Friday, and I had booked Neville to pop back and backfill the ballast (once again, from the pictures you will see I use the term loosely – dirt with stones in would be a more prosaic description) and this time I had the man himself, complete with his dog sat in the cab watching his every move. I didn't get any photos at the beginning as I was tamping under the less-supported sleepers, but by half-way I was pooped and he didn't need me to help so I took a few...
Saturday morning and both Team Frodingham and Andy H were due over, though the numbers were a little fewer than we'd hoped, with just Captain Idiot, Charles, Pieman and Jagger. Andy H declared he was going to give me a hand setting up the lights, but then found his talents better employed with the gang outside where with fairly good weather an attempt was being made to raise the PCV preparatory to rolling out its bogies. I started off the day by noticing mouse droppings on the draining board. It was something I thought was likely sooner or later and they hadn't been there on Friday, but this is the countryside and with luck they are Fieldmice who have come in looking for a bit of warmth for the winter. Still we'll have to be vigilant. I got on with finishing a mounting plate planned to carry the 3-phase meter, plus trunking for the incoming power supply to the distribution board. Here's the plate and the meter, but since then a piece of trunking has been added underneath.
Steph was on her way down with lunch when I wandered over to the station as I had spied the Stationmaster David L talking to Pete F. The latter was trying to wear out the paws on the guide dog he was temporarily looking after (this one apparently has a high sex drive and I was warned in case it took a fancy to my leg) and asked if he could have a look around*. I was happy to give him the guided tour, even if it meant my bacon and sausage sandwiches were cold.
(* Pete F, not the guide dog, I don't thnk they've been taught to do that much yet.)
With the others only a few yards away if anything went wrong, I decided it was safe enough to start on further lights. Setting up the Terrypicker in the right position is a slow process, and as one who is not keen on heights I do not want to be working any further away from the mounting point than I possibly can, so I achieved only 3 during the afternoon, B3-5. Up in the cage with me I have a measuring stick of 1500mm, so I can mark approximately 1.5metres from the portal frame centre line, which, as they are 6m, apart, means that each lamp is set at 3m from the previous. Then it's drill two holes (tiring), bolting it up, threading the wires from the previous lamp through the gland and connecting them up. Checking they haven't/won't fall out again, lidding off the box and securing it or the cable with a tie-wrap or two and pushing the 3m of cable already attached to the box down the purlin to where the next is to be. Sometime the cable jams on some old fixing, sometimes it curves out of the purlin, gravity takes over and it starts heading for the ground. During the afternoon we had the roller shutter up so they could wheel out the gas trolley. I had come down to ground level and spotted a robin flying round inside, and encouraged it to fly back out again. This is the third time – in fact I think third species – a bird has started investigating inside, as opposed to the constant patter of tiny-feet as they walk over the roof outside.
As Team Frodingham were heading on to Foxfield Sunday, they'd asked permission to crash out at the workshops overnight and had planned a barbecue in the evening. I popped back to deliver some fresh milk and things for them to make a morning tea, and found them surrounding two wood burning hearths out the back, with Mr Booth's skip and a Dutch gronk as backdrop. Here's Captain Idiot and Charles (on my phone's camera as I hadn't brought my real one): I'll leave you to work out which of the backdrop is which. Anyway, I was persuaded to return with a couple of extracts of my novel as a bedtime story, so I printed a few pages off and Steph and I went back. By now they'd moved onto beers and such and had perfected the art of opening beer bottles on the side of the skip in such manner that the bottle top was launched some 30 or 40 feet. We stayed for about 45 minutes, there was only one moment when ging-gang-gooley broke out but the atmosphere was light-hearted and very pleasant. I should have said that Andrew had become embroiled in a crisis at work and had had to leave straight after tea and didn't get back until half-ten, we were back by then but he headed down to join them and enjoy a single bottle.
Sunday morning and I was back down for 08.00 to lock up and check all was well. They hadn't departed quite as early as planned, and indeed one prominent Team Frodingham member was still in his pyjamas. I was a bit surprised to find one of my round files out by the camp fire – it turned out they borrowed it to use as a skewer to roast marshmallows on.
Here's the results of their efforts on Saturday – the PCV up in the air and safely secured on stands but with the bogies still underneath. Long term readers may remember our 50% rule – basically if you achieve half or more of what you hope to complete, consider it a good day's work – so it was a good day. I'd popped back again after Team Frodingham had gone to measure up some bits on 03 901 which are needed to form a new bracket to hold the vac/air valve (i.e make the straight air operate from a drop in vac). Oh, and that Robin was back. Dunno how it got in but I opened the roller shutter again, and it had enough nounce to fly out as soon as I had.
Andrew had to go out again to remedy a defect in some jumper cables which kept him away most of the day, so after lunch Steph came down with me so that I could continue work on the lights while she sanded down some draws from a chest in the Country Pile kitchen. Thus she was around to snap a picture of me working on light B7. If you look carefully you'll see my left hand is holding on to the purlin (for dear life) although if the Terrypicker were to fall suddenly into a sink-hole I would be up there like a Hollywood Hero over a precipice. I cannot do B8 until we've moved a workbench that is rather full of bits at the moment, including a stripped converter cooler, and with B8 I must connect it to the SWA cable that will go along and down a column. All being well we can then do what Andy H assures me is known in the trade as a 'bang test' - i.e put a temporary power feed to it and see if it works or goes BANG. Which about puts it on a par with the Matlock Bath Illuminations. During the afternoon Ben R popped over and borrowed a wheelbarrow and a pallet. After months of waiting the northbound platform at Darley Dale is to be tarmacced but some broken platform edging stones ought to be dealt with first so it was a panic-stations to get it done before the Boys from the Black Stuff appear.
As I hadn't been to Sheffield at all this week the replacement adaptors for the HATRAMM are still in the future – not that we'd have had much time to get it going again. Similarly 03 901 has had no attention, though a pair of new water pump belts have arrived. Steph insisted on doing a bit of tidying up, so a a lot of empty boxes that contained our roof lights are now off the floor pending a decision on their future use.
So that's about it for the week. Andrew has put on the wipe-board on the wall of the office that Phoenix Rail Tours are visiting again next March (not on their website yet) and that gives us a few months to think of what we can do to entertain them for longer. Next weekend grandson is back for a half-term break and it's coming up to Andrew's birthday so there'll be more candles to blow out. And in between, who knows, maybe some more loco work gets in the frame.