff. So once I have swapped the wires back at both ends so they're right for the future, I suppose he'll start nagging me for a second speedo for the other side panel. In the meantime, while I am in swapping wires, I better see about that kinked pipe...

More in this category: Of SPADs and weddings »

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