On Monday, with grandson still around and snow having fallen overnight, we didn't get down to the shed until just after lunch, and then rather wished we'd got down sooner. The snow had been melting as it had turned to rain and the daytime temperature rose, but the rapid melting had caused some flooding and in particular the footpath alongside the shed was quite deep. Later in the week I heard reports of the 'Race the Train' event that had been staged in the morning – the runners route had been down the footpath, back across the railway bridge at the south of the site and thence on to the 'new' cycle path to carry on to Matlock – this to avoid having to use the level crossing which might have given the train an advantage. Anyway, I was told that the runners reported parts of public footpath by the shed was 2ft deep – I think that was an exaggeration, but it was certainly 6 inches or more by the shed and water pouring off the field. But alongside the shed it was over the foundation blocks and was finding its way around gaps in our stonework. We had several small streams across the floor and into the 3B track pit – yes, the ornamental pond had returned. While Andrew returned to bracket welding, I took stock outside, eventually digging a temporary slot all the way to our fence and into the footpath, which enabled some at least to drain across into our slot drain by the front of the shed.
Andrew got both brackets finished, so I imagine we'll have to plan a trip to the trailer soon to fit them....
I had another day in the shed on Wednesday while an electrician was on site, and continued stripping Adolf. In the middle of the cab area stands the forward/reverse gearbox, which is one of the later type 'D' series Hunslet boxes. Unlike the more common '350' (or the '600' of 14 901) this gearbox has an external air cylinder, and as such could run on continuous air to the cylinder without fear of pressurising the gearbox casing (350 gearboxes have internal cylinders but the pistons have O rings rather than cup seals) but still has that troublesome latching pin arrangement. On two remanufactures I did in YEC days, I threw away the latch body and substituted a detector system, so stripped off the latch body and as the selector shaft did not appear to want to move, disconnected the cylinder and encouraged it. Clearly a decade of no use has done it no favours, and some time will have to be spent de-rusting the shaft and getting it to move more freely, but the cylinder, etc seems serviceable, which a relief as it is an odd-ball cylinder by today's ISO standards.
In between times I was stripping out windows, wiper motors and the bolts that held the fuel tank to the cab back. I also rigged up a drill and a charge pump with a long length of plastic pipe to start draining the ornamental pond, but it is a long job. We were down again that evening, Harvey C and Ben R arrived in Harvey's van to collect 4 buffers and a carriage alternator. They'd brought a heavy duty sack truck – well it was heavy anyway – but in the end we'd cleared the locos back and backed them right up and loaded them without needing it. As the van looked a little 'down' Harvey opted to leave the sack truck in our care until Friday.
Meanwhile it was third time lucky down at Coventry where hauliers Calkeld were collecting the 2-HAP. Despite the provision of hard-core to improve access, loading the first vehicle (the 40ton driving car) had been problematic and in the end, a track panel had been sloped, packed, the unit turned around and loaded over the back. Now from our point of view this was a definite advantage. If the first vehicle of the pair had been loaded cab first at the swan neck end, it would have come off at Rowsley cab-last and the trailer car, loaded cab-last, would have come off cab-first. That would have meant them landing cab-to-cab and a delicate bit of shunting to swap them round (given that interconnections are a single centre buffer/coupling arrangement) before haulage to Darley. But coming over the back, cab first meant that it would come off at Rowsley cab-first and hence, the two vehicles would land in correct formation.
But the delay in changing plans meant that the driving carriage did not arrive until 7 o'clock at night: they phoned us as they came through Bakewell, we zipped up to Rowsley and I got my first glimpse by headlight.
I was back up to Rowsley first thing Thursday to see things off. The driver and second man had been to the Shalimar for a curry that night so whether this explained the late start, or just general fatigue, I don't know, but by 08.45 they had barely started to set up for unloading. Why the rush? Well they had to get back to Coventry, load the second, travel back to us, unload and be somewhere up towards Carlisle for a collection at MoD Longtown on Friday, and the driver admitted he would like to get back at reasonable time as he was getting married on Saturday!
Anyway, other than a panic when the brakes didn't want to release (stood idle too long) the driving car came of the trailer and two us managed to keep it moving for a few feet along the Peak Rail tracks. Later the tractor dragged it a bit further, to give space for the trailer car to unload behind. Off went the unit back to Coventry, off went me to Rotherham, and around about 17.30 Andrew and I headed along to Rowsley for him to have another look. He rang the driver to enquire where he was and was told 'just coming through the gate' and there he was, thirty yards away. Once again down went the ramp and a 30 ton trailer car rejoined its mate, with three of us pushing it with relative ease. ('It looks beautiful' said a passing HST member.)
Friday, and Andrew had the day off. We managed to get to Darley Dale by about half-nine, and set about clearing track 1 as Andrew wanted the 2-HAP to sit alongside the shed. Just before 11.00 Harvey C arrived and operated the ground frame – but first 03 901 traversed track 1 to collect the timber guttering sections we'd received on behalf of the LMSCA member plus the heavy sack truck into one of the shunters recesses. Then it was across on to the main line, reset the code lights and off to Rowsley, with Andrew racing us by van.
