Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of containers and non-existent addresses

8th February 2015

So as I left it last week, the works train, but without motive power, was down at Darley and Rob, aided by whomever was available, was pursuing the track modifications and repairs. Cheedale was parked at Rowsley awaiting a new lift pump and fuel filter, and pretty much all was well with the world.

Andrew was convinced he had a spare fuel filter somewhere, but checked the container and the garage to no avail, so on Monday I put together a stock order on Cummins and included a couple. Cheedale would just have to wait a little longer.

On Tuesday afternoon (having made a morning return trip to Kings Lynn) I popped in to Darley to see how things were going – the  first track down to the shed, which you have seen before with its sleepers naked and somewhat in the air, was now filled in with a mixture of ballast and ash up to rail top level. The first rails for the second track (the shed rails are some short lengths of 113 FB rail which I bought off the railway) were in place with a  few concrete sleepers and Rob was stripping out a couple of lengths of track from the (old) second siding to clear the way for a trough into which our new second track would go to link up to the turnout. (The FB rails stock out of the shed so that there are no fishplated joints coinciding with the edge of the concrete floor, and the concrete sleepers are there to facilitate our concreting an apron outside without entombing decaying wooden sleepers. There is some thought going in to all this.)

But of course, standing in the way was the container, and as Andrew speaks “crane-driver talk” better than me I had left it with him to try the various crane companies around to see if we could get a  good price.  Of course the container came in on the back of a 40ft artic which had its own Hiab capable of removing it, but unless we emptied the contents and got the lorry back alongside (which, with the works train blocking the access and Rob digging what at first sight looked like an anti-tank ditch) that wasn't a solution to relocating it..

While I am admiring progress, my mobile rings.  It is Cummins telling me my address didn't exist. I pointed out that if it didn't, I wanted two and a half-years worth of Council tax refunded, reminded him of the house name and suggested he pass my mobile number to the TNT driver concerned, even though TNT had been to the Briddon Country Pile on numerous occasions. We get this  a lot though. As far as the Post Office, the Land Registry and sundry other bodies go, we are on a particular avenue, but in reality we are on a short bit of road that connects said avenue to another street. To make matters worse, there is a bungalow behind us, which shares our address and postcode, but whose front gate at first sight looks to lead to our Country Pile. So every dewy delivery driver turns off the A6 obediently following his satnav  and when it tells him he has arrived he looks around and sees no house with our name. He backs up, surveys the scene again, sees the front gate which he assumes leads to our house (the bungalow is invisible) and as the gate has the wrong name, he gives up and goes away, claiming the address doesn't exist.

When I got home Steph confirmed that a TNT van had been driving to and fro - had she realised it was looking for us she'd have run out and hailed it.  A few minutes later TNT themselves rang, questioning again whether my address existed, but revealing that their labelling had no house name at all, which was a first (I checked an earlier delivery from Cummins and it was there then) so I spelt out the house name, asked them to give the driver my mobile and in return they promised to put it on for an AM Wednesday delivery.

Steph was out Wednesday morning and so I waited in for TNT. From my office in the front of the Pile I can see a van pull up outside but I can't see down to the A6. I plodded on with some paperwork and became increasingly annoyed as I had some parts due for collection south of me, plus profiles, cable and other bits to the north. By the time Steph got back after 1pm and I had a quick lunch, it was quarter to two, so I abandoned the southerly supplier in the hope of getting some of the northerly visits done. I was up near Dewsbury when my mobile rang and the caller introduced  himself as the TNT driver.

I harangued him for keeping me waiting all morning, but he assured me he had been back but still couldn't find me, as apparently a highly efficient TNT had passed on neither the house name nor my phone number. I educated him with directions that would take him to my front door, then rang Steph to let her know to look out for him.

Amongst the profiles I was collecting were the parts to make up the first of the cable point devices that Dom Beglin is putting together for the resignalling of Rowsley north end. You will recall how the original looked -

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and this is your first glimpse as how the replica should look, although as yet it requires carefully prepping and welding, as it comprises a  sandwich of 3 layers which must be aligned together so that the wire rope can pass through channel in the centre. When we will undertake this feat of fabrication, I am not sure – access to the shed at Rowsley being somewhat restricted of late.

Andrew had had time to phone a couple of crane companies and was depressed with what he got back – a day rate of £1000 + vat for a container to move about one hundred yards represented about £4 per foot – it would have been cheaper to buy another empty container, transfer the contents and burn up the old one where it lay! Meanwhile, sometime on Wednesday Charlie was released from duties at Rowsley and so it came down to Darley, but it was towed down by James, with Rob at the helm.

In the end, a couple of friends and I jacked the container up, persuaded two rails under and slowly traversed it until it was on the new track to the shed, and with a bit of help from a  loco (with a  sleeper across its buffers and a lot of noise) skidded it down the lines until it was roughly where we want it but still on the track.  This had the benefit of freeing the space for Rob to complete digging and laying sleepers whilst also maintaining the area outside the shed clear to give them room to work. Eventually we'll reverse the sideways slide with the Tirfor.

Saturday had been intended to get over to Scunthorpe but once again Andrew wasn't up as early as he'd intended and  decided to scrub it, although news did come through later in the day that the Branch Line Society have indeed requested 03 901 on their brake van tour later this month so can we please have it running.  Instead, Andrew came down to Darley and gave me a hand on a commercial job. By the middle of the afternoon Rob arrived to continue preparation for a working party due the following day which he hoped would get the track in place for the second road.

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On Sunday we continued for the morning at Darley, with a team at work outside getting the new track into position. But we also spent a few minutes on James, as we were aware of an oil leak (the compressor oil return line banjo bolt turning out to be slack) which needed attending to, and the compressor belts wanted adjustment. We look forward to it entering the shed area too. In the meantime though, here's a shot of progress outside the shed (it was a break when most of the team were in the mess van).

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Oh, I said last week that the camera broke down and yes, I spent several hours attempting to fix it but it was not worth going too far. For one thing, when I opened the case a piece of broken something dropped out, suggesting that new parts would have to be identified and acquired, but the amount of dirt I found inside it was a bit of a shock. I had always kept it in a  protective bag (which websites assure me is the worst thing I could have done as it “recycles” the dirt by keeping the camera in constant contact) but operating in the middle of mucky operations certainly will have contributed. So on Friday I picked up a  cheap 16Meg Vivitar which henceforward I will try to reserve for “work in progress” shots, whilst sourcing a better quality one for cleaner occasions. Hopefully by the time I have resized everything you will not spot any change in quality – though the photo of the pre-fab' profiles is a little disconcerting as it was photographed against a white background and no amount of colour adjustment seems to bring it back to what it should be!

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