Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of bolts, present and not

26th August 2018

Last week I had a dearth of pictures. This week? Well, it's scarcely a surfeit, but enough to be going on with. Read on, dear reader.

Monday of course it was back up to Tunstead, shocking Andy H by arriving a few minutes early. We had some new faces in the team, for in addition to fabricator/welder Pete H, we had two fitters, Martin and Dan. Martin arrived first so I set him on with a newly arrived Helicoil kit sorting out the tappings on the transmission cooler that were worn out. I had the van parked in the entrance to the building so as to unload some of the heavier goodies I had brought up, including two buffers.

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When Pete H arrived, I had intended that first he would get on with the welding jobs around the cab, but I had also brought up the battery box lid, and two handles, and thought he might appreciate being given a 'challenge' to do something that he could point to on the loco later and say 'I did that'. So I showed him the new box lid, the remains of the old hinges and he set off to do that instead.

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Clearly my person-management skills are getting rusty, if I ever really had any. (We had a lecturer back at Sheffield Polytechnic – he might perhaps have been a trifle left of centre in his political views – who used to say that there are two types of managers: those that are born to manage and those that manage to be born. Anyway, back to the narrative). He ground off the remains of the old hinges, and set about manufacturing new ones.

We had Liam again but no Jack, so I passed him a piece of key steel, the handbrake shaft, sprocket and taper lock bush and set him on to that. Andy H set to work on the first of the cab cross-shafts, as the end levers had to be on before it could be installed, he had the pictures of it before it was stripped back at Darley Dale to work to as it came back together. Some emery-ing of the shafts was required before the new bearings and tapers could be persuaded to slide on, and after a trial-fit to get the bearings in the right place, the shaft was primed and painted.

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Also on the shaft is the locking bush that carries a profile that operates the drivers brake valve, but surprisingly this has a lot of travel before the brake valve was engaged. Now when RS8 was first finished, there was an additional chain sprocket on this shaft which operated an exhaust brake, sometimes known as a Jake brake (other manufacturers products are available) which used the characteristic of this particular torque converter to retard without actual friction brake engagement. But the exhaust brake has long since vanished and its place taken by a piece of plain exhaust pipe, so I think a new profile is in prospect.

By the time Dan arrived the transmission cooler was in place and had I thought to bring any 3/8 UNC setscrews the t/c fluid pipes might have been in place, so I introduced them instead to the buffers.

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Back at Darley Dale, we have managed to assemble one of RS8's buffers by forcing the back plate down, sliding a piece of welding wire through the 'ole and getting the retaining nut to start but there I stopped. These two guys demonstrated how far behind I am by disappearing off and making up a press using two bits of channel and lengths of 30mm threaded bar.

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Having brought up with me the appropriate slogging spanner and big hammer, they made much better progress than we had and they are ready to go on, once we've got the wooden packing pieces made that go between buffer and headstock, being the height of the nut.

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Pete C then got them on to the engine. Alan G was by now available to operate the crane so they disconnected the original engine mounts and tried the new ones in – but they wouldn't quite line up. Where the flywheel housing has been machined, the radius left by the flycutter just obstructed the corners of my mounts where I had radiused them, but a few minutes with a grinder rectified that, but my lack of forward-planning was again revealed in that I didn't have the right bolts (¾ UNF), so for the moment the originals with spacers have sufficed. I did at least have appropriate M16s to go through the rear mounts, where everything lined up perfectly.

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Liam completed the handbrake shaft, and I was about to let him put the chain from it to the handbrake lead screw when it dawned on me that we'd never get the throttle shaft in if we did, so set him on to reversing the modifications made to the cab side windows at Dinting. Amongst the bits in the van were the two front springs, and while it would have been nice to fit them and open the way to refitting side rods and brake blocks, when I drew up the rear engine mounts I used the ICI drawing which was an extract and didn't show anything else around. It never occurred to me how close the springs are – the M16s need the rebound washers fitting and the whole lot setting up, they will be almost totally inaccessible once the springs go in. So I had better apologise now to whomsoever in the future is tasked with lifting this power unit out of RS8. They will wonder what utter idiot designed a mounting system whereby you need to lift the loco to remove the front springs before you can access the rear mounting bolts. I will hang my head in shame – that is if it is not under my arm as I haunt some loco shed somewhere. For reasons I cannot now remember we did not quite get the throttle cross shaft in the cab, but it is close and I am sure it will be in place early September. For now, passers by can not only see the 'official' write up but can see RS8 with a working engine for the first time in years.

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On Tuesday I was down with Cheedale, now sat at a new home in Leicester. It has already been in two photos on Flickr and I suspect will be in more before long, why, they were telling me that someone even flew a drone over the depot to get to see exactly what was there!

