Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of visitors and wall plugs

13th March 2016

Gee, hasn't the weather been odd this week? Fog and bloomin' cold most days, and then balmy and sunny at the weekend so that I've had to discard one of my many layers of clothing. Carry on like this and the annual hose-pipe ban will be declared early.

We did spend a couple of evenings down at the shed this week, well to be honest it was Andrew two nights, me one as I was out on Thursday. Amongst other things he got the pump bracket you saw last week for 14 901 fully welded, drilled for mounting it and the pump and finally spray painted ready to fit. He also sprayed up the various profiles needed to re-build Cheedale's flexible cab mounts, which we need to get on with shortly.

But one thing that occupied much of our time was Cheedale's 'mechanics' coupling. This is a type of UV joint that Sentinels first adopted when they developed the 34tonnner back in 1959. In essence it is a flat disc with spigots sticking out on the 4 axes, and over each spigot is a cap containing a needle roller and the cap is secured by two bolts to a member – or yoke- which is part of either the gearbox input or the converter output shafts. In fact the couplings have two such plates, with a floating member in between, and enable a very compact join to be made between said gearbox and converter. This is not incidentally, the same flexible coupling that was used on the Sentinel 0-6-0 – that was merely a pair of standard Hardy-Spicer type UVs back to back, presumably a power limitation on the mechanics' coupling, although in later Hills days we happily used them at over 300bhp when the 0-6-0 only reached 325. (Sentinel 0-6-0s had the engine mounting points cast in to the ballast blocks, so what might otherwise be minor changes to the engine/gearbox relationship became rather expensive.)

Now, I remember being told twenty years or more ago that mechanics couplings had gone obsolete, only to do some digging about a decade back and find somebody still supplying. So I wasn't unduly concerned when it became apparent some time ago that one of the needle bearings on Cheedale's Mechanics was crackered. We assumed that it was a 'standard' needle bearing, although the outer case seemed rather heavier construction than we were used to. Moreover, we couldn't see any way to draw it out of the housing.

Andrew tried heating it up – twice. In fact we had it glowing red in the darker parts of the shed but no way could we shift what we had thought was the outer case, not even a crack-line appeared. We came to the conclusion that it had to be a one piece machining into which the needles were inserted and somehow stayed in unison – only this one hadn't.

So first thing next morning I put a phone call in to a friend and was immediately given the phone number of a supplier in Rotherham. I enquired. No, came the reply, you cannot buy the bearing parts on their own, in fact you cannot buy a bearing cap on its own, you have to but a complete assembly of 4 caps and the spigotted bit in the middle. As I wasn't sure which exact size it was I was spared the annoyance of being told just how much it would be. But we engineers (I use the term loosely as regular readers will know that my true qualifications are that of Business Studies specialising in Marketing, giving rise to my famous motto 'The product may not work but the packaging will be stupendous') do not see why we should be forced to buy expensive and unnecessary spares at the behest of some know-all in Marketing who sees it as a way of keeping the initial cost down while making loads-a-money on the follow-up parts. Oh hang on a sec, I can see that as quite a good policy.

It has come around for that time again when grandson comes up for a long weekend although on this occasion no visits to Heritage railways were planned, thus while Andrew took him to the East Midland model railway exhibition on Saturday, I was at least able to get down to the shed and carry on with some work. I did intend to proceed with the cab wiring mods on 14 901, but in the event instead started doing some tidying up followed by measuring bits which must be sourced in the near future.

When Charlie was headed out we pinched Cheedale's silencer as it was in better condition (well, it didn't rattle with bits of baffle loose inside like Charlie's) which means Cheedale needs to receive a new silencer. Although I have an arrangement drawing of the exhaust system it wasn't detailed and as the original manufacturer is defunct that means a drawing and a fresh enquiry. Then there was the Mechanics coupling – just what sizes were the spigot and housing for when it comes to identifying a suitable needle roller? Meanwhile there were various bits on Cheedale, particularly around the handrails and a casing door, where I need bits of steel so they were measured up to acquired ready for fabrication.

But, anything that stands still in the shed tends to become a dumping ground, and a lot of things had been parked on Cheedale's running plates and ought to be somewhere else. And some of our cupboards don't have shelves, and other cupboards have shelves but are missing the brackets that stop said shelves from sliding gracefully down to the bottom of the cupboard. So in one of those logical back-steps 'tidying' became 'making brackets and a shelf in order that I have somewhere to tidy things into'. A spare piece of ply from Charlie's floorboards order made a perfect shelf (and Cheedale's imminent new floorboards will provide another) and enabled some of that tidying to be progressed, though it has made little impression on the overall appearance of things.

Towards the end of the day I decided to start getting the brackets for the sink into position., although I hadn't remembered to dig out any wall plugs that had to be in the Country Pile somewhere, so confined my activities to chipping out a recess in the concrete to locate the bottom of the first leg. But over in the Portakabin there was another cupboard, a half-height one, that I felt would be better utilised in the shed now that we were gradually moving towards being able to make tea, so emptied it, brought it across and positioned it near the anticipated sink.

