Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of chuff and stuff

27th August 2017

And here we are once again. It's been a bit of an odd week - not that any week follows any particular pattern here at the Briddon Country Pile, I'm scarcely a nine-til-five person – for quite apart from grandson being up here, there have been things going on, which I will share shortly, or at least as soon as they happen.

Not that much of this week has been particularly photo-worthy either. A reader hoping to visit shortly, enquired after seeing my lead photo last week whether he'd be expected to answer questions on our collection of brooms. I was tempted to reply with 'No, you'll just get given one and told to sweep up...' but in the end decided I must resist the urge always to have the last word.

Both Andrew and I have had conversations with the chairman of the Llanelli & Mynydd Mawr group. It has been on this blog once in the past when I was down that way on business. They are holding an open day next week which will include brake van rides hauled by their ex Machen Sentinel 4wDH. But the Sentinel had developed a troublesome habit of suddenly losing all drive after an hour or so, but coming back on when it has been left for ten or fifteen minutes. Since it is clearly temperature related, it sounds like a clutch problem (the force required to put the clutch over rises as it gets hotter) but we declined their invitation to come and fix it as we hadn't the time and their offer to cover expenses was made without knowing how far away we were. Anyway, I briefed a local area member and only mention all this as they deserve all the support they can get and any readers living in South Wales might like to go along.

So, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, Andrew and I got down to the shed for an hour or two and he progressed the ramp construction while I continued painting the columns. Neither of these topics are worthy of a photo, you'd hardly notice the changes – yes, a column that has changed from blue with grey spot-priming to intumescent white, but you couldn't tell if it was one coat or two and when you've seen one column, you've seen 'em all. By Wednesday I think it was I was ordering the 40 x 40mm solid bar that will form the rails over which our locos will run on the ramp. (The steel is due on Tuesday). These will be laid to about 1450mm gauge, firstly to match the rails on the lower part of the ramp, and secondly to ensure that no part of the edge of the square bar cuts into the root of the flange as the loco moves over. There are a few more hours of welding to see through and then hopefully about Tuesday or Wednesday next week we'll be doing a trial assembly. We're looking forward to seeing the Hunguard arrive at Darley Dale as it will be a dry run to prove we can bring any loco in to Darley in the event that our right to operate over Peak Rail to Rowsley for loading/unloading is denied. Meantime Andrew has been investigating hire of a suitably sized plasma cutter to aid trimming the Hunguard's running plates and side skirts to UK width.

Over on ebay this week we were watching an overhead crane. A peculiar situation this, as the crane is not the capacity we want but does at least have the span – centre-to-centre on our crane rails is just under 14m which is considerable. Shortening a girder to make it the right gauge is (relatively) easy and reduces loadings. Buying an undersized one, then producing new beams and getting the result certified is not something we aim to tackle at the present. We came to the conclusion that a more modestly rated crane would be a good interim, but in the end Andrew failed to bid on it, as certain of its other characteristics weren't clear.

On Thursday I was at the shed and joined by Charles. He spent most of his day doing more lining and other painting on 1382, whereas I swapped around, doing some priming on one of the columns, a bit of intumescent painting (now on its second drum, that's over 20 litres applied so far) and decided to have a go at extracting that loose crankpin on RS8, as well as remove the remaining axleboxes.

IMG 3390 blog

With careful use of a grinder, the extraction went OK – makes me sound like a dentist, doesn't it? Slowly removing the bits of metal that were either peining or weld, and then finally knocking the pin into the hole so the bore destroyed any remaining high spots, was the procedure. For the grinding I was using a combination of slitting and grinding discs, and my PPE included ear defenders, safety glasses and a dust mask. The latter may sound strange but both Andrew and I have found that if we ingest grinding dust we experience stomach aches and diarrhoea later in the day. But my safety glasses are prescription, i.e they have 'proper' lenses. Yes, I know you can buy 'over glasses' but that's like badly fitted double glazing, you either get mist forming on one layer or massive refraction, or both. Trouble is, such is my eyesight that I operate 3 levels – 'long range' (driving, etc), 'medium range' (computer and similar work) and none at all for reading or close up. My safety glasses are long range – in hindsight the wrong choice, medium would have been better, I can move around a workshop on medium without falling into pits or colliding with machinery – but this grinding work required close observation and with those on I could not focus. So like many other people, I without thinking tip my head forward and look over the top. I am not really aware of doing this, but for once became very much aware as some sparks flew in and hit me in the eye. Only momentarily, and not enough to stop the job there and then, but the discomfort got worse as the day went on. When I got home, Andrew checked to see that there was nothing obviously wrong with my now bloodshot and wetting eye, before he set off to join Steph and grandson for the weekend in Darlington.

