Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of horizon and background

4th December 2016

It has, as usual, been a busy week at the Briddon Country Pile and whilst I managed to take a few hours “off” on Friday afternoon I still felt guilty doing so: which is one of the penalties of being self-employed – no paid holidays, no sick pay and that self-reproach that not 'getting on with business' is letting down one's spouse and family.

That has meant though that I haven't been down at the shed much – work has taken me out to various customers and suppliers. RS8's old starter has returned safe and reasonably sound – I think the old brass drive pinion has lost a millimetre or two though, evidenced by another of the customer's employees (not last week's well-meaning one but another) who held the keyswitch in the crank position with the starter loudly clattering across the teeth of the ring-gear till I yelled at him to stop it. He either thought it was a pre-engaged starter or that it would mate itself sooner or later – no wonder I had to change the ring-gear 18months ago!

After all my trailing of the disruption to my personal e-mail address in fact it was down for about 5 hours on Monday and that was it - a bit of a non-event really, made all the more apparent by the number of e-mails that continued to come in that way last week from those I hadn't thought to notify or simply forgot (or hadn't been paying attention)!

A quantity of photo-luminescent Fire Exit stickers have arrived this week, and in due course I will put them up, though quite when will depend on available time as this week is rapidly booking up, and – I don't know if you've noticed – but there's an annual event called Christmas looming up fast on the horizon. Well horizon is a bit vague, background is more appropriate, and before that, 03 901 is heading off to Longcross Studios and it would be rather good if it was actually ready, especially seeing that Andrew is talking of it heading to another railway on its return. (Incidentally, those of you who take the Daily Mail can refer to a feature they did this week on London area studios and find some bits relative to Murder on the Orient Express. I've scrutinized one of the pictures and think I have spotted Charlie in the background of one – well background is a bit vague, on this occasion horizon is more appropriate. For those of you, like me, who cannot afford to buy newspapers, you can find it on the Daily Mail website, keep scrolling past Jonathon Ross [which personally I try to do anyway].)

Grandson is up with us for the weekend so Andrew's first call was with him, and as Team Frodingham have deserted us for the second weekend in a row (there was a matter of a house-warming party at Captain Idiot's on Saturday night, and rumour has it most of the attendees were a little the worse for wear this morning, but maybe I shall start dropping hints about YE1382 being pushed outside...) it ended up being me on my own on Saturday and most of Sunday.

And for once, I can promise pictures of progress on locomotives – not a new electrical socket or lightswitch depicted anywhere as I have paused electrical work while 03 901 and a certain ex BR 0-6-0DM get attention. During the week though I did get up to our oil supplier and as a result the space heater is back in action and has been used excessively, as I found a new method of filling its tank that spills less than hitherto. Saturday's efforts saw the 03's alternator refitted, and on the other side of the engine, a new throttle return spring and brackets were created. Previously, although there was a sizeable throttle spring at the desk end of the linkage, there was sufficient play in the relay levers that pushing the throttle right back to its stop didn't seem to return the throttle to its proper position, so idle crept up and engaging a gear gave a bit of a clunk and jerk. I ordered up a selection of springs during the week, played around with them, decided on one and rigged a few bits to fit it in the manner you see in the photo. Haven't tried it running yet, but hopefully it'll do the trick.

IMG 2463 blog

When the alternator went wonky, it was chucking out 40V and apart from damaging the batteries, it welded contacts together in the timer relay - or maybe blew the timer part up altogether so that it stayed permanently on – and the effect was that you couldn't stop the engine. Part of my investigation had me short out the 'Run' relay and this needs re-instating, but it did show up a weakness in my wiring scheme which I shall take on board for any hard-wired systems I do in future, that as the 'Stop' button only broke the positive side, and the timer by-passed it for starting, then the Stop button became ineffective. Thus the Stop button needed to break both sides of the fuel solenoid, which up to now had been attached to the common return. I had, weeks ago, started to pull a new wire through the flex conduit from the distribution box over by the converter but had given up because (a) the conduit was full of wires and I couldn't get the pull-thru (which we always call a fish-tail for reasons I cannot remember) to the other end, and (b) I had the gentleman coming from Fox and needed it operational.

