Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of Ramps and Edges

18th December 2016


I foresaw two possible scenarios this week. One was that I would be on my way down to the studios and wouldn't get the time to write the blog at all, the other that, for various reasons, there wouldn't be much to write about. I think my crystal ball wants new batteries.

A little over six years ago, Andrew was compelled by circumstances to reduce the size of the collection and four of the locomotives were sold – the Sentinel steamer, English Electric 0-6-0DH Kimberley, Hudswell 0-4-0DH Claire and North British 0-4-0DH Coronation. The diesels were all sold with the condition that Andrew had first refusal if the new owners saw fit to dispose of them. That is just what happened in respect of Coronation, and the loco is now at Darley Dale and a replacement power unit will see it back in operation in due course.

Claire however changed hands again and Andrew was surprised to see it advertised in Old Glory magazine. We have a soft-spot for these locos – a worthy competitor to Sentinel let down by an ineffective sales effort – and for Claire in particular. Consequently Andrew approached the new owner and after some negotiations a deal was struck. The staged payments were completed this week and thus Claire is back in the collection: the likelihood is that Claire and the 'Hunguard' will be uplifted from Oswestry around Easter next year.

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There is a more complex plan behind this. The Hunguard (which for any comparatively new readers, I should perhaps explain is a combination of Hunslet 0-4-0DH chassis and Vanguard cab and casings) is 3m wide and as such is worse than outside-cylindered GW locos when it comes to fouling platforms. Thus, although it could be unloaded and brought around the loop at Rowsley, there is no way it can get through Darley Dale on either line. We did consider in the early days cutting its buffer beams and running plate at one side on arrival at Rowsley, but in the present climate this would be unlikely to meet with approval. So the only way to handle it is to deliver direct to Darley Dale, but unlike the two little 0-4-0DHs we brought in last June, the Hunguard is a 9ft wheelbase and not inconsiderable overhang (heh, the casings are from a Vanguard 0-6-0 but they're a good fit) so the steep ramp angle we got away with won't work. And anyway, I have a loco marooned at Rowsley with a failed wheelbearing. It cannot be moved by rail down to Darley and since Peak Rail reneged on an undertaking to let me lift and fix it at Rowsley it must make the journey by road. Thus the ramp section we were given indefinite loan of must be extended with a second part to bring the height up to about 38 inches and that fabrication must be put together in the new year.

Consequently when Andrew saw some suitable cheap bundles of steel on e-bay he put a bid in as suitable bits for supports/feet, and on Wednesday, as I had to go to Manchester, I did so via Oldham to a firm specialising in manufacturing Mezzanines. Here's the resultant multitude after it was finally unloaded. On the return journey I detoured into Whaley Bridge to pick up another drum of cold tea (floor sealant) and arrived back at the Briddon Country Pile late in the afternoon.

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The 03 meanwhile, had had its transport date set for Thursday, so Wednesday night had us working late getting it ready. Earlier in the week I had got around to investigating why its forward and reverse gear sensors weren't working. These are magnetic sensors that turn on when they see the pistons in the RF11 gearbox come up to (but preferably not touch) them, but last Sunday night's test run had had the forward sensor working sometimes and nothing from the reverse. So I pulled out the bushes that contain the sensors and tried to test them in open air – well, the reverse one anyway, the forward sensor was smashed beyond repair as the piston had not only come close but had battered it out of recognition, presumably it 'worked' when the piston shorted across something live in the exposed remains. But the reverse sensor showed no sign of life – maybe the excess voltage of the alternator 'did' for it.

Now, years ago I used to pay about £50 each for these things and I wasn't too happy, but I turned to the on-line catalogue of my current first choice supplier and found suitable devices at only a tenner and even though I ordered them at half-past-seven on Monday night, the supplier lived up its name with a rapid delivery that had them with me at half-nine Tuesday morning.

Allelys were due to arrive at 2pm on Thursday and that was in part because I had a meeting planned on Thursday morning. Following on from the meeting at Tunstead, a senior manager from the quarry was calling to view RS8 and get his head around the plan to involve their apprentices in its restoration. The project will not get under way until March, and there will be further meetings to agree the scope and programme, but it does appear that RS8 will shed its Cinderella persona and get to the ball.

