Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of fuel, throttles and fences

5th March 2017

Here we are in March. Time seems to have flown this year but maybe that's because of that filming work that occupied me during January. Don't worry, I shan't harp on about it much longer. There's too much going on -

First thing Monday I was off to my favourite machinists with a commercial job and the remaining two brake crossbeams from 1382 that they are to build-up and machine back to size.

We have also extracted the cylinder from the workshop press – the oil leak appears to be from the bottom of the cylinder, where it is welded to the base. This weld at one sector is thin and the paint cracked; oil seems to be escaping through that crack suggesting that the weld behind is defective. It will be off to our friends in Sheffield in due course to see what can be done.

03 901 was returning from Longcross on Wednesday and we had originally arranged with Heanors that they would collect 14 901 from Churnet to arrive the same time and thus save Peak Rail the inconvenience of two separate moves. But in the end they backed out and Reid's took over the job, with Simon Reid driving. Andrew and Phil G went over to Cheddleton to oversee the loco's move from Cheddleton to Froghall, and then took the quick way back here, not before I'd had a call from the proprietor of a well-known locomotive company to the effect he'd seen it on the A50. (Phil has some pictures that he's sent Andrew but haven't got to me - if I can I'll add some later on)

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Meanwhile 03 901 had arrived at Rowsley by Allelys, and the Allelys crew kindly helped Simon Reid line up while his secondman went in search of a loo. As 14 901's gearbox was set in neutral for towing, 03 901 coupled up up and hauled it down to Darley Dale. At Church Lane crossing we had a delay – Peak Rail's p-way crew were at work with a broken fishplate, I was authorised to proceed very slowly and crept over the loose joint. I heard later that they had had a lot of trouble getting the holes to line up and had had to drag the rail north a bit, so presumably rail creep had caused the fracture.

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At Darley Dale 03 901 died and refused to re-start, but after a couple of minutes and a bit of throttle, ran again and completed the journey, depositing both 901s on the first siding road.

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That night Terry came over on his way back from work and we addressed the forklift, jacking it up and setting about removing filters and tracing things through. For all the forklift has been an essential part of the workshop for quite some time, it has only ever had engine services and the hydraulic oil that emerged from the tilt ram we stripped clearly had water-contamination. A full service really ought to be made which means fresh oils and filters throughout. In the course of the evening therefore, we extracted the hydraulic return line filter and the transmission oil filter, but the latter had what looked like a standard central bolt arrangement protruding from the bottom which we were quite unable to undo. The hydraulic filter was subsequently identified and ordered, but that transmission filter is another matter – but I'll come back to it. Also we found that the combined oil tanks are hanging down at the rear - whatever Cat provided to support them having failed. Now is the time to correct it.

Saturday, and with Andrew occupied on grandson duties, I was down at the shed for 09.20, opening up just before Charles and Pieman arrived. Their task was to rebuild the fencing at the north end of the yard, timber for which had been delivered Friday morning. For some months now there has been some railway-standard blue temporary fencing between the level crossing gate-post and the remaining fencing, there being (or rather not) two panels that we took out. This fencing was incidentally, part of a “job lot” that Peak Rail obtained about 25 years ago, the best parts used on Darley Dale platforms and the remainder thrown up to divide the entrance lane from the running lines, even using old sleepers as fence posts.

Regular readers will recall that last June we had a commercial job to come in direct to Darley Dale as Mrs Statham had refused us access via Rowsley, and we had advised her, as per previous e-mails, that the only way to achieve this was either by removing part of the fence (to afford a greater turning area) or by a special trailer, and as the first was cheaper we would try that. In the event the lorry could still not quite achieve it and we resorted to the special trailer, which then went on to collect RS8.

Anyway, Mrs Statham instructed us to replace the fence when Peak Rail were relaying the Darley Dale level crossing, which was due to be January-February this year, and as the existing posts and longitudinals were in poor condition after a quarter century, we left the temporary fencing in their place.

Wind forward and we suddenly get a letter from PR telling us that unless the fence is reinstated by March 4th they would get contractors in and charge us the cost, which, considering we were waiting for them to make a start on the level crossing works in order to do the work at the same time seemed a trifle peremptory. So Charles and Pieman were our fencing contractors, and Saturday was a fine day, better than forecast. Unfortunately right inside the gateway was once upon a time the Darley Dale crossing box, and it is likely that what they hit were the foundations. This slowed things down a little. I brought out the big Bosch hammer drill with a chisel attachment, and the generator to go with it, and given time I daresay Charles would have blasted through, but in the end several return trips to the builders merchants for postmix did the trick instead.