So I returned to the fray and this time got the fish-tail through and pulled the new wire back with it to the fuel solenoid. And at that point it was time to shut up shop and return home as evening meal time was scheduled so that we would all eat together before grandson went to bed. It doesn't sound like I did much? Well, in between times I ground down the rough welds on the vac/air valve bracket and sprayed it up with red oxide primer, re-housed Charles' 'lecturn' (I don't know what else to call it) to a new spot next to the entrance door and gave it a role to house the signing-in book, moved a compressor (which I am told is going on to Tom next year) away from the rather awkward place it had been residing in right before the sink. And having noticed that we hadn't run up James for several weeks (in fact not at all during November) I thought it best to give it a turn up and down for 20 minutes or so to make sure the batteries were charged, the oil circulated and the pneumatics all in order.

At dusk, incidentally that Robin re-appeared. I still don't know how it gets in or where it is roosting overnight, but I caught sight of it out of one eye and it was exploring the shed and probably revelling in the hot air from the space heater that was no doubt hanging around the underside of the roof rather than making me sweat at floor level. I had set up a 5ft LED striplight in the cab of the 03 ready to carry on in there, and the brightness must have attracted His Featheryness as at one point I saw it flapping furiously, bounce off the closed cab window and emerge through the doorway.

First thing Sunday I did my usual trawl through various websites and Forums and picked up a message, sent Saturday lunchtime, from an enthusiast who had been here in September, just before 03 901 arrived, asking if he could pop by about 10 o'clock to see it. As it was now a quarter past nine and I was still munching my Weetabix this did cause a certain amount of consternation, but at 10 on the dot I was un-doing the gate and he and his father arrived about twenty minutes later. Of course, these two did not fulfil our weekly quota of 3, but having been over-quota'd last week I shan't lose any sleep.

Returning to the wiring, the new return wire was duly numbered, terminated and the old common return connection shortened and re-jointed away. The conduit tees were boxed back up (luckily the various screws hadn't been lost in the 6 weeks or so from when I took them off) and I made off the end at the distribution box and jointed it to a spare way on the multi-core back to the desk – as there are no spare 5mm studs I had to joint it using bullet connectors, and with none in my electrical box that meant going into the container to replenish stocks, so while it was open I stashed away various bits sat in cardboard boxes what had been waiting in the shed – after all we have an important visitor due in about 10 days time.

The rapid start necessitated a return for lunch, and when I got back it was to continue the desk end of the stop mod with junctioning the multi-core on the board behind the switches and wiring it through a second set of contacts I'd long-since fitted to the Stop button. Once again other 'distractions' included having a quick bonfire to get rid of various cardboard boxes and such, and taking a tip from Team Frodingham got it to light by squirting a rag with WD40 and putting match to it. Underneath the desk, where various cables come up through the bulkhead from the engine bay, I had in my haste just bundled them together and decided now was the time to put a short bit of cable tray in to support them better, and I just happened to have a few inches of offcut left over from Col5 West. And close scrutiny showed me various bits of piping and such that could benefit from a p-clip or two, and so the afternoon wore on, making worthwhile but rather subtle improvements.

IMG 2464 blog

Andrew came down for an hour or so, and concentrated on sorting boxes of brass, copper and aluminium that have been amassed with a view to getting them weighed in and tidy the place up as well before this visitor arrives. Meanwhile the cover that he made for the 03's exhaust cowl was ground smooth on the handle and given a coat of primer as well: it must be used when it heads down south. No sign of His Featheryness this evening. I suddenly decided on a whim to go back to a job that I did 2/3 of a year or so ago, namely finishing the wooden edge strip under the west-side roller shutter to stop the draft, and had almost finished when the call came to return to the Briddon Country Pile.

And that, as they say, is that. I don't know what time I'll get in the shed this week – I've already got at least 3 days booked out including returning grandson to his mother's – but next weekend it will be nose to the proverbial once again. Pop back and see, will you?

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