So once he'd gone it was back to the 03 and get the final tasks done, throw the floorboards back down, toss all the tools to the floor and get the loco ready to depart. Allelys meanwhile had arrived at 11.30, and the crew wandered off for an early lunch.

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But it did mean that by 2pm they were all set with the ramp down, and as the loco arrived at Rowsley I had a clear run to drive it straight on, and park it. Bystanders asked if it was arriving or leaving, (yes, I don't know why they should think that driving on was a part of its arrival ceremony but maybe such rituals are beyond their understanding) so I happily told them it was off to be a film-star, which of course it won't. (By the way, Dom B, writing on the National Preservation website, repeated the Railway Magazine bit that both Charlie and the 03 had gone to Longcross, which of course was slightly premature. I am indebted to one of my readers for setting him straight, quoting me and this blog that it was still having its cab painted.)

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The 03 incidentally, was unloaded at Longcross on Friday and I am informed was christened 'Danny' by the film crew personnel. We are mystified by the origin of this name, which I'm told Fox will use on its paperwork, but this will remain its 'nom-de-film' as far as Andrew is concerned.

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Up to mid week we were not expecting any of Team Frod to be present but then Andrew let slip that Michael Edge of Judith Edge kits might be visiting and all of a sudden we had a working party – I even informed Mike that he had to come as his fan club was expecting him.

Four members of the Lincolnshire side of Team Frodingham duly arrived – Captain Idiot, now with the additional subtitle, Lord of Lunacy, Charles, Stephen and Jagger. Unfortunately they led Andrew to believe they would be arriving at 09.30, but in fact arrived at 08.30, while Andrew was still in bed and I was about to go to Matlock for breadcakes (bread rolls to you southeners) as Steph was away at our daughters and thus catering fell on to my shoulders. I stopped off to let them in.

With the 03 out there was a large open space at that side of the shed marred only by the clutter of things pushed to one side or left where they had been dropped. Thus a grand tidy-up was the order of the day. Team Frodingham too, had taken the decision that the trouble involved in selling off the doors they had found in their container was more than they were worth, so started a bonfire to dispose of them, not before some real-life knock-knock jokes....

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Meanwhile, Ring Haw was passing on Santa specials...

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We are hoping to progress shed work over the Christmas break, as I think I've said before, so the south-eastern corner of the shed was duly cleared ready for floor sealant but first, the Terrypicker was positioned ready for me to start putting up Row C lights. Quite when I'll make a start on this I'm not sure, as for safety reasons I cannot go up on it while working alone. You'll see once again the white dots of concrete dust in the air – I started doing some sweeping up of the worst, producing two bucketfuls while seeming to make little difference overall. Andrew welded the feet of the Hydrovane to the base of the air receiver - we also studied the internals of the control cubicle to see about installing a controlling pressure switch, but that proved to be not as straightforward as we would have liked.

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To get the area clear, we needed to move the engine from YE1382, and it was loaded on to the ex Buxton trolley ready for pressure washing, the mesh floor of the trolley allowing the results, both liquid or otherwise, to pass through. Stephen took on this job, and as pressure-washing funny shapes results in unexpected flash-backs, he ended up with panda eyes and soaked in many places. Charles returned to lining the side skirts of 1382.

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Both Mike and Judith arrived during the afternoon, having first gone to Rowsley where we met last, and then found their way down to the Geoffrey Briddon Building. They had brought something for me, a return favour which I shall not reveal yet but you may see in a few weeks time. Team Frodingham were promoting the possibility of a YE1382 kit to be added to the Judith Edge brand, and Mike was looking closely at the Dutch Gronks in connection with an LMS 350hp shunter kit that may or may not, be in the pipeline. Mike has measured up the Brush 0-6-0DE in the past, but has yet to progress a kit to fruition.

So that's about it for this week. Today Andrew and Steph have been collecting grandson for a Christmas visit, and apart from some admin I popped down to the shed to check all was well and verify stock of one or two oils.

And as this edition is the last before Christmas, I will take the opportunity of wishing you all a happy Christmas. Next week's edition may be on time, or rescheduled, I don't really know, but I hope you'll have more pleasant things to do than hang around the internet waiting to find out...

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