But as you left me last week, I had sent a slightly critical e-mail to the Editor of the IntercIty Railway Society regarding a two page article in their latest 'Tracks' magazine. His reply came through on Monday, together with a pdf copy of the mag so that I could read it for myself. He was quick to apologise for not having had us vet the article beforehand, explaining that apart from editing this magazine (which being monthly and 64 pages is no mean achievement) he is also the Membership Secretary and had had family problems in the run-up to publication. But when I got to read the original, there were even more errors than I feared – down to describing D9500 and 14 901 as ex BR 'English Electric' 0-6-0s - and Andrew and I listed them all between us.
Over the next few days a succession of e-mails traversed the ether. To make amends, he would put an addendum into the next issue. This addendum then grew somewhat until it ended up two and a half times the length of the original article, complete with a picture of the front of the shed now to compare with those he himself had taken on the 19th September. But since I rather like the shot (I had to climb on to Charlie's fuel tank to get it) and as you can even just make out the level crossing and the tracks through Darley Dale station it is my current desktop background and I can't resist sharing it with you all first. Anyway, you may surmise from all of this that he has more than redeemed himself in our eyes, and if, as I jokingly said to him, a horde of ICRS members in due course appear brandishing their copies of 'Tracks' we shall do our best to entertain them.
Yes, the cladding contractors finished on Monday. We are officially 99.9% weathertight: not 100% because there are some gaps above the roller shutters which need some draft excluders fitting and some bits of timber to be put under the bottom of the roller shutters to fill gaps there as the rails deliberately stand proud of the surrounding concrete. As I had to be away on Monday, I opened up and left their chargehand with keys and strict instructions as to what to do when he had finished. I stopped off at the shed around 6pm, in the dark, to confirm that all was well. On checking, the side personnel door was locked, as requested, so I opened it with my key and sure enough the keys I had entrusted him with were exactly where I'd asked him to leave them. The portakabin too, was locked, and he'd even had the thoughtfulness to turn off the heater, which I'd put on in the morning as the weather was not very conducive to working outside. Anyway, so impressed was I that I went home contented. Which was unfortunate, as when I went in on Tuesday morning it was to find the far end personnel door had been left ajar!
Work has progressed on Thelma and Louise during the week with Louise's floor timbered and (her?) headstocks rubbed down again as they looked awful once the yellow paint had been applied. On Friday a guy from the WSR arrived in a large white van and went off with two rotary exhausters, but other than that with Andrew out and about on his new job he has been home too late to spend many evenings there.
Plan A had been to go to Scunthorpe on Saturday, but Andrew had plans for Saturday evening and in any event, the two conflats needed finishing off. So we headed down on Saturday morning, braving some wet and windy weather, but popping first into the builders merchants next door to pick up supplies of timber preservative and screws.
Over on Darley Dale station, volunteers were busy preparing the illuminated decorations that will adorn the fencing as the Santa trains go by from next weekend, but I didn't envy them one bit as the wind continued and the rain was forecast to be heavy.
There were some bits and bobs to come out of the VBA so at my request, the space heater, which had been kindly donated from one of my regular readers, was unloaded, plugged in and gave us a reassuring warm feeling over the next couple of hours. (In truth, it probably only made a significant difference to the air temperature up in the roof, but the knowledge that it was doing something did make us feel warmer.)
Andrew's main task was to get the train res pipe installed on Louise – Thelma had retained hers but Louise's, if she ever had one, was missing. Indeed, detail differences in the two wagons – like Louise has a standard UK pattern drawhook but Thelma has what looks like a UIC one with a pocket welded in to the headstock - makes me wonder whether these two were converted at different times. I know they are different batch wagons, but surely if you were making a pair you'd select two from the same Lot?
Anyway, I spent a half hour or so putting two timber strips under the roller shutters on 3A (there's a third but it requires a bit of planing to suit a subtle rise in the concrete floor) but then thought that I really ought to do my bit and started applying a fresh coat of preservative to the floor on both wagons. The instructions said that I should make sure temperatures were not below 10 deg C and that no rain was forecast as that might wash it all off. I was pretty sure it was a bit below 10 in the shed but as rain was unlikely to occur inside (I was wrong, we had a leak during a very heavy shower from a roof light right over Thelma) that it was safe to proceed, other than the risk of drips finding their way through gaps in the planking and preserving Andrew underneath.
Also in the VBA we found a couple of those halogen work lights mounted not on telescopic poles but on ground level stands, so they came in for use, and early in the afternoon I decided to mount the second of our trial LED floodlights on a purlin up the front of the shed, fed from the end of our daisy-chained temporary lights. It casts very effective illumination over our current work area, though getting on top of our electrical installations will be the next priority in the shed.
By the end of the day we were reasonably satisfied with progress, and having fitted Louise's new buffers went home feeling that we had only a few tasks left.
Andrew was rather late up today, so we had an early lunch before heading back down. Main task of the day was to re-hose the train res pipes. Train hoses are made from fabric reinforced rubber hose (for flexibility) and are secured to the palm ends and threaded ones by Band-it strapping. Rather than pay inordinate monies to have them done for us (the hoses are dated and should be replaced after 6 years or so from manufacture) as we have Band-it strapping and a small stock of brand new (well 6 month from manufacture) hose in stock we opted to do it ourselves. I think it might be worth developing a 'gadget' to force the hose over the barbed ends – it was a tough job.
With one of Louise's side control assemblies refitted, the uncoupler gear assembled and tested, Andrew dug out the small MIG and switched to a bit of relaxing welding, namely two brackets for me and a couple of signal lever label brackets for Peak Rail's S&T Department. To recap Dom popped in a couple of weeks ago to ask if we could produce him new labels for the steadily progressing installation at the north end of Rowsley, where he will have a 15 lever frame but being of wire-operated design, requires two per lever. I drew up the profiles and collected them during this week, but just for a couple for him to try out. These are now assembled and he can have a play with them and check that dimensionally they are correct before I set Andrew loose to manufacture another 28. They will probably end up with Traffolite labels mounted to them on the frame.
The final task of the day was to get Thelma and Louise properly named. No, we didn't break bottles of champagne over them – we'd only have to clear up the broken glass – but with aid of some loaned stencils we spay painted their names on the sides. I've got another few hours of work to do touching bits of paintwork up before they leave, later this week.
Meanwhile Andrew won a couple more steel cabinets on e-bay like the ones I got in Grantham a few months ago. Only these are in Todmorden, which really isn't all that far as the crow flies, and if I had crow that could fly with a 6ft steel cabinet tied to its legs I would gladly despatch it. But by van, it is either up the M1, over the M62 and then Sowerby Bridge and Hebden Bridge, or over the peaks to Glossop, M57 and M60 then up through Rochdale and beyond. And back – with the doors secured together with a lorry strap no-doubt. Well, it keeps me off the streets.