Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of drills and Avonsides

28th October 2018

We made good progress on RS8 this week, not so elsewhere. But do read on.

And so to Monday. I went up to Tunstead armed with a lot of bits and overall made some progress, primarily since fabricator Andy Hn was on hand.


The stiffeners for the cab corner posts were duly welded in, together with the bottom edge of the instrument panel, after which he moved on to the casings and welded on new drain pipes. While he was out of the cab I nipped in and managed to get the battery cables identified and lugged onto the battery switch.


To the left of the switch you'll see a large black enclosure which shortly will be mounted a little up and to the left, ready to carry the 3 relays and numerous interconnecting points for the electrical system, maybe with some fuses and the voltage regulator for the alternator, which was also mounted. The big gap in the exhaust system where the flexible was required was spanned by the long length of flexible ducting and clamps I'd bought, giving us a 'complete' exhaust system and something eye-catching for the passers-by to spot as progress.


On the other side of the engine the coolant pipework was finished (Andy H had an amusing photo of the copper pipe undergoing 'pressure testing' utilising a pair of rubber gloves as blanking pieces, but sadly he never sent it to me).


The special adaptor for the clutch cylinder had arrived, so was duly modified and welded to the original clutch linkage, so that the clutch cylinder is now in a position to operate it. The pipes to the old clutch cylinder came down from the cab, supported on a piece of angle, but this has disappeared somewhere along the way, so Andy H made up a new one from some 50mm angle and Andy Hn welded the 90 degree bend in the middle, returning it to Andy H for painting. Once it is in, I can think about using it to carry the clutch cylinder air lines and a multicore cable to a second 'black box' that will sit over the converter and act as a break-out to the various bits on the engine. All this means I must get around to drawing up an electrical schematic soon.


Alan G, in between crane operation, took the old mounting plate for the 'Visutector' (a green box made by Teddington and containing a pressure and temperature switch) modified it and mounted the new Visutector and it to the engine. I managed to unbolt the compressor mounting bracket, squeeze in an aditional plate that is there to support it from the timing case before putting the bracket back - I had hoped to get the entire compressor back on but that will have to wait a little longer. I had an unpleasant shock when I squeezed under the cab floor to get at the fuel tank outlets - they were not, as I had thought from memory, 1/4 BSP but 3/8 so all the fittings I had purchased were too small. Ah well, more haste, less speed. The centrifugal pre-cleaner for the fuel system got mounted, though one of the nipples I had put in now needs changing to 3/8, not a major problem as it looks like I'll be starting to put in flexible hoses for fuel and converter fluid on the next working day. Towards the end of the day Alan and Pete C put the air receivers back into the casing structure, which I suspect will be back on the loco in a week or three, and Andy Hn started work on the windows, getting the first into place before close of play. I had brought the profiles for the missing control handle - Andy H went off with them and hopes to get it put together as a homework project. I am formulating a plan in my mind to get RS8 running before Christmas - it won't be finished: there'll be no glazing, no Golden Yellow paint and no vac brake system - there may not even be a proper air filter - but the target is to get it runnable as it enters 2019 - sixty years from when it came into the workshop for conversion in the first place.


This week has been a busy one: on Tuesday the Briddon clan went over to Norfolk and on Wednesday I took the van down to Gloucester to pick up a pillar drill. This was another e-bay purchase and it took 3 of us to lift it into the van. After that, and seeing that I was in the area, I popped in to Alan Keefs where Bryan had promised to show me around. There in the workshop was another Avonside - this time the 3ft gauge 0-6-0 'Nancy' - which is up to rolling chassis stage. Now, I am not decrying the efforts of its owners, but it is about 20 years ago that I, in my days at YEC, re-profiled those wheels fror Keefs which have yet to rotate under steam. On Thursday morning it became neccessary to extract said pillar drill from the van as I needed to go out to a customer. As Andrew was elsewhere that meant that it was down to me and Steph to get it out of the van and inside the shed - remember 3 fit blokes (well 2 and me) were needed to get it in! Later that day I had not one but two seperate appointments at the local Medical Centre, at which I got asked about how much exercise I took. How do you explain to a GP that I might not walk 10,000 steps a day but I do lug around pillar drills, brake blocks and sundry other locomotive bits?

On Friday too it was down to London to see a customer, and I was somewhat taken aback, going around the A406, to see beggars in the road junctions approaching open car windows. One man was using a Costa coffee cardboard cup to collect coins, the other two that I saw were both women. My outward trip had taken but 3-and-a-half hours, but my return, thanks to road works, trouble on the M25 and the Friday p.m. exodus out of London, amounted to 5 hours. So I got home, had tea and flopped in front of the tv (well, no, not flopped, I was actually watching tv while scanning microfiche drawings to pdf's) and watched Channel 5's railway offerings. Rob Bell's trackbed travelogue was on the Ruabon to Barmouth line - one which Julia Bradbury did years ago - and featured a visit to the Bala Lake Railway. Now, I may be being pernickety, but the voice-over said he joined the train at Bala Junction. That's mightily clever, as the RLlT doesn't go that far, it terminates at what was, latterly, Bala Lake Halt, but was once briefly, a terminus of the standard gauge line from Corwen before the Bala and Dolgellau Railway extended it westwards. Then he got off at LLangower, where, according to the commentary, Welsh children once de-trained to travel to the Glanllyn activity centre for the Welsh language. That too would have been clever:, the Llangower station today was a creation of George Barnes' as it was convenient for a rocky beach, car park and toilet block whereas the Llangower Halt was some 200 yards further on, and anyway he'd stripped the sleeper-built platform there and used the sleepers back in the track. In fact, the Llangower Halt was a GWR addition to encourage traffic from the hamlet, accessed via a footpath to the road and with no lake access. Surely these happy children had de-trained at Glanllyn station, aka Flag Halt, the once private station of Sir Watkins Williams-Wynne whose house, Glanllyn, is now the activities centre? (The pseudonym of 'Flag' refers to the flag raised to summon the boat from across the lake to collect him). And wasn't that a brief view of s.g. track from Midsomer Norton sneeking in to the n.g. haven?

