Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of sand and crate

22nd July 2018

Another sweltering week here at the Briddon Country PIle. The grounds around the mansion are parched. Part of the Darley Dale yard is transforming into a sandy desert. Oh hang on, that was the blasting contractor.

It was woodworking day at Tunstead, and I had gone up armed with wood and tenon saws, plus 6 selected chisels from Steph's personal toolkit. Tunstead gets a lot of deliveries, particularly machinery, in softwood crates, and normally the wood goes to employees who have wood-burning stoves and such, but this week just about every scroungable board was directed to creating a floor for RS8's cab and the 'backboard' that goes between the fuel tanks. Actually it's almost exactly 10 years ago that I had another 'brush' with wooden crates. At that time I was working for a firm that imported axles from South Africa, and being fully-machined axles, each came in a specially manufactured crate. But when you bring wood all across the globe, there is a  danger of contamination with either insect or other life, which could escape into the environment - imagine if Dutch Elm Disease or Ash Die-back wrere caused by an untreated timber crate left in someone's garden until they were ready to use it in their eco-friendly stove. And that was the point, all such timber had to be treated and marked that it had been so. But our axle manufacturer switched his crate-supplier, and we had a 40ft container full of crates which on customs exam at Felixstowe, had no treatment markings. The matter got put in the hands of the Forestry Commission.and I got put in charge from our firm's point of view. The crates were permitted ot go to the end-customer but the axles must be immediately uncrated and the crates burnt. And so I followed the delivery to Pullman's at Cardiff, who kindly allocated a scrap skip so that I could witness and photograph the crates being burnt.  And it rained- not that that had any effect on the fire, but it did mean that as I stood watching, the front of me was burnt to a crisp and the rear of me was soaked to the skin. But I got my pictures, returned to the office and e-mailed them to the Forestry Commission in Edinburgh in time for the deadline.

But here you can see something of last Monday's efforts in RS8: very IKEA-ishimg4635
I had also purchased some brand new 1/2inch Whitworth setscrews and nuts, so happily replaced the prominent M12s in the cab rear sheet with the real things. That does mean we can start to look at the desk control  linkages (one section of which is missing) and someone has already stripped the bearing assemblies down, so there are some new small bearings, some old large bearings which provide me with a bearing number, and some medium sized ones which are missing! Well, it's just another challenge.

Without the new 2 inch pipe from BSS, the vac pipe did not progress, though I now know I need a further 4 metres. I promised to have it organised for next Monday.

It was a busy Tuesday. Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that the 'For sale' note on Andrew's site about the 3rd ferry van has been removed. In fact,it had also been listed on the carriage exchange through the good offices of Harvey C, and Andrew had been approached almost immediately by someone in Devon who wanted to put a deposit on it there and then. Much as we like money, we don't really want to sell it 'as seen' when the purchaser hadn't, so declined the deposit but invited him up for a proper inspection. So on Tuesday morning two people arrived frm Devon. Bob and Rob (they're both Roberts but it helps having different abbreviations) were 'sold' on it from the outset and insisted on paying the entire purchase price there and then. They've asked us to try and find some track for them (it's not a heritage railway destination) and they'll collect in a few weeks. Off they went back to Devon, and we adjourned to the Briddon Country Pile for a meeting with a man from Norfolk Social Services which took up the rest of the day. But I did manage to squeeze in a  call to BSS in Derby to arrange delivery of the pipe the next day, when I'd be in the workshops.

Wednesday, and I was down for eight o'clock to get ready for the sand-blasting contractor, Paul M. Andrew's grand plan was that we'd load everything on to the (ex Buxton MPD) Wickham trolley, roll it out to where he was working, then roll it back in and be priming while Paul got on with blasting the next instalment. Apart that is from Adoolf's cab, which was on the spare B4 bogie anyway.

Things did not get off to a very quick start though, as shunting took a little longer than anticipated, and Paul was waiting for access and to get underway.

While he was busy I rang to BSS to ascertain when the pipe might arrive. 'Oh,' came the reply, 'we're having another problem with the transport, I'll get back to you.' Now, as I expected to be out the rest of the week this was not a welcome revelation. And surprise, I still don't have the pipe. So I'm thinking of starting a crowd-funding appeal to get BSS a new lorry - or a new excuse.


Also planned for blasting was the pseudo-Wickham chassis, and you can see more clearly how this was definitely the work of two different fabricators.


The quality of welding and fabrication of the main chassis members is indicative of a good fabricator. The longitudinal  (left on this picture) is butting up to the cross member by means of a section cut out of the latter top and bottom, but you're hard pressed to see the join.In contrast, the strengthening angle piece, which is not even 100% horizontal, is 'blob' welded and most of that is on the angle, not the channel.  The same ameteur has let in two additional channels as rear engine bearers, but here you're hard-pressed NOT to see the join, because it is so badly made!


And yes, that 'bright bit' is a hole where it's been chopped out with a disc and not filled up..

Anyway, the cab, fiuel tank, grille and front casing secion for Adolf got blasted, but the rear casing section must await the next visit. Some loose bits, like the Wickhams wheels, RS8 buffers, Adolf's casing lift off doors and cab doors also got attended to, but despite working turn and turn about using his compressor and Andy H's (he'd joined us for the day) Andrew could not get all the priming done but at least they're undercover. A larger compressor is on the needs list, unless time can be found to get that Hydrovane fixed quickly.


I was out on jobs Thursday and Friday., although Friday didn''t go well and my plan to hit the road at lunchtime, collect profiles, take some brake blocks to a customer up north and drop Steph off at Darlington, ran about 3 hours late and the profilers detour got scruibbed. Setting off back from Darlington at about 8pm, I first suffered the 5 mile 50nph section near Leeming Bar, then found that a whole secion was closed from Dishforth requiring a slow crawl down the adjacent A168, and finally, when I thought all my troubles were over, a closure down to one lane on the M1 wasted 20 minutes, I staggered home at 11pm. Saturday I had to return to finish of Fridays' job (Poets day had saved me) so I didn't join Toby, Charles, Stephen, Andrew and Andy H (again) until well after lunch, and took it easy. I did though get roped into assisting Andrew moving cupboards and pigeon hole racks as part of the grand tidy-up and re-organisation.

On Sunday., it was just Andrew and me. Well no, it wasn't as later we had Gareth R, Mrs R and the two little Rs but that's another story. Our task was to continue tidying up, recovering floor space as well as recovering a compressor from a loco. But all these are other stories that are not really relevant.

For now Adolf's cleaned but unprimed fuel tank is resting back on the loco, and you can move around without treading daintily between large ferrous obstructions. Some of the boxes of bolts have found their way into racks and floor has appeared up the side that I haven't seen in months. Andrew professed himself pleased with the days progress - and I don't ask for anything more.

One of my readers has pointed out that Amazon is now offering two secondhand copies of 'The Railway to Merhead'  - OK, you know who you are - but as they are listed at a price higher than the new (it's only £11.95 you know) it won't cripple sales for the moment. Steph says that you only know you've arrived when copies start turning up in Charity shops.

Golly, nearly midnight. Where's that pumpkin?  I'll, see you all next week, more things afoot!

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