Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of shutters and Simplexes

14th September 2014

With D8 “Penyghent” having a holiday at Etches Park, it was down to '901 to maintain the diesel end of Peak Rail services, and not only was there a Tuesday and Wednesday but a Thursday too. With only two passed drivers that meant I was rostered for two of the midweek days and then Saturday, so no rest for the wicked.

Firstly, the news on 901 was a bit mixed – certainly we are back to full engine rpm (when it went into traffic last Sunday it was struggling to get beyond 1100) but the hunting, especially below 1000, is not good, and some black smoke is indicative that the pump is still not as healthy as it ought to be. For those who have recently joined the blog, a brief summary of where we are with 14 901's fuel system might be in order -

When this particular engine was built by Rolls-Royce, it was intended to match, as near as possible, the performance of the Paxman engine which were fitted in the rest of the class 17's, which means it has several non-standard features. However, for rail traction purposes, a Woodward governor was installed on a 90 degree drive at the front of the engine. This governor then actuated the fuel pump rack through an external linkage. When we got hold of the loco in 2008, however, although the drive was there, the governor itself was missing, and the fuel pump was a typical CAV of the period with an integral hydraulic (engine fuel) governor.

I have commented elsewhere that we could find no signs of any air throttle to drive the engine, although we have been told that there was one, and the one video we have seen on you-tube of the loco working at Bo'ness does not suggest anyone hanging on to a piece of string. Moreover, as received, the fuel pump was connected up wrongly (pump elements piped to the wrong injectors) so the engine cannot have been run in that condition. It is tempting to conclude that the loco did run with the Woodward governor and had it air throttled, but that the SRPS salvaged the expensive Woodward governor before selling the loco, leaving no visible throttle control. The trouble is, that doesn't explain where the fuel pump on it now came from, or what rating it is set for.

Our kind ex R-R Service Engineer is continuing his research, and let us hope that he can come up with some answers. Meanwhile we would like to lay our hands on a spare pump, with a hydraulic or better still a mechanical governor, which would enable us to have a spare and avoid these panic situations. Of course, it is perfectly possible in this day and age to govern the engine electrically, but as the throttle is air-driven and the air signal is also required by the Voith, somewhere along the way I would have either to convert the air throttle signal into milli-amps, or use the electrical current to provide a pressure signal for the Voith – either route requires some development in making sure the two work in something resembling harmony, and right now we have a loco that is not performing its best.

Still with engines, Andrew came home with a copy of October's Railways Illustrated and we read page 38 with some alarm. Apart from the fact that the acquisition of a Rolls' CV12 engine for the loco is scarcely news (it has been at Rowsley since late last year) the wording used in the article might infer that we could install the engine at its Battle tank rating of 1200bhp. As it was explained to me when I worked for Thomas Hills (which was a wholly-owned subsidiary of Rolls-Royce Motors) at that rating the engine wasn't expected to last for more than about 100hours at full chat. This was the Cold War and the fear was that Rusky tanks would come surging westward over the plains of Germany. The logic went that if that happened, the war would be short and bloody, Blitzkreig on a massive scale, and if you hadn't won inside those hours, you'd lost, so it didn't matter. When we start to install it (and it will not be for a year or two yet) we will set the fuel pump at a rating of about 650 at 1800rpm otherwise it would be asking for trouble. (And anyway, although the engine type could be rated at 1200bhp, the chances are that it was a different configuration along the way, and no doubt my friendly ex RR service engineer will now tell me the whys and wherefors...)

On Tuesday we had a number of coach parties, including one from the Pennsylvania Steam Railway club, or some such name, and I braced myself for some transatlantic dumb questions. But they were indeed all died-in-the-wool kettle fans and while the steam crew were besieged, Roy and I had things to ourselves. We did however have a pleasant meeting with Andy H, who brought with him a friend who drives battery electric locos in North Wales, and a dog with a carrying handle. No I don't mean a baby walker with wheels, the dog had the requisite functional 4 legs, the usual lead plus a harness with a handle on the top.

At the beginning of the week I spoke with the firm supplying our roller shutter doors, and they settled on Thursday as the day to erect them, starting at 08.30. As the railway was hired for corporate purposes and I was rostered, I checked that Rob would be around in case of any accident, and planned to get down there at about 8.15-8.20 to be in good time to open up. At 08.05 I had a call from the fitters, as their office had told them to be there for eight! I dashed down and hung on long enough to see all the bits unloaded and a scissor lift drive in ready.

