Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of undercoats, diggers and shunts

11th November 2018


 So after a week off it was business as usual at Tunstead on Monday. A little too usual perhaps: last minute issues prevented one or two of the planned workers from joining us and so it fell to the faithfuls of Pete C, Andy H and me. Ironically, Pete C reported that one of the departments had made somebody available last week after all, just a pity we'd scrubbed it! I had planned to get the support angle from the cab forwards in straight away, but Andy H thwarted me by painting it. Indeed, the old Army adage of if 'it doesn't move, paint it' is being taken very much to heart as after I showed him a brand new virgin tin of white undercoat, he started painting the cab wherever he could reach, and priming those bits which previous welding had damaged.

But without the fabricator, there was no progress on the windows, nor the bracket(s) to support the converter oil reservoir which I had hoped to be getting near to hosing up. I set Pete C loose on mounting the wiring box at the back of the engine. From the cab down the support bar will be a 25 way multicore and a flex conduit.

The latter will carry the pos and neg cables from the alternator, but the 25 will carry all the feeds and returns from the switches and instruments on the engine and converter. You could of course wire all these up from conduit or trunking running up each side, but Sentinel practice, which I follow, is to take everything to a break-out box so that to make the power unit ready for lifting out, you 'merely' detach all the wires at one place and leave the rest undisturbed. Sentinel even did this with a multi-pin plug, which might have been quicker in production line assembly but in reality you don't take the power unit out that often. Meanwhile I set about making the first hoses, and as the connection box sat over the bleed outlet from the conveter, that hose up to the cooler outlet necame my first priority. I had bought a tee but had to improvise with fittings to get this in place and the orifice return filter assembly attached.

My next hose was the feed from charge pump to converter inlet. I then disappeared under the cab and assembled the fuel taps to the right hand fuel tank. Originally, the two tanks were connected by a single pipe which went round the rear of the loco, just inside the wooden partition under the cab back, and had a isolating tap roughly mid-way. I couldn't see the point of that. I could understand why you might want to isolate the left tank from the right, if say it developed a leak (the fuel feed and spill returns both come off the right tank) but the accessibility of the isolating valve might lead people to think this was main fuel isolation, which it was not. So I've opted to put the isolation taps both on the rh tank, and the cross connection (which we've clipped to the cross stretcher rather than route it around the back), is straight into the left hand tank.

The fuel feed pipe from the centrifugal pre-filter to the fuel pump was also made up, leaving a tantalising gap between tank and filter (and spill return) which I don't want to make until the converter reservoir has been sited. Over on the far side of the engine the oil distribution block recovered from RS8's old engine was fitted in place of the blanking plate on the new engine and a short hose to the visutector made up. Pete C meanwhile extracted a broken stud that had defeated Andy H two weeks before and made up a wooden block to go behind the front vac pipe and support that. Towards the end of the day the support bar finally went in, I drilled holes for P clips and laid out the 25 way cable from cab towards the conector box, but it is not properly in place yet.

I mentioned last week that Andy H had promised me pictures of pressure testing a braised hose, and here it is.

The 'blanks are two disposable gloves, one of which has had a finger amputated and joined to the incoming air pipe. This week he has continued with the missing brake lever, using profiles I supplied a week or so ago.

The bottom of the lever is bent through 90 degrees and has two lugs welded to it to act as a stirrup for the rod bearing. The centre pivot area has had a machined housing inserted (for the bearing) and the upper end had a section of thick rod welded on at 45 degrees.

Final stage is to heat the handle up so that the lever can be bent at another 45 degrees so that the brake 'knob' is horizontal and well clear of the throttle lever.


Hopefuly you'll see the finished result going on in next week's edition. Under the desk on RS8 will be an electrical box similar in scope to the old Thomas Hill Vanguard wiring schemes, but very much 'mine'. The various bits for this have been coming in to stock this week, so final planning is in hand on that

It is not everyone whose neighbour owns a mini-digger. But such is the position of the Briddon Country Pile means that we have, and its owner came in handy this Saturday when a start was made on improving the shed environs.

Ever since the forklift was Tirfor'd into the shed some years ago, the couple of attempts we have made to see if it can be driven out again have been abject failures - the ground simply isn't hard enough. Putting some additional concrete down, to enable the forklift once again to view the big wide world outside, has been a long term aspiration, but one now being started, with the digging of a hole of some 10 square metres in area and 150mm deep. This will firm up the ground immediately in front of the container, and later, be extended west so that we can if required unload a lorry parked outside. But that is for the future, and to get said digger in required shunting everything clear, but I found Charlie a bit low on coolant so first had to prepare a 'mix' to top it up.

After the digger had left we resumed shunting, part of a mammoth reorganisation to get the PCV off road 2. Road 1 is often moved for vehicular access - when we had two Dutch gronks in the line up the resultant drag called for much of Charlie's adhesion and in damp conditions taxed loco and driver. So the target was to transfer the PCV to Road 1, but that also meant shunting the NB 0-6-0, which I normally refer to in the grand tours as our 0-5-0, on the grounds that one wheel does not touch the rail head. It is 'only' a matter of one axlebox being set solid in the hornguides, but no amount of force we have applied hitherto has been able to shift it. When we brought it down from Rowsley, it derailed within Rowsley yard and almost derailed again coming across the turnouts, so moving it at all is a delicate operation. For better control the first 4 locos or so were brought out and stashed over on Road 3, then the last few, including the 0-5-0 and the PCV drawn out and the PCV put across to Road 3 as well.

This is the first time Road 2 has been devoid of locos, etc for over two years, so I grabbed a picture. The NB and its followers were then replaced on Road 2 as far up as they could go, and the remaining locos, with the PCV now on the southern end, went back behind them. At this point it started to rain, so we called it a day and went inside to carry on with various tidying up jobs.

Today we didn't get down until after lunch, and as the weather was pleasant fired Charlie back up and continued with the mammoth shunt. As a result, the PCV now sits coupled to the 2HAP, with wagons to the south of it on Road 1, and D9500 and Tom have taken up residence on Road 2, which ought to reduce the pull required to clear Road 1 even more. Tom of course still bears the broken window from the vandalism problem we had 15 months ago, and up to now had been reasonably sheltered, but as it is now more exposed we sorted out a suitable tarp to go over the cab. Back inside, Andrew decided it was time to manufacture another bracket to hang lifting equipment. You've seen the two he's made before, but their capacity has been exceeded by influxes of shackles, slings and lifting eyes, so this new concoction gets us back on top of things - for now

For myself I was unloading things we'd collected from Rowsley earlier and loading bits for RS8 tomorrow. And that's pretty well it for this week. Not as dramatic as last but who knows what is in the pipeline for next week? No, me neither, you'll have to come back and read. See you then?

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