Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of belts and glazing

10th November 2013

The Briddon Country Pile is far too posh to have a house number. Our house has a name, and is said to be on a road, but if you arrive by Satnav, it takes you up the road and you have already passed the side turn where we are before the voice announces you have reached, etc. This week the new fan for Libby was delivered – by a neighbour. It seems that Tuffnells, having taken the consignment correctly addressed to the house name, decided to allocate it a house number on their consignment notes, and better still, a number that is at the other end of the road. The (not-so-near) neighbour accepted delivery, but then asked the postman where this house was – Bill, our postie, directed him to us!

And mentioning the Country Pile gives me the opportunity to declare that as at Friday afternoon we completed the sale of the former Briddon Towers, and once again I am a mortgage-free man.

But as for the collection, it has been a quiet week, although one day I did find my way up to the dirtier side of Halifax and returned, unscathed, with “Pluto”'s new windows. Steph and I were booked to see “Fascinating Aida” at Bradford on Friday night and went on from there to Darlington to spend Saturday with our daughter and her fiance. So the only day on the locos this week has been today, but Tuesday had seen Peak Rail allocate Rob and Harvey to lift the exposed track at Darley to clear the way.

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Charlie had thus been taken down with the rail crane and a wagon load of track panels (actually ones lifted from the North yard) to be deposited on the south side ready for when we have a shed that needs re-connecting. The rails on the rearmost siding, judged to be unfit for further use, had been sold for scrap the previous day and removed.

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So nothing happening on Saturday but on Sunday Andrew arrived back and after a conference, we headed in to Rowsley. On the agenda was to install a set of drive belts, delivery hose and such so as to get Cheedale's second compressor functioning. Now I have a history of getting drive belts wrong. Indeed, at one time I used to calculate what belt length I thought an installation ought to be, and bought a size either side as well in the hope that at least one would do the job. Nowadays I set it all up on CAD and calculate the outside length, but every now and again it goes a bit wonky.

We stripped open the Fennerflex coupling and removed the spacer that permits you to change belts, and sadly the 2 B68s I'd bought wouldn't stretch far enough. We dashed down to Darley, to see if we had anything in the container that might serve, and came back with a couple of belts that when we tried them were way too long. In desperation, Andrew went hunting, and returned with two from the Brush's compressor drive that are really too long, but close enough to get a drive. With the hose connected and oil checked, we started Cheedale up and found a gratifying rise in air pressure almost immediately. Instead of 15 minutes waiting for pressure to build, it will now be ready in 5, but the unloader that remained in situ from the days of the original Sherry compressor doesn't appear to function and will require further work.

With Cheedale running we took advantage of the empty space in the shed to shunt Ashdown and the Drewry across - the latter for Andrew to resume installing the distributor and the former for me to start fitting the left hand cab window. In hindsight removing the droplight and frame, cutting the enlarged aperture and fitting the new slider within the time left for the afternoon was a trifle optimistic. Once again though I created copious smoke and the occasional flame as I cut through the hardwood window surrounds with the slitting disc, and had just got the old window out when Jackie Statham, Peak Rail's MD, arrived for a meeting. I had tabled a list of things, starting with plans for progressing the build at Darley, through 14 901 and wrapping up with topics like getting our Mattersons certified ready for use. But with the nights drawing in, the train service finishes earlier and by the time we had finished our discussions, the kettle was heading back expecting to find its shed free. So I hurriedly gaffer-taped the plastic pieces into place to keep the weather out and Cheedale put the locos back.

Last thing of the day, we fired “James” up, ran it for a quarter of an hour to stir up all the sediment, then shut down and opened the block drain. For James still has plain water in and the first frost of the winter seems to be near at hand.

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