Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of pipes and wires

5th June 2011

We should have been into a thoroughly productive weekend, but somehow, things went a little awry. Up to Friday early afternoon, we were hoping to be at Scunthorpe on Saturday but again, the vital element in the plan was declared not available this weekend, and shortly afterwards Andrew succumbed to a heart-felt plea from his girl-friend to make an additional trek down to see her on Saturday. Before he left, he stripped out the DVLR’s free-issue exhauster for “Pluto” to check rotation and exactly how, if needed, it can be reversed since space within the casings is severely restricted and turning it physically round may not be feasible.

To his chagrin, he found that some of the vanes are badly worn/damaged, but probably better that we found it now than later. We are still pondering how to produce a satisfactory oil separator (given that none were available at DVLR) and current ideas run along the lines of adapting an oil bath air cleaner – maybe with sticky-back plastic….

So on Saturday Steph and I were at a loose end, but in the afternoon we popped over to Rowsley, me to see if the Tamper had been extricated as promised, and Steph to have a chat with Lynne, who organises the Warring 40s event in August where Steph runs an activity stand. I dropped her off by the narrow gauge line and drove down to the loco shed with a heavy heart and foreboding – the Tamper was still resolutely blocking “Pluto” in. But in the shed I found Roger Hallatt, and did a bit of gentle lobbying. Meanwhile the usual Peak Rail Austerity, once running in green as ‘WD 150′ and now in black as ‘68013′ (not its true number but one on local allocation in BR days) was in action.

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"68013" is admired at Rowsley

Sunday: Andrew arrived back about half past ten and after loading various bits in to the van we headed off again to Rowsley. Lobbying had had the desired effect – as we arrived the tamper was crawling out of the siding. We soon learned that it had taken a couple of hours to charge the batteries sufficiently but that also a control lever had seized and so it was creeping along with its hydraulic motor only half full, or something. It now blocks in the Class 37 so I don’t suppose it will be popular there either!

“Charlie” was started up and having 3 wagons in front of it – two loaded with stone to go down to Matlock early in the week for platform remedial works (the stone used to be the walls of Matlock’s goods shed) so we shunted with them as well. By the way, I finally have the photo I have been craving – “Charlie” outside Sainsbury’s at Matlock on the Network Rail bit. Taken by Rob Sanders in poor light on a camera-phone it is scarcely going to win a prize, but it’s good enough for me.

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"Charlie" outside Sainsbury's at Matlock, photo Rob Sanders

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"Charlie" with wagon loads of ex-goods-shed stone for Matlock platform

Anyway, we brought the two locos and the wagons over to the side door of the shed – the weather was dry and as a member of the train crew had parked his kit car right in the track just inside the first shed road it was probably best there – and set to work with the gas first to straighten out the rear dummy bracket, which, about 18 years ago, I recall repeatedly hitting with a big’ammer trying to get it to break off. Today we warmed it up and Andrew hit it back somewhere near straight again. The front and rear pipes were fitted and I was left to weld the support block to the loco chassis. (We have a fair division of labour these days – if it’s MIG, Andrew does it, if it requires stick, it’s me.) Andrew then started on the feed pipe up to the train brake valve and I, having collected a length of “spare” 70mm starter cable from the VBA (the cable came off a 1984 Hunslet) commenced re-cabling the battery master switch so that, in the near future we can refill the cooling system and get the loco functional again.

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Andrew's feet stick out the battery bay as he wrestles a new pipe into place underneath

Down in South Wales, incidentally, 14 901 was top’n'tailing a Hudswell 0-6-0T “Jennifer” on Gwili’s transport weekend, with the added twist that the Bronwydd level crossing was to be used to lay-over the train clear of the platform southwards (while the dmu entered and left from the north)  giving the impression of a train leaving or arriving from Carmarthen. Wonder if there’ll be a picture….

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The driver's brake valve now has train pipe attached, while the vac/air valve (right) and vac res (under) await full connection

By the end of the day the train pipe was so connected, and the first of the branches (to the vac/air valve) was in place and the beginnings of the other pipes under way. Meanwhile, Rob had come and pinched “Charlie” – with 3 wagons loaded with more building stone the works train was off to Darley Dale tonight to ensure that the contractors who are racing to get the platform face at Matlock finished in time apportion no delays to lack of material. So “Pluto” remained in the shed tonight, and if it doesn’t commit any social gaffes might be allowed to remain until next weekend.

I said in last week’s blog that we might see pictures of 14901 departing Bronwydd Arms southwards as if setting out for Carmarthen, and sure enough one has appeared see here. That the uploader chooses his title as “Gwili Railway’s stunning class 14…” (I’ve corrected his punctuation and spelling) pleases Andrew immensely.

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