The kind reader who has leant us the Stihl saw for the last few months needed it back, so I arranged to be in by ten this morning so that he could pop in. I had a hunt around the garage and could not find any wall-plugs anywhere, so went down anyway, and had just about drilled the first 20mm of hole with an 8mm masonry bit when he arrived. We had a good old natter about things and I showed him around much of the building. Having seen him safely out of the gate (it has poor visibility and traffic comes down Station Road with little regard for the 30mph speed limit) I was just chewing the cud with the Blockman when I found Rob S stood alongside. So Rob became second visitor of the day and I heard news of events on the ELR, Didcot and that funny town in Cheshire famous for having a bit of a railway junction (1 down, 5 letters, beginning in C).

Before he departed I consulted him on where he remembers is the end of the drain whereto we need to connect our slot drain. You may recall that Team Frodingham dug exploratorially in January but couldn't find it. Rob thought it was further out (and considerably deeper) so that may be their challenge later this month ('Your mission, Toby, should you choose to accept it...')

So I got back to drilling the first and second holes, but without the wall plugs, I wasn't going to get much farther. At about 1pm I wandered off for lunch.

Andrew and Steph and grandson had been out visiting a friend – one Terry whose Terry-picker has been long awaited but seemingly no nearer appearing at DD – and arrived back just as I had sat down to a Pitta bread sandwich. Andrew was joining me for the afternoon and as his car now blocked me in it was some time before I could get back so while I waited I had another hunt around the garage and found the wall plugs – actually I found quite a few wall fastenings of various types but having drilled the wall to 8mm ones intended for holes of 5 or 6 would be somewhat ineffective. So I returned to the shed with a spring in my step and mounted the first bracket. I had just begun the second when Andrew said we had a visitor, and sure enough another regular reader, Pete W, had finally made good his promise to drop in and see us. As he hadn't been round for a long time (if at all) it was a thorough tour of the empire.

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Andrew meantime had got the new pump bracket assembled (see above) and now needs only new hoses to reconnect the priming system. After this photo was taken he reassembled the air delivery pipe from the adjacent compressor, bringing the loco that much nearer to being ready to start up once again.

I got the second sink bracket assembled and as near level as my spirit levels and wonky drilling would permit, and we lowered the sink ceremoniously into position. I think a row of tiles across the back would set it off nicely.

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On Friday I had collected another oil tank since the one I had bought for Cheedale had been commandeered for Charlie. I had pretty well decided where it would go on Saturday, and although the brackets are manufactured ready (but unpainted, though Andrew rectified that this afternoon) my ideal location is currently in a place where a large foot square section of the casing wall has been cut out and needs filling, and was subject to our discussions about what to do with the air cleaner, which had rotted clean through just under the pre-cleaner 'mushroom'. Anyway first I decided to make a start on some of the other jobs and removed the headlights. The original headlights on Cheedale were 5inch Butlers, but these ceased manufacture many years ago and when the pressed steel bowls rotted through, operators replaced them with other manufacturers, just as we had done on Charlie. Cheedale had been fitted with 7inch Wipacs, which always seemed rather oversized to us so was a candidate for the LED ones. I got the rear ones removed and new ones fitted (though not yet electrically) and removed the front ones, though new ones have yet to go on there.

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About twenty-past four we heard the sound of a rather unhappy steam engine struggle into Darley Dale station, which meant it was already 10 minutes late, and I decided it was time for a cup of tea, so went out to put the kettle on. I still boil the kettle in the Portakabin, so wandered over there. Clearly something was amiss as there was no enthusiasm for getting the train away and everyone was standing around watching, as they do when they're hoping someone else will magically produce a cure. I had made our teas and was returning the kettle to the Portakabin when I was hailed by someone up at the gate. He was a former trainspotter who had come back to the hobby now that he had retired, he said, and could he come and see our diesels? Insisting he had hivi and was aware that it was at his risk, I showed him round.

As I escorted him back through the gate the Blockman was shutting up, the train was still in the platform and I was informed that a spring had broken.

Before we finished off, that is to say Andrew had to be back to take charge of putting grandson to bed, we had a conference over Cheedale's air cleaner. Like Charlie, Cheedale had a Burgess oil bath air cleaner which had begun to fall out of favour long before either Vanguard was built, though they were still 'standard' to Rolls unless you needed to go into hostile environments – like petro-chem – where the oil suddenly became a fire hazard. But Andrew had acquired a more modern paper cleaner that was attached to a C8 he'd bought, so we decided to dig this out of the VBA and see if it would do the job. And of course it will, admirably, provided you are not into perfect authenticity, as we seldom are. So that will replace the tired oil bath, and my converter oil reservoir can go in the place alongside that I want, and with that Andrew departed to do the Daddy bit.

I stayed on a little while, removed the air cleaner and did a few other little tasks before locking up for the night. This week, I'm told, we'll invest in some cutting discs for the 9” grinder and have another go at cutting that second panel.

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