Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of water pumps and daftness

Of water pumps and daftness

21st December 2014

So, a few more days and all this Christmas humbug will be over and I can get back to more normal things. Even my daughter has taken me to task over last week's edition, pointing out that it was 1994, not 1997 when my mother died, but giving me the opportunity to blame any excess melancholy on it being the 20th anniversary.

Andrew had Monday afternoon off and after sorting out a few things, we tripped into Rowsley and set about cutting into the 3” pipe which he had had delivered a couple of weeks ago, and is destined to make the new cooling system on 14 901. For this purpose we had taken down the cut-off saw, the clamp of which wasn't really big enough to hold such pipe firmly, so as a precaution I sat on it (I hasten to make clear – the pipe, not the saw): the cold steel pipe and the vibration of the disc chewing through the steel combining to exert a strange sensation on my nether regions.  We also got one of the 5 code-light boxes cleaned up for the 03, but Andrew declared we needed a fresh supply of flap-discs before he does the rest. Maybe he's hoping Father Christmas will bring some.

Back on the loco, we started to swap the engine pipes over. As acquired, 14 901 had the thermostat housing set up with the outlet facing the outside of the loco, resulting in some rather daft pipework to turn the coolant almost through 180 degrees before heading back in to the centre line of the loco where the connection at the top of the cooler group is. Daft, in that all these bends were un-neccesary if the top of the thermostat housing had been turned around in the first place, and daft in that they add un-wanted resistance to coolant flow and weight hanging on the front of the engine (as none of the coolant pipes were properly supported).  Since in the longer term it is still our intention to remount the engine on a proper 4 point anti-vibration mounting system anyway, an adequately supported set of pipes is essential.  But as we changed the housing top around, and prepared to change a pipe down the front of the engine, (which was one of Rolls' but had been bodged), we discovered that although our replacement pipe was also a cast Rolls one, it was sadly about 1/8” OD less than the thermostat housing  outlet, so rather than a simple cuff pipe of silicon hose, a stepped joint and appropriate clips would be required. As darkness fell, we called it a day,

We do not currently possess any means of threading 3” BSP, so on Tuesday I headed back in to Sheffield with the pipes we had cut bouncing around in the back of the van, and dropped them off at a firm who (I hope) will have them threaded as required by the middle of this next week, when like everywhere else they decide to cease work in favour of some festival of gluttony and materialism.  I had to rush back as we had provisionally arranged that Terry would drop by after work and service our little forklift, but the news came through that he was poorly and off work anyway, so that has had to be rescheduled. I had however acquired a  replacement alternator by then. Typically, having gone through all the hassle of clamping the pulley with a  drive belt  in the vice and undoing the retaining nut so as to remove said pulley and fan for re-use, the replacement alternator came with them ready fitted. (I have had to do this on every 24V alternator I have ever changed).

On Friday Steph and I were detailed to head down to Norfolk to collect our grandson who is staying with us for Christmas, but never one to waste an opportunity, collected James' water pump on the way back. It is the subject of an experimental new shaft seal, so is at the moment quite stiff, let us see how it goes.

So for this weekend our time has been limited, with Andrew aiming to spend as much time as possible with his son, who in turn is very attached to him and gets upset if Andrew so much as leaves the room. With it being the weekend of the shortest days, daylight too is restricted yet our work has been outdoors. At Darley on Saturday, while Andrew got on with something else, I re-mounted and connected up the alternator to the forklift, but as the oil leak we had when we were dragging it in managed to lose rather a lot of the sump level, I am not running it again until Terry has serviced it and checked it over. For with greater familiarity with the machine, I have found what appears to be a pair of drive belts and a pump hiding away at the back and seemingly not being driven by anything, so I may have some more things to deal with it before it is up to scratch. In any event the battery cables require a  bit of TLC, and I have bought an additional isolator, as the present keyswitch is but a “Plant” key which is anything but secure, so the isolator will be inserted into the new cables, and requires a real key.

Today we finally got down to Rowsley again, not to proceed on 14 901 but to get the water pump back on to James. Indeed, at one point we had envisaged getting it all connected, checked for leaks, the batteries boosted and the loco started, but we had forgotten that we had borrowed James' starter temporarily so that must find its way back.

Anyway, while Andrew made up a  few last joints, I wandered off with Dom Beglin to the S&T store to have a look at the bits he wants me to make for the wire-operated lever frame. If, like me, your experience with lever frames has been exclusively with rod operation, whether the round bar beloved of the GWR or the galvanised inverted U that seems to come from everywhere else, the idea of operating turnouts with wire rope seems daft: it's what you pull signals off with. But, so Dom assured me, this kit, which has Westinghouse's name cast all over it,  remains in use in a  number of overseas countries, and given the tales of BR's prejudices towards doing things one way to the exclusion of all others, even though another may be acceptable or superior, I can well believe it. Replicating a part that is a complex casting with a fabrication  is a bit of a challenge, but doesn't seem too difficult, we'll see how it looks on CAD.

IMG 3699 blog

Back at James, I removed the remains of the wasp nest that had taken root by the radiator a couple of years ago and with me on one side of the loco and Andrew on the other, we re-installed the water pump, connected up the belt drives, the fan and sundry pipes and hoses then dragged a long hose over from the loop to refill the loco – no point putting expensive anti-freeze in until we know it is (apparently) water tight. 50/50 mix will of course, find ways out that plain water molecules will not. But as it is a mild night forecast it will stay in overnight so that we can see it is OK before substituting the mixed.

OK then, that's about it. No exciting photos of work in progress (I didn't think that a close up of James' water pump was really worth it, though if I 'd thought to drape a bit of tinsel  around it to make it more festive.... ) So I'll leave you with a shot that Dom took during the week, of E1 and 14901, lit by a solitary star hovering over a nearby stable....

photo blog

Merry Christmas.

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