Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of midweek merriment

(early) May 2016

If you're one of those avid readers who visits during the course of Sunday evening (and generally I've had had the first four or five visitors before I've even had time to do the obligatory site back-up) then – shock news – I'm not here. If you're reading this in the course of Monday, or later, then normality will have been restored.

For we've been enjoying a weekend at Center Parcs in celebration of our daughter's second wedding anniversary and this instalment is being written on Friday and set for automatic publication in much the usual time.

We always said that having our own shed would make life so much easier: take off the overalls and lock the door behind us, next to no travelling time, it means that evening sessions are quite feasible, especially on these summer evenings when the daylight permeates through the skylights. So for this week it has been an hour or more each evening to make up time.

So to take up the story with 14 901, We finished draining the old oil from the Voith and proceeded to refill with our stock of new 'Teg 32', which fortuitously we had procured in 25litre drums. (Although we will be better organised in the future, transferring 45 gallon drums from shed to oil store continues to pose a few logistical problems.) With the Voith replenished, and the cooling system watered (though still dripping from the oil cooler – looks like new O rings required) there seemed little to prevent us giving the loco a test run and completing the service later.

IMG 1488 blog

So Andrew primed the oil, the Run solenoid engaged and I pressed the start button and – well the lights dimmed and the starters groaned and not a lot else.

With 14 901 having been stood for nearly 18 months, there were a set of possibilities, starting with the worrying one that the engine had seized, so while we put the battery charger on to make sure the batteries were fully-charged, Andrew barred it over to make sure. Then of course this was the first time I had attempted to start the loco since I'd fitted the new start contactor – could I have had the wiring wrong or only managed to hook up one of its two starter motors? (For new readers, when we first acquired 14 901 it had but one starter, which Rolls-Royce stated was sufficient to enable the engine to be cranked up down to freezing point. But, although we have seen a picture of the SRPS apparently using a forklift truck to start it back at Bo'ness, we were singularly unsuccessful. So we acquired a second motor, and although conventional wisdom is that you have a phased engagement of the two starters, using special detection switches and external contactors, we just put the two in parallel and let them sort themselves out.)

But all my wiring appeared in order, so we had a second go, with much the same effect. Now we were running lower on possibilities, so while the charger recovered the batteries, we got on with a bit on Cheedale whilst considering whether one starter may have waved the proverbial white flag. But before our third attempt, we checked the battery voltages: both we were well up in the 12V range but one was slightly higher than the other. Our third attempt went no better than the first or second, but a check on the batteries was more revealing. While the one that had been slightly higher had dropped maybe 0.5V, the other was reading less than 3V.

One of the batteries that had come back from Tom was therefore given a boost and exchanged for this defective one, and normal cranking was resumed. After a bit of trouble whilst the engine purged its own high pressure lines through to the injectors, 14 901 came to life. Air pressures and vacuum built up, the gearbox slid sweetly into reverse (something of a surprise since the gearbox has been known to stick when left for a while) and when I let the brakes off, the loco immediately set off. Now, back when it was in regular traffic for Peak Rail, the first time it moved in the morning it invariably needed a bit of throttle. By the end of the day it would move off as soon as the brakes came off, but not first thing, yet here it was, not only moving but doing so against the curve and adverse gradient that marks the entrance to the left hand shed road.

IMG 1492 blog

I took the loco to the far end of the track and tried to reverse to forwards, only to be greeted by a whoosh of escaping air. (Actually there'd been a whoosh when I first engaged reverse, but it had been brief and as I was pleasantly surprised at how easily the gearbox had gone over, I didn't think more about it). Andrew was walking up the tracks and I let him join me. The escape was the moment I pressed the direction change button, and since my computer program energised a valve to lift the selector latches half a second before the valve to press the selector shaft over, this was where the problem had to be. At this point, Andrew remembered that in order to neutral the box before we towed the loco down from Rowsley (May last year) he had dismantled one of the latch assemblies and left the parts on top of the gearbox. Of course, the only access is through the lift off panel by the desk, and the engine-to-Voith propshaft passes immediately underneath, so the engine was shut down, and Andrew squeezed down into the bowels of the loco to see if the bits were still there after 12 months and several miles...

They were, and after a few minutes cleaning greasy clag off the piston, the valve was reassembled, the engine re-started and the loco switched back to forwards. So we gave it a few runs up and down, and since it was a nice evening, I took a video or two which Andrew put up on Facebook (ugh!) but seeing that Dom B has also trailed it on Natpres, I shall put one up here.

It was also its first run with the composite brake blocks, which will need a little time to bed in but worked very satisfactorily anyway. For now, the loco is back in the shed awaiting a change of lube oil and filters and attention to the drip from the oil cooler. But it also leaked from the new header tank – where the connections for fuel in and overflow pass through the tank on bulkhead fittings – as tightening the attached pipes disturbed them. Andrew insists I never do things up tight enough, while screwing the cap of the 'pop' bottle in the van so hard that I can't undo it when I want a drink, so I have drained the tank, lifted it out, and tightened the two offending bulkheads as securely as my tired, old limbs will allow.

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Back on Cheedale, Steph came in and assisted with some fetching wallpaper, to mask off the windows on the cab.  The agreed colour scheme is Deep Bronze Green (or something very close) and yellow ends, so a mixture of white undercoat under the yellow and grey under the green was called for. The rad grille was therefore removed with that in mind (as you saw last week) and after setting up, spraying began.

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As you are all aware, the electrical supply to the shed is somewhat limited and although a large Broomwade compressor/tank/motor set is sat over in one corner, this requires a 3-phase supply which is not yet available. The little portable compressor that we have had for a number of years (and yes, came off ebay from a guy up near Skipton) was deployed and coped manfully, but only just, with the air requirements of the pressure pot. Certainly the pressure pot spraying is highly effective, with no need to muck about adding thinners to small quantities of paint, and you can keep spraying (air pressure permitting) until you consume a full 5 litre tin (if you have the patience/stamina).

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So Cheedale is now in undercoat grey with yellow end and grille, and early next week should be unveiled in green. In due course its nameplates will be replaced with something more 'loco-like' as the stick-on letters on the original plates are all peeling off.

For myself, I have had another runabout exchanging the duff battery for another (hopefully a good one, the supplier tested first!) and collecting oils, as well as the afternoon extracting and refitting the fuel header tank. All in all, not a bad week's progress without the weekend. And no, I am not about to rename the blog. 


Over at Scunthorpe, 'Cranford', out with a tour of the steelworks, was forced to retire with hot boxes. 03 901 took over for the majority of the day's tour, with vacuum brakes working the dmu trailer cars. Team Frodingham have sent the following pictures.....

Toby2 blog

Toby1 blog

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