Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of blissful ignorance

28th May 2017

Maybe it is better to live in blissful ignorance, unaware of just how many young people have decided that Darley Dale yard is some sort of Adventure playground just made for them.

The continuous recording of the cameras has, sadly, picked up more deliberate vandalism (aka criminal damage) but also more 'innocent' visitations, people using the yard as a short cut, plus birds, cats, rabbits and sundry wildlife. I don't really want to dwell too much on the negative side – though it cannot be ignored as it has cost us a lot of time this week in assessing and rectifying some of the petty bits.

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The early part of the week I spent some time on RS8, drawing up the remaining parts of the pneumatics and the frame with a view to compiling a CAD drawing and determine its weight. This brought me to the matter of the centre stretcher. The leading face of this stretcher is rivetted in place, i.e. Avonside fitted it – rule of thumb, if its rivetted it's Avonside's; if it's bolted or welded it's ICI's – and has an arc cut out the top of it, which makes you first think that it's to clear the boiler. But it's far too low for the boiler, and anyway it would have had inside motion somewhere in this area, so it must have been cut by ICI to clear the rear of the converter. The section behind is plated flat and I had casually noted that it was largely bolted, therefore should be ICI's additions, but I hadn't really paid too much attention. Now as I tried to measure it all up and make sense of it I realised that it had a bottom as well as a top, and after undoing a few bolts I took a plate off to reveal – more ballast blocks. These are in better state having been kept drier – we'll have to decide whether to re-use them.

Tarmac have produced a first draft of a restoration schedule and Andrew and I are booked for a meeting on the morning of the 12th to agree a schedule of work on the engine: by that time, all being well, the converter may be back, ready to fit.

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By Wednesday we were pushing on with 14901, which was scheduled to leave on Thursday morning. This had all come together rather earlier than we had expected, but the loco was booked to go to the Colne Valley Railway for an extended stay. Given that it had suffered at the hands of some of our unwelcome visitors, there wasn't much time to address those issues, rather get the loco serviced and ready. On Thursday morning we arranged with Harvey, the Peak Rail pilotman, and 14 901 came out of the yard and set off north, for once with Andrew at the controls. I went up with the van to bring Harvey back to his at Darley Dale, Andrew having reported a 'spirited run' between Church Lane and Rowsley.

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The loco has now arrived at Castle Hedingham and no doubt sometime soon we'll be down that way crew training.

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On Friday night we had two more unwelcome visitors, who found a can of bitumastic spray sealant and proceeded to use this to graffiti various items, mostly the PCV and the VBA, but kindly including their name. Entering the PCV's cab they stripped out some of the cab lining and tossed it out the cab door. They of course appeared on our CCTV and this time we have filed a report with the Police. Apart from entering the PCV, they had attempted to wrench off the rear headlamp from James, and entered both the 03 and Ashdown, although in the latter cases they were presumably looking for something worth stealing and found nothing. All in all they'd been on site for nearly an hour.

Previously Andrew had tie-wrapped cab doors only for the next visitors (pre-CCTV) to rip off the tie wraps and smash windows - but Saturday afternoon we spent a couple of hours cutting heavy chains into 2ft lengths and securing cab doors with nuts and bolts. It may result in retaliatory window smashing, but hopefully it will just discourage them.

After 5.20 Saturday evening we heard voices on the footpath outside and while Andrew was under a loco in the shed, I quietly went out and stood next to RS8, where despite my hivi, I could see them but they remained unaware of me. Until the first one of the four, wearing a distinctive tee-shirt that I recognised from Friday night's CCTV footage, climbed over the fence throwing a rucksack in font of him. At this point I started shouting at them and they hurriedly exited back over the fence. Continuing my righteous verbal castigation, I even invited 'X' to talk to me, and got the distinct impression which it was. By now Andrew was out from the loco and coming up behind, and the fact that their opposition was no longer a white-haired old codger but a fit strapping man caused them to break into a run and head up into DFS's car park, not before one of the four had whined to Andrew that 'he was nothing to do with them'. But one of the four called that they'd be back (as they legged it well away from us) and after a confab it was agreed we'd take it in turns until dark.

At quarter to nine I heard voices once again and sat by the monitor. As the first figure appeared running across to the PCV I was up and on my way – by the time I got there, shouting, it turned out there were three of them. No bravado here, just red-faces 'sirs', apologies and promises never to do it again. I finished making it quite clear that this was a rail yard not an Adventure playground. One of the three, rather plumper than the other two, was bright red and looked nearly ready to wet himself as they filed back out. (This was a completely different group!)

Team Frod came over today and I was largely able to split them into two groups, Toby and Stephen working towards re-connecting 1382's power unit and Andy H, Luke and Phil stripping everything they could out of RS8's cab, as we need to get it away to shotblasters this week. I myself set about cutting a new window for James out of the sheet of 5mm polycarb we bought a week or two ago and getting it mounted, being delicate as the window rubber is getting old and frail.

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Around lunchtime we were joined by Roger Hallatt, Peak Rail's Joint MD, to discuss the security situation. The attacks at Darley Dale had commenced with the conference room, and he had also told us how Peak Rail had cleared undergrowth under Bridge 36 at the request of the Police ( a large number of syringes being found in the process) after which the shelter at Matlock Riverside had been repeatedly attacked and as a result, PR had been forced to dismantle it. We have proposed to upgrade the entrance gate (at present it's a light, 5 bar gate that's easy to climb over) with something that will prevent such easy access. We also showed him some of the damage, and what we have been doing to strengthen the fencing (which of course PR had undertaken to rebuild the full length of the site but never got more than half-way before Rob S left the company's employ). We also showed him some of our camera footage, which I am beginning to call DDTV rather than CCTV.

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By late afternoon 1382's engine and genny were re-united and standing on the trolley, and most of the bits on RS8 had been recovered – another day should see it through. I've also recovered the brake master cylinder off the forklift as it is at the centre of the poor braking. Being a 1960s machine I was contemplating going up to Paddock Motors and seeing if any Land Rover master cylinders matched, but Toby immediately suggested Moggy 1000 and it certainly looks a possible match.

As grandson is up with us I stayed on until Andrew had had tea and came down to relieve me, whereupon I came back and started writing the blog. And part way through, tonight's incursion comprised two 12 year old girls whom Andrew intercepted on James by the cab. They ran to what they thought was an exit by the shed, only to find we'd blocked it and Andrew had them cornered. He escorted them to the gate, demanding their names and phone numbers so that he could ring their parents (he doesn't date 12 year olds) but they seemed to suffer from amnesia, what a surprise.

So that's it for this edition, see you next week.

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