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Our clients had hired the Whitworth for their clients to meet and be greeted, before walking down the hill to Darley Dale station. We meanwhile did an empty run to Matlock, and I was surprised to see that in just 3 hours the first roller shutter was finished and the second under way. We trundled back in to Darley Dale to see a horde of Network rail people on the platform. We got them aboard and took them to Rowsley, where they congregated like a swarm of orange bees. Jim, the guard, reported though that some of the personnel were stood at the carriage doors waiting for them to magically open, or looking for the “open door” button...

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Anyway, they moved across to the display while we had some lunch, then did a non-stop run to and from Matlock while the clients were fed and watered in the restaurant cars. Both my roller shutters were now up and the contractors had departed site. A third run was made later in the day, where some of the guests left the train at Matlock and the rest at Darley. Rob meanwhile had not been idle, another panel had been removed from the first siding (next to the main line) the ground excavated to form a gentle grade to join it and the track past the shed, and the first few concrete sleepers put down ready to reconnect. He had finished earlier though, and as 901 came to rest at Rowsley, he could be seen on Ashdown shunting the crane around for some boiler lifting work.

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Andrew had some time free on Friday, so together we mounted the second personnel door, on the side facing the railway. It provided us a few extra problems as the steelwork erected by the contractors proved to be too tight to width and slightly out of vertical to boot, but while it ended up taking twice as long as we'd expected, it is in. Along the way, we had to adjust the linkage, which means removing 4 Philips-headed M5 screws which clearly the manufacturer had put in with an air-wrench. Did I chew out the head trying to undo any? No, I just shattered the tip of the 'driver! We ended up drilling that swine out!

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Saturday I was out again with 901, this time with a secondman who was a regular driver on D8 but happy to fill in, though meant I had all 5 runs to drive. It transpired we had shared interests - a love of the Isle of Man (though he's been there much more than I have) and 16mm garden railways (a hobby that has taken a back seat for me since children and full-size locos took precedence) which made the day go well.

Now, I have said in the past that my own real interest is in narrow gauge, and years ago I owned 6 n.g. Diesel locos. I had to sell up when Yorkshire Engine was forced to close down by the Bank, and since then I have seen little of them in their new owners hands. Four of the six though, went to Apedale and Andrew and I have repeatedly planned a visit over there but kept finding insufficient days not committed to his locos. However, the “Tracks to the Trenches event” seemed too good to miss and as one of the organisers is Andrew's boss (well, for the moment) we booked tickets for us plus Steph and grandson for today.

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Again, for any readers not familiar, the trench warfare that characterised the First World War was not anticipated by the Allies, although the Germans had invested in “Feldbahn” (Field railway) equipment. As the countryside was transformed by heavy road traffic and shelling, short railways started to evolve using locally-sourced equipment and eventually fully-fledged Light Railway units were provided, using 2ft gauge to bring the materials up to the front lines from standard gauge railheads in the rear. Although initially steam-worked, the locos made good targets for enemy shells and snipers so internal combustion locos took over the closest sections. 

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Of these, the 20hp Simplexes are probably the best known, and a small army of these had been brought together at Apedale, together with a selection of the 40hp ones which came in a variety of different armour-plated configurations. But there were others of the period, including a Baguley, and on the steam side, 0-6-0Ts from Kerr Stuart and Hudswell Clarke, the ubiquitous Baldwin 4-6-0T and a German 0-8-0T from the “other side”. All in all a first class “do” with trench displays, cavalry and troop demonstrators, and models in numerous scales. We bumped into a few friends, some we hadn't seen in years and had difficulty recognising as time had taken its toll on us all.

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I could only find one of my old collection, the “Hudson Hunslet” 4wDM (which, though built for the War Department, was for the wrong war) the other three, I learned, were packed away in various places, so I think I shall have to go again!

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On a 7.25” gauge line, one gentleman was driving his 4wheeled imitation Simplex by sitting on it in the same manner I want to do with my project, but he opened the casings to reveal that what I thought was an i.c. engine was a sound effect unit while the power came from two large batteries which provided a lot of weight for stability! But it proved once again that it was possible, and as we drove back, Andrew and I were discussing our shed opening ceremony (don't get excited, no date set yet) with a large 0 gauge layout up one side and me with my working 7.25” loco giving rides outside. Yeah, we must get back to that, along with getting Libby going, the roof and sides on, and D2128 ready for the October gala at Scunthorpe, and which, with only a couple of weekends left in September, is getting awfully near.

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