Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of tea and tidying

5th July 2015

I did say a couple of weeks ago that I would be reporting more about the inspection of the Mattersons after Allianz had decided to up the rate for LOLER inspection because it wasn't '4 locomotive jacks', rather 'a locomotive lift and two beams'. Well fairly early on Tuesday morning I was back at the Shed, opening up for another inspector.

In fact it is the same guy who has previously inspected the forklift, and although our Mattersons are not necessarily due another inspection until April 2016 – I'll come back to that in a moment – as he was here and wanted to familiarise himself, he had a good look and reported back to me on a few things which neither Allianz nor Zurich had observed. I am quite happy to place the business with him, as he is significantly less expensive than either A or Z. Now if you are familiar with this kit, you will know that leaving a loco for long periods on the Matterson beams is not recommended, and in consequence any locomotive that must retain elevated for us to work under will be placed on locomotive stands, a pair of which Andrew acquired out of Bombardier at Crewe (see the tea break photo). If you are going to work under it, you should have the Mattersons inspected twice a year to comply fully with LOLER (I'm sure if I put my mind to it I could come up with a parody of the Kink's track 'Lola' to suit) but if, as we intend, the locos are sat on the Crewe stands and no-one otherwise goes underneath, then an annual exam is sufficient. And unless our throughput – both on Andrew's locos and my commercial work – goes up astronomically, then it will only get used half-a-dozen times a year.

With that out the way I headed off to a customer, and then southward to Bedford to collect a pile of galvanised pipe fittings that Andrew had won on e-bay. You might wonder whether it was worth all that mileage, and in a sense you might be right, but the value of bits so acquired is still considerably more at today's prices than the auction price plus my fuel – it is just a matter of whether you judge the bits being sizes and configurations you will use. For example there's a quantity of 3inch fittings, which normally we don't use (vac is the biggest at 2”) but a large part of 14901's cooling system is in 3inch bore and although we think we have most of what we require at the moment, it could easily come in very handy.

On Wednesday I was waiting in for a delivery, but once that had arrived I was on the road to Wakefield to meet up with one of our favourite hauliers. He has been very busy for the last 12 months moving Portakabins (he assisted me in obtaining ours, and delivered it to Darley when Peak Rail refused to let us use the 'conference room' at Darley as a mess facility for our contractors, even though we offered to stack the carpet tiles and furniture to one side, replace it with our own, and make god any damage that occurred) but the work has eased off a little and he was available after a lunchtime delivery to do a little job for me. Sat in a farm on the south east side of Wakefield was a C6T Rolls engine, once part of a genset that had been driving a workshop as it was cheaper than paying for a 'proper' mains connection. But things had moved on and the generator part had been sold, leaving just the engine and radiator. Andrew had won it on e-bay as I said last week, and I was to pay for it and see it on to the wagon for the trip south.

After a slight delay brought about by the fact that the roller shutter door was closed and no-one knew where the key was to operate it, the engine was drawn out, standing on a 4-wheel Ivor Williams trailer, and transferred onto our lorry. The Vendor assured me that it had been viewed by someone from the Middleton Railway though I didn't recognise anyone from the description. It is a pity though that someone has dropped something heavy on top at some time, destroying the turbo outlet bellows and the adjacent bracket, but a bonus from Andrew's point of view was that, as originally spec'd, it was most likely intended for tropical use as it had the 10 sq foot radiator which is normal for Rolls' with a torque converter, as in a loco, where the heat load from the converter comes through the engine coolant. A generator puts no additional heat load on the engine and so an 8 sq foot rad would have sufficed for temperate climes. (I say this with all the confidence of past experience from my Tommy Hill days yet one of my regular ex-Rolls-Royce Diesel Division readers will no doubt e-mail me and tell me I'm wrong......)

As an aside, let me tell you a tale from when we were involved with the railway at Elsecar. They have a Yorkshire 0-6-0DH originally powered by a Rolls' C6S (supercharged) and a 10 sq foot rad to suit the combined heat load of engine and converter. At some time before we got there, the Rolls engine failed and they had substituted a 14 litre Cummins from a lorry. While we were there the radiator started leaking and someone assured the Elsecar Board that it didn't need a radiator that big as it 'was only because it had been a Rolls-Royce'. Said person went out and bought a radiator from a Cummins' powered lorry and fitted it. We looked, not only was it a bare 6 sq footer but the core was only half the thickness and the construction flimsy enough that it wouldn't have stood up to rail service for long. We said (to anyone who would listen) that it was insufficient and the loco would overheat. It did, but said person knew what to do, and went back to the scrapyard and acquired two 24V fans which he proceeded to mount in front of the rad. We said (to anyone else who would listen) that it would still overheat, but now it would flatten the batteries too: and so it proved.

At the time I was working for RMS Locotec and we had a need for a spare 10 sq ft Rolls rad, even a leaky one as it could always be re-cored. I struck a deal and we swapped the Elsecar Rolls rad for a Covrad one from a Cummins-powered loco which RMS had spare. The replacement was a touch taller than the Rolls, and if I'd had my way we'd have cut out a piece of cross member to drop it, but Elsecar volunteers hurriedly fitted the rad by raising the forward casing section and filling the gap, and it is still running that way today. The moral of the tale is obvious once you know that a Twin Disc torque converter, under high horsepower, rejects much more heat than the engine driving it, that a lorry designer assumes that his product will travel predominantly forwards at such speeds as to need only smaller fans and that if your average lorry banged into stationary vehicles as much as a shunting loco does you'd soon have bits falling off onto the road.

