Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of broom and Brush

20th August 2017

It's amazing, given the general untidiness and dust prevalent at the Geoffrey Briddon Building, how many brooms we have amassed. Here's a selection, and that isn't even all of them, nor those which have been burnt after I spotted woodworm in them. Quite why they have all found sanctuary here is something of a mystery, but here they are. I suppose it all adds to the quirkiness of our existence.

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It's been very largely RS8's story this week. I received a phone call from Reg on Tuesday afternoon asking when I could be ready for the crane to lift RS8 off its wheels. I had been expecting the call on Monday and had sort of held parts of my week open in anticipation. A couple of hours later and it was confirmed that the crane was free on Wednesday and next I was getting phone calls from Dale, the crane operator, to confirm all the details.

First thing Wednesday morning Dale came down to plan the lift. I had a Plan A (as agreed with Andrew, so I suppose it was Plan Andrew) and a Plan B if that proved problematic. Plan Andrew, based on the sand-blaster's proposal, was that the buffer stop got moved farther up the yard, the stands were placed where the buffer stop had been and RS8's chassis placed on them, meaning the sand-blaster was as far as was reasonably practical away from habitation and thus minimise any annoyance from noise. The problem was that it was unlikely that the crane driver would want to go driving over the tracks – his tyres were a trifle vulnerable and expensive – and we still weren't sure quite how much the chassis weighed, and therefore whether it would be within his weight/radius. My best estimate was that it could not be greater than 15tons, given that it was supposedly 23 in running order and quite a bit had already been removed, which gave him a maximum of about 8 metres radius from the centre of the crane. A lot of measuring that morning suggested it was possible, so Plan B wasn't required.

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Just after lunch I got a phone call from Dale that he was setting off from Tunstead. I can do this in the van in about 30 minutes, but with the crane this was expected to take an hour. In any event I was down at the shed because first Alan arrived in his van, then Reg and his photographer, Steve, and finally Craig, who is the boss of the Engineering workshop at Tunstead and come to see the action. I was kept busy making teas and coffee.

The crane arrived and backed through – Peak Rail was of course running trains, so an additional issue was to ensure that no movement past the shed coincided. Shortly after that, to my surprise, the lorry arrived. I hadn't realised that they'd elected to bring the lifting chains down separately but it gave us the benefit of Andy being there as well.

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The buffer stop was duly picked up, and the crane boomed out – not as far as we'd have liked but Dale had the crane rigged with multiple falls and ran out of rope before it was fully extended. The two stands were placed in position and blocked somewhere near level, then RS8, which was waiting in front with James, was brought up and rigged up for lifting.

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You may recall that when we removed the front springs, some weeks ago, I found that the front right axlebox was stuck in the hornguides, but I thought I had freed it off. Thus when RS8 started to rise, I was surprised to find that both the axles seemed reluctant to leave the frames. A dash back to the shed to find crowbars and packing and as the crane lifted a few inches, it paused to allow us to lever the axleboxes down and the wheels back on to the rails. Eventually the frame lifted free, indicating a gross weight of about 11.9 tons, was swung across and landed on to the stands to await the attentions of the shotblaster, who is booked for a week Tuesday. The crane was made ready for departure, it and the lorry leaving in convoy (which would be very popular if it stayed so on the A6!) and well clear of any train movements.

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Later Andrew took a look at the wheels and made a startling discovery: we have a loose crankpin on the drive axle. That is a bit of a setback, and a mystery. The axle was part of the supply from SCG with the gearbox. The drawings reveal that it, and the old Avonside wheelset, went to Hunslet for fitting, so I had assumed that Hunslet would have altered the crankpins (as the drive axle would have had crankpins long enough for both coupling and connecting rods).

