Andrew having got the day off joined me, and we arrived down at Darley to find our trainer waiting for us. After showing him round a bit (while the portakabin warmed through!) we put the machine through its paces, and having effectively demonstrated that we had clearly operated forklifts before, he classed us as “experienced” for the purposes of the course.
Aside from a few bad habits I have acquired over the years, we both performed quite well on what was in reality “Day 1 – Theory”. The entertainment though was when the instructor tried to “demonstrate”, for as I have said before this old Cat forklift has a peculiar hydrostatic drive which operates through a single pedal giving both forward and reverse from mid position. Our instructor took rather longer to get the hang of it than we had! Moreover, I had not thought to warn him that the throttle cable sticks, as with the area available to us within the shed, idle on the engine gives us a nice comfortable speed which is perhaps sedate but safe. He unfortunately put his foot on the accelerator, the engine revs went up and didn't come back down and in that moment of panic he forgot how the transmission pedal worked! But he hurt nothing but a bit of his pride. At the end of the day we did our “mock” theory paper and each got 19/20 (and before you mutter, we got different questions wrong!).
Day 2 of the training is this Tuesday coming, and Andrew has the day off again to take part. In addition to getting ourselves qualified, we must also have the vehicle certified under the LOLER regs so I did a search on the net to find someone able to provide that service. And would you believe it? A small company who does just that is located within a mile of the shed, inDarley Dale.
But back to our training day, and the instructor was perturbed that we did not have working horn. Within our small shed area, and with just two of us normally working together, it would scarcely be essential to us, but of course a training course sets you up for driving in all environments, so a horn was added to the list of “defects we must fix”. By Wednesday we had ordered the two front (big) tyres, which are considerably worse than the rear, and later on 2 new 6ft long forks, being judged more sensible than sticking with the old ones and adding extensions.
On Thursday I had a tooth extracted. My dentist had done all he could to preserve it, but after the abscess that appeared over it in December, it was judged a lost cause, being both dead and not much of it remaining below the gum. Waggling the swine until the last vestiges of root broke and it came out was not my idea of a fun half-hour and even now, four days later, my jaw is very sore.
Saturday was aimed at getting some of the defects rectified on the machine, and Terry promised to join us when he could. Ironically, the longest job turned out to be getting the alternator belt back on! The bottom (crankshaft) pulley has a bracket immediately underneath, on the opposite end of which is a hydraulic pump which slots into a drive coupling on the outside of the pulley. No matter what we did (and we were at it for over an hour) we could not wangle the belt into the groove of the pulley, and in the end, we had to remove the bracket and pump from the engine, and the plate above the engine (behind the seat) to which is mounted the exhaust system and air cleaner, but at last we could refit the belt and reach down to nip everything up.
In between times I had mounted the new horn that Andrew had picked up, and was about to drill a hole in the “dashboard” for a button when Terry arrived and proceeded to pull up the floor plate so that we could extract the throttle cable. This he determined, was definitely past its sell-by date so I have that to try and source a replacement Monday, in between being down at Darley when a nice man turns up to change the front wheels. But in the end, I sorted out the button and some quick wiring and we have a working horn, plus I returned the keyswitch to its mounting lug, instead of it periodically arc'ing to the pipeworks.. I had been wondering where it went and why it was hanging down – that Cat manual showed me where it ought to be, what I still don't know is why it was ever taken out!
It was strange, since we thought the railway was supposed to be running on Saturday, that the signal cabin was boarded up and the station deserted, but we ignored it and carried on.
All became clear when on Sunday morning we finally made it in to Rowsley to continue with the cooling system on 14 901. It seems it has been a tiresome week for Peak Rail's motive power department (not that it has one by that name). At some point “Cheedale” had been run out of fuel and was left in its usual place on the pit road but hors de combat. Then a fitter, displaying rather poor judgement with a socket, tee-bar and a length of tube, sheered a rather important valve stem on some steam valve or other on “Lord Phil” (it was only made of brass) taking that out of action, and as 14 901 was out with its cooling system to be re-done, and D8 down for winter maintenance after its Santa's duties, there was nothing for it but to cancel the service for the weekend.
On the other hand, back on Monday, both Ashdown and James were in operation, Rob swapping from one to another in order to complete a complicated extraction of two Austerity 0-6-0STs, one pristine, the other a wreck waiting attention, and get them to the loading area for departure. James apparently started up without issue (from what he said, more readily than it started for me) and worked well.
So we dipped Cheedale's tank (with a handy shunters pole as the gauge is broken) and sure enough, it shows about 4” in the bottom, but part of that is “sump” with the converter feed point about 2” above bottom and the engine pick up about 2” higher, so yeah, it will need filling up and bleeding through. (The engine comes off higher than the converter so that if you run it low, it stops the engine before it cavitates the converter, at least on these installations where fuel is used in the converter. The recommendation though was never to run the loco with less than a quarter tank as the fluid returning from the converter heat exchanger via the orifice was sufficiently warm to raise the tank temperature).
Next job was to move an empty stillage (one of the 10 Andrew bought last year) into the south end of the workshops and fill it with various heavy lumps so that, when the time comes to move things out and on to Darley, they can be collected quickly and easily. There is more of this to do, but a one at a time should suffice.
Then it was on to collect bits together and start work on the upper pipe connections for 14 901. We are re-using the rectangular flange and pipe stub from the thermostat housing that was on 14 901 before. These parts were produced in Scotland and then went into a 235 degree turn followed by a bodged joint into 3” tube. With the thermostat housing turned 180 degrees, a 90 degree swept elbow brings the pipe pretty much to the centre line of the loco, where it will meet a second pipe from a large 4 bolt flange behind the cooler group. Both pipes were duly assembled, trialled, cut, reassembled, trialled, removed, tweaked, welded, checked again and finally removed ready for painting. The next piece is the awkward joggled section from the bottom of the DV8 to the nearest port of the Voith transmission cooler – parts for this were duly cut and brought back for further commercial threading, as 3” BSP is out of our normal range.
So that's about it for this week – we came home strangely satisfied with progress after recent days and weeks which have been stressful for all (and the reasons for some of which, you'll just have to wait and see.)