Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of bogies, flats and vans

8th July 2018

Well we broke the 30 deg C barrier in the shed today, touching 30.1. Lots of tea and flavoured water to drink. Lots of sweat dripping off foreheads. But enough of that, let's get on with the week.

But before I forget, take a look at the new 'Tag Search' facility. Ever since the 'Tag cloud' started looking silly and was deleted, if you found an entry with a tag you wanted and clicked on it, it gave you others, but it was cumbersome and not many people understood that it did it. So after much searching and experimentation, Priday have insrtalled a  new Search menu whjich gives you the ability to scroll through every tag I've used in the eight years I've been doing all this, and you can access them all!

Monday, and of course it was back to Tunstead, where Jack and Liam wrere once again with us. On the one hand, we are beginning to make progress with the vac piping, but this has largely been stripping off the old fittings and cleaning years of rust and muck off them. The first 'new' section, up the right hand side, has though been cut and threaded and is roughly in place, but it is a slow job. While this was going on, all the rest of the parts arrived from the brick shed and were unloaded, and this gave me the opportunity to re-mount the battery box surround (the running plate has been renewed so the holes were missing) and Alan drilled out a broken bolt that needs sorting to get the handbrake screw finished. Andy H had slotted in the leading pull rods, so got underneath again and fitted the rigging return spring, having first located its mounting clamp, cleaned and painted it.

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With all the spring hangers returned to seemingly their correct places, the loco was lifted at the rear and the drive axle springs refitted. The front springs are still away, but at least the rear axle is now suspended off the rear packers.

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One thing that is still missing is that replacement shim, and when on Tuesday I received a statement from the supplier's accounts department showing me in credit since June 7th, I decided it was time to follow up. And an embarrassed supplier admitted that 'for some reason' the order had never been passed to production once I had settled the pro forma. Normally this would ellicit a shaming rebuke in this blog, but having been exposed, they got their fingers metaphorically out and production manufactured the shims that same day, and Fedex delivered them Wednesday morning. They'll be at Tunstead tomorrow.

From Wednesday on things got hot, in more ways than one. For Tuesday afternoon or evening should have seen us unloading a HIAB-fitted lorry, but owing to the driver's enthusiasm for something called 'football' and a 'World Cup', yet needing tio have the (emptied) lorry in Manchester Wednesday morning, Andrew and I turned out at 06.00 to unload it. Normally this would have been a draw-train-forward-and-unload-on-the-other-sde-of-the-shed gig, but to minimise disturbance to our (sleeping) neighbours we did it as quickly as possible on the Rowsley side, and will reposition later.

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.First off was an n.g. wagon underframe for Dr Ben Riley, but that was just a suppporting act. The main purpose of the load was to deliver two B4 bogies on loan which will enable us to render the PCV mobile once again. Here's the first, the second was on a trailer and duly joined the first, together with a spare wheelset.

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By 08.00 the lorry was on its way to Manchester and I was getting packed and ready to depart in the opposite direction. For as I said last week, I was chasing Andrew's trailer wth a loco on it to see that off, and joining me was Andy H, fresh from his Monday at Tunstead and Tuesday doing somebody's garden wall.

I hadn't expected the lorry to arrive at the destination until early afternoon, so aimed to be there for about a quarter to two, and was surprised by the first call that it had arrived at half-twelve.I was dismayed therefore by a second call, to the effect that the trailer was broken. On arrival we found that two of the links at one side on the neck lifting arrangement had failed. The trailer was lined up so we got the ramp built and unloaded it, then removed the damaged links for assessment.

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Examination suggested that this was a  mightily badly-made replacement, with welds that had failed on the main link, causing the stiffening plate to stretch and snap through the bolt hole in the centre. But the welds were exceptionally poor wth next to no penetration, so Andy set to work, cleaned up and vee'd the joints and welded them back together with considerably more strength, but they will be replaced with genuine Andover ones as soon as possible. With the trailer operable again, it was around 6pm and we headed back towards Peterborough, where Andrew had booked us into a hotel in Whittlesea. We got there at about 5 to 8, unpacked, washed and got down to find the restaurant had closed at 8pm and not even the bar did any food. Andy and me wandered around the middle of Whittlesea and found a chinese cafe.

