Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of piping and other things

3rd April 2016

Well, sorry to disappoint you, no triumphal banner, nor earth-shattering news to report for this, the 300th edition of the Weekend Rails blog. Not even an attempt at an April Fools (never could pull such things off anyway).

Storm Katie left us a few more presents after I wrote it up last Sunday night. One was definitely unwelcome – the return of the ornamental pond. Yes, despite packing the flangeways with sand and offcuts of DPM, the water level had risen sufficiently outside, maybe aided by a prevailing wind, to overflow and flood the tracks under the '14 and the Mattersons. This will all be fixed when we get time to get the slot-drain across the front set up, and at least Toby's efforts last week have established where the connecting point is. For the meantime though, the water is started to evaporate though I dare-say it'll take a couple of weeks or more to return to dry.

The other was more amusing. Apparently while we were at Scunthorpe last Saturday, the wind had blown sheets of insulation over from the builders merchants, and staff had turned out to collect them from Peak Rail's tracks and weight them down. But Sunday night had been as blustery as before; three more sheets were decorating the main line on Monday morning, and no-one was on hand at the Builders. Rather than stuff them back through the fence and watch them blow around their yard or back over again, we gave them temporary lodgings in our shed.

I had had time to pop over to Chesterfield as Wickes was open from 06.30 – no, I wasn't up that early, but I had returned with copper pipe, compression fittings and clips - everything in fact, for our water supply to the sink except a suitable tap with threaded end for a hose, which I could not find anywhere.

But our time was once again concentrating on Cheedale. We had a conference and agreed the spec for the new silencer. It will be longer than the old one by a considerable margin, and we will flexibly mount to minimise vibration transfer into the casing superstructure. The casing tops had already come off in order to get the converter back in, now out came the first of the roller shutter assemblies, and Andrew spent some time freeing up the individual slatted sections so that it will slide up and down properly. Then we dragged out the replacement compressor, and swapped the drive pulleys over, which necessitated heating up the pulley with the gas and then tapping it off with a chisel between the pulley and the crankcase, before putting it into place on the loco. The output pipe nipple turned out to be two separate steel nipples which were welded together to make up one, but that will be replaced.

But I did get time to produce our pipework for the sink, and sort of test it, and set a couple of left-over tiles from the Briddon Country Pile (the previous owner seems to have hoarded such things) against the concrete panel wall.

Come Tuesday and the builders merchants were open again, so I headed round and purchased a suitable tap, a 90 degree bend for the drain at the front of the building, and an 'all-purpose' 5mm drill and invited them to pop round and retrieve their insulation boards. To be honest I was hoping they'd say 'no, keep them' but no such luck, they sent a man and a pick-up even though the boards were a trifle the worse for wear on the edge on which they'd landed.

I fitted the tap (after trying all sorts of ways to get it to be tight in the correct position) and admired our water supply, and fixed (most of) the leaks that revealed themselves. Truth is, there's a slight weep from the vertical which will in due course feed the water heater. I'll deal with that in due course. Now, back a couple of years ago, one of our acquisitions from the Sheffield auction house was a quantity of deb soap and skin restorer in containers that go into dispensers, of which 4 or 5 came along too. The new all-purpose drill, which showed it drilling tiles, bricks, etc. on the packaging and the builders merchants assured me was good for concrete, was to drill additional holes to mount the dispensers, I had already worn out an old masonry drill bit of mine – the end – the sharp bit with the sticky-out-bits that differentiate masonry bits - simply disappeared and the drill was flat nosed and somewhat ineffective. I put in a second pipe clamp hole, then mounted the first dispenser, for the liquid soap. So far so good, and it would have been nice to have carried on and installed the water heater, but that was a little ambitious, so I decided I'd mount the skin restorer dispenser. And on the second hole the drill suddenly stopped drilling, and when I removed it, it too had become flat ended. Not broken, simply eroded away. But much of the rest of the afternoon was spent trying to tidy up as I was expecting a visitor on Wednesday, but true to form, it all got postponed Tuesday night.

We had a long day planned on Thursday. Andrew's employers had agreed to sponsor a move of locomotives and rolling stock to the Mid Norfolk railway for their diesel gala this weekend, and as the consist included the prototype HST power car and its attendant 3 Mk3 carriages (which we rode in at Ruddington a few weeks ago) and they needed someone to ride with it as it was under their SMS, Andrew's previous experience with Porterbrook came in handy and he got the job. More than that, as grandson was due to come up to us for a week and comes from near Dereham, it all fitted together nicely. That is, if getting Andrew up at some silly hour of the morning to get him to Ruddington, so that the 3 class 50s that had started out from Washwood Heath would be sure to meet the HST and its train. From there it went to Leicester, where Andrew met it again and left his van, gaining a 37 and reforming the train to end up with a 50 at the back ready for the reversal at Wymondham.

We meanwhile had more traditional trip across to Dereham by car, collected grandson, gave him tea at the supermarket outside the station and hoped that there'd been no delays or breakdowns along the way, as such plans get extremely awkward when taking toddlers into account. Fortunately all had gone well, even running early and we got on to the station with time to spare after Andrew had texted that they'd made it on the to the MNR.

Grandson was getting a little bored (no trains actually for him to ride, which he probably expected), but looked cute in wellies and a hivi vest (other clothes as well, obviously, before someone reports us to the NSPCC). Finally the train appeared, stopped outside the first turnout, detached the 50 and it came forward to the platform end, where Andrew dismounted and grandson charged over to him as he climbed on the platform.

