I was somewhat surprised, nay, dismayed, to get a call later from Andrew that Rob had reported that the loco had died having just arrived in the headshunt at Rowsley. For this week, it was been out-stabled at Darley Dale, commuting from there to Matlock with the works train as the turnout is completed and the loop re-commissioned ready for Santas. So on Saturday, I loaded up the car not only to get on with the cab internals but a few bits I thought I might need depending on what turned out to be the problem.
I was hoping it might be something simple. A wire dropping off the oil pressure switch would have been acceptable and proved that the software was functioning. But I suspected it would not be so easy. More likely it was going to be fuel-related.
When we first surveyed ‘901, we found a 12V garden fountain pump immersed in the left hand fuel tank and feeding the fuel filters and injector pump. A perfectly good mechanical (lift) pump on the side of the engine had had its belts removed and pipework sawn through, and I innocently assumed that this was all related to the starting issues. So I set about providing the loco with a 5litre header tank to feed the fuel pump, and using the lift pump to raise the fuel through the filters to this tank, the overflow returning to the main tanks. As we re-hosed everything in the process, we realised why this 12V pump had been installed – the original connection to the lift pump was such that it could never hope to suck fuel. All the 14’s have 3 fuel tanks – the two you can see forming the footways up each side, and a third behind the buffer beam. Not however, ‘901, which had lost its 3rd tank somewhere along the way and whose primary (Zwicky) filter was fed from the cross-connection pipe at their front. Andrew did not like this, and I had to agree – the fuel was sourced entirely from the front of two long tanks - go up a hill, the fuel flows to the back of the tank and if the pipe connections are exposed you are running solely on the fuel in the cross pipe. So about a year ago I drew up and we fitted a 3rd tank, about 20 gallons of it, fed from the cross-pipe through a ball valve and feeding in turn the Zwickly and thence the lift pump.
So having proved that all wires were still secure on the pressure switch I opened the drain valve on the header tank, and after a tablespoonful came out, the flow stopped. The tank was dry.
We had had this before, it usually meant that we had a blockage somewhere such as the Zwicky filter bowl, so I turned off the fuel supply and inspected it, which was reasonably clean, but only half full of fuel. Next I climbed underneath, turned off the ball valve on the cross pipe and disconnected the feed hose to the (3rd) tank. This however proved to be blocked and having got myself lightly soaked with fuel in the process (I see adverts for Diesel as a perfume on TV, but Mrs B assures me that the smell of diesel is not sexy) I stripped out the hose and found that the ball valve was clear, but the 3/4″ nipple below it was blocked with flaked rust, gunge and bits of what looks to be old insulating tape, probably off the 12V fountain pump…
Reconnecting and filling the 3rd tank was the easy part. If I was lucky, then manually refilling the header tank would get the loco going, if not then it would be bleeding all the governor and injector lines through, not easy on your own. But out of curiosity I dipped the tanks and found the fuel level a mere 1/8″ above the bottom, yet Rob had put in a 45 gallon drum’s worth only a week earlier, and ‘901 could not have burnt that much, that fast. Indeed, talking to Rob later I found that he had dipped the tank on Wednesday or Thursday morning and it was then 3 to 4″ deep, so we must deduce that some bar steward has helped himself to around 60-70 gallons of diesel, probably on Thursday night.
The fuel gauge isn't perfect, but at this point you're on the 3rd tank only...
Of course, I could not be so lucky. Having transferred a litre or so into the header tank, the batteries were too tired to crank for long, and as darkness fell, I gave up and headed home.
On Saturday night Andrew found an e-mail from Heanors advising that they were moving the Drewry out of Elsecar on Monday morning, so we dashed up there as soon as he got home Sunday and got the loco started and checked over ready. In the end I was allowed to move the loco across to the unloading point, presumably my last drive on the EHR. Meanwhile the railway is in crisis, having found a collapsed culvert just down from the station. The culvert is Barnsley Council’s problem but until they survey it and confirm it is safe, the EHR cannot run any trains so are losing income and is fearful lest it lose vital Santa income. We meanwhile loaded some of the superstructure bits on to the Sentinel 9596 “George” – the sale of which was concluded and is due to leave a week hence. But we had to rush back because a guy was due to inspect and purchase the 1960 Series II Land Rover that has been parked in my garage since I got a company car in 1986. Andrew hung on for him, while I headed back to Rowsley and got our battery charger on to 14 901 (after some emergency repairs where the charger casing self-tappers had come out) and settled down to wait. By the time Andrew arrived, it was nearly 4pm but with torches we got the system bled through. We got a couple of decent cranks when we thought it was about to pick up but no, the batteries waved a white flag. So thanks to the theft of fuel, dirt got disturbed, blocked the pipe, stopped the engine and gave me a singularly unproductive weekend. Thanks, pal.
(For further info – see here)