Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of Tunstead playing away

4th November 2018


Not the average week here at the Briddon Country Pile. We've got progress on one project that's been at a standstill for two years though.

Monday was a strange day, I've got rather used to dragging myself up through Chatsworth and Calver Slough, Middleton and Tideswell, skirt Wormhill and get to Tunstead. Instead I could have a lie in (yeah!) and do some paperwork and such. I put an e-mail in to the importers of the pillar drill, having noted the model and serial number, and was sent by return a copy of the relevant user manual and wiring diagram which made it all clear. We're missing a couple of bits, but nothing we couldn't work around for the moment.

First thing Tuesday I headed off to Sheffield, and while there picked up a sheet of Tufnol as my stocks had been exhausted. On Wednesday I was waiting around all morning, as it was my job to go collect (and pay for) some lifting equipment and we were waiting for a Pro forma invoice to come through. It didn't, so at about half-two I set off anyway, completely forgetting to take a Proof of ID and proof of address as Andrew had told me. I remembered when about half-way there, found an advice note from my profilers still riding on the seat next to me and bluffed it with that and my fork lift driving licence. The firm was in Doncaster and sat next to my kit was a rolled steel rail wheel - it seems they did work for Wabtec

'That's a tyre' said my contact. 'No, it is not, ' I said, 'it's a wheelpan or just a pan.' 'That's not what I've been told' he replied, 'it's for one of those American locos'. It was about right for a class 66 and had Bonatrans labels on it - I couldn't resist the urge to observe that if it had been a European-designed wheel, it would have a tapping through the boss to the bore to faciltate oil injection, but the Americans don't bother, and in consequence you have a much increased chance of scrapping the axle as well when you pull the wheel off for replacement. Anyway, I collected the bits 'Are you sure it'll fit in that van?' he said. 'How long is it?' I answered. 'Two point five metres' he said. I replied a confident yes, diagonally it would, well I've had 2.4m sheets of ply in without problem. And in it went, so I set off back, ready for Thursday.

You might recall back in July, when the World Cup was taking up too much of people's time, two B4 bogies arrived at Darley Dale and for quickness, took up residence at the north side of the shed. A few weeks ago they moved south, in preparation to get the PCV back on bogies, some 2 years after we put it on stands.

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Well, Thursday was the day and, joined by Andy H and the crane from Tunstead, that was the days objective. We had Charlie and James fired up by the time the crane arrived at ten, and with the train drawn back on track 1 to enable to crane to access, I followed it around and unloaded the spreader beam, strops and a heavy-duty 4 leg chain. The spreader beam came in 2 unequal portions, to be bolted together on site with 4 bolts tightened to 280Nm, so out came the big torque wrench and sockets. Andy C (yes another Andy) looked rather anxiously at the PCV - he is sufficiently trusting of our competence to have left the preliminary lift plan in our hands - but seeing it in the flesh was different matter. As Andrew wasn't quite here I merely pointed to the arrows he'd painted on the underframe that marked the lift points and he seemed reassured. First job of the day though was to lift the Land Rover chassis down from the roof of the container, because, in a rare instance of saniity, Andrew had concluded that his plans to build one from scratch were unrealistic with our present workload and it was time to sell it on to someone who had the time. So it had gone on ebay and Andrew just about broke even.

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But to return to the PCV. Next task was to lift the north end bogie and position the two pieces of channel so as to act as guidance onto the rails. We also needed to get the pivot assembly off the old bogies, so James positioned Thelma and Louise so that the crane could recover the top bogie pivot and drop it onto the replacement bogie. Then with spreader beam etc in position, and wooden blocks holding the slings off the body-sides, the PCV was raised, the stand at that end extracted, and the bogie rolled underneath.

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The crane lowered the body back onto the bogie pivot (strangely, even with the mass of the body and the other end stil on the stand, it was possible to 'adjust' the side-to-side position of the body over the bogie by pushing) and part 1 had been succesfully completed.

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The crane de-rigged and moved a little further up the yard. Charlie had to drop off road 1 here and pull everything back on road 2. and the south end bogie was lifted and put on the track, after which the other bogie pivot was extracted by lifting first the upper frame off the conflat, and putting it back on again afterwards.

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By now Steph had arrived, and although a cup of tea was welcomed, we didn't stop for lunch so she took some of the pictures.

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The south end of the PCV was lifted in a similar way, and in passing the crane operator recorded a maximum weight which was exactly to estimates and therefore the loads on slings and spreader beams had been well within capacity.

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By 1pm the PCV was back on wheels, the stands placed to one side, the spreader beam was going back in my van and the Tunstead crane returned home for their crew to get their lunch, while we had ours in the shed, and celebrated Steph's purchase of a new teapot. Yes, the colourful but leaky one has been displaced by a more elegant stainless steel one with the same nominal capacity as the kettle.

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After lunch we all took a look at the pillar drill with the benefit of the manual, and soon had it back together and working, although a suitable machine vice will be a must before we start using it anywhere near its rated 30mm capacity. The man came and collected the Land Rover chassis. By late afternon we had called it a day, although Andrew and I headed up the far end of the yard to discuss a re-arranging shunt in the near future, pacing out roughly just what can be got from where to where via the headshunt.

