I've been a bit under the weather this week. I contracted one of these winter virus' that caused me to cough and cough and occasionally bring up a greeny-tinted flem. I kept myself at home Monday but had to get some committed jobs done Wednesday and Thursday. On Tuesday though, I felt well enough (and obligated) to head down to Nottingham with the van to collect some steel that Andrew had ordered to make up the ramp for the low load trailer. Andrew on the other hand, officially returned to work on Monday, though in practice was able to minimise his travelling – in fact I don't think his company car has turned a wheel in 4 weeks.
I can't remember if I've mentioned this before, but many moons ago we bought a micro-fiche card reader from a Ramco tender (so ex MoD) and spent a thousand pounds or so getting it overhauled and modified to act as a scanner to digitise some of the many micro-fiche cards we have here. But the interface was a SCSI and has caused much frustration with it being a bit hit and miss in its operation, and in practice more miss than hit. So recently the decision was taken to spend another £1k converting it to USB with the appropriate later software that goes with it. The scanner arrived back this week and after a slight hitch loading the new software, it now does what it says on the tin, and Andrew is in full production turning cards into viewable pdfs. I mention all this in part in case there's anyone out there in heritage railway land who is sitting on old micro-fiches (which, if you're not familiar, is a piece of card the same size as an old computer punch card with a window cut in wherein is mounted a 35mm photo of the drawing) you might like to contact us about turning them into something more accessible.
Late in the week I made a final trip into Sheffield to collect some bits for Andrew's low loader itself and nuts for its associated ramp, apart from some Christmas shopping, that is.
So on to the weekend, and earlier in the week we were led to expect anything up to 8 or 9 of the IDRPG lads to progress 1382, but in the end it gradually shrank down to four, Toby, Stephen, Charles and Andy H. But first Andrew and Toby headed off to a local landscape garden company in Toby's Sherpa van (which is longer than ours) and collected a number of sleepers (we've had this out before, they call them railway sleepers but in reality they are sleeper sized bits of wood that have never been actually near a railway track, nor would be) but make good packing timbers for ramps with the low loader. Indeed, Andrew has had a slight set-back with the low loader. Planning to submit it for a voluntary brake test before its formal MoT, the fact that there was no problem with booking the brake test led him to assume that there would be no delays with the MoT, and the centre did not see fit to advise him that they were fully-booked for a week or two into the new year. A couple of phone calls to other HGV test centres showed a similar or worse position, so that might delay one or two jobs planned for early in the year.
Anyway, back to 1382, and the IDRPG cracked on with mounting the cab door and once Stephen had arrived, and especially after Andy H added his electrical knowledge, they went through the electrics so far wired to check there were no other 'defects' since the bolt that had been found lodged in the start/run switch after last time's battery destruction had defied anyone to work out how it had got there. They did find a positive earth fault of around 34 ohms to chassis, and traced this back to the voltage regulator, or to be exact, once the VR was disconnected the fault went away. Andrew having acquired for them a replacement battery, they went to prove cranking before priming the fuel system and found that to be a little irregular, eventually traced to the start button sometimes not making. Andrew hunted out a suitable replacement from our stocks, and 1382 was shunted out by James and a piece of our exhaust pipework stuck on the manifold to lift the exhaust clear.
The fuel system was primed (and the filters leaked). Toby was stationed alongside the engine (as the throttle and stop levers were not yet connected) and after a few anxious seconds, the engine picked up, eventually with all 6 firing – loudly. Toby was overjoyed and declared how much he enjoyed the sound it made. (I'm surprised he wasn't deafened by it – the 03 currently has no silencer but at least the turbo takes out a lot of the pulses). In order that he got a photo, Andy H took over, and it was run again after the obligatory check over for any further leaks. They want to buy a rotary exhauster off me to begin vac braking so that they can take part in the gala to which the loco has been invited. We discussed this, and about where to install it. Conventional wisdom on Yorkshire twin -engined DE's (Janus) is to pick up from the back tail shaft of the genny, and you then put the compressor/exhauster where the YE company placed a toolbox. On the single engined locos, there is no tool box as the batteries occupy both spaces on either side, but with more compact batteries available nowadays (and accepting slightly smaller ones on cost grounds) they can all be accommodated in one box. The trouble is, the space to the free side on 1382, where the belts from tailshaft to exhauster would need to pass, is obstructed by valves and pipework. If they were after a traditional 3 pot Westinghouse, then it would be advisable to re-locate all the batteries to the other side, but the gubbins Toby has his eyes on is a more compact rotary one – bigger than the much sought after ex-DMU ones but small enough that it might be possible to squeeze it into the generator bay without seriously impeding access to the generator connection box. We'll have to see.
