Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of keys and the ornamental pond

23rd September 2018

Hullo again.

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Monday was not a normal Tunstead day. Months ago, before this Monday milarky got started, I had a dentist check-up booked, and I didn't want to re-arrange it, especially as one of my fillings had broken - or rather, it transpired, my filling was intact but the remaining tooth surrounding it was no more. Still, I dutifully went up for 09.00 with the promise that I must be on my way by back 10.00. As an alternative to my kind presence beaming down and offering advice and direction, I had produced a 2-page schedule of jobs for which material and such was available, and hoped that they might be able to tick a few of them off. So for much of the pictures on RS8 this week I am once again indebted to Andy H, to whom I made the entreaty to 'get some pickies' in between his efforts at painting, etc., etc.

There is one obvious conclusion that I fear I must draw from the results of last Monday. The volunteers at Tunstead work much harder when I am not there. Yes, let's be honest, if last Monday is anything to go by, I should write up a list of jobs, throw in a pile of bits and clear orf.

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The new instrument panel location was drilled and tapped at the top and bottom, the lower strip now being ready to weld in place (as we'll have to get the mobile welder up and a hot-work permit organised, I'll wait until a group of welding jobs are together before organising it) and the panel itself painted in grey Hammerite.

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The two last buffers were re-assembled, the handbrake shaft and its drive chain fitted (though I must acquire a half-link to get the tension right, it seems) the control linkages down the left hand side of the cab reassembled, the clutch valve moved slightly further out to clear the new instrument panel, the anchor point for the whistle chain drilled ready ('bring countersunk bolts' came the cry), work is progressing on restoring the window frames to their original hinged arrangements, with flip-over sills for the driver's elbow, and so on and so forth.

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All in all, a large number of little jobs were completed and the next major task will be to lift the power unit out for the last time, get it painted then drop it back in and set up the rear mounts. That may be for tomorrow. Once the power unit is back in, so the front sprngs can go in and thus the loco can be roughly set up for buffer height, the side rods and remaining brake parts fitted. And of course, the air receivers will go back into the casings, the casing section can drop into place and RS8 will start to look like its old self again. D'y'know, I'm almost becoming excited.

The next major event of the week was Thursday, when Sam, who works for Ollie, arrived first thing with a bloomin' great HIAB mounted on an 8-wheeled Volvo chassis. We have used Ollie a couple of times in the past - the last was when the power unit was dropped in to 03901 over at Scunthorpe in 2011, but then it was the smaller HIAB on a Scammell. This unit knocked that into a cocked hat. To get anything rubber tyred around to the back of the shed, we start up a loco and draw the train that sits on road 1 southwards. And this I dutifully did, or rather, I started up Charlie and then, because I thought it might be useful to have two locos running, fired up James as well. I was around the side of Ashdown when I heard a banging noise from James which I didn't recognise, as much as anything because it was partially drowned by the sound of Charlie just behind. I dashed back to the cab and shut James down, thinking that the starter motor had stuck in engagement, or something. Charlie was used to move James and Ashdown to one side, then some of the wagons were collected from the south end of road 1 as there were items on them that needed lifting off, and at last I was ready to draw the rest of the train back. By now the outriggers were deployed and the two B4 bogies that arrived back in July were picked up, swung around the corner and put on the end of road 1, to be pushed up past the shed while the crane re-positioned.

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The next part of the job had the crane's outriggers right over foul of the main line, which we assured Sam was safe because no trains run on Thursdays, but just in case I fitted our STOP sign to the track. Part of the list of tasks planned was to add bits to the scrap bin. Dotted around were various lumps, notably of Adolf, which were just too darn heavy to have been put in the scrap by ourselves but were of no problem with the crane, even at full reach. After that the bogies were once again repositioned, this time from Track 1 to 3A outside the shed in one case, and right by the front of the PCV in the other, for sometime soon we plan to bring Sigma6's big crane back down from Tunstead and lift the PCV back onto bogies.

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Then I pushed Thelma and Louise, aka the conflats, up to the crane and the two ramp sections were lifted off and put on the RRA, where Andrew reckons he'll have the space to do the final bits he's been meaning to do for the last 6 months or more. It was while this shunting was going on I got a direct look through James's open cab door and saw that the clutch control lever had been left in the engaged position when last shut-down (and I'm sad to say, was probably me). Now another possible option for the banging noise was obvious - the gearbox had de-meshed and as the air pressure had started to build, the gearbox input shaft had been rotating and the gearbox cylinder had been trying to push everything back into engagement, known coloquially as 'ratcheting'. On most gearboxes, RF11, Hunslet, Wiseman, etc, this comes over as a high-frequency noise, like trying to engage a car gear without depressing the clutch. But Yorkshire's own gearbox, as used on James, Jack and the 02s, used dog clutches. Indeed, Yorkshire reckoned you did not need to disengage the clutch to change direction on their locos, but I certainly never would try as it makes a big enough thump as you put the clutch back in now. Anyway, the conflat was reloaded with two old Cummins engines we had on the ground, plus some other bits, and the spare B4/B5 wheelsets that had been sitting in front of the PCV got relocated further up where a couple of rails had been dropped into place to give them a more appropriate storage point, and clear where the big crane will have to go. By now the rain we had been forecast had started and we had over-run our 4hr slot, so the last two items on our list were scrubbed and after the crane had departed, the reformed train was pushed back to its starting place.

