Y'see with one thing and another (including weather, fatigue and presence of grandson to name but three) there hasn't been a great deal of visible progress this week, but there again, behind the scenes, it has scarcely been standing still.
On Monday I picked up a piece of specially formed plate to be part of the support frame for the side personnel door at the Geoffrey Briddon Building, aka the Shed. After doing final measurement checks on the columns I did indeed get the order placed for the roller shutter doors which will start to make the south end of the building look a bit more complete. But the lead time is about 3 weeks so they won't appear until the end of the month. Still, it gives us a bit of time to progress the steelwork down at that end.
Since I haven't apparently taken a picture of the entire end like this before, you can probably see how the two recessed track “slabs” aim fairly and squarely in the middle of the two pairs of columns. The space between them will become a wall with our second personnel door in the middle. We could have sorted the steelwork out sooner, but originally we planned that concrete lorries would back up the centre, chuting their wares to left and right. That of course was an idea that never came to fruition, although for the moment it might prove the easiest access to get the rails into position, which is something Rob seems keen to get on with, probably so he can see what he has to aim the track at. Incidentally, there are no prizes for spotting that a telegraph pole is almost dead in line with the track at the left side – in fact the ground level here is a foot or so higher than elsewhere in the yard and the arisings are still very much of a problem.
Anyway, to support the 4 small panels (which are stacked up beyond the column left of centre) and the personnel door, we had ordered up 3 pieces of channel for delivery to Rowsley, and they arrived on Tuesday. 14 901 was in traffic that day, with Roy driving so although I popped down first thing to see the loco into traffic (it was its first day back after Bury and having been stood a week I expected that the gearbox might stick a bit, and sure enough it did, but a run to Matlock sorted it out) and put a final piece of plastic into Grace's sliding window as a temporary measure to remedy the damage done by the great unwashed of Leeds, I was able to get on with other things.
On Wednesday I had made the trip to my profilers and returned with a number of pieces which would convert these channels to frame pieces, so in the evening Andrew and I popped in to Rowsley workshops to do the necessary cutting and welding. That would have been much more pleasant but for the fact that they're rivetting the boiler from an Austerity in there at the present, and so every few minutes there's one almighty din as they round off the end of a stay bar. Since no-one has yet to make an automatic welding mask with built-in ear defenders (you watch, someone will now send me a link to just such a product) Andrew suffered much from this, whereas I could at least just keep my ears warm. Apparently they have about 600 ends to rivet and are only about half-way through. How lovely, and I have the Allianz man coming back on the 19th...
Anyway, such anti-social activities encouraged us to rush through the work and get the h*** out. Why the urgency? Well, as the plans stood, Rob was hoping to take the works train back to Darley on Thursday evening and as the bits were a bit big to go in the van, had promised to bring them down by rail if we had them ready. At the same time, we asked him to take down two workbenches which have been sat, mostly sheeted, out the back at Rowsley but which it seemed could now take their rightful places in the shed, although I fear that after this length of time we may have to re-timber them as soon as we have a roof. So Rob loaded them aboard, but when it came to it, a fuel delivery for Charlie and the JCB didn't materialise so it is all still stood at Rowsley.
On Thursday though, Andrew arrived back with a boot-full of gauges, mostly duplex air gauges, and two were identified as being the right bodies for my speedos, so were grabbed and the first of them is now almost ready to go into the other side panel of 14 901. Andrew also had an evening excursion to collect an e-bay lot of 3” pipe fittings. This is not a size we normally use, so had nothing in stock, but is the right diameter for the panned re-arrangement of the cooling system plumbing on 14 901, which is coming up our priority list. For although the next urgent priority is ensuring D2128 is working and presentable for the AFRPS gala, those outstanding tasks on 14 901 which we hoped to do before it went to Bury, are going to have to be done before the winter.
A flurry of e-mails Friday night has seen a provisional booking for 14 901 to attend another gala. No names yet as conditions still need to be agreed, and from asking around it appears that the organisers may have been working down the list of visitors to Bury last month and got to Andrew last, but when they've tried the rest...
