Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of various personages

12th November 2017

I looked over at the Darley hillside while shunting this afternoon. The trees were an attractive mix of greens and browns in the wintery sunshine, but the wind was chilling. Back at the Briddon Country Pile the central heating pump has died and the plumbers reckon a replacement is 2-3 days. Brrr.

The purchase of the new van has all but been completed. Paperwork duly signed, evidence that I am who I am duly produced and photocopied, etc., etc: all that remains is actually to get back and collect it, which will hopefully happen during the next few days. The new van has a bulkhead behind the front seats with no 'ole in it, which actually is a slight disadvantage as with the old van I could slot 3 metre lengths of cable tray, conduit, etc., through a large aperture and over the passenger side, so while I still have it I popped in to the electrical suppliers and acquired some more cable tray to effect some additional bits to the shed electrics - a proper support for the external outlet to feed the IDRPG container, and a more complicated section to re-route two cables on the western side of the shed, partly to provide better protection, but also to break in to the existing cable and provide an additional emergency light to provide better illumination in that corner. The old van managed to get its MoT on Friday, with only a couple of minor issues – not bad for 293,000 miles.

On Wednesday morning the Tunstead lorry arrived and we loaded up RS8's wheelsets and gearbox to go and join the rest of the chassis. As Andrew was at work this fell to me to do alone, so I didn't manage to get pictures, but you've seen the lorry before so just try to imagine it.

Despite our best intentions, we didn't get down on Tuesday or Wednesday evening to apply a second coat of paint to the floor – in the end that finally happened on Friday night, but that once again is getting out of sequence, as before that came Thursday, aka Tunstead day, and the day in which we planned to test run the engine to go into RS8. Consequently I had collected together short hoses to carry incoming and returning fuel, cables to connect the batteries to the starter, battery lugs, and most important of all, identified a suitable adaptor to get out of the oil filter header and into 3/8 BSP to go to the oil pressure gauge.

So on Thursday all this, together with the former 14901 fuel header tank, was taken up to Tunstead. Before anything happened we had to go through a full risk assessment, which was comprehensive bordering on OTT. It included making sure that the access door at the rear of the paint booth (where it was to take place as the paint booth had extractor fans and a measure of shielding against noise) was not only clear but open and that the adjacent fire exit door was open too, just in case we had to escape from an engine that had become suicidal. I was required to do an earth test on the starter motor (it passed) and confirm that I had means of shutting the engine down. (I couldn't resist joining in this categorisation of possible disasters by pointing out that this would only work on the fuel pump, but that I had both a fuel isolating tap and a blanket available should I need to smother the air intake.)

So, here I am, officially 'in charge' with the engine sat on its bed-frame in the paint shop, two batteries, rather smaller than I'd had in mind, available, and a Jerry can of what turned out to be DERV. The sump was full (over-full, but the filters and oil ways would be empty) and a fuel system that was completely dry. So I turned on the fuel and started pumping the system with the lift pump. Me and Liam took turns on this for some time before it occurred to me that it wasn't getting any harder, which means that we were still merely pressing air. Investigation showed that fuel hadn't got passed the primary filter, so for this test I took this out and piped direct to the pump.

Several more minutes passed and I concluded that we still weren't drawing fuel, so cracked the line and found fuel almost at the lift pump, but still no further. I concluded that the connection where the plastic pipe was in a hose tail might be drawing air – and tightened the Jubilee clip, which was an old one I had recovered from the original pipes. This clip promptly 'clicked' and refused to tighten.

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You'd think in a workshops like Tunstead's finding a small Jubilee clip or an equivalent would be a doddle, but no, 15 or 20 minutes were spent scouring cupboards and Linbins to no avail. In the end I simply swapped the defective one with the one on the return pipe hosetail which didn't need to be as tight and this time the change in resistance on the lift pump told me we were at last filling the fuel system.

Another thing that told me we were filing it was the fact that fuel started dripping from the base of the first fuel filter, so out I went to the van again and brought back a suitable spanner to nip up the clamp bolt.

Eventually fuel started spitting from the bleed pipe on the pump and I tightened it. Lunchtime was upon us and as the various personages had been persuaded that we wouldn't be ready until after lunch, we were somewhere near on schedule.

Before actually attempting to run the engine, there was still two little matters to contend with. Firstly, filling the oil system and getting something in the way of oil pressure, and secondly proving that fuel that was in the fuel pump was actually finding its way up to the injectors. For that reason, in part, I had the injectors still unconnected; it also ensured that the engine wouldn't actually start until I was ready. So as the various personages reassembled, I donned my ear defenders (so as not to hear what they were saying) and started cranking and pausing. After a comparatively short time I saw that we had oil pressure registering, and one injector line was now squirting, oh and that fuel filter was leaking again. I stopped, took the fuel filter off, drained what I hadn't spilt back into the tank and attempted to re-seat the filter bowl and then re-bled the fuel system.

