Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of coolant, thrash and clag

18th May 2014

I'll open tonight's missive with some photos courtesy of Toby, one of our colleagues from Scunthorpe. I said a week or two ago that “Tom” had been out on the plant with some real wagons to play with, and that I should have a video soon to upload. Well, all being well the vid will be uploaded this evening, but here's a few stills from the day.

S1010058 blog

S1010029 blog

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Anyway, it's Sunday again. Lots to get through this week and plenty of pictures to have a look at. At the beginning of the week, well of course it was 14 901's turn on the roster for traffic, and I had something else besides coolant temperature to worry about.

One of the foibles on a class 14 is the layout of the fuel tanks. Primarily they are located up the sides of the loco, from the front steps back to the cab, so are long and slim. There is a third tank, underneath at the front, and it is fed from the cross-connection between the two side tanks, but this is located at the front. With me so far? It was a known problem at Corby that if you sent a Teddy that was low on fuel into the quarry tail first, the fuel in the side tanks flowed to the cab, exposing the inlets to the cross connection and thus the loco was liable to expire for lack of (accessible) fuel.

In 901's case, even that third underslung tank had disappeared, so we created a new one which we fitted back at Elsecar, with a capacity of about 15 gallons. Now of course, if you've been reading regularly and have a photographic memory, you may recall that 901 is using about 1” of fuel from the side tanks per day, which equates to a little over 20 gallons. Thus, you might assume, that with 15 gallons “down below” where the fuel system draws from, this is not too much of a problem. But hang on a sec: the fuel is drawn from the third tank and lifted through the filters to the service tank. The overflow from the service tanks returns to the main tanks, so if we have the fuel so low that the inlet is exposed, the loco effectively proceeds to start transferring from the third tank back to the mains.

As a rule, I don't like to run the fuel below 2” in the tanks. And on Tuesday all we had aboard was 2.5”, By the last run of the day that would bring us down to well under my minimum comfort level, and though I thought that it would probably be OK, I knew I would be happiest when we cleared Redhouse summit on the last turn and only had the comparative flat to Rowsley to deal with.

First part of the day, of course, is to get the loco prepped, and if, as on Tuesday, “Lord Phil” is out on “pay.n.play” find our way over to the loop line by the end of the carriages. When the kettle arrives, we can borrow the token so as to unlock the catch points at the north end and so find our way to the back of the train.

IMG 2818 blog

Our first run down brought me some excitement – the temporary card disc behind the needle fixed the speedo problem, and to prove it here's the speedo indicating 24mph (line limit is 25). The lever in front, partly obscuring the view of this momentous occasion, is the throttle lever, as this was southbound with us idling at the rear.

IMG 2819 blog

There is on You-tube a vid of our departing Matlock in Tuesday's less than sparkling weather, the uploader bemoaning “No thrash or excitement sadly and not worth getting wet for!”. Perhaps the gentleman might care to appreciate that there is a 10mph speed limit from the platform to the Network Rail boundary, it is all downhill, and from the boundary through Matlock Riverside it is 5mph followed by 10mph over the River bridge. Only after that is the 25mph line speed available to us and that's where we open up. Not that I like thrashing engines and “clag” which so many so-called diesel enthusiasts yearn for, is a sign of poor combustion! Oh, you want to see this vid? Click here

Anyway, much to my relief we did not run out of fuel, although temperatures continued to run uncomfortably high on the gauge, seemingly stabilising in the mid 90s. As usual it was Roy Taylor and I sharing the cab, a joke or two and the scenery. The only real event of the day came late on, when “Lord Phil” returned to shed and it was noticed that one spring had lost 50% of its leaves. These were later spotted, mostly at Darley Dale with one at Riverside, by the crew of D8 on Wednesday.

Again, circumstances have prevented any physical progress on the Geoffrey Briddon Building this week, although Andrew has persuaded me that we need to do the floor concreting ourselves to keep costs under control. Oh what fun. Now whether our local Planning Department reads my blog and took cognisance of my comments last week I know not, but on Friday afternoon I received an e-mail confirming that the cladding colour and stone samples are accepted and that we have therefore discharged our obligations in this regard. Now if everything had been going swimmingly, the floor would be finished, and we could be ordering the cladding and have its 3 week lead time to get the stonework laid, but it isn't. But on the other hand, Mattersons have finished the repair to our post and this is ready for return.

