Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of tours, mounts and LEDs

10th January 2016

I was a little dismayed last week when I came to post the previous edition of the blog – the readership figures had been somewhat down. Could it have been something I'd said? But no, it must have been the Christmas and New Year festivities as last week's figures are back to normal and even the week before's have picked up as presumably readers have logged and caught up. Could it be that many of you log in during breaks at work? Could it be mid-morning coffee, Pete's blog and bickies?

Last Monday was the day that grandson had to return to his mother's, but before I set off I had ordered up the profiles for the new engine mounts for Charlie, and the anti-vibration mounts themselves. The latter arrived later in the week, but by Wednesday the cylinder heads had been taken to a nearby diesel specialist to be cleaned and rebuilt ready to go back on, and the converter off to my regular repairers to sort out the iffy seal and the clutch mechanism. While in the area I stopped off at Scunthorpe for Wednesday is a work afternoon/evening at the AFRPS. There had been comments on a couple of Forums that one of the ex Norwegian Railways Di8 B-B's might be used for a brake van tour on Saturday, and I was surprised to hear that any of them had been brought down from Teesside, as the last I heard they'd all been stored on Tees Dock after the steelworks at Lackenby closed a second time. As I headed that way, I passed a Class 66 heading down on the A1, (on an Allelys wagon, they haven't yet made 66s into road/rail machines) – this being one damaged in an accident during a possession in Scotland last year.

So anyway, two of the Di8's had arrived at Scunthorpe, and one had been tested, only to find one or more curves it didn't like, and a few doorways that it wouldn't clear, but this had been done by crews brought down from Teesside – no-one had yet been passed to drive from Scunthorpe staff so using one on a railtour was out of the question, and I was asked to make this clear on any Forum I saw it. The next question was what was actually going to work it, and the 03 was put in the frame so I rang Andrew, who said it could be used but we'd need to fix an oil leak and refill it with coolant so to be ready for an 11 o'clock departure was a touch optimistic. It was agreed that Hunslet 0-6-0DH '58' - which has become a sort of 'shared loco' between the AFRPS and the works traffic (the AFRPS sorted out the numerous defects it had when it had arrived, partly dismantled, from Workington, repainted it, etc., and whilst it tends to live at the AFRPS area, the fact that it is air-braked means that it is often in works use, even through Scunthorpe traditionally has 'never quite got the hang of hydraulics') - would take the morning half of the tour and 03 901 would come out to play after lunch. An additional complication was that contractors were searching for a water main leak under the track that leads to the platform, so that might not be relaid in time for Saturday.

On Friday I was on the road back to the profilers to collect the various bits, and as I came out it occurred to me that my preferred oil supplier might just have paraffin in his portfolio, so I gave him a call, and sure enough, what he prefers to call kerosene was about 1/3 the price I had paid for paraffin at Homebase a couple of weeks ago so I returned with enough to keep the space heater working (and oh look, they've forecast a cold snap!) but either the kerosene or the converter have stunk the van out 'orrible.

So Saturday morning, not as early as I would have liked, it was down to the shed and reload ready for Scunthorpe. Trains ought to have been running on Peak Rail, but the timber decking on the “Nanny Goat bridge” on the entrance road had finally collapsed so the access road was closed and no trains running. We pointed the van off to Scunthorpe.

03 901 was brought back in the shed as we arrived but almost immediately Andrew was commandeered by Team Frodingham to help remove the side rods from Yorkshire 1382 and I began to think that we wouldn't be able to take '901 out if he wasn't un-commandeered soon. But a loose pipe connection was nipped up (in a very inaccessible location so we might re-arrange it later) coolant was refilled (plain water though as I had forgotten to bring any anti-freeze), Andrew turned on the battery isolator and the engine immediately cranked.

It took a few minutes to trace why. Presumably, when last I had been in there, I had managed to nudge a 'flying' connection ( an M5 nut and bolt at one end of a diode) sufficiently close to a fixed M5 stud that power actually arc'ed the gap and engaged the starter solenoid. A quick tug and a piece of insulating tape solved that one, but reminds me that I have some attention to put in there to get it right. 03 901 was duly started and brought out and placed on the end of 3 brake vans which 58 had propelled in and was still coupled to.

IMG 1107 blog

I was wearing my posh overalls which have my name emblazoned on the back (too cold in the wind for train driver's outfit) so got recognised by one visitor. 'Spose it'll be autographs next.

Around 2pm, working top and tail, we shuffled across to the steelworks tracks and headed out on to the circuit. Another Scunthorpe steelworks crew were in 58 receiving driver training from an AFRPS member who'd been involved in the restoration work, and having travelled so far, we went our separate ways with 03 901 now leading the 'vans. We spied 58 later in the tour, away across the site shunting some wagons.

IMG 1108 blog

For me, the tour was straightforward. For one thing, the screaming noise that has had me worried on previous trips was absent, it must have been those two belts telling me that they were the wrong size for the pulleys. The 03 was performing well and it is probably best that I still do not have a working speedo as I suspect I might have exceeded the 10mph speed limit here and there, although a gentle pat on the shoulder followed by words in my ear - 'There's some bad joints between here and that bridge' - were enough to let the throttle back and ease off.

