Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of filters and numbers

22nd February 2015

I like to open these posts with a thought-provoking, insightful observation into the state of the heritage railway industry or something equally profound, but usually fail to think of anything.  Tonight is no exception.  

Down at Darley Dale, Rob completed tidying up the site, including digging out the former ashpit, levelled the site, repaired some of the pot-holes in the access road and then assembled the works train and propelled it north to Rowsley, leaving the Darley Dale yard strangely open and deserted. I went down a day or so later for a tour of inspection, and to let James dig some flangeways through the surface of the ground. Rob had reckoned what we would need would be a good dose of rain to settle the lose stuff on the top and generally consolidate the whole area. I think we have now had it.

Down at the south end, the new dolly controlling access to the main line has had its operating wire installed as far as the lever frame, but the 3-lever frame is not yet installed and that is awaiting the S&T department to complete, so for the present the main line points are clipped.

But Rob's return to Rowsley had not been entirely straightforward.  Charlie had been down on power and on throttling back at Rowsley, torque converter base pressure had dropped away. This all indicated clogged fuel filters on both the converter and engine sides, (Charlie has yet to be converted to oil: but we will) so we decided to sort it out at the weekend.

You may recall that around the time of our forklift truck training, we intended to renew the slick tyres on the front of the forklift, but the supplier realised that the wheels were integral with the drum brakes and advised that their company policy was to refuse to do them until the client had removed the wheels from the machine, lest they were blamed for any subsequent brake failure. And there the matter had rested, but as I was agitating to get it sorted, Andrew got hold of Terry and he agreed to pop in after work on Friday, so by 7pm I was there, on my own since Andrew was attending a talk by Paul Lewin of the Ffestiniog at Derby, together with colleagues from Porterbrook.  Pretty much on time Terry's big van rolled in, and he proceeded to demonstrate how to jack the front end of the forklift up using the machine's own hydraulics – a trick which if you have never seen it done, you would not think was possible. We had been concerned that the wheel bolts on the forklift were some kind of Torx head (even though a ½ AF ring spanner had seemingly fitted perfectly) and Terry confirmed that it was an optical illusion and that the bolt heads were bi-hex. Off came the wheels and we inspected the brake shoes and slave cylinders before packing up and heading home. (Though not before I had walked out of the lit Portakabin into the dark outside and before my eyes had time to adjust, fallen flat on my face by colliding with concrete blocks on a pallet!)

On Saturday, as I said, we were off to Scunthorpe, though plans for an early start were not lived up to.  Once there I set up and started work on surfacing the cab floor, by recessing the lift up panels with  brass ring-pulls and then cutting rubber matting. A couple of  panels had the rubber stuck down but I had woefully underestimated the quantity of glue required so much of the sheeting is cut but not yet secure, but has got to be better than plain plywood.

Meanwhile Andrew went underneath, refitted the axlebox bottom and its oiler pad and oiled up all the boxes ready for next Saturday. He was also plotting where to route the vacuum pipework from the exhauster back to the cab.  The usual crowd were there, although Toby was enjoying a  visit to the NRM and only turned up later. 03 901 is scheduled to run the entire BLS trip next Saturday, with the first departure at 10.30, although there may be a substitution with a class 20 in the afternoon if some people have their way. Toby was at pains to tell us that “certain people” who might happen to be there next Saturday are of the opinion that a loco, once numbered by BR, cannot bear any other. We are familiar with such types of course, we meet them in the course of operating 14 901 and enjoy many an intellectual discussion on the topic. They are welcome to their opinions, provided they do not consider their views so impeccable that they deny us the right to have ours. On the 03, as with the 14, the fact that although externally the loco looks the same (at least to the un-technical eye) but is radically different internally from the machine that left BR's works means that it is hardly appropriate to maintain the same identity.

(Indeed, twenty-five years ago I supplied a repowered 0-6-0DH to Balfour Beatty at the Cheriton Terminal of the Channel Tunnel for track laying purposes.  The loco came to me with no badges or worksplates, so I had plates produced to substitute and the loco proudly carried Yorkshire Engine plates on front and rear. All was well  until TML's house magazine published a photo, staged and beautifully lit, of the said loco in the underground reverse loops at Cheriton, with a  spotlight picking out the Yorkshire Engine badge. At this point, the successors to the locomotive's original builder, who had apparently been unaware that  they had lost the order to me, started jumping up and down and in due course I received a  solicitor's letter from 'McClay, Murray and Spens' alleging that I had caused their clients 'potential financial loss' and that we must remove the badges forthwith.  I involved my sister, who at that time was a mere barrister specialising in contract law. She investigated and apart from assuring me that it was an idle threat  - 'they'd have to prove actual financial loss; you can't sue for a potential' – pointed out that what I had done was entirely correct but that if I had replaced the loco's original H... badges then as the internals of the loco and its control system had been altered, then they might have been able to sue me for what is called 'reverse passing off', which is rather like counterfeiting. Not that the ghosts of the British Railways Board are likely to sue us for passing off our Cummins-powered, 2-speed hydraulic “03” as still being the same D2128 that emerged from Swindon Works all those years ago, but the principle is much the same.)

Thus spurred on, Andrew decided that as the paint has now had 3 months to harden, it was time we fitted her new number, data  panel and BR logo properly on the cabsides. Thus next Saturday we must be up and out especially early, not only so that our “support crew” can give the loco a wash and brush up prior to its excursion but also to get the transfers fixed before the tour.

We had nearly swapped Saturday and Sunday over as the forecast for Sunday was wet with even the chance of snow, but belatedly realised that it would mess too many people around. We had high hopes of getting many things done on Sunday, but the forecast was entirely correct and the rain had started before we had got out of the house.  

First stop was Rowsley, where we removed Charlie's converter filter and sure enough it was clogged with that chocolate brown sludge that indicates we have a bio-infestation in the tank.  Probably the fact that the ambient temperature has been low has prevented it from multiplying faster. So we changed the filter, and would have changed the engine fuel filters but I found I had the wrong ones, so that must wait a little longer.  So with the engine running and the filter line bled through, the base pressure came back up to 35psi though a subsequent stall test showed the engine to be well down on rpm, and the lack of black smoke is indicative of the fuel pump being starved. New engine filters and a dose of biocide in the tank would appear to be the order of the day, although Andrew is considering getting a fuel pump overhauled and ready in case Charlie's original pump is clogged or worn.

We decided to leave Cheedale a little longer as we had promised to show a visitor around Darley Dale, but in the end most of the visit was spent sheltering from the rain and snow in James' cab. We did get to do some minor work but were soon soaked through and decided to knock things on the head prematurely.

The “ratchetty bit” you saw in its raw profile form a couple of weeks ago is now welded up and ready to be tested in one of those cable boxes that the S&T department want to install in the resignalling of Rowsley's north end, so I will probably meet up with Dom Beglin tomorrow and see just how closely it resembles the original. Then there's two other S&T pieces to create, and the forklift's front wheels to get sorted – yes, should be as busy a week as usual.

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