Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of proposals and police

20th January 2013

On Monday, as the snow fell, Andrew decided that an early return to the Briddon Country Pile was in order rather than wait for his paternity leave to expire. Having made it safely home it had the added benefit of Tuesday being clear for a bit of "catch-up" loco work so we headed in to Rowsley to continue ministering to "Tom" and await a delivery of 2" pipe from BSS.

The main purpose of the day was to get the oil changed - we knew that the loco had last run in 1993 so the oil was probably of similar vintage, but getting it spread around the engine and so absorbing as much of any dirt present as possible before changing it had been the plan. Just as we got started Andrew had a phone call from the BSS driver which turned out he had gone to Darley Dale rather than Rowsley, and after re-directing him, Andrew headed off to get him through the various secure gates that protect Rowsley yard when not open to the public. I got on with removing the oil filters.

The first loco I ever bought, back in 1970, was a 2ft gauge Ruston with a 2VTO engine. The oil had entirely coagulated into a slimy, almost-jelly-like mass that would not flow out through the sump plug and had to be removed manually after dropping the entire sump. Tom's oil was not as bad (it flowed out of the sump plugs for a start), but the filters were a different matter. It was obvious from the first one that came out that people like the NCB should not be allowed to have locos if they cannot be bothered to maintain them. A semi-solid sludge oozed out of the paper elements and filled the bottom of each filter bowl to several inches. There was nothing for it but to scoop the c**p out of the bottom of each bowl with my (gloved) fingers and the remainder with copious bits of rag until the bowls were reasonably clean.

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We suspected that the high oil pressure (for a Rolls) that Tom has shown might be connected with the filter sludge, but having changed all three filters and refilled the sump with SAE30, the cold compensated and it still came out over 6 bar when we restarted. Having plugged off the second of the pipes to the right hand side horn valve, and run a new pipe from the bulkhead to the horn, it transpired that the left hand horn valve was functioning, though the horn was maybe a little unenthusiastic, and with the intention, yet again, of getting some heat into the block, we carried out some shunting duties around the yard, but the power unit temperature still hovered around the 45 degree mark, nowhere near enough. This issue of temperature is curious If you take the thermostat out of a Rolls, it runs hotter, so unless the thermostat is jammed in the radiator position, it ought to build up quite steadily. As daylight fell, Andrew adjourned to the workshops, set up the chop-saw and between us we cut the 2" pipe from BSS into lengths required for Beverley.

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Saturday, and our plan had been to get over to Briddon Towers first thing and get the old garden shed emptied and bits brought back to the Country Pile. But we were later up than planned and just as we arrived, the news came through from our daughter that her partner had got down and proposed to her at the side of Lake Windermere. This put us in good spirits as we loaded up the van and headed back, but meant that by the time we'd emptied it and got to Rowsley, it was late on a snowy afternoon.

Andrew had arranged to make use of the LMSCA's electric pipe threader to thread the cut lengths, but having headed down there it turned out the motor had seized and he came back unsuccesful. Pity too that I had not taken the camera, as I could have got some interesting picks for next years Christmas card. As it was I had fired Tom up and was shuffling up and down, checking that everything worked correctly and repeatedly and as the light fell, seeing just how the headlamps were set up. The twin lamps fitted at each end of Thomas Hill and Sentinel locos are theoretically a combination of spot and flood - the spot set to illuminate the track at some distance ahead but the flood to light up the area much nearer to hand so as not to lose your shunter in the dark, or misjudge fouling points, etc. I suspect Tom now has two spots at the rear, just set at different angles, though the fronts appear about right. It is not especially important as it is unlikely to do much after dark work on preserved lines.

Sunday - we headed straight off to Scunthorpe. Beverley is still outside (it was only supposed to be out for a couple of days from mid December) which is frustrating Andrew's painting plans. To make some progress he sheeted the engine down and brought most of the casing doors inside for sanding and priming, while I attended to a number of jobs on the 03. First was to fit the 3/8 UNC capscrews I had acquired during the week (and b* expensive they were too) on the torque converter output flange, then I moved back on top of the casings and re-secured the gland plates that surround the tank fillers where they stick through the casing tops. By now Andrew had finished sanding so I grabbed the 110V extension and started drilling out fresh holes to secure the cab to the casing top. Although the thin pilot drill survived all 8 holes, the 8mm I was following through with encountered the remains of nuts and other things and two of the drills broke, one spectacularly.

I had been spending some time on my back under the control desk, re-thinking the gear change arrangement, when Steph phoned. Our next door neighbour to Briddon Towers had phoned to report that our front door was open and we had presumably been burgled. They phoned the police.

Andrew rushed through the remaining priming while I collected things together, and by the time we were about to leave a nice lady PC was on the phone to me and would wait until we got back. Whoever broke in must have had a bit of disappointment, and the PCs, although the place looked like it had been ransacked, were relieved to learn from us that after being there over 30 years and having raised two children several hamsters and a cat it was just taking time to sort out and empty the place and there really wasn't anything worth stealing, and so far as we could see, nothing had been. We made the front door secure (plywood over the broken glass and several large nails through the door into the frame for added robustness) and headed back to the Country Pile. Never a dull day.

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