On Tuesday of course, 14 901 was back in action on Peak Rail service trains, with Roy Taylor sharing the cab with me. No additional secondman so we took it in turns as usual, and nothing particular to report save that after the first run the carriage brakes were dragging and the train tended to stop rather earlier than we expected. Later on I saw the defect report from the kettle driver that the vacuum on Lord Phil was a touch on the high side. Perhaps I should offer to supply a vacuum relief valve. As for 901, it passed 2000 miles on the clock on the last run – this may not seem much but the odometer only came into operation in late 2010. It went to the Gwili with 38 miles logged, returned to us with about 1100 on and so has clocked up 900 so far back at Peak Rail, the vast majority of them (just under 600) in the last 4 months when it has been utilised in passenger service. It is only a month away to 901's planned departure to the East Lancs for the Class 14 event – 14's at 50 - and we need to make some time for last minute checks and adjustments – the Main Air Pressure switch, for example, has definitely moved “up” a bit and needs a tweak – if the loco attempts to move with insufficient pressure (i.e switch “off”) the PLC overrides and slams the anchors on.
Meanwhile Andrew has a raft of paperwork to fulfil to verify both the loco's acceptable condition and my competency at driving it. In this SMS-world (and I mean Safety Management System not text-messaging) this is inevitable, but I find myself slightly uneasy when you consider that (a) no-one but me and Andrew are capable of driving it at the East Lancs (I couldn't theoretically jump on and drive any other 14, and other owner/drivers couldn't immediately cope with '901) and not only have I written the software that underlies the controls on 901, but I have driven a considerable number of other locomotives light engine or with up to 900/1000tons trailing load over my years in the rail industry, but cannot produce normal documentary evidence. Yet of course the ELR SMS assumes, not unnaturally, that I have passed up through the ranks as cleaner and secondman having done the requisite number of turns in each role and as such, all is fully documented. On these occasions, I like to throw in my MoD Army railways driver/instructor certificate from the 1990s: helps to confuse them.
Before moving on from 901, Dom Beglin sent me the results of his finial efforts from Jun 14th. Nothing especially startling, as the signalman had the gates open in good time and the signal came off, enabling me to cruise into Darley Dale without having to brake and then put power back on. So, I'll drop it in here to save you hunting it out in the movies section – secondman Roy is hanging out the cab, and you can just see me in my driver's costume through the cab window on the far side. Talking of which, we had two parties on the train on Tuesday, one of which was a group of ex railwaymen. One charged up to me and asked if I was wearing a Speedlink tie. I told him I wasn't, rather it was an Irish Rail one. But after he'd gone, crestfallen, I realised that actually this probably was a Speedlink tie, as I definitely got given one, so my apologies to him if he happens to read this. Now what have I done with that Irish Rail one?
On Wednesday we went over to Scunthorpe. I had a quick bit of business to attend to but after that I joined Andrew on D2128. The purpose of the trip from Andrew's point of view was to get the remaining sections of cab side cut out so that they can all be dealt with in one go when the welder is next taken over. This was a long and sometimes cacophonous process, as the sections of cab where it has corroded through are just above the floor frame level, and Swindon had of course stitched the panels to the floor frame. Cutting the plate without cutting through the angle behind was relatively simple, but separating the welds in situ was not and they had to be encouraged with a hammer and chisel.
You will recall that some months ago we had both D2128 and Tom over to the weighbridge and determined the axleloads. In Tom's case it proved that one spring was weak, but for D2128 it showed as we expected that we had lost some weight and that the loco would benefit from ballast up front, both to bring the adhesive weight back up and correct the tail-heaviness. Actually all 03's are about 2 tons heavier on the rear axle, and D2128 is much the same, its just that all 3 axles are a bit lighter than when built.
To achieve this, we are going to make the loco longer. Not significantly so, indeed, most people won't even notice, but we're going to make the front buffer beam thicker, and, as the hoist inside the workshop is only rated at ½ a ton, this must be carried out in the form of 4 profiles just within the hoist's limit. As I have said before, it is much easier to work in paper or cardboard than steel and significantly cheaper, so before we commit to expensive profiles I like to check the CAD drawing, printed full size, looks OK. Now, sadly, I cannot afford a plotter big enough to print even half a buffer beam in full size, but a friend and regular reader kindly plotted my drawings and after a happy time cutting and taping, here (above) is D2128's trial overlay. All is not quite right – a couple of holes missed out that must clear bolt heads, and a few others are a few millimetres adrift, but on the whole I am 90% there and with a “rubbing” of the important adjustments literally on paper I can tweak the CAD drawing and shortly submit it to our profilers for a costing.
The cab cosmetic work incidentally is being pursued by Toby, Stephen and Ashley and having needle-gunned and primed almost all of the outside of the cab, they are now starting on the inside, although Andrew has asked them to ignore the front bulkhead under the desk as there is too much clutter/valvery to risk accidental damage. They have also succeeded in polishing up one of the window frames so when it all comes together it should be a smart looking machine.
Another of my tasks was to measure up the floor – the original was in planking but Andrew favours a plywood floor, in sections to maintain access to things like the gearbox and disc parking brake, so I was measuring that up to see how best to cut it from standard sheet sizes. The doorways had drains recessed into the floorboards but these have themselves corroded and Andrew favours replacing in plain steel, but adding a kick strip over the threshold as protection.
Before leaving the subject of D2128, I was shown a copy of Platform 5's “Preserved Locomotives of British Railways” this week and naturally looked up their entries for 14 901 and D2128. I must send them an update – 901's is inaccurate and their only footnote to D2128 is that it is “air braked only” - eh? That equipment was removed when it was at Peak Rail back in the early 90s! Oh, and while we're on the subject of corrections, if any of you go onto Flickr and find a recently uploaded photo of D9502 at the SYR, you will find in the caption that the 'loco is currently owned by Andrew'. Feel free to inform the gentleman (37190Dalziel) of his error – I would but he blocked me after he took umbridge at my arguing with him about livery and “fictitious” number on 901!
On Thursday we spent a while down at the shed, removing the plywood track pads and starting on extracting the shuttering from around the track slabs. For the next “pour” we must blind the hardcore with sand, lay DPM, reinforcing mesh, wire it all together, erect shuttering around the track area and along the centre of the building, and the latter must have 16mm dia bars mounted through to “join” the reinforcement with the second side. Oh, and Fillboard must be placed all the way around the outside, next to the Foundation blocks. Even the DPM must somehow be cut around the columns. The amount of work this entailed was worrying me even before the news came through that Terry could not get next Friday off from work, so after much discussion we have postponed the next pour a week, to Friday 4th July, but hopefully will still see the final pour two weeks later, just before 901 leaves for Bury. The rest of the shuttering came out this afternoon but it was too hot and too late in the day to do much else, so let us see what next week has in store.