Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of a cabinet meeting

20th September 2015

With the drama of getting the orders placed now behind me, this week has been something of an anti-climax. For one thing, the accountants have been nagging to get my paperwork ready for their audit, so that has taken precedence. But on Monday Andrew had seen on e-bay a chap advertising an office type 6ft cabinet at a good price, and although it was located south of Grantham, it was worth going after if it stayed low. At least I thought so, and bid for it and then set off to collect some bits from Sheffield. When I returned, I was the proud owner of another cabinet. After an exchange of e-mails graduating to texts, I arranged to go down on Tuesday to collect.

Once we have a roof on, there are a lot of things, currently residing in the van, the garage or the container, that will be kept in the shed where they are readily to hand, and such cabinets will keep the place looking tidy (those of you who know me and Andrew at all well will recognise this as an aspiration rather than a likelihood). We have one in the container, plus various small parts rackings that will migrate across in due course, but we had held off investing too much until we had cover. The other snag is that the van, having a bulkhead behind the seats (without which we could not collect gas bottles) is barely able to carry 6ft objects and get the doors closed. But, ever hopeful, I set off across the A52.

The vendor is involved in restoring a Ferguson tractor, and wants to make space in his garage to get it in. So much so that that he casually enquired would I like another at the same price. Well, I thought, it halves the cost of collecting it, so let's have a go at getting it in. The bulkhead, I should have added, is not vertical, but angled, so the two cabinets went in, but whereas one on its own would just about have had the doors close, two resulted in a gap of about 3”. Fortunately I had a nice, bright blue lorry strap, so set about securing the doors together so that nothing could escape.

Now, I am never too certain where I stand legally on these occasions (one of my readers will no doubt enlighten me after he has had his morning coffee) so decided to avoid the A1 back to the A52 and then Nottingham at rush hour, and took a leisurely drive through Melton Mowbray and across to Kegworth. Barely had I travelled but 2 miles off the A1 towards Melton than I passed a Police van in a lay-by but whether my bright blue lorry strap convinced him of my security, or he was just too busy with another motorist, I did not stop to enquire.

On Wednesday, with Andrew off, we got back down to the shed. First task was to extract the cabinets from the van, move them into the shed area and give them a temporary cover of DPM to keep the weather off. Then it was on with some loco work, mostly on 14 901. While Andrew attended to the brake blocks and rigging. I was up in the engine bay, starting on some re-wiring around the front of the engine.

When the 14 was wired by me back in 2007-8, I had just left RMS Locotec for a job with better pay (at RMS' salaries it would have been hard to do otherwise!) but the effect hadn't really filtered through to my bank balance. A large quantity of split plastic conduit, obtained at auction, was better than nothing, but without proper ends I had resorted to securing it to plastic tees with a hot glue gun, and sadly, time has shown that it didn't work. Actually the split conduit isn't really effective in a oil-leaky environment either. Then when I came hurriedly to connect up the BMAC light units (which had been acquired from some up-graded 142s) I had no conduit left, save a length of enormous coated aluminium stuff which again, I had no ends for. So I threaded cables through it, and hoped for the best at the ends.

Finally, when Andrew and Tom were cutting out part of the compressor base plate over the cooler, they managed to melt a section of my puccah flex conduit, put in a year or so ago to control the fan motor. All in all, I decided it all needed a face-lift.

For starters, a plastic enclosure was bracketed off the front right bank of the DV8, adjacent to the end of the cable traywork. Two new short conduits have been installed, one to feed the stop solenoid and the other to pass across the front of the engine and connect the oil pressure and coolant temperature switches and senders, which are all congregated together. Oh, and feed the new fuel level switch, which is up above in the heavens.

The old split conduit back to the cab will come out, and instead a YY multi-core will do the job, take up less space, be more flexible and have better protection, though it means re-terminating at both ends. From the connector box the cables to the motor control can come forward in a new conduit, replacing the melted one, and in turn the lighting cables can be drawn back, reconnected in a better enclosure and brought forward through this new conduit section and round to the front, discarding the odd-ball aluminium stuff.

