Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of brackets and buffers

12th May 2013

So, when I left off last week it was with Bank Holiday Monday in prospect, and we headed back to Rowsley for a "light" day. While Andrew pottered about clearing James' cab, I decided I had better press on with the additional wires needed to run the fan motor on 14 901. But before I got too far in, I was called over to assist Andrew in recovering the fan motor from D9500, which was to head to the repairers as another possible candidate for fixing. Mind you, with D9500 having last run c. 1988 we were less than optimistic about its condition, especially as the fan's top cover was missing and so the retaining bolt on the top was corroded.

Being of German manufacture, we expected the bolt (which was M10) to be a swine to remove. We could have some interesting debates on this, time and time again I see Whitworth bolts that will unscrew - maybe protesting a little - after years of slumber when a metric bolt will shear off after half the time. Living as I now do in the shadow of the great man (the Whitworth Centre is just down the road, the Whitworth hospital is just outside Matlock and the Whitworth name can be found on several roads and houses hereabouts) I take my hat off to him.

But anyway, the retaining bolt, though its head was so badly corroded that no spanner would grip, came out with a mole wrench and the puller drew the fan off easier than '901's had. As Andrew undid the pipe connections, clean oil oozed out. In fact, apart from corroded capscrews and castings where it had been stood in water, it gave us the impression that its quarter of a century rest had done it no harm and maybe saved it from a lot of wear, Nonetheless, it was put out for attention.

Back on '901, I set about the necessary wiring. Having allocated spare inputs and outputs on the PLC I had to run cables out through the existing flex conduit that feeds the engine, through a tee I'd left and along the new bit of conduit to where the new control valves are sited. Eventually we will remove the thermostatic control valve and fit a simple temperature switch, but for the present I may rely on time interval from when the engine starts up, or link the wires together so that the switch is "on" so far as the PLC is concerned. Feeding the wires through to the cabinet was a bind - the final entry section is a 2 x 2 trunking and I totally underestimated just how many cables had to pass through. While I was in the cabinet I added a couple more inputs - if '901 is to go top'n'tail in the future on Peak Rail it would make life easier for the crew if the deadmans, which at the moment is activated either by engaging the Voith or if the loco moves off, were to only respond if the Voith is driving. Thus when the loco is being towed, the driver does not have to sit with his foot on the pedal. So I put wires in for an external switch to do this, and also for an internal switch which, once the PLC's program has been amended, will isolate the deadmans altogether should I wish it while the loco is purely shunting.

During the week, apart from going through the latest proposed agreement over the shed and drafting counter-amendments and explaining why, I made a number of phone calls in pursuit of a structural engineer. For my drawings of the shed for Planning purposes, however impressive, took no account of foundations as I had no idea what we would need to do. The man who knows all this stuff, and can produce the necessary figures to demonstrate that our (secondhand) steelwork complies with current requirements, is a structural engineer, and after following up several recommendations and getting quotes that varied widely, but seldom less than 4 figures I was not much farther forward and apprehensive that what hadn't been mentioned would suddenly account for a significant addition to the final bill. On Wednesday I was given a recommendation to such an engineer who, I was told, lived in Darley Dale. Actually I took the phone number down missing one vital digit, and though it would have been simple to have rung the first man back and asked for it again, my manly pride came in and I spent half an hour and much initiative tracking him down to his employment in Staffordshire. Talking of initiative, while in Burton-on-Trent on Thursday I promised Andrew I would collect a vacuum gauge from an e-bay seller. The seller had told us we could collect it from his mother, and gave us only a postcode and a house number. I duly reported to the house on the road indicated by the postcode (though I was a little suspicious as it was a long way along the road and on the opposite side) and politely explained to the bemused couple that I was looking for "Stephen's Mum". Clearly this was not the house. Now whether I had used up my quota of initiative for the week I don't know, but I came back empty-handed. It turned out the vendor had given the right house number but his own postcode. Why he couldn't just give a road name too...

So on Friday morning I met up with my local Structural Engineer and started on my usual explanation of "railway basics for beginners". Part way through he declared that his main interest was American railroading and his Dad was a model railway dealer.... I just hope that his quotation will be as realistic.

