Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of MIG and Essex

25th May 2015

My apologies to those of you who logged in last night looking for this – sometimes on Bank Holiday weekends I maintain the rhythm and post on Sundays, at other times I may be too tired and postpone until after the Bank Holiday Monday. This week has been one of those.

Anyway, back on Tuesday and after work Terry came back to join us at Darley Dale for a bit of late night gas cutting. The main purpose was to cut up some lengths of steel column. Some for re-use and some for the scrap bin, but after that he scampered aloft to cut the bolts that were holding two crane brackets that are in the way of the next layer of purlins, and wrapped the evening up by cutting out the last few pieces of coolant pipework from 14901. Before he left, he took a look at the duff pulley assembly from the 03, and pointed out what neither of us had seen, that far from needing to press the bearing out of the housing, removing the retaining nut and a spacer from the other end of the shaft and bearing and oil seal were accessible.

Every couple of weeks the local free paper comes out and Steph delivers some around our area. One of the perks is that I get to see the For Sale columns before almost anybody else can and this week, I spotted an ad for someone selling various bits, from an 8ft Farmer's gate (that's an 8ft wide gate of agricultural pattern, I presume, 8ft tall farmers are relatively thin on the ground – or towering over it) through to pipe vice, threading sets and a bench grinder. I showed the ad to Andrew and shortly after I rang the number in Matlock. Such was the benefit of being first to read the ad, the lady at the other end explained she didn't even know the ad was out but it was stuff of her fathers and we could meet her at Bakewell, so we set a time. Arriving at Bakewell it turned out the bits were at her father's (old?) house at Youlgreave, so we convoyed with them back down the A6, up to Youlgreave and down narrowing lanes to a house backing on to the cricket pitch, which if you know anything of Youlgreave must be the largest piece of relatively flat ground in the village. Anyway, we bought the bits (which included another 24” Stillsons, and no, not the gate, it wouldn't fit in Andrew's Golf) – the bench grinder will go to the shed, but the pipe vice will head over to Scunthorpe to aid vac brake work on the 03, and later a train air brake installation on Tom.

We had an unexpected call on Thursday from Dave Wilde, the Chairman of the Derwent Valley, asking Andrew to take Pluto away as it was in the way of the new shed works up at Murton. Whether this is a temporary re-housing or a termination of its loan agreement was not made clear, but either way it does give us the opportunity to do some of the jobs on it that we haven't had the time to do given that it is a two hour+ hike from the Briddon Country Pile.

Then on Friday we had a meeting with the contractor whom I expect to be cladding our building a couple of months hence. Indeed, a fair amount of time this last week has been spent updating prices, revising specifications and obtaining quotes for the last few items which we will need to make the structure weather-tight at last. The last time our man visited site, much of the Matlock end was incomplete and he couldn't envisage quite how it was going to be arranged – with the personnel doors, lower purlins, etc., all now in position he can see much more clearly the work entailed and what he can do, and what he can leave us to do to keep our costs down. He has promised to lend us a scaffolding tower which should make the uppermost purlins much easier to put into place, plus facilitate fitting some additional bracketry I had prepared to support the top of the sheeting on the building ends. Not only that, it would mean I could carry out a final double-check on the dimensions I was given by our foundations and steelwork contractor and thus verify that the spacings are right and the sheets I order (and the triple-glazed roof lights, too) will actually span the gaps and joint correctly.

Once again though we discussed the eave beams and it looks as though, rather than turn them round and attempt to re-use them, they must be scrapped and replaced with “proper” eave beams which are like a channel section where one foot of the channel is angled to line up with the slope of the roof. If so it should be standard stuff and we'll require a mere 48 metres.

