Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of a Father's Day trip out

17th June 2018

Father's Day, huh? So my son and I go to North Wales - just. A day out, all expenses paid? Nah!

It was of course Tunstead day on Monday, but the times, they is a-changin. It is likely to have been Liam's and Jack's last day, unless that is they switch to volunteering and I will have a new influx of apprentices to get to know. But that is to get ahead of things, let us return to the day.

I had taken up the ground-back torque reaction arm and a couple of M27 nylocs, and the arm fitted immediately with little or no play. I laid out the handbrake screw assembly next to it - there is a bolt that needs drilling out and for the moment the holes do not line up, but that can wait. For Monday we had a hot work permit and as the cab top was sat alongside, that was in prospect. At some time in the past, possibly when still at Tunstead, the right hand 'outriggers' underneath the cab wondows had encountered something hard, and had bent. The Roy Burt photo reproduced in Gordon Edgar's excellent 'Industrial Locomotives and Railways of the Midlands' has shadows which suggest it was distorted. All the photos I have seen of it at Dinting are taken from the left hand (public) side so leave me none the wiser, but whatever, it needed rectification, and my first choice was to straighten out the original,

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So Liam attempted to heat the bends with a gas torch, and Jack .swung a sledgehammer with all his might to force it back to shape. With hindsight we shouldn't have bothered. There was no way we could get enough heat into four creases at the same time with one gas torch, and the other 3 had cooled long before Jack could apply any force. I watched for a few minutes and then told them to stop, it would make more sense to cut them off, re-use the outer 'rest' and make new outriggers out of fresh steel. So the gas torch was turned into a cutting torch, and the assembly burnt off and taken back to Sigma6, while Liam cleaned up where they had been.

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In due course Jack and Paul returned, and the assembly refitted to its original specification.

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The intention had been to make a serious start on the front-to-back vac pipe, but neither pipe nor fittings had arrived, although expected at any time. That made that part of the plan a trifle difficult, and although I had brought up a 36 inch Stillsons and a couple of ginormous adjustable spanners. that task will await another day. Instead the spring hanger forgings had the threads cleaned (the 70mm spanner making life much easier with a one-and-a-half-inch BSW die nut) and the first few dropped into place. Two springs need a bit of a painting with oil to change their rusty appearance and are fit to go back on, but the other two are still at Darley Dale awaiting a decision on how to proceed with them. Four new collars to retain the brake hangers had appeared, which seemed like a good time to think about refitting brake rigging, especially as Andy H had primed and painted everything in sight. So the hangers and crossbeams are now in place, and next time we will remove some pit boards and get the pull rods fitted from underneath.

Towards the end of the day, I suggested dropping the cab top in place on the loco. It will have to come off again,. but in the spirit of convincing passers-by that progress is being maintained, we lowered it on to its location atop the fuel tanks.

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No Tunstead this week coming - which gives me some time to catch up on material and planning, so my next trip to Tunstead will be the 25th. But meanwhile the profiles which comprise the new rear engine mountings for RS8 were issued to the profilers mid-week (which means that Andrew will have a load of fabrication work to do next weekend) so there will hopefully be plenty to do next time, as the new 'team' is revealed.

On Thursday a commercial job of mine left Rowsley, and as I don't record such things on my blog I should explain that the only reason it is being now is that it utilised Andrew's low loader. That was the reason why we had pushed ahead with the brackets, etc you've seen over the last few weeks and I would like to say it all went through easily, but in reality it did not, and Mk 2 brackets are now high on the agenda. Charlie propelled the departing loco with conflats Thelma and Louise to act as barrier wagons - as the trailer does not yet have a winch. At Rowsley, the trailer ramp went together smoothly....

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But can you see the changes in angle from the rails to the sloped trailer bars, and the step on to the rails behind? Here's the finished ramp..

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The departing loco grounded on the trailer bars and when its wheels finally got up there, pushed the deck rails back. Ideally, decided Andrew, we need to increase the angle of the ramp so that the first trailer bars are some 70mm higher than now. But it is not a matter of packing it all up - the trailer neck has to slide over the top, No, it's a re-think with new brackets on the trailer and the bars formed as a bolt-on-assembly once the neck has been detached. And Andrew wants, if humanly possible, that the brackets are changed before we need to unload said loco (the whole lot is in store temporarily). Sheesh. Anyway, the loco was loaded, and when we got back to Darley we drew the train back so that Harvey C could back his van up close and collect another carriage alternator, acquired foc for Peak Rail's C&W department.

Saturday, and I started off at the workshops alone. I had intended making a start on the fuel system of 03 901, which has taken up residency of the slot vacated on Thursday. But I soon found myself back on the Wickham and cleaning up the back end of the old Petter PH1 to remove the last vestiges of the adaptor arrangement for the Ford clutch and gearbox. Then we lifted the Petter out and put it on one side to go on e-bay. The only major lumps remaining were the wheelsets, and these were duly removed, although burning off the corroded bolts and drifting some out proved to be the only way forward.

