Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of U shapes and road closures

29th May 2016

There are some weeks when I sit down and wonder what I am going to say, and other weeks when I wonder what to leave out! This week is one of the second category.

In addition to e-bay, one of the local auction houses has a miscellaneous auction every month which we keep an eye on. This is not 'Bargain Hunt' stuff, it includes miscellaneous junk but a lot of bankruptcy sales. Monday was viewing day, so Steph and I popped in and apart from a few office paraphernalia there were 4 boxes of miscellaneous bits including filters, level switches, exhaust clamps, keyswitches and so forth. They were not well described in the catalogue so I told Steph to try for them but not pay too much.

Monday and Tuesday evenings Andrew and I have been down at the shed progressing work on Cheedale and 14 901, with transport set up to take place on Thursday. But on Tuesday morning Steph disappeared off to the auction, returning later in the day with her car brim-full of all the boxes plus an office chair (it's only a Micra). And she spent less than £30.

On Wednesday Andrew made a very early start for work, and got back late afternoon tired but in time for a quick meal and off with me to Scunthorpe, for it was the AFRPS Annual General Meeting and he was nominated for the role of 'Diesel Loco Co-ordinator' – an odd sort of title for a preservation group, but then the AFRPS has never been a typical preservation group. Anyway, with Andrew snoring in the passenger seat, I kept my clog down through the rain on the M1, M18 and M180, arriving just in time to join the convoy of vehicles from the AFRPS shed to the office in which the meeting was to be held.

Although the tables were in an U shape, the meeting was strangely divided. On one side of the U were seated the 'old guard' which included the Chairman (a former Rail Traffic manger, now retired) the Treasurer, and such. On the opposite side were many of the faces I would otherwise describe as 'Team Frodingham' – younger members, full of enthusiasm and for the most part, interested in both steam and diesel traction but spending most of their time on the latter. Across the bottom of the U were the overflow, including Andrew and myself.

There had been a recent accident on Scunthorpe – the standing rule, drummed in to you at Induction, is that at any level crossing (and there are plenty) road gives way to rail. You stop, look and only drive over if the crossing is clear: yet a 23 year old had failed to notice a 90ton Hunslet Bo-Bo which made short work of his Vauxhall Corsa. Fortunately it struck the passenger side, but although not a fatality it inevitably causes a review of all practices and standards. At one point it was proposed that all the AFRPS locos would have to have wasp stripes to their ends – until it was pointed out that the Hunslet Bo-Bo had them and it hadn't prevented the accident!

But to return to the meeting. At last year's AGM we had put the role of 'Steam Loco Coordinator' into abeyance as without the Society's steam loco such others as are on site are owned by one member so there wasn't really any coordination involved. Nonetheless someone had carried forward last year's Agenda and included an item for him to present a report, so I pointed out to the Chairman that this wasn't really feasible!

When it came to the voting on the various Society posts, it could be summarised as young versus old, diesel versus steam. The Vice Chairman's role was up for re-election and while one candidate was unable to attend the meeting, I don't think it made much of a difference as the voting was roughly 2:1, and Toby – who now rejoices under the new title of 'Captain Idiot' – got the job. The Secretary too had opted to stand down and the vote once more went roughly 2:1 with the 'Team Frodingham' lads backing 'their' candidate. Andrew's nomination as Diesel Loco Coordinator though was unopposed (the last man standing down for health reasons) and the fact that much of Andrew's professional work is involved with main line railway locomotive operation and standards undoubtedly makes him a very appropriate person in the present situation, adding to the Safety Officer role he already has with the Class 14 Owners Group.

By contrast, our return journey was fraught. As we left Scunthorpe, the M181 link road was closed, so we had to go down the A18 through Gunness to join the M180 farther west. Then as we joined the M18, it was announced that it too was closed from J4 to J3, and we got routed round the back streets of Armthorpe. At least we thought, nothing else could go wrong, but no, as we got on the M1 it was standing as traffic funneled in to one lane from four, so we came off at the next junction and skirted our way through Eckington and Chesterfield.

OK, sorry to all those who like their text relieved with pretty pictures.

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I was up at 04.00 Thursday morning and Andrew was supposed to be too, but it took him a little longer. Either way by 06.00 we were on site at Darley doing the last few jobs and getting Cheedale and 14 901 ready, as Peak Rail would be out on the Church Lane- Rowsley section with a hired-in tamper from about 09.30 and we had to be through before.

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Harvey C turned up with the news that the possession would be running a little late, but nevertheless we pushed on, formed the two up with Cheedale in front, and set off for Rowsley.

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Heanor Haulage had been booked to collect Cheedale and requested to be ready by 09.00, which was when Peak Rail had stated the buffer stop would be lifted out, and around lunchtime, we were told, the class 58 had been due in for the Ivatt 10000 group, but Harvey advised that this had had to be postponed again.

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So anyway, we arrived at Rowsley by around 09.40 to find Heanors sat ready but the buffer stop still in place, and had to wait until 10.30 before this was lifted clear.

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I drove Cheedale straight on and the Heanor's crew dismantled the ramp, reconnected the tractor and then the trouble began, as the hydraulics in the neck seemed unable to lift it into running position.

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Eventually by judicious means they got clear of the ground and moved the unit out the way to make room for Allelys, who had arrived to collect 14 901. While waiting for the fitter to come over from base, the Heanor's men gave their counterparts help in building their ramp.

