That is if there is a normal. A few weeks ago, you may recall, the Conference Building next to the workshops at Darley Dale had its windows broken. Although a volunteer came to look at the damage, nothing had been done to replace the glazing and over the night of April 30th -May 1st, the building was entered again. This time the offending windows were boarded up.
Then it was our turn – a fire extinguisher was removed from a loco cab and let off in the yard. Almost every loco cab was entered and any contents thrown around. Andrew had responded by tie-wrapping most of the doors closed. Thus when I got back from Center Parcs, apart from popping in to Matlock for a couple of essentials, I stopped off at Darley Dale for a quick check round.
All the tie wraps had been snapped, and as if to make their superiority over us felt, two loco cab windows had been smashed - another fire extinguisher let off, several lorry straps (holding tarps over the locos) cut through and various ropes of said tarps undone or cut. Casing doors on D9500 had been opened, the grille over the rad fan moved, etc., etc. It took the edge off what had been a good few days break.
But Tuesday I had customers to see, and I was coming back up the A34 heading for Newbury late in the afternoon when I noticed an unusual wind noise coming from the van and was wondering what could be making it when I encountered one of those hills that the A34 is known for (it goes up and down the Downs, I suppose) and the speed fell back even though my accelerator was down. Now if you have been a regular reader you may expect a rant about the engine management system and how it comes on, cuts the power, but won't tell you why it has done it, as you, the mere owner, are not competent to judge the importance for yourself. But you'd be wrong, because I limped the van home, down on power, up on smoke and heavy on fuel but the engine management system pretended all was well.
So Wednesday was largely taken up with getting that sorted, it proving to be a corroded pipe clamp on the turbo which had failed, allowing the boost pipe to come off – the 'wind noise' was the turbo.
Meanwhile plans were laid and priorities for the weekend changed, as we ordered up barbed wire, and a security camera set. CCTV had always been planned, but at a later stage, now it was high on the list and Team Frod mobilised to come and help set up.
Friday was Andrew's last day at Colas Railfreight – he now has a month of un-employment before he starts his new job and I hope to make good use of him. But as Friday was mostly just a matter of returning his company van and laptop he was able to assist for a while in the day's activities, as Tarmac at last got some bits of RS8 to crack on with.
But before I start, I had better draw your attention to new important links. Firstly the 'Discover Buxton' May podcast is out, and yours truly can be heard spouting on about RS8, Charlie and the Midland Railway route. That can be accessed here. Secondly, Tarmac have now launched the website for RS8 restoration – it's a little rough at the edges, we are variously Bridden and Briddon, but well worth bookmarking as they will have Tunstead stuff in due course that we won't have. That's here.
So, first thing Friday morning and we were down at the shed with, we hoped, a couple of hours before the lorry arrived. We had intended to get another evening in before Friday but it hadn't proved possible. The plan had been to finish unbolting the rear engine mounts and jack the front of the power unit, to test our theory that the front sandwich mounts were so old as either to have failed already or do so immediately. We were just about to start when a customer appeared to pick up some goods he urgently needed, and despite saying that he needed to get back to his plant, proceeded to accept my offer of tea. The lorry of course, arrived at half eight instead of the ten o'clock we'd arranged: he was on a 6 till 2 shift.
So we shifted the locos out the way, and drew RS8 out. Off came the old casing structure, not without a fight as the mounting feet at the cab end jammed on the cab front and fuel tank fillers. We put this down and Liam, one of the Tarmac apprentices, and I released the air receivers while Andrew, now aided by Andy H, lifted the cab off and put it over by the PCV, followed by lifting off the fuel tanks.
Finally out came the engine and converter, to be put on blocks while the casings, fuel tanks (not the cab as we must finish stripping bits first) miscellaneous brackets and sundries, and the engine turnover stand were loaded and the lorry went off to find the shotblasters over at Lant Lane.
