Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of pressing matters

1st January 2017

This week has rather been a blur, so I might get the days wrong and such, but here's a round-up of Christmas week here in delightful Derbyshire.

Boxing day: Andrew and I got down for a few hours, but he had to return to attend to grandson, who resents any time spent away. Andrew was assembling some other bits for me, but for myself I made a start on clearing the south east corner of the shed, where the compressor and hacksaw are due to stand, followed by sweeping every square inch with a dustpan and brush to get as much concrete (etc) dust as I could collected before going over it with the vac. (I thought, and it proved to be, that the time so spent would extend the periods at which the vac's filter blocks).

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After he'd gone I broke out the sealant and applied cold tea all over the area, ready to receive its first layer of paint.

Tuesday: Again I had most of the time to myself and making best use of the daylight, installed and cabled a new 230V outlet underneath the distribution box, and also terminated the 3-phase cable that goes to the outlet on Column 4 West, the water heater connection and made a permanent connection instead of a temporary one that has been feeding the emergency bulkhead light and the porch light outside.

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I then moved on to painting the floor. I had been mystified why the paint drums had distorted. It wasn't as if they'd been squashed by the forklift or anything. When I got the top off the tin of red it all became obvious. The last time the tin was opened was in much warmer weather, and the tin is airtight so that the paint doesn't set. The air inside the tin is now colder, and had contracted, thus distorting the tin. The tin might have withstood such forces but for the fact there was a lot of air in the tin, or in other words, much less paint than I remembered. I thought with a bit of luck I might have enough to get one coat on. I was wrong: though it wasn't helped by certain thin overlapping bits of concrete – mostly which had been under the concrete panels in their original positions – having withstood my dustpan and brush, the vacuum cleaner and the roller of cold tea - but coming adrift once the roller touched them, wasting paint and pebble-dashing the roller. Considering this was the prime plan of the week, namely get this section of floor painted with at least two coats and move everything back and clear the next section north for panel cutting and floor painting, this was not a promising start. I hoped the supplier might be open on Wednesday.

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I spent some time trying to unreel and untwist a length of SWA (single wire armoured) cable sufficient to reach from the distribution box all the way down the west side of the shed, up and over the roller shutter, down and along to the connection box over the south end personnel exit, a task which taxed my patience given that SWA is stubborn stuff, has been curled up on the drum all its life (and we've had it for several years) and the length required was longer than that of the shed floor. Short of some mechanical device reminiscent of giant-size hair straighteners, it wasn't going to happen but eventually I had a length which I thought was somewhere near, made up an SWA gland at the end and threaded it down the traywork on the western side.

That evening, my son-in-law who was also with us for Christmas and another highly competent engineer, sat down with Andrew and went over all the calcs for the second stage section of the ramp which Andrew has now largely devised. A shopping list will be going out to the steel suppliers shortly.

Wednesday: Andrew and Steph had to take grandson back to his Mum's but Andy H asked if I would be in the shed as he fancied more time there. I said not to arrive before eleven in case I went off first thing to the paint suppliers. He could have come earlier as their phone rang out without so much as a 'we're closed until …., go away'-type of recorded message. Andy brought a gift – a Marks & Spencer box of biscuits in the form of a bus, which he thought might meet my requirements for a collection tin. He was right, though it would have met my requirements even better had there still been biscuits inside and not merely the packaging.

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Taking advantage of not being alone I shimmied up a ladder and threaded the SWA over the top of the roller shutter and down the far side, brought it to the connecting box and drew back the slack, securing it to more beam clamps on the way. It is not a thing of beauty, but it is at least there. Andy though continued his self-appointed task of cutting the remaining bits of channel outside into lengths for the new stands, and when Andrew arrived later in the afternoon, he familiarised him with the big MIG and off went Andy into assembly-mode. He even added his 'mark', though whether this is to show confidence in his work or so that we will know whom to blame when the welds snap only he can say.

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Thursday: Andrew had arranged to meet up with Roger W down at Rocks by Rail to have a further go at Ludwig Mond in order to bottom that traction fault, and we were being joined by Phil G and Andy H with their Team Frod hats on. To make the journey faster and warmer, we took only a few things in Andrew's car, but first put a bid on an e-bay item which was due to close at half-ten in the morning. We were somewhere about Wymeswold when the alarm on his phone went off, we found a layby with sufficient phone signal and placed a further bid just in case someone was trying to pip us, but became the new owners for a 50Ton workshop press. Well most of one anyway. It's minus a few bits (like the pump) but for the price paid, well worth building up ourselves.

