Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of lights, camera, inaction!

4th October 2015

After the abundance of pictures last week, I fear a dearth this week as there was little that really was worth photographing, or what was worth recording found me without a camera (and my phone, well it takes pictures, but I bought it as a phone and never thought about it at the time).

Mr Strange only came for his scissor lift at about 4.15 Monday – I was tempted to take it out for a spin myself but instead got down to the shed around 3pm, in case he arrived early again, and occupied my time by pulling back some of the redundant old wiring on 14 901. The old split plastic conduit had gone brittle where oil or fuel had attacked it, but back towards the cab it seemed still sound, and as it also carried a single wire to feed the starter contactor, I took the decision to slide the new multi-core up the old conduit for the last 4 or 5 feet, but obviously not until all the old wiring had been pulled back, and there wasn't time for that. After the scissor lift had headed back to its depot, I strung out a fresh conduit to carry the wires to the front lights, though I probably won't disturb them until the engine wiring is back together.

Amongst the bits acquired from e-bay this week are some large offcuts of angle which Andrew thinks should enable us to reposition some of the end concrete panels where the columns are at the wrong angle to clamp directly to. In this time that VW are getting such a hammering for getting caught out with some uber-clever software, it is good to find that you can get a 2.6m length of 100 x 100 angle in a Golf.

Friday was the day that the cladding was due, but before I tell you all about it, let me have a little winge about Tata again. For starters, I went back to them on Tuesday with a fresh order for sheets (the 3 I managed to miss and another 4 to get my money's worth out of the minimum order) and so far, it has yet to be entered on their computer. The staff I spoke to last week had told me that my order was already manufactured and awaiting despatch – which seemed trifle unfair given that I had paid up front. Tata is, I am lead to understand, a company whose turnover and profits are somewhat greater than mine, so having lent them the money to manufacture my cladding, the least I felt they should have done was ship it out immediately. You might recall too that according to Sales, because one of my sheets was 7.8m long, the lorry could not bring its own unloading machine (a Moffett).

On Wednesday a nice lady from the transport side rang to confirm that delivery would be on Friday, and let slip the fact that according to her print-out, a big line on the paperwork indicated that it was spread over two lorries. But she could not tell me what time on Friday, only Sales could divulge that. So I rang Becky in Sales on Thursday and she promised to contact the haulier and get back to me. Rang her again at lunchtime and got through to another lady, who gave the impression of being senior, and assured me that they did not delay material once manufactured (they hadn't the room to store it, she said) so it would only have been if it missed the delivery to my area that week. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I eventually got told it would be Friday morning, and when I pressed, they said 'early to mid morning'. This was rather important to me as I had booked a machine from Neville to unload it, and making sure it was there when needed was rather important to me. I made a judgement on 'early to mid morning' and booked the JCB for 09.00.

Just in case I was up and breakfasted on Friday with a view to getting down there for eight. Steph was looking out the kitchen window and said 'Oh Pete there's a lorry just gone by that looked like your cladding'. I swallowed the rest of my tea, forgot to pick up a camera in my haste to get to the van and the driver was ringing me before I was 200 yards up the road.

And yes, there were two wagons, one fully-loaded and one maybe 2/3 loaded, so might there not have been room for a Moffett on the back of the part-loaded one? Oh, and all the cladding has the same manufacturing date – care to guess? 22nd September – 10 days earlier. Hmm.

I rang Neville 'You remember that I said I didn't know what time the lorries were coming? I do now, they're here.' He said he'd get his man down as soon as he could. Meanwhile I chatted with the two drivers, having to reassure them that parking across the level crossing did not constitute imminent danger of being moan down by some delinquent express as there'd be no train for over 24 hours.

A year or two ago, when I tried to crystal ball how things would go, I envisaged unloading all this lot onto wagons at Rowsley using Rob and the railway's JCB, and delivering them on to the siding alongside the shed. But of course Rob has gone, and given the rather strained relations with certain members of the railway's hierarchy, that option was a total non-starter. (I once put 'owing to the past strained relations' in a letter I was dictating while employed by Stanley Tools – it came back from the typing pool as 'owing to the past strangulations'.) But space at Darley is at a premium since we moved all the locos and such down under legal threat, and parking this stuff was going to need some ingenuity.

After about 20 minutes a large machine trundled down the road. Now, I referred to a JCB in order to give you a mental picture – in fact it was a Fermec 860 which looks similar but unless you are into such things would have left you cold. So with a big bulldozer type bucket on the front and a back-acter on the back (well where else I suppose) he dropped his fork-things over the front bucket ready to lift off. His idea was to move the first lorry across the road so that he could manoeuvre in the entrance to Darley Dale station's car park, But that meant heading forwards, with cladding obstructing his view out from behind the lorry and across the B5057 to enter the lane to the shed. The driver then realised that my plan, keeping the Fermec in the lane and having the lorry straddle the entrance gate, was actually rather safer. This is not to belittle him, he coped very well given the limited turning space and the need to swing the back-acter to and fro as he turned in order not to hit the building steelwork, the conference room or my Portakabin. Within an hour it was all off and the lorries departed, and only one sheet – the 7.8 one of course – suffered any significant damage as he inadvertently tried to bring it through a fir tree in the garden alongside. No trees were harmed in the making of this, though.

