Finding myself in the area on Monday, I sauntered up past Carmarthen and around Bronwydd to see if 14901 was alive and well. Took me a while to find it, tucked away at the south end of Bronwydd Arms station, after which I headed back to Derbyshire. On Tuesday I waited in for a delivery all morning, then rang the supplier to discover that although it had been packed and ready, TNT hadn't called the previous day so it would be away that afternoon. So I waited in all day Wednesday. Late in the afternoon Steph rang to say TNT had tried delivering a consignment to Briddon Towers. I rang TNT - "could you re-direct?' - "Only within the depot's catchment area, where are you?" Of course, Briddon Country Pile is not serviced by said depot, so the consignor must request TNT to re-direct, but despite getting on the phone at 4.55 I have missed the supplier and TNT tried to deliver again on Thursday, but by the time the van got back to depot the re-direction had got through.
But I should not get ahead of myself on Thursday, for at an hour of the day that under normal circumstances I refuse to accept exists (4.45am) both Andrew and I were up and by 06.00 we were twenty miles north at the entrance to Tunstead quarries, once ICI Mond Division and today a joint Tarmac-Lafarge venture. For Andrew has acquired "Cheedale", a 40ton chain drive Vanguard, (similar to but bigger than Charlie), one of the first locos built in the new erecting shop Hill's opened in 1978 and one of the first Peter arranged delivery for at work in Thomas Hill's "Marketing Department". After nearly 34 years in service at the same place, it was now regarded as too small for the quarry's tonnages and had passed through the hands of HNRC to Andrew.
Why so early? Well originally it was to be collected at a respectable hour, but it was suddenly realised that, as the plant was on maintenance shutdown, there would be contractors requiring the area where the loco must load from 08.00 on, so we must be in and out in the 2 hour window. Fortunately Allelys rose to the challenge, and the rig - rather large for our modest 40tonner but off to the Churnet Valley after our job - had arrived late the previous afternoon and had overnighted outside.
Tunstead is reckoned to have its own micro-climate and it was perishing cold as the sun was yet to climb over the surrounding hills. We had (though we didn't know it) two problems - the padlock on the barrier through which the Allelys rig must traverse was iced, and on the trailer the pneumatics for the trailer steering were frozen up too. This is not Ice Road Truckers but the problems were the same. From the loading area several hundred yards away we could hear cussing and banging, and the hazard lights of the rig seemed to be shuffling to and fro like a caged lion. Eventually it made its way down to us, lined up and separated the tractor unit ready to winch on. Quarry staff fired up Steelman 6-wheeler "Lily Izabella" (which carries Hunslet plates but is in fact a Thomas Hill loco which I helped repower in 1992) and pushed "Cheedale" up to the bottom of the ramp whence the Allelys crew took over.
By now we had some semblance of daylight, but despite my gloves I was having difficulty feeling my finger ends as I operated the camera. With Cheedale secured, the tractor unit returned to the front, and set off up a 1 in 10 access road.
As it started the rear (trailer) steering was sort of thinking about it - it was fortunate that it started to function as it had to negotiate a 180 degree turn around a roundabout at the top. Having stowed overalls, etc the lorry set off for Buxton town centre at 08.05.
Now, I should perhaps have added that one of my readers, Andrew Hurrell, a regular observer of loco goings-on at Tunstead, had also turned out at 6am to see the loco away, (which probably makes him even more of a basket-case than me and Andrew, who at least had to be there to take on ownership, etc) and followed it through Buxton and got ahead of it to grab a photo on the move at the top of the long hill on the A6 up from Topley Pike. His description sums it up...
"I knew they were coming: first the traffic stopped, then the birds stopped
singing, finally they growled round the corner like the Pied Piper, with half of
Buxton following (well, stuck behind)."
Meanwhile we headed through Millers Dale to Bakewell, and parked up, for there is another roundabout at Bakewell town centre that although no smaller than that at the quarry, had less space surrounding it and was best avoided. At 08.45 the driver phoned through that he was within the last mile and Andrew and me swung into action.
It is amazing what you can get away with in hivi overalls and a confident expression. I took the Chatsworth side, and all I had to contend with was a blonde in an Audi A6 - Andrew took it on himself to take the Matlock and Monyash roads with buses, cars, and all. I think my blonde was about to get unfriendly when the Allelys rig swung into sight, secondman trotting behind, and all became clear. The lorry proceeded majestically straight through on the most direct course in a barely half a minute, we waved our thanks to the waiting drivers, and returned to the van to resume the chase to Rowsley. Sadly I have no photos of this - to have used the camera would have seriously dented my air of authority. Sadly Andy Hurrell was several cars back from the lorry and anyway using an SLR while driving probably would be frowned on by the authorities.
By 10.30 Cheedale was off the trailer and waiting by the gate at Rowsley, but Rob had no time to remove the buffer stop so we headed back home, took an early lunch and returned with batteries. We had been assured by staff at Tunstead that it should fire up immediately, but that the converter leaked, which had been the final straw to take it out of traffic. So we hooked up the batteries and pressed the start button and to my shock the engine fired and ran, but only for a couple of seconds. We had not in fact intended it to run, so had not even checked whether the fuel was turned on! In fact I had meant it to crank until we could see oil pressure, so we removed the run relay to hold the pump "off", turned on both fuel feed cocks and cranked until the oil pressure gauge registered, then replaced the relay and tried again, with Cheedale bursting readily to life. We could see no converter pressure though, so idled it for a whole to let warmth permeate through. For several minutes nothing apparently untoward occurred, but on a further tour of the outside Andrew signalled an urgent stop, for we now had what seemed at first to be a massive diesel leak. In fact a little diesel goes a long way, but the reason we had no base pressure was that someone had removed the orifice filter assembly, leaving pipework open. It took a little longer to figure out why some of the fuel seemed to have migrated so far along until Andrew found a plastic pipe which had been cut through. Since I had inspected the loco earlier in the month, some light-fingered person had removed the Eberspracher type cab heater and had simply snipped the pipe that fed it fuel. We sorted out a spare orifice assembly and capped off the open line and within a little while Cheedale was shuffling up and down the short piece of track outside the gate.
