So as I left you last week, I was up and off to Tunstead first thing Monday morning. Unlike past working days, which have taken place in the Sigma6 workshops down in what was once part of the quarry, this was to be the first day in what is now called the 'stores' but in reality is the former locomotive workshops, where RS8 was converted from steam to diesel. Not only that, it was the first day under the overall charge of a more senior manager. Now, when I wrapped up the story last week I said that the wheelsets, frame and gearbox were already there waiting. Ah, well, 2 out of 3 ain't bad, but the gearbox, and for that matter the axleboxes and bearings, were still up in the brick shed. So for the first couple of hours there was not much we could do until the Tarmac lorry arrived outside with gearbox, fuel tanks, etc.. From then on, it was a race to catch up as we had set ourselves a target of getting it back on its wheels. I had been joined by Andy H, and we also had Liam, Alan and Paul and even Peter C got his hands dirty. We scoured the stores for every bit of timber packing we could lay our hands on (no longer being classed as a workshop meant that such niceties were lacking) and hacked up a 25litre oil drum to use as a tray for cleaning chemicals.
Slowly we managed to assemble the axleboxes to the journals (that sounds easy but strangely enough, despite being apparently symmetrical, the bearings seemed only to fit the axlebox upper halves one way) and moved on to the gearbox.
With the gearbox bottom packed up so that the wheels were slightly in the air, the gearbox top could then be fitted and everything would be firmly together, leaving only a shim to manufacture and a few missing bolts/nuts to locate. Alas with the delayed start we didn't quite make it as far as getting the frame on to the wheelsets:- we worked on till around five p.m but as you can see from the office steps we were very nearly there. No working party tomorrow (Bank Holiday) but hopefully on the 14th it will be 'one giant leap for loco-kind'.
On Tuesday I had a blood test organised. A nice lady called Sarah, who claimed to share a birthday with me, managed to extract two bottles worth without me feeling too queazy. She assured me it would take a couple of weeks for the results to filter through, so I was surprised when the Receptionist rang up the following day to call me back in to see a Doctor. 'It's nothing serious', she assured me, while making me wait until Friday (!) 'just your cholesterol'. I looked it up. According to the medical advice, I must quit smoking and stop heavy drinking. I have never smoked in my life and the last alcohol I consumed was...er .. well some weeks ago. A penchant for chocolate might have to be curbed, I thought, and that depressed me immensely.
Thursday and I headed down to UKRL at Leicester and changed the dynamo on Claire plus fitted a new starter contactor in an enclosure. The job took longer than planned as the site is in the middle of development work and Claire had to be shunted baclk across by a 56 to somewhere near where I could work on it. But it was all a succes and I had batteries charging and engine running before I left.
Friday, and I went in to see another lady Doctor. No, my cholesterol was fine, but some computer algorithm they run on the various tests performed on my blood had thrown up a factor of 12, one element of the calculation being my age. Some medical advice is to force feed stattins as soon as the factor exceeds 10, other sectors of the medical profession say that is over-kill, and nothing should be done until the factor exceeds 20. After all, stattins have side effects which would mean monitoring the patient's liver and kidneys in case of damage. So I was given the choice of taking un-neccesary drugs which might do me harm or carrying on as before. I settled for another blood test in 6 months time - I'll be older then which will increase the factor but may be other bits will average it out.
Saturday, and Jagger and Jess were due over and Andrew would be back before long, so I got down about half-nine and started tidying up bits into the container. J&J had stopped at a MacDonalds on the way over for what they call 'breakfast' which they proceeded to finish eating before I could coax Jagger into doing anything, but in due course he resumed work on the Wickham. The trouble with the Wickham is a combination of anno dominae, chemical reaction between steel and aluminium and the fact that it was used to spray weedkiller. That and the end that was damaged when a loco hit it means that most of the bodywork is little better than to be used as a pattern for new, which is pretty well what we expect to do. We must locate a supply of 1 and-a-half inch angle only one sixteenth thick though, which will involve some research.