Other than get the box mounted though, and the engine conduits in place, I didn't get all that far on Wednesday, because I had some other jobs to do and hadn't thought to bring my 'electrical box', but I did cut and set up the new fuel hoses to the tank, but not swaged the fittings on yet.

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One of the issues we have been discussing between ourselves is the position of the concrete panels. These are installed for security and noise deadening, and in my naivety, I originally drew them mounted in the middle of the web of the columns. My steelwork contractor convinced me that this couldn't be done, and that they had to be clamped to the inside faces. But that loses a considerable amount of floor space and I had suggested that we ought to re-mount them on the inside face of the outer web of the columns, but my CAD drawing showed that we would have to cut some off each end in order to do this. The middle panel on the north end wall, Andrew thought, would go regardless, so the forklift was set up, the lifting eyes inserted, and the panel was unclamped and raised.

And the answer was 'almost'. A 2 or 3mm less would have enabled it to swing in (although we would have had to sort something out about the purlin brackets which would obstruct the panel). We put it back as it was, but plans are now afoot to hire a Still saw and remount the lot. The space recovered would be enough almost to sit the cabinets without coming in to the present floorspace.

Grandson was with us again for the weekend, which meant that Saturday was not going to be a 'work' day, but we headed over in two cars to Wirksworth. The yard was seeing considerable activity, with a large party of students, in clean, new hivi, learning the hard way what railway track is about. Some of this material was the result of a considerable recovery operation conducted over the last few weeks at Spondon, and we were to be fortunate recipients too, having been offered some off-cuts to extend the middle siding at Darley, which is too short. We made our selection from a small stack, and then I set off back home and away across country.

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I don't get out to Llanuwchllyn for two years and then find myself there on consecutive Saturdays. Last week was the Maid Marian Loco Fund AGM: this week was the Company AGM, and as a shareholder, I try to attend, just wish that the meetings could be on the same day! Had I been off earlier I might have gone somewhere else first, as it was I reckoned I just had time to swing by Llanyblodwell and check that Andrew's Hunslet/TH was still in its place, as Andrew would like to bring it back to Darley but communication with the Cambrian group has been spasmodic.

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From the road bridge, Andrew's former loco 'Claire' was obvious, now repainted in bright green and with a blue light bar on the top (ugh). I didn't go on to site but could spy the Hunslet/TH in its usual place up the loop. I went on around Lake Vrynwy and over the mountain road, reaching Llanuwchllyn from the south.

For a group with aspirations for a £3m extension in to Bala, you would expect a good attendance, but in fact the MMLF AGM had had more present and again Board members equalled or outnumbered ordinary shareholders. But the overall picture at Llanuwchllyn is more positive, with passenger traffic considerably up on 2014, another ex-quarry loco due for next year and the expectation that 'George B' will enter service too. The railway has had a much higher profile in the comics of late, and I have argued elsewhere that any heritage railway marketing needs not only to tout for passengers, but to keep its name at the forefront in the railway media, because that is where your volunteers will come from, and they need to see their efforts reported in the media if they are to get satisfaction from what they do.

First thing this morning I was down at the shed, for an on-site meeting with the cladding contractor, to make sure that I had a list of any bits that I still need to source. Next weekend we have a scissor lift booked, so that we can get up and complete the uppermost row of purlins, plus fit the brackets and cleading rails on the cable ends. This is because Terry's cherry picker is still not ready, though when it is, we will have other jobs for it inside. Anyway, we went over things and he is clear on what we are doing, and I know what I must still purchase, though I was a little concerned to hear that he is 'up to his neck' in work – I don't want all this expensive cladding sat on the floor and no-one there to fix it, especially with the rumours of a severe winter which may start as early as October. I was rather hoping that by my birthday I might look up and see skylights rather than sky.

Later in the day Andrew and I returned, and I carried on with the re-cabling on the 14, though did not get as far as I had hoped. The YY multi-core is terminated at the engine end, and laid out most of the way to the cab, though the old conduit is still in place taking up space. Things are heading the right way though, and will be a much better job once completed. Sorry there aren't so many pictures this week, somehow a close-up of wires in a connecting box didn't appeal. Maybe next week's efforts will be more photogenic.

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