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Meanwhile PR's recently-arrived steam loco 'Jennifer' (Hudswell 0-6-0T based at Llangollen) was leading the 4 coach rake to Matlock, with the '31 bringing it back.

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For myself, I had fired up the 03 and brought it and the 14 over to the shed. When I fitted the return spring to the throttle of the 03, I had disturbed the idle speed position and this was in part what had caused it to cut-out at Darley on Wednesday, so first job was to adjust this, which took longer finding the right size spanners (other end of shed 40 yards away) than the task itself. Then it was on to the 14, disconnect the Mk2 header tank and remove it. Even this was not as simple as it ought to have been, having used plated buttonheads to secure the tank brackets to the casing top, one refused to undo and when I put a length of tube on to the Allen key, chewed the corners off. Nothing for it but to grind the head and knock it out.

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This doesn't sound much for the day but bear in mind frequent interruptions for postmix, tea, generator and chisel, not to mention lunch and a few minutes spent swapping the string start on the genny after it broke, and you get the picture. After they'd packed up, I took a look at the big-MIG, tipping it gently on to its end in order to inspect the rear castors, which had been at a drunken angle ever since we acquired it. Inspection showed that at some time, something – probably a gas bottle – had been dropped on to its rear space with such force that the plate on which the castors mounted (in reality thin material folded at the edges) had been deformed with the centre section touching the underside of the welder base, while at the sides the castor mounts were at an angle. The castor wheels themselves were beyond redemption, but those that were on the little trolley that Captain Idiot overloaded and broke were almost the same size, so I exchanged them.

By contrast today's weather was dire, with rain almost the entire time. Charles and Pieman returned, donned waterproofs and resumed work on the fence. I straightened out the subframe on the big-MIG and refitted its castors. Roundabout then it occurred to me that we had one of those Gazebos in the container, so hunted it out and they set it up to provide some measure of shelter. Back on the big-MIG I had been aware that the cable gland through which the power came in had chaffed through the cable outer insulation layer, and really ought to be dealt with, but being close-up with it realised that in fact it had gone through at least two of the inner layers, exposing conductors to atmosphere. Off came the outer cover and I remade the cable, shortening it in the process.

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The 14's Mk2 header tank needed to yield some bits for the Mk3, notably the float switch, so I opened up the top cover and was rather surprised at what I found inside. Considering that this tank had seen relatively few operating hours, its bottom should not be like that, the colour incidentally (though not quite the same in the photo as real life) is of the algae-poo that the 14 has suffered from in the past. Clearly the filters must be investigated next, and maybe the pump will be removed for a check over. Either way the weather did not favour me fitting the Mk3 tank yet.

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I had to pop back and collect lunch from the Briddon Country Pile, Charles and Pieman elevating the gazebo sufficiently for me to drive the van through! But with the work virtually complete, and them both soaked through to their underwear, they called it a day at half-one. The rain of course, started to ease off after that! I fired up the 03, and took it up and down a number of times, trying to get sufficient temperature into the block to see if the idle-speed was consistent and sufficient, and so far, it appears to be settling at about 625, whereas it had been tending to droop to about 450.

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Back inside I stripped down the remains of that home-made compressor set I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, most of it is of no real value – Andrew acquired it for the compressor itself (which was ex Rolls-Royce C6N or the same as). The 3 air tanks though seemed to have same merit, Andrew thinks as vac reservoirs for vac/air proportional valves. I said before that they looked vaguely railway-like: but cleaning one off I found what appears to be 'SWL 100..' - now SWP would refer to working pressure, SWL normally is used in lifting apparatus as Safe Working Load. Might these be home-made tanks built from some sort of lifting beam or have we merely got a dyslexic signwriter?

Late on I returned to the traction filter off the forklift. Still believing this was a bolt-up-the-middle I decided to grind of the head, pull off the filter casing and worry about a new bolt later. So off it came, but I could find no bolt-shank underneath. Surely it wasn't a screw-on I thought, but nothing ventured, etc, I punched a piece of rebar through from one side to the other and low and behold it unscrewed. Given that my trusty Fleetguard catalogue lists 3 different filters for variations on this vehicle, and none of them look remotely like what I have, this may yet take a little while to sort.

Fox have advised that the 'strike set' order has been issued so Charlie will be returning shortly, and with grandson to return to Norfolk and a number of other tasks, this week is looking quite busy already. The site may be down for a while on Saturday night (as will Andrew Briddon Locos and my own) while a server upgrade takes place, but that aside, I'll see you all again next week, huh?

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