Though first on Tuesday, having returned grandson, we got back in time to hand the Golf over to Andrew for him to shoot off to his first AFRPS Committee meeting in British Steel, Scunthorpe, after which he was researching pressure vessel regulations and such.
But on Wednesday evening at the shed, we spent more time studying bits of RS8. Conversations with our friend who once worked for British Twin Disc had revealed that he had seen very few CO (freewheel) converters unlike the common-or-garden CF ones and he favoured throwing it away and putting the CF one in. If you need any parts, he assured us, you'll need to manufacture them yourself. Then the former ICI engineer came back to me with a load more information. At the time, ICI were working with ERF on the manufacture of 8 tractors to haul 50ton capacity trailers within the quarry. The power unit was to be the Rolls engine and CO converter, so they added a ninth to the order for RS8, and at the end of the job the loco was ballasted back to its original 23tons.
Then through the IRS yahoo group I was sent a picture by G Alliez showing RS8 out of use at Tunstead in May 1957. I won't reproduce it here as I don't know the copyright position, but a quick look shows that it is lacking its rear buffers and brake weighshaft, so possibly it had been in a derailment? Perhaps, because the loco was out of use anyway, that was why it was selected for rebuild when most of the other saddle tanks were sold off. Anyway, as to the loco itself, we decided to investigate the clutch, as the operating cylinder is extremely small compared to what we're used to and our Twin Disc man thought it might be a single plate clutch, but a quick look inside the confirmed it was the standard twin plate and looking in fair order. Moving a little aft there is a bit of give in the gearbox end of the propshaft, suggesting that the converter is definitely what has seized, and Andrew found some lift in the converter output shaft which ought not to be there.
We spent a bit of time late Friday afternoon over at Cheddleton getting 14 901 ready for the CVR gala at the weekend, and were back first thing the following morning to find it prepp'd and ready to set off in convoy with the 33. First move was down to Froghall to catch up with the 4 coach set that was waiting its first departure with the 33 – 14 901 was then to wait until the 3-coach set arrived with the Tkh 'Hotspur'. I found a large traffic cone in the cab – I assumed at first this was an inspired - if overly large - way of preventing anyone pushing the engine stop button (the rectangular red one at the top of the panel) but it later transpired to be the base of a temporary 'Stop, Wait instructions' board.
While I rode down on '901, Andrew brought the van down and met up with Andy H, who had decided on a day out.
Meanwhile our other 901, the 03, was being washed down at Scunthorpe ready for one of the tours that were scheduled that day, the others being behind 'Cranford'. Toby - aka Captain Idiot – forwarded this picture after its shampoo and set -
He later reported that it received favourable comment for its 'sound' as it climbed perimeter hill!
Back In Staffordshire, 14 901 took the train up to Leek Brook and ran round, but before it did so a VIP came to the cab window wanting to know its power and age, and commenting how nice it had sounded on its way up from Froghall.
We set off south again and I dropped off at Cheddleton to leave it for the rest of the day, as Andrew and I had to dash back to have lunch and get cleaned up ready for the Peak Rail plc AGM. As we passed Darley Dale station, I pulled up as I expected to see someone on the blockpost that I wished to talk to, and found the train in the platform but no loco in sight. It transpired the diesel had failed (I hear since that it ran out of fuel) and 'Lord Phil' had had to haul it back to Rowsley.
I do not propose to report at length on the Peak Rail plc shareholders meeting, it was in many ways like the Peak Railway Association AGM last November with much the same faces and attitudes. But I must just express my bemusement as Directors promise a share issue to promote the extension north, yet PR plc has over £4.2m worth of shares issued but unsold, and the modern requirements of independent verification and certification means that a prospectus can cost as much as £30k to prepare (or so the GCR was quoted in a recent Railway Magazine). And that's before you take Brexit into account and the resulting turbulence in the economy. Even assuming that the Brexit doom-mongers have over-egged it, I can't help feeling that we are in for two or three tough years on the heritage railway front.
But even as we sat in the meeting, phones on silent, Andrew started to receive texts that 14 901 had packed in. This did rather affect our concentration and as soon as the meeting was over, he dashed off to sort it as Steph and I had a belated wedding anniversary dinner planned. It appeared that the fuel pump had somehow sucked air, and once bled, the loco fired up once again. He went through all the pipework, and tightened up an elbow, but all in all didn't find the root cause, and later that evening we discussed whether it is a pump problem or whether the fuel is becoming aerated within the new header tank and thus drawn into the fuel pump and trapped there.
Although we had planned Sunday on the shed, Andrew had agreed to spend the day back at the CVR on 14 901 in case of a recurrence, and as a precaution regularly bled the pump between trains. The problem did recur and the loco spent much of the day double heading with the Tkh as a precaution.
After doing various other jobs in the morning, Steph and I wandered down to the shed in the afternoon to carry on a mass tidy-up. A corner of the shed was eventually cleared, swept and vacuumed, and by late afternoon we had applied a coat of concrete sealant to the area ready for a coat of red paint. Out on Peak Rail, only Lord Phil was in action so presumably trains were terminating at Riverside.
So all in all not as productive a week as we've been used to of late and this write up is the shorter because of it. The corollary of the last weekend of the month is that the next weekend is the first weekend of July and traditionally things go well. Let's hope so. And talking of things going well, I mentioned last week that our sites will be moving to new servers so will be down for a few days in turn. Andrews site – AndrewBriddonlocos.co.uk – will be the first and this will take place during this next week. Weekend Rails is due to move during the following week (4th July), and although the transfer itself is quite quick, it takes a day or two for all the other servers to be updated on its new home. So if you can't find ABL during this next week, don't worry, as soon as it is back up I must catch up with a news piece and the addition of Ludwig Mond. And similarly, if you regularly read this during the middle of week, make a note either to drop by sooner or leave it until the following Friday or Saturday. I promise I'll be here, it's just that 'here' won't be digitally the same and maybe a bit hard to find.