Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of springs, fuel pumps and mortar

27th April 2014

As we drove back this evening, Andrew and I were trying to work out exactly what we did each day this week and were struggling to slot it all into place. The trouble is, he has had the week off (although you wouldn't believe it from the number of phone calls he's taken) and I had sort of agreed that I would keep pace with him, so let's see if I can get it right and in logical order.

As usual there's a hec of a lot to get through, so here goes....

Monday: After picking up the mixer from Rowsley, Steph joined us, we got set up and started mortaring in the first of the foundation blocks around the shed at Darley Dale. Rob instructed me on roughly the required mix, which meant I had the job of maintaining a supply of mortar of about the right consistency and colour. (And to be honest, the colour and consistency reminded me of the what our grandson had been producing, but in lesser quantity and into nappies). Rob and a small team were working up the yard, so he popped back a couple of times to see how we were doing, and by the end of the afternoon we had mortared in the blocks from the south west corner of the building, northward as far as the final frame by the forthcoming personnel door.

When I got home I found an interesting e-mail from one of my regular readers, a former Rolls-Royce Diesel Division Service Engineer who has been in these pages before. It was he who attended the DV8 that is now in 14 901 when its abilities to perform as a genset for the GPO were less than desired, and eventually was able to confirm for us that the DV8 had once been in D8587. Anyway, reading of our trials and tribulations with the cooling system, he consulted his copy of the BR Type Test report and confirmed that the cooling water outlet temp was recorded at 86 deg C. Over the next few days we have had several exchanges of e-mails over cooling and fuel systems, and some of this will appear later in this instalment. However, what it did reinforce was that the cooling system would benefit from some improvement on 14 901, and Andrew has started planning how to tidy up the pipework.

Tuesday morning I had some paperwork to do so left Andrew to it for a while. I chased up a quote for concrete from another ready-mix company (and it wasn't the best price so wasn't really worth it!) and tried to get hold of the rep from “M” the builders merchants (if that means nothing to you, refer back to last week's edition) but all I got was voicemail, so after 3 attempts, I contented myself with an e-mail.

Also about then I had a quote from a potential contractor for laying the concrete floor. I had high hopes that this would cut our costs a bit but he had rung me up late last week and in effect braced me for a shock – as a price it isn't really too bad, just more than I was hoping to get it down to. It had however, thrown up a number of questions that I had to refer back to my first tenderer to ensure I was comparing like-for-like.

On Wednesday afternoon Andrew had a meeting at the University about a project he is doing, which left Steph and me to resume mortaring, but not as effectively as Andrew had laid all the blocks on Monday, and I had therefore no prior experience, and there was no-one to maintain the mortar supply So we muddled along at a snail's pace, until about half five when the track crew broke up and Rob came and joined us until we ran out of cement. As a result of his expertise, the block wall now stretches half way across the back of the building, i.e. just under 70 blocks laid out of a total of 178. But before we had got under way, the rep from M had arrived, (having rung up prompt at 08.30 to make an appointment) and assured us of his keen-ness to quote and how the branch should have copied him in to my enquiry. I assured him that as yet, the “Korkpack” and DPM had not been ordered, but was imminent, and he went away assuring me of good service and competitive pricing. And d'y'know, I haven't heard from him since.

IMG 2692 blog

On Thursday we headed back in to Rowsley just after lunch, and were confronted with the sight of the narrow gauge tamper departing on a lorry, we subsequently learned, destined for Alan Keef's, as it is now the property of the South Tynedale Railway. Now, bear with me as I have to backtrack a bit to explain why this put both Andrew and me into a bit of a foul mood.

Andrew originally bought the tamper from the WHR mainly because of its connection with me – as YEC I had converted it from underground spec to surface, overhauled it and supplied it to a cash-strapped WHR. (WHR cash-strapped? Sounds strange, I know, but the sum put in to their grant for a tamper had been struck off the grant because just before a certain bus company had used public money to buy buses, then re-deployed them to an area for which the grant was not applicable. The awarding authority promptly removed anything with wheels from applications lest the same trick be done again, and so the WHR had no money for a tamper but needed one.) By early 2010, Andrew was having second thoughts, and agreed to sell the tamper to a Director of the DDNGR, but with some conditions. From the purchaser's side it was required that he witnessed an engine test and that we “investigated” why one wheel motor did not work. The first was easy, the second took us rather longer as getting someone prepared to see through a good repair on an old, obsolete motor proved problematic, but it was done. As far as Andrew was concerned, his only condition was that he had first refusal if at some point in the future the new owner decided to sell it, and this was confirmed in an e-mail dated 6th March 2010 (“No problem with the guaranteed provision that you have first refusal if I wanted to sell it”).

Now wind forward. The South Tynedale had, jointly with the Leighton Buzzard railway, bought a standard gauge jacker-packer which had gone to the LBR for conversion to 2ft but the project had stalled as the personnel had moved to other things. As soon as the STR's grant came through (March), the STR told the LBR not to worry as they had now acquired a tamper of their own. Now, 2ft gauge tampers don't grow on trees, but we knew nothing of this, and the story has been confirmed by two different sources over the last few days. What a coincidence then that around the same time the tamper's owner started pressing us to finish the job by putting the wheel back on, claiming that he was under pressure to get it mobile again.