At Rowsley we unloaded the timber and sack truck, then went up the top of the station to collect the 2HAP, which needed buffering up tight in order that the coupler could be reconnected. That achieved, Andrew set off by van and Harvey and I took 03901 and 2-HAP through the loop and onto the line southwards.
Being roller bearing'd throughout, the 2HAP followed obediently and made quite a sight with 03 901 in the lead. With 150 seats and toilets in the trailer composite, it could be a very useful push-pull set once one of our locos has been configured to respond to its existing control system, and seemed to fit quite well as it paused at Darley Dale for the gates. For today though it was back into the sidings at Darley to await attention – and various locomotives and such shunted back on top.
Up to now 03 901 had not put a foot wrong, from cruising down the main line (it does tend to waddle a bit though) through to waiting patiently at the end of the headshunt while Charlie did the more mundane shunts. But at this point, as I came to park it up outside the shed, it decided to be awkward. I pressed the STOP button and the engine carried on running. This is slightly embarrassing but is not I think electrical, and we conclude, having cracked a fuel feed line to the gallery, that it is simply a matter of the stop valve solenoid having stuck – but we will investigate further in due course.
Saturday, and Andrew was due to take grandson back home but as the IDRPG were due for a working day, I was on duty at the shed. We'd put a plea out to them, in the light of Monday, to assist in getting the slot drain finished and completed it was, and a very nice job they made of it. They even made my temporary 'footpath branch' into a semi-permanent feature. Charles though, stayed in on 1382, progressing paintwork, and they did trial bits of the exhaust system and subsequently loaded it up in a van for refurbishment. For myself, I had a task of re-cabling all the striplights from 2 core to 3 core, which kept me occupied in between overseeing progress on the drain and collecting postcrete from the builders merchants next door. Oh, and yes, I did permit myself time to explore the 2HAP.
At 09.30 this morning, Andrew got a panic call. It seemed that our friend had a Wickham target trolley in transit, but for whatever reason on arrival the group had either been unwilling, or unable, to lift it off - could we store it for him temporarily? Naturally we agreed and the lorry was directed north to us. So on arrival it was time to start up Charlie yet again and drag Track 1 back to allow the lorry to get round.
The lorry in fact was a vehicle recovery truck, driven by Paul, who was anxious to get back to Dudley where he had a 1930s MG to collect. We lifted off the target trolley and later placed it on Thelma as a temporary host.
(If you've never seen one of these before, let me explain. Built in the 1940s, they comprise a simple 4 wheel chassis. Propulsion is by a v-twin JAP engine and a fluid coupling, chain-connected to one axle. The bodywork is basically armour plate, and apart from a handbrake, there are no visible controls. Set off running, it travels un-manned around a circuit while soldiers practice shooting at a wooden silhouette of a tank on its top. When it encounters a ramp in the track, a treadle underneath brings it to a stop. It has big spring bumpers at each end just in case it finds another one along the way.)
So after all the excitement it was back to Adolf. Earlier Thomas Hill cabs were made as top and bottom sections, aping Sentinel, and Adolf's 'new' superstructure was that type. We threw it on at Long Marston over a decade ago to make it all mobile, bolting fuel tank and casing to cab structure and tack welding it to the running plates. Now it is time for it all to come off, to make easier trimming the chassis down and later getting cab and casings shot-blasted and positioned correctly for the new drive line and auxiliaries. For one thing, when we're finished the cab will be further back and the gearbox a bit more towards the front, where hopefully the control desk can go over it.
But that's for the (near?) future. For now we disconnected and lifted off the cab top, and then dragged the fuel tank back a bit to make space for lifting out the bottom. Tom D turned up and found himself helping, after which Charlie was fired up again and brought a B4 bogie into the shop as a temporary flat wagon. The two halves were fitted, strapped down for safety and put back on Track 2, to await sorting out a day for sandblasting.
The Peak Rail press release has been doing the rounds, with people reading more into it than it says. I understand that Heritage Railway has even attributed a statement to Paul Tomlinson, a PR Director, that income from stone trains will pay for the construction! Regular readers will recall that Heritage Railway once lifted an entire paragraph from this blog regarding RS8 and still managed to mis-attribute the loco as going to the Heritage Shunters Trust, so we don't regard Heritage Railway as a reliable source. But anyway Andrew did a few sums, based on Network Rail Track Access charges: a 1000ton train of hoppers plus '66 and a route length for simplicity of 15 miles. And it works out at £87. Construction costs, as I mentioned last week, were predicted in the last feasibility study (2004) at £80m minimum.
So that's about it for this week. We had intended to go back to Cottesmore but for various reasons that got deferred, though we did find out why we couldn't remove those pipes – it seems they are/were welded to the running plates. There might be a logical reason for this but I can't see it. So when we get down there we'll cut around them and replace them that way. But not for now. For now I'll get back to bailing out the ornamental pond and telling myself that carriage restoration can be fun. It can, really.