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Andrew has changed his mind. Although last week he took the view that no-one would re-chassis the Wickham and not replace or refurbish the bodywork, he has now concluded that this is not a genuine Wickham chassis. as the welding quality, and the crude pads spanning the corners, testifies to this not being a product of Ware. Indeed, on reflection I am tempted to suggest that there were two different fabricators at work - the i-beam construction is good, worthy of a proper fabrication shop, but corner patches, brake brackets, etc are gob-welded, thrown together in situ, by a garage mechanic or maybe even a carpenter.

Apart from this, Andrew spent some time strengthening shelves in the container, as we strive to achieve a greater order to things.

Now, as I said at the beginning, today was Father's Day and didn't I deserve a treat in recompense for all I do for him? I picked him up and we set off for an address somewhere on the western side of a line drawn from Wrexham to Mold. You may have noticed that we have been 'collecting' Lister engines of late - firstly a TS3., then an SL2. The former was judged too powerful for the Wickham, but the SL2 is a bit bulky. If you think this is sounding a bit like the 3 bears, you are right, for Andrew had seen advertised - not on e-bay but on Facebook Marketplace - another two cylinder Lister with a hydraulic pump and such attached. The vendor measured it and we deduced it would fit in the van, so today we were off to collect it.

When the Briddon family used to make its regular trips to Bala Lake Railway from Sheffield, I had a number of alternative routes, depending on weather, my temper, traffic or sheer random-ness. In the early days, in the SWB Land Rover, I avoided using the M56 at all, prefering to stick to the A roads over to Buxton, then Congleton, Crewe, Nantwich, Ruabon and Llangollen and thence the A5 to Corwen. But as more family-oriented vehicles came along (and OK, newer ones in which I had more confidence not to break-down) we would take the M56, sometimes swinging south of Chester, through Wrexham before swinging west, or only as far as Rossett before by-passing Wrexham and crossing Llandegla, but more commonly passing Queensferry before going through Mold and Ruthin. OK, today took us into that part of the county of Clwyd which I have circumscribed many times but never entered. Eventually we found the farm, the Lister was awaiting us and just cleared through the doorway, money changed hands (mine) and we came away with an engine that Andrew is convinced is 'just right' for repowering the Wickham and it has the adapator flange at the back to suit a hydraulic pump. It has been a power pack for a log splitter, and came with pump, hydraulic reservoir, control valve, return filter and a fuel tank that appears to be almost full of red diesel such that some of it soaked the van floor on the way home. It has no data plate, so Andrew has not yet deduced whether it is a TS2 or a TR2, but the former is 22hp at 3000rpm, which should be nice and nippy in the Wickham if we get the hydrauilic units sized right. Being ex-farmer's gear it has had very little maintenance.(but is not the original engine fitted to the assembly) so a strip and rebuild is on the cards - he just has to do the TS3 first for practice!

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On arrival at Darley Dale I had just brewed a cuppa when the blockman said he had a visitor asking for admission. He was a nice old gentleman, who asserted he had travelled all the way up from Gloucester to see 03 901, which of course was once resident at the Dean Forest. I showed him round, and even gave him a free tea. Then Charlie was employed to draw the train back, and Andrew and I extricated the Lister from the van, and presented the front wheels of its trolley to the scrap bin. The engine itself won't turn over, but I set about disconnecting the pump assembly from the back of the engine, and the engine mounting bolts from the trolley, finally taking a rocker cover off just to see how bad it might be inside. For all its unkempt external appearance, and the distinctly.animal-ish aroma that it emanates ( it would suit the classic e-bay description 'barn find') it may not be too much effort to get it going again. Andrew's thoughts are beginning to go along with mine - a centrally mounted, transverse engine driving a hydraulic pump, and a motor drving one axle. If so, it would make sense to cut off the redundant engine mountings from the chassis (no point having them sand-blasted) and put in new mounts at a fairly early stage.

Despite not having Tunstead tomorrow I seem to have a fully-booked week looming up, with profiles to order, more to collect, exams on the forklift and mattersons scheduled, etc.,etc. Events regarding Grandson have taken a disturbing turn, and although this doesn't affect me directly, it involves a meeting for Andrew in Norfolk and me standing in for him with regard to arranging possible moves of our sleeping beauty wagons which if we don't act soon may be hidden in fresh verdant undergrowth again. So I'll leave you with a little reminder (think I'd forgotten?) of what would have made an excellent Father's Day present for all heritage-railway-mad fathers if only you'd dropped the hints out sooner!.So why not treat yourself?

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