Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of tanks and buffers

25th June 2017

Nearly half-way through 2017 and where has it all gone? I've started getting letters telling me that I need to make a decision about when and how I take my state pension, a point in life - retirement - that I have long concluded could never happen since Barclays Bank made 'an unfortunate mistake' in 2001 and forced Yorkshire Engine Co into Liquidation. But oh dear, some of their senior executives may be in legal trouble, it was announced this week. I must have a whip-round for them. Anyone got a whip?

Monday was taken up with psyching myself up for, getting through and recovering from a visit to the dentist and an awkward extraction. He ended up cutting the tooth in two and pulling one half at a time. I just kept my eyes shut and pretended to be somewhere else. Yes, I only report all this for a bit of sympathy.

Tuesday was largely taken up with taking Grandson back to his mother's, though Steph and I did swing back via my fuel pump repairers so our spare C6 pump, destined to go onto RS8's replacement engine was to hand. So things really didn't start until Wednesday; Andrew had arranged the day off and we got down early to start moving the train out the way and things outside ready for the arrival of Tarmac's lorry. When they arrived the first task was to unload the old engine and a few other bits from it that have been consigned back to Darley for us to get shot-blast before they return to Tunstead for assembly. The block, of course, still has its old rear engine mounts which need renewal so I can use them for ready dimension checks.

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Next was to lift the Land Rover chassis out the way – Andrew deliberately left the back axle on the ground, ready for stripping and overhaul, but front axle and frame were placed out of harm's way, although I did suggest we should paint it yellow/blue and claim it was a marker for the Tour de Yorkshire. (For those readers for which this means nothing, throughout South and West Yorkshire (and possibly North too for all I know), old bikes have been lovingly painted and mounted up on walls, gates and private spaces in support of the cycle race).

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RS8's cab has sat for the past few weeks by the PCV, and not only was clearance very minimal as we shunted by, but access for blasting was restricted. Which brings me round to a change of policy. The bill from the shotblasters had taken me by surprise. The shotblast heading was what we had expected, but the extra lines for 'primer' and 'priming and handling' more than doubled the total and given that, after we had delivered to them on Tarmac's lorry, they had forgotten about them (!) until I rang to see if they were ready, had not endeared them to us. So we will try out another contractor who does all this on site and aim to prime it ourselves. Thus RS8's cab had to be repositioned on a spot where all-round access was possible, and parts of 1382's casings were lifted off and put alongside for the same treatment.

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Next they kindly lifted 1382's power unit off the trolley and lowered it onto the chassis, ready for securing later, and then finally, after we had moved the two spare ex Bombardier stands to the front of the shed with the forklift, put them farther up the yard where, it is planned, RS8's chassis will get shotblast. That will be an interesting exercise. Anyway, they then set off to the shotblasters to collect the previous instalment, which included stuff due back with us. They returned with casings, etc and some bad news. The Tarmac driver, remembering what he had taken up, had pointed out that the two fuel tanks hadn't been touched and were still 'sat in the grass'. Hardly a satisfactory situation after forgetting it all in the first place – clearly the contractor needs to improve his control of customer's property. We unloaded the bits we wanted here – well, rather Andrew did as I ended up with firstly a visitor and then our friendly local PC Tammy whom I had to turn away. The turnover stand was amongst the bits being dropped off, and late in the afternoon Andrew and I finished removing the remaining support bearings for the cradle (they were cream-crackered anyway so shotblasting them did nothing worse).

During all this too, our Tarmac contact Reg rang to enquire if there was anything Tarmac could do for me – which I interpreted as meaning things aren't happening fast enough, but countered by pointing out that his wagon was here now, which he was unaware of! Judging that there was more to see, he asked if he could pop in with his photographer on Thursday morning, rather mucking up my plans but I naturally agreed.

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Of course, Peak Rail was running trains during this ( a little matter of ensuring that train and Tarmac lorry did not pas the side of the shed at the same time – there's plenty of space but some people might be tempted to take issue on safety grounds) and following a change of policy, Hudswell Clarke 'Jennifer' (or 'Jumping Jenny' as she is apparently affectionately known in some places) is at the north (Rowsley) end of the train. That has always seemed the more logical end for the kettle to me – visitors arriving at Rowsley see it straight away so there is less chance of them saying 'oh it's a diesel' and driving off again, it puts steam at the end making the climb from Matlock (so more steam noise and smells for your buck), it leaves the steam loco prominent by the A6 in Matlock station, (whereas the south end loco is hidden in cutting) and finally the principal water tank at Rowsley is at the north end of the platform. But despite all this (to me) logic, what had brought about the change was that the LMSCA had complained that being coupled next to the Hudswell was causing excessive wear to buffing and drawgear on their NRM-owned coach 7828.

Anyway, I was back at the shed Thursday morning for Reg and the photographer, catching up on bits removed and evidence uncovered, such as the front end extension to the frames which I reported here a week or two ago.

