It is sobering to think back exactly twelve months and see how things have come on. For it was this same week last year that the framework of the building went up, followed by the concrete panels. Then there was no floor (in fact, we didn't originally plan a floor, or rather, it was to be a concreted area for the Matterson jacks and the rest would have to wait until money was available) no side blockwork, and above all, no track anywhere near and the yard was in the condition that you'd expect after twenty years plus of PR operation when it was built with little or no funds.
Last Sunday had seen a modest crew connect the second shed line up to the turnout but it was just that, and the curve was rather uneven, in that most was near the shed, making the area where the container was due to sit look a trifle tight for clearance as it converged.
So Rob had pushed on with slewing, then packing and tamping, and by about Thursday had got back to spreading some of the “better” ballast. Last year, when Peak Rails' JCB was hors de combat, we paid for contractors to come in and recover much ballast (from the sidings that were being lifted) for re-use within the yard, only for PR to appropriate a large quantity of the better stuff for main line use, so what is left is good stone but severely contaminated with general muck, the odd length of water pipe, 3-phase cable (unconnected!), bent chair screws, etc.
It was time for the container to move across to its new home (well, new until Andrew gets his way and provides proper concrete supports) so one evening with a couple of rails and a lot of brute force it was dragged off the line to the first shed road and levelled up on sleepers, blocks of wood and even some bits of spare ply from the shuttering operations.
Only then did we dare open the doors on the container. We had been worried that with a crane, we might find the contents strewn all over the place, but by dragging and pushing it we had hoped that things might stay in their original places, although some crashes and bangs suggested that not all was the case. We looked inside and groaned. Immediately behind the door on the right had been a rack of pigeon holes with nuts bolts and small pipe fittings in. This now barred our entrance as it lay at 45 degrees and its contents mostly piled on the floor in front. Farther back we could see in the darkness that a section of our parts racking which was supposed to be parallel with the left hand wall now swept in a drunken arc down and towards the opposite side. The pigeon hole unit was righted and partially refilled – but we have yet to brave the journey to the back of the container. I fear it will be a struggle on a par with hacking through an Amazon rain forest...
On Friday, and this is may be of particular interest to Peak Rail members, I tried to attend my second Board meeting of the Peak Railway Association. It became an unpleasant affair and was shortly adjourned. It seems that my election to the PRA board at the AGM last November has caused upset in certain quarters and an EGM is to be announced shortly at which I believe an attempt will be made to unseat me.
Oh and you remember my problems with the camera? I had bought a cheap Vivitar as a “dirty hands” camera and this week received a better Canon (16meg) at a good price from an e-bay seller. Well one day I was testing a new SD card, and on a whim popped it into my old Canon which promptly powered up without the “lens error” message and has performed normally since. So tonight's illustrations have been taken with both Vivitar and old Canon and I have gone from zero to three to play with.
One of my moans from last week prompted one of my regular readers to suggest that if I contacted the Royal Mail I might be able to get them to change my postcode so that Satnavs would actually bring me to the exact spot. (Not an instant solution as obviously it would take time for the change to percolate through the satnavs, but a start.) I followed up on this idea and found the Royal Mail website showed their main Postcode control centre is in Sunderland, but they stressed that they only issue postcodes in response to requests from Local Authorities. So I went on to the Derbyshire Dales District website and found my way to the Property Gazetteer Offices page, where of course it stated that postcodes were nothing to do with them! So I spoke to the Officer herself and explained my problem. She started looking on Google street view and understood what I was driving at (or rather what my couriers were not driving to) and suggested that if I fill in a particular form, she would see what she could do, but it would be better if the request came from my neighbour as well as myself. I must have a chat with them.
Sat in the back of my van since Wednesday had been a torque converter which was wanted for a loco I have under repair for a customer. I try to avoid referring to commercial work but as the shed at Darley is where I shall do such jobs, the two areas will overlap from time to time. Since the front end of the shed was then inaccessible, we had succeeded in taking it out earlier by lowering it over the back wall, but as the front of shed had track in and roughly levelled, it seemed that on Saturday it would be easier to unload it through the roller shutters. Of course, the forklift is a hard-surface only machine, so it had to stay within the confines of the shed, but the van could pass the shed and back in, except that the works train was in the way.