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The traditional method of fitting crankpins was to machine it with a slight interference fit, press it into the hole in the wheel which had a small countersink on the inside, and once in position, pein the end of the pin into the countersink so that it could not fret its way out again. Nowadays with steel wheels or flycranks, you wouldn't pein so much as weld, but it's a reasonable bet the RS8's 1923 vintage centres are cast iron. These crankpins have clearly been peined and partially welded, yet the quality of weld would suggest it cannot have been of Hunslet workmanship, and Bahamas personnel recall no issues with crankpins while it was at Dinting, so was this a Tunstead task? If so, how did it get past the scrutiny of ex-Crewe apprentice Harry Townley who as Chief Engineer, was overseeing it all? Either way it will need to be carefully ground off, the crankpin pulled out and a remedy determined.

It was fortunate, with hindsight, that this craning took place on Wednesday, for not only was the weather in our favour but from Thursday onwards Peak Rail had the road closed to enable work to relay the southbound line of the level crossing and the crane might never have been able to get in! I spent some time there though, applying more whipped cream to the columns.

On Friday I went to collect the fuel pump for 14 901. Initially our pump man had found nothing wrong in the governor, and suggested that all he could think of was a leak on a joint, resulting in air getting into the governor hydraulics. But when he came to re-assemble, a valve, concerned with idling, was found to be solid, which was some consolation that at least there had been a fault with it.That evening we were back down the shed together and both James and Charlie were in operation, as two members of the Plym Valley were dropping in. As part of a deal with Andrew they brought with them a radiator suitable for use with Pluto, and were taking two spare buffers which needed extricating from the bogie well wagon.

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On Saturday Andrew was available and wanted to progress manufacture of the ramp: it had been a plan to have it finished by this weekend but clearly that wasn't going to be achieved. He had just made a start when I heard my name being called and went out to find David S on the footpath: he had been e-mailing me during the week offering advice from his experience with shotblast cabinets and had come along to go through it with us. Such guidance is immensely useful and will almost certainly result in our making adaptations to the commercial cabinet to make it more effective. Back on the ramp fabrication, a lot of progress was made with the strengthening ribs – they don't look like much on the photo but a considerable amount of time is required to clean the beam, tack them in position and then weld them more fully. Unfortunately he ran out of wire on the midi-MIG and didn't want to use the bigger wire on the big-MIG!

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In between times we rolled the wheelsets from RS8 in and for curiosity, dropped the keep from one to see what state it was in. Oh dear. I had been assured that the bearings had been 'done' at Dinting and should need no attention, but sadly although the bearings are sound, water and other contaminants in the keeps have done nothing for the oiler pads, which I suspect are not recoverable. Andrew thinks we may have some suitable ones in stock from a purchase of various bits made many years ago. What with the loose crankpin and the pads, plus the need to clean and paint the wheelsets ready to travel up to Tunstead with the shotblast frame, it would be good to save time and expense. Late in the afternoon we had two more visitors – volunteers from the tracklaying gang at work on the crossing who had decided to make themselves scarce when a certainly lady came to make an inspection.

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Today Andrew was off to collect grandson bit returning via Colne Valley to refit the fuel pump. Thus I spent the day alone in the shed, variously removing the rest of the axlebox keeps, trimming the ends of two cross-members of Andrew's ramp ready for when he resumes welding, and of course, more column painting. Having tried using the Terrypicker yesterday it had become apparent that a traditional ladder was the only way to get close for rubbing down and painting, so this has been the order of the day. Meanwhile, it seemed that every time I was in the middle of painting, the phone would ring. Andrew was having bad time; the pump was back on but the engine refused to start. At one point he asked me to go to the Brush (which also has a DV8) and check which injector pipe went where lest he had managed to mis-connect them (when 14901 came into our possession the fuel pump had been connected wrongly) which would have been easy except that I needed to un-sheet it and then found the casing catches had seized from storage. (And a product recommendation here – the Tunstead workers brought with them penetrating oil aerosols of the Ambersil brand and left one behind. Having used it on Charlie and James' radiator filler clamp-bolts and now the Brush's casing door catches, it seems far more effective than the old WD40 spray.)

So in the end the pump came back with him for further attention, and I suspect may feature in this narrative again next week. And what else will happen in the forthcoming seven days? Y'know, I haven't the foggiest. So no spoilers, you'll just have to log in again and read up. See ya'.

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