Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of plans and pressure

3rd February 2013

Those of my readers who like to think of themselves as regular will be aware that the first weekend of the month is generally regarded as the best weekend, where "things go right". It was a pity therefore that the Saturday was taken up with another Class 14 Owners group meeting, where the company was pleasant (people representing D9516, '20, '21, '23, '26, '31, '37 and '55 were there, and good friends amongst them) but when someone starts asking about the rumoured 10 spare Paxman engines that Swindon had for the '14s?

It was nearly half a century ago - does he expect them to be suddenly found like Sleeping Beauty in some remote overgrown castle in a corner of the Swindon complex? As we drove back we discussed what we had to do at Scunthorpe the next day and as Beverley is still stuck outside, rather limited the actions on that loco. Andrew took his courage in both hands and decided that, as it was the first weekend of the month, we would spend some time and get the 03 running again.

So he loaded up the van accordingly and at my insistence. added the battery charger to the various pieces of pipework (to form Beverley's vac system) and other bits. My insistence proved sound, for as I was setting up our battery charger on D2128, he tried to get an AFRPS battery charger to deliver on Beverley and it refused. In fact, I'd checked the batteries on D2128 before putting them on charge and despite them not being new (they are actually about 5 years old and previously did much hard work on 14 901) and having been left, untouched for about 6 months they were holding 24.8V. This is why we like silver alloy batteries so much - well worth the extra initial cost. After a short charge, I could release the charger over to Andrew to breath life into the not-so-happy batteries on Beverley.

After a last check around on various pipe connections we refilled the transmission oil reservoir and reconnected the temporary throttle cable. Ah yes, throttle cables. My first manufacturer, after several reminders, came back and said that they don't have anything suitable and declined the enquiry. So I have thrown it at two others. One has yet to acknowledge, the other came back instantly, assuring me that they have suitable cables "in stock" and could I supply the dimensions in inches rather than mm? I did so, since when he has gone very quiet. But the cable linkage we bodged last year (I won't go to long lengths to explain why, just believe me when I say we can't use it permanently) was still in situ and after reconnecting, I pulled out the run relay and we cranked D2128's Cummins over. As soon as oil pressure was apparent we replaced the relay, and cranked again, and this time the engine started. A Cummins PT fuel system can behave a bit oddly when there's air in there, and (we later discovered) we had the temporary throttle not quite going all the way back to idle, so the first few seconds were a trifle nerve-wracking but proved the stop control worked. After a few adjustments things settled down and we waited, both watching the torque converter gauge for an indication of pressure which would announce that the converter and its cooler were full.

It is a large system on the 03, and a small pump. Several minutes later we still had no base pressure and as Andrew had done several "tours" around the loco looking for leaks, I decided to take a turn and found a large one up at the front. We shut down and investigated - when we drained the system, we'd detached the return line from the cooler to enable air to get in, and had completely forgotten to reconnect it! With that remedied, base pressure began to climb and as by now we had air pressure too, we opened the shed doors ready to drive D2128 out into the sunlight. I engaged what should have been first gear, (or maybe second, who cares) and released the brakes, but my ears told me something wasn't right as the engine note had not changed and sure enough D2128 stayed motionless. Over the next half hour we checked through all the wiring, finally proving that the required solenoids were energising, but not so much as a twitch on the propshaft was forthcoming. Have we been here before? Yes. Hadn't we just spent a rather large sum of money overhauling this transmission to avoid a recurrence? Yes to that too. My test gauge was still in the loco so after a hunt for the adaptor we hooked it back into the base supply line at the powershift, which should indicate a pressure of about 85psi. With the engine running, it struggled to make 15. It might - and I stress the might - be that the oil level in the reservoir was low enough to be drawing a little air (but the converter pump comes off the same feed and that was OK) but more likely the main regulating valve in the transmission has not been set up properly, and we must consult them-as-overhauled-it before going in and invalidating the warranty. So we abandoned D2128 for the day and Andrew got the paint out and started brushing the doors from Beverley while I drew up a shopping list for bits still required to get the gear detection and such-like finished on D2128.

As we drove home, the topic of the throttle control came up and Andrew conceded that, if the current two enquiries come to naught, we'll reinstate the (original) electric throttle actuator and I can duplicate the system I am due to fit on Libby. We also spent some time discussing the merits of which loco to tackle next after D2128, Beverley, Libby plus outstanding tasks on Tom, Pluto and the Drewry. We do like to plan ahead.

So what went wrong with the first weekend of the month? Ah. Yes. Well, I suppose there has to be an exception to every rule.


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