Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of fans and Buff Splits

24th August 2014

Well, I suppose I had better start from the beginning. On Monday, as forecast, Andrew set off rather later than planned for Scunthorpe, but rather fortuitously as it worked out, as the repaired spring for “Tom”, which I had arranged to pick up later in the week, arrived outside the Briddon Country Pile during the morning so we were able to hand-ball it straight out of the lorry and into the van. While he was over there, he refitted the buffer with a replacement spring (further information came to hand which revealed that the buffers on 03's should have but a single spring, not a nest of two as I had surmised, but that someone had bodged a completely incorrect spring into the place of the failed original).

Meanwhile I got a call from Jackie Statham wanting to call an urgent meeting that involved Gordon Bennett, the Operations Director, so could I please take 14 901 out again on Thursday and thus free Gordon from driving D8? With a certain amount of reluctance I agreed (I had had other things planned) seeing that I had just done two days, but didn't have 901 out on Tuesday.

The fuel delivery truck visited Rowsley on Monday, '901, D8, Charlie and the JCB were suitably refreshed and as agreed, I arrived at 4pm to assist running the works train southwards. My role was not to ride it, rather to dash down to Church Lane with Rob's key, and open the gates to let him through, then on to Darley and do Darley Dale crossing once he had unloaded the JCB on the down platform and shunted back to the up line (trust me, it makes sense). I was surprised when I arrived to follow a large people carrier on to site as they clearly didn't know what they were doing or where they were going. It turned out to be foreign tourists in a hire vehicle who assumed that they could get a ride at 4pm on a day when no trains were advertised. There was also a cyclist, who had ridden all the way, he said, from Buxton or somewhere beyond, expecting to catch the 4.15 and thus connect with an East Midlands Train at Matlock. He too hadn't read the timetables properly. I directed him to the footpath alongside the line as being a more pleasant ride than the A6.

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Talking of the A6, hardly a week goes by without somebody digging a piece of it up, and Monday it was the turn of some men who were removing old telegraph poles and inserting new ones. As I set off by car from Rowsley, the traffic southwards was solid and standing for a mile or so, but guided by info from Rob, I was able to turn left, then right up what I had assumed was a farm entrance but in reality was a road than goes parallel but farther up the hill. By this means I by-passed the queue, crossed the A6 and got down to Church Lane just in time to meet – the cyclist. Charlie wasn't far behind, and once across I shut and locked the gates, and drove on and round to Darley Dale - where the cyclist arrived 30 seconds after I did!

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Eventually Charlie and the works train were parked in Darley yard, and I took Rob back to Rowsley for his 4x4, after which I got changed and, together with Steph, rejoined him for more block laying of “Buff Splits” at the shed.

First thing Tuesday I had to be in Rowsley for the return of the Man from Allianz. I had it in my head he was not due until 2pm, it was Rob though who broke the news the previous night that he was due at 9am, but that I'd have an hour or so as he was booked to inspect the Peak Rail set first. So I was in by 08.30 and had refitted the cleaned and freshly oiled dashpots when I found the Man from Allianz stood next to me. Rob meantime was tinkering with a limit switch on the Peak Rail set so I dragged out my cables, and with no time to test in private, the Man from Allianz did his static look over, and then had me lift Libby. Thank goodness the Mattersons behaved perfectly, and I now have the relevant paperwork that says they are fit for use.

Tuesday night we were back at Darley, finishing the second course up to the side personnel door and starting on the lower course southwards along the railway side.

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I was busy Wednesday but popped in about 4pm to drop off some things in the container and found Rob and Tom-from-Newark had not only unloaded the two workbenches and steelwork that had come down on the works train but were dragging flatbottom rails in to our concrete areas. Although I had not planned to assist I inevitably stayed on for a while and thus recorded the first “track” in the shed, although, other than trialling the rail fixings (I only have 20 sets ready to see how the faired before I made more up) and checking the gauge (oops, a little tight) I tried not to get up to too much more.

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So on Thursday 14 901 was back out again, and Roy and I had a couple of visitors. One was an ex-Elsecar volunteer who recalled the loco there, the other a driver for Northern Rail, telling us that he had but 13 more shifts to do before he retired, and might be looking for somewhere to spend his free time. He had never been on a hydraulic before, he said, and assumed, when I showed him the interior of my box on the bulkhead, that this was “standard” on a D95-er, so I had to explain that no, this was a touch unique. I had two independent visitors on Thursday ask me whether this was a Clayton loco. It seems that the great enthusiast public who are blithely unaware of industrial loco development seem to think that the “only” centre cab locos around were the D85-ers. I try to answer their questions without being too rude, but do find it irritating, considering that the Claytons were Bo-Bos...