Andrew having now long departed, Andy H and I undid the various pipes and sundries joining the engine to the converter, bar two bolts and had a bite to eat. The lorry had had some difficulty finding the shotblasters (it isn't in the sort of place you'd expect) but duly returned empty and started by taking the weight of the converter whilst we removed the last bolts and cracked it away from the engine. Then the old engine, and the 'new' engine, still on its genset skid frame, were swung aboard together with a replacement radiator, and they set off for Tunstead, where the new engine will be checked over and the essential bits of the old engine (compressor, flywheel transmission cooler, etc) are overhauled and refitted. The finished engine can then be tested on the skid frame prior to mounting back in the loco chassis, hopefully ready by then.
The converter is off for specialist repair, so was left for me to forklift into the van later, for first, Andrew had booked me for a run up to the Goole area to collect a winch. We may have been thwarted in our endeavours to acquire a low load trailer suitable for the lighter locos in the collection, but if a suitable one came available at the right price it would need a winch, so rather like the woman in the old Beatles song ('I got no car and it's breaking my heart, but now I've got a driver and that's a start') we shall be ready when one comes along, save that it has no haulage rope and needs modifying to take a hydraulic motor...
Saturday, and Team Frod turned up in the shape of Toby K, Stephen McB, Charles and Ashley, the last mentioned making his first visit in over a year. Charles concentrated on 1382, varnishing the east side paintwork and the cab internals, while Toby and Stephen started drilling holes in the shed to mount the cameras for our CCTV. Andrew and I were on barbed wire duty, plus other works to improve the security of the fencing up the footpath side of the site – a fence which Peak Rail undertook to renew throughout but never completed and now fail to answer letters/emails about. Ashley started stripping the axles out of the Land Rover chassis, and then moved on the cleaning the insides of RS8's frame, yielding over a wheelbarrow-full of soil, a bucket-full of ballast and a teaspoon.
By the end of the afternoon we had installed over 200 metres of barbed wire, and admiring the two camera view over the north end of the site, which we judged was where some of the unwelcome visitors had entered by, at least two sides of the Peak Rail Conference room were now under surveillance.
First thing Sunday Andrew was off to acquire a longer cable to reach the cameras to go at the south end, and it was Team Frod members Phil G and Luke who arrived first and reported more trouble, with another cab window smashed, other cabs entered and disturbed, relays and other bits from the HATRAMM on the ground alongside and a large piece of steel left after a failed attempt to lever up a roller shutter door on the PCV (they'd been in – twice - through another shutter but we had closed that and made it immovable, but they'd been in the cab area anyway). We checked the camera recordings but of course 'they' had come in through the south end and not come under the cameras.
The south end cameras had not been put up because we'd run out of M4 studding to go through the insulated wall panels, and we needed a longer cable. Andrew had gone off in search of both but came back only with a cable. It occurred to me that as the holes in the brackets cleared M4, they couldn't be far off tap-size for M5, so a length of M5 rod in stock was utilised and both cameras set up, Andy H on the outside and Andrew on the inside. We can now watch the train go by from the comfort of our easy chairs inside.
A megga-shunt took place during the day, it being decided that some locos nearer to the shed were being left alone: things were re-arranged so that more were positioned nearer either to be safe, or closer to our new cameras. Outside a lot of tidying up was done to reduce the number of missiles readily to hand, and RS8's cab, having been left too close to the track to allow James or Charlie to pass, was laboriously barred a couple of feet southwards. Internally we came to start the forklift and found the battery absolutely flat: we blamed each other for leaving the key in and switched on, but the last time it was used was when our inspector was testing, so we decided to blame him instead. After a long cup of tea while it charged, the area behind 1382 was cleared and the loco moved nearer to Pluto. Thus I could bring the van around, the forklift could unload the winch and replace it with the converter from RS8. Then we refilled the siding and finished the day with Charlie back inside.
So not a week with tremendous loco progress, yes the RS8 project is under way, but otherwise we have had to suffer several hundred pounds worth of damage, incur considerable expenditure on new security kit and take time out of a busy schedule to protect what's ours. And in the middle of it all Andrew announces he wants 14 901 ready for departure shortly. Good thing he has time on his hands: we're going to need it.