Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of multiple Andrews

9th September 2018

Welcome back. As I drove up to Tunstead on Monday morning I began remembering various things that I had meant to bring and forgotten, plus hoping that things I hadn't found in the workshop were in fact hiding somewhere in the van.

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It could have been a decidedly unproductive day, I feared, especially when it transpired that Liam was not available, attending to a plant breakdown, leaving me with but two Andrews – Andrew H as usual and another Andrew, whose surname also began in H, so having all but defeated my system I shall refer to him as Andrew Hn. Andrew Hn was our replacement fabricator as Peter H was on leave, and Andy G too was away for the day so that meant no craning. Peter H had though completed two hinges, based on the remains of the old ones he'd cut off, plus the blow-up of the Dinting picture of the 1970s, which replicated the appearance of the originals completely.

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But I was anxious that this time, we got the original plan for the welding under way, so Andrew Hn got on with repairing the cracks that had appeared in the corner posts of RS8's cab. Whoever designed the cab, way back nearly 60 years ago, was anxious to put as much glass onto it as possible (very laudable, the while idea of that distinctive sloping casing is to improve the driver's visibility – what point in sticking with tiny portholes?) but relied on the radiused corners, rolled out of the sheet, to achieve strength and rigidity. But they took out too much, and in addition some bright spark drilled holes through to put cables out to headlights and such. Over the years they had cracked through in several places and been patched with differing degrees of competence. Really, I concluded, we should consider welding right-angle pieces into the corner pillars to stiffen them, but it would not look very attractive inside nor aid the emerging cables. So for the moment I've left them as ICI did it, but may revisit it later.(See how slender they look in the photo below!)

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Andrew Hn cracked on with the welding jobs, and I began to wonder if we had enough to keep him occupied all day. Up in the cab he secured the two side pieces I had procured to hold the new instrument panel, and here it is (above), not quite ready for installation but roughly in its final planned place. Given that my kind sponsor had sent me money to cover the new clutch cylinder, I thought I might get it into position and photograph it, and maybe even get it connected to the cross shaft by getting Andrew Hn to weld a nut to the original mechanical pieces.

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But I hit a snag. The piston shaft is labelled M16 on the installation drawing, and comes with a locknut, but I hadn't thought to check the pitch, which turned out to be a fine one. An M16 fine pitch nut is a rare beast – so for the moment that stays as you see it. A major target for the day though was to get the throttle shaft back into position, because without it we cannot fit the handbrake chain drive nor the casing piece that goes under the central desk section. This cross shaft though, was only slightly shorter than the distance between the inside walls of the cab.

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The throttle levers go at the outside of the linkages and once in situ, even getting the bolts that go through the rod ends out may prove impossible, so we got that and the linkages on the left hand side into place, albeit without their bearings, but to prove that it all fitted and did so correctly. But I am going to have to back up a bit. Apart from needing to replicate one control handle quadrant that has completely disappeared, I was having a close-up look at the handles and the threads which once carried plastic control knobs are badly corroded. I think we'll have to have them off and new threaded portions welded on to accept new handles, and following Thomas Hill practice make them different shapes so that you know what control you have in your hand without having to look.

I'm also ashamed to admit that I had acquired new ¾ UNFs on someone's say-so without bothering to check for myself. Silly me, it turned out what I wanted were actually 5/8s! But although at one point I had visions of a poor day, in practice it worked out well, the battery box was completed including two handles on top (which were recovered from a badly-made lift-off door) the fixed fluid lines between torque converter and cooler were checked (I had no joints to finish them) - they can be a swine if the cooler isn't quite sat right- and a start made on the coolant lines on the other side.

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All in all, RS8 was coming on. Tuesday and Wednesday were reserved largely for admin, but on Thursday I was called out to a customer and by chance found myself looking at a loco with the same front end arrangement as RS8 so was able to confirm that I did not need to remove the timing case on RS8's engine, though there is still some front end work to do before everything goes together properly. On Friday I had a bit of a run around to do, picking up some Rotabroach adaptors from Mansfield then on up to Sheffield to collect some bits from our fabricators and ask them, please pretty please, could they put a 60 degree bend in the top of my instrument panel.Then on to another supplier to see if they had the 'official' end for the clutch cylinder push rod, i.e. with the correct thread in. They didn't but it is on order and should be in early next week.

