Weekend Rails

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All I wanted was a quiet birthday

17th October 2010

Monday: All I really wanted was a quiet birthday, a chance to wallow in self-pity about another year having gone by without becoming a millionaire, featured in a TV documentary, recognised by the Heritage Railway Association (did I ever tell you that my skills have nothing relevant to railway preservation, according to the HRA?) and so on.

But at half-past nine all that changed with the first phone call of the day, a person irate at the planned scrapping of the Yorkshire loco referred to in last week’s blog (not I hasten to add, that its appearance here was instrumental in the following furore). Andrew was home because he was booked in to have a broken tooth extracted. This did not put him in a good mood – indeed, a bear with a sore head would quail at Andrew after a tooth out. Suffice it to say that I had very little involvement in what went on, but everyone seemed to assume that because of our interest in industrial locomotives, we would be co-ordinating things, but other than making informal contact with the NRM, we had little to do except listen to plans or reports of actions others had taken.

Tuesday: I was trying to wrap up up my first years accounts when I received a phone call from senior Peak Rail management demanding to know if I “had told the press”. Quite what press I never thought to ask, I assumed the railway press though it might have been ‘Sky News’ for all I knew. Anyway, it seems that the scrapping of all the vehicles that HST had planned was put on hold, (so giving Harvey K at Rowsley more time to recover vacuum brake spares) and apparently my name was being bandied around as the sole instigator. I am flattered that people should think I can command such influence. I always wondered what my life would have been had I been another Max Clifford – or even a Pete Waterman.

Wednesday: The fabricators had been reasonably busy and I was called in to collect a load more brackets and such, amongst them the new air cleaner assembly and vents for 14 901, but also including engine mounting fabs for the 03 at Scunthorpe, and “Tom” at Telford.

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Two of the new vents for the top of 14 901, fresh from fabrication

Saturday: We finally made a start for the weekend and went up to York. Andrew had not been feeling at all well on Friday, and was still experiencing chest pains on Saturday, so it was an afternoon only session, which saw the fuel pump re-mounted and largely connected up on “James”. We trialled one or two pieces of vac pipe and tried to sort out a plan for the control valve linkage within the desk. I looked at the vast expanse of blistered paint on the underside of the cab roof and took a scraper to it, turning the flakes into a crispy carpet.

Sunday: Mr X excelled himself, arriving at Rowsley 90minutes before we did and taking the rest of the day to inspect every square millimetre of the Brush 0-6-0DE. It seems likely that it will be moving to another railway and brought up to running condition – I had always fancied designing a weird colour scheme for that loco and emblazoning the sides with a snappy logo as the “MATLOCK METRO” – ah well, you can’t have it all. With Andrew occupied with the inspection, I tried to fire up the 14 and to my chagrin, found the batteries too low. These are the oldest batteries on the operating fleet, but we have been so impressed with the staying-power of the silver alloys that we had come to think of them as indestructible. Of course, our battery charger was back in Sheffield, so I had to borrow Rob’s, which involved fixing it first! So while the batteries were drinking 6 or 7 amps, I set to work and drilled and tapped holes to refit a couple of pieces of the under-desk trim plates that stop the driver putting his feet into important bits like the prop-shaft. Over in the control cubicle, I had long promised myself the chore of undoing every bolted terminal and adding plain and spring washers to ensure they are tight and stay that way. So I got some of that done, as well as mounting and cabling up a new charge fuse holder – we blew a 20 amp fuse early in the new year, and I had assumed that the old alternator was a 35 amp unit. Now I know it is a 55 amp unit, the possibility of it taking out the present 30amp fuse is real and the new holder is designed for a 50amp link. Finally at about quarter past four the 14 fired up and we let it run for an hour to warm it through and further boost the batteries. Andrew then joined me and decided to investigate an oil leak we had known about but tried to ignore. It seems the Voith oil cooler is weeping in much the same manner as the oil cooler on the DV8 did in July, though not as badly. Advice is first to try nipping it up gently and evenly, so that has now been scheduled before the loco runs in the “Shunter Hunter 2” gala next weekend. Of course with events between us and HST during the week, we have received no official info as to what train(s) I am operating, but Andrew tonight found it all up on the “PLEG” (Preserved Locomotive Enthusiast Group) website. Apparently 14 901 is booked to haul the 10.45 ex Rowsley (11.30 ex Matlock) on Saturday, and the 12.45 (13.30 return) on Sunday. Put it in your diary?

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