All is not lost however, and some work has been done on it, but I suppose I had better go back to the beginning of the week. You will be aware, regular reader, of the agonising decisions we have over what engine to allocate to the winch for Andrew's low load trailer, and the Wickham. The Petter PH1 in the Wickham is too small, the two and three pot Listers have advantages and disadvantages. On the basis that greater choice is no bad thing, this week we won another single-cylinder engine (ebay strikes again), this time a Lombardini with electric start. It's in transit with Palletline (I'm due to collect it, and wonder if they'll remember to tell me when it arrives) so by next week, if I can get to Sheffield through 10ft snowdrifts and Siberian blizzards, I'll show you what it looks like.
Since it has already appeared in Todays Railways UK, Andrew has told me that I can now report it here, and a part of the week was taken up with plans to move the 2-HAP.
Yes, when Andrew gets it into his head to acquire something, there's no stopping him, and when he attended the last open day at the Electric Railway Museum in Coventry, it was specifically with the 2-HAP in mind. At the time, this was reported to be going to the Blaenau & Trawsfynydd guys, but (and I don't want to get drawn into the politics and the who said whats) this deal was never seen through and some time later it was agreed that the 2-HAP would join his collection. Internally it has received considerable attention – externally it requires at little TLC and maybe a repaint. Southern green has been suggested but maybe now's the time for me start promoting my dreams of a 'Matlock Metro' livery.
OK, so maybe I haven't told you much about the 'what' part, and yes, a 2-HAP is a commuter 3rd rail emu from the south of England. But as a fairly dense-seated 2-carriage unit it has much to commend it as a low-cost train for the shoulder parts of the heritage railway season, and as it has 2 cabs and multiple control jumper cables, in essence it can first be utilised as a push-pull train interfacing with one of Andrew's locos, suitably equipped. This has been on the 'future plans' list for some time, coming up with a multiple-unit (mu) system that will enable certain locos to work together, or with a vehicle such as the PCV. Andrew remains committed at some point, that 14 901 and D9500 will work in multiple together, so this system will be common and use the same train line signals as the 2-HAP. Of course, the 2-HAP uses 70V for its control functions, (and has batteries aboard to run them) so we'll have to look at how to keep them charged, and isolate the 70V inputs from the 24V systems on the locos. We do so love a challenge.
Of course, there is every possibility of converting the 2-HAP from a 3rd rail emu into a self-propelled emu, but that might take a little longer. Given that the only other 2-HAP is in the NRM, it adds a little kudos to the collection – and some headaches. Most notable headache will it will take up a considerable proportion of our remaining free siding space at Darley Dale, but we'll live with that.
So anyway, it had been hoped, to minimise operational inconvenience, to combine its arrival with that of the Yorkshire 0-4-0DE from the Nene Valley, but the site at Coventry has suffered from too many low loaders going in at the wrong time of the year. On Wednesday our low loader arrived to find that yet again, it was mud, mud glorious mud. Not that they mind getting the lorries dirty, but bogged down and stuck is another matter so it was abandoned. A remedy for this is in prospect (maybe they're sending out for a chorus of hippos) so it will be back on the agenda soon.
Down at Castle Hedingham, 14 901 has been doing the occasional job since its return from Old Oak but was due an A exam, so we made an early start on Saturday morning for the 160 mile trip down, meeting up with one of the Trustees. While I started visiting all grease nipples with the pump, Andrew opened the casing doors and rapidly made a discovery that the air cleaner matrix did not seem to be in a healthy condition. For those who may not go back that far, up to 2011 14 901 had been running with a 'genset' air cleaner, which meant that air was being drawn from within the engine compartment and the matrix was inadequate for a locomotive in an open air, moving environment. When we thought about replacing it, we also found defective welds which meant that the filter was rendered ineffective anyway.
Fleetguard, now Cummins Filtration, sized up a suitable matrix and I designed an enclosure accommodate it, behind the grille where 14's normally have their air cleaners.
Paper air cleaners improve their performance with an initial amount of dirt, a sort of bedding in. Really I should have added a depression switch and linked it to the plc, but we were rushing to get the loco ready to go to the Gwili (one of their members asked this evening if there was any chance of getting it back again - 'a beautiful engine was your class 14 ') and that didn't happen.
