So, first thing Monday I set off for the transmission specialists: well actually, I set off in the opposite direction to visit a customer first, but you get the idea. In the back of the van was RS8's torque converter, and this was duly handed over about lunchtime.
On Tuesday I was out again, and amongst other things collected a recent win from e-bay, to whit a quantity of lorry sheets. Which were strapped to a pallet. Unfortunately said pallet was about 20mm too wide to go between the wheel arches of the van, so the vendor and I hand-balled the whole lot into the back – all 20+ of them. As Andrew was away and I needed an empty van for the following morning, this meant I would have to unload them all myself that evening.
As I headed back, I thought I had given the transmission specialists long enough for the paperwork accompanying the converter to have been logged, so I rang up the boss...
'That converter I brought in yesterday, I need some photos of it when you strip it, for the blog that Tarmac are running on RS8's restoration'
'Oh, it's a bit late.'
' I stripped it yesterday afternoon and put the freewheel back together so that none of the bits get lost – I haven't seen one of them for oh, 35 or 40 years.'
Anyway, the conversation went on that the freewheel device was in good condition, the only thing causing it to be solid was the rear bearing which had seized from lack of use. They had in fact, got it turning, but as it was a Hoffman (which amalgamated into RHP some 45 years ago) he was going to replace it. The only issues were around the front end, where there was wear on the input shaft, the clutch links were the obsolete pattern, that is, apart from whether one shaft seal is of American design and still available. I haven't heard anything more about that.
So, after tea I went down to the shed in good spirits and as I backed in past the Portakabin, realised things had been moved. No knowing my way around the security camera software, it took me a while to find what I needed. At about 6pm that evening, 5 teenagers had wandered into the yard, made a bee-line straight for the 14, and occupied the cab for about 35 minutes. As they came out they had thrown things around, and paused outside the conference room and the Portakabin, peering in and tossed broken foundation blocks asunder. Clearly they were totally unaware of the cameras recording their moves, but when I went to the 14's cab, I found a vaping thing on the desk, cans on the floor and a bottle of Redex had been opened up and some poured onto the desk. One of them must be sporting a knife, as he'd taken the trouble to carve bits of pegboard away to expose the insulation behind. Presumably he's the one who cut some of the ropes and lorry straps last week. Once we crack how to extract short videos and static screen grabs (it's recorded in 'h264' format), we'll be able to start identifying them.
Further up the yard some of our barbed wire had been moved, the thin securing wires broken where someone had decided to climb through, but this might have been someone taking a short cut from Warney Lane, through the timber yard and the defunct Peak Rail fencing, and across Darley Dale yard to get into the DFS car park and beyond.
On Thursday Tarmac came again to discuss more of the work on RS8 and the next stages from our point of view. Andrew, me or both together will have to go up to Tunstead and agree the work on the engine. Of course, they are pressing for the rest of it – which means us getting the frame stripped of brake gear, sandboxes, pipework, gearbox, buffers and wheelsets and lifting the basic chassis onto a lorry for shotblasing. And although Tunstead have suggested bringing their Groves crane down to Darley Dale (which seems a horrible prospect for all A6 users) we'd rather find a simpler, more localised solution. Not to mention finding the time. For once they'd departed, Andrew and I got on with a shunt that ended up with RS8 outside and 14 901 inside, partly to thwart the teenagers and partly to start getting the 14 ready for departure.
On Saturday morning it was just us two – no Team Frod, not even Steph – and when we got down we started by checking the security footage. We soon found two lads, possibly part of the gang of five, taking a shortcut through the yard – (we could make them out coming across the tracks from the timber yard at the south end of the site) and then to our surprise found some youngsters, a boy and two girls, squeezed through our new barbed wire and started exploring, climbing over D9500 and the HATRAMM. They at least seemed to be inquisitive rather than malicious, but this is not an adventure playground.
Entertainment out the way we cracked on with some work until we ran out of split pins.
We were expecting Bryan L in the afternoon and when he arrived it was a good excuse for a cuppa. Suddenly Andrew let out an exclamation. The live pictures from the cameras showed two lads about to climb on the PCV. Andrew charged off, with me in hot pursuit – well, no, let's be honest, with ageing, asthmatic me a poor second. The reaction from these two lads was comical: they dashed back to the fence, one going head first over and catching the wires – well I saw two legs go straight up in the air – then running off up the path towards the station, clutching what I thought at first were pickaxes but later found were the handlebars of their scooters. (Y'know, the unpowered things that our generation had before skateboards were invented).
I turned and headed for the station, expecting to see them across in the park and still running. Andrew overtook me and signed me to turn back and come behind them. Clearly they'd assumed that once out of sight, they'd be out of our minds and finding Andrew blocking their exit must have been a further shock for the three of them (one had stayed on the path).
'The bloke at the station said it was all abandoned' wailed one, as if that justified his trespass. (Brian D was stationmaster that day and the chances of him saying that were of course nil.)
Andrew made it clear to them that CCTV had captured them, and if we found them on the yard again we'd identify them and take it up with their parents; they turned south on the path and I followed them until they climbed off into the DFS car park, just in case they got cocky. Hopefully the message will start to get around.
Bryan L had brought up some axleboxes. It's part of a story that has now been running for over 20 years, some Hunslet mines loco wheelsets that I acquired with the intention of building an Avonside 0-4-0T of 2ft gauge. The wheelsets have been stripped and moved around the country: they started at 3ft gauge so the axles 'merely' needed machining and reassembling. The axles were last seen at a heritage railway not far from Nottingham and the person turning them promised they'd be ready in about six weeks (that was in 2013). The springs are in our container, the wheels themselves are in Coalville. Now the axleboxes are to hand, and some axle-sized bits of axle steel arrived during the week, so maybe I will get time to do some drawings and get it moving again.
Again, a late start today and work has largely been on 14 901. Andrew has had to strip the sanders completely, finding not only builders sand but large lumps of clag and black powder that looks like coal dust or shotblast (The NCB did experiment using shotblast material instead of sand). I made up new joints and hopefully all will be well. For myself, I am undecided whether to rush the new diagnostic display or leave it for now and do a better job when the loco returns. Instead I tried to fix a problem with one of the door catches, then wandered up the yard doing spot repairs to our barbed wire and fence before finishing up with making all new joints for the sandpipes.
So I started with RS8 and I'll finish with it. A few weeks ago IDRPG pointed us to someone offering a slide of RS8 on e-bay. I got it and had it commercially scanned. And here it is, taken at Dinting c.1976. Its wheels are freshly painted red, although the rear buffer beam has its original chevrons: the side windows are still hinged, and patch priming has been carried out on the bodywork, presumably prior to a full repaint. Incidentally I now have a better idea how the converter is supposed to work. Popular in cranes, the CO converter has a shaft through the blading and the freewheel device comes into play when the speed of the load exceeds that of the converter, whereupon it shorts-out the converter and goes direct to the engine, to give engine braking. The advice when I was at Hills was never to employ them on locos, yet it seems RS8's has experienced no fundamental wear: maybe it is just over-engineered for the limited horsepower. Hopefully we'll soon see.