Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of best laid plans

14th April 2013

There have been various suggestions as to what to call this week's blog. "Of a rubbish/cr*p/(similar adjective) day" have been the most common proposals, but let me take you through in stages to the climax.

First of all, for anyone mystified by logging on mid-week and not finding anything new to read, I was caught out by the software that runs this site in that it lists additions by the date of creation rather than the date of publishing. Thus the new piece "Of a roof over our heads" having been written a week or so in advance and uploaded to the site on the 4th, when I dated it and released it on the 9th proceeded to appear before last week's blog on the 7th. Nothing I could find to do (short of deleting and re-entering, which would in turn have screwed up the RSS feed) would change this so if you did not manage to find it, please have a read now and come back....

So anyway, at the end of last Sunday's blog I was announcing that, unless plans changed, both "Cheedale" and 14 901 would be out shunting today. For "Tangmere" was coming in on the Peak Forester and we had been asked to use 14 901 to shunt it from platform to loop and reposition the support vehicle while the Spam can was serviced. However, although returning from Gwili with no reports of any defects whatsoever, we were already aware that the exhauster had been run almost empty of oil, and the Voith transmission had been well below minimum level (caused by a prolonged leak on the Voith cooler which was fairly obvious by the amount of oil over the front right wheel) - yet both these were on the daily check list issued for the loco. We had proposed both Cheedale and '901 therefore as insurance - either loco was capable of handling the load, but only '901 had the compressor and exhauster capacities to operate a full train. Early in the week I had an e-mail saying that only '901 was required, and a flurry of phone calls on Wednesday took place to explain why we wanted both locos out and our reasoning accepted.

On Friday I had another run up to my profilers, partly to collect some bits which were missing the previous Friday, but to make it worth my while, I had a few more bits, for Cheedale's handrails and forthcoming additional compressor, and an odd bit for Beverley's exhauster. Clearly my profiler has latched on to the fact that if they short deliver I'll come back for other bits as well, for this week instead of producing me 4 corner base pieces for Cheedale's compressor stand, they had only lasered one. I could have waited for them to rush 3 more through, but I had done so, the fabricators and machinists I use would have closed for the weekend. As it was I got various bits in to them in the nick of time, and managed to collect a set of bearings and seals for Tom's fan shaft.

On Saturday Andrew was away so I popped in to Rowsley for the afternoon with plans first and foremost to test a new pcb for the AVR's I produce. Having done that (using Cheedale as the guinea pig) I thought I might as well continue getting the gauges switched to electronic, and ran out the wires and conduit that provides an electronic oil pressure gauge - only the coolant temp sender to go. As it was raining steadily I did little else.

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So on Sunday Andrew arrived home and we meandered back in to Rowsley. I changed the oil pressure sender on '901 while Andrew sorted the train brake hoses on Cheedale (one missing, other with no seal). We put '901 back over a pit and replaced a couple of bolts in the engine mounts and then took both locos around on to the loop. We had been joined by Andy Hurrell, who has now become famous ("Are you the Andy Hurrell mentioned in Pete Briddon's blog?") , and who wanted to see Cheedale in action. We were to oblige.

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A few minutes late "Tangmere" arrived, with around ten coaches plus support vehicle. We crossed over the crossover and moved up towards, (but not allowed to couple to) the train, whereupon the token was taken off us in order to release Tangmere to turntable and shed. By the time we were allowed to couple up, most of the time allotted for the shunt had already passed yet the train was by now down on air. Both Cheedale and '901 opened up the revs to charge train, and I was slightly alarmed as the engine temp on '901 was much higher than usual. '901 and Cheedale both have low air pressure protection systems, in the case of '901 this takes the form of a pressure switch on the main air tanks that the PLC watches, does nothing while-soever the loco is stationary but if detected while moving, causes a brake application. In our haste to make up time we managed to get the train pipe up to 5 bar but the sensing point for the low air pressure switch was only seeing 3 bar or so and as we moved off, the PLC intervened. Better still, there is a glitch in my software somewhere, for although it ought only to have re-applied the brakes, somehow it proceeded to shut the engine down as well. Three times.

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Tempers were getting frayed by now, not the least mine. '901's coolant temperature switch was close to tripping as the indicated engine temp was well in to the 90s, yet I was having to rev the engine to speed up the compressor! Finally the temperature switch toggled and the software locked me out of the Voith, leaving '901 the role of an overheating 48ton mobile compressor....

That meant that the entire train load fell on Cheedale, which of course it had no problem in handling having hauled far greater loads in the quarry. Having put the carriages on the loop, we returned to the platform to get the support coach, and had problems even in moving this - because they had left the handbrake on. At last we got the train reformed on the loop and propelled '901 into the headshunt, where, with the engine temp nudging past the 100 deg C, I could at last shut it down.

Oh no I couldn't. After all these repeated unwanted shutdowns, when I pressed the shutdown button this time the PLC duly obliged but the engine went on idling. Andrew quickly confirmed that the stop solenoid had sprung off, which meant either that the pump lever had slid on the shaft or the engine was not running on fuel. I was despatched to find a piece of plywood.

There is a stop cock on the pipe in to the fuel pump: we put it there as a last ditch means of stopping a run-away engine (though whether we'd have the guts to lean over a not-long-for-this-world engine in order to close it remains to be seen) but Andrew wanted to be able to smother the air intake if that failed. With the plywood poised he reached in and turned the cock, I leant hard on the plywood to block the air filter and after a few anxious seconds the engine shutdown, with a recorded temperature of 110 deg C.

After a cup of tea we returned to the locos and found that the clamp bolt that holds the stop lever on the pump shaft has disappeared, allowing the lever to jump around its splines, and more particularly, that the hydrostatic fan motor is seized and the oil emulsified. After the last service train had returned we put both locos back - the fan assembly will have to come out and a special puller borrowed to separate it from the motor. We were supposed to be putting '901 in traffic on the 28th, but clearly we have more work to do first.


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