I had another go, and found a couple more injector lines were wet so connected these to their injectors. Oh and the fuel filter was leaking again. I took that off a second time and realised that there wasn't actually any seal in the top. Liam dashed off and came back with two large boxes containing a myriad of seals, both rubber and felt and others, and was all set to cut a length and super-glue me a ring, but we managed to find one that was the right diameter and I reassembled the filter.

By now I was feeling a little embarrassed in front of the various personages so decided to connect the remaining two injector lines and go for it. Even then it never occurred to me to press the cold start button on the pump, but after another crank it suddenly went pop right next to me (there was no exhaust system, so the end of the manifold was nearby) making me jump and let go of the key switch, which stopped the crank. But the assembled personages seemed impressed. So after a few seconds to let the batteries recover I tried again, and this time with bangs accompanied by brown and grey smoke, the engine came to life. It idled happily and a glance at the oil pressure gauge showed we had about 70psi: I even revved it a little to impress the various personages, but I hadn't apparently fully bled the fuel system as after about 45 seconds it started to die away and stop. The assembled personages seemed content. I bled it through and tried again but the batteries had had enough. (The workshop is 110V only and no 3-phase sockets, so neither of our two battery chargers could be used to recover them). So rather than the 10-15 minutes running I had planned, we had to settle for about a minute, but it proved the point. The new crankpin for RS8 was due to be Elton's next job, so that should be finished by now and fitting it is an early plan.

So around to Saturday and the IDRPG lads were due again, but Andrew was heading up to the trailer to meet up with an engineer to give it a pre-MoT look over. I got down to the shed a little after nine to find Charles had been there since eight, cutting ply to fit the pallet racking they had assembled last week. When the others finally arrived they decided to test the shelves...

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Toby had brought back 1382's nose cone, and wanted to fit back both the rear casing section (which was taking up floor space) and the radiator. But the radiator sits on a/v mounts which went obsolete years ago, and I had been supposed to be sourcing an alternative for several weeks. In the Portakabin though, I had several mounts of similar size, so fished a couple out and although they would mount the rad a few millimetres higher, they were pounced on and declared perfect (and free).

So 1382 was dragged outside and washed off while I made a start on cutting a piece of cable tray and mounting it along he SE corner of the building. Andrew returned with the bad news that his engineer had highlighted 3 defects that he thought would make it fail. This will therefore mean a further working visit in a week or so's time, by when Andrew will have been in hospital for a trapped nerve so will be operating at reduced capability.

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Still that is in the future and for now he fired up the forklift to lift on both casing section and in due course the radiator. Then between us we finished clearing the last 24 square metres of floor on the eastern side, swept it up, vacc'd it and as the lads left for home, got out the cold tea and sealed it.

About 3pm on Saturday afternoon a vehicle left Llangollen for Butterley. The MR-B dmu group were bringing bits back, and had kindly been persuaded to bring with them a Rolls-Royce C8 cylinder block and crank that Llangollen had no need of but Andrew had agreed to purchase. So first thing Sunday we headed over to Butterley, but to no avail – the dmu shed was locked up, and although the items were sat outside (unprotected) there was no-one around to load them, so we returned empty-handed. After a quick lunch therefore we headed down to the shed and continued tidying up.

The shot-blast cabinet and tooling rack store unit were taken across to their new homes on the floor we were painting during the week, (you can see them in the distance of the photo below) and all the draws of the latter brought back and refitted, after which James was fired up to move a couple of locos out of the shed so that Charlie could bring over the MR well wagon. Onto the wagon went a couple of large lumps that were taking up floor space, and off came a compressor that Andrew has agreed to sell someone. A visiting personage unexpectedly walked in so we broke for a cup of tea. After sheeting everything down the shunt was reversed, and as daylight fell we returned to the floor paint and thus applied a first coat to the section we'd sealed. Andrew rollered, while I took a little brush and went over some rougher bits on the other areas where the roller hadn't reached. Just as Andrew finished, another personage and former PR volunteer, called in for a chat.

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The responses from Peak Rail shareholders to the letters I sent out two weeks ago have continued coming in throughout the week, both on e-mail, phone and snail-mail. As a further development, well-wishers have started sending donations to cover postage, so further updates on the situation will be going out once I have stocked up on paper and ink cartridges! One widow has written quite crossly to say that her late husband was involved in many railway societies and I must cross his name off and she wants no further correspondence on the matter. So I must compose an apologetic letter and explain to her that she must report his death direct to the railway (if she hasn't already) and that whilst I can strike him off my list, mine is but a copy furnished (reluctantly) by the railway company. Oh, incidentally, several people have been fascinated by the 'tale of the SMS' last week and have asked whether the volunteer I referred to who asked for a copy has ever been furnished with one. I saw him a few days ago and asked. No he hasn't. Meanwhile sources close to the railway who were saying that the money handed to Grinsty was thanks to a 'substantial donation' are now saying that the donor 'wishes to remain anonymous'. Strange, one name has been coming back from a dozen different directions for the last 10 days, and most suggest it was by no means a donation.

See you next week?

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