On Saturday morning Andrew and I descended on the shed. Andrew was anxious to make progress on Adolf, and set up the mag drill with Rotabroach cutters to bore the second hole through the rear end buffer beam for an air pipe, as Adolf will have a twin pipe system in order to charge the 2HAPs air brakes. After his recent misfortune in breaking expensive cutters on 1382, he was a bit apprehensive, but it went without any hitch.


I meanwhile, turned my attention to the pillar drill: the connector box for the motor's wires had taken a hit in transit so I manufactured a new one from a stock enclosure, then Andrew broke off long enough to get it around to where the forklift could reach it and swing it over into position.


He then returned to the mag drill and I removed the 3-phase plug from the Hydrovane (won't be running that in the near future) and fitted it to the pillar drill cable to replace the 4 pin one which is not compatible with any of our sockets. I plugged it in, and with appropriate ceremony, pressed the button to make the drill start. Nothing. I looked again and concluded that I needed to select L or R on the switch underneath (presumably to make it turn clockwise or anti-clockwise) and tried agin. Still nothing. With Andrew and a test meter we started to check through. Volts could be found at the main press buttons, and at the L/R switch under it, but nothing was showing at the motor. Eventually we found some box of gubbins inside the body of the machine, but had to dismantle half the blooming thing to extract it - it contained no less than 4 relays, all of which are PCB mounted with 5volt coils, which could of course be connected to the little transformer, bridge rectifier and smoothing capacitor adjacent. And that is as far as we got - which, for an e-bay purchase described as being in working order is not very satisfactory. Not sure yet how I'll take this further. Andrew returned to the fabrication bench, prepping various brackets for painting and laying them out on a sheet with the intention of spraying them all with primer today. But that didn't happen either, as 'domestic duties' got in the way and I found myself all alone at the shed for the afternoon. Andrew has a number of wheelsets to collect shortly, and lorry owners tend to get touchy about railway wheels being stood on their nice timber deckings as they have a tendency to leave big flange-shaped depressions. So wheelsets get placed on either simple wooden frames which support both wheels, or simpler rectangular 'boxes' which sit under each individual wheel. We have about 4 of these already, but need more. Using them as a pattern, and a pile of timber waiting to be converted, I set up Andrew's recent aquisition of a circular-saw and started production, and continued until I ran out of nails. Not enough for what Andrew wants but a start and I've always liked the aroma of freshly cut wood.

In between I was trying to sort out some of the esoteric bits for RS8 - I recovered the oil pressure distribution block from the old engine (this provides feed ports for devices needing engine oil for lubrication, the engine now in RS8, being originally for a genset, didn't have any so it was blanked off) cleaned it and ended up running the holes through with a 1/4 BSP tap as the nipples I had found them too tight. The intention is to connect the compressor, the Visutector oil pressure switch and the pressure sender from here. I had sourced new belts fror the bench drill during the week, so installed these and tested it by drilling a couple of 13mm holes through some brackets: well at least that drill is working! The clocks having gone back, when I shut up shop at about half-five it was almost dark, and to my chagrin the automatic light in the porch over the personnel door didn't light up. Another maintenance issue to investigate.

I haven't said much about Peak Rail recently, mainly in the hope that tempers might calm. Sad to say that Peak Rail management refuse to accept the evidence from the ORR that they have no record of my ever having made a complaint to them about PR. Looking at the letters from their solicitors it appears they are adamant that I am behind an 'anonymous' complaint made about happenings at Darley Dale and Rowsley on a day in 2016 when in fact Steph and I were driving grandson back to his mother's in Norfolk. But enough about me, the dispute with Grinsty Rail rumbles on, and I was sent the following this week, and you can make of it what you will.

'Peak Rail Pay up Again Following last year’s debacle, whereby Peak Rail Management tried to stop Grinsty Rail moving a DMU Car out of Rowsley, which led Grinsty Rail to take out in injunction that was successfully granted, Peak Rail were ordered to pay all their costs. This has now been paid, causing Peak Rail a financial loss of £12,500, plus their own costs. All this could have been avoided but for the intransigent attitude of Peak Rail Management.'

No Tunstead trip this week, Pete C is on leave and with no fabricator on hand to finish the windows and other welding jobs, I judged better to have a rest and time to sort out other bits and pieces. And we have several interesting things in prospect, plus I must deal with a few other inconveniences like the month-end and customers to worry about. But I daresay there'll be lots to talk about by next Sunday. Somehow there always is. See you then?

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