Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of floors and forty-sevens

28th August 2016

Welcome back. Traditionally the Bank Holiday weekend marks the end of the summer season on heritage railways, and services reduce as the schools return. The nights have noticeably started drawing in (and I did promise myself we'd have the lights up before this winter, but there's still time): and maybe this is all because I've been feeling a touch morose.

The van decided to throw another spanner in the works. Returning from the south on Monday, on came that annoying Engine Management warning light, and down went the engine power. So on Tuesday I popped back to the garage in Matlock, who read the data on the memory and diagnosed that one of the vacuum pipes they'd disturbed the previous week now had a hole in it. A new length of hose and normality was restored

As we left things last week, the HATRAMM was sat at Rowsley with Charlie for company and I had to re-arrange things to move it down. But before it could, one of the 'On Track Plant' forums had picked up and published a photo of it at sat at Rowsley, commenting that it was 'strange' that one half was in Derbyshire while the other half was in South Wales. (They've since even published a fresh 'sighting' of it at Darley Dale from yesterday.) Meanwhile Peak Rail management agreed to Wednesday, after the train service had finished, and as they insisted on an FTR for Charlie, it made sense for me to hitch a ride on the last train north Wednesday afternoon, leaving the van at Darley to get home with, and get the loco fired up and checked over while the service loco(s) were being disposed. In fact it was D8 working solo to Riverside, and Harvey C had been manning the signal box there, so after I had finished the essentials at Rowsley he arrived by road, collected the staff, and we set off for Darley Dale.

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With a 6m wheelbase and coil springing, the ride of the HATRAMM is rather akin to that of a pacer and made the odd screech as it negotiated the turnouts. Its journey to Darley was however uneventful: we deposited it in the siding at Darley and I gave Harvey a lift back to Rowsley and his vehicle.

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It must have been Wednesday too that the first coat of red floor paint was applied to the section of floor you saw me sweeping up in last weeks edition. This layer though sinks in to the concrete, leaving a matt finish with tinges of white concrete showing through. (To be fair, this concrete in this area is one of the rougher patches – if you look back at when we were laying the concrete, we had no roof, and it must have rained before the concrete had dried fully as there are lines of dimples in the floor that align with the purlins above.) But Andrew has reminded me that in a few weeks time we are due to host a meeting of the Class 14 user group, so getting more floor prepared (and maybe bringing D9500 in as a backdrop on the day) is something of a priority.

Earlier in the week Andrew had won a couple of heavy-weight steel columns on e-bay. They were off-cuts at a nominal starting price which attracted no other bidders, and initially he wanted me to go over with the van and collect them. The lighter one (8 x 8 inch and nearly 6ft long) would have fitted, but the bigger, a 12 inch by 12 and nearly 8ft long, not to mentioning weighing in at about a quarter of a ton, was definitely too bulky. He spoke to our friendly local HIAB man who just happened to have one of his men in the area on Friday, so without further ado they were collected and delivered to Darley Dale, where one or both will in due course become parts of the second stage loco ramp that will take the 17 inch high Heanor one to the 37 inches required to bring bigger 0-4-0s and 0-6-0s directly in to Darley Dale on the five axle trailer.

With grandson around Andrew's time has been more limited and as I had to be somewhere on Saturday morning it was not until the afternoon that we managed to get down to the shed for a couple of hours. Andrew wanted a good look over the HATRAMM – he had of course given it the once over before it left Rugby but now he could do it more at leisure. One thing that had been concerning us was the state of its batteries – it was supposed to be in running order but not been operated for a year or more. To our surprise both batteries indicated a voltage of about 12.5 – which doesn't confirm capacity but is a hopeful sign. Andrew then returned to cutting some of the remaining rail lengths from Thelma and Louise up into halves while I lifted the flooring over the Deutz engine to familiarise myself with what's where. I did find the remains of a cable that had been straddling the turbo and had melted through, but it looks to have been merely a connection to one of the working lamp sockets rather than anything crucial. I was also slightly anxious because loose in the cab is an actuator for a Barber Colman throttle system. Did that mean that our HATRAMM has a faulty one, has had a faulty one (and this is it) or didn't have one fitted at all? I don't know the answer yet, but there is one on the engine and given that without the special jumper plugs the control system inhibits throttle control to idle, it might be that there was nothing wrong with it at all. For the moment, it remains a mystery.

I noticed an enthusiast leaning over the fence from the footpath trying to photograph things so went over to talk and eventually invited him (and the 3 friends he had with him) to come around and have a better look. I went through the guided tour of each machine, and at one point was asked how many of us work on these locos ('You're looking at us' was my reply, though I did concede that we had additional bodies from time to time, like Steph, Team Frodingham and Terry).

On Sunday I had a delivery to make and as Andrew and Steph were out continuing grandson's mechanical education I only got down to the shed after lunch. Peak Rail's normal services had been stopped to permit the unhindered appearance of a special off the main line, so Darley Dale was quieter than usual for a Bank Holiday Sunday. I fired James up and brought the HATRAMM over near the shed in order that I could reach with the battery charger. After plugging everything in, I set it for the third highest setting and was pleased to note that an initial charge of 12 amps began to reduce even in the first few seconds – after about an hour the charge was down to 5 amps which indicates that batteries are in good condition. We have a few more things to resolve (for example to work solo it requires those jumper plugs I mentioned in place of the control cables to the trailer but these don't seem to have come with it) but it looks like we may try starting it in a few days time.

Another photographer was leaning over the fence but was not looking my way, so I wandered up to have chat. He was, as I suspected, waiting for the special which he said was due through Matlock at 3.15 (it was now twenty to four) and that Mayflower was in charge. That came as a surprise to me as the last I heard it was being powered by 6201 Princess Elizabeth as far as Derby, but as the wheelbase of the Princess is a good couple of feet longer than Rowsley's 60ft turntable the remaining leg of the journey was under the solo power of a 47. I tried not to disillusion him too quickly but I don't think Mayflower is even in traffic. Anyway, I had hardly broken the news that he might have waited half an hour for a 'mere' 47 when sure enough it came into sight. 'That's it then' he said having taken its portrait – I don't think he was waiting for its return.

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I put the HATRAMM back on the siding for now and waited with James while the special returned south, returning the friendly waves and thumbs-up signals from various passengers. Then, shutting up shop, I returned to the floor and proceeded to apply coat number two with a roller to the matt area, and on a whim, green to the 'walkway' across the end, which had been sealed but left untouched.

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Tomorrow Team Frodingham is over again, as they intend to step up the number of visits to our neck of the woods. I better compile a list of jobs to keep them busy.

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