Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of books and cabinets

13th August 2017

Not much philosophy to impart this week, except maybe one of my favourite quotes from Lord of the Rings, where Gaffer Gamgee says – It's the job as is never started that takes longest to finish. Wise words.

So, on Monday Andrew left with a small pile of bank notes and instructions to collect a shotblast cabinet from Chesterfield. Sadly it wasn't sufficient banknotes to justify skipping the country so instead I arranged to meet the vendor at his yard at noon. It looked like the archetypal backstreet car body shop that had closed down – a pick-up full of scrap was about to leave when I arrived and the cabinet was about all that was left inside. This slid into the van without problem and I drove back to Darley Dale, expecting that Andrew would give me a hand to get it out that evening. But with grandson to look after that didn't happen as I planned it, and it was Tuesday afternoon before I got the van backed into the shed doorway, slid the cabinet out and onto a trolley after which I rolled it into the shed to await further developments, like working out where it is going to be located. For the moment it is an ornament – our compressor won't cope with the flow requirements (and the Hydrovane has yet to be fixed) and I suspect only a couple of the locos could cope with supplying it too.

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On Thursday the team from Tarmac were back, and even Alan, who had been on holiday, turned back in to see the rest of the job through. They brought with them the bar they had had machined, combined with our hydraulic porta-pack (another recent e-bay acquisition) to press the bolts out of the weighshaft bearing housing.

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It did not give up without a fight though! On the first attempt the bolt stayed put and the frame visibly moved outwards under the force. But eventually by trying other bolts, they started to give and off came one casting, and then the other. With buffers off, drawhook out, and the last spring hanger unscrewed after a considerable amount of brute force was expended on it, we had stripped about as far as we could and so it went out side for a group pose.

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The next stage for RS8 is for Tarmac to send their mobile crane in, lift the frame off the wheelsets and onto the stands outside where it can be sand-blasted. But first we must decide whether to deal with various cracks now or later. There are several. Mostly propagating around the step recesses where the bottom stay bars have broken off the frame sides and allowed the step assemblies to flex. More than one has been welded up once before but has re-cracked through.

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One approach is to clean the bits, possibly gouge and weld the cracks now, before the sand-blasting takes place, for once blasted and primed, it will be going straight up to Tunstead where space in the old rail workshop is made and waiting. On the other hand, blasting may well reveal other cracks not yet visible. Should we not leave them all for a welder to deal with all-together at Tunstead? Virtually every crack we have found has been through the running plates, which are for the most part original Avonside and maybe are being asked to bear too much weight from the step assemblies. Perhaps an additional support might be worthwhile, in the light of what we can now see. Both the front step assemblies have cracked across to a former hole in the running plate. The present front sandboxes are ICI fabrications – the original Avonside ones were sat on the running plates so these holes would have been to clear the delivery pipes and flanges. All this needs determining soon.

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On Thursday night Andrew went down to the shed, did some painting on the turnover stand and pressed the bolts out of RS8's weighshaft bearing castings.

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Back on e-bay, I had spotted earlier in the week a batch of railway books being sold as a job-lot. They weren't listed, and I could not read all the titles, but I saw 4 or 5 which I was interested in (and the previous owner must have had similar tastes in n.g. as there were 4 I could see that I already had). It was on a Buy it Now or Make an offer, so I decided to offer him a tenner less than he was asking, and if I didn't get, I wouldn't have been downhearted. But he promptly accepted, and on Friday night I drove over to collect them. His home was between Ramsbottom and Rawtenstall, and as I set off back for Derbyshire at about a quarter to nine at night, there was a trail of steam from the other side of the valley as an ELR train made its way north. I was struck with the contrast with Peak Rail, where the railway stops dead at 5pm and visitors who have had the temerity not to have left by 4.59 have been known to find their cars locked in the car park. Here was the ELR operating a dining train or similar well into the evening. Anyway, I unloaded the books first thing Saturday and found in fact a total of 14 I wanted to keep, plus a couple I'll read and then sell on. Indeed, I may put the residue back on e-bay, or I may offer them first through here if anyone's interested.

Saturday, and although Andrew hoped to join me later, I would be on my own for most of the day and really ought to have got down to that intumescent paint. But Steph had been in Tescos and had found Cuprinol fence paint on offer, so there I was with a 5litre tin and a length of fencing that has been seasoning since last March. Years ago, I built a 2ft gauge brake van on a Simplex chassis. I had started building the body in the garage while my parents were on holiday (all with their agreement, I hasten to add) after which it went outside. Being young and naive I assumed that I must get it primed and painted immediately to protect it from the elements. Moreover, student grants (we had that sort of thing years ago) weren't costed to include such enterprise as rail carriage building projects and although it started with good quality hardwood for the basic frame members, I couldn't afford it throughout and by the time I got to cantrail level it was softwood 2-by-1, diy shop standard, all dutifully primed and painted. Twelve months later you could push your thumb straight through the 2-by-1, it was mushy. A few years later, George Barnes at Bala had put up fresh barge boards on the station building at Llanuwchllyn and I was appalled to see them up and unpainted. He informed me that they needed time to 'season' and wouldn't let me go up and paint them for several months. These were untreated softwoods, he explained, and if you paint them it seals in the sap and they rot. I knew all too well what he meant.

So anyway, the fencing that Charles and Pieman put up in March had now seasoned for 4-5 months and I figured would look the better for a bit of Rustic Brown fence paint, so started up by the level crossing. The signalman thought I was going to do the entire fence, but no, I tactfully replied, only the new bits that I had invested in. But even 5 litres didn't quite go all the way.

After that I retired to the shed and willed myself, unsuccessfully, to get on with that painting. Of course Andrew had reckoned to be joining me by 2pm, so it wasn't worth getting started on anything too serious, I told myself, so spent my time on other little tasks, too numerous and boring to list. In the end it was after 4 before he got down, and continued working on the ramp, suggesting I returned to the engine turnover stand and commence assembling the mechanism end. I did this, but I think we will have a few issues to deal with before it all fits together properly. After tea, Andrew returned and continued welding, changing the plates on the two columns that were cut at the incorrect length and progressing the stiffening webs. He is ear-marking w/c 21st to have the finished ramp assembled and ready for use, but it is a tall order.

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Once again Sunday was a day to myself, with Andrew taking Grandson back to his mothers'. A find of some other fence paint (or the remains of) under a workbench gave me the excuse to postpone tackling the whipped cream until after lunch, but eventually I bit the bullet, got out the tools, and resumed, applying a second coat to columns 1 to 3 and first coats to the brace beams in-between. But it is messy, slow work and by five o'clock the smell, despite having one of the roller shutters up for ventilation, was beginning to get to me so I tossed the brush and gloves onto the fire that I had had burning all day outside. (The paint does not give any instruction for cleaning as it does not envisage it being brushed, and the effect the dried paint had on the previous gloves was to make them un-usable, so they are a use-once-only.) Aah, I know. What's the point of throwing them on the fire if the intumescent paint is doing its stuff? You think I didn't stand there out of curiosity to see what happened? The paint brush handle promptly melted but the bristles and metal buckle seemed to become covered by black blistering. The gloves burnt readily, but then the paint was nowhere near as thick, nor fully covering. And after all this stuff is only supposed to prevent the steel columns getting hot enough to melt/collapse if an uncontrolled fire is present, and then only for sixty minutes. No I didn't stand there for sixty minutes; that's like watching paint dry. Conclusion? No smart-arse Grenfell Tower jokes, just I had better get in some more cheap brushes and some gloves and carry on with the rest of the columns. See you next week.

More in this category: « Of Team Tarmac Of Broom and Brush »

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