Saturday was allocated to emptying the VBA and getting stuff into the Ferry van. Basically that involved a shunt around so that the VBA sat on one road, the Ferry van sat on the other, and the forklift shuttled between the two. With a pallet truck in the Ferry van it was theoretically going to be simple, but the floor isn't quite smooth enough for the pallet truck and it became apparent that two stillages one on top of the other is next to impossible to shift with it, and one layer only is not the efficient use of floor space Andrew requires. Nevertheless, about half the stuff in the VBA was extracted and re-housed, though we face a large heavy-duty racking we made years ago which may have to be emptied piece by piece first. It scarcely makes for anything photogenic, and in any event it was sweaty, tiring work so no pictures were taken. But I did come across things I had completely forgotten we had, some bringing back memories of what they had been bought/assembled/scrounged for, or what we had them for.

Today however, the weather changed overnight and it rained all day. Whilst we could have cracked on with the re-load, (we were after all indoors) it would have meant leaving things, notably Adolf, outside in the wet and Andrew voted against. Instead we extracted some box section from under the 03 and he set to work to make up a new piece of racking to go next to the fabrication bench and allocated to (a) profiles awaiting assembly, (b) welded assemblies cooling down and (c) bits of spare steel available to make things from. Here's one of him putting it together.

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Also the mounts for Adolf were completed, and a set for Cheedale, whose Thomas Hill mounts are life-expired.The new bracket for the top of Charlie's sandbox was fixed too, but the two lower ones need better weather!

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I seem to have spent the entire day sorting nuts and bolts. Several large plastic tubs, which may have had labels on declaring them to contain 'M6'or 'M8' or nothing at all, have all manner of diameters and sometimes thread forms too. Then there were assorted plastic bags, some of which had once been hand-written on the white strips with their contents (but now illegible) which had to be identified. Thus I found several bags of half-inch BSW nuts which I had bought over the years, a bag which might turn out to be ¾ Whit, a small quantity of 5/16 BSF – goodness knows what I bought that for, two-and-a-quarter inch bolts are scarcely a common requirement – UNC, UNF and loads of metrics. I need, I determined, some ¾ UNFs 1.5 inches long for both RS8's and Cheedale's mounts (did I find any? No, of course not) so will have to buy some. I did bring down my trusty Brother P-touch labeller, with the intention of going around all the electrical outlets and sundry boxes and clearly marking them for future reference (I did it with marker pens but the ink is beginning to fade) but the batteries died as it printed the first label. Still, they were dated March 2008 so I suppose I've had my money's-worth.

I haven't said much about Peak Rail lately and that is in part because solicitors continue to be involved. But one of my informants is quoting a 'senior Peak Rail source' as saying that work will begin either next year or 2020 at the latest, on the rebuild of the line for freight use, and that the President is working in the corridors of power persuading civil servants that it will be a good thing. Network Rail is quoted to be 'on-side' (although another senior Peak Rail manager was quoted a month or two ago as saying that Network Rail was not involved). Now, I don't see that anyone is going to get the authority to re-lay this line without a public enquiry – look at HS2 and that's not in a National Park – and if the WHR through Aberglaslyn is anything to go by, an alternative footpath for the walkers and cyclists will need to be created before anyone can lay a sleeper through Monsal Dale et al, but thinking about it again recently, it occurred to me that we are all being a bit blinkered. Let's say you do get Buxton to Matlock re-opened, and Matlock to Ambergate upgraded with signalling and passing loops and structures to take freight again. What do the stone trains do then? Trundle through to Derby? The whole argument for taking these stone trains off the Hope Valley line is to enable increased passenger train speeds and improve the Manchester-Sheffield services – so what happens to the Midland Main line south to Derby and beyond as the stone trains plod through Belper? Neither is the re-modelling that Network Rail is doing now at Derby with that additional capacity requirement in mind. Once upon a time the Midland Railway had this problem, and built a new line from just north of Ambergate across to Ironville and the Erewash Valley line. Perhaps history will repeat itself and Transport for the North will take this on board too – re-instate the northern chord at Ambergate, perhaps with a grade change to flyover the Midland main line, then relay eastwards through Butterley (complete with level crossing over the A38 dual carriageway) and gain access to the south at Riddings!

Network Rail's own freight strategy [Freight Network Study, April 2017, page 77] does include re-opening Buxton to Matlock as a long term option, but it has not even got as far as a feasibility assessment, let alone costings. Even short term capacity options, fully worked up, costed, etc, are unlikely to be completed in Network Rail's Control Period (CP) 6, and more likely to be in CP7, five years hence. So a start in 2019? I'll not be holding my breath.

No Tunstead tomorrow so back to the shed and if the weather stays dry, get some more stuff into the Ferry van.

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