Thursday evening, Rob and Harvey went down to Darley after the service had finished, deployed the crane and laid out some track panels that extend the first siding pretty much back to its original length, the idea being that it is suitably buried to ground level and becomes an arrival/departure area for suitably flexible low-loaders if the need arises. As it will also form road access around to the front of the shed, we will in due course park the VBA or the like at the end to form a buffer stop to road or rail movements. I popped down on Friday to see how they'd got on, and took the opportunity to locate the two verticals that will in due course support the personnel door and the concrete panels either side. But there is a still a top piece to go in which I need Andrew's help to install.

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During the week the official dvd of the 14s at 50 event arrived with a couple of hours of 14s going up and down. We sat down one evening and watched a chunk of it, and it became obvious that when you saw '901 working in concert with a “normal” Teddy, '901 was distinctly cleaner on its exhaust. Aside from one problem. Since we removed the thermostats, we have gone from the sublime – with the engine temperature hovering in the 90s – to the ridiculous, with the temp struggling to get above 40. Now, my old friend – and reader – the ex-RR Service Engineer would like to see us running at around 70, and I am conscious that not only is 40 too low (it comes up when the loco is working hard, but Peak Rail is too short to bring it up that far) but it starts to make smoke and without enough blast through the turbo, the smoke lingers. Indeed, one photo of '901 on Flickr shows it going through Bury Bolton Street with the photographer's description of swathed in smoke.

Ever since we re-jigged the hydraulic fan system, the fan has been brought in by a time delay and thereafter left running. Switched “out” it does continue to turn a bit, but “in” it is more ferocious (indeed it can frequently be heard above engine noise, despite their being no silencer) and proportional to engine speed. So I started pondering and came to the conclusion that we needed to change the program, but a bit of a trail might be a good idea seeing that it could only be done whilst in service.

So Saturday morning I got in a little earlier than usual, and while Roy did the daily checks, disconnected the computer's wire to the fan control valve and instead added a manual switch and feed. The principle was to simulate the actions of a revised program which brought the fan in only when the Voith was engaged, i.e. when we could expect the engine to work. Tailing the train down to Matlock therefore, the fan is “out” and rotates slowly, and the idling engine did bring the temp up such that I could see it on the bottom of the gauge. Heading back to Rowsley though, brought it up 10 degrees or more with the fan “in”, and knocking it “out” as we rolled into Rowsley caused that temp to be maintained. As the day went on we built up to around 65 degrees. Bear in mind that the Voith oil is also circulating through a heat exchanger, thus the engine temp is also dumped into the Voith oil. So it too began to register on its gauge. More importantly, the smoke cleared as the day went on so combustion was improved. (You may ask why we don't just re-instate the thermostats, or rather new ones. We'd like to, and may one day, but without manufacturer or R-R part numbers (those we brought out the DV8 in the Brush 0-6-0DE were different) this is not at present an option.)

Another visitor asked me at Rowsley how many miles it did to the gallon, a question which shows how little they understand physics, but to which I reply by saying that it is not an entirely fair question, and what if I asked them how many miles to the gallon their car would do if I hung 3, 5 or maybe 10 caravans on the back? I ended up showing them the engine (the big Rolls-Royce logos on the manifolds seldom fail to impress the uninitiated) and my electrical box in the cab (all the wires seem to leave them in awe!).

Anyway, 14 901 is out again on Tuesday this week, and then on Thursday, we are lead to understand, it is off to Loughborough. The timetables are now available on the GCR website, and shows that yet again I have a late night on Saturday (final arrival at Loughborough at about a quarter past nine) or on duty for about 12 hours continuous. I wonder if the timetable compiler considered that there is only one driver – me? Andrew is committed to work on Thursday so unless he can get off early it is down to me to see it off at Quorn and escort it to Loughborough and resolve any issues. That's assuming it does move on Thursday, of course, as the GCR has yet to let us know who's collecting it or when (or for that matter, when it's coming back). Any GCR members reading this care to let me know what carriage formations I can expect? Or maybe a gradient profile?

Oh and one amusement during the week – someone has been spreading a story that 14 901 is going to a gala on the Severn Valley. Whether it started with PLEG or they picked it up early on I know not, but it was to be found on the PLEG website even though the SVR site made no mention of it. Andrew has had an approach from another group about it attending a gala, but it wasn't the SVR and he felt it necessary to put out a posting on one forum to make it clear that it was not true. That usually doesn't stop rumours though. Next there'll be people asserting that we're merely trying to keep it a secret...

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