At the beginning of the week I was off to a customer's with RS8s old starter in the van in case it turned out to be a starter problem, but it wasn't, so it duly came back and on Tuesday morning I returned it to the floor of the shed. Actually I was greeted at the customer with a well-meaning employee asking if putting a wire across to the two big terminals on the starter should have made it crank. I said no, they're the pos and neg, but you'll get some lovely sparks. He admitted he had, so I explained that if he'd powered up the little connection in the middle it should have cranked, and he confessed he hadn't even seen that one. So anyway, 08.30 Thursday morning well-meaning employee was on the phone again: loco wouldn't start, not the same as last time, and he'd tried connecting to the middle terminal whereupon there was a clunk from the internal contactor but it wouldn't turn. I went back to the shed, picked up RS8s starter and set off to them again. This time it was needed and they've promised to take extra special care of it while I get theirs repaired.
As I was on the M1 I received a phone call – and I was, let me assure you, hands-free using my little blue Bluetooth earpiece – from a gentleman who had better remain anonymous enquiring whether I would be scrapping RS8 as if so he'd like to buy the sandboxes for a project he had on the go. Mentally I thought 'you should read my blog, or even Andrew's website before making dumb calls..' but explained tactfully that no, we had rescued it with a view to restoration and had already committed time and funds towards it. We would be happy to loan a sandbox for pattern-making if required (although quite frankly for a one off I would re-create one in profiles as easily and cheaper) and he assured me he already had all the dimensions he needed! Another phone call I've had this week was from a gentleman spear-heading a plan to create a long-extinct class of main-line diesel loco using as a donor a relatively rare example of another class, and looking for somewhere to dry-store it for some time. Since the loco would have effectively taken up half of our shed, I had to suggest that this would be possible but at a cost, and I doubt if it will go further. To be honest I've been out a lot of the week and what time I have had back has been occupied with admin. Apparently one of my customers changed their IT arrangements some time ago, and somewhere along the way my e-mail address had been declared SPAM on their system. That might have been only a minor inconvenience save for the fact that they, like many of my customers nowadays, accept their invoices as attachments to e-mails, so my invoices weren't getting to the Bought Ledger, and in turn, my e-mails asking why they weren't paying said invoices weren't getting answered either! In the end I reverted to the good-old telephone and everything began to be sorted out, and my bank account – which was becoming a bit Old Mother Hubbard-ish - was topped up. Whilst exploring this hiccup in modern communications, may I add that on Friday I was attempting to e-mail an Australian enthusiast and received the error message 'too many hops', which would have been strangely amusing for a country populated with kangaroos were it not for being a rejection message. And the fact remains that whilst I was working for Stanley Tools in the mid 1970s I put a proposal to our management that it ought to be possible to link our ginormous (by today's standards anyway) computer to the Telex machine and issue invoices to our overseas clients directly. (This was in the days, for the benefit of my younger readers, before e-mail, before mobile phones, and when even faxes were barely in their infancy.) Management said it was a very novel idea with considerable merit but it would need careful thinking about. They were still thinking when I left.
But on Friday I did get back into Sheffield and amongst others got in to my electrical wholesalers to learn that the cable which they had been quoting me £1.90/metre was now up to £2.10 and likely to climb further because of the exchange rate, so I acquired 40m plus some 100mm cable tray lengths. So far our cable tray work has been utilising a quantity of old (8ft) lengths being about 12 inch broad which was donated, and while I still have some left, the logic is that the farther away from the distribution box or the Transformer, the fewer cables there will be, so although the big stuff has taken me all the way to the 'Column 4 West' the last jump to the end (column 5 if the maths are hazy) was to be in smaller, as there are only two or maybe three cables expected to reach this far. If I was being really symmetrical, I would have switched to the smaller stuff earlier, as the big stuff probably won't reach Column 4 East, but I don't think it really matters that much. With more cable glands, crimps, plastic enclosures, plus grease nipples, drills, hacksaw blades (I don't think I've bought a new hacksaw blade before in this century, come to think of it) and a few other useful things, I had pointed the van for Derbyshire when I had a phone call from Bryan Lawson of Alan Keef's saying that he'd be in the area tomorrow and could he pop by? Thinking that would make up our 3-man allocation for the weekend I was happy to agree.
This Saturday, for the first time in a couple of months, we had no presence from Team Frodingham, what with Captain Idiot in the middle of moving house, and none of the others up to the trip. (Maybe they've begun to realise what a chore it can be, packing up and travelling all that way and back again...) Inevitably we were a little later down than planned, and when we arrived it was to see Dom B's car parked across the road and in due course he came in with two guys from the Churnet Valley Railway he was showing around Peak Rail and we gave them a quick tour of the shed, though they didn't take us up on the offer of tea.