For ourselves, we had set a target of completing floor-painting by Christmas but we haven't achieved it. Andrew had opened up the VBA and was transferring bits into the container in order to make space for various pallets of things to go into the VBA and also bring out the workbench that languishes in there to come into the shed. Given that it has mounted on it a vice (which I bought new so has had comparatively little use) and a pillar drill, I have been on about bringing it in for months, well, ever since that bit of floor got painted. With the arrival imminent, I collected the last of our striplights from over it, converted it to suit an LED tube and mounted it to the brackets I made last week and cabled it up, though not into the wall box until the bench is in and the striplight's final resting place has been determined. Eventually the IDRPG departed and we were able to get on without interruption, until we reached a logical break point about half-past six.
We were a little late getting started today, but once down there, Operation Sort Out continued unabated. The forklift headed over the bridge to move one of the Matterson posts onto painted floor, and gradually pallets were squeezed farther up and another Matterson got taken off unpainted floor. At my insistence, the Mattersons are being re-arranged when the floor is painted and they are set up again. Although each post has a large number painted on, they were laid out in different sequence to the control panel layout, leading to the need to think each time you switched one or other end out to level up or otherwise shift one pair but not the other. In future, they will be laid out to match the control panel, so there will be an inherent logic and less chance of error.
But for now, they must be moved and the floor swept, vac'd and sealed. That will still leave a strip at the back of the shed where the workbenches currently are, but should be simple to remedy. The 50ton press that since it first arrived, a year ago, has sat serenely right in the middle of the floor surrounded latterly by pallets of parts was taken across and placed up against the far wall in what we hope will be a permanent home. All the accumulated bits of flat packers and dollies that have been amassed during that time have been given a home by a plywood shelf that we cut to fit across the bottom of the frame, and if its proximity to the hacksaw proves a problem, we can always give the latter a few degrees of angle change. In the other direction, the Terrypicker was dragged across the bridge and for now is in the centre of the shed. In should be possible, in the next day or two, to take one loco from track 3A and out it at the front of 3B giving the opportunity at last to get the Terrypicker up and start assembling the Row A lights.
We had reached a point where the next stage was to bring the VBA in and clear a path to wherever the door(s) aligned to get things in and out, and it was decided that that was for tomorrow, yes, the Briddons are celebrating Christmas in our own unique way. Actually, it's all because grandson comes up to us on Boxing Day, plus my daughter and her husband on the 27th, so we've moved Christmas present opening to then. Heavens, it's all a pagan ceremony hijacked by Christianity in the first place.
Peak Rail watchers have had a field day this week, because one after another groups and individuals on the railway have been receiving letters from the Joint MD's of Peak Rail plc talking about the 'significant losses' incurred by the company in litigation (the same people who asserted at the AGM in June that they had a 'robust defence', yet not a hint now of apology for misleading) it was 'forced to defend'. (Forced? Since when? Peak Rail CHOSE to fight and caved in only when it became apparent that the plaintiff had a much better case.) Anyway, these letters arrived during the last few days even though they were dated mid November, leading to speculation as to whether the company had delayed posting them while it obtained legal advice. We saw several of them and heard of others, but ours was given special treatment. Dated 18th December, it was hand-delivered earlier this evening. My word, anyone would think it was timed to unsettle us for Christmas. I dare say it has worried others, and to you I say, it's time to support the Peak Rail Action Group, and let's get Peak Rail back on track.
So I'll leave you with an example of festive good wishes, Peak Rail style, and whilst I do not wish to denigrate the efforts of PR volunteers, you should read 'Trip Advisor': highlights of PR's Santas offering - 'Massive Disappointment' is one, 'Santa experience and autistic son's birthday ruined by Santa' is another. You don't need that sort of publicity and its influence shouldn't be under-estimated. Peak Rail needs a massive boost of commercial acumen and a lot less litigation.
So from Andrew and me, have a very Merry Christmas. I'll be back this time next week with the last entry for 2017, so I'll do the New Year's thing then.