Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of C for Charlie

24th January 2016

OK, I think we've had winter for this year. Looking back at my diary, over the years it has always been the second, or sometimes 3rd week in January that snow used to descend on Briddon Towers and Sheffield would become paralysed. Now we're at the Briddon Country Pile in Derbyshire I don't suppose it is really much different, and the one day of snow we've seen this week is probably it for this winter. Not that I particularly relish cold weather or anything - it saves on the gas bill - but if we're going to have mild wet winters henceforward I think we may have to evolve by growing flippers.

One of my regular readers was intrigued by the reference to C6SB Rolls' blocks in last weeks blog, checked a reference book and proceeded to ask me about 'SF65C' engines that were fitted in a number of the earlier Thomas Hill locomotives. I was happy to explain, and thought that some others might be amused by the tale.

Once upon a time, the C range Rolls engine was available as 4 cylinder, 6 cylinder or 8 cylinder in line engines. I can only recall seeing two C4s – one was a compressor that came in for repair from Lindsey Oil, and the other, if my memory hasn't deserted me (which reminds me, stopped for fuel, while waiting for the cashier I glanced down and read the newspaper headline “New simple test for dementia” and next moment couldn't remember my PIN...) was on a track machine in the Borders. The C4 died because, £/hp, it was too expensive: the C6 was by far the most popular, but even then, in some markets the engine was a touch dear. So Rolls produced a “stripped down” C6 called an SF65C- with either an N or a T to indicate normally aspirated or Turbocharged. (I don't think there ever was an SF65CS but if I'm wrong I know someone who'll set me straight).

Now, somewhere along the way some bright spark at Kilnhurst did some sums and discovered that if they bought an SF65CN or 'T, plus all the loco-ey bits loose and bolted them all together, they then had the same engine as a C6N or C6T but still with pound notes in the back pocket. And strangely enough, it took Rolls several years to notice: indeed I never did hear (though to be fair, never asked) how they did find out, but I can guess: all it would take is for some innocent loco operator to go into another R-R Oil Engine Division agent, such as Cripps...
'I want this widget for my loco engine'
'Oh, what engine is that off?'
'It's a SF65CN, serial number....'
'I'll have to ring Rolls on that..'
and then a phone call to Shrewsbury
'..you've got what on a SF65CN? We don't fit them to that engine. What's it in?'

Anyway, Rolls-Royce were FURIOUS. Whether they were crosser that Hills had found out that their pricing structures had a big hole in, or that they hadn't 'done the right thing' and bought the 'proper' C6N or C6T from the outset, I don't know. But you didn't mess with Rolls in those days and Hills had to switch to the approved engines. SF65s were still listed in my 1978 (3rd edition) sales manual where they were described as 'lower-rated versions.. ...covering the power range 105 to 253bhp... … supplied for industrial and marine applications.' 252bhp at 1800rpm was a rating we occasionally used on C6Ts.

We won another steel cupboard through e-bay last weekend, so Monday evening Andrew and I had a trip out to Hilton – not the hotel but a village south of Derby – and collected it. It is strange, but out of the 5 we've bought, two came for £10 each and this one was at £25 with no other bidders, but some others which Andrew was watching gained multiple bids and went for £50-60. We're mystified as to what causes such a disparity. Location? (The two £10 ones were out in the sticks near Grantham). Condition? Not that we can see. Possession of shelves and/or keys? Well maybe, but this latest acquisition had both. Anyway, it was a touch shorter than the others so the van doors shut without the need to strap them and we unloaded it straight into the shed as I needed to be off the next day to a site job.

During Tuesday it was confirmed that the converter for Charlie would be ready on Thursday morning – which was good as the latter half of my week was planned around it happening that way, as Friday I was booked to head over to Norfolk and collect grandson for his next visit. Just to compound the lack of flexibility in the schedule, Andrew asked casually if I could be at the shed later in the afternoon as Allelys had a special rig not too far away and if time permitted they wanted to see if it could turn into the gateway at Darley Dale. But in the end some delays in Crewe ruled it out of the question, so my dash around to collect converter, drop off drawings at the fabricators, and collect bits from two other suppliers in Sheffield could have been more leisurely. Oh well, you see there is still one loco marooned at Rowsley: it cannot come down by rail owing to a defective wheel bearing so it will have to travel the two miles down by road, and as we know, most conventional low loaders cannot access the yard. Besides there is a possibility of another loco coming in, which hasn't moved in twenty years, so again it would be safest for axles, bearings and side rods if it arrived direct to the works. Allelys have been down once and the driver concerned reckoned it could be done, but we've produced a drawing on CAD and Allelys are going to run it on simulator software which will confirm categorically whether it can, or cannot. If the unit had had the time to pop over and prove it, it would have been a bonus.

