Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of fuel and fretting.

25th January 2015


A slightly alarming number of readers commented early in the week how much they were looking forward to hearing about part two of our fork lift truck training. It never fails to amaze me what peculiar interests you all display, but who am I to deny you the full story....

Having taken on a secondhand forklift, it was always a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation. On the one hand, we required the necessary bits of paper to demonstrate our competency, on the other, we need to bring the machine up to a satisfactory state at which it would get its LOLER certificate from an independent examiner. We chose to try and get both matters dealt with in parallel. As you will remember from last week's blog, I was left with two urgent tasks on Monday, namely getting a new throttle cable  and being around for the fitter who would be coming in to change the two front tyres.

Andrew found me a supplier, only half-an-hour away in Kirby-in-Ashfield, whose website listed a “while-you-wait” replacement service for bowden-type cables, but first thing I rang up to check. A seemingly rather-gormless guy on the other end of the phone told me that there was a 3-4 day waiting time. I re-checked the website, and rang back after 9.15 to try and get to speak to someone-senior-in-charge to ascertain why then they listed a “while-you-wait” service and if so, did they provide full bed and board.  After a few minutes talking to a switchboard lady I got put through to – yes - the same guy who said it was 3-4 days because they had so much work on. I decided to take my business elsewhere.

In the end, after several e-mails and photos had been sent to and fro, an order was placed with Cablecraft at Hailsham, whom I have dealt with before, although with the best will in the world it would not be ready in time to be fitted before our second-day's training, but as I said before, within the small area at our disposal anything much above tick-over wasn't required unless it was to lift the forks hurriedly or with a load near its maximum capacity, neither of which is likely at the moment.

So I settled down to get some work done, always waiting for the phone call from the fitter who would give me a 10 minute or so warning of his arrival to change the tyres. By about 4.15 I concluded that he wasn't going to be able to see to get the job done, so started making calls to the supplier.  Within 30 minutes I had a very apologetic Regional manager on because the Nottingham branch tyre fitter had not turned in and they had hoped to cover it from Sheffield, but they had been too busy and no-one had thought to advise me, the customer.

So we went in to Tuesday morning with the forklift in much the same condition as before, but at least we knew its defects and could work with them. Late Monday afternoon though, we had commuted to and fro from Rowsley with three of Andrew's empty stillages to act as loads for our tests.

With the aid of some spare 20/25 litre plastic drums (they would have been  road cones if such had been available) our instructor set up a chicane, though in this case, it was a near 90 degree zig-zag using the full width of the concrete apron between the track slabs, and my first thoughts were 'yikes, that isn't giving us much room to get through'. And yes, it wasn't much to spare but it was feasible, though it did require coming in at a perfect angle and watching corners and sides of the forklift as we weaved our way through.  Pretty soon he had us picking up stillages, stacking them one on to another, then snaking our way through with stillage on the forks, and as the stillage was wider than the forklift this added to the challenge of steering it through the chicane without touching the plastic drums.  So far though it had all been practice, with him instructing us as to how he expected it to be done and no doubt, correcting my bad habits.

At one point though I got a phone call from Steph and dashed back home, for at least one thing was going right – our new forks had been delivered. By the time I got back they were on the drive at the Briddon Country Pile, and the driver was waiting for my signature. I had specified delivery to the house as I did not know when they might arrive and did not want to be hanging around at Darley all day on the off-chance (the supplier had only advised on Monday that they'd be with us Tuesday). The driver was a bit bemused to be delivering them to a private address, especially when, we discovered, his previous drop had been the builders merchants next door to us at Darley Dale station....  With help from Steph I loaded the forks into the van and at least had something to show our instructor that we were serious in getting the forklift's defects sorted.

As I got on the machine to do a bit of practice, I started it up and noticed the ammeter stayed at zero. This rang alarm bells in my head so I shut it down and sure enough, the ruddy alternator belt was no longer in its grooves. Losing charging was one thing, but the belt also drives the coolant pump so there was a  risk that the engine might overheat. In practice though, giving the engine a chance to cool while we had lunch, the overall ambient (it was cold) and the fact that we were only operating at idle on the engine – everything worked ok.

After lunch we did the actual practical tests. The pass marks were 60% and as I finished mine it was obvious from the smug grin on Andrew's face that he had done better than I had. For while I had carried out the tests significantly quicker, I had dropped 19 points (81%), he had dropped only 11 (89%). We then went back in the Portakabin and carried on with the final theory tests, when the instructor admitted he had given us the “harder” papers to do, but  we came through with only a few points lost. Having thus passed we finished off with a “training film”, which he warned us was a  bit gory. It is a german film, and you can find it on you-tube here with subtitles. Klaus, on his first day as a licenced forklift-truck driver, gradually maims and injures his way through the factory staff – but I won't spoil the ending...

Oh and sadly the new DVLC for forklift operatives I mentioned has been delayed by computer problems (oh where have we heard that before) so how long before it is up and running, and whether we will be amongst the first on it, remains to be seen. At least we have our  A4 size certificates and our little proof cards (complete with scary mugshots) should be here within the week.