Remember that Andrew's commitment had only been to “investigate”, not repair, but nonetheless out of goodwill we sorted out steel for a missing key, refitted the wheel and put the tamper back on its wheels for him. That, you may recall, was the 13th April. Surprisingly, on the 14th, Andrew and I received e-mails from the owner wherein he announced “I've thought long and hard over the last few weeks about my work on the Tamper, and it is with much regret that I have decided to sell it.” How interesting: no reference to giving Andrew first refusal, (and it now appears, the transport that we were seeing collect the tamper last Thursday was booked about the 14th).

Andrew was suspicious, the “decision” came too soon after our having made it mobile and put it back on course for operation. (I had spent some considerable time locating parts for the MWM engine). His concerns were further re-inforced when the owner told him that “negotiations” were in progress - it was all happening too quickly. If we are correct in our supposition, the “deal” had been struck weeks before, subject to its being got back on its wheels for collection. From my point of view, had I known, I would have liked the opportunity to approach the STR with a view to quoting for its overhaul – after all, with no disrespect to Patrick and co., I know more about it. Speaking on behalf of both of us, we feel that we have been deliberately misled, if not conned.

So, in less than contented mood, Andrew went on to paint some of Libby's bodywork while I moved to 14 901, which, so far as we were aware, was out again on Saturday covering for the poorly 31. Earlier in the week I had completed exploratory surgery by cutting away a small section of the casing top and fan grille, revealing that there was indeed a brass plug in the top of the cooler group which had been modified on all NCB and BSC-owned '14s by substituting a pipe and ball valve to de-aerate the cooler group when filling. My first task was therefore to add an adaptor and a compact ball valve (we had inspected the mod on D9500 and didn't feel that a pipe 6” long was contributing to the good lines of the loco).

In the engine-bay, I proceeded to remove two oil lines we had added in 2009. When we first acquired 14 901, we got the distinct impression that the loco had not run with the fuel pump it now has. For one thing, it turned out that the injector lines had been piped up in the wrong order (!) but the pump had no stop solenoid or any other means of control, save the “throttle” which was a length of green garden wire with a piece of plank tied on at the cab end. (I may be being unfair to the SRPS by saying this: we have been told by one source that a “proper” air throttle was fitted, but we could find no cylinder, pipework or bracketry which would at least have indicated that the green wire was merely a stop control.) The pump was a typical CAV with a hydraulic governor, but there were the remains of the right-angle drive for a Woodward PSG governor at the front end of the engine, which I removed and converted into a tacho drive. Although I was familiar with the DV8 (having worked for Rolls' subsidiary Thomas Hill for over 10 years) I was not as familiar as I am with the smaller “C” range engine from the same factory, and the fact that there was provision for an engine oil feed to the pump suggested that it ought to have one.

As I said, there have been a number of e-mails going to and from on cooling and fuel systems this week and these confirmed our growing suspicion that the pump with a separate Woodward governor does need engine oil lubrication, but a pump with a hydraulic governor is lubricated by the fuel it runs on. The situation is further complicated by the fact that the normal CAV pump configuration has two lift pumps on the side, one of which contains a scavenge pump which draws out excess fuel from the pump and returns it to tank, but on our pump these are blanked off and the system feeds it from our header tank by gravity (or as it came to us, by water-fountain pump in the fuel tank).

The upshot was that the steady dilution of the sump oil with fuel we had been aware of might have primarily been of our own making, and so my first task was to remove the feed and return pipes we had fitted and blank them off again, but use the oil return point to make an excess fuel return line to tank. This had to be done now as we planned to do an oil change on the loco on Friday. Another minor task was to fit a temporary milli-ammeter. I fitted one by taping it to the control box top a week or two ago. It was in series with the new speedo I had fitted and I thought would show me whether the current in the loop was going up and down in proportion to speed (as it should) or stopping at the equivalent of 8mph (which is where my speedo stops). Unfortunately, the first temporary  meter has had a rough life and is seemingly defunct, but Andrew had found a Plasser & Theurer one in the container and I substituted this, confident that with the loco out again at the weekend, I would be able to resolve where my speedo problem lay.

So on Friday I pointed the van north to our oil suppliers and returned with a 45 gallon drum, having left Andrew at Rowsley to set up and drain the sump oil and remove the filter bowls. I got back home for a late lunch, and wanting to double check on things for Saturday, accidentally interrupted a Board meeting in Matlock to discover that '901 wasn't wanted as they had rostered D8 again for Saturday. They couldn't change it now but would I like to do Sunday? I politely reminded the person at the other end of the phone that I had told him we were in Scunthorpe on Sunday. Not brilliantly pleased I headed back in to Rowsley., where Andrew was about to refit the filter bowls with new elements, after which we pumped the oil from the drum to the sump. I would have liked to drain the coolant a bit and fit the new temperature switch now that I finally had the adaptor plate finished, but Andrew vetoed it for the moment.