Usually we go clockwise around the circuit, but today it was anti-clockwise, so the long bank on perimeter hill was taken on the downwards side, with a proviso that the p-way gang were at work at the bottom and no-one was clear whether they were at the junction turnout or further up a spur. As we approached it was clearly further up the branch around the back of the concast site but I had kept the speed down just in case.

The Frodingham station branch had indeed remained inaccessible so the tour terminated back at the shed area, and once they'd gone we brought 03 901 back into the shed so that we could get on with the original target for the day – get the prop-shaft drive assembled for the exhauster. Andrew had again been assisting on YE 1382 but had finally got back onto another job of ours, but I set up and started countersinking the exhauster end adaptor to suit the screws and he joined in part way through. The propshaft was duly assembled to it and trialled onto the exhauster adaptor: all correct but the bolts through the adaptors and exhauster drive flange are undersized and I must find some suitable bolts of the correct diameter.

IMG 1110 blog

Similarly Andrew was now grinding away at a piece of spare key-steel trying to make the oversize piece smaller to suit. OK, it was something I had forgotten about, although for setting it up today we could have gone without it, after all the M10 countersunks I had were a trifle short, the M6 capscrews at the other end are missing two and I hadn't any belts yet. But Andrew was determined to make one rather than buy a fresh piece of the right section, and at one point he opened the taper lock with a chisel to force the still slightly-too-big key into position and the taper lock fell in two. So that brought festivities to an end and we returned to Derbyshire.

Today, once we were ready, we headed down to a still-tranquil Darley Dale (though a working party were at work over on the station) and opened up the Geoffrey Briddon Building. Job No.1, put kerosene in the space heater and get it on! It doesn't make that much difference to the temperature inside (though you do notice it is warmer once you're in) but the fact that it is on is reassuring.

IMG 1111 blog

Target for the day though was Charlie, and while Andrew started trimming back the edge of the Thomas Hill mounting pads (where the bump stops had been but were no longer needed) I went up in to the cab and started recovering the mechanical and capillary gauges as these will all be going over to electrical gauges, as well as an additional 3 colour LED which will give a visual warning on oil pressure. (Three colour? Red, not enough pressure, green is OK pressure, amber means the switch has gone kaput. Oh, and on the subject of oil pressures, my good friend Neil W has dug back into the earliest editions of the Rolls-Royce sales manuals on the C-range and given me chapter and verse on what Rolls used to specify. This publication, TSD3016, was issued to me when I joined TH in 1978, but mine was the 3rd edition and by then this seemingly rather important information had been struck out of the text. For the record though, I have added his remarks to last week's blog as a Reader Comment).

IMG 1113 blog

The profiles having been welded up, we fettled them a touch and slapped some one-coat black on so that they could be put in position. Meanwhile Andrew had drilled out one broken bolt, re-tapped the M8 holes for the radiator a/v mounts and put these on. Soon all will be ready to put the power unit back in, which we hope will be next weekend. The engine half of the mounts were adjusted slightly to fit the RR mounting pads, but being slightly thinner than the TH ones, the bolts bottomed and either I must find some replacements or shorten what we have before they're ready. I also got some profiles to make up an electrical connection box support bracket, but cannot quite decide yet which side to put it, so for the moment they must remain loose.

IMG 1114 blog

The new oil reservoir for the converter was finished off and placed in its appointed place on the floor of the right hand cupboard in the cab. And I was pondering how to back mark the holes (given that the tank is 'low slung' and I cannot get my hand between it and floor, let alone find the far side holes and mark them) when news came through that a visitor had arrived.

Andy H has been here several times, but it is a mark of improving civilisation that he was actually offered a cup of tea on arrival for the first time! He had come to look over our transformer and confirm its suitability, and perhaps more importantly, where best to site it. For although I had assumed that all our electrical equipment – isolators, mcbs, fixed transformers, etc. would all be in one place in the corner, Andy's beef is voltage drop and so a revised location, having regard to cable runs and fire safety, was determined and has the advantage that it is a location that we can install it in now and even start positioning one or two of its 110V outputs almost immediately (although as its 2-phase feed must wait until the electrical incoming electricity reaches it, it will be something of a decorative feature for the interim). Andy was also on at persuading me to change my ideas on the LED floodlights. The samples we have can run on 110V and 240V. In my simple mind, if it runs on either and yet drives the same LED, the load or whatever that restricts/regulates the current through the LED must necessarily be working harder and rejecting more heat, so either it, or the LED, will have a shorter life. Not so, goes the counter-argument, higher voltage is lower current for the same power, (and it's current that gives rise to heat) but the need to reduce the incoming voltage to 110 in the reality is even less efficient and diminishes the savings from having LEDs in the first place.

OK, I will bow to superior knowledge, and one of our incoming mcb banks will be allocated to provide two for the transformer and the third to the 240V supplies which will include the floodlights. Just wish we could get on and get the electrics and the sink installed. It's getting cold outside.

So not as much progress as we would have liked this weekend, but hopefully by next weekend the cylinder heads are back, the mounts in and painted and the converter should be on the horizon, if not with us. With possible work for 14 901, an oil leak on the forklift to attend to, of course moving and cutting those panels and now the OK to get the transformer located aloft, I don't suppose I'll be putting my feet up this week, either.

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