Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of LEDs, tachos and squiggly bits

22nd March 2015

It's coming up to my financial year end and the order book is looking very healthy with new customers and active old ones. You don't really want to know all this but it serves to explain why work on Andrew's locos and the shed really has moved back to being a weekend thing again.

On Friday afternoon Andrew and I popped in to Rowsley to collect our welder. With access to the shed restricted at weekends we have had no opportunity to do anything with it, and as there is work coming up on the 03 which will require its services,  it seems to make sense that it goes to Scunthorpe and stays there until we are ready to bring it back to Darley Dale, though in the meantime Andrew is on the look out for a smaller MIG that can run off a single-phase supply (the present one is for 3-phase and can produce about 300 amps – if I ever get to build a brand new loco at Darley we could weld frames with it).

A couple of weeks ago I went west and returned with a couple of exhausters that one of my readers had in his garage and wanted to clear out. Along with them came some bits of pipework which reputedly had come from an 03, and Andrew confirmed that they were indeed, and scrounged them for possible use on 03 901, to form the sections that come through from under the desk and up to the driver's brake valve. They were added to the contents of the van.

So on Saturday morning, at last, we made it to Scunthorpe.  The 02 was out having a prolonged test of the repaired vacuum exhauster drive and converter cooler, but 03 901 was parked inside the shed ready for our ministrations.

While Andrew started preparing vacuum pipework from the exhauster through into the cab, I went first to investigate why the tacho had ceased working when out on the BLS tour. I opened the casing door and oops! The tacho drive cable had come unscrewed from the generator and flopped backwards. I returned it to the tacho genny and screwed the nut up tight: the bottom nut was loose too so it seems likely that I had never tightened them up properly in the first place. I must have stern words with my Quality Assurance manager.

That done and suitably ashamed, I returned to the cab and decided that it was high time I got the cab light working and drew cables through for the wipers and planned codelights. I had opened up the trunking covers a couple of years ago to do this, but one junction box lid wouldn't yield and ever since I had always managed to think of better things to do first. Today I decided enough was enough and by balancing on two 25litre drums full of water (no spare chairs handy)  I leant hard on the screwdriver and the two screws finally undid. Off came the cablight fitting (it screws to another junction box) and I was ready to start.

I don't know if it was BR or continental 'tricians, but the pos and neg feeds for the wipers are commoned using those old ceramic connector blocks with the screw holes all bunged up with black stuff. Consequently, and as the wiring seemed still be to in reasonable condition, an early decision was to re-use the cables, identify them down at the instrument panel and connect them to the new positions. But in view of snipped ends and lack of other identification, I started using the old wires to pull through new feeds for the cablight, head and code lights and a new return for them.  This took up a large part of the afternoon, but by around four o'clock the wires were in place and made safe until the external light fittings were ready, a bulb was found for the cablight and after checking resistances on the wiper motors, I turned on the battery master switch. Both the front wiper motors started working immediately – hooray! But the rear wiper motors did not – boo! The front wipers now worked on and off from their lever switches – hooray! But the rear motors stayed dead, and one's lever switch is well and truly seized – boo.  

Oh well, there's a spare motor or two in the container from the Jarvis auction, but I suspect there's a break in the wiring somewhere along the way that'll need to be traced.

One of the bits of ex-03 pipework that Andrew hoped to re-use was a squiggly bit that brings the snifter valve up and through the desk. Now why it should be plumbed like that is a  mystery to me – the function of the snifter is to open and admit air when the exhauster tries to lift the vac much above 21”.  I suppose if you are sitting there with the throttle open drawing the train pipe the fact that a hissing noise suddenly starts from the desk might be a clue to throttle back and get the loco into gear, but then so are those needles sitting at the number 21. Most locos have the snifter mounted on top of or adjacent to the filter, and this in turn is close to the exhauster, so as I say, why the 03 (and presumably the 04) make the snifter valve a feature of the desk is a mystery to me. Some of this genuine pipework has now been incorporated, but the squiggly bit to the snifter, despite his best endeavours, could not be made to line up as, partially due to an air filter and two horn valves I fitted there about five years back, the vac pipe  is no longer in quite the same place. But by the end of the day, Andrew reckoned that he would need one more day's work to get it all plumbed and ready for a vac test.

By five pm I had decided we should give it a run – partially to make sure the batteries were boosted after testing lights, wiper motors, etc. and partially to see that the tacho was working again. As soon as I started getting it ready the cab filled with volunteers, who did at least remove all the drums of water (aka my step stools) to make more room.  As soon as the engine fired I heard a new and disturbing rattle so promptly shut it down again. It sounded like something coming from the propshaft under the cab floor so I lifted the rearmost panel and inspected, but all seemed well.  So we started it up again and this time identified it to be from one of Andrew's new pipes rattling against a bulkhead!

The 03 moved up and down the yard outside the AFRPS shed for about 20 minutes, with both me and Toby at the helm. The tacho was indeed back to normal and we achieved a full 1800rpm on the scale, so  all's well there.

After we'd put it away and cleaned up, we headed back west but then turned north for Leeds, as Andrew had decided to stock up on sawn sleepers as jacking/packing material, of which we have only a modicum and none currently at Darley. The e-bay vendor in this case was at Yeadon, so by the time we loaded the van, and headed back south, it was after 9 o'clock before we returned to the Briddon Country Pile  Amongst the pile of letters that had arrived while we were out was a jiffy bag from one of my supplier friends enclosing a new PCB. The code lights for the 03 utilise a “cartridge” - the bottom of the casing unscrews and drops away to reveal a PCB carrying red and white LEDs and an adjacent changeover switch. The trouble with LEDs is that everyone wants them to be very bright and a very narrow beam, whereas what it was meant to achieve was the impression of the original's filament bulb. Add a bulls-eye lens and the LEDs shone out like a disco ball, so he had been experimenting with other types and thinks that with a  combination of lower output LEDs and differing resistors, he has achieved a more “heritagey” result.  I'll have to pop it into the original code light box and see if he's right.

First thing this morning it was down to Darley to unload and crack on with some other jobs (which in case you haven't guessed is a euphemism for some of my commercial work), breaking off part way through the afternoon to collect Steph from Chesterfield as she had been away since Thursday having a weekend in Birmingham with our daughter.

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And seeing that pictures of wires in conduit and bits of 2” vac pipe are not especially photogenic, there would have been no pictures to brighten up this edition of the blog except that after the service finished today, a works train was despatched to Darley Dale so that Dom Beglin could carry out some welding, using the works train's generator. D8 was used to power it – a somewhat expensive means of motive power to my mind – rather than one of Andrew's as would have been the norm when Rob was in the company's employ.  Observers of the Peak Rail scene might like to note that although Church Lane signalbox was manned, the Darley Dale blockman had gone home, and the two train crew, plus two S&T people one of whom met the train at Darley Dale (and operated the crossing gates) were society volunteers.

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Andrew meanwhile, had zipped off to Lichfield with the van for some more packing/jacking timbers - it's amazing just what you can buy on e-bay.

So that's about it for the week. Mr Booth is due to deliver a  skip to Darley tomorrow (I've asked for an ETA so that I can be sure to be there to let them in, but I dare say I'll get a call from a driver when he's sat outside) and this Friday, apart from our grandson coming up for a week's stay, we have an evening with Fascinating Aida to look forward to. I know I've plugged them before, but they're well worth plugging again.

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