On Friday I was off again, over to Doncaster to return the hired equipment and leave a picture of what we had done with it, then off to the profilers to get various bits for Adolf and the shed, and back through Sheffield for fabrications, various bits of pipework for RS8, and finally, for I must at times try to earn a living, a bit of real work to finish off the week. Andrew meanwhile had popped in to measure up a couple of bits on the low-load trailer and casually put his tape measure on the lifting links we are due to replace. Surprisingly, the centre-to-centre dimension is completely different to the new set we've made, yet these are manufactured to a variation on the Andover drawing, and the centre dimensions haven't been changed. It explains why the rams operate at much longer extension than we thought they should, and leaves the question why were wrong ones fitted - had someone copied those from another trailer? It still doesn't get us nearer fitting our new ones, but it'll happen some day soon I'm sure.

Andrew wasn't around for the weekend, so I didn't get down until after lunch. First off was to investigate the lack of light over the personnel door - the 'vintage' bulkhead lamp contains an equally vintage incandescent bulb, and it had 'gone' so I threw it away and made a note to bring a replacement from the Country Pile stock. In a move to use stock components on RS8 rather than keep buying new, I had a scrounging session through the container, though I still couldn't find the correct alternator pullley, I did come out with some old toggle switches which we wouldn't otherwise use. I also brought out one of our stock of s/h orifice filter assemblies, and opened it up. Oh dear. The trouble with these things is that most operators don't know they're there or what they're for. Up at the front of the converter system, there's a charge pump. It has to pump against something so right at the back is a tiny hole in a fitting known as an orifice. But if any debris blocks that orifice, it's bad news, so a cylindrical fine gauze element protects it. But together they just look like some anonymous pipe fitting, so seldom does any operator or maintainer think to strip it and see if anything is there. This first example was a shocker - it had fragments of - what I don't know, but it looked like bits of metal embedded in the gauze and if so, I'll have to pull them off one by one with a pair of tweezers. If they are metallic, then that would suggest that the loco it came from had at some time suffered a terminal bearing failure as there isn't anywhere they could originate from but turbine or impeller grinding against other bits. So I went back in the container and pulled out two more. One was in reasonable condition, but the second was an equal shocker, but there the gauze was totally obscured by a black coating of what was probably coal dust a good millimetre thick. Because that's another thing so-called fitters do - they find the suction filter blocked so throw it away rather than fit a new one (or maybe they do so with the good intention of getting a new one but other events push it from their minds). As just about every ex NCB diesel we've ever encountered has had coal dust in the fuel tank ( I used to postulate that the NCB had tried adding coal deliberately to augment the calorific value) that would explain that, but cleaning these 3 assemblies in the parts bath was a tiresome and unrewarding process. I left them to soak overnight and started marking out Tufnol to form a connector base for RS8's engine wiring. With 21 holes to drill I couldn't resist testing the pillar drill and found it every bit as easy to use as the bench one

I had stopped for a cup of tea from the new pot and for no particular reason went to the door and looked down to the level crossing just as a white estate car crawled past the gate and seemed to accelerate off over the tracks. Convinced I had been spied on by somebody I had gone back inside when my phone rang and a friend who resides in North Wales asked if I was at the shed. When I said yes he asked if I would meet him at the gate as he had that distribution board for me. A couple of weeks ago he had texted me to say his work was scrapping stuff and they had a nice new 3-phase distribution board and would I like it. Without thinking what exactly for I answered yes, and here it was as he happened to be in the area. The theory is that with the compressor, hacksaw and pillar drill now taking up sockets intended for things like the welders, a heavy cable round to a second distribution board, and these 3 items being relatively immobile, local circuit breakers and permanent wall-mounted isolators would be a better bet.

On Sunday it was a repeat of Saturday - I reassembled an orifice/filter, cut a second piece of tufnol with 4 big holes in it to go behind the instruments in the desk on RS8 (you'll see why in a week or so), put a fresh bulb in the outside light and spent much of the rest of the day collecting things together ready to resume on RS8 tomorrow.

Some weeks ago in a further critique of the idea of restoring the line through Matlock for quarry traffic, I observed that putting stone trains onto the main line at Ambergate would play havoc with the Belper bottleneck and the Derby defile. Well it seems I was only some months behind Network Rail, as I hear that the staff magazine, reviewing the capacity improvements being implemented around Buxton and the Hope Valley, revealed that NR had considered establishing a fresh dedicated route south from Buxton. So had they been quietly evaluating the Millers Dale-Bakewell-Rowsley section? No, it seems they prefered the old LNW line which we know today as the Tissington Trail because after getting through Ashbourne it makes a connection with the Derby-Burton line and southbound trains could avoid Derby altogether. That and fewer tunnels and viaducts to consider. For the moment, Tissington is safe (it would cause uproar no doubt but perhaps mollified if a passenger service back to Ashbourne was part of the deal) but demonstrates once again that commercial restoration of the Peak Rail route is not going to happen.

There's a lot in the offing this week - starting of course with a normal Monday at Tunstead - and we'll see what happens as the week pans out. I'll be here next Sunday no doubt, see you then?

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