Thursday and the great wagon collection was due to begin. For less regular readers let us re-cap. Several years ago the NRM offered around a wagon - RRA 400198 - which was sat in a yard in Peterborough and which DB (then EWS) wanted rid of but the NRM had no space/budget. Andrew registered an interest and subsequently was donated it. Despite the purported urgency to remove, in practice nobody seemed motivated and as the wagon was stood in a line of others, on a siding in an abandoned, overgrown part of the empire there it remained. When Andrew was working for Colas it was even suggested that maybe a passing light loco might be detoured in to recover it, but the state of the track and the date of its last VITB rendered that impractical.

Every now and again Andrew would try to stir the pot, and earlier this year things started to develop.Two lines over from the wagons was an aggregates yard - any recovery operation would need to access through their site, would they be agreeable?  Yes, provided our activities didn't impinge on their train movements (Freightiner brought in their aggregates several days a week). By now it was obvious that only by craning the wagon onto a road vehicle could it be removed. But if paying for a crane, why not use it to get others? Enquries revealed that next to 400198 was a 12ton box van, 042236, then two bogie wagons belonging to an overseas lease company, and 3 ex BR ferry vans, once belonging to Fastline but possessed by DB/EWS in lieu of monies owed. In fact we didn't know it, but these were the very last ferry vans still technically on the national network! And so Andrew's plan emerged to buy 5 of the 7 wagons and remove them in one fell swoop, and no amount of my bursting into chorus's (or is that chorae?)  of 'Don't buy the Ferry Van!'  (apologies to Chris de Burgh) would change his mind.

So let's pause and consider the various issues. Andrew only really wanted one Ferry van, and that is to superceed the VBA . Theoretically that left 3 wagons to go to Rowsley for onward haulage into Darley Dale, and that meant arriving on a day, probably a Thursday or a Friday, when Peak Rail were not running trains. The RRA could travel on an ordinary 40ft flat artic, but the others needed low loaders or step frames, and it all had to be collected on the same day - a day when Freightliner were not running a train into Peterborough and with enough warning to book the crane and the neccessary vehicles. Andrew having bought the other wagons from DB, and resold one to a member of the EVR at Wirksworth (actually he thought he had a sale of another ferry van, but that fell through) organised a undergrowth removal party and made weekly calls to Freightliner to check their schedules.

And then suddenly came the news that there would be no trains at all during the first week of July, so Andrew went for it. One ferry van was to travel on his low loader, hauled by Heanor Freight Services, a company which has emerged from the demise of Heanor Haulage. They provided a second unit, with a brand new Nooteboom step frame on its maiden voyage.TMR Transport of Mansfield provided two step frames and an ordinary flat, with two tractor units embodying HIAB type cranes for the lift off. But for the lift on, he had booked a 100tonne crane from Crowland Cranes, but in the event, that crane was required elsewhere so Crowland turned up with a 200tonner at no extra charge. A flat back escort lorry carried rigging, and spreader beams, everything having been planned on an earlier inspection.

Although no trains were due, the siding had to be officially taken into possession by DB and protected by STOP boards, but the local DB manager's regular man for this was off, so he did it himself, and couldn't find a STOP board.But Andrew had bought one at Quorn a few weeks ago, and put in new batteries to prove it worked.

Me and Andy H duly arrived prompt at 08.00 from Whittlesea. Andrew drove down from Darley Dale, Phil G from Immingham, the crane and its crew were all ready and the vehicles arrived, starting with HFS and Andrew's trailer, which had overnighted at the yard.

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The original plan had been that after each ferry van had been loaded, the crane would have to pack up and move a wagon length along, but what with the extra capacity of the crane.and the fact that we could push the second and third ferry vans along, it stayed put.