IMG 0766 blog

On Saturday we were at last to make it back to Scunthorpe after weeks of putting it off. What's more, we got off reasonably early, to be greeted with cries of astonishment that we had made it before noon. I had with me the fuel pump from YE1382, so that the one borrowed from 'Arnold Machin' could be returned to it. Apart from needing general TLC from age, the immediate problem that had necessitated its removal was the fact that certain parts had at some time been removed from it, rendering it somewhat ungovernable.

Toby and Stephen seem to think that I carry a complete range of everything in the van. I am flattered but having the right materials to hand at the right time is generally from planning, not driving a mobile warehouse, and their enquiry as to whether I had any 24V bulbs with full size bayonet mount but smaller globe had to be declined. They are universally known as 'bus bulbs' and though there are a few at the Briddon Country Pile, I seldom carry bulbs as they usually just end up being broken. Andrew was prevailed on to assist in repairing head and marker light assemblies from YEC1382 while I got started on the 03.

When I left it last, my next task had been to establish a conduit from the outside into the cab so that I could run wires out to feed the one codelight box that has its PCB fitted and the box on the other side which as yet does not. I achieved this by breaking into the conduit that was already there, by adding a tee into it so that I could bring the wires through adjacent to the gearbox where the feed is located. The rest of the conduit runs along the underside of the cab floor and is empty (it disappears off somewhere, I never took much heed) but as it supports the flex conduit to the gearbox junction box, I felt it was better left in place. Then the wires were strung through, the master switch turned and hey presto, one working code light. But stand twenty yards or so away and you can see each individual LED, so I suppose I am going to have to trial a diffuser behind the bulls eye after all. And if I add a diffuser, might I need the original brighter LED's? I suppose more experimentation is on the way.

Andrew broke off from a frustrating time with cast iron marker light housings (read rather fragile cast iron marker light housings) and joined me as we returned to the front of the loco. A pipe bender had been borrowed from elsewhere on the steelworks and came in handy as we used it to get a bend on the conduit for the front connection, but it then needs some flex conduit to reach across to the traywork which runs up the other side of the loco, and I had not thought to bring any. By now the AFRPS guys were wanting to move the 03 back outside, Andrew had had enough and decided to inspect the Sentinel 0-6-0DH 'Tom', which we have had little enough to do with for some time, and which since Toby and Stephen got their YE1382 to go, has fallen out of favour. So he started it up and ran it for 10 minutes or so, followed by a few adjustments to belts and a general inspection before we returned to Derbyshire.

IMG 0767 blog

I had arranged a meeting with our cladding contractor today so that he could see the material had arrived and satisfy himself that the final purlin and cleading rails were in place and satisfactory. I was of course, hoping for an early start, after all, would you want to have spent £15k on cladding and such to watch it standing in piles on the ground while the rain sleet and snow continue to pass through the steelwork? But alas, despite pleading, cajoling and grovelling it will be several weeks before work can commence: he just has too much on. Andrew was doing a bit of welding for me so I returned to 14 901, pulling the old cables out of the conduit, feeding the new multi-core through and terminating most of the cables at the cab end.

Up to now, the loco's PLC has been limited to drawing the driver's attention by combination of flashing LEDs and a bleeper. I had been pondering how to treat the additional signal which will come in from the level switch on the header tank. Remember our old header tank was without any external gauge, and on more than one occasion the loco has died without warning and the header tank found to have been emptied by fuel blockage earlier in the system. Indeed, on a couple of occasions the engine has cut-out, I have assumed it to be a dry header tank, and later found the problem to have been something else entirely. The new tank hopefully remedies those deficiencies by (a) having a gauge on the side from which you can readily see if fuel is up to level and (b) a float switch within the tank as the driver or secondman popping out of the cab to check the gauge while charging along at 20mph tends to be frowned upon. One of the problems with level gauges in fuels is that as the loco moves, the liquid sloshes around, and even one with baffles in you can get a lot of surging. (Which reminds me, there was a large 2ft gauge loco on the Sandy River & Rangely Lakes RR (USA) years ago which had a baffle-less tender, 8ft wide. Apparently it did have a poor ride when the water started surging and on one occasion, swayed so much that water toppled the tender off the track.)

My traditional method for employing level switches with PLCs is to 'sample' it. With a relatively unimportant fluid, that means waiting until the loco has been standing still for a short time and then checking, or if it is more important, taking regular checks and if several successive readings are bad, act accordingly. The fuel header falls into the latter category (too damn embarrassing if it conks out just outside Rothley station) although what the driver can do (and how much warning it will actually provide) remains to be seen. But for the moment, apart from mentally drafting the software to check the input, I was also pondering about improving the 'bad news' warning to the driver by adding an additional warning light up on the control panels right in front of him. The latest LEDs fitted to 03 901 seem bright enough to deal with direct sunlight, and there are spare holes in the panels put there for just such afterthoughts, plus spare ways in the multicore that comes from the control cubicle up to the desk. The biggest snag is that I have used all the outputs on the PLC, so may have to clip on another output module (there's one more slot on the backboard). In the shorter term there was another problem. When I built up the control cubicle, I thought I had allowed enough spare connections ( I used Termate ones for this loco) but these have been swallowed up by deadmans and changes to the hydraulic fan controls. There are now no spare termination points, indeed, I had even joined a couple of wires with choc block (I presume it was me though I cannot remember doing it) so last job of the day was to make up an additional little connection panel using a piece of spare tufnol and a couple of plastic mounting brackets that I found in the container. It's a bit rough and ready (it was late afternoon and the light was failing as I trimmed the tufnol with the jig saw) but gives me a few more connecting points for the next improvement, whatever that may be.

More in this category: Of waiting »

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