Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of Easter efforts

16th April 2017

Sunday once again, April is half-over, Easter is in full flow. I used to say that on Bank Holiday weekends I'd leave the blog until Monday, but – well - at my age I can get confused enough and can't remember which day I did what sometimes. So Sunday it had better remain, even though, as I finish editting this, the clock has ticked over past midnight anyway.

During the week both the new boost timer switch for the water heater and the waterproof 240V outlet arrived, but every time I set off for the shed, I managed to forget about them, or so it seemed.

Actually I had a little task to keep me occupied, as my commercial side had its first export order, and I was using various bits of timber to create a crate to hold the parts concerned. But as a light relief I also took a further look at the worm wheel drive for the engine stand, and realised that actually the first part of dis-assembly was surprisingly simple. The 4 bolts that held the assembly to the main part of the stand actually held the bearing blocks for the worm shaft in place and nothing but stiction was left. Some careful taps with a hammer and chisel and the whole assembly came clear, and the bearing block at the outer end slid off quite easily, being nothing more than an oilite bush. But adjacent to it is a thrust bearing, and that was distinctly Fubar'd. On the other hand, the thrust bearing at the inner end is fine, and the remaining hand wheel shaft condescended to turn, though is visibly bent and needs replacing. For now, I moved on.

Good Friday as I hinted last week was an extra day and Andy H had offered to come, and continue with RS8. A couple of weeks ago a visitor looked at the loco and admitted he wouldn't know where to start on a restoration job like that and I found it strange. How else can you proceed but to remove all the major lumps in turn recording what bit goes where and in this case, estimating what components have been stolen over the years? There are still some unknowns. For example there is a flow restrictor and a 3/2 valve which match Sentinel control valves and I assume is part of a clutch timer, but such pipework as still exists doesn't make sense. There is a horn valve at the top of the cab in the centre, the horn itself is missing but pipework 'tracks' in the paint and distorted pipe clips suggest there was more to it. The front windscreen wipers remain (but have been altered at some time) but the rear wipers are hand-worked, yet there are or were apparently six wiper motor control valves. Two hand valves in the desk were presumably direction and clutch controls, and a 'tail' added to the direction valve swings either side of some holes which were presumably once a locking cylinder, to prevent you reversing the gearbox in motion. Yet the pipework to show how it was all arranged is gone.

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It may be that some drawings will turn up at Tunstead. Although previous searches, made at the request of one of the former engineers, reportedly came back empty, the engineer Craig seemed to think that there were drawings held from that period if you knew where to look. It would be nice to arrange the pneumatic as much as possible as it was done originally, though I doubt if any of the valves still present are worth trying to re-use.

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For the moment, Andy has concentrated on removing cladding plates under the desk, revealing the vac brake piping (and not to mention a not-inconsiderable amount of ballast which was shovelled clear) and working towards the point that the upper cab section can be lifted off its base, with everything disconnected to permit this. At that time off come the casings, cab top and the power unit can come out of the frame and head off to Tunstead for the first stage of the work to begin.

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Having finally remembered to bring down the waterproof outlet and boost timer switch, I started to fitting the latter. This is the third 'switch' I have fitted to control the water heater and hopefully it will be the last. I can now switch it to run for 15 minutes, half an hour, one or two hours and not worry about wasting electricity by forgetting once I have switched it on and got embroiled in something else.

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Late on Friday I got a call from Duncan M, whom I had not seen or heard from for about 15 years. He had recently bought a Vanguard from Statfold which he had taken to Wirksworth, and was going over next day because for some reason it wouldn't start, could I advise? Of course, there could be so many reasons but I suggested one in particular and he asked whether I would be around the next day, and could he call in?

Last thing Friday, once RS8 had been pulled back outside (it wasn't exactly in the shed, but I'd pushed it up to 1382 so that it wasn't far away for extension cables and such ) I dug out the long ladder and started fixing the 240V outlet, taking the cable over the roller shutter doors. I don't like ladders – well I suppose it's really heights but the ladder was essential when the Terrypicker is boxed in by bits of engine on pallets – so the bottom rungs were anchored by large blocks of wood, batteries and tied to a bucket full of sand before I attempted to ascend. Although the socket is outside, the isolator for it is to be inside, and the ex-water heater neon illuminated one was to be re-purposed. But that was it for Friday.

