Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of pilot drills and barrel trolleys

10th May 2015

First thing Tuesday I had visitors to attend to at the 'shed. This was fine but there was also something Andrew had spotted on e-bay and as he'd be out at work, counted on me to try and secure it. So I put a bid on it just before I set off for the shed, and once down there had a phone call from my visitors to say they were stuck in traffic and so would be late, and I contented myself with drilling a few fixing holes through the marked up purlins until I broke a pilot drill in the hole saw.

Anyway, with not being around in the dieing seconds of the auction, I assumed that it would have bid on beyond my price limit as the majority of barrel trolleys that get listed start at £25 or more. But this guy had started at 99p, and when I got back home and checked, to my complete surprise no-one else had bid.

If you are a regular reader you will recall that we have encountered this before – the last time, the object of the auction – a Foden FD6 engine – was coincidentally stolen the night before only to turn being sold “for a friend” on another e-bay sellers listing. But to be fair to this guy (who was only in Sheffield) he honoured the auction sale price and on Wednesday, as I was in Sheffield anyway to collect various things like further purlin brackets and pilot drills, I diverted to his house to pick it up. There it was, awaiting me. I reached into my pocket to find some loose change -

“Nay” he said (this is Yorkhire) “don't insult me, just tak' it.”

And being a poor, downtrodden soul, I did. But I feel guilty now and will probably go back and pay him something.

The grandson arrived for a long weekend on Thursday, which inevitably puts a limit on how much time we can spend, but with the news having filtered through that the VBA was accessible, we had visitors due first thing Saturday morning.

You will recall that what we knew as “Beverley”, Hudswell Clarke 0-4-0DH 1344/65, was exchanged with the Pontypool & Blaenavon railway for “Ashdown”, leaving us with the last s.g. Loco Hudswell's ever produced, -“Grace” - of the three that once were in the collection. But sat in the VBA was a spare radiator, acquired, if I remember correctly, from a loco that RMS owned which had put a leg out of bed. Anyway, in addition to “Beverley”, the P&B owns sister loco Hudswell 1387 ("DL16"), which was involved in that unfortunate run-away some years ago. Indeed, it was the versatility of 1387 that encouraged the deal for them to take on Beverley.

Anyway, somewhere along the way they needed loan of a radiator and Andrew had agreed to make his spare available, so at 9 am we were down to Darley Dale to meet up with a large Transit with Cwmbran Self-Drive branding (or “Come-something” as the Blockman later commented).

It would have been nice to have turned the VBA on the Rowsley turntable before it came down to Darley, but we were not pushing our luck. Only one of its sliding doors still works as the makers intended and fortunately the radiator was adjacent to it. So James was duly started up and we shunted the two wagons across to the shed area where the forklift could access it. Of course, by now it had started to rain, and I donned both hat and jacket as although the forklift has a roll cage and a plastic sheet to keep rain off, it only really works when the rain is truly vertical. A couple of exhausters and another rad were moved to one side, then the required rad lowered gently on to the forks and I presented it to the rear of the transit, where it was strapped down onto a couple of pallets for the journey south-westward. By now a couple of other P&B members had arrived, so I did a brief tour. One of them suggested that after “Briddon Towers” and the “Briddon Country Pile” this should be called the “Briddon Castle “ and while I wouldn't go as far as to suggest that the slot drain we are due to construct across the front could in any way be thought of as a moat, and the roller shutter doors definitely do not resemble a portcullis, a few arrow slots in the cladding sheets would add a bit of character to the place.

Andrew and Steph were taking grandson to the model railway show in Derby, so I pottered on after the P&B contingent had departed, finishing drilling the two short pieces of purlin and mounting them where the brackets we had welded last on the main line side of the first roller shutter door, before I headed home.

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We planned an afternoon back on purlin assembly today, so after an early lunch we headed down to the shed. Today should have seen an incoming steam special, but thanks to the debacle that West Coast got itself into, our visiting train was one of those cancelled, so it was business as usual save that it was the last day in service of D8 before it was stopped for engine overhaul. It is apparently some 15 years since it last had a strip down, and was reassembled then with s/h piston rings. Of late it has been breathing heavily from several of the explosion protection valves on the engine crankcase. To take over, the 31 is back in traffic from Tuesday - I would so like to get the 14 finished and back in action but there is only so much we can do.

Some of the new purlin brackets I had collected last Wednesday are already welded to the columns. Originally I had planned al the purlin brackets to be clamped to the columns, but failed to appreciate that in many locations the fact that they would overhang the column sides would interfere with doorways or cladding sheets. So some of my clamp “wings” have been chopped off, the new ones are designed to be welded from the outset. The ones down at ground level are comparatively easy -
as we go up (the second layer is just above the pedestrian doorway, the third layer a metre-and-a-half higher) it will require greater ingenuity with ladders and using the forklift to lift them into position. Indeed I have ordered another 60metres of purlin material for delivery next week.

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To look at the picture it may not seem much, but to get those two runs across (plus the short one over beyond the door) has taken all afternoon, and yes, two more pilot drills. Though in truth, the hole saw is just about worn out and a new one will be acquired before get some more purlins up.

The barrel trolley too was test driven: we have several 45 gallon drums cluttering up the shed area and two of these were relocated to a better place, and the trolley coped well with the rough ground.

Before we headed back home to put grandson to bed, we had a conference at the Rowsley end of the building about the purlin brackets that need to go up there, and while Andrew had scampered up a couple of stillages, he bagged a few photos looking down  across the empire. So I'll leave you with that.

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