So once the engine was aboard I headed off to my profilers for amongst other strangely shaped bits of steel are the new brackets which, once Terry's cherry-picker is deployed, will hold the replacement eave beams up to the shed in the right places. The lorry though headed for Darley Dale, arriving late in the afternoon where Andrew was ready to receive. While he had the lifting facility there (the lorry was a HIAB-fitted one) he lifted two of the 6m crane beam lengths and put them on the sides of the Midland Railway bogie well wagon, which will make them easier to handle and get into the shed in due course.

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Come Saturday and Plan A had been to go to Scunthorpe. Andrew wanted to progress the pipework for the vac on the 03 and I wouldn't have minded getting the wiring issues resolved once and for all. However, one thing missing was a purchase from e-bay that has yet to arrive.

We have, over the years, had a number of threading machines, both hand and electric. Back in my days running YEC, I had bought quite an effective electric one, only to discover that it was cheap because the cutter heads were no longer made and I could not even get specialist tooling firms interested in producing me a new set. Later we'd bought a portable threading set from a hire company in Warwick, but gave up on it as it was probably OK on the smaller sizes but couldn't cope with 2inch. Then I saw a 'proper' mains powered one – an Asada (no, not ASDA, get your eyes tested ) - which is man-enough for the job but we couldn't seem to master it. It has long resided in a corner of the VBA as Andrew was for putting it back on e-bay but I persuaded him not to.

Wind forward and he has decided to invest in it by purchasing a new set of dies, in fact a complete new die and holder assembly, so that it can be deployed at Scunthorpe and return to Derbyshire once the building is ready to accept it. But the parcel hadn't arrived, and after considering what else he was ready to do, he opted to scrub Scunthorpe and spend the weekend at Darley.

After an early lunch we went down to the building for a tidy-up session which included stripping redundant kit off the C6T Rolls, like the bell housing that coupled the flywheel housing to the (non-existent) genny, the damaged turbo bracket, etc. The weather was of course swelteringly hot and I ended up lending the blockman one of our stacking chairs as it was just too hot for him to linger in the blockpost between trains! I meanwhile had a set of side rods to remove the worn bearings from, achieved in the time-honoured method utilising a crib, a bottle jack, and a locomotive lifting bracket, in this case Cheedale's. To return the favour to Cheedale for using its mass to drive out the bushes, Andrew refitted its drawhook with new rubber spring units, even protecting the end of the thread with Denso tape. He then dug out the new coolant pipes for 14901's cooling system, flatted off the welds added in Scunthorpe and proceeded to prime the pipes with the intention of painting them blue on Sunday.

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Sadly with the need to keep moving things to and fro within the confines of a shed which is neither finished nor roofed to protect equipment which must thus be sheeted down after use, the day had little else productive, save that I had promised myself the opportunity of painting the personnel doors green. Up to now, over their white powdercoat they have presented a strangely blue sheen from a cling-film which turned out to be a swine to remove. Probably, like masking tape, it should not be left on too long else it gets to like it. Anyway, remove it I did and apply a first coat of a medium green, not quite the same shade as the Juniper green of the forthcoming cladding but the nearest I could find at Wickes. It will need a rub-down and a second coat, but is an improvement nonetheless.

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The forecast for Sunday envisaged rain starting somewhere after three, so Andrew persuaded me that we should make an early start and be ready to break off when the weather turned. First task was to shunt Cheedale out the way so that we could bring a flat wagon in to the shed. We proved in so doing exactly how much we can shunt between the 'king' turnout and the buffer stop with barely a couple of feet at each end. Andrew meanwhile has become adept with the shunter's pole, something which I have never mastered, but reported that having flipped the VBA's 3-link off the flat wagon's drawhook, it had swung down and stowed itself on the hanger under the buffer beam. Not even he is sure he could repeat this party-trick.

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To get the C6T onto the flat, we had to squeeze a Rolls CV12 – destined for D9500 - up closer to a Paxman 6RPH Mk1 and even then the C6T scraped in. Given the weight of the CV12 I was a little apprehensive – and even if I hadn't been Andrew declared he was driving because he was heavier(!). Actually the forklift handled it with aplomb. We secured everything down, and were just shunting it all back when Steph arrived with mugs of tea.

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Cheedale was returned to its place in the shed, and tidying resumed, with various redundant bits going in our scrap bin. Andrew put 14901's coolant pipes on strings so that he could transform them into blue (which looks suspiciously like left-over top coat from Beverley). But by about 3pm the clouds had swept over, the wind increased and we started to pack bits away in anticipation of inclement weather (which reminds me, we had a cracking thunderstorm in the early hours of Saturday morning. I was woken by a flash and bang so close together that in my semi-awake mind I thought that Enthovens factory on the opposite side of the valley had blown up) which duly started at half-past three. We hurriedly finished packing and retired to the Portakabin, offering shelter to a passing lineside worker who had not only headed down to Redhouse to cut some the branches but had innocently left the sun-roof open on his car in Darley Dale station car park!

So that's about it for the week. Grandson is due back with us next weekend so work plans may be 'fluid', but quite what is on the cards, I am not sure.

More in this category: Of one pipe in and one pipe out »

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