On Saturday I was joined by three from Team Frodingham, Toby, Stephen and Charles, and in case you are wondering, our grandson is with us for Easter so Andrew's primary commitment lay elsewhere. So anyway, they made a start on 1382, Charles continuing with painting and signwriting, whilst Stephen and Toby hunted out various components that needed to be cleaned, examined, painted and made generally ready to refit to 1382. I had visitors due somewhere after ten a.m., so didn't get into anything too soon. Sure enough they arrived, one regular Peak Rail volunteer and two friends of his. I showed them round and then gave them a run up and down in James.

As they were leaving, Dave L, the Darley Stationmaster, rang to say he had another gentleman asking if he could look around, so we swapped visitors at the gate and I did a second tour. After all this it was hardly worth getting started before Steph came down with lunch, and I reckoned the most work I had done thus far was to make teas for Team Frod.

Buy during the afternoon I at last got back to some jobs, and finally returned to the external outlet, bringing the cable down to where the isolator was going to be. Duncan called to say he was in the car park and came for a look around, confirming that the problem had been, as I had suggested, the clutch limit switch, which is interposed in the starter feed to prevent you starting the engine with the clutch engaged. Not, as I had guessed, the operator leaving the loco with clutch 'in', but rather the switch itself sticking. We spent some time talking.

With Team Frod departed, I returned to the task in hand and drilling the concrete panels to fix the switch unit. Concrete is a darn-awkward material to drill. I bought a masonry drill from the builders merchants which they assured me was 'good for concrete' but after 10mm I pulled the drill out and the end wings had worn away. I suppose it all depends on the quality and quantity of the aggregate, but the special 'concrete' drills I get from the electrical wholesalers in Sheffield ('CK' brand but they say might be discontinued) do survive intact but progress is painfully slow. Any reader with better suggestions, do please speak up.

Of course, using the drill on hammer puts in a lot of vibration, and as I am suffering with one tooth (my dentist cleaned it and put a temporary filling to tide me over until he could schedule a permanent fix in June, only the temporary filling fell out after 10 days and the dentist security staff – sorry receptionist – insisted I could not have an appointment unless I was in pain) this started serious twinges and I went home after getting the first hole drilled.

Today I was expecting a visitor but hadn't a fixed time, so was slightly embarrassed when he rang to say he was nearly there and I was still at the Briddon Country Pile. So a quick smarten up, a dash down, and an apology. He had come up from Burton just to see a certain 04, but I took him round the rest anyway! I got back to the drilling and got the second hole bored, the backplate secured and dropped the cables into place, before popping home for lunch.

Back an hour later, I pondered the corroded thrust bearing on the turnover stand worm shaft and set about rigging up the press. My first attempt failed, but by rearranging things the end plate of the thrust bearing came off, and the assembly dropped onto the cushion I had fortuitously put underneath. Next was the ball race, which was so bad that I simply destroyed it in the vice jaws, and finally I separated the second face from the worm with a hammer and chisel then pushed it the rest of the way with the press. This was actually done in stages in between breaking into the cable to the nearby sockets, which I had left with – I thought – enough spare to enable me to insert a junction box should the need arise. I was of course wrong by about 3 inches, so had to re-cable down to the socket after fighting a junction box which lurks behind the trunking in a location as to make it devilishly difficult to carry out even the simplest of tasks. But it's done, and after carrying out the usual tests I switched back the MCB for the final bang test and everything functioned.

Late on Andrew popped down for an hour and together we got on with that replacement heat exchanger I mentioned.

Tomorrow? Well it probably will be by the time I get the blog up tonight. Not sure yet, but it would be good to attack the remaining bolts that hold the cab on RS8, but which appear to be set into the floorboards, but it all may depend on the weather.

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