During the week I decided to have another go with the gear indicator lights on Cheedale, and they are, for now, in place with a couple of 16mm washers which are holding the LEDs secure and was enough to show me how effective they are as a replacement for the old bulbs and (half-melted) plastic lenses.
But it was later in the week that Andrew had announced that he had taken Friday off work and expected me to assist him at Darley. I wasn't wildly impressed: I do after all have work of my own to do and a couple of significant tenders to be quoting. Not only that, but Steph was off to our daughter's in Darlington and expected a lift to Chesterfield station.
So after an early lunch I set him up down at Darley, and left him to it while I did the taxi-ing part and then went back down to assist. Sat taking up good floor space are the two 12m beams upon which, one day, our crane will majestically travel to and fro. You may recall that the beams have been up once, and down again, as they are not the beams that came out of this particular section of the building and the holes didn't line up. The only way forward was to cut two of the 12m beams into 6m lengths: redrill the remaining 12m beams to suit where they are now to go and put the 6m beams at either end of them. But first, Andrew wanted to bring in the first of those 6m beams from the bogie well wagon to get that marked and drilled, and now that the ground had consolidated, he thought that there was a good chance that the forklift could negotiate the rough ground, seeing that it had nice new tyres with an actual tread pattern. So we opened a roller shutter, and the forklift made a foray out into the big wide world.
Not far though, for consolidated or not, good tyres or not, our little Caterpillar Towmotor T50B got just outside and promptly dug itself in. It took 45 minutes or more to get it back on to terra firma, so we won't be trying that again anytime soon.
While I had been away, Andrew had marked out the base of beam No.1 and with the aid of the recently acquired mag drill, we chomped out about a dozen holes in diameters of 18mm or 22, using rotabroach cutters. This beam is now ready to fit up on the brackets, and while the forklift theoretically could lift it in position, the total weight, and above al the amount of weight out to each side, would make the job precarious, so it looks like waiting until we next have some sort of HIAB in. By which time, hopefully, we have beam No.2 drilled. The four 6m beams, by contrast, or more stable and will probably find their way up under our own efforts.
Following on from my migraine last week – I don't get them often but when I do I tend to get several together, and so I suffered more both Wednesday night and Friday night. That meant for Saturday I had a continuous, nagging headache, but I wanted to get something done at Scunthorpe so after loading some bits at Darley, we hit the road, with Andrew driving the van.
Amongst the bits added was the thread cutter, complete with its new die-holder suitable for 2inch and up to 3inch pipe (and if we had had it commissioned sooner, would have paid for itself in the 3inch pipes threaded commercially for us for 14 901). Andrew had had the foresight to find an instructional video on you-tube showing how to operate the beast, so fairly quickly at Scunthorpe it was out of the van and set up on a workbench.
Yorkshire 0-6-0DE 1382 was let out on a brake van tour, although the AFRPS' Janus 1 was held idling all afternoon just in case a rescue was required. The loco is settling in and seems to be improving as time goes on – possibly some of the machines have developed a bit of residual magnetism which always helps the excitation along – either way reports are that it is proving, as I had long suspected, that 'Arnold Machin', the other single-engined YE 0-6-0DE now in bits, was definitely not performing like it should.
Toby was of course on the loco on the first part of the tour, but had to leave it to the others for the second half, and sat watching it recede into the distance.
There was much debate going on about drawhooks and couplers on Saturday, but for the most part I left them to argue it out. With as much enthusiasm as I could muster while suffering a continuous headache, I investigated the faults on 03 901, but first changed the direction LEDs for brighter ones (which are so bright and white that the green lens show looks blue when lit) and trialled one in the oil pressure warning light (whose red becomes orange for the same reason). Every now and again I would be interrupted by Andrew arriving with newly threaded pipes and malleable lumps assembled in various combinations to see if he had got it right this time.
Clearly his enthusiasm for the new/old threader was encouraging him to cut pipes at wrong lengths so that he could take it apart and cut/thread it all over again, or change his mind and add a crane coupling for the sake of two more threads to cut. He admitted to me that I had been right not to let him sell it, that it was far easier than hand threading and wished we'd been using it sooner. Such an admission is not something I often get nowadays: that period in a child's life when Daddy is idolised and can do no wrong is sadly long behind him, and I have to make the most of what crumbs he still tosses my way. I promised that I would remind him, ad nauseam, seeing that he insists it happens so infrequently.
So one last time then – for now – Dad was right!
By the end of the day not only was the 2inch vac pipework complete (we had not brought any small bore pipe so the gauge line must wait a little longer) but the front and rear codelight conduits were put in place (they need a tweak before we're satisfied) and with an eye to where the feed wires will need to go, I re-allocated a spare way on the gearbox multi-core to provide a codelight-feed adjacent to the end of the conduit. That may even be connected next time.