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14 901 was duly loaded and set off for Froghall, but as it first turned around in Rowsley station yard, I had the chance to grab a photo of both hauliers and locos together.

Heanors weren't having a lot of luck – the fitter changed the hydraulic pump but to little effect, and in the end it turned out to be that a manual priming pump handle had been left in a position where it vented most of the oil back to tank! They got away a bit before 3pm, but their woes weren't ended as they got caught up in a road closure (4 car pile-up) with consequent air ambulance visit and police investigation (and you can't do a 3-point turn with a low-loader) so only made Chesterfield at 6pm and ran out of their hours at Leicester.

So we'll wave a fond farewell to Cheedale as it passes, for now, from my narrative and move back to 14 901.

As released, we still have some work to do on '901. I still haven't carried out the software update although the new 'master alarm' red lights are in the desk. So we'll be across in a week or two as it is a 'guest loco' at an event on the 26th of June. But to return to its move, as I am usually out on Thursday nights, Andrew headed alone over to Froghall, where the loco had been unloaded, to drive it up to Cheddleton, some 4 miles away.

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In company it had a class 33, which at 80 tons plus the drag of the traction motors gives a fair impersonation of about 3 or 4 Mk1s so gave Andrew some novel experiences, part including that it was operating train aired rather than vac. He reported back to me the following morning that 901 seemed very happy to be there, though he kept it to 15mph for the first section (Consall) but gave it a bit more oomph on the climb to Cheddleton, achieving 22mph with power to spare.

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One of the foibles of a 14 is that the longitudinal fuel tanks are only interconnected at the front – experience in Corby Minerals days was that to send a 14 backwards and downhill into the opencast workings was to risk the fuel flowing to the lower ends of the tanks, away from the connecting pipe and the engine suction point and the loco conking out at some point. The CVR had been made aware of this but Andrew found it had been unloaded facing uphill to Cheddleton, which made him slightly concerned, although provided they keep the fuel tanks well up it ought not to be a problem. But of course that is on the Cheddleton side of their 'U' shaped line. The other side, up to Ipstone, features far steeper climbs and perhaps the CVR's choice is with that in mind, where she(he?) will ascend backwards, with fuel to the front. I suppose I'll have to wait a month to find out.

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On Friday Andrew and Steph went off to collect grandson for a week's stay, and eventually after numerous phone calls, I met up with Heanors lorry, now carrying Charlie, and assisted in unloading at 'another location' – he says coyly.

I popped in Saturday morning but with grandson around wasn't expecting to get much done and only spent a couple of hours in the afternoon with Steph, cataloguing all the bits she had acquired at the auction. But there was one episode marring the day, as we received in the mail a letter from new solicitors declaring that they represent Peak Rail plc. Indeed, this is the third firm of solicitors who have been engaged against us by Peak Rail plc in the last 13 months and we wonder what it is they're going to try to threaten us with this time. Perhaps, those of you reading this who are Peak Rail shareholders, might like to come to the AGM this year and ask whether the company has so much money as to waste it in this manner?

Finally on Sunday we got back down for a couple of hours. The shed looks strangely empty with only two locos in, but it is a lull before a storm and we need to crack on with relaying the rails, sealing and painting the concrete, so we fired up James, shunted Pluto across to the other track and lifted the first 4 rails on the main line side, Then it was a case of brushing and shovelling all the rubbish (mud and such off locos, leaves and concrete debris that were there when the pond occupied the track bed) and starting to vacuum as much as we can of the small stuff preparatory to putting the sealant down. Too much dust to take pictures, but hopefully the result wil be worth it.

Have a good week - all being well some more positive news to impart shortly!

Readcom

From Andy Hurrell

1) Under 25 year olds should be made to drive Series II landrovers with underpowered engines, original gearbox, no brake servo and no roll cage - It teaches you to think ahead about your moves. On a slightly different tack, if I was running a steelworks railway, I'd allow them to get away with writing off one car a year - it reminds the motorists who wins when train and car meet.

2) Have I read your Class 14 v CVR gradients comment right or are you under a misconception? The lowest point on the line is at the Froghall end, its a reasonable plod up to Cheddleton and Leekbrook then it "goes a bit daft" on the climb up to Ipstone. It is only on the section that is currently closes (Ipstone (ish) to Cauldon (and formally Waterhouses)) that it drops away steeply the other way (14 901 engine end down in this case).

and Pete replies...

Having driven many miles in a Series 2 SWB and latterly the early LWB Defender, whilst I agree that everyone should drive one (if only to show how far noise reduction and comfort have progressed) driving a Landy gives you such a feeling of invicibility, spurred on by the tendency for lesser motorists to give way to the sight of that solid-looking bumper. It teaches you to think ahead, but may also lead you not to expect anyone to pull out or do anything else stupid/inconsiderate!

As for the CVR, I fear I/we might owe them an apology, as it seems that they were unaware of the fuel layout on 14's. I'm unfamiliar with the line, but I see that the gradients Leekbrook side are quite modest - 1 in 200 is not an issue - but if we take the Ipstones section I gather they are more severe, and 901 will be facing uphill. But as I say, so long as the tanks are kept topped up, they feed a 25 gallon underslung tank from which the lift pump draws to feed the 10 litre header tank, but the excess returns to the side tanks. We'll just have to see how it goes.

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