Oh, and I've got to say that you've all disappointed me. I was certain that somebody, somewhere, would be pedantic enough to point out that I was not in fact 'principle contractor' but 'Principal Contractor' ('The Principal Boy objects on principle to picking up the Principal Girl' - my old English teacher thought that my sample use was very good) but I left it that way to suit my title better. But oh! The health of good English – how many times do you see people write 'none-essential', 'none-magnetic' etc? It's non-essential, non-magnetic! Even my Heath & Safety consultant, who has had to rewrite my H&S manual (sub-contractors for the observance of) because somebody changed the CDM regulations earlier this year (aren't they enough of a pain without revising them so often? Oh but I forget, we're in to Emperor's new clothes territory) managed a 'none' instead of 'non' and a principle that should have been a Principal. If I don't like the bill I might counter-charge him for proof-reading.
Not that it should be much of a blog this week. It started off so well, we managed to get down on Monday evening and put a couple of hours in, as we had planned to do last week but hadn't. Tidying up was on the agenda, although in this case it included making space by getting the second 12metre beam (which was still over on the footpath side of the structure where it has lain since Rob dragged them in with the JCB many moons ago) tipped over and drilled ready for mounting. This went quite smoothly although we did discover that the footbrake on the forklift had become ineffective. This tends to suggest that what we thought might be an oil leak from a ram might in reality be from the brake line somewhere.
Andrew was down south Tuesday but was still 'up for' getting more work done on his return and in the space of 2 hours we had moved the mechanical hacksaw and air compressor from their temporary parking places, rolled the beam on bits of 3inch tube down to where it was needed to be raised and then hoisted the beam up into position, using the now tried and tested method of me at one end with the forklift and Andrew at the other with a pull lift from one of the roof trusses. With the confidence gained from having done it previously, it went up and in in half the time although Andrew was not quite so lucky in getting bolt holes to line up as he had been on the other side. Since I had helped him (by holding the other end of the tape measure) on Monday it was tempting to suggest he would have been better off without me, but of course, such is the tolerances that are acceptable in civil engineering it might easily be that the columns themselves are not quite the same distances apart. But it is up, safely secured with enough bolts and we will get back to it later. The evening finished with repositioning the mechanical hacksaw and air compressor roughly where they are going to live permanently before putting 14 901 back into position and shutting up shop.
On Wednesday Andrew was up north, and although the spirit had been willing, the hours of travelling caught up with him and he fell asleep on his bed, but as it was raining anyway it was no real loss, although he had hoped to get on with the final pieces of 14 901's coolant plumbing. For myself I had collected some bits for the new fuel header tank while in Sheffield last Monday, although my supplier offered me a float switch suitable for use in diesel I baulked at the price and instead went on line and found a stainless steel one from a south of England supplier for nearly half the cost. There have been a couple of occasions when fuel blockages have stopped '901 in its tracks - well actually someone else's tracks – without giving any warning, for my original header tank did not even possess a sight gauge. The new tank will be equipped with a sight gauge and the level switch, which will be wired to the loco's PLC. I'll augment the software to read the switch at regular intervals of a few seconds and if it sees two or more low level indications (one could be a surge), sound a warning. It may not be much comfort to the loco crew that the engine is about to conk out but it has got to be slightly less embarrassing than doing it without any warning at all. The brackets to hold the tank to the underside of the casings meanwhile have been drawn and put out to my friendly local fabricators – hopefully they'll be to hand by next weekend.
On Thursday Steph and I went off to collect grandson again, and on Friday grandson, Steph and Andrew headed north to our daughters for the weekend leaving me free – to catch up on paperwork and so on in peace and quiet.
Today though I have been back at the shed. primarily to continue the tidy up, but also to meet up with the Lawson brothers, who were dropping by to deliver an ex Midland Railway buffer that might yet end up on the ex MR bogie well wagon which has almost disappeared under useful bits at Darley. It suddenly makes me feel old to realise I have photos of them as nippers, running round the Rustons in the garden of the Lawson household at Tring during an NGRS visit back in – oh, about 1972. I won't make any glib remarks like 'it seems like only yesterday' because it doesn't and without the photos I might not remember it at all, but when you're standing by someone who is slightly taller and much more well-built than I am - 'Are you two fit young men up to lifting that buffer out for me?' I suppose has some advantages – it does mark the passage of time in a significant way.
Once they'd headed off to see their mother, Doreen, who is currently in hospital, I moved over to the portakabin to tidy up. For one thing the forecast was for rain coming in later in the afternoon and sure enough it was right on time. The portakabin should soon, if all goes well, be required for its original purpose as welfare facilities which as Principal contractor I must provide for all my bonny, bouncing sub-contractors (i.e. them that will put the cladding up) and it has over the last few months become a repository of sundry building materials, junk and dirt. I've tidied the former, moved a lot of things which fitted neither category up to the container and extracted the last mentioned and bagged it for disposal. Along the way I was sad to discover that the bags of cement, which had wintered next to the dimplex radiator to keep them dry and warm, may possibly have gone rock hard. So much for moisture-resistant packaging. But I was never really expecting to get all that much done today so I wasn't disappointed.
So this week I must return to resolving the final issues that prevent me ordering the cladding, think about getting the header tank kitted out and installed on 14 901 and oh, yes, on Friday we have to attend medicals at Scunthorpe to prove ourselves fit to drive the occasional trip around the steelworks. Since Andrew is already on the Network Rail PTS system he finds this particularly unnecessary, but rules is rules. I had a medical back at Elsecar six or seven years ago. The hearing test was to face away from the doctor, while he spoke something in a quiet voice from so many yards away. He was beginning to panic when I turned round and observed that he'd now repeated himself 3 times but hadn't told me what I was supposed to do when I heard it. I passed.