IMG 2695 blog

Leaving him to do some more work on Libby, I took myself off to a builders merchants for more cement, and stopped off at Darley to unload. Rob was alone at work spreading ballast into the completed re-sleepered turnout – and had already dragged the area that will form our forthcoming headshunt, revealing what I presume must be a genuine Midland Railway cast-iron drain running up the centre line. (I suspect, from pictures, that this would have been between the up-line and the yard headshunt in MR days). Rob reckons it will go for scrap, as it is not now connected to anything, but I wait to see that saviour of anything Midland, Dr Ben Riley, launching an appeal for its retention...

IMG 2698 blog

IMG 2700 blog

Returning to Rowsley, we had permission to pull the VBA out of its siding in order to access a couple of heavy lumps, and having tweaked the fuel pump on James a couple of weeks ago, decided to see just how effective it had been. Thus, hauling the VBA, James propelled a GUV, two 4 wagons, a gronk, the 31 and Ashdown – maybe 300tons or so, up out of the siding on a wet rail without any undue problems. We put the VBA and James up near the shed, and brought 14 901 around to push the rest back – Andrew remarking how much effort the 14 seemed to make moving the lesser load back down into the siding.

First thing Saturday we were back down in Rowsley, Rob aiding us with the loader to get the lumps in to the van. We then fired James back up and put it and the VBA back at the front of the siding, as we are hoping to get James out, greased, and do a bit of work for Peak Rail to prove it all OK before it takes on its planned role as Darley works shunter. That completed, Andrew set off for Peterborough and a Class 14 owner's meeting. I was forbidden, a few weeks ago, to tell you that the Class 14 event at the East Lancs in July should feature a 10 coach train powered by all 10 class 14s at once! But it is now on the website so it is all right for me to say so and invite you to log on to that site, or the Bookface page if you prefer, to get more details of what is going to be an amazing 3 day celebration.

I had intended, once the weather had improved, to go back to Darley and lay a few blocks solo, but a migraine at lunchtime put paid to such plans. Over at Scunthorpe though, Sentinel “Tom” was out, Glenn and Toby taking it right around the system to prove its capabilities for brake van tours. But rather than run it light, they proceeded to do a bit of work for Tata, moving rakes of wagons loaded with steel scrap. The loco performed faultlessly and I hope to have a video or two up on the site in the next few days.

First thing this morning it was back to Rowsley, for Andrew had come back with a pair of old Class 14 springs as contingency spares for '901 and D9500. We then came back and loaded a Sentinel spring and Hydralite jack out of the garage ready to go to Scunthorpe. It is amazing how different these two designs of spring are, considering they are both for 48ton 0-6-0s. The Sentinel is by far the lighter, yet the loco was designed for operation over rough industrial tracks whereas the 14 spring, which I am told is the same as an 08's would have a much easier life.

Anyway, we managed to get on the road at 10.25, as our first stop was in Chesterfield to try on our hired suits for my daughter's imminent marriage, and despite this delay, reached Scunthorpe for 12.30, to be joined by Toby who had volunteered to assist in changing the weak spring on “Tom”.

IMG 2704 blog

Leaving these two strapping, strong young men to do the hard work, I spent the day fitting things to D2128. First was the marker lamp body, which I trialled in place, much to Toby's approval. Next I moved on to the catch plates for the two access doors on the bulges – these had budget locks but nothing to stop them being pushed inwards – now they lock properly. Next were the four plates that form a duct to the first cooler group matrix – when last run, the engine had heated up rather quicker than we expected and we suspected that hot air was coming through the rad, rising and being drawn over the rad and back round again. This re-circulation is not good practice so the duct, once completed with some rubber sealing strip, should stop this happening.

IMG 2706 blog

While I was making contented, if unspectacular progress, Andrew and Toby were struggling to extract the spring. The Sentinel spring arrangement is probably unique, like so much of their running gear design. Instead of a round or rectangular pin, there is a hollow tube down which a ½ BSW bolt passes, holding two hex end caps to stop the contraption sliding out. Not that it is likely to, as I have never heard anyone get the tube out easily once it has rusted in after a few years. Although the spring is outside the frames, and thus reasonably accessible (if you have the sense to position the loco with the side rods in the lower quadrant!) wangling it in or out is a bit strenuous without a fork lift truck, and many impulsive fitters have cut out rectangles in the running plates over the hangers in order to drop ropes or pull lifts through to aid the task. Tom is no exception, and though eventually they got the old spring out with sheer muscle power, when they were struggling to put the loaned replacement in, I did explain the technique! Meanwhile I had been mounting the Westinghouse unloader valve on D2128, and trying to extract the bent handrail on its cab side. We needed a bit of heat on the latter, the top and bottom were much seized in the knobs but having freed it out and heated up the bent handrail, we straightened it and left it to cool for refitting next time.

By the time Tom's spring was in and it was back off the jack, it was too late to think about starting it up to settle the spring and check ride heights – indeed we finally set off for home at 19.30, hence those of you logging in to read this on its usual late evening appearance time will have been disappointed. And while I am at it, you may bear in mind that it will probably be next Monday before the next edition appears: it is Bank Holiday weekend after all.

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