Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of another year's ending


30th December 2018


It is customary, even expected, that the last entry of the year takes as its theme a traditional review of the past twelve months.

Yeah, but you don't come on here for tradition, do you? With no working party on RS8 this week, Adolf has taken centre stage for a change for what time has been available after overseeing an excited grandson for whom Father Christmas ended up leaving presents in no less than 3 places. (Three? Don't ask). I did get down to the shed a few times - as much as anything to check that the swing bin catching the rainwater dripping inside the Portakabin didn't overflow, but apart from unloading the tools and bits I'd emptied from the garage, and starting to find them new homes in the shed, my only other task was to mark out, drill and tap the cover plate from Adolf's gearbox where the old mechanical speedo drive came out ready to accept the new electronic speedo drive that will be prepared in the next few weeks.

So that was about as far as I got until the weekend. Andrew had had some time welding the last 2 cab mounts in to the bottom half of Adolf's cab, but needed me there to flip it over safely to finish the task, so on Saturday that was job number one, and he finished the remaining runs.

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 Up until the re-design in the mid 70s coinciding with going metric, Thomas Hills had stuck with the Sentinel practice of making up a cab bottom and a cab top and bolting them together. For Sentinel, this wasn't unreasonable - the cab tops were a special pressing so ended up as a peculiar dish which you then added stiffeners and a mating flange. If the cab was damaged, you could - in theory - buy a replacement standard cab top and hey presto, it's fixed. Theory was one thing - we found on rebuilding that stresses put into the cab sections by welding the stiffeners and flanges distorted them once parted, and despite rubber joints, rainwater came through the joint and collected on the cab floor after putting back together. It became an official work practice at Kilnhurst that when rebuilding a Sentinel the cab bottom remained on the chassis and the cab top was never unbolted from the bottom. Maybe it was partly that lesson, but the TH cab top overhangs the cab sides quite markedly, presumably in the hope that rainwater drips off and not in. (As an aside, I was looking at Yorkshire Engine cab drawings recently and realised that many were cut out from one sheet, sides and roof together, rolled at the corners and then fronts and rears welded in.)

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Since sandblasting, Adolf's cab top has been sat on a B4 bogie nearby but such large fabrications take up much shed space and having decided to refit the cab bottom temporarily (to prove that the cab mounts were near enough in the right places) Andrew opted to lift the cab top off the bogie and onto the cab bottom to prove it still fitted and start marking where we need to add rain gutters front and rear so as not to compromise the cab's flex mountings. That and the Hunslet gearbox takes up an entirely different position to where the RF11 was located in the superstructure's original incarnation. The front of the cab had cupboards which we've removed and must now add strengtheners to both the front sheet and to support the floor.

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The propshaft input centre line too is much higher than hitherto and some of the cab front will need to be cut away to clear the prop. A couple of weeks ago we wandered up to Rowsley to collect the control desk, but found bits too heavy to handball over to the van so planned a return visit with some gas bottles to blow corroded bolts and so reduce it to manageable lumps. Unfortunately Peak Rail management had changed the gate code at Rowsley on Friday and was allegedly refusing access to volunteers of loco-owning group(s) so that idea was kaiboshed. In any event I should have the original drawings somewhere.

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So anyway, they're re-joined, look vastly better for being in tidy grey primer and don't seem to have distorted too much - I can now set about measuring and checking against my CAD drawings to determine the modifications we need to make to the casings

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In the meantime I've dug out the drawings for the rad fan assembly used on 03 901 - which thanks to extensive use of profiles I was very happy with both the assembly and minimal (expensive) machining. I've stuck them to one side ready for when my favourite profilers return to work. The racking I brought back from Scunthorpe last week has lain outside (well the steelwork had, I hoped the rain would wash off the dust and cobwebs) but I was unhappy about leaving it there indefinitely as it would be a shame if somebody decided to help themselves. So while things were cooling we toddled outside and brought it all in, parking it against the front of Adolf. Also there was the big mesh sheet for reinforcing the planned new concrete area outside, so while there we dropped that into roughly its position.

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No time to progress the shuttering yet, but I imagine it won't be long. Late in the afternoon, with a half hour or so to spare, Andrew declared where he wanted the first bay to go, and, at my suggestion, we emptied the area (stacked with bits of Wickham, most of which are for patterns and scrap) and started assembling.

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We'd got about this far when he declared it was time up. Andrew wasn't around today and I had some office work to do, so didn't get down until after lunch. He had suggested that I 'might like' to continue getting the four shelves into the new racking and dutifully I did, well the metalwork anyway. The shelves themselves are 1 inch chipbord and warped, and they aren't light at 16 square feet. They are lift-able but by no means easy to handle; and no way could I get the first one even to go between the uprights. You think yeah, form a hypoteneuse and in it will go but it wouldn't. Eventually I got out the tape measure (yes, but it was all supposed to have fitted together where we bought it from) and found this board was about 65mm too long, so set up a cutting table and shortened it.

I assumed they must all be the same, but no, the next two were shorter - maybe the seller had had my first one on top of the uprights. Anyway, our top shelf remains to be put in (that's the one for the adult material) as it is too darned awkward to lift the shelf 2.4m up in the air on my own. With that and a cuppa behind me, I returned to RS8's instrument panel and made off some of the wires now that the proper crimping tool was to hand. No rush, there's no RS8 day until the 7th.

So that about wraps it up for 2018. Tradition says I should also look forward with hungry anticipation to the envisaged highlights of 2019. Well for starters it seems 14 901 is coming home. It failed just before Christmas, and the symptoms pointed straight back to the fuel pump having stuck in a low-fuel position again. This has dogged us with this engine on several previous occasions - the CAV hydraulic fuel pump governor is obsolete and our favourite pump man had found some scouring in the internal oil ways that rendered one little valve, related to the engine idling, liable to stick. Sometimes it had freed itself and we hadn't been any the wiser, but eventually having uncovered this we knew that only by stripping the governor and him changing a tiny o-ring could it be rectified for a while longer. And then there was a sad note, for when I tried to contact said favourite pump man, his business number was 'not in use' and his wife told me that he had had a heart attack and died some months ago. Yet another fine old gentleman has taken his knowledge and experience to the grave, R.I.P. But once 14 901 is back home, we can determine whether to get the mechanically governed pump (and the associated bits) we have in store fitted and if so, recalibrate it to the lower fuel setting, but that is Plan A: Plan B has it substituting for the cracked DV8 on the ex Tyne & Wear Brush 0-6-0, and so gaining the latter's Woodward-governed fuel pump. That would mean 14 901 receiving a fourth engine (Paxman, Dorman and R-R DV8 so far) from one of two engines we have. And maybe Andrew will come up with a Plan C for his poor old Dad to draw up.

For myself, I will look forward to getting RS8 to move again in the near future: it'll be fun to run it up and down outside the stores building and have all the office staff gorping through the windows. How soon will that be? Well not next week, but don't let it stop you returning for more news. See ya then?

More in this category: « Of the run-up to Christmas

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