Some of the statistics though are worth noting. We have 67 cu metres of concrete to spread. There are 48 sheets of reinforcing mesh (each sheet 4.8m x 2.4m, that's 16ft x 8ft in old money) to cut, bend and mount in such a way as to finish up embedded in concrete at the right depths. That's without the hardcore (virgin MoT class 1 stone, no recycled rubbish) the blinding sand, and the damp proof membrane, which itself cannot really go exactly where the drawings show.
But while I am asking for tenders for doing the work, it is almost certain that to keep cost under control, we must either free issue material or undertake a chunk of it ourselves, and I think I am getting too old to be Brid the Builder.
On Wednesday I headed up to our popular profilers and returned with, amongst other things, 44 pieces of flat steel destined to become purlin brackets. I stopped off in Sheffield at our favourite fabricators and left them to put them on their bender, to make flat pieces into right angles and, bless'em, they were back on the phone Thursday to say they were ready. I couldn't get back that day but first thing Friday I charged over to Sheffield and collected them.
Andrew had Friday off so, on my return we headed into Rowsley, he to continue on bits of Libby's casings and me, amongst other things, to start getting the brackets painted, but first I got out the Workmate which has been living in Ashdown's cab since last August and set to work to make a frame to act as shuttering when we start grouting in the holding down bolts on the shed. Andrew also popped out to take another look at the pieces of I beam that we had been 'generously donated' by the building supplier and realised that, far from being 4 pieces of steel of the same section, they were 4 pieces of steel comprising 3 different, but at first sight quite close sections, or in other words, only one is possibly usable.
We broke off when we heard Charlie returning from Matlock with the works train. You will recall that the train went out with the bogie bolster in the consist and this was dropped at Darley with the plan of collecting our crane beams when the train returned. But alas, the job had Matlock had taken longer than planned, and the railway's sole qualified rigger was unavailable so the beams had to be left.
At long last, on Saturday, we pointed the van towards York and the Derwent Valley, to carry out a job on Pluto that we had hoped to get done before Christmas. It was a pleasant sunny day (although the breeze was a touch cool) and by the time we got there it was around 1pm. Our plan had been to fit the new windows throughout, and Andrew set too with gusto chiselling off the old bolts and removing front and side glazing. Pluto, like all Planets, had the steel-framed Beclawat windows, several of which were now well corroded, indeed the front left you could see daylight through (the steel frame I mean, I think we can agree that you can normally see daylight through the glass) and the left cab slider had had a plastic pane of one sort or another for a number of years.
The front and rear windows went well, and as you can see from the pickie, does change the appearance slightly as they are fixed and the originals were sliders, though I have never seen anyone actually use them. We could always add a suitably blackened cosmetic strip down the centre if anyone really was offended. If the front and backs had gone in easily, it was a different matter with the sides. For somehow, despite Andrew and me measuring the windows together, they were OK vertically but 5mm too long. Andrew set to work to grind the left hand aperture but the cab at this point is both outer cab sheet and doorway support of angle, altogether about 10mm thick. I thought that gently cutting it with a slitting disc would be quicker, and eventually Andrew passed me the Maktek and I took out a slither on the opposite side window: well almost, because with 50mm or so to go, the grinder suddenly suffered some sort of malfunction. Either brushes or an armature winding failed – the disc still went round, but with no torque worthy of the name. Any further cutting was out of the question.
By now it was nearly 5pm and most of the DVLR members had gone – indeed only Dave Wild, the Chairman, was hanging around to lock up after we'd finished. There was nothing for it but to refit the old window frames as quickly as we could, not easy when the welds that held the mitred corner of the frames together had failed and so they had to be assembled as kits.
Worse still, we had planned, after fitting these windows, to run Pluto up and investigate the various reported defects so that we could return with all necessary materials to sort it out before Easter, but a departing DVLR member just happened to mention that the batteries were absolutely flat. It was an unfortunate feature of my earlier solid state AVRs that if you left the battery master switch on, the AVR maintained the dynamo field at full strength and the result would be flat batteries within 24hours. Nowadays the AVR has an optional relay to cut the field out, switched either from the oil pressure switch (as I have done on Ashdown) or possibly direct from the keyswitch (as I could now do on Pluto). Either way, it seems somebody had left the battery switch on sometime and there would be no chance whatsoever of running the loco that day. So there's going to be another trip slotted in, not, as I've said before, that we don't have enough to do already.
Steph had been away and returned Thursday but has not been feeling well since, so before we went anywhere today I had a run into Matlock for essentials. Then it was down to Rowsley for another purlin bracket painting session. One of Libby's side windows was again presented to the cab side, and Andrew reminded me that I had acquired these windows from somewhere so only a few mounting holes actually lined up, and having found that a couple did indeed coincide I was persuaded to start drilling through the cab side to create holes that matched those already through the aluminium frames, while Andrew cleaned off the other window frame ready to fit later.
At about 4pm, though, I broke off to give a volunteer some driving tuition on Cheedale, and that became a task of drawing Libby out of the shed so that we could refit the casing tops with the JCB. As the daylight faded outside, with Rob driving the JCB and assisted by regular reader Pete Waller, the casing pieces were lifted back on and then Cheedale pushed both Libby and D8 (which had finished its work on the service train and been left by Libby) back into the shed.
From our point of view, it is a major step forward. With the casing tops back in place, the silencers, air cleaners and their associated ducting can be re-mounted and in Andrew's plan, we can start the engine back up in a week or two.