Weekend Rails

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Of departing vans and hydraulic fans

21st April 2013

We had little enough time to lick our wounds this week. On Tuesday we were due to load the Palvan at Scunthorpe and the new owner had asked Andrew to set up the transport. Heanors had been booked, with one of their folding neck trailers where the rails are not only in the deck but across the neck as well. We have used these trailers before, and they're OK up to about 30tons, so the 8ton box van was easy.

Our biggest concern was getting the vehicle on site through Tata's security system, since as part of the railway society we don't have the lines of communication that a part of the works might have. Consequently we met up with the vehicle just outside Scunthorpe and headed on in convoy, with me psyching myself up to sweet talk us through the gate. But just as we got there, the traffic queue for the ANPR was beginning to block the main road so the barrier was overridden and we cruised straight in.

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So anyway, we got on to site, fired up the AFRPS' Janus and shunted things around. A few last pieces were taken out of the Palvan and meanwhile the Heanor's wagon lined up. The Palvan was soon loaded and headed on its way, and we allocated the rest of the afternoon to getting some work done. While Andrew continued painting various parts for Beverley - casing doors, pipework, etc, I grovelled around on the floor in the shed and succeeded in fitting the sand trap and ejector at the back of the 03, which just leaves Andrew to do his bit with the pipework in between. Neither of us felt especially enthusiastic to work late, so by 4pm we were on our way back.

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Andrew was away again on Saturday, but I trundled down to Rowsley for a few hours in the afternoon. Partially I was familiarising myself with the troublesome hydraulic fan drive on 14 901.

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The system is really all part of the Serck cooler group, and explains why the reservoir is mounted in the middle between the matrices. On the Paxman engine, the pump is located at the front of the engine, not far away, but on '901 it is mounted to an auxiliary PTO on the right hand side of the engine, over half way down. The SRPS spanned the gap back to the original pipework with a couple of flex hoses, one of which we replaced several years ago, but the combination of unnecessary elbows looks a mess and it is time we sorted out properly. The pump delivery splits in to two lines, one to the hydraulic fan motor in the casing roof and the other to a thermostatic valve just inside the engine bay. Outputs from both units then return to tank. The effect is that with a cold engine, the thermostatic valve stays open and oil takes the easy route back to tank. As the temperature rises, the thermostatic valve closes, and oil is forced to do the job of turning the fan.

I removed the protective grille over the fan and found the motor free to turn - maybe a bit too free. The colour of the oil - a sort of pinky brown reminiscent of Humbrol "Track Colour" enamel paint if you're into modelling - was certainly not a good sign and clearly there was a percentage of water - which may of course be coolant leaking in through the valve. There wasn't much more to be done as removing the fan from the motor requires a special puller which Andrew was bringing back with him from the Peterborough direction. Instead I opted to do a couple of maintenance jobs on the 110V transformer and grinder that were long overdue.

Andrew wanted an early start on Sunday but fortunately not as early as all that. We made a start on 14901 by removing the fan cover plate, cleaning out the threads and fixing the puller in place. Andrew then applied torque until the puller bowed a bit but the fan stayed put. In the end I boiled a kettle in the mess room, and the dose of hot water did the trick. Off came the fan.

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We had been warned that the plate underneath tended to retain rainwater and it was practice at such places as Corby to drill drain holes. Sure enough, the motor was sat there in something reminiscent of a bird bath and first job was to drill a pilot hole through the water and slime to start draining it. Opening up this hole to a more effective diameter though was not succesful, as having drilled a small hole we were unable to find it again amid the sludge! In the end we left it to drain itself while we had a bite of lunch.

The reservoir for this hydraulic system is a peculiar beast, compartmentalised to prevent oil being drawn straight back around (and aerated to boot) so draining it involves not one but two drain points, and one of course is inaccessible so when you succeed in removing the drain plug the freed oil is likely to ricochet of numerous underparts of the loco. But a strategically placed funnel, and our normal washing up bowl on the track underneath (with me alongside it ready to redeploy dependent on final trajectory) and down it all came with very little spillage, if any. The pipe connections on the Serck side are all Ermeto which gave us a bit of a fight but before too long a very woebegone looking motor was out and I was opening up the drain hole and adding a couple more for the future.

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During the week that nice Mr Booth had dropped off a skip and I had already contributed all the steel bits from the gas cooker at Briddon Towers. Andrew had a quantity of bits sat on the German flat, plus a large radiator and oil cooler which had defeated earlier attempts to dismantle. Today I was delegated to attack it with the trusty grinder, and later Andrew and Pete Waller - the latter demonstrating his extensive and hitherto unrevealed skills as a sorter and extricator of different metals (he once worked in a scrap yard) - aided us in releasing the steel top and bottom tanks from the more valuable tubes and regaled us with tales of stripping cars down with nothing more than a Stanley Steelmaster axe. He left us saying that the tubes would easily fit in the van - they did, but hardly anything else could.

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