Anyway, by the middle of the afternoon Jagger had got as far as needing the roof liftng off so we shuffled some pallets out of the way (things are not as tidy as we would like) and Andrew took it off with the forklift. For myself, I had decided to investigate a defective 110V extension cable, and having proved that there was some sort of break on the live wire somewhere within the cable length, went on to examine closely every inch of the cable looking for damage to the outer sheath which would point to an internal fracture. Was I succesful? Well, let's just say that I now have two relatively short extension cables and a length of useless cable left over.
Then work resumed on the remaining Wickham end, and the window frames were lifted off before Jagger cleaned up ready to go home. Jess incidentally was not idle through this, we had her priming some of RS8's parts that were shotblasted some weeks ago.
Andrew and I meanwhile, had lifted the fuel tank for Adolf and attempted to fit the mounting angles I had made. One fitted reasonably well (with a little easing of the holes, it should be OK) but the other was, well, let's say that Andrew decided that he would make a replacement. We continued for a little while after Jagger had gone on the Wickham, but made our way home about 7 o'clock.
Plan A for Sunday had been to head over to Ashbourne and the trailer, but the day heated up fast and neither of us fancied a drive in the sun, so instead meandered down to the shed. Whereas I had been tidying a few things into the cointainer, Andrew was now tidying things out of the container, either for scrapping or offering on ebay. If you're in need of big Rawlbolts, or a headlight from a 465, we may have just what you need. But the Wickham was scheduled to have a visit from Gertie Gasaxe, to remove a number of bolts and nuts which were too corroded or too inaccessible to be undone. This meant that the entire end of the Wickham could be lifted off - only a few bits, basically around the mounting for the turntable, are fit for re-use anyway.
That almost brings us down to the basic chassis (there are a lot of thin metal strips and angles which support the floor over the actual chassis members) and maybe the next job is to get it outside and give it a wash down. After that it's power unit out and axles off, and sandblast whatever's left.
Andrew proceeded to make a new mounting strip for the fuel tank on Adolf, though even his efforts wouldn't quite fit first time, but with a bit of judicious filing and drilling holes oversize, the bolts condescended to fit, though it'll have washers when we come to install it permanently. Incidentally, the step design has moved on to a version of the Hudswell Clarke step - I suspect we'll be making one up fairly soon, once I've finalised a sandbox design to go with it.
As the day was warm with a slight breeze, I had opened most of the doors on the 2HAP in order to allow some fresh air through and reduce the rather musty smell when you enter. Steph had used the opportunity to inspect it at lunchtime, and later in the afternoon we had another visitor, whose grandfather actually worked on Southern sets at Slade Green, so may have even had his hands on this one. As a result, we have another offer of assistance in restoring the interior and making it ready for taking passengers again. Andrew was explaining his idea to create a new doorway through the bulkhead between the standard class in the motor car and the guards compartment, thus making it possible to get wheelchair-borne passengers through the Guards compartment into the passenger section. Another plan is to fit retention tanks for the toilets on the trailer car, rather than dumping onto the track, which is to be outlawed on Network Rail soon, and probably will become unacceptable on heritage in years to come.
For the latter half of the afternoon I chose to complete a quick task I had promised myself for a while. I had a couple of lengths of cable tray propped up against a cupboard, and a length of SWA cable tie-wrapped to girder clamps, coming down the side of a roller shutter door and across to a junction box. The cable tray proved to be almost exactly enough, with an improvised right angle bend, to provide better support and protection for the SWA and thus also tidy the place a little.
Regular readers who keep a check on these things may have noticed that there has been no refrence to grandson of late. A couple of weeks ago, Andrew's former partner suddenly denied access. I won't go into details, other than to say that in addition to everything else going on, Andrew has started action in the Family Courts to restore his parental rights. We hope that the five year old will not be adversely affected by lack of time with his father.
So that's about it for this week. I'm going back to proofing an advance copy of my novel - 'The Railway to Merhead' - which I'll be plugging heavily in the near future. As the copy editor put it 'I grew to love George, Dora, Alec and all the other characters you so masterfully gave life to (so much so that I almost shed a tear at your uplifting ending).. which is about the nicest thing anyone has said about it But this week has a bank holiday in it so we'll be back at it tomorrow. There'll be a long list of things to do and we probably won't finish any of them. But wouldn't it be boring if everything went to plan?