We left them to it and piled back into the car for the journey back to the Country Pile, though from the pictures I have seen on Flickr the last couple of days, it seems to have been quite a good 'do', even getting a plug on Radio 2 from someone going there from Southend on Sea texting Anneka Rice.

With grandson to look after, Andrew's time was limited on Saturday and non-existent on Sunday, but I was down at the shed for both days, largely on Cheedale. Unfortunately much of what I was doing is comparatively hard to discern, from cleaning up the mechanics coupling ready to refit, installing the clutch cylinder lines in plastic tube (the originals were now too short, given that the converter reservoir was rather in their way) removing old redundant lengths of copper pipework (long since redundant in fact, but never had time to access the various connections and clips to remove them) and making the joint for the top of the hydraulic reservoir and fixing the lid on top. The orifice filter assembly was recovered – memory told me that this was one we fitted as when Cheedale arrived, its had been removed. I hope that we didn't think to clean it, as when I did so on Saturday it was full of black bits and a few steel shavings. Having had the converter apart (on a 'minimum work necessary' basis) if there had been anything untoward though, it would have been reported. An approximate lash up for the return line pipework enabled me to put together a return line from there to the tank, and started the feed line from tank to converter filter assembly, though this must await another trip to the suppliers for various hydraulic ends and adaptors.

Whilst Andrew was around he started making up the new support bracket for the air cleaner. Using the original air cleaner mounts, it will be a simple affair using unequal angle, and holding the cleaner body far enough away from the casing that the depression gauge on the back can be read, yet the air cleaner element taken out through the handrail. You can see the idea with the some of the angle held together with G clamps. A rain cap must be sourced from somewhere. On the other side of the casing wall, a flex duct must take the filtered air to the engine intake – this will be an interesting compromise as on the one hand we need it far enough out to clear the filler for the converter reservoir, but too far out and it will be unacceptably close to the silencer. Fortunately, the silencer will be at a slight angle to the loco centre line: you can see in the picture (below). The section of cast pipe after the bellows will be discarded, and the silencer finishes around about the far end of the res tank, then becoming a tail pipe, elbow and out the stack in front of the cab. We could even bracket the duct from the res itself, but its destination is a pipe which is very much in the foreground. One problem I had not foreseen is reconnecting the electrics. For the last 15-20 years I have used cable number sleeves that are not only clearly numbered, but whose base colour is , if memory serves, the same as the colour code for electronic resistors. Either way, they can be easily identified as even when dirty, you can recognise the base colour even if the black numeral is obscured by matching greasy dirt. Not so the Thomas Hill ones, they are numbered but on a common cream - well maybe they were white once – sleeve and the printing has suffered from grease. Some of my cables are undecipherable, so I am back to a process of elimination by guessing what the number might be, and whether it is long enough to reach the tab in the connector box that I think it ought to go to. And some of them seem to have shrunk. For that matter, the improved access to the rear end, which was not available to me when I installed the electronic senders back in 2013 (and which made those copper pipe runs redundant) meant that some of my flexible cable conduits are a trifle naff, so I'm tidying them up while I have the chance. At the opposite extreme I've removed the fuel gauge. This is a float on a wire that uses a pair of bevel gears to turn a magnet. On the other side (the dry bit) should be a magnetised needle behind a glass, but the last two components are lacking, which makes the gauge less than useless and we have been dipping the tank ever since it arrived from Tunstead. I need either to rebuild it or get it rebuilt by the makers: preferably before someone fills the tank....

As a change to all this I decided to make a start on the floorboards. The plywood for this has been in stock for some weeks, but it hasn't been on the top of our priority list, and even now there's little point in cutting the sides as we must rebuild the cab mounts first. The original floorboards that Hills produced were in MDF. You might use it as flooring in your loft but with cab doors and windows perennially left open, and a gap under the cab sides (until the mounts give up, that is) the MDF was exposed to wet and broke up. Cheedale's floorboards were obviously a quarry set in thick ply and an almost equally thick rubber matting which, though good for noise reduction, came taller than the doorways and weren't adequately secured so were a trip hazard. When I looked at them to use as patterns, but they had nothing less than big rectangles to clear all pipeworks and I thought I could do better. I got the first cut, which doesn't obstruct the mounts in any way, though it took a bit of trial and error and I could have saved a bit around the base of the vac pipe, especially as it transpired that the area is not square – well I had to cut a wedge off one side to get the board to fit, so either the aperture is not square or the Expamet that retains the cab insulation has swelled. Either way it's in and loosely covered with a length of carpet to keep muddy boot prints off until Andrew has stuck the rubber floor matting on and edged it as we did for Charlie. Andrew has though completed extracting the rotted remains of the old mounts, and the various pieces I had profiled for the job are painted up ready, but the cutting tool for the rubberised cork has not yet materialised and I don't really fancy having to cut them all by hand with a Stanley knife. Though at this rate, I may have to.

So that's about it for the 300th edition. I hope soon to be telling you about not one but two new additions to Andrew's collection, but no spoilers. The Load cell, oh yes, that's here. It came in a very nice wooden box that has, for the moment, become a footrest here next to the computer. I spent some time during the week in conversation with the manufacturers as I would like a remote display (for which there is provision) as I don't really want to be hanging over the back of the loco trying to read the numbers while it's going along. But it's got the manufacturers confused. Apparently their early ones were made under subcontract, and its got features that they recognise as both 'theirs' and 'sub-contractors'. Maybe it went there for repair? they surmised. I can see this turning into a long drawn-out affair. Who knows what next week will bring?

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