For some time now Andrew's MIG welder has been over at Scunthorpe, since it was no longer possible to keep it in Rowsley shed and until the roof goes on, it could not be stored at Darley Dale, nor used until we get the 3-phase supply connected. Thus Andrew has been watching out for MIG welders on e-bay but the one he acquired was another (smaller) 3-phase one, whereas I thought he was looking for a single-phase one for Darley as his work with my old stick welder was not his best. But it seems that the medium sized 3-phase unit was to go to Scunthorpe (it did last weekend) where it will be available for other members use. So the search for a single-phase MIG had gone on, but in discussion, I questioned whether it was worthwhile. For Andrew has had, for some time, a 240V MIG, but he had done little with it. It was one of those that use disposable canisters of gas, which is not the cheapest way of using it, and he had not seen the point of upgrading it to a “proper” gas bottle when it also needed a new torch and perhaps a new earth clamp and cable. But, as I pointed out, a s/h one on e-bay might well have as many minor defects and at least his was a known quantity. He came around to my way of thinking and during the week, a flow meter, gas regulator and a conversion kit from the manufacturers own torch to the standard “Euro torch” were duly ordered and fitted. As I returned from my oil suppliers on Friday, I stopped off at our gas supplier in Sheffield and collected a midi-bottle of MIG gas. Ahead of me were two guys who had come for two oxy and an acetylene bottles and full size ones at that. But their van did not have a bulkhead behind the driver and the loading staff refused to let them collect. The sales staff had checked with me on a previous visit – the Briddon van is suitably provided but this requirement, though said to have come into force 18 months ago, is still catching people out, it seems.

Which about brings us around to the weekend and a very different one it has been. For on Saturday we pointed the van in the direction of Essex and fought our way through the multiplicity of caravans to Chappel & Wakes Colne. Here, Andrew's Drewry (“WD 72229”) has been on loan and it was becoming a bit overdue for a service, plus there had been reports of coolant getting into the sump oil, though the Museum staff had stopped this by closer attention to greasing the water pump, which, on Gardners, and some other engines, is mechanically driven (as opposed to the belt drives prevalent on modern engines) so a shaft seal failure allows coolant to travel in unwelcome directions.

It has been a year since I was down at the EARMS site and it has improved significantly. I was very taken by the livestock loading pen, which is populated by life-size plastic sheep ( I was told that I really ought to see the life-size plastic cows, but as they needed part of the dock for the “Driver for a fiver” base, they, plus the restored cattle truck, had been herded down the yard). A new display which we did not have time to investigate has a carriage on a piece of track 90 degrees to the main museum, in what was once an adjacent field, and along side the yard sidings a series of shopfronts had been created, ending in “The Viaduct” bar. With the RSH 0-6-0(S)T operating, the WD performing “Driver for a Fiver” and a 101 dmu taking turns out of the former up platform whilst on the down, the Marks Tey-Sudbury TOC-service trundled by, the whole site was full of interest and gratifyingly well patronised. We had a late lunch on Sunday before heading back, served from a catering truck by a young lady who, when told where we came from, had no-idea where Derbyshire was - “Is it north south east or west?” - but then this is Essex.

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We had serviced the Drewry on the Saturday evening and yes, we didn't go all that way just for that – much of our time was taken up with Andrew assisting me on a commercial job, but I will here take the opportunity of asking that if any of you kind readers do know of a Leyland 900 series engine going spare, even a defunct one that might yield parts, do let me or the Museum know – the 903 in Fowler “Toby” has dropped a valve and seized. While they do not yet know the full extent of the damage, a donor engine might be a comfort and a consolation.

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We finally got home at about 7.30 Sunday night and try as I might, I could not generate the energy to write this blog, so postponed it. Today, after a late start, it was a scamper down to the shed as a customer of mine – an important Freight Operator – was in trouble with a 47 and I had been asked if I was “open for business”. Hopefully he's now sorted.

After sorting the van, we decided to re-arrange some of the equipment in the shed as, instead of the orderly move of equipment down after completion of the cladding as I'd always planned, it seems that we may be taking in things sooner regardless. So 4 stillages of parts were relocated onto the flat wagon, workbenches re-positioned, etc, etc which took up most of the afternoon with the forklift manfully shuffling to and fro. The 240V MIG got a quick test, but it was declared too late in the day to start putting purlins up, which in any event would best wait until the loaned tower appears.

So that's it folks. This week is looking rather complicated, for not only is our grandson coming back tomorrow, but certain actions are in train, and you may see some of the results in next weeks' edition.

More in this category: « Of purlinations of Exodus »

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