Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of a bridge over troubled waters

7th June 2015

As regular readers will know, the weekly title for this blog – other than it always begins with “Of ..” is often a complete blank right up until I finish the closing paragraph. This week however, the title became obvious by Friday night, and I will leave you to decide which of us resembles Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel.

At just after eight o'clock Monday morning we rolled in to Rowsley to continue removing equipment from the shed, in line with the solicitors' letter issued by Peak Rail. The main purpose was to recover our Matterson jack set, which previously Peak Rail had agreed to my siting in the shed while two locos were worked on before moving them to Darley Dale, (indeed, if you look back they were very anxious to have them certified before an Inspecting Officer called) but had apparently been rescinded. The solicitors' letter also specified that all Andrew's locos had to be removed, which left us confused as of course “Charlie” has been Peak Rail's principle shunter-cum-works loco for the last ten years. Andrew therefore sent an e-mail to both the plc Managing Directors advising them that unless they sent him an e-mail, we would convey Charlie to Darley Dale, but it would – of course - be available for Peak Rail use as per the terms of the Agreement. Just that they'd have to advise us when they wanted to collect it.

So anyway, staff on hand emptied the shed road using “E1”, the ex MSC Hudswell so that we could carefully back the HIAB-fitted lorry down over the pits and pick up the Matterson towers, but before that we commandeered Charlie and dragged the loco that had been on the Mattersons (until the previous Thursday) out of the way. We had been unsure whether, with the Matterson towers sat on the lorry back, they would actually clear the doorways of the shed – they had after all been originally unloaded outside and brought in by the JCB. But a bit of measurement, additions and estimation showed that we would in fact, clear by the roller shutters by 300mm or so, which would make life easier and save time. While we were involved in this we heard that E1 had broken down, and that a pool of oil was underneath it. We headed down to Darley Dale to see our load off.

James was fired up and moved things out of the way so that the lorry could back in, and again it cleared our roller shutters which made the job go that smoother. I left Andrew to it though as Harvey was available to act as pilot for only a limited window, and I popped back to check whether an e-mail clarifying the solicitors' edict had come through from the Matlock office. Had there been one, then I would have run James up to Rowsley and parked Charlie back with the works train, but nothing had been forthcoming so I hitched a ride up to Rowsley in Harvey's van, collected the loco with Charlie, and brought the two of them down to Darley.

Meanwhile Andrew had unloaded the Matterson posts as far as the HIAB would allow, and after employing him also to load some large lumps of scrap into our scrap bin, had sent him off, job completed. Or rather from our point of view, it wasn't, as it was starting to rain and until we have a shed roof such equipment is vulnerable (it was stored outside from where we bought it, and despite large plastic drums over the motors, all the brake units had to be refurbished due to water ingress and water got into the gearboxes). So I got despatched to the builders merchants next door to splash out on 4 large weatherproof sheets and a ball of rope.

IMG 0389 blog

During the week we have continued – with the light evenings and pleasant weather, to get things better sorted, although there is still too much time spent continually moving pallets or stillages up and down to make space. A number of stillages are now parked on the ex-MR bogie well wagon (with the co-owner's blessing) which enabled us to get the forklift around the far side of the track and start repositioning a Matterson tower and beam into their final places. For although in the longer term we envisage installing a 5ton overhead crane, with no timescale as to when we can get the crane rail beams up into position, there is a need to get the forklift around as much of the floor area as possible to aid on-going projects. True, there is a level concrete floor around the end of the tracks, but the section between the rails is down at rail base level (and currently filling with rainwater until we get the roof on – can you see Troubled Waters looming? ) and at the doorways there are sort of level-ish bits of concrete which we know as plinths, originally envisaged as walkways in order to access the middle door as a Fire Exit in an emergency (roller shutters don't count). And anyway, the rails are mostly slightly proud of the floor, partly so that, should a loco come in for attention with badly worn wheels, it doesn't damage the floor.

IMG 0381 blog

So what was needed, and had always been envisaged, was some sort of Bridge to place across the tracks anywhere that it might be required, to enable the forklift to get across. (Thinks “Why did the forklift cross the tracks?”) As Andrew has achieved his Incorporated Engineer status (he's working towards Chartered) he took this task on as a design project, which he carried out on the back of an envelope (he doesn't smoke) and I ordered up some box section on Friday from the local steel stockholders.

IMG 0383 blog

Our original plan for Saturday had envisaged getting over to Scunthorpe – the parts to make the jockey pulley serviceable again on 03 901 were now in hand, I wanted to get the gear sensors checked on air and finish re-wiring them into the control cabinet, and I had purchased a load of conduit to start making up the connections to the code lights. But we had a visitor due to collect some tackle which was jointly owned by him and Andrew, and this had been put back from Friday to 10 o'clock Saturday. Indeed, even though we were there on time, the message came through that he was running late, and it was nearly eleven by the time he arrived with an Audi and trailer.

