Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of Drewry and snow

28th November 2010

On Monday I was back up to Elsecar, to oversee the departure of Drewry 0-4-0DM 72229. Heanor Haulage arrived pretty well to time, with a folding neck trailer rather than the normal low loading type. This has the advantage that the rails are built into the folding part, and having unfolded, forms an instant ramp.

We had seen one used last year when collecting a Ruston, but this was not the same trailer, and the ramp arrangement did not work as well. the loco grounded, and in pushing it on with a Yorkshire 0-6-0DH, received some minor damage which we will have to rectify in due course.

The ramp turned out steeper than anticipated...

...but we got it on and away.

But just after 11.00 the loco was aboard and on its way. It reached the Derwent Valley LR (York) just after 2pm, having rendezvoused with a Heanor van carrying a pair of ramp rails. The unload, having packed the end of the trailer a few inches, was quite straightforward, but such is the limited space of the DVLR, it then took an hour to clear the line to get the loco from the unloading area into position for driver training.

Having just reached Murton

At 4pm I set off for home, just getting past Leeds before the evening rush.

One of the benefits of being of a “certain age” is that your driving licence is green and lists entitlement to drive vehicles in category “A”. Without going into long winded explanation, this includes what today is called C1, in other words, a 7.5ton rigid truck. About once a year I take advantage of this, and Tuesday was just such an example, when first thing I collected the  beast from a hire firm in Rotherham.

Strapped down and ready to go.

For the first few miles you feel like the vehicle is driving you – the gearbox is better at muscle-building than a week in the gym, the brakes send you flying toward the windscreen and the width makes you drive through some gaps with your eyes closed. But after the first 10 or 15 miles you get the hang of it, and apart maybe from diving into the nearside hedge when anything of greater size comes the other way, it starts to become fun. First stop was Rowsley, where Rob kindly assisted in loading the remains of the Paxman and transmission cooler that we removed from D9500 ten days ago, and I set off for Wansford on the Nene Valley. I got there at 2pm, and was only on site for 45 minutes, including reloading with “Tom’s” torque converter and a cup of tea, then setting off back for Rowsley, to return the various packing blocks to their home and unload the converter.

'Twas a big lorry for just this little converter...

Saturday: The last of Andrew’s Elsecar-based locos is due to leave on Monday and the rusted remains of the bunker section still needed to be extracted and put ready, so Andrew and I were joined by Terry and recovered it. Sheffield had escaped the snow until Friday night, when an inch or so of the pesky stuff fell, just enough to make life awkward by making everything “subject to weather”. Anyway, with the bunker bit moved we left Terry and headed on to Scunthorpe. The 407 was probably overloaded with Andrew’s Cebora MIG welder, and the complete engine brackets for the 03, including the one which weighs 44 kilos. With the 03 also bathed in an inch of snow, we stashed most of the bits in the Palvan, and I took the frame mounts and one of the cone mounts, back-marked the former and set too to drill out the mounting holes on the pillar drill. Andrew started welding patches on the exhaust tail pipe of “Beverley” with the Cebora. Meanwhile the Austerity 0-6-0ST was out on brake van rides.

Sunday: Andrew had had a chest infection for the last few days and had already decided that a day spent on driver training at Murton was not in his best interests, so I went up alone. I was greeted with “Welcome to the North Pole” – it seems the temperature had been at minus 11 the night before – their 03 refused to start, but they had got the Ruston 88DS going.

Even the rodding needed heat to work properly -

On the Drewry, some of the casing doors were frozen shut but the new batteries we fitted a few weeks ago did their stuff and to the chagrin of the 03’s owner, it fired up without difficulty. I tried to move the 03 out the way – only to find its parking brake was frozen on! Levered off, the 03 was propelled clear and we took 72229 across to pick up the “normal” passenger train of BR mk1 and a brake van, but of course the brake van’s brakes were frozen on too. Eventually with the 88 at the other end, we top-n-tailed to the other end while every available (male) driver had a “feel” of it, then dropped off the 88 and the train and continued light loco.

Waiting for the off - can you see the snowflakes?

We were about to put the loco back when the one lady driver came forward, having been apparently overlooked. So I put the loco through its paces with her. By now the snow had started in earnest, and as I shut the loco down there appeared to be a general exodus for home, which I was pleased to take part in, even though traffic on the A64 by York was crawling at 10mph.


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