As I was away Friday, the converter stayed in the van sealed in its vacuum, shrink-wrap or whatever it is that cocooned it on its pallet. While it sat there on the drive, a large cardboard tube containing 5metre lengths of aluminium strip and angle were left alongside it. The delivery driver couldn't find the house (surprise!) so rang up and was directed exactly where to unload.

IMG 1135 blog

Now, according to plan, Steph was going to look after grandson and enable Andrew and me to press on with Charlie on Saturday, but grandson wanted to be with his Dad, so we swapped vehicles around and I went down on my own. A couple of weeks ago my daughter donated her old 'ghetto blaster' from college days, and we've had this running in the shed but discovered that a lot of electrical noise emanates from the LED floodlights (which is a surprise as I would have expected the 110V transformers to have created a humm) which drowns out the radio. So I remembered on Saturday to pick up a CD from the kitchen and enjoyed a bit of Pink Floyd as I worked.

I had planned to get as much of the cab area work finished as I could, by which I mean that I wanted to have cleared the cab area by Saturday night as Sunday was intended to get floor and roof lining finished. But with a late start and working alone, I manufactured the feed hose from the reservoir tank for the converter around to the suction filter, and changed the latter for a fresh element (it was still full of diesel), which included drilling and p-clipping it at strategic places. But the first short piece, to span the gap between the tank and a bulkhead fitting which takes it through behind the desk (you can see it in the photo below) was absolutely critical and it was only achieved on my third attempt, making it rather expensive in ends and ferrules.

The next task was really to fix the multi-core that runs from the relay box under the desk, around the bottom and out to the new connector box, but to remove the old Kopex conduit required carefully removing the relay panel on its a/v mounts and then figuring out what size spanner fitted the nut (I think it turned out to be ¾ Whit). I had barely got this far when I had a phone call to advise that visitor awaited me at home, so it was a hurried pack up.

Later on, having screwed some M6 setscrews into the sockets on the top of the van intended for fixing roof racks and the like, we lifted up the 5m long cardboard roll (now a trifle soggy from rain during the day) wired it to the sets and drove back to the shed under cover of darkness.

Andrew had arranged for Charles from Team Frodingham to come over today and Callum had elected to come with him. According to Andrew they were due around ten, so I was pacing myself over the morning toast when Andrew saw a text had come in to the effect that they were sat waiting. And the text had been sent fifteen  minutes or so ago. So I grabbed the remaining bits and dashed down to let them in. First task was to get James running, pull Pluto clear and empty the siding alongside so the van could get to the roller shutter. Then the forklift brought Charlie's converter out and the whole procedure was reversed.

Whether it is a testament to the building insulation, or just the weird winter, but it was actually warmer outside than in, so we had the spectacle of leaving the roller shutter door open AND running the space heater. Neither seemed to raise the temperature of air and locos inside to any great extent, but hopefully it equalised them.

Charles and Callum got on with cutting and edging the new floorboards. Andrew had acquired some spray on-adhesive intended for vinyl floor tiles to floorboards, so we tried this with the floor matting as my attempts with Resin W on the 03 had been declared a failure. But although the boards were trimmed ready, one big snag appeared: there was insufficient matting left after my exploits with the 03 to deck the floor of Charlie.

IMG 1136 blog

The new roof skin too, was demoralising, as drill or self-tapper sheered repeatedly. I even dug out left over screws from the roof installers to try, but to no avail. We concluded that the steel in 1976 was much less mild than it is today, but somehow the tasks need to be progressed.

IMG 1137 blog

Andrew was down for part of the afternoon and with him and the forklift, the converter was re-united with the back of the engine and, after Charles and Callum had headed home, we lifted the caboodle back into the loco.

IMG 1138 blog

I'll admit I had hoped to be further on, and Andrew is planning a day off work this week so that we can catch up (he's already having one off in order to take grandson back) but at least I can make a start on the rewiring and finish the last converter hose (return line) which should keep me occupied. Oh and of course, it's time to do another VAT return, oh joy.

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