So on Saturday, an original plan to go do some work on Claire and Cheedale had been postponed and Andrew and me looked to a productive two days in the shed. We had a list of 14 items, starting with a shunt around as this week we have a half-day planned with a local contractor to move various lumps around the yard, including the two B4 bogies to get them into position to re-wheel the PCV. In addition there's a wagon departure next Thursday, so sorting into roughly the right position to save time later seemed a good idea, but the weather started to precipitate and we were lucky to get finished before the heavy stuff fell. Andrew had envisaged dragging 03 901 out to access some steel that's sat underneath, but in view of the weather, postponed that to Sunday. Instead he completed (for now) the erection of his new racking, by adding to the side two sections to enable longish lengths to be stacked safely, and added a couple of wooden shelves, well one and a half as he ran out of wood.

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He got on with welding the links for the lifting arms on the low loader. I cut the base for a new seat for Claire – the original, which we produced a decade or more ago, had disintegrated and a new plywood base, with special pointy-nuts to dig into it, was put together and brought back to the Briddon Country Pile for Steph to finish re-upholstering. RS8's compressor governor is an old Wabco unit and of unknown condition – we have a pile in the container so I dug three out and started cleaning and stripping the first to ascertain what parts might be required. As the weather hadn't abated we went over to the racking and started re-arranging some of the draws, adding divisions and labelling. It is now starting to show some semblance of order, but it is early days. As a final task, I added some experimental oil into the chain lubrication reservoir on Charlie – experimental in that it is a special oil for a different purpose but may be better suited to our application than chucking engine oil into it.

Sunday, and despite plans for an earlier start it was actually slightly later. The weather was in our favour so 03 901 came outside. Two long lengths of 125 x 125 x 10 angle lay in the four foot. Andrew marked out the first and I proceeded to cut through at about 1100 for tip number one, followed by another for tip 2 and an 1800 length to go under the running plate of Adolf as we get towards restoring side skirts. Andrew meanwhile had taken the gas outside and cut a 20ft rail into two 10 footers and added holes to add to our complement of ramp rails. Dr Ben arrived with 4 large pieces of hardwood, carefully cut to a template which matched the outline of RS8's buffers. Oddly enough, this wood was bought a couple of years ago to make pieces required by the LNER carriage 229 over at Llangollen. It seems that spasmodic restoration had been started rather earlier than the 6 months portrayed by Channel 4 in that programme. Anyway, the pieces that these were planned for were made in ordinary ply in the end, and Ben was happy to sponsor a bit for RS8 by making these backing blocks. He drilled out the fixing holes but admitting his DeWalt drill was struggling a bit with the combination of drill, diameter and wood quality, so I went into our cupboard and pulled out a Swiss made 1050Watter which on his first attempt leaped out of his hand and wrapped the cable around itself. But he soon mastered it and decided that if we weren't careful, it would go home with him.

Though even it made heavy weather of the 4” hole required in the centre to clear the nuts, so we decamped up to the LMSCA shed at Rowsley and he cut them on their pillar drill. You'll see more of these next week.

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Back at Darley, Andrew was in full pelt manufacturing the new tips, having accidentally cut the second to match the first rather than mirror image, so had had to cut another. I cut a second 1800 for Adolf (it fills the distance between two chassis members) and pushed 03 901 back in, after which Charlie went over to pull road 1 back so that the van could drive around and the two remaining RS8 buffers be loaded in with the backing blocks. While Andrew finished fabricating I went through my list of bits that must be in the van for tomorrow and let's hope I haven't forgotten anything important this time! (Well actually I have, but I may get time to pop back down tomorrow morning and find two 5/16 UNF bolts...).

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At the end of the day, how did we do?  Well out of 14 we had completed, or at least made a start on 12, which, according to my '50% Rule' (which, for those who haven't read it in the past, basically means 'do half of what you set out to do and pat yourself on the back for achieving that much') amounts to a good weekend!

It's a full week next week, with RS8 tomorrow, a re-arrangement of things planned for Tuesday (and the weather forecast at this stage says 'wet') then the wagons to move on Thursday and then back to the shed for one day or two next weekend. I'll be back though, same time, same computer, to write it all up as ever. See you then?

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