Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of converters, cards and composites

2nd August 2015

Even as I was writing up the blog last week, Andrew was hovering, finger poised, to bid for a couple of items on e-bay, and the first you will see depicted below (when you opt to 'Read more' that is).

IMG 0560 blog

Here it is: one of the original builders plates has (almost) been reunited with the loco. How they came to be separated, I know not, and the vendor has the other, we know, and may release it one day if he Gets a better example for his collection. But for the moment we shall be content with one, it is after all, going to be several years before that loco comes into the shed for restoration – for the moment we are unofficially describing it as an 0-5-0 as only 5 of its six wheels are touching the rails.

The other major lump to have been acquired would not make an impressive photo. Over the years we have acquired, or have access to, a number of microfilmed drawings mounted in what are called aperture cards, a format that is in the decline. We have had some scanned commercially – which is very costly – and have contemplated hiring in a scanner – which is marginally less so, but would involve a serious commitment in time and dedication to get all the cards scanned within an affordable hire period.

But everything comes to he who waits, and up on e-bay Andrew spotted a scanner, capable of processing 250 cards unattended, and for a rock bottom price. He picked it up during the week, and discovered a snag. The cable that connects it to your PC is a serial one, but has a dee plug with no less than 37 pins. The manual gives no explanation at all, but we suspect that this is a connector in the 'old' PCI format, so may have to re-commission an old computer and get a PCI card into one of its expansion slots. In the meantime, quite where this device is to live remains a mystery: for the moment it is taking up a considerable space in the front hall of the Briddon Country Pile.

5years edit
Five years ago this weekend, I posted my first ever edition of this blog on Pete Waterman's 'Railnuts' site. If you really must, you can go back and read it here, but to save you the hassle, it was brief, unillustrated and was deliberately inscrutable. I think I was trying to tease people into wondering what on earth I was on about, while wondering if anyone would ever bother to read it. Well, here we are and several hundred do every week and my Sunday evenings are allocated to editing photos and writing up the week's events, and if that looks a bit thin, padding it out with anecdotes from the past. To all of you, regular, intermittent or first-timers - hullo and I'm delighted you think it is worth your while. I'm sorry that there is no comments section like you tend to get on blogs (tried it, got bombarded with spam that took hours to delete) but if you do want to make a comment, send it on the Contact tab at the top – and I'll add it in on an edit.

Ah, but you're all desperate to hear what happened with the van, aren't you? Well, I decided to take it back to Sheffield where my regular repairer is based, so set off with my fingers crossed. It ran a little rough at first, got me a mile or so up the road then revved up unexpectedly and shut down. Another AA man came out, plugged in the diagnostics, determined that it was probably the low pressure fuel pump that sits inside the fuel tank, jacked the van up, unplugged and replugged it, and thumped the tank to disturb things, and then proceeded to follow me all the way to Sheffield just in case it died again. It seems that he was at college with the owner of the garage I was headed to, and wanted the excuse to look him up! In the end, both the low pressure fuel pump and its attendant pressure sensor were changed and it was brought back to life.
Andrew took Wednesday off work and gave me a lift back to Sheffield to collect it, then we both headed back to Darley as a HIAB-fitted lorry was calling in to collect something, and while he was there, we would use him to move the second crane beam – a 12m one – into position.

But there was a snag. By the time we added the height of the HIAB jib, its hook, the slings and the height of the crane beam itself, the top of the jib was higher than the clearance to the underside of the roof trusses. If it had been a beam spanning one 6metre gap, this would not have been a problem but as the 12metre beam spans from frame 2 to frame 4 of our 5 frame building our hook was in the middle which happens to be where frame 3 also is. After 3 or 4 attempts he apologised that he couldn't help, put it back down on the floor and departed.

We had of course moved two locos out the way to get him in and these could not return unless the beam was got out of their way. We had discussed numerous methods of getting said beam up there: now was the time to put one into effect. With the forklift a metre or two in from one end, and Andrew having rigged up a hoist from the frame to the beam at the other end, we raised it in tandem. A few tips were learnt for doing the beam on the other side, but broadly speaking it went smoothly. Once we had cleared the bracket I advanced my end with the forklift and put it on the bracket, then pushed it home with the forks. A bit of aligning and sufficient bolts went in to keep it safe and we congratulated ourselves with our Boy Scouts' Steel Erectors badge.