So on Saturday the weather had turned “summery” but the tanks had 5.5” of fuel (Rob described how he had filled it and got himself soaked in the process) so I was back to worrying about the temperatures. Andrew meanwhile, having got up late and sought assistance from Roy and me to get an exhauster loaded into the van, headed to Scunthorpe.

Now Dom Beglin was out and about with his family on Saturday, so for once I can offer more pictures of 901 in action, starting with me bringing the loco over the crossing, with the train a 100 yards or so ahead of me.

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The only real incident of the day was when a young passenger attempted to open a carriage door on the wrong side as the train returned to Darley, but on the fourth run we had two enthusiasts hanging out the front carriage windows all the way up from Matlock to Rowsley, where one sprinted round the yard with his camera. I suggested that he couldn't possibly have seen everything in the lay over time before the final departure, but breathlessly he insisted he had. The first 4 runs had seen 901 running with temps well up into the upper 90s, but on the last run it suddenly began to dip, and arrival back at Rowsley was down to 90 ish.

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Meanwhile over at Scunthorpe, Andrew was busy. With assistance from Toby and co, the exhauster he brought over was substituted for the one on D2128, as he thinks it is in better condition and has the drive flange on it ready for me to make up an adaptor for a propshaft. The handrail we straightened last time was refitted, though the knob thread at the top might be slightly distorted as it doesn't seem quite square. Finally the front right buffer was lifted off as the spring inside is defective. The procedure for opening it up is to put two long setscrews through opposite corners and then unscrew the countersunk screws that hold the backplate on, but these were solid so that job was left for another visit. Finally he drained it down and removed the bottom coolant connection, which has long had a slight leak, and brought it back for rectification.

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Oh and I nearly forgot. The AFRPS diesel gala date has been set for the first weekend in October, and will be the first opportunity for anyone to ride the circuit with D2128, which we might even have vac-fitted by then. I won't promise thrash and clag (well not from Andrew's locos anyway) but if you read this blog because you like these locos, it's time to put a booking for Sunny Scunthorpe in your diary.

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Sunday had me away early to make a flying visit to Blythe Bridge to drop some parts off with a customer – by the time I returned and had an early lunch, it was down to Rowsley to crack on with 901. While Andrew drained off the coolant and started dismantling the thermostat housing, I removed the original thermostat unit for the hydraulic fan drive, redundant since we changed the fan arrangement this time last year, and substituted the adaptor plate and temperature switch which have been waiting for some months. Up to today, the fan is brought fully “on” after time intervals from start-up: different intervals depending on whether it is a “cold” start or a warm one. Now if the switch is operated by detecting 50 deg C in the top coolant connection to the cooler group, this brings the fan hydraulics on whether the time counters are expired or not. After that I moved into the cab and had a look at the cab doors. The western side, the one which one needs to exchange tokens, had developed a habit of the inside door handle falling off. Examination suggested it was supposed to screw into something and this turned out to be a collar that lives inside the lock assembly. Once this was off the door and opened up, it was an easy task to jam the collar with a pointy thing and wind the handle back in to retain it, then put it all back. Encouraged I moved over to the other side, which has developed a habit of sticking. Here it was apparent that the lock mechanism wasn't quite sliding back far enough to clear the catch, and as there was no means of adjustment, I took the catch off, filed a gnat's whisker or two and seemingly it won't now stick.

By late afternoon we fired up Cheedale and moved 901 down a bit nearer to the water hose and began to refill. You may recall that the last time we did this it took for ever, and subsequently we learned that all 14s in industry had the casing tops cut away to access a plug in the top of the cooler group. With this mod having been made, filling the loco fully (last time we stopped once the level was below the thermostats) was achieved in less than half an hour, and we started up and ran up and down, even driving against the brakes, but the loco refused to get any higher than about 42 deg C. So I suppose we will find out next Tuesday (it is rostered again, and if you want to see it 'thrash', you need to be a bit north of Matlock, before Redhouse, Mr Ian Macc) whether the coolant temperature is no longer an issue, although, regardless, Andrew is organising materials to re-jig the plumbing at the end of the month.

Finally we moved over to Ashdown. Reports were that Ashdown had a coolant leak from a tap at the bottom of the water pump, which we extracted with some difficulty (as the water pump is part hidden by the air compressor and the tap is at the back of the water pump) but it turned out to be 1/4” BSP and we didn't have a replacement to hand. That will be a job later in the week, although there are rust trails from two hoses nearby that ought to be replaced while the system is “dry”.

But that's it for this week.

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