There reached a point where I needed to get the wheels rotated so that I could get at some currently obscured grease nipples, and Andrew had sundry tests which needed air pressure, so he primed the oil and I attempted to start it. It cranked half a turn, then stopped, and nothing seemed to want to reset or crank again. So battery switch off and start again, to no avail. At this point the Trustee was telling us that this had happened before, that they'd gone away, had a cup of tea and on return it had condescended to start. Tempting though that was, we wanted to get through all this and get home, so instead we opened up the cabinet door, and staring us in the face was a wire off the internal batteries. We reconnected it, pressed the button and she cranked as normal and after a few seconds fired.
But it didn't sound right, and smoke was billowing out of casing doors, it was rough as though only firing on a few. Andrew told me to stop it but it didn't seem to respond (I'll have to look into that later) so I pulled out the run relay.
Andrew's view was that the air inlet was severely restricted, so he disconnected the clamps holding the air cleaner matrix and prised it out of the enclosure. To our astonishment, the back of the matrix had been pulled apart and some of the paper filter media was clamped into the air duct. So it was game over for the day – we wouldn't run the loco without an air cleaner and we must return with a new matrix and finish the A-exam then. Clearly, the matrix has gone past its 'Best Before' and certainly a depression switch would have been helpful in warning us earlier. It's another lesson learnt and one that will be added to the list of improvements when the loco comes back home.
So with a bit of time spare we wandered over to their class 307 which has arrived from the ERM at Coventry. The 307 is the basic component of the PCV, so we had a look around, especially at the driving cab, which as you'll see from the comparison photographs, is in rather better condition. Something to aspire towards.
I was down early this morning as I had found a buyer who was going to collect the 'old' Briddon van. He had inspected it, we'd haggled and agreed a price, he'd taken details to get its tax and insurance sorted and we'd settled a time to collect. No show. After 45 minutes I texted him, no response. Now everyone's entitled to change their mind I suppose, but not to have the decency to communicate that is, in my eyes, cowardly.
Anyway, I was bit and batting on odd jobs, a bit on the Wickham here, ticking off an odd item on a snag list there. (Would you believe the Petter PH1 it currently has has Whitworth bolts in various places? I thought Unified were universal on i.c. engines since the war.) We had a visitor in the afternoon (a former work colleague of Andrew's) which took up a fair amount of time, so major undertakings were not practical, but all this is frustrating Andrew who wants to get his teeth into something which gives him a feeling of progress, so he has announced tonight that Adolf will be started on next Saturday. That's assuming we can get down to the shed through the 30foot snow drifts and Arctic blizzards that are forecast for this week.
It seems as though Peak Rail is becoming a regular 'and finally' item on here and this week is no exception. One of the interesting letters is this one from the Peak Railway Association. I'm reproducing it (below) because I am not ashamed of it, and because it says more about Peak Rail than I ever could at much greater length. Notice that it has been sent by the Company Secretary, not the Membership Secretary. Notice too that it is declining a Renewal, not a new application. Have I committed some transgression? None that I am aware of; besides if I had there would surely be some disciplinary procedure that I would have been subjected to. And this membership renewal was a joint one of both me and Steph, so for 'I' read 'we'.
I have of course, registered formal protest and requested an explanation as to the grounds for this action and the powers under which the Directors have seen fit to take it. I was talking to someone only this evening who was explaining how then incumbent Trustees of the West Somerset Railway Association took similar action against their members who were campaigning for change. The then Trustees were subsequently brought before the Courts in Bristol. One of the members they had sought to expel is now the Chairman of the Trustees of the WSRA. I'll leave you to fill in the gaps.
Incidentally, no less than 5 days after the PRA AGM, - so presumably at the same Board meeting - they co-opted two new Directors, but no hint of this forthcoming action was made at the general meeting. Of course, co-opted Directors have to stand for election at the next AGM, so does this mean that the Board can fill its quota of re-elections without exposing so many long-standing Directors to the risk of being voted off?
What's on this week? I'm not sure really. There's this weather forecast that suggests we'll all have bitterly cold winds, 60ft snowdrifts and blizzards that'll look like your telly when you pull the aerial off. It could be a week for staying in. At least until Friday. But you may have to slake your curiosity by returning: that's if your internet connection hasn't succumbed to the snow.