Regular readers will be aware that over the years we have been 'diddled' by e-bay sellers who won't see the deal through presumably because the value of the sale was not what they expected. There was the miniature loco and riding carriage where the vendor simply refused to respond to me, and then it turned up some weeks later from a different seller being 'sold for a friend'. There was that Foden FD6 engine which was coincidentally 'stolen' the day before yet was advertised again after a week or two being sold by someone else, complete with the same paint blotches. OK, in neither case have we parted with money, but it leaves a nasty taste in the mouth.
We were slightly worried by the Rolls-Royce C6 Andrew won last weekend, in case this went the same way – after all, no-one else had bid on it so it was a good price, or a poor one, depending what side of the deal you're on. But we needn't have worried: it transpired the sale was being made by two brothers clearing out their late father's estate, and one of them is a solicitor, so honourable.
As Andrew was in South Wales last week he made arrangements to inspect, as loading, said the brother, might be problematic. Apparently the gen set has sat in their father's back garden for several years, but when it arrived, he had had nothing between it and the big bad world but a gate. Later, for whatever reason, the gate had given way to an 8ft high roller shutter door. It was suggested we might have to jack it up, put rollers or machinery skates underneath, and roll it out on to the pavement before lifting it on to a lorry. But Andrew did the sums and has set things up with a Hiab-lorry to collect it tomorrow, by simply lifting it up and over the wall. (By comparison, incidentally, this is simple. I wish the brothers luck with another item in the back garden, a boat on a trailer. And I don't mean a rowing boat or one of those rubber things, this boat is so big you can clearly make it out on Google Earth). From there it comes east so far to a place where it will remain few days before completing the journey to Darley towards the end of the week, more of that in due course.
Back on Monday I had 'round robin' and included in it was a trip to Bradford to collect this Hydrovane compressor that we'd also won on e-bay, and on the way back, stopping off at my favourite fabricators to pick up the bespoke fuel header tank for 14 901. I was half-way back to Darley before remembering that I had been supposed to pop in somewhere else as well: never mind.
So I've only clocked up 800+ miles this week, bad enough but not so tiring as last. Andrew and I only managed two brief evenings in the shed, and much of that was tidying up ready for the Phoenix Railtours visit. At long last the 45gallon drum of anti-freeze, which has become something of a fixture over the last few months, was moved to the oil store and the pallet that was under it, plus all the other bits parked on or around, moved aside. We were up early Saturday morning, well earlier than most Saturdays, and headed down to the shed to get ready. The sun was already burning through and things warmed up rapidly.
We had already worked out a plan. Since some locos on the main line side were obscured by scrap skip and piles of sleepers, James was fired up and brought Ashdown and RS8 across to the shed roads to faciltate their photographs being taken. With plastic tape left over from barrier-ing at the National Stone Centre, I created a clearly marked area that kept people contained within the yard, with nowhere they could accidentally wander onto the Peak Rail line – no train was due down from Rowsley before Phoenix were due to leave, but there has been one or two early morning inspection trips this week presumably to check for track buckles from the hot weather. Finally we partially unsheeted all the locos – I say partially because as you can see, we un-roped them and pushed them up to just over the loco centre lines. It is hard work getting them on so if we'd taken them off entirely it'd have been a very hot afternoon's effort putting them all back on again. We finished with enough time for a cup of tea each (Andrew, Steph and me) before the Phoenix organisers phoned to say they were en route from Wirksworth.
In due course a large white coach arrived and disgorged twenty visitors and three organisers. I did a quick two minute induction, Steph handed out a prepared 'on-site today' loco list (to save everyone asking the same questions) and we guided them in through the shed and out to the back. We were happy to answer questions and I was surprised how relatively few there were, though I suspect that many didn't appreciate quite what they were looking at – when I explained to one gentleman that RS8 was originally a steam loco, he was clearly surprised. On the other hand, one enthusiast asked if Ashdown was an ex Manchester Ship loco, as he'd seen their locos while growing up in Manchester. In fact, he'd seen them lifting the track past his backgarden when he was older, only it had turned out to be metal thieves!
Soon enough they headed back to the station, photographed the first southbound train, then piled back aboard the coach, destined next for the HST at Rowsley. Talking of which, you remember I e-mailed the editor of Heritage Railway over their attributing RS8 to HST? Would you like to know what response I've had? Zilch. He may of course, be on holiday - or too busy editing his next issue.
After lunch we headed back to the shed. James pulled Pluto out, and then brought the MR well wagon in so that the forklift could access it for an afternoon of re-arranging. Buffers were repositioned, Libby's front grille piece and the radiator now allocated to RS8 were taken off, another rotten pallet declared scrap. The object of the exercise was to create space for the items due in with the genset. With this achieved, everything was shunted back to its normal places and we finished off re-sheeting the locos. Then, while Andrew made a start on stripping the Rolls-Royce C6S from Jack, I set about cleaning and sealing a large section of floor. More paint is now required (the second coat on the top section you can see left of Pluto nearly exhausted the tin) but I keep telling myself that every square metre sealed is a square metre that will produce no more dust. Incidentally, the splashings of applying sealant with a roller from a tin that resembles a large bucket means that my workboots are now well-sealed: if only they weren't also worn out.
Today was due to be a day on 14 901 at Cheddleton, but didn't work out as planned. Andrew has been requested to change a spring – I won't go into details – but spring-changing on a '14 isn't a simple task, as it involves to some extent removing the horncheck ties and lifting the loco sufficiently to unload the spring – which is a chunky 19 leaf one standard to an 08. When you consider that Sentinels, with the same axle loads, originally used 12 leaf (but went up to 14) you will appreciate that 901's (aka 08s) are far heavier and reflect my long standing, oft repeated view that the 08 running gear remains start of the art from the 1870s when leaf springs were even more of a rule of thumb than today. Andrew however, although we have borrowed a specially made device intended to support the spring while you walk it out sideways, considered that this method is too risky for his taste and engineering prowess and the only sane way forward was to drop the brake rigging and side rods as well as the horncheck ties and lift the loco sufficiently for the spring to come straight out on the pointy ends of a forklift. Today's jaunt was for him to ascertain just how easy it would be to extract the taper pins, but on arrival he was asked not to immobilise it in any way as it is due out on weedkilling duties this week.
My role, other than to keep out of Andrew's way, had been to look at making up a suitable return pipe for the Yorkshire 0-4-0DH Brightside. We had been asked about Brightside previously. It is a very early Yorkshire installation with a number of strange features, but none-stranger than the fact the charge pump apparently drove fluid in to the converter, but there was no orifice and no return to tank. But stripping the pump revealed that it was so badly worn inside it was never going to pump again (maybe through cavitation) and I'd already supplied a new pump and external relief valve. Andrew had offered to donate them an orifice assembly, and I said I'd make up a return connection.
So Andrew joined me in this, and after cleaning the filter assembly I made up a hose and dug out suitable connectors from my stock. The result, after a mix-up over a faulty gauge, was Brightside shuffling up and down with 14 901 and the 33, a load of some 120tons, plus transmission drag. A CVR member later asked us had it really been Brightside doing the work? He'd never seen the loco do anything in over three years of volunteering there.
So that's about it. We came home reasonably early, and discussed various ideas along the way, from schemes for tandemising the 14s to the Brush or anything else, what engine to put in which 14, and whether or not to get this genset fired up after it arrives before splitting it for RS8. But next Saturday Andrew is due to collect grandson for a 10 day stay and on Sunday we may have Team Frodingham turning up. And I'll have at least 600 miles more to drive. Yummy.