Andrew meanwhile was expecting 4 smaller lumps, as I teased last week, and they arrived at much the same time, to whit 4 Matterson-like loco lifting jacks on a large lorry which had come up from Rippingale. We have had these for some time, but had not expected to move them until the "summer" when the ground was firmer. Instead the need to clear the space for the imminent departure of D9537 to the East Lancs had forced our hands. While Andrew oversaw unloading behind Rowsley's loco shed, I pottered about on Cheedale, removing surplus bits and checking out miscellaneous defects. Later on, we fired up "Tom" and drew "Libby" out the shed, and sheeted it down. It must live outside while visiting Austerity 0-6-0STs are here.
At 08.00 on Friday morning I was back at Rowsley, as Rob would be lifting the buffer stops to admit said Austerities and a tamper, which our Allelys rig had gone to the Churnet for. Cheedale is a little slow at raising air (the original second belt-drive compressor was removed and a diesel hydrovane fitted, but the quarry retained this, leaving us with an engine compressor that is a bit undersized for the task) and overnight John Antell had arrived with Wilbert from the Dean Forest, and seemed perturbed that Cheedale was in the way. I endeavoured to make up for it by aiding Wilbert off the trailer, Rob removed the buffers and under his direction we headed straight for the turntable, to turn both locos around. I have never had to operate the 'table before - but it saves going to the gym.
We had also promised to shift the 3 of Andrews locos that had been living in or around the shed so that Peak Rail can pose all the saddle tanks outside. I had fired Tom up and was moving round when an almighty screech started and I rapidly shut down. Subsequent investigation suggests that the fan stub shaft bearings are about to collapse, but at the time I returned to Cheedale and finished the shunt. Having briefed Peak Rail staff about a few issues on it, I had to head off, but popped back a few hours later to find Harvey quite at home (it has the same controls of course as Charlie) and shunting D8 and the Peak Rail Austerity about (appearing as Royal Pioneer again for one weekend only).
Last task of the afternoon was to rendezvous with a rep who had an oversized pizza box containing the throttle cable for D2128, but when I finally got around to unpacking our itinerant TNT packages, I found that the vital pulley for D2128 had been supplied as one groove, not two. Aaaagh!
Saturday morning and we popped back into Rowsley to collect the 'big MIG' welder to take to Scunthorpe, Rowsley shed was by now brim full of Austerities and the tamper was sat outside coupled to Cheedale. Even Charlie was over at the shed, to make the newcomer feel at home. When we made it to the AFRPS, the Yorkshire 0-6-0DE "Arnold Machin" (Arnie) was about to go off for fuel, but we persuaded the crew to shunt the Palvan around first so that Andrew could patch the roof as agreed with its new owner. During this (though for the most part my vital task was to anchor the stepladder and pass the things up to him) Andrew missed a clout nail with the hammer and instead met his finger, and I had to complete the task while he self-administered first aid. My planned work had been to get on with the permanent throttle linkage for D2128 - so I unpacked the new cable from its box, removed our old temporary one, and assessed how well it would fit. With finger throbbing, Andrew retired to the big radial arm drill and started on the holes in the base of Beverley's exhauster mount.
My throttle cable was a touch on the short side - a bit of the "send three and fourpence" in the details I had passed to the makers - so it arrives at a slightly different angle to what I had envisaged but I got it set up and it appears to do the job. A permanent tab to secure the cable at the engine end (until I saw it I had no idea what it would be) will replace a tie wrap and finish it.
Sunday, and after a quick stop at Rowsley to borrow a large tap wrench we headed back to Scunthorpe. Shunting the Peckett out the way we put Beverley into the shed over the pit so that Andrew could make a start on fitting the vacuum pipework, commencing with the bits at each end and the clamps beghind the buffer beams. But first we tapped out the holes in the mounting pads for Bev's exhauster base M16 with the tap wrench (couldn't find one fit to use there) and bolted them in place, and Andrew added some more Oxford blue to the door surrounds on Beverley so the pre-painted doors could be refitted for added protection.
I was aiming to do some work in the cab of D2128 but this was punctuated by requests from Andrew to "come and hold this" and may account for why one of my holes went a touch wonky. Through the desk top I have drilled 3 holes to mount a plate carrying 3 limit switches to activate the powershift. This will replace the unit we were going to use, but arranging the linkge to which proved somewhat perplexing. I eventually went back to basics and re-drew the whole thing using limit switches that came from the Jarvis auction. The mounting plate is now in situ - or rather it was before I pulled it back off to fit and pre-wire the switches - and after measuring exactly where it ended up (to allow for -er- assembly tolerance) I will re-draw a cam to weld to the old gearchange control shaft and operate the switches as required. My only other completed task was the addition of a small plastic box on the cab back where the cable from the headlamp comes through - a week ago this was fitted to, but doing nothing on, Cheedale. Every little helps.
Once Andrew was satisfied with the mounting of the front and back pipes on Beverley, we refitted the painted exhaust cowl to the cab front and casing top and reconnected the horn. He then started to clear away and that meant shunting Beverley back where it had started and returning the Peckett. Having given the paint as long as we could, we replace the casing doors to protect the power unit from the weather, and took a minute or two to admire the result. Even as the light faded the smart outline of the Hudswell design certainly seemed to suit the blue livery.