Monday was cold. Anxious that our defective central heating pump might not take to being electrified and remain stalled, I turned off the heating and discovered that whereas I at least had had warmth in the upstairs radiators, with that off there was nothing at all. After shivering all day I decided that as it was a glandless induction motor it wasn't really likely to start a fire or anything so turned things back on, but the house was chilly – as was the atmosphere from Steph!
Tuesday, and Andrew dropped me off on his way to York to pick up the new van. It is a fact that every time a car manufacturer introduces a new version of a model, they make it a little bit larger. I presume it's psychological – after two years or so of driving the 'Mk1' you'll have grown a bit in height, girth or family so a bit more room will be advantageous. So the Mk2 is slightly roomier inside and not being a Tardis, grows on the outside too. There must be a limit to this, which is maybe why each model doesn't go much beyond a Mk3 or a Mk4, else it gets bigger than the next model up in the range (or they give up and come up with a new name for a model the same size as the original for the next car buying generation). Anyway, the Expert is pretty much the same basic size as the Ford Transit is or was (depending on which incarnation) and definitely larger than the medium sized van I first bought back in YEC days in preference to the 'Boxer'. It is now virtually Boxer-sized.
So by the time I had collected it, sorted out a few things in Sheffield and returned to Derbyshire the house was nice and warm and a brand-new pump was doing the business.
On Wednesday night Andrew and I headed down to the shed to crack on with floor painting, and found Dom B in the dark up a signal post. The floor duly got its second coat, and was left to harden.
On Thursday I took the van on its first foray – having loaded up various bits for RS8. But there was a slight hiccup. Having informed Tunstead that the cryogenics people were already booked elsewhere for this Thursday, but were pencilling in for next (23rd), Liam and Co were not expecting me and were up to their necks in a breakdown repair from the quarry, so, after inspecting the new crankpin, resplendent in its soon-to-be permanent home, I turned around and headed back.
The new van appears to have been freshly re-ply-lined and Andrew was anxious that we try to keep it in good order. The ply-lining on the floor of the old van had broken up over time being not robust-enough for the sort of loads we carry around. So with Thursday becoming unexpectedly free, I slotted in another quick trip and stopped off at the timber merchants to buy 2 sheets of 9mm ply. To my surprise, this neatly slid in diagonally from corner to corner across the interior of the van, something which was simply impossible with the old one.
I had spoken with a contact at Butterley during the week and elicited the prediction that someone would be there after lunch on Saturday for me to collect the ex-Llangollen bits which had been unavailable last Sunday, and which I wanted to see under cover as soon as possible. As Steph and I went over to collect grandson on Friday, I earmarked Saturday morning to put down a fresh floor sheet of 9mm ply before a quick lunch and drive across. Ply lining contractors I know develop a set of templates from the first of a model they fit and thereafter can produce a complete a lining kit very quickly. I had to start with a pencil, paper and tape measure and try to copy what they had done, or rather assume that everything was symmetrical and square and thus draw out a skin that I could drop down over the new ply floor. Since trying to manoeuvre an 8 x 4 ply sheet through into the shed side door with locos either side was a near impossibility, I elected to run a 110V extension outside and cut the sheet on a temporary cutting base made up of old foundation blocks.
But I suspect that the original ply sections are not wholly square or symmetrical, as it took about 6 or 7 attempts with a lot of judicious cutting, before it finally dropped in to place, and the second part was cut to fill the gap up to the bulkhead. I was quite pleased that this had only occupied a couple of hours, meaning that I rolled in to Butterley around half-one – to find no-one around.
Eventually I encountered a volunteer who had come over hoping that there might be a bit of hex bar he could scrounge for his vintage car restoration, and he guided me to the cafe where I partook a cup of tea while another kindly chap finished his lunch. That done, the forklift as fired up, the crank transferred onto the pallet with the block and both slid onto my nice new ply in the back of the van. The e-mail I had said that the bearings and caps had been put in the mess room, and it took some time searching before finding them in the stores container. Fully loaded, I headed back to Darley Dale.
The new floor paint was fully dry but there were a number of hollows where the roller didn't deposit, so I spent a half hour with a brush applying paint directly. Then, deciding that the area looked rather bare, I placed the two MIGs and the space heater in their agreed locations. Back on forward planning, I had picked up a ceiling/string type switch from Wilko earlier in the week – they offer them at £2 each – which I would like to use for turning on the LED striplights over the workbenches, for which they need to mount directly to Unistrut. A bit of a trial proved that by drilling the fixing holes out to 8.5mm, M8 hex bolts would fit the Unistrut fixings (the smallest tapped ones I have in stock) but an attempt to use capheads showed that they were too deep: the ordinary hex heads just clear the switch mechanism. These striplights – there are two now but there will be at least four – are presently plugged into 240V outlets but are due to have their own feed off the distribution box. A plan is in my mind for cabling and connecting these, but it would be better to wait until the workbenches are finally sited.
Andrew and Steph were due to return grandson today, but I was due to be joined by Andy H, on secondment from North Wales. Working on the theory that such visitors always appear if you make a cup of tea, I proceeded to have one every 15 minutes from when I got down to when he finally appeared at lunchtime. One of my tasks was to wash the old van and photograph it for sale. Possibly the first time I had washed it since we came to the Briddon Country Pile, it took a lot of mechanical cleaning to shift the effects of being parked next to a bush here, and emptying it has not yet been completed.
Andy collected various lots of timber which had been reserved for him, and manufactured himself some sort of fire guard from the remains of a slate quarry circular saw blade. I began to think I was in an episode of Salvage Dawgs. Other than a bit of on-going tidying up, I didn't achieve all that much. I had tried to get into the PCV, but as a result of earlier attempts at forced entry, all three of the 'functional' roller shutters seem to be seized – probably with their locking bars bent - and the only door through which access can be gained is the one that the blighters forced out of its tracks. I didn't get back to it today, but there are some bits inside I need to extract.
So, a short entry today with little visible progress. And I must be early to bed as Andrew had hoped to get tomorrow off but in the end could only be spared for the morning, so we have an early start to squeeze in a formal inspection on another loco that looks like being added to the collection. Meanwhile Andrew is due an operation on his arm next Friday to ease a trapped nerve. That will leave him somewhat incapacitated for a fortnight and unable to drive. And on those little snippets you're going to have to wait until next week.