For the last few weeks 03 901 has had to live outside, and had a rather unattractive tarp tied around its funnel to prevent rainwater ingress, as there would be nothing to protect the turbo. 14901 is in a similar situation, but there we have a lid, with an interesting history, When Hunslet built 5 locos for the MoD back in 1984, they put air receivers right across the rear casings so that the inspection covers provided on the ends were almost flush with the outside faces of the casings, there being apertures for them to peep through. To cover the apertures, Hunslet made dished covers, and having a small collection of these, the first found its niche long ago on 14 901. Sat over the end of the stack, it is fairly visible from the outside but if you forget and fire the loco up – well, the cap is launched skyward and returns to earth rather noisily. That some person has indeed forgotten it once or twice in the past is witnessed by the 'Exhaust Cover!' warning taped next to the Battery Isolation Switch, and the gouges in the cab front platework where it had reeked revenge on falling.
A similar cover would suit 03 901 quite well, but the 03 has a lip around the funnel rendering such a cap invisible, so last job of the day Andrew welded a handle on to it in such a way as to make it obvious and easily reached.
We put the loco back outside. Clearly I had not found nor fixed the faults. With luck and a clear head, I will sort them next time. Oh, and did I mention that Andrew said I was right not to have let him sell that thread cutting machine?
Andrew had been muttering for several weeks that he wanted to get the VBA van in and re-load it more efficiently with some of his stillages. Consequently when we got to Darley this morning, we set about firing up James and Charlie and carrying out half-an hour's mad shunt in order to get the VBA on one shed road and the ex MR bogie well wagon on the other. He then started transferring this and that, and loose buffers into stillages, and so on. He had decided my time would best be used removing some bits of the engine stands. As received from Crewe, these have large blocks welded in top of their columns which presumably locate in something on the body of the vehicle they were intended for, rather like jacking points on cars, but we want to stand any buffer beam or headstock and for that a flat surface would be better. So I set about trying to remove them with a combination of 4.5 and 9inch angle-grinders, and while I have gouged out about half of the first one (of the 4) a different plan of attack might need to be formulated.
While the bogie well wagon was in the first of the 6m beams was lifted off, (the one that we had failed to get to on Friday!) and if a suitable evening presents itself this week, some more rotabroaching might be put in hand.
I had popped out to the van to collect a 19mm socket when the Darley Dale blockman called me over. Standing by the level crossing gates were a group of hardened-looking individuals, and my first thought was that if he had any bovver he should be calling the riot police, not me. But it seems that these gentlemen were on a run-out with the Pheonix Railtours and wanted to 'look round'. Now, it was inevitable that sooner or later gricers would pay us a call – enough of them lean out of the coach windows as the Peak Rail train trundles by as it is – but without warning and with the usual assertion that 'they knew me'? Yeah, right.
Years ago, when I had been at Hills twelve months or so, I was out at a customer's one day, and on my return, was challenged about a visitor. It seems that the very day I had been away, someone turned up in reception, claimed they were a friend of mine and that I'd said they could have a look around. As a matter of courtesy a foreman was delegated to show him over the works, and I was duly castigated for permitting someone to visit and not making suitable arrangements. My defence that I had known nothing of the visitor was only partially accepted. Using intelligence sources, I traced whom the person was and imparted my displeasure at his affrontery. But someone saying 'can I look around, I am a friend of Pete Briddon's' shouldn't cut much ice – if you are a friend, you don't turn up unannounced. (Pressies not obligatory).
Nevertheless, if they had been prepared to wait until after the last train had gone by (this was about 4.40 and it was due within 15 minutes) we would have let them come in, but to have had them wandering around the unfenced area next to the running lines (not one seemed to have hivi on display and one indeed had a red coat) while trains were about was not going to happen. Our relations with certain Peak Rail personnel are low on the cordiality scale as it is. I peeped out five minutes later and they had gone, but they'd told the blockman to say that 'they'd be back' and did he have a phone number for me?
Checking the 'net tonight I see that this particular tour of Phoenix's started at Crewe, went on to Carlisle and returned today via Manchester, Peak Forest and Peak Rail where they would 'take up their permit'. They have another tour including Peak Rail on the 8th August, so maybe that is what they meant. I'm sure I cannot be all that hard to contact.
Anyway, there are a few less stillages on the floor tonight, and a few more kilos in the scrap bin, but the plans to get more work on on 14 901, and drill the first 6m beam, fell by the wayside under the inexorable advance of time. But who knows, there's always next week.
Oh, and did I mention that Andrew said I was right not to have let him sell that thread cutting machine?