Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of starters and switches

20th November 2016

Winter seems to have arrived: we've burnt the last of 2015's kerosene in the space heater and seen snow on the hills between here, Sheffield and Buxton. But the Geoffrey Briddon Building continues to provide a tolerably warm space out of the cold and wet as we slowly get things straightened out and maybe squeeze a bit of loco work in now and then. If a lot of our time seems taken up with shed-work and not enough loco work, well, the locos will benefit from the more productive facilities (we've become conscious that overall, we are getting more done than hitherto) and the time and money allocated to getting the building right is well-spent.

As I said last week we do judge the value of lots before we buy them on e-bay and this week has been a classic. Last Monday, for example, there was a guy in Bolton advertising 4 core, 2.5mm dia cable; he said an untouched 100m drum and a part drum with, he thought, about 20m remaining. Now 4 core isn't really what I desire – the sockets – both 110V and 240V, want 3 core, but 2.5 was the right diameter so I looked at it more closely. The seller had a 'buy it now' of £90 – which worked out at 75p/metre. I was last charged 77p at the wholesalers, but previously I'd been charged over £1 so I suspected that 77p was actually an error – maybe the rate for 1.5mm by mistake. Either way, it didn't allow much for running over to Bolton, so we made the seller an offer of £75, and as he had had no other takers, he accepted.

On Tuesday evening I had a run over to Bolton therefore, and as I passed Rowsley station, I could see the newly arrived steam loco - Ring Haw - by the worklights of the low loader's tractor unit. The cable was duly collected and on Thursday I started by rolling out the part drum to see how far it stretched. From one end of the building it went to the other and nearly all the way back again – I judged his '20m' was actually about 45m. The unused drum too, has an inscription which includes '130m', but I'm not unrolling that at the moment to see just how long it is. Either way, there is now sufficient 2.5mm cable to wire up all the remaining 240V and 110V sockets so far planned, and I went on to lay in the cable from the transformer to 'Column 4 west' (¾ of the way down the building on the main line side) before calling it a day. The unused core, incidentally, is doubled up as an additional Earth – we've earths and earth bonds all over the place – as leaving a conductor unattached in an AC installation can result in induction.

On Friday afternoon Andrew was able to join me in a meeting at Tarmac's Tunstead quarry. Some weeks ago, during a meeting with the manager of the sidings, I cheekily asked if there was anyone I could approach regarding sponsorship for RS8. Through his good offices I subsequently put in a brief presentation about the loco and its uniqueness to Tunstead, and to my delight was invited to attend a meeting with one of the Directors. We went in hoping for a contribution to the cost of overhauling RS8's unique converter and we came out with rather more, and although the details have still to be hammered out it would seem that, after so many years suffering vandalism and deterioration, RS8's next few years should be rather more positive.

On Saturday only one member of Team Frodingham was joining us, Phil G. While he and Andrew spent most of the day working on a certain ex BR 0-6-0, I set off by completing the 110V cabling I had not finished on Thursday, mounting both the 110V outlet and a switched 3-phase outlet alongside, ready for the day I can splash out on some 4mm, 5 core cable – which the wholesaler is quoting me at £1.90 a metre - and my estimates tell me will utilise about 110m. The de-greaser bath got re-located to a more permanent home up by the 240V outlet Andy H installed last week, and work generally proceeded apace.

Pretty much to time my weekly allocation of 3 visitors arrived, and I spent half an hour or so guiding them around the collection. Two of them were ex BR traincrew, so automatically assumed that James was ex-BR, leading me into that regular explanation that most BR shunter designs – with perhaps the exception of the 08 and its derivatives, but you know my opinion of those - owed much to private locomotive builders designs for industrial service, which BR took with a few extras, like cab stoves and code lights.

The combination of emergency bulkhead light and external doorway lamp makes leaving and locking up much easier than it was at this time last year, when our newly clad shed had little more lighting than a string of overgrown fairy lights. Andrew was heard to comment that he didn't know how on earth we had stored all this stuff before we had the shed, and in fairness, much of this has appeared because we have a building where we can put it all!

Without any anticipated visitors we were down a little later today, though to be fair this was partially because we had first investigated the garage door whose catch was becoming increasingly hard to operate – conclusion, the mechanism is FUBAR – and collected from round the back of the house a large oil cooler matrix which Steph had rightly been nagging us about lest grandson were to fall on or otherwise damage it – or himself.

Andrew decided that it was time the light switch pad and trunking supports got secured, and was half way through welding them when the door opened and Tom D popped in to say hello. We broke off for a cuppa and a natter and afterwards wandered around outside to show him the PCV and HATRAMM, during which time Ring Haw came past, so here's the one-and-only photo I took all weekend, taken from the porch of the HATRAMM. (And if Ring Haw looks familiar to readers of this blog, it might be because we were hauled by it down at the Nene Valley last year, see here.)

IMG 2432 blog

Later in the afternoon we broke off for a few minutes to test RS8's old starter. It was a miracle this survived on the loco – its cables had been sawn off and stolen, the dynamo (and the voltage regulator, which makes me suspicious) had also been taken, but the starter survived, and we'd brought it inside some months ago. I've got to go out to a breakdown in the morning on a loco with the old strap-mounted starter like this, and just in case it is their starter that has gone defunct, I wanted to bring a loan one with me. RS8's starter, after a moment's hesitation, spun up and sounded quite healthy, so we shall see if I need it tomorrow.

With the light switch pad welded, I did some work on the ex BR 0-6-0 but came back to tackling the light switch by mounting it to the newly secured backplate and cabling it up. By now it was into the evening, the temperature was falling and we were ready to call it a day. It would have been nice to have achieved something on 03 901 (whose alternator is back after repair) although having said that, Andrew did get the bracket for the vac/air proportional valve welded up and the old bracket off the valve ready for the two to be united and fitted: maybe something I'll show next week.

Next weekend already has two visitors booked and Andrew is muttering about having another crack at getting the HATRAMM running, but you never can tell and we might end up on something else entirely. See you then?

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