The new throttle cable duly arrived on Wednesday, and on Thursday I ended up talking to the tyre company fitter about the tyres he was to replace. But, on seeing my pictures, he declared that this particular design of forklift has its brakedrums integral with the wheels, and company policy is not to touch them as they have had past incidents where subsequent brake failures have been blamed on incorrect re-assembly. So it is back to us to get the wheels off, either ourselves  or by bringing in a  competent person – like Terry – after which we may as well take the tyres to the firm rather than have them bring the press out to us. Nothing is ever simple.

The plan had been for us to go to Scunthorpe on Saturday. But on Friday night a northbound 458 move from Wimbledon to Doncaster had become stranded on the ECML and as the translator vehicles come under Andrew's fleet, it was agreed that he should attend on Saturday to fault-find. Thus I had some time to myself, punctuated by a call from Harvey to the effect that Charlie had died during a  shunt and how did he drain off the air to the auto-emergency? It sounded like a simple matter of running it out of fuel, so I did not see any reason to attend straightaway. It was standard Rolls' practice to route the converter return line into the engine fuel system, which we suspected meant that when the engine fuel suction point became aired, it could continue running drawing its fuel from the converter return line, but once the engine shutdown, it would draw air in and refuse to start.

So we rolled in to Rowsley on Sunday with the intention of doing more work on 14 901's cooling system, but first took time out to investigate Charlie. Dipping the tank with a  shunter's pole showed sufficient fuel, but clearly it was having nothing of it.  But Andrew spotted that the top of the fuel pump was running in fuel and it was coming down  a pipe at the back. Closer examination showed that this pipe and the injector feed pipe for No.3 cylinder, had been fretting together right behind the exhaust manifold and the combined effect had been to chew their way through each skin until they were holed.

IMG 3757 blog

We have two other RR C6s on site that are available as Christmas trees on such occasions, but although one yielded a No.3 injector pipe, the return pipe behind (the one in the picture) was different on both the other engines, so Andrew attempted to weld it up, by turning the MIG welder right down.  Reassembled, the engine fired – roughly as not all pots came back together – but the bodged up pipe piddled out as bad as before so we took it out again.

Although a more permanent solution needs to be found, for a temporary fix we needed a length of suitable flexible pipe and a couple of jubilee clips, so started touring all the usual repositories. In the end, a length of domestic washer connection proved to be the right bore (i.d to slide over the OD of our pipe) but it wouldn't take kindly to touching a hot exhaust manifold, so we looped it out and tied it to keep an air gap.

IMG 3758 blog

We had barely got started on the next pipe for 14 901 when Jackie Statham wanted to know what we were doing about Cheedale. It seems that having got Cheedale to go by adding a few gallons in to the tank and bleeding the system through, it had part carried out a shunt around the loco shed area  and then died again. That explained why it was parked in a peculiar position across a turnout.

We went over to Cheedale, started to prime the system, hearing the fuel filter gurgle as we did so. Trouble is, the amount of fuel they had added (about 8 or 9 gallons) spread out over the area of the tank, would have only raised the fuel level a half inch or so (dipping it revealed it was about the same as last week) and it would only take a bit of surging as a shunt was carried out for it to have  exposed the fuel inlet point to air. It was obvious from the state of the batteries that someone had been cranking and cranking to no avail, so we abandoned our efforts. The old Thomas Hill guidance was never to let the fuel in the tank get below a quarter as the returning fuel from the converter would be hot and consequently the contents of the tank would be heated as the day went on.  Hot fuel is not what you want in the engine. In short, having got Cheedale to go again last week it should have been left alone until a decent quantity of fuel had been added.

Back on 14 901 we needed to remove the two pipes that take the coolant in and out of the big cylindrical cooler for the Voith.  This in itself needs to be changed (though will mean starting to drain the transmission oil out) but accessing the bolts gave us a few problems and in the end we removed three of the four bolts holding the compressor bedplate and swung the assembly out of the way so that at least we could see the bolts that we needed to undo. The old pipes (Andrew reckoned one was original to the Paxman installation but had had a piece of malleable pipework bodged on to its end) were unbolted and discarded, and we set about assembling a cranked section to get from the engine to the lower cooler flange, and welding my blank flange to the end of the pipe once we had it about right. This is a case of trial and error, walking from the back of the workshops, out to the loco, climbing up and trialling the bit, then taking it all the way back, into a vice and adjusting the orientation of the pipes and flange with the aid of a 36” Stillsons, then out to have another go, etc., etc. It would have been so much quicker and easier if 14 901 had been allowed in the shed for this essential work.

But eventually Andrew professed himself satisfied, the next section was roughly trialled in place, but as it was now getting towards dark we had to call it a day.

Meanwhile, a small team of volunteers, led by Rob Sanders, had finally completed the repair work on the buffer stop destined to form the termination of the second siding down at Darley Dale. This has been a bit of a stop-start affair, indeed, there has been no work carried out at Darley since November, save our putting our rails down in the shed. However, all that has changed, as Rob handed his resignation in on Thursday and leaves in Mid Feb. He is hoping to have the track modifications completed before he leaves, so once  Charlie and Cheedale have been fuelled (probably Tuesday) Charlie and the works train will be off to Darley to resume work, complete with buffer stop. Whilst Andrew and I are delighted that Rob is making a positive career move after 14 years at Rowsley, we wonder how Peak Rail will cope and how standards will be maintained. We wish him all the best and he will be sorely missed. In any event, we need to get some jobs sorted out while he is still around! And as our grandson is due up again next weekend – there just aren't enough days in a weekend!

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