Now, I have been involved in capital goods selling for years. And despite, or perhaps because, I did a degree specialising in Marketing I developed my own theories as to how this all works. It is all about psychology and effect, demonstrating your competence, and building towards the point where your customer doesn't care what he gets provided you supply it (and I am not talking 'bungs' here, although I have seen that happen).
But now I am on the receiving end. I have met three out of four of the firms I have approached to tender (the fourth told me at the end of last week that their semi-retired partner, the one who looks at these sorts of jobs, only comes in on Monday, yet I heard nothing more from them until the end of this week). Each of them have alternately complimented me on the suitability of the site for commencement, and tried to convince me to do the job in some way differently. I have vacillated between casting all our holding-down bolts solid, and setting them, or half of them, in cones that may be either waxed cardboard or steel. (The bolt is still in the concrete at the bottom, but being in a cone that is subsequently removed, is able to waggle a bit to cope with alignment error.) I have tried to explain the complexities of what drains are there already and what we need, and given my considered (if uneducated) opinion of what to do if the successful contractor encounters another that is as yet unforeseen.
Oh, and the fourth tenderer, when at last they did get back to me, was to demand why they hadn't got the drawing for the concrete floor, and at least I could reply, firmly, that it is because I am not seeking tenders for the floor, at this stage. With the exclusion then of them (because I haven't met anyone from their firm to form an opinion) I like all three tenderers and would not like to make a choice between them. Fortunately, I can hide behind the matters of price and timeframe after the tenders arrive on Wednesday, and so claim to be impartial.
And then of course there's the CDM Co-ordinator. Now, I thought I was being switched-on by putting a clause in my enquiries to the effect that as the site does not have loos, my contractors should make their own provision. Not so. Under the legislation passed through a few years ago, it is not up to the individual contractors, it is up to one contractor, the Principal one. And as you might recall from last week's blog, I have just discovered that that is me. So I wrote a polite e-mail to Peak Rail telling them that I need somewhere to place a 'Welfare Unit' at Darley for the duration of the build.
If I seem a little aggrieved about this it is because, the “one size fits all” feature of so much current legislation is landing on me again. It is unlikely, with the best will in the world, that the construction of this building will be continuous. Contractor A will do his stuff and it may be a couple of weeks before Contractor B comes on site to do the next bit, and so on. If I had a complete set of perfect architects drawings, a bill of quantities and a Purchasing department (and as an aside, I did a spell working for Henry Boot Construction, so this is not entirely alien) I would have a CPA plan, key dates set in stone for ordering/delivering and it would all go together like a well-oiled machine. But this is ameteur-night and it won't. Each contractor bringing their own unit made sense to me – instead my highly-expensive “Welfare Pod” will be sitting there idle for weeks at a time – too costly to off-hire yet the wrong time of year to let it out as a holiday home.
We've had some interesting e-mails this week, one in particular has marked a revelation and the end of a mystery that has been around us ever since we acquired 14 901.
You may recall, especially if you have followed Andrew's website, that there has been a story doing the rounds over the years that the DV8 in '901 came out of a Class 17 – the erstwhile Clayton BoBos which, although mostly Paxman powered, had two examples with DV8s which were ultimately scrapped at St Rollox.
Initially I thought this was a case of “loco with DV8 scrapped in Glasgow, DV8 turns up on genset in Glasgow, ergo DV8 must have come out of loco” and said so on another forum. In due course however, an SRPS member came forth with the full story, that an ex BR employee, having become an engineer with the GPO, had been tasked with getting a stand-by genset for the Post Office and as engine build lead times were too long, had gone back to his old employers, bought a power unit from St Rollox, and sent it away to have a “proper” 3-phase genny fitted. But being a Rail traction spec engine, it did not perform too well as a mains genset and when another (proper) genset came available, this SRPS member had organised the exchange and routed the redundant DV8 to Falkirk. At about the same time, a Rolls-Royce Service Engineer confirmed the story, and assured us that he had paperwork in his loft somewhere to back it up.
And there the matter rested, until this week, when opening a box labelled “domestic bills” said RR engineer found the paperwork relating to the Class 17 engines and the troublesome one in Glasgow that he had been called out to advise on. As a result, we now have an engine number for our DV8, and the certain knowledge that it came out of D8587. So we can at last say “yes it did” to all who ask. It still leaves us some questions with regards to engine ratings, but that is another issue.
Talking of engines for Class 14s, we went in to Rowsley early (for us) on Wednesday morning to unload the planned power unit for D9500. This has actually been earmarked since last July, when a deal was struck to acquire it from the nice guys at Beaver Power, but we really did not want to see it moved until covered accommodation was on the horizon. It's a daft allusion as the horizon of course remains far away but the opportunity to grab it, together with another prime mover with a project to put it into made a movement viable. “Cheedale” had been left ready and we shunted the German flat out and put the new engine (which, incidentally and to wind up the purists, is a Perkins 3012, which was originally developed as the Rolls-Royce CV12) on it alongside a spare C8, the 6RPH Paxman for “Coronation”, a hacksaw and a compressor The other engine – a Cummins NTA855 - had to go on another flat wagon which has ended up as a runner between the wagons carrying out steelwork.
Once the lorry had left and the wagons had been very carefully shunted back, we got on with the Drewry, Andrew continuing on piping, to access which I prized up the removable panel in the cab floor. This is the first time it has been lifted since I made it back in July, and having assembled it in situ against the clock it would not have surprised me had it turned out to be glued in solid. But out it came, and I took it in the shed and added its ring-pulls to make it easier in future – though first, in order even to get it to go back, I will have to shave a touch of one edge.
Towards the end of the day we tried the fan on its new boss on “Libby” and discovered that somehow, the boss and shaft are not exactly compatible. Oops.
Oh, and the website for the Class 14 event is now up – it is in the “links” sections of both this and Andrew's sites. Not too much info on it yet, but bookmark it and promise to keep popping back.