Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of rooves, floors and flows

3rd January 2016

And welcome to a new year, and our best wishes to all of you for it. The gap between Christmas and New Year I always find a bit frustrating –  due to years of being either self-employed or running my own business.  All your suppliers and customers are shut down and you can't get anything progressed.  Those customers who faithfully promised you a cheque – 'must be stuck in the Christmas mail' – are sitting back with their wine and turkey and I cannot tell them what I think of their latest little fib. But on the positive side, we have had the pleasure of having grandson up for the week, culminating in his third birthday last Saturday.

With the extra requirements of baby-sitting, and the poor weather to boot, we didn't really get down to the shed until Friday afternoon, and then, since we only began at 2pm, we abandoned our original plan and instead took advantage of a dry day and organised a big bonfire to clear accumulated cardboard, rotten pallets, etc that were cluttering up the shed and its environs. Towards the end of the afternoon Andrew shimmied up and lifted the one LED flood lamp over the workbench another 6 or 7 feet up the column, from where it spreads its light far more widely. As Andrew had to be back to put his son to bed that was about all that got achieved, but despite the rain starting up late in the afternoon, the fire had taken sufficient hold that it burnt down to a fairly minimal quantity of ash by the following day.

And as the following day was his birthday party, we did no work at all, although a number of guests and relatives availed themselves of the opportunity of coming down and taking in the shed, before further availing themselves of the repast and festivities (like 'pin the smoke on the steam engine') at the Briddon Country Pile.

Today I had to be down early as we were promised with a repeat visit of what I now call 'Team Frodingham' (although the 'AFRPS on Tour' is an alternative title).  I was down to open up by 10 o'clock, and the first car-full arrived at about 10.15, and 3 car loads turned up, providing 9 young fresh-faced volunteers. Although Andrew was anxious that we progressed Charlie, I was persuaded to do something else first, and various items were moved around the shed, including a valiant attempt to load Charlie's torque converter on to a little four wheeled trolley that had been used at a Chesterfield firm for moving around large tubs of lightweight components.

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An hour or so later a loco had been lifted and the ex Bombardier stands placed underneath, and a lot of the silt and such that had settled on the concrete track slab had been shovelled up and removed. And believe it or not, 14 901 was moved a few feet in the process, without use of internal combustion. Yes, we managed to roll it against the unintended but definite gradient on the track.

After a break for lunch I got agreement to split the team up.  On the one hand Andrew and I had decided that Charlie's engine should at least have its heads removed and given a check over. We are pretty sure the bottom end is good as it maintains satisfactory oil pressure (Exam question: what is the minimum oil pressure required on a Rolls-Royce C range engine? Answer: Rolls don't give one – any oil pressure is sufficient) but as the engine had developed one or two strange habits (which may be cured by the spare overhauled fuel pump sat waiting) we agreed that knowing what state the top is in would put our minds at rest.

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Meanwhile the power unit bay on Charlie was covered in muck to a not inconsiderable depth, so some of Team Frodingham started scraping and cleaning having first laid out some spare DPM underneath to collect it. Later, after Andrew had arrived for the afternoon, he recovered the old radiator a/v mounts, discovering that one was held in place by only one bolt instead of 3 and the other had bolts but were completely loose.

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Up in Charlie's cab, Charles was trimming 25mm insulation slabs to fill the voids in the cab roof, and later the first steel perforated sheet (ex Hunslet BAOR loco) was being trimmed ready to fit and make the cab internals more decorous.  Not even Cheedale went unattended, and the old cab floor sheets were removed and the running plate underneath cleared of quarry dust and other debris, yielding over half a wheelbarrow full.

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14 901's cab floor,  the doorway at one side having begun to break up late in the 2014 season, had the offending floorboard removed and a new piece cut from fresh ply ready to replace.

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By around 3.30, it having rained steadily all day (we knew this from the noise on the roof and the occasional foray out to the Portakabin, etc., requiring a giant step out over the puddle forming at the doorway) somebody noticed that having shovelled out the dry silt from the 3B road only this morning, it was now awash again.

Indeed, such had been the continuous rain that the pond that had formed in the adjacent field was twice as large as I had seen it yesterday, the turnout that splits the siding between shed tracks A and B was now in a  pond above sleeper level and the footpath that passes by the yard on the DFS side was now best described as a stream. Since the land between the shed and said path has always been shall we say, a touch boggy, this was now joined to the footstream in one expanding pool.

Across the front of the shed, when Team Frodingham last attended, they had dug a short ditch roughly where our slot drain needs to go, and, had it not been chucking it down with rain, Andrew and I had planned to deploy some TF members in digging it out and maybe even start placing some of the concrete slot sections. The ditch though didn't actually go anywhere, it merely acted as a greater area to soak away the excess as they swept out the track 3B. What had happened was that rainwater had far from soaking away, started to fill the ditch until it was high enough to flow in along the gaps cut to place the rails, and thus re-create the ornamental pond we had waited so long to be rid of.

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The weather had eased by now, so the ditch was extended and an attempt made to find the end of the drain where the slot drain will feed into, it being felt that this slot drain had better come up the priority list. In the meantime, the submersible pump was brought out and slowly the level in the ditch was reduced by pumping it around and into one of the completed drains (for the down pipes). Anxious lest things were so bad that we were wasting our time, Andrew investigated the track drains into which ours feed and reported back that they were very full indeed and didn't seem to be going anywhere. I had always assumed that the track drain flowed southwards to empty into Warney Brook at the south end of the yard, since I was long ago assured by Rob Sanders that the only actually level piece of track on the Peak Rail main line was on the other side of Darley Dale platforms.  But once, last summer when the flow was a mere trickle, I had peered in to the drains, the water was in fact flowing north, towards the level crossing, and probably, I was later assured by a reader, feeds into a culvert that crosses the line beyond the platforms, Given that I heard reports late last year the the cyclepath contractors had obstructed trackside drains on the Church Lane to Rowsley section, I do hope that it is going somewhere.

It only remains to thank all of Team Frodingham for their labours and hope to see them again when next their Tour takes them our way. Please forgive me if you can't see each of you in picture or are mentioned in text. Far more was achieved today than we could have hoped to do on our own this month.


From Neil Williams:

Perhaps people who advised you never bothered looking in the old RR OED bible  - The sales manual TSD3016
In this weighty tomb, and the 1972  issue, I find a bit about oil pressure switches and settings, so putting it into modern speak: 
- for normally aspirated engines at rated speed , its 18psi for starting to worry and 12psi for the absolute minimum
- for turbo engines its 28 psi for starting to worry and 22 for the absolute minimum - subsequently 30 psi was used in order to protect turbo bearings
- at idle oil pressure must be over 7psi

Well impressed by your young helpers, do they get plenty of cakes?

Pete replies:

I have the 3rd issue (1978) and none of this appears there. As for the cakes, all of them disappeared and a considerable portion of the Quality Street as well. We know how to look after our volunteers!!!

More in this category: Of tours, mounts and LEDs »

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