Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of raffles and revisions

2nd March 2014

At 08.30 Monday morning an e-mail polarised in my Inbox containing Revision C of the plans for the shed floor. My revised spec to the Structural engineers, which had included a large amount of “as built” information on CAD, had limited that area where the Mattersons are to be used effectively down to one quarter of the building. Thus while this retained the “nuclear shelter” concrete thickness, the remainder of the floor could be reduced to “normal” standards.

Alas, my euphoria was short-lived. Quite apart from so little of my “this is how it is” drawing having been incorporated, the area of “bomb-proof” concrete had the rails flush as before, but in the other three-quarters the rails were 50mm proud. Since the organ-grinder at the Structural Engineers failed to return my call, it fell to the monkey (whose name was on the drawing) to speak to me. He sounded young and keen, full of joi d'vivre as he introduced himself. I fear my disappointment at waiting 4 weeks for Revision C and be no farther forward may have filtered through. I summarised where I felt Revision C lacked attention to detail, and by the time I enquired whether it had a 50mm step in the concrete (which I couldn't see on the drawing) or a 50mm step in the rails (which wasn't apparent either), his enthusiasm for his work had somewhat dissipated. He replied with a single “Oh”, as in the “oh s**t” genre. I await Revision D.

Monday also saw a row with another supplier. The “goodwill gesture” that the building frame supplier had made to supply us free some shorter lengths of crane runner beam, once we had accepted, was subtly amended in that they expected us to return the unused longer beams. Now, had they been providing transport, that might have been reasonable, but their “goodwill” was limited to us collecting the shorter sections, doing all the re-engineering and it seemed, benefiting them by having redundant longer beams transported back in return. These longer beams could not even be fitted on the wagon we planned to use for collecting the shorter ones.

It is a mark of the gradually changing relationship between me and Andrew that whereas traditionally I have often written letters and such under his name, nowadays I often consult him as to wording on such correspondence as in his professional life he gets some practice at putting sulking suppliers in their place. I must admit his last two lines of the e-mail that went back under my name were quite punchy, and rather less circumspect than I otherwise would have been. I suspect though, that the supplier's grudging acceptance, which came back under the name of the guy in the office (whom I liked and could get on with) was actually written by the boss (who would never be on my Christmas card list). The beams were duly collected on Tuesday, our haulier confirming the atmosphere in Tuxford being a trifle frosty!

On Tuesday evening, Steph had tickets for me and her to attend her Church's Annual Pea and Pie Supper. As a stranger in their midst, it was I suppose inevitable that the priest would tap me on the shoulder, and ask me to close my eyes and pick out a ticket (from a bowl) for a raffle prize. I duly shut my eyes and couldn't even find the bowl, but eventually drew out a folded ticket, passed it to the priest and it turned out to be one of the two Steph had bought. Naturally this brought forth considerable disbelief amongst the other supper-takers and a red-faced Steph as she went to pick a prize. I will leave you to reflect on whether this is a mere coincidence or if some higher power was at work. I think I should be rewarded for loyalty above and beyond.

In contrast to the steelwork, the supplier of concrete panels couldn't be more helpful, and the two incorrect panels were swapped on Wednesday afternoon. Our haulier, being HIAB-fitted (the lorry, not the man himself) lowered each panel into position and so finished the Bakewell end of the shed. As part of the service the concrete manufacturer loans out the lifting eyes, so Thursday afternoon I popped over to Ashbourne to return them, and found myself invited in to the office to tell them all about what we were doing. It didn't take long to discover that the man I had been dealing with is the son of a GCR shareholder and GW devotee.

At the beginning of the week a further call had come in requesting that we run 14 901 on Saturday, as D8, which is otherwise rostered all through March (the 31 having a reported traction motor problem) was not available. Now, in the light of what I had found the previous time (with the fuel header tank apparently pressurising) I sorted out some fittings and pipe in order to make up a temporary, larger diameter and unrestricted overflow line from the header tank back to main tanks. This was installed on Friday night, and the loco run up and down for a while in the gathering dusk. Andrew meanwhile, had a go at stripping the torsional coupling from D9500, but retired from the field after his spanner slipped, causing said-spanner and fist holding it to contact forcibly with his nose. Blood emerging from aforementioned nostril confirmed the force of the impact. We did however, investigate one of the noises which I had noticed last time and was not there in October, only to pin it down to the turbo bellows which were rattling last year, but at different rpms.

On Saturday morning therefore, with Andrew having driven off later Friday night to Norfolk, I dragged myself down to Rowsley and started prepping the 14, though a little delayed by the absence of the oil store key wherein lies the side-rod oils. Eventually we got ourselves sorted on the north end of the train and went through the ritual of being towed to Matlock and pulling back to Rowsley. No unforeseen shutdowns this time – maybe a little more vibration than hitherto, but the fuel leakage seems to have stopped, suggesting my new overflow is doing its job.

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Today saw the arrival of a through train from St Pancras, and a High Speed Train at that. The banner I had referred to last week had arrived on Thursday, so first thing (well as first thing as could be with Andrew driving back from Norfolk) we headed down to Darley and set the banner up on the first portal of the building, using a mixture of string and tie wraps.

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The picture incidentally shows Cheedale, Charlie and Tom outside Rowsley shed about a year ago, seemed most apposite. Anyway we had finished that and measured up one of the crane beam brackets when the HST hoved into sight so here's a view of it passing the yard...

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We packed up and went on to Rowsley. The HST had detrained its passengers who were milling around the yard. The other HST were running brake van shuttles down to their shed, and as usual stewards were having difficulties preventing enthusiasts wandering hither and thither. Having earlier wondered whether we would be able to get at D9500 to pick up where Andrew's unexpected intimacy with a spanner had terminated battle on Friday, we concluded that crossing the line used by the shuttle should not be a problem and after lobbing some redundant bits from Darley into the scrap bin, we adjourned to the other 14.

Advice was that the easiest way to get the torsional coupling out might be to split the propshaft and extract the two lumps together. And split it we did, but actually getting it out of the loco was a bit beyond us without crane-age, so it was secured ready for recovery in the near future given that the railway's JCB is now back in action. By now the weather had turned wet, and after seeing the HST away from Rowsley on its return run, we adjourned to the loco shed, where I shivered over a magazine in the mess room and Andrew did some painting of the casing parts of Libby, which, now that the said-same JCB is available, we can finally get around to refitting.

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One final task for the day though – Ashdown had been abandoned straddling a turnout when the engine had stopped and wouldn't restart. (The Hudswell  had later been moved by Cheedale as otherwise D8 was blocked in.) Although the fuel tap was on (and the driver insisted he had turned it on) Andrew investigated and sure enough both sections of the injector pump were dry.

He bled the system through, and after a bit of cranking the engine picked up and ran. Since the tap had been on when Andrew got to it, (with any Gardner, where the fuel tank gravity feeds the pump, it is advisable to turn the fuel off after running as any wear in the pump elements allows fuel to ooze slowly past, and into the sump) either the driver had turned it on after it conked out, or maybe someone else had left it on and he had inadvertantly turned it off when he came to use it. Ah well, we ran the loco for 15 minutes to give the batteries a boost and then, cold and wet, headed back home.

As we left though, Charlie was about to take the works train south. Relaying at Matlock Riverside will temporarily sever the line, but the bogie bolster was in the train to be tripped into Darley on the way down and the crane beams loaded and brought back later in the week. Normal progress will be resumed as soon as possible.

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