One of the things I had noticed when we were priming “Cheedale” was that the priming pump started to leak badly as the fuel refilled the pump body. On the old CAV “N” series pumps, the priming pump was but a lever on the underside of the lift pump, acting on the diaphragm just as the cam inside did. But Cheedale's C8N was one of the later ones, and towards the end of engine manufacture under the Rolls-Royce banner, a lot of things were rationalised. The C-range industrial engine was changed wherever possible to use components common to the “Eagle” automotive engine, which was dubbed the “motorway miser” as in constant speed, long haul applications it turned in better fuel consumption than some of its competitors. (The other side to this, in our limited experience at Hills, was that unfortunately it didn't seem to like stop-start work, so short distance haulage was not its thing). This even went as far as valve stem oil seals, where the Eagle used a different seal to the C-range, and we had no end of problems with the Eagle seal as the loco engines were prone to being kept idling for long periods (e.g. while waiting for wagons to be loaded or unloaded) and the Eagle arrangement proved adept at passing oil when idling. Do that on a flameproof loco with a water-wash exhaust and your exhaust conditioner slowly becomes a mixture of water, maybe a little unburnt fuel but a steadily increasing proportion of lube oil. Eventually the oil would clog the float valve on the conditioner box, the water evapourated away (it was supposed to to cool the gases) and eventually you had a flameproof loco with fully-fledged oil-fired flames coming out the exhaust stack. Take it from me, oil refineries do not take kindly to that sort of thing.
Of course, on the 28th February 1984 ( a date that seems to be indelibly printed on my memory) Rolls-Royce Diesel Division was sold to Perkins, and became Perkins Engines (Shrewsbury) Ltd, whilst we at Hills were sold to Resco (Railways) that day and arguably the date marked the start of a decline into oblivion for both companies. At Shrewsbury the C8N, and for that matter the DV8, disappeared soon afterwards, leaving only the C6, which continued as the Eagle or as the Perkins 2006 in its industrial form (and the CV8 and CV12 of course as the Perkins 3000 series). To be fair, Rolls had just finished a number of improvements to the C range/Eagle engine (some would say long overdue) including combustion chamber alterations following a development programme in the hands of a Swiss company, resulting a new piston crown design which, by some quirk of physics, resembled the Perkins logo.
So as I said the C8N in Cheedale was a late one, and had the Bosch fuel pump which had replaced the CAV, and a spin-on fuel filter instead of the traditional 2 or 3 bowl paper ones. And with the Bosch fuel pump came a completely different type of fuel priming pump – a cylindrical one with a plastic-headed plunger. Seeing this pump leaking as the engine was primed after being run-out of fuel, I did wonder whether it was time to replace it, and early on in the week set about sourcing one. In the end I ran one to ground and ordered it, but it was in Germany and even with DHL would take a day or so. Meanwhile, fuel had been added to Cheedale's tank (but as an only moderate fuel delivery had been spread between Cheedale, Charlie, E1 and I don't know what else it hasn't brought the tank level up all that far) Rob had primed it through and run it for an hour or so, and left it he thought in running order before he set off for Darley.
As Andrew was at work, I was also charged with bidding for a lift attachment for the forklift that he'd spotted on e-bay. Basically it was two bits of square tube that clamp over the forks, held apart by a couple of pieces of steel that enabled you to use it like a crude crane, but actually quite handy when getting into awkward places like inside engine casings. The firm - in Bedford - were offering one in apparently pristine condition, ex demo, but with no warranty and at an attractive price. As closing time neared, I was studying the picture and eventually downloaded it into my computer so that I could zoom in and examine it more closely. In the centre was a lug through which you put a D-link for your lifting chains, and as I studied it, it became apparent (but not so obvious in the picture on e-bay) that the lug was bent and cracked through. That, I concluded, was why no warranty was offered, though to leave potential purchasers to spot the defect in a comparatively small photo was a bit of a poor show. In the end, I did bid on it up to Andrew's maximum in case he was aware already, but was relieved when someone else outbid me and when Andrew came home from work admitted he hadn't seen it. With his Engineering qualifications we might design our own and get it proof-tested.
There has been the patter of tiny feet around the Briddon Country Pile this weekend, as our Grandson has been with us and Andrew had booked Friday off as leave to be around too. I had popped in to Rowsley to measure up a couple of bits on Libby and Jack (and recover the red oxide paint from Libby's cab) and had been a trifle surprised to see Charlie back in Rowsley, back-to-back with Cheedale (although the works train was still down the line). As I was driving back my phone rang, but I didn't answer it as I did not have my hands-free kit on for such a short distance. Returning the call after I got home, I had a rather vexed Jackie Statham informing us that neither Cheedale nor Charlie would start and one or other was essential to getting the steamer out first thing in the morning. As Charlie had been driven back the previous night from Darley Dale this seemed mightily strange, especially given that Cheedale had been run for an hour or so once it had had some fuel delivered.
