Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of track and Terrypicker

25th September 2016

One of my readers commented recently that one of the things he likes about this blog is that 'there is always something happening'. I have admitted that on occasion when I resort to reminiscing here in print it is because I've got little really to talk about. Is this going to be one of those weeks? I doubt it.

As you all know we do tend to find the odd useful item on e-bay but it is not the only auction site that Andrew frequents. Another one is concerned more with industrial sales and works slightly differently. Whereas it is our fondest wish to dash in to the auction in the last few seconds and take it before anyone else can outbid (and it's been done to us to many times to mention) on this site, a bid in the last few minutes (let alone seconds) extends the deadline by ten minutes. We had some bits from the liquidators of Jarvis Fastline this way.

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You may also recall a month ago that Team Frodingham levelled a section of ground outside the shed and I suggested it was to be a veg plot. Did any of you believe me? No, at the time they thought they were getting a 20ft container to act as secure storage for their gear, but it fell through, and we were asked to find one.

Then along came an auction of various secure storage containers at a firm in Wakefield on this other auction site. Trouble was, Andrew was torn between two, with close deadlines. On e-bay it wouldn't have mattered, lose the first, go for the second, but with this one, someone else bid on his first choice and so the deadline extended after his second. It was a gamble – rebid on the first and hope not to lose it, but let the second go? In the end he bid on both, and won both.

So what do you do with two containers when you only wanted (could afford) one? Answer, you discover that our friend Terry D could do with one for use at his girlfriend's stables, where the cherrypicker, sorry, Terrypicker, is, and a plan starts to emerge.

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So it was on Wednesday one of our occasional hauliers with a HIAB lorry picked up the first container from Wakefield, delivered it to somewhere near Worksop, and arrived just after lunch with the Terrypicker, before dashing back off to get the other container. By the time he got back Andrew was home from work and was able to assist in getting it positioned and roughly level. It came off the lorry a trifle sloping, why? Because it is not an empty container. Within are at least 2 filing cabinets, a kitchen unit, six or seven doors/doors frames and a load of what I think was internal partition walling for temporary offices. Team Frod and ourselves will have to organise disposing of it all before they can use it!

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With the arrival of the Terrypicker we can at last think about setting up the LED floodlights and to this end I have been plodding on with bits of wiring and such and buying lots of little plastic enclosures to form the junctions in the roof space. To the various people who have asked what we want the Terrypicker for, I reply 'because I can't fly and it's a long way up to the purlins'. Next purchase is the necessary cabling and for once, having basically made it clear to my regular electrical supplier that I am pricing stuff and roughly what I can buy it for elsewhere (=ebay) I have got some very competitive prices in return. I must learn the art of haggling.

On Friday we had another old friend come to call, In this case a Fermec 860 (looks like a JCB) driven by the guy who unloaded all our building cladding a year or so ago. We had hoped to use a mini-digger, but the fact that we needed to shift various heavy lumps out the way first took it into the bigger league, being more versatile. Having to oversee all this meant that I got no photos, but in essence, all the bits of worn out rail from Thelma and Louise got dropped loudly into Mr Booth's skip, the space they occupied was then made the new home of the concrete sleepers, the various other lengths of bullhead rail not immediately required got moved to and then a start was made digging out the trackbed to extend the middle siding.

Basically our original plan had the siding some 60-70ft longer, but with Rob S having given his notice in, and under pressure to finish before he departed, we agreed to him leaving it short, though he had intended to leave us sufficient materials behind to extend it ourselves when the need arose, but for various reasons all unused materials had to be taken back to Rowsley. So we have been amassing rails and such, notably a bunch of ex British Celanese bullhead that our friends at Wirksworth didn't want (they had been cut, without authority, into short lengths by an over-enthusiastic scrapman) plus the panels from the National Stone Centre that came with RS8.

The Fermec completed the task in a few hours, in hindsight digging rather deeper than we needed but encountering an awful lot of big lumps of stone, some of it sandstone which is definitely not local, but typical of the stone used in railway buildings round about. Whether there has been another building here, or whether it was parts of earlier railway building from the original station (the present station dates from the 1870s) I know not, but I started to create a rockery and telling anyone who'd listen that I haven't had to shift this much stone since I was in Dartmoor.