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With the ferry vans aboard, the crane did relocate to the other end to access the box van and RRA. We were running a little behind Andrew's schedule, biut not much and these were easy to place on the trailers compared to the longer ferry vans.

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In the end, everything was on the move by 12.20, about 20 minutes behind Andrew's plan. His trailer though had caused more issues. Bearing the ferry van for Wirksworth, its lights, which had worked perfectly correctly yesterday and before, developed an earth fault that defied rectification. Phil G, a qualified trailer fitter, did his best but in the end it had to go so he followed it and reported that a mile or two up the road the fault went away. Andy H and I were off to Darley Dale, to get Charlie out of slumbers and up to Rowsley. Andrew's plan had been that one TMR unit would also go to Wirksworth to assist in unloading, but when they got there, a vehicle which had been due at Wirksworth that morning had only just arrived. So the decision was taken to park the trailer up, the unit head for home and the TMR unit go to Rowsley.

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With two HIABs on the TMR wagons, the procedure was to do a tandem lift, drive the trailer out and lower the wagon to the track, whereupon Charlie came up and drew it clear. (and before you ask, there was good reason why this couldn't be done for loading at Peterborough) but before that could start, we needed the unit with the RRA, which had had the wasted visit to Wirksworth.

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.As soon as it arrived, we got under way, making up the train.

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And by about 6pm Charlie was ready to take the ensemble down to Darley Dale, where the yard is getting a little full!

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If you think the survival of the ferry vans is strange, (and even as they left Peterborough pictures of them were posted on a Facebook group!) then the tale of 042236 is even stranger. One of a batch of vans converted to air brake (vac thru' pipe) and with modified suspensions for higher-speed operation, it was left with its plain bearings when most were changed to roller. It had been consigned to Marples & Gillott in Sheffield for scrapping, but had run a hot box and was detached at Peterborough, and its final journey was never completed..It gave no cause for concern in the two miles down to Darley!

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So that was Thursday and Friday was a day of recuperation. Saturday morning HFS met us back at Wirksworth to get it off. The trailer was duly lined up, and after a little trouble getting the neck to lower properly (a hydraulic issue we need to rectify) the ramp was assembled, and temporary rails laid across the back of the trailer. The Thomas Hill 'Noddy' at Wirksworth pushed up two box vans as barrier wagons...

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and the ferry van obediently followed them down.

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We packed up and headed back to Darley Dale,. Although the 12tonner is intended to become an engine repair module, there are some repairs to be performed on the ferry van (786951)  so to free up some workshop floor space we loaded some large lumps into 042236 temporarily.The ferry van has a body length of 28metres, so 2.5 to 3 times the capacity of the 12t van, but though dry is very dirty inside and much of the hardboard roof has fallen down. It seems to have been used on weedkilling trains at some time in the past, and leaflets and what looks like two plastic bags of weedkiller are still present. Given the state of the yard that might be fortuitous!

Today, even hotter, Andy H and Toby were working trying to fit windows in to 1382,. I was installing a low profile LED light and PIR over the Matlock end shed door (there isn't the clearance that there is at the normal entrance door) and in between times more stuff was put into the 12tonner. Dr Ben R came with his parents to imspect his underframe and then our wagon additions, pronouncing them good buys and what few repairs are needed straightforward. (042236 needs a new roof, but otherwise it is all in order). Andrew has had another enquiry for the unsold ferry van  following their appearance on the FB group, but if any of you are interested, it's first come, etc.

So that's about it for this week. An eventful week, all things considered, with lots of photos to relieve my prose. Nothing particularly interesting on the PR front this week: we wait to hear more. I had a nice e-mail from the grandson of one of the engineers originally involved wioth RS8, saying how comforted his grandfather is knowing that RS8 is in such good hands. Talking of hands, I was sent a list of volunteers at Tunstead and their skills, and asked to match them up to jobs to be done. You watch, I'll be a marriage beureau next.

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