While Andrew got on with drilling and tapping some hornguides using a newly-acquired right-angle pneumatic drill, I started erecting two of the 100mm cable tray sections up to the south end of the shed and then pulling the first section of heavy 3-phase cable from the outlet I had fitted last week back towards the distribution box. Up to now I have been holding cable trays to the columns with girder clamps, but as an experiment I drilled through the column and tray and fitted an M6 bolt, and found it so much more secure that I will in time, go back and re-secure them all that way.
Late in the afternoon, as the fog slowly descended and the temperature fell, Bryan arrived, and to my surprise his brother Gav was with him, so we stopped for further tea and discussion on topics of interest.
Sunday, and despite our best intentions, we didn't get down until 11 o'clock, only to see the works train had arrived first, powered by the 31 which made its way back to Rowsley in a cloud of grey smoke. We entered the shed and low and behold the Robin, which I had not seen for nearly a fortnight, appeared out of nowhere, did a couple of ceremonial laps around the shed and exited again.
A PR working party, led by Rob S and Roger H, were about to change the crossing nose on the main line turnout of our access crossover, which has been subject to a speed limit for a couple of years. Robin S (no relation to the feathery one) was one of the volunteers and as he had ever seen inside the shed, we invited him in and all he could do was marvel at the building compared to the double-tin-garage which had been the machine shop that once occupied part of our floor.
Andrew was back on the hornguides and I was about to pick up where I'd left off when a face appeared at the side door. You may recall a year ago the Intercity Railway Society published write-up on DD, which, to put it politely, 'contained significant errors of fact', but the Editor had subsequently produced a much longer and thoroughly corrected version by way of apology (if only Heritage Railway did the same). Well here was the Editor himself, popping by on the off-chance of seeing the 03 which had eluded him at Scunthorpe. I dropped what I was doing (well I hadn't really got started) and gave him the full tour.
Andy H had joined us and apart from discussing certain aspects of the electrical installation, neither of us had achieved much when Steph arrived down with the sandwiches and we broke for lunch. While we were eating Rob S appeared at the side door to ask if we could release our point clamp (part of our depot protection procedure) so that they could carry out the additional repairs to the crossover, and a moment later there was a knock and a head appeared at the south end door. Andrew got up to intercept and I heard the gentleman ask if this was the main Peak Rail depot(!).
Andrew went off with him and collected his son, then passed the two onto me to give them the full tour, to which I included the more in-depth explanations as to fluid couplings and torque converters as the son worked in heavy electrical machinery. Incidentally if you're keeping a tally that's now 10 visitors against our weekend allocation of 3 and we hadn't got to the two that had booked with me!
Eventually we were nearly ready to put a loco back on to its wheels but I had had the presence of mind to check the forklift, whose battery is still on the iffy-list, and sure enough it needed a charge. Various loose bits of Jack, Charlie (replaced bits that hadn't been disposed of, it's not missing anything important!) and other sundries were moved aside, the forklift moved the bigger ones and as we were almost ready to roll the wheels back under, the last visitors of the day announced their arrival, though it was not two but one, Michael B. We stopped for a cup of tea and then carefully put the loco down on its axles. (Those few words describe a process that occupies an hour!) I did take a picture, but we had stirred up so much dust that the quality was awful. A final cuppa in celebration and we called it a day.
Now I did say a couple of weeks ago that I would not stoop so low as to give you a photograph of a 13A socket, and though one has crept into the photograph of the cable tray reaching the south end (Col 5 west) I will finish with a close up of the light switches and hope you will forgive me. The outer pairs are taped off because they will operate Rows A and C, but the middle two are now cabled through to the middle row and immensely satisfying they are too.
Oh yes, nearly forgot. For some reason my personal e-mail account hasn't yet been relocated - it should have been but a trickle of e-mails has continued to come in via the old route. Hopefully it should happen in the next 48 hours.
Next weekend grandson is back again so quite who will be around I don't know – either way I must get back to the 03 as a date for its departure for the filming contract is getting ever nearer. Thelma and Louise (remember them?) look like returning soon at the end of that contract which will give a little more mobile storage space to play with. There's plenty still to do on the wiring front if I get bored – Andrew reckons that we'll be cabling Row C lights before Row A, but Row C aren't fully prepared yet – and provided I remember to pick up some kerosene for the space heater all should be well. And who knows? Given that traditionally the last weekend of the month (this one) is the one where things go wrong, the first weekend of the month is when they all go right, so progress should be stupendous. I better put in for a tanker full of Red Bull...