On Saturday we headed back over to Scunthorpe. The allotted time left to complete Beverley is getting short yet it is still outside and the heavens opened as we arrived. Not only that, our 3-phase extensions had been commandeered and a team were on the Mattersons lowering the Peckett 0-4-0ST back on its wheels. While Toby promised to get Beverley under cover as soon as the participants of the brake van tour had left the yard, I persuaded Andrew to join me and do a bit on the 03. With our cables returned we set up the welder, cleared the cab floor and cleaned up the area where the brake calliper is to go. For newer readers - and for those correspondents of magazines who are prone to corrupt the facts if it is not laid out in simple terms - let me recap. When we came to lay out the new driveline in D2128, it was apparent that the handbrake pull rod - which on an 03 passes up the right hand side from the cab to the weighshaft at the front - bisected the rear engine mount bracketry and initially I left a hole for it to pass through, though was unhappy about just how much weakness that created.

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Over the years I have fitted a number of locos with spring-apply/pressure release parking brakes - indeed, they don't just park the loco, they are sized to stop a loco and train if required. As we needed to create an adaptor between the Layrub flange on the gearbox and the Hardy-Spicer flange on the propshaft, it was simple to extend this into a parking brake disc but Andrew preferred to retain the original handbrake wheel, so we adopted a cheaper, simpler calliper that has mechanical actuation. This has been sat awaiting installation for nearly twelve months, it was one of those jobs that we had to drop in the rush to try and get D2128 running for the AFRPS gala. It is now in place, though I must confess that my 90 degree relay bracket (to operate it) was something of a disaster and has been abandoned. A new one will be created. With that welded in fully Andrew added me a strip up the casings up front so that I could secure the trailing edge of the compressor power bulge.

By now Beverley was under cover, but wet, so painting was out of the question, but Andrew wanted to put in a pipe support for the vacuum connection by the exhauster, so the welder was dragged all the way round the shed. In due time this was cut, set up and welded in place, and later Andrew added paint. But by then there was little else to be done but to put Beverley back outside and the Janus in its allotted space, and head home.

At 09.05 this morning we were on our way to Rowsley, which in itself is something of a record. We had to position the train back where it was last week and complete the burning jobs. "Cheedale" had been used during the week, to drag a vehicle which needed a train air connection, which left "James" on top. We had a fight with the heavy tarp that had slid off the NB 0-6-0 during the week, but by 10.00 all three vehicles were in place and Terry arrived to start gas-axing. I left them to it, returning to '901 to finish wiring the two switches, and loosely install the new hoses required for the re-arranged fan hydraulics. Then on Tom I manufactured a bracket and secured the new control valve we had fitted in the desk (and when I say "in", I mean it: the valve is right inside amidst plastic pipes and cross linkages and limited means of access). If we had thought to bring the plastic pipe and fittings, then I might have got the new horn valve plumbed in too - as it was I refitted the desk top on one side but the other is still off.

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Amongst the various bits Terry was burning were the buffer faces on James. The 'standard' industrial loco buffer has 24" faceplates - some locos have 30" or even more if buffer locking is an issue. The trouble is, the bigger/heavier the faceplate, the more weight there is on the shank and the quicker the shank wears and the springs get tired or break.

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James' buffers are basically 18" but somewhere along the way it had gained hefty and rather crude 26" (or thereabouts) plates, and Andrew had decided that these were unsightly. So off they came, though they will want a bit of attention from a grinder to get a more satisfactory finish to the edges.

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The rest of the engine bearers from the NB also came out, still leaving a substantial amount of metal as a cross stretcher, that we will need to revisit when it comes to repower, though at least now I can see and measure what it is to start with. With the prospect of this job being done in our own workshops when its turn comes, we have expanded our horizons with talk of removing the bent and buckled running plates (which are formed from chequer plate) and substituting a 20 or 25mm slab running plate to redistribute the weight and stiffen the chassis. That will not be for a few years yet, though.

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For now, we must get back to "Libby", get 14 901 sorted and out in traffic, fit Cheedale with another compressor, finish the vac fit on Beverly and return to the transmission on D2128. Put like that, it doesn't sound all that much...

Footnote: I've added a new Menu item on the home page. Rather than use the Links to direct you to the blog entries where the movies are, they are now on a page of their own from the menu item which, with impressive initiative and originality, I have called Movies. 


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