When we got down there, James was coupled to the works train, and Charlie and a few wagons were parked over on our access line to the shed, so James was fired up and moved the works train forward to clear the road past the shed. The torque converter was duly unloaded, the works train replaced and its shore line reconnected (it only works the fridge but you know how crabby volunteers can get if the milk goes off) and then we set about shunting the wagons and Charlie back onto the works train using James. With the back access line cleared, we swept the looser ballast and such off the rails and brought James down to the container, in which position the “works shunter” will normally park. As I said a while ago, it will thus be protected from any flying lumps by the container, and you can see from the pictures how effective this should be. In fact, we were talking this evening of stacking a second container on top, and putting a diesel tank into it and maybe a mess room, but that is for the future and there are a number of issues to get over first.
While Andrew was busy on something else, I suddenly decided it would be good if we got two more rails in on the second shed road and James could come inside later. So the rails were swung into position with the forklift, fishplates bolted up (only for Rob to come by and point out I'd had put them in back to front -duh!) and clamped down. Before we broke off for the day Andrew drove James on a 'railtour' from the container, right up to the buffer stops just before Warney Brook and then back down and into the shed on the second road. I have now just about used up my stock of rail fixing profiles, so I suppose another order to the profilers will be imminent.
Up at the south end of the site, Dom Beglin had been in during the afternoon and fixed the correct disc to the dolly that will control our exit to the main line. Since the pulley for the signal cable has been installed and the route cleared, I gather the change from two lever to 3 lever ground frame is imminent and then we will have proper signalled departure, as it should have been when it was laid in the '90s. Oh, and in view of the fact that we are not neccessarily able to get in to Rowsley shed where Andrew's MIG welder is, I've put the profiles for Dom's signalling you saw last week out to be TIG-welded by my favourite fabricators - should be ready by now.
Today we were in Darley again – refitting this torque converter had become a right pain, because the guys that designed this particular locomotive, cannot have considered that anyone might attempt to remove the converter without first removing the casing tops, fuel tank and complete power unit. (On reflection, I may be being harsh since, if you look back at work we did on Sentinel 0-6-0 "Tom", we couldn't change a converter with the engine in there either but the 0-6-0 Sentinel was a cramped installation brought about by driving on the middle axle - this loco has oodles of room to have done it better). For although it was easy to guide the converter in through a casing door, the bottom of the converter was below the top of a frame stretcher. Had this stretcher been 2” farther back, or the engine 2” farther forward, then all would have been well, but sadly the only solution (other than dismantle it all as the manufacturer must have expected) was to strip the engine rear mountings and lift its flywheel end until we could just obtain clearance to present the converter back on. So no little railtours today (and for that matter, some wagons are back in the way). Today's job for the p/way crew had been to replace some of the worn rails on the intermediate siding which is due to be our “awaiting their turn” road. The buffer stop is now in situ and apart from a couple of fishplates, I'm told, all trackwork is complete, with only tidying up of the site to finish over the next few days.
There has of course been no progress on 14 901 or Cheedale, and I for one would like to bring 14 901 down to Darley to get the rest of the work done, since with Rob leaving it is unclear how we would lift the Voith oil cooler out and at Darley it would be an easy job for the forklift. In the meantime Andrew has advised the leader of the crew who run D8 that they will be “it” until probably somewhere near Easter, depending on what happens with regards access, etc.
Next weekend has GOT to be Scunthorpe, making sure that 03 901 is ready for its BLS tour on the 28th. Which brings me neatly to congratulating Toby and his partner Jade, on the birth of their baby girl this week. So excited was Toby in the process that he took to issuing bulletins, of which the classic was that she was “5cm diluted”. I suggested that it might be because of a birthing pool. We duly toasted the health of the infant in dilated orange squash.