IMG 3391 blog

Anyway, the crankpin is now out and we must clean up the bore and measure it before determining what to do to remedy the defect.

I had hoped to get down again on Friday but in the end did a bit of a round robin, which included collecting 14901's fuel pump, hopefully now rectified. In the end, my eye was still sore and so I didn't go anywhere else, but, feeling better on Saturday, briefly entertained some visitors to the Country Pile in the morning and enjoyed some non-railway related activities in the afternoon.

During Saturday though, Andrew had won a set of bearing shells for a 14litre Cummins on ebay, and his plans to collect them one day next week were shelved when the vendor, who lives in Stockport, announced he spent his Sundays at a village not far away and we could collect from there. Andrew delegated that task to me, so after a relaxed start to the morning I took the van to a farm and around the back came to a large shed containing a couple of couple of HGV tractors and a van. It transpired the vendor is part of a small group restoring old commercial vehicles, and was at work on a 6x4 ERF. He also told me that he has a number of photographs taken at Tunstead which include railway subjects, which he will look out for me. Clearly there was an overlap in interests and we may see him again another day.

Back at the shed, I was joined by Ben R, who has been stripping an old timber bodied MR wagon to recover as much of the ironwork as possible (the wood is beyond redemption). This has been next to the PCV for several weeks.

Back on Thursday I had, despite visual impairment, set about installing the fifth 110V outlet, one of two planned for the east wall of the shed. The outlet had been fitted and the cable run back to the transformer. So today I set myself the goal of installing the 6th outlet, cabling it back and connecting both to the transformer, which would mark the completion of the 110V installation. And this was achieved, complete with the obligatory bang and function tests. This ought to remove the practice of trailing long extension leads to and fro across the shed – there should be a 110V outlet nearer the work place. That still leaves 240V and 415V outlets up the side though, so wiring is not yet over (and not forgetting the lights). One curious little trouble we still experience from time-to-time is on turning on the transformer isolator, the circuit breakers trip. On the one hand, we could put in bigger breakers but our Hon Elec Consultant frowns on that. So I did a random search on e-bay today and turned up a coupled set of the right rating but 'D' characteristic rather than the more common 'C' fitted at the moment. These should be with me in a few days. However, one of the oddities we have noticed is that it seems as though it is less prone to tripping if there is more outlet cable attached. Today, with all six finished, I first attempted to switch the transformer 'on' with the outlet isolator 'off' – no joy. Switch the output 'on', so all lines were connected as far as the outlets on the walls, and the transformer came on without tripping the breakers. Proves nothing of course, not scientific enough, and once the right breakers are installed will be a thing of the past. I hope.

So that's about it. I had been hoping to reveal the return of something, but two planned dates (well, one planned and one short notice possible) for its transport have fallen through. It may be coming in this week or maybe not. Similarly the acquisition of another piece of railway-related kit, coming with two Cummins engines for future rebuild, may be completed this week, as might the arrival of the Hunguard. And, weather permitting, that nice sand-blast man will be coming in first thing Tuesday to start on the chassis of RS8. Now that's an interesting word. Being a southerner by birth, or maybe by taking it to have its origins in French, I naturally pronounce it as 'shazi' but when I first encountered George Barnes over at Bala, he pronounced it with a hard 'ch' like in 'chuff' (and thinking about it, a softer 's'). I put it down to Lancashire dialect, and not wanting to re-start the Wars of the Roses, left it at that that. Now certain friends with origins in Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire have taken me to task for they pronounce it with 'ch' rather than 'sh'. Where's Suzi Dent (Countdown) when you want her expertise?

September next week. Has this summer flown? Then it will be October and we start the cycle of birthdays. Perhaps I should get in now and be the first to wish you all a Merry Christmas.

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