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Anyway, he finished by dumping the sleepers we had (all ex NSC) into the big 'ole and departed.

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On Saturday we were down early, as a contingent from Team Frodingham were coming to help Andrew extend the siding, leaving me free to get on with other jobs like cutting and fitting the place where the light switches are going to sit. I also got a few minutes on the 03, as I said last week its engine stop was not functioning, and I did briefly run it with the positive feed to the stop solenoid disconnected to prove that if nothing else, it had a fuel problem, and I was loathe to do much else until this had been rectified.

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Steph arrived with her new regular lunchtime fare of sausage and bacon sandwiches, and insisted on staying on to help, which made me feel honour bound to go out for a time too, but Team Frodingham members always seem determined not to let me do much physical labour. I must look a lot older than I feel.

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Anyway, as the pictures show, as the afternoon progressed, some 50ft of the siding was assembled, as much as we could space our sleepers out to achieve (another 4 will be sourced this week to complete the extension) after which the PCV may move across there. I wouldn't want you to think this was a demonstration of our skills as a p/way team. This was very much an amateur-ish effort not helped by a limited number of toe-jacks (= one) and shovels (=3) and the fact that the ground was several inches lower than had been necessary, though most of the arisings can be backfilled back in now and re-open the track to the left hand shed road which is, for the moment, closed to regular traffic. James has been temporarily re-housed.

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(Readers who do not also follow the 'NatPres' forums will have missed a gentleman demanding to know whether a PCV had really gone to Darley Dale as it wasn't mentioned on Andrew's website, and being referred to this blog by 'Miff' – thanks to you by the way - only to come back on saying that it didn't clarify which number PCV it was. This time Andrew had to point out that it was 95 301 and you could read the number on one of the pictures. Quite why the gentleman was so pedantic about it I don't really know. I wasn't aware that parcels vans had much of a fan-base.)

To round off a Saturday when Team Frodingham departed much later than originally planned, I found myself recounting tales of my career in industrial railways to an awestruck audience. I used to say to people that I would know I was old when railway societies start booking me for lectures along the lines of 'An evening with Pete Briddon' though I dare say by then it'll need Andrew to drive me there, push me into the hall in a wheelchair and plug the pacemaker in to wake me up.

Sunday was not an early a start as had been intended but that was due to the previous days exertions. We started with the 03, Andrew stripping and cleaning the fuel shut-off valve and then testing it stopping. When it had been driven down from Rowsley, he had noticed the ammeter indicating a lot of amps charge and it had been my next investigation once I had figured out what was preventing it from stopping properly. But with two of us on it, Andrew reported that not only could he see volts at the solenoid when I had the stop button depressed, but that the voltage was going up well into the 30s.

To cut a long story short, it appears that the alternator's regulator has gone wide open, which has not only damaged the batteries but trashed the start timer, which is holding the supply to the solenoid on instead of timing out and shutting off. So it's a new timer, an alternator repair, and new batteries in due course. It may be that there's another relay damaged too (I need to think through where the volts are getting in to this part of the system, since the stop button should interrupt the 24V supply completely, timer and all). Again, the provision of a second break on the neg side of the stop solenoid would be a useful addition for long term reliability.

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During the afternoon I was referred a visitor from the Stationmaster: this was an elderly gentleman, quite sprightly, who understood (he thought) the difference between diesel-mechanical and diesel-electric, but what was diesel-hydraulic? From conversation it was soon apparent that he didn't actually know even that much, but I gave him a quarter hour lecture, illustrated by the presence of Pluto, Jack's power unit, and 1382's traction generator. By the sound of it, he'll be back down his local library seeking out erudite tomes on how electrical power is generated (dynamos vs alternators) and the kinetic energy of liquids. Maybe it is time I turned my attention to another book. What should it be called – 'Shunter traction for Dummies' perhaps?

More in this category: « Of Pimms or Champagne

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