Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of speedos, the 1960s and “Blowing in the Wind”

11th May 2014

First of all, let me thank all those who e-mailed during the week offering their best wishes after my daughter's nuptials. She and her husband are now somewhere in Japan and hopefully enjoying every minute of it.  For us though, it is back to normal.

Sadly, there is little or nothing to report on the shed progress, or rather lack of it. Builders merchants “M” have still failed to offer anything in the way of a quotation for things like DPM; the Planning department, having told us that approvals take “about a fortnight” have yet to reply to my samples submitted in late March (though they have cashed the cheque for the approvals fee) and time nor weather have been conducive to blockwork this week. It is all a bit frustrating. About the only progress was my winning, on e-bay, a suitable 3-phase distribution board which I collected from Chesterfield Friday evening.

With the weekday passenger service only taking up Tuesday and Wednesday, the line was clear on Thursday for a works train to go to Matlock to recover the remaining materials donated by Network Rail, and after the experience of last time, Rob took both Charlie and Cheedale – he would have liked to have taken James, but Andrew thought this a touch too early.

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I stopped off for some pickies on my way back from a customer, and I gather I was by no means the only one . Cheedale brought the ensemble back on Thursday night, Rob determined to take it steady as a result of which he was paced by some joggers all the way up from Matlock to Redhouse!

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Come Saturday morning and 14 901 was rostered for operation and I had the pleasure of another day in company with Paul Martin and Roy Taylor – or as I suggested 'Peter, Paul and Maroy'. [An American 1960s trio famous for “The Answer is Blowing in the Wind” and others] I am not going to inflict you with further pictures of 14 901 outside Sainsbury's, for one thing even I am a trifle bored of taking them.

Before I left home I ran off a conversion table in case the Plasser & Theurer milli-ammeter worked, and sure enough, although my speedo refused to rise above the equivalent of 8mph, the P&T meter duly proved that the current loop is functioning correctly as I read currents equivalent to 15-25mph as the day went on. Roy drove most of the time, and he was not quite as lucky with the Darley gates this time as we came almost to a stand at the home signal more than once. In addition, the blue temporary fencing between the running line and where the trackbed is being scooped ready to receive a siding next to our shed had fallen over and was blowing in the wind. In the end I texted Andrew and asked him to pop down and secure it.

He meanwhile, had decided that Cheedale was well overdue for a service and proceeded thence to change its oil, lube and fuel filters up at Rowsley.

On the first train of the day, two passengers arrived with barely 2 minutes to spare, and I spotted them at Matlock and suggested that they had cut it fine. In the conversation that followed it transpired that they hadn't intended to catch it at all and that they were Wirksworth members. Reaching hurriedly for a crucifix and silver bullets, we neverthelesss exchanged pleasantries and on returning to Rowsley, one of them joined me to sample 901's cab. His observations that he hadn't heard one of these since the 60s, of course lead me into explaining that he hadn't heard one like this before and how the cab arrangement which he liked deviated from the class 14 norm. From that he drew comparisons with their Steelman, which is a type of loco I know all too well.

But back to 14 901: the coolant temp continued to give me concerns – for the first couple of runs it was fine, and then a glance at the gauge and it was in the mid 90s. On the other hand, a tendency to drip fluid from the front of the loco seemed much reduced, and might be related to the alterations we made to the fuel pump oil feeds.

As we parked '901 up, Andrew was struggling to get the fuel system on Cheedale to bleed through as there are no equivalent bleed nipples on the Bosch pump compared to the CAV, but between us we got it running again, and discussed plans to upgrade the train brake systems.

If Saturday had been wet first thing giving way to occasional light showers, Sunday was wet first thing and followed by regular heavy ones. Andrew headed in to the workshops to make a start on manufacturing the new coolant pipework planned for '901, starting with two flanges I had profiled a week or so ago and a 2” BSP tap he won on e-bay, which he insists on telling me I'd said we would never need.

I however headed to '901 and opened up the instrument panel. One theory I have as to why my speedo doesn't work is that the plate which goes behind the needle I had profiled out of steel, and may be screwing up the magnetic operation of the meter. I had printed another on to cardboard and cut that out. So for the moment I have fitted that – we will see whether this makes the difference – if not then I must assume that the meter is, to use a technical expression, FUBAR.

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Reassembled, I moved over to Cheedale, and in between showers relocated the air cleaner. When Cheedale was built, the air cleaner was on the left side of the loco, immediately in front of the cab, but when an additional donkey-engine compressor set was fitted, it had been moved to the right and forward, making access to the rear of the power unit darn awkward. The original mounting pads were all present, and the ducting merely required re-arranging (or so I thought) so in addition to changing the oil in the bowl of the cleaner, I decided to move it back. It took a little longer than planned, and needed a bit of help from Andrew, but eventually it was all done, although it is apparent that the air cleaner is getting near the end of its life – there are some pin holes through the body. Immediately in front of the air cleaner is a space where a lift-off door ought to be. Manufacture of a new one is under way, the skin of the door being sat in the garage awaiting some strip and expamet.

In the light of Saturday's operation with 901, we have agreed that, for the present, we will remove the thermostats and fit a blanking plate which will force the coolant round the circuit rather than via the by-pass. It will take longer to warm up, no doubt, but keep the temperature lower overall. Andrew therefore manufactured a suitable blanking plate, although it will not be in until later in the week.

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James was in operation again today under Rob's direction, firstly dragging the 37 forward to facilitate access for its owner, and then shunting the entire works train back up around to the HST area where the JCB could unload the two bogie wagons of their respective cargoes. In due course James will appear over the pit so I can get around its undergear with a grease gun.

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So that is about it for this week. '901 is out on Tuesday (and Saturdays and Tuesdays look like being regular into June) and if the weather improves, the nights draw out and Andrew's  college work winds down, who knows what else will get done?

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