I had already sent a rather terse e-mail to the shotblasters, registering my disappointment at their omission of the fuel tanks and received an undertaking that they'd be done on Thursday and I would be informed. Would it surprise you that no notification came in on Thursday, nor up to half-eleven Friday morning? At that point I rang and was told, they're ready, been meaning to contact you. Ta very much. Straight after (their) lunch I took the van up there and they slid them in onto a pile of pallets I'd set up. Now, although I could have got up to Buxton ahead of their finishing time, I should have checked earlier to ensure that people would be there, and now nobody answered the various numbers I had, so I decided to leave them in the van over the weekend.

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During the latter half of the week Andrew and I came to a conclusion that we needed to split our resources on Saturday. Since Team Frod wanted to work on 1382, one of us had to stay and the other had to drive to Colne Valley, so that lot fell to me. The trip, as you may recall, was to carry out basic driver training on 14901, which is due to work its first train next Sunday. So I set off in Andrew's Golf to visit the CVR. I am not a stranger to this place – Pluto spent some time here but I think it was before this blog began – and I reached it just after eleven. Following the basic formalities a group assembled round the '14 and I went through daily checks, start-up procedures and finally onto actually moving the thing. You'd think that after doing it all this time I would have this all off pat, but even now I forget bits. The loco was sat on a slope, so much so that the fuel which I dipped before it left Darley at 3.5” at the front of the tank was now at 6” in the same place. I daresay with some maths I could calculate either the volume in the tank or the gradient – or both – or neither.

Most of the 14s suffer from 'reluctance' in the Hunslet final drive gearbox and 901 is as bad as any, especially after it has been stood for a while – even the gradient may affect the performance of the 'splash' fed lubrication. So my trainees got plenty of experience in overcoming its party-piece which is all to the good, I suppose. As I was busy training and watching over them as they took it in turns, I didn't get any pictures, so you'll have to accept a single shot of it as I was about to leave.

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Back at Darley Dale, Andrew was doing some work on a loco for me which has occupied the Matterson jacks for an inordinately long time, in fact, as long as the jacks themselves have been down here, and before when we had Peak Rail's agreement to my doing the work at Rowsley, only for it to be reversed without warning. That loco is now out the way, clearing the space for re-locating the remaining panels, floor painting, etc., etc. This end of the shed was once known to us as the Ornamental Pond. It is dry now but immensely dusty and will mightily tax the vacuum cleaner. Team Frod, in the shapes of Toby, Stephen, Jagger and Andy H, got on with work on 1382, and added smaller bits of it for the shotblast contractor who is booked for July 5th.

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Ben R stayed overnight with us on Saturday so that he and Andrew could make an early start to the swapmeet at Quorn today. Andrew returned with a pair of reasonably-priced vac gauges and Ben with a long list of LMS bits. I wandered down by half-ten and occupied myself with some tidying up until Andrew arrived with lunch. First major task was to lift the Matterson beam still across the track out of the way with the forklift, followed by the right hand Matterson post itself to clear access for the panels.

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Moving on to RS8, we removed the exhaust pipe and had a crack at the torque reaction link. Much to my surprise, the split pins through the pivot nuts were extracted and the nuts unwound, but the pivot bolts themselves are/were fitted and will require considerable force to move them. On that topic, Andrew set up the press and pushed a compressor crankshaft out of its pulley, for no better reason that they will be easier to store apart than together. James was running for a while – we emptied the east side track and ran the trolley down, ready to convey concrete panels outside for cutting, though this has been put back to next week.

Ever since we hurriedly put up our DDTV cameras, the hardware has occupied a seat in our mess area although some weeks ago a shelf for the recorder and sockets to power the various parts was put up elsewhere. We had envisaged relocating everything at the same time as we installed a higher resolution camera (the set came with 720 cameras, but 1080 is superior) covering the main yard. But although the new camera finally arrived a week or so back, it has only been tested and is not yet up on the walls, if for no other reason that it has different mountings so requires us to drill fresh holes through the cladding. But we did instead swap the recorder, Andrew re-routing the camera cables while I made the final electrical connections. I appears however that my quick measurements of the monitor did not take full account of the base, and it will not quite fit where intended, so a second bracket must be devised.

Talking of monitors, the one we used for the DDTV had been intended for a different function back at the Briddon Country Pile, and as we were still in need of one for that purpose, Andrew had had several on the e-bay watch list. I bid for one in Chesterfield with a starting price of 1p and after intense competition won it for 12p. 'You've got the bargain of the century' said the vendor, greeting me as I called to collect. I couldn't argue, relieved that he honoured the sale unlike certain experiences we have had in the past, and rather than count out 12p passed him a pound coin with some remark about hoping this made it a little more palatable. I drove back to Darley Dale wondering whether I should have given him more.

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Finally for the afternoon we returned to the RS8 buffer we stripped a week or so ago but which turned out to be seized. Cleaning the accumulated mud, rust and congealed grease Andrew found a joint line as he expected, and got out another recent e-bay acquisition, a brazing torch with a 'pepper pot' heating attachment. Our acetylene bottle had nearly expired but there was just enough to heat the buffer body and shank and after striking them with a copper mallet, the two parts started to shift and eventually separate. In due course, we can tackle the other three.

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So, it's off to Tunstead first thing tomorrow to deliver the fuel tanks, oil and filters, then over to buy paint and sundries for flooring and such. Tuesday sees us at the Peak Rail plc AGM and for the rest of the week, who knows. You will though, by popping back at the same time in early July.

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