Consequently the morning wore on with him loading up: we pumped up one tyre on his trailer and shut things up again as he departed but it was half-twelve and we hadn't got lunch with us. We returned to the Briddon Country Pile to nosh. Andrew declared it was a nice day and it was too late to set off for Scunthorpe, so we could spend the weekend catching up at Darley. We headed back down, armed with chop saw, etc.

Leaving Andrew to start making up parts for his Bridge, I contemplated a long list of miscellaneous tasks. For starters, with Cheedale inside the shed area, I could at last get around to fitting the new lift pump and fuel filter, ready for it to be refuelled and made run-able again. With that done, I had a look at the forklift, for the hour counter had not accrued any hours since we logged its value at the time of the service. Close observation of the wiring, apart from revealing a number of wires which seemingly connect to nothing and have no definable purpose, revealed that the hour counter should have two wires on it but only had one. I identified a suitable candidate, but it made no difference. The battery neg cable too, was one I planned to renew – the crimp at the lug looked tired and frayed and (though I was unaware) the other end had no lug at all, and the conductors were roughly formed around a bolt.

IMG 0387 blog

Meanwhile on James, running to and from Rowsley had revealed that neither the torque converter nor engine temperature gauges were functioning. They were still on the original capillaries. Capillaries were good in their day, but as you cannot route them through conduit, they are vulnerable to vibration and damage generally, are normally bought too long necessitating coils along the way somewhere and when one bit fails, the whole thing gets thrown away. I checked our stock and found we had both sensors and gauges in stock for an engine temp, so ran out a spare length of flex conduit with wires ready to go over to an electric gauge. The wiring on James leaves a lot to be desired – once we have the opportunity, it must come in and receive some tlc to power unit, wiring and paintwork, and probably a change from fuel to oil in the converter.

For today we returned to Darley, and taking advantage of its proximity, actually popped home for lunch(!). While Andrew resumed putting the support feet on his Bridge, I went back to the forklift, and changed the hour counter for a new one. Ours must be the first Caterpillar forklift to have an instrument proclaiming its origin as Plasser & Theurer! While I was in the area, I had spotted that one wire to the fuel gauge was detached, so re-terminated the end and lo and behold, the needle moved for the first time since we'd had it. After replacing the battery neg cable with a new length of 70mm, properly lugged at both ends, I was satisfied with that task, but the steering is going to need a bit of attention shortly.

After lunch, with Andrew well on with the Bridge, I managed to get time to fit the sensor onto James ( a case of of hurriedly remove capillary bowl, and get replacement screwed in whilst trying not to let coolant escape) then transferred my attentions to Purlins. We had had the bright idea that if all our columns were parallel, temporary brackets towards the bottom would enable us to mark up a purlin, drill and cut and be confident that when hoisted up aloft, it would fit to the brackets higher up. So I had clamped some extra brackets and proceeded to assemble a purlin some 3ft off the ground, right across the personnel door and the roller shutters. Later that afternoon, under close scrutiny of one Andrew H, who had called in to see “the collection” in place at Darley, the two pieces went up into position and for the most parts the bits fitted, but obviously the brackets weren't absolutely in the same place and a few bolt holes might need easing.

Indeed, the arrival of the locos is causing interest. One dog-walking passer-by during the week assumed this was an outstation of the Heritage Shunters Trust, and when we assured him it wasn't wanted to know what “club” we belonged to. We explained it was the father-and-son club whereupon he claimed that all his neighbours were asking when we'd get the roof on? (True, it is later than planned, but I won't order the material until I know that we will have the purlins, cloaking sheet angles and eave beams either finished, or can be in time no matter what the weather.) Today we had one enthusiast, his wife in tow, surveying the collection from the footpath and finally asking where the Bagnall 0-4-0DH was? Whilst at least two enthusiasts tried to photograph locos from passing trains – a feat which the positioning of the VBA was bound to hamper.

IMG 0388 blog

The Bridge that will go over the Troubled Waters in our track areas now awaits tread plating on top, plus lifting facility for the forklift to place it first. That it seems I shall be ordering tomorrow, and hopefully I'll also resolve where the new eave beams will come from, as after scouring the country, getting prices from £7.50 up to £20.58 per metre for what is ostensibly the same product, I think I have located the best source and if his prices for cloaking sheets are also competitive, it can all come together and reduce the carriage cost.

So anyway why did the forklift cross the tracks? To get to the pallet-side. No, you're right, I should stick to writing prose.

This site runs on a system that employs Cookies to establish a link between your web browser and our site. This link is required to deliver to you the page you requested, let you see any photos or videos or to use the contact form. The Cookies that allow this to happen are automatically downloaded to your device (pc, mobile, laptop etc) when you click onto our site. If you set your web browser not to accept Cookies then its probable you will be unable to use Weekend Rails properly. Click to Accept (or the message stays visible). To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our Privacy Policy.

I accept cookies from this site