Saturday had me out on 14 901 sharing the day with Roy. For once, we only had 6 on, for one had had to be detached. It seems that a visitor, perhaps over the 40s weekend, had brought their pet along and their pet had had its own pets, some of which stayed behind. Animal fleas don't bite humans unless there's nothing more to their normal diet around, but complaints by a passenger during the week, then a member of staff confirming, had the carriage pulled until the compartment can be treated. It gave us some entertainment, as all our usual stopping points (first fence post past the water tank at Rowsley, the ballast pile by the line at Darley Dale) did not now apply and we had to figure it out where to stop for ourselves. But it did result in us actually standing in the platform at Matlock, instead of almost-a-carriage length out. This meant that passengers, both actual and prospective, could wander over, peer in and ask questions – like -
“What's wrong with Penyghent today?”
“Nothing, it's having a rest in the shed...”
It is not that I particularly mind people assuming that Peak Rail use the same locos every day (after all, currently if it is a steamer it has to be Lord Phil) but I sense the impression that they consider this small blue loco can only be deputising for the big green one out of desperation brought on by mechanical trauma. Ignoring the specialist in Peak Rail's lineside maintenance who admitted to me (with some relish) that he first thought that 901 looked like a box on a flat wagon -
(“Oh, I'll be on the lineside north of Church Lane today” he told me that morning
“I'll have the custard pies ready” I promised, but in the end only dropped him a couple of bottles of water)
- that seemingly knowledgeable persons assume any rigid coupled loco can only be a shunter (and thus, of no interest) saddens me. Where would Flying Scotsman be without side rods? Well yes, I know it is without its rods at the moment and I daresay when they've finally sorted out all the misalignments, cracks and 'running repairs' that they keep uncovering someone'll discover that the side rods have centres out of tolerance and can't be refitted, but anyway, that aside what would it be without side rods? Apart from a 6-2-4? But it all comes back to that hierarchy. At the top of the pile is the express passenger loco, (and there are a disproportionate number of those pottering up and down short preserved lines for which their power, weight and fuel consumption – coal or diesel – is woefully inefficient) then mixed traffic, down through freight haulers and right at the bottom, not just shunters, but industrial shunters. I find myself listing Andrew's collection to visitors and starting with the BR ones, then almost apologetically explaining that the rest are industrials, knowing that to have listed each one by Maker and Type would have had my listener glaze over before I was half-way through.
While I was winging my merry way betwixt Rowsley and Matlock, Andrew had gone off with the van to Leeds. When we first put an HC into Middleton, we put a quantity of spares into store up there in a container, in support of restoration. With that restoration now to take place at Darley, there seemed little point in leaving them so they have been extricated and brought back. Though the fact that the container is now sadly standing in water has not done some parts much good. Never mind, the two Hudswell buffers can go with the buffer stock in our temporary home at Rowsley, and the other bits we can sort in due course.
Meantime at the end of the day I decided to take 5 minutes to have a look at the overload relays on the Matterson set. I had assumed that the adjustment on the relays, which was calibrated roughly in amps, was a spring return and I could bring one out as a sample to see about sourcing an off-the-shelf replacement. When I unscrewed it however, I discovered I was wrong, and it is what I think used to be termed a “dash pot” in carburettors, or a piston sat in an oil filled cylinder. Since the first I opened up had more oil on top that under the piston, and the second was almost dry, this revelation opens up a new set of possibilities as regards sorting out the overload relays before the return of the man from Allianz. Clearly the oil is intended to prevent the relay tripping at the first surge of current, (which is what's happening now) as the piston is connected to the armature of the coil. If I clean that lot and add fresh oil... Now that's a thought, it would probably say in the instructions to use a “light machine oil” in those halcyon days when everyone had a tin of “3 in 1” on a shelf in their garage for their bikes, lawnmowers, grandfather clocks and such. Well my Dad always did. The operation of the piston is restrained by the oil, so presumably the thicker the oil, the greater the retardation. So maybe EP140, or steam oil, at least until the inspection is out the way!
So what have I to look forward to next week? Three days on the footplate, as 901 is rostered for Tuesday and both days next weekend, and as I have to drive all day Sunday, probably a lecture from someone senior exhorting smooth starts and stops as the Palatine restaurant carriages will be in action. Oh what fun.