On Thursday I was off collecting our grandson for a stay, and when it came to Saturday I had the exciting prospect of completing a VAT return, but I first popped over to my favourite machinists to drop off the carriers for 14 901, as it will be going composite, like Charlie, when it returns to operation (on whatever railway that might be). The main man there is building a 7.25inch gauge 2-6-2T L&B loco - interesting to view but curious how the engineering practices employed (it is a commercial design that he is following) differ from 'real' locos. For example, on a six-wheeler, your first and last axles have limited sideplay, whereas your middle axle has the most to go round curves. On this design, the middle (driving) axle has next to no sideplay - it is all in the first and third axles. He was about to start machining the die blocks, and coincidentally, had a set in from a loco at Wirksworth, both die blocks and slides, which they want him to make new ones of but without drawings to work out where these are worn.

Anyway, for the afternoon Steph, Andrew and grandson went off to the Cromford steam rally, which is actually not at Cromford but on the main Matlock to Alfreton road. They had a good time, I gather (well grandson was worn out) and here are a few pickies...

Cromford composite

So it came around to Sunday, and Andrew decided it was high time we carried on with Cheedale. The torque converter on Cheedale has leaked ever since we got it. Usually the leaks are on the front or rear shaft seals, but this one appeared to be leaking from the main body joint, or maybe weeping from a jacking screw hole. Either way it must come out to be rectified and in any event it will be converted to run on hydraulic oil, so apart from disconnecting the output shaft, clutch cylinder and electrical box a task neither of us was looking forward to was draining the converter of diesel.

IMG 0556 blog

We also knew there was a blow on the exhaust tail pipe, so off came the casing top and there was the tail pipe, half eroded away. We stripped out the silencer to clear access for the forklift.

IMG 0557 blog

I decided to be brave and extract the drain plug from the converter, and so here is another of my 'locos viewed from unusual angles' series. But the plug, which is merely a standard ½ malleable thing with a hex or square top (I've actually put an arrow on the picture, and yes, it is as 'orrible as it looks, thanks to years or dirt accumulating at Buxton and the leaking diesel to make it all yukky.) But, we've had problems with these before, and this is another, no tool known to man was able to grip it and turn it – someone had already been there and rounded off the corners. So we drained half the converter by cracking the lower of the main fluid ports on the side, and then lifted it out and drained more by tilting it from the forklift's hook.

IMG 0558 blog

Part way through we were hailed by Alex B, a well known IRS member from Tanfield country, and broke off to give a guided tour and discuss areas of interest. After the train service had finished, we had a natter with the Stationmaster David L, who told us there had been a very knowledgeable young lad, he thought no more than 4 year old, with his father, who had asked to visit our locos. He had instead been pointed up the footpath, and had returned able to list the locos he had seen. It is a fact that some older enthusiasts find unpalatable that the younger generation are as likely to be interested in diesel as in steam, and some may find no interest in steam at all.

One loco that has been in the shed area for some time does not look like being required for a while, and having shown a tendency to leak oil and coolant into our track area, was dragged out this evening and Ashdown brought into its place, as we'd like, in amongst all these other jobs we are trying to progress, to sort out its traction clutch which drags. And that about brings things up to date for this 5th anniversary edition. I wonder if I'll have the same enthusiasm to write, and you out there to read, in 2020?


From Meirion Davies: Hello both. Just a quick message re your scanner problem. I seem to remember a similar issue with some older equipment when I was in uni in the nineties. I think that the 37way plug is used on an older serial connection, something like RS422? Now not in regular use. There are modems available that will convert this to RS232 which should be easier to interface to a more modern computer. Good luck with it!
Secondly, thanks for the blog, I am a regular reader, and I wish you good luck with the collection. I did ride briefly behind 14901 when she was on the Gwili, what a beast! Sounds much better than a standard 14.
Anyway good luck again, I hope you find a scanner solution soon.

Pete replied: Many thanks for your e-mail. Andrew did initially come up with RS422 but convinced himself that it would turn out to be a PCI connection. He's bought a cheap interface card off e-bay to try it out, but I'll have a chat with Pheonix Contact and see what they can offer if that doesn't work.

Glad you liked 14 901 - 'sound' is largely due to the fact that the installation that the SRPS produced has no space for a silencer, and therefore relies on the turbo alone for attenuation. Rolls argued that this was all that was neccessary in the 1970s, but nowadays it is scarcely adequate! Our prefered option would be to get our hands on another DV8TCE - with the correct turbo and pistons and which can therefore be run at 650bhp/1800rpm to suit the transmission in the loco - re-mount it properly on a/v mounts and bequeath the ex D8587 engine to the Tyne & Wear Metro Brush loco, which it would suit. Trouble is so far nothing has been available short of paying over the odds for a 1500rpm genset engine and throwing the rest away. Andrew even got as far as considering whether to fit the CV12 we have bought for D9500 into '901 instead, but the present limitations on craneage put him off.

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