At RbyR we had a slight problem getting the loco out (someone had left another loco outside with the battery master switch on and flattened the batteries) but after a bit of a shunt Ludwig was outside and started up. It took a long time to build air – the compressor is a big Westinghouse but there is the Catch 22 that without throttle you can't rev the compressor fast, but as it's air throttle you can't rev it without pressure - but eventually it was ready and we ran some tests. It hadn't been used since we were there in August, and at that point it mysteriously tripped out the contactors every so often. In the interim Andrew had pored over the wiring diagram and wondered whether it was a particular timer designed to cut power if the driver sits in 'stall', or in other words, the standstill detection system wasn't showing movement.

And sure enough, the trip-out was consistent at 20 seconds, and investigation within the cubicle revealed two roughly strung wires up to a switch in the desk which was not part of GEC's original layout. The switch was crudely labelled 'SR Relay' and when switched 'on' the loco took power and drove without interruption, and when 'off', tripped out after 20 secs (though of course, if 'on' you couldn't change direction). Further investigation suggests that someone has changed the speedo head for a replacement, but the original had an internal switch for standstill. Until such time as we find out more, I shall hunt out or make up some device to do the job properly.

Since that was the only purpose of the day, it was an early return, and regrettably I didn't get pictures, but all being well it'll be out for a better run soon.

Friday: Andrew had been arranging a 'curry night' as a thank you to Team Frod so some members arrived for the day, including Jagger, Pieman, Plumtree and Luke from Lincs and Andy H again from darkest Deepcar. It was a cold but dry day and most of the time was spent outside on the PCV, removing bits and bobs and further lifting/packing the beast ready to extract the bogies, kept warm by a significant bonfire that was kept burning all day. I had one of those pottering days when I can't seem to get on to anything substantial and do bits and bats instead. I spent some time in the container looking for a motor starter which I knew we had somewhere in stock from an auction a long time ago (actually the same auction from whence the SWA cable came) but couldn't find, so set about mounting a large isolator to the hacksaw instead, as it didn't seem to have had a starter before.

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When it got dark outside, the Team Frod came in and with YE 1382 as a base, set about displaying models of Janus (Yorkshire 0-6-0DEs) with detail differences. Eventually we adjourned to the Briddon Country Pile, Andrew went off to the Shalimar restaurant to collect half a ton of assorted curries and after eating, continued with a couple of hours of 'Cards Against Humanity', which I have described before but can be summarised as a racier, less politically-correct version of 'Blankety Blank'. The party, if that's the word, finally broke up at one a.m. with Team Frod departing in different directions.

Saturday: We had intended to be up first thing and do a few hours in the shed, but after the previous night nobody was up to an early anything save lunch, after which we set off for Slaithwaite via Bakewell, Glossop and the edge of Holmfirth. In an old Mill the vendor was awaiting us and the press was dragged out and tipped over and into the van, which it just fitted, before we set off back by the same route. As Andrew had a social that night we went straight home.

Today: Again not a particularly early start, and as it was raining the press is still in the back of the van. Andrew went into the container and straight to where he'd put/hidden the motor starter, so I took the isolator off and started cabling the starter in its place. The compressor, having had the Hydrovane unit welded to the tank base a few weeks ago, and my having fitted a delivery hose ten days or so back, was ready for test, but first we lifted it and fitted 4 anti-vibration feet which, again, came out of a local auction, and for which I'd scoured the container before remembering that we'd catalogued it all in the Portakabin and those bits were still in there. But we didn't get to test it because while we are trying to standardise on 5 pin plugs for 3-phase, (and I'd re-plugged it) some of our kit is still in 4 pin and nowhere could we find our adaptor cable. Ah well. Some other bits were put together and painted, and the day was by no means a loss.

We're back down tomorrow and once firms re-awaken after the holidays I shall dash up and get some more paint! After that, well, the plan for the holiday envisaged getting panels re-located and floors painted and that didn't really go at all as envisaged, so there's still more to catch up on. Will you be back next week to see the press in its new home and what we've got up to? I hope so. Happy New Year.

More in this category: Of a long first week »

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