Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of inter-loco-group-owners-liaison visits

20th March 2016

Amongst the various comments I received after last week's edition was someone who revealed a secret passion for sinks – apparently ours is a 'Belfast', actually I thought it had probably come out of a signal box much nearer home – and a suggestion that a photo of a mechanics coupling would have been much easier to understand than my convoluted description.

And they were right of course, but strangely I hadn't got around to taking one, remiss I know but sometimes even I forget to bring the camera with me. So for starters I can at least correct that omission -

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Things should have been quiet in the early part of the week. Andrew was booked to utilise his fork lift truck licence to the benefit of his employers in connection with a massive stores re-location, and I had had to drive grandson back to Norfolk on the Tuesday, but despite that we were in the shed on Tuesday night, me mounting the front LED headlamps on Cheedale and wiring up the rears, and Andrew preparing the handrail columns for installation by drilling out the holes with the rotabroach. Also on Andrew's plan for the week was to inspect a wagon: but not just any wagon. This one has, technically, been in his possession for the last couple of years but it has been so inaccessible that he has never actually set eyes on it, let alone collected it. That was at least remedied this week but collecting it is a different matter and with that teaser I shall move on.

While he was away I was delegated to look after two members of Team Frodingham – to whit Toby and Stephen – who were coming over to Darley with some brake rigging that needs building up, machining and bushing. They had announced that they were coming over on Thursday, which was rather less than convenient as having been called out on Wednesday I was having to rush into Sheffield Thursday morning to collect all the bits that I was supposed to have got on Wednesday. Amongst these were various bits for Cheedale's lift-off door and handrails, plus fittings for 14 901's oil priming system, the needle bearings for Cheedale's Mechanics coupling (well I only require one but a spare never comes amiss, provided you don't go and lose it after). On a whim I decided to stop off at Wickes and collect enough pieces to make up the drain for the sink, on the basis that having a route for the water to depart is more important than providing pipework for it to enter. Fret not, I shall not inflict a picture of a plastic bottle trap on you though.

Toby and Stephen had forecast an arrival time of 1pm, and I was relieved when they were late as I hadn't finished lunch, but got down by half one and as they still hadn't arrived, made a start. They finally turned up outside the gate in a horse box at twenty-past two, having been somewhat alarmed by the steepness of Sydnope Hill. Now Sydnope is the road that climbs up the scarp face of the east side of Darley Dale with a series of sharp bends and severe gradients. In the old days I negotiated it once with the Land Rover (uphill) and opted not to repeat the experience. Apparently an innocent road haulier, delivering a carriage to Darley Dale in the early days of Peak Rail came down that way, and though to look at it today you might well question whether it was actually possible, I am assured it is true.

But by the sound of it, the horse box, which they claimed would not exceed 45mph anywhere on the M18/M1 had finally got the bit between its teeth and was reluctant to slow down on Sydnope Hill. But why a horse box? It was more a matter of why not, given that it was the only thing available that could carry the brake parts of YE1382 which Andrew has undertaken to repair. The bits display all the usual signs, - worn pins on the crossbeams, oval holes on the hangers for the brake block pins, some other holes having been bushed and others just way over-size and probably not all that round any more. Whilesoever it was altogether it worked but the amount of play in the parts was not the worst I had ever seen in use (some of Grace's rigging comes close) but was definitely due some TLC.

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In order to unload this lot I had to fire James up and move the train clear so that they could back the horse box up to the roller shutters. They unloaded it onto a pallet while I finished my drain connection, then we shunted the train back into place and I carried out the official tour for Stephen's benefit before they hit the road in the vain hope of getting the horse box back to Lincoln before Friday. I finished the afternoon by testing the sink, distributing the morning's other goodies around the shed and bringing in the water heater from the container to think about where it mounts and how the water feed will mate up with it.

I was out that evening, but Andrew was doing late-night container emptying in Wiltshire, so it was up to me to borrow a friend's computer and win another object on e-bay. Andrew had been after a steel topped workbench for a while for fabrication purposes. One was offered from a vendor in Matlock Bath and was complete with a vice, and was ours for £26. Correspondence over Friday revealed that we could collect it Friday night, but that the entrance road was 'a little narrow'.

Andrew arrived home mid afternoon with a serious chest-bug which had been getting worse during the week. Nonetheless he agreed to assist and we set off down the A6, turning right immediately opposite the road to Matlock Bath station. Like many of the Derbyshire valleys, the rivers have cut steep sided slopes and all the houses above the main road are perched perilously higher and higher. He wasn't kidding either, at one point we crept through between two stone walls having pulled the wing mirrors in so as to clear, and shortly after found ourselves on a very narrow tarmacked road with no wall on our left but a precipitous drop of 200feet. He spied us first – he was walking his dog and probably recognised a strange van by the unfamiliar number plate and the two occupants looking panic-stricken in the dark. We loaded up and discovered he too worked in a branch of the rail industry - on signalling.

We got back Friday night and parked up with the intention of unloading first thing Saturday and going over to Scunthorpe. But by Saturday morning, when Andrew finally awoke, he had all but lost his voice and was coughing almost continuously, so he stayed at home and I went as far as the pharmacist to stock up the medicine cabinet with cold and flu remedies. He stayed up for most of the day but went to bed on a record time of 7pm in the hope of shaking it off. He hasn't.

But come-what-may he was going to get some work dine on Sunday, and we had a couple of visitors due from Ruddington. A group of loco owners are getting together to build themselves a shed, and Bryn and Rob from the Class56 team wanted to inspect our magnum opus and learn from it.

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But first was to unload the workbench from the van, and immediately it was put into use to start making the lift-off door that Cheedale is missing. The skin for this has been around for months – in fact it is its second skin, the first being in 5mm in an aberration on my part, since cut into other bits and replaced with a Mk2 in 3mm, which you might be able to lift off without gaining a hernia. Stiffeners, etc were on hand, either new or reclaimed, so only the budget locks require fitting and spacing to suit.

Anyway, at this point our two visitors appeared and we broke off for tea and talking. We explained the full story of how the building had progressed, the suppliers we'd used and would recommend (or not), the reason behind the concrete panels (they hadn't considered ease of forced entry) the pro and cons of personnel doors in roller shutters or whether to electrically motor or not, etc., etc., etc. We may not be 'real' builders but we know a lot about how to build engine sheds. They wanted to know why we hadn't incorporated a pit, were surprised as to how light it was with all the roof lights and nodded sagely when I explained how, with the doors facing the prevailing wind (SW) you run the risk of rainwater blowing up the flangeways and flooding tracks inside. We gave them the impression how well things had been thought-out, while still revealing those bits that had gone wrong and we learnt from.

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In the end I introduced Bryn to the PLC control system on 14901 while Andrew finished the lift off door with expanded metal recovered from a grille that had been part of the 03 when it had had the air cooled engine, and later moved to Cheedale itself.

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Although we had hoped to get the handrail assembled, time did not permit and instead Andrew welded up some of the holes in the cab and casing, the latter as it will become the place where my hydraulic oil tank should mount and I needed a couple of 10mm holes, not 300 square. In the cab, additional pipework fitted at one time in its life, and a battery charge socket sticking out the cab side, both long-since removed, needed filling up and I had had discs profiled of suitable size. But with those tasks completed, the latest dose of Super Strength Lem-sip was wearing off and we packed up and headed home.

More in this category: Of tours, mounts and LEDs »

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