There was a fair amount of rain over the next 24 hours or so - I went over to Sheffield Thursday night to see a friend: the A617 through Baslow was flooded, but I was able to circumvent that by taking the other side of the 'green', but when I got to the bottom of my friend's road there was nothing for it but to drive through floodwater 6inches or more deep. I learned the following morning that there had been more more extensive flooding up around Tinsley. Anyway, I had enough work to do Friday that I put off going down to the shed, and late Friday checked that Mike F would be at Ruddington so that I could pop down there Saturday morning. For an outcome of our recent trip to Wirksworth was the discovery that the two axles for my 'Avonside' project were in fact ready and waiting, and had been for some time.

So Saturday morning I arrived at Ruddington, loaded them up and had a natter before returning to the Briddon Country Pile before a visitor arrived. The afternoon was very convivial, discussing aspects of Peak Rail, and developments in the on-going matter of the alleged defamation that was made by PR against me in the 'newsletter' last March. I must again not go into detail at this stage, but feel it not inappropriate to mention that I received this week a letter from Mr Ian Prosser, Chief Inspector of Railways, which, shall we say, vindicates my position. Anyway, I at last returned to the shed today with a certain amount of foreboding. The heavy rain we have had - a correspondent up at Buxton reckoned they'd had about 6 inches - might have overwhelmed the drainage and brought about a return of the ornamental pond, I feared.

Yes,. I was right to fear it, in fact, as I opened the door I realised that not only was the water in between the rails under 1382 on the far road, it was also present in the nearside track too. I rather doubt if our slot drain was failing in its function. It is not as nice, smooth, even run-away slope as I'd like but it is not that bad. Most likely the main track drain, which heads south on an alignment which would once have been between the up and down main lines and simply empties into Warney Brook, was simply unable to cope with the flow and the water built up until it was higher than the end of the rails

I spent some time trying to bail out 3A before finding that the old torque converter charge pump I'd used on 3B last time had seized solid, so dug out another sacrificial lamb and set it to work getting the level in 3A down to a few millimetres. Later I transferred it over to 3B but could not get it to pump there properly - I fear a bit of silt or other debris is gumming up the works. Back to Monday a minute, and during the afternoon I had popped down to Belper to pick up a couple of minor ebay purchases - a small set of BSW/BSF die nuts and a large box of assorted Woodruff keys. Now, something that has not featured for several months has been the engine turnover stand. It reached a point where the next task was to refit the winding handle, but we had had a new drive shaft made as the key had been sheared on the old one and damaged the keyway severely. We had reassembled it bar the handwheel and - you've guessed it - a new Woodruff key, and here I was now with several hundred in a box. And as the 12t van is due to become the stand's new home, getting it ready is no bad thing, so a key was selected, filed a little to make it fit and the turnover stand now, well, turns over. I even lubricated the gears, using for curiousity the oil which I am trialling in Charlie's chain lubricator as it contains an additive to make it 'stick' to the object. I watched the two bevel gears rotating and was fascinated to see the oil spread out and form strings, like a single strand of a spider's web, from one gear to the other. Of course, it might have been a spider's web, there's so many of the things around that you can't tell where they'll turn up next.

Back to James, and after de-clutching the transmission (foot on clutch lever and push) I started it up and was relieved that no nasty noises assailed my ears.

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So I moved Charlie to one side and used James to bring a few wagons across. One of the Cummins engines now on the conflats had an air cleaner that hung at a drunken angle. It's not that it was anywhere near foul of load gauge, but being on the main line side it had been rather prominent when shunting it away on Thursday and I thought that it would be better taken off rather than have any complaints about the possibility of it dropping onto the man line. There was in reality very little holding it, so off it came and the wagons returned to position. It was a lovely sunny afternoon and having seen a few chair keys out of place and even a couple dropped out, I went back up with a keying hammer and returned them to correct positions. If I had known last week what the weather had in store I would have made more of an effort with the portakabin roof, but being an expert in the art of securing stables once occupants have absconded I went up armed with sealant gun and a carpenters brace (to which I had fitted a 8mm magnetic bit holder - a careful amalgamation of old and modern) and re-secured the edging strip with 100mm tek screws left over from the cladding. Many wood lice are homeless tonight. And apart frrom collecting bits together for Tunstead tomorrow, that was it, save for finally finding my submersible pump, stripping it down and extracting a piece of ballast that was jamming the pump mechanism (and how a bit that big got in there is beyond me). If this climate change results in more storms and such heavy rain a better solution to the ornamental pond needs to be found

Now, I have saved you from persistent plugs for my novel of late, but I cannot resist it this week for no better reason than I wandered on to Amazon and found at long last I have a reader-review, and giving it 5 stars. The chances are it is someone on here, so thank you whoever you are, it quite boosted my spirits. I have now had 3 requests for a kindle-ised version, so will have to investigate that, and to all the rest of you who have not bought a copy, shame on you. But if it is because, like me, you aren't all that keen on dealing with Am...n, then you can of course, buy a copy direct from me at the normal price of £11.95 plus £3.00 p&p. And you can have it dedicated/signed at no extra cost. What more can you ask?

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So off to Tunstead again tomorrow, the annual flu-jab to look forward to on Wednesday, and next weekend Andrew wants to attend the RSS auction where all the trailers of the defunct Moveright International are up for grabs. Make note to change the PIN number on my credit card. See you next week?

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