So after a cup of tea we left grandson in Steph's care and headed in to Rowsley together, climbed on to Charlie, pressed the start button and off it went.
Admittedly it was rough, and as I had the casing door off at the fuel pump side (we wondered whether our temporary fuel return pipe might have come lose and melted against the exhaust manifold, but it hadn't) I could see fuel pumping out of No.3 injector pipe at the engine end, so signalled Andrew to shut it down. For some reason the pipe nut, which both Andrew and I had checked tight last week, was now about a half-turn free, so we nipped it up tight and the engine ran satisfactorily. I reported back that, contrary to what we had been told, Charlie was in fact operational.
Cheedale on the other hand was dead, not electrically but it would crank without showing the slightest sign of firing. Since it had been running earlier in the week the likely scenarios are that it has either drawn muck or condensate through with the fuel when it was run too low, or the priming pump, having been leaking before, has now failed completely by allowing air to flow into the fuel pump, a situation I had a couple of years ago with a Dorman engine on a Plasser crane, although in that case the faulty pump was remote mounted from the fuel pump. Either way there was little benefit to be served by priming it again in its present state, so it will receive a filter and pump change as soon as parts are available.
We did though, move over and fire James up to make sure that all was well there. It was a little reluctant to start, and Andrew, who was at the casing doors this time, reported that the cold start button dropped out as soon as the stop solenoid pulled over, which is not supposed to happen. (It should drop back as soon as the throttle opens or the governor pulls the rack back, whichever occurs first). As the Thomas Hill wiring system only pulls the solenoid in when the starter is pressed, that is a bit of an irritation – maybe we could try pushing the knob as one of us presses the start button next time and see if that cracks it.
On Saturday Andrew had planned a 'round-robin' taking in Butterley, Nene Valley and Rocks-by-Rail, accompanied by his son and Steph, thus leaving me free to do those wonderfully scintillating tasks like the quarterly VAT return. But at Cottesmore he met up with Toby and returned with the cast wheels for that embryo miniature loco that appeared a few weeks ago. They are of Blackgates origin, and completely un-machined, which is good enough for me as it means I can look to assemble the wheelsets in my own way. I have picked up, via e-bay, a couple of Honda 5.5hp engines over the last few weeks, one however is still attached to a fully operational 110/240V generator, and it seems a shame to break it, so I will keep my eyes open for another for my own 7.25” project. Thus over the next week or two I must evaluate how best to set the wheelsets up and how to drive them; which does tend to boil down to how to fill that gap between the engine and the axles. My own project has always been chain drive, because it started off as a 7.25” version of a Lister 2ft gauge loco, although typically when I start, improvisation and pragmatism take control and the result bears little comparison with the original concept.
Now for this second scheme, the idea appeals of an outside framed chassis with flycranks and side rods, and I still have a forward/reverse gearbox hanging around somewhere...
We lingered in the house this morning, playing with the 2 year old, etc., and only ventured down to Darley after lunch, to do some tasks that are not really relevant here. There was, however a 6 man team, led by Rob, packing the turnout and the first few feet of plain line down towards the shed. Indeed, such is the need to progress the job before Rob's departure for pastures Crewe that although we had intended to move the container by a combination of blood., sweat and tears using greased bullhead rail, machinery skates or chopped off telegraph poles, it now looks as though we might have to engage a crane company to come in and shift it in one, easy to manage payment. To recap, when we originally planned the building, it was to be nearer to, and parallel with the main line and would have straddled the first siding with a door at each end. But in order to avoid issues of noise radiating to Station Road, the building got repositioned nearer the side boundary and the container, which was placed just where it was needed under Plan A, became in the way under Plan B. As a 40ft container weighs empty some 4 tons, and we probably have another 4tons of bits-and-bobs stacked inside (and nowhere we could empty that lot to, even if we wanted) moving it gently so as not to end up with everything piled up in a mess in the middle is a rather essential requirement. Once moved, it will stand between the two tracks entering the shed and will hopefully be accessible to the forklift once some concrete has been laid outside, and form a barrier to any “oik” walking up the adjacent footpath who can't see glass without testing his ability to lob a brick through it. (Our Works Shunter will park on the main line side). We saw enough of that sort of thing when Beverley was up at the Middleton, although inner city Leeds is likely more prone to mindless vandalism than rural Darley Dale.
Now, I would have provided you a photo of the team in action on the track, but as soon as I fired up the camera it proceeded to shut itself down and declare “Lens error, restart camera” 5 or 6 times before I gave up. I fear it may not be long for this world. So rather than leave you with merely one picture this week, here is the forklift truck drivers certificate which bears my name. Life is one long learning experience.