Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of this and that

30th May 2011

This (long) weekend was the Last Weekend of the Month. There is a danger in all this that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy, that in some way we expect that it will be a wash-out, plan less to do for fear of it going wrong, see every minor problem as a major disaster and come out of it with our convictions reinforced.

Plan “A” for Saturday had been to head down to Gwili and do an official Exam on 14 901. It is a sobering fact that up until hand over day at Bronwydd, i.e. from first getting the thing to start in early 2009, through Elsecar test runs and Galas, Butterley and Peak Rail, the loco had amassed over 130 hours. In the 2 months since it arrived back in Wales, continuing kettle problems has seen it clock up nearly as much again. But by Thursday it had been agreed that as the 14 would be in use all weekend (it has, therefore, gone from being the Cinderella 14 that did nothing of note at Bo’ness, to the most regularly operated 14 at present!) our arriving and demanding it out of traffic was not in Gwili’s best interests. A Plan “B” was called for.

Plan “B” died a death on Friday lunchtime. Essential personnel were not available to help install the 03’s engine at Scunthorpe, and later that day we had a conference as to what to do next. We could have headed over to Telford to continue with “Tom” – certainly I have a stack of wiring and the t/c cooler and other bits could have been refitted, but Andrew seemed reluctant to crack on until the fuel pump and coolant rail were ready, and as work on “Pluto” was falling behind, it was decided that Rowsley would be Plan “C”.

Rowsley was a bit quieter than usual – “Charlie” was back with an extra-long works train, having spent several ‘nights out’ shuffling materials and ballast from Darley to the new track into Platform 2 at Matlock, laid during night possessions by K J Price staff under Peak Rail direction. Sadly “Pluto” was still trapped in by the PR tamper, which had been parked there with a fault some weeks before and was a source of some irritation to us, since it prevented us moving “Pluto” closer to the workshops for essential welding/cutting, etc. We remonstrated with Rob who, we thought, was going to move it on Sunday so that we could crack on on Monday. Nevertheless, we had a little conference and agreed a location for the driver’s vac brake valve and its newly fab’d bracket, and fitted the two brackets destined to be the “quadrants” for the vac brake control levers. Andrew also attempted to strip out the core from an old radiator, now no longer required after the acquisition of the much superior ones from the Jarvis’ auction, but after a while decided his gas-cutting skills were not up to the task.

Quadrants in place, levers and linkages soon.

Sunday: By agreement, Andrew came to Chappel with me again to (I hoped) finish the work on the Plasser & Theurer crane. I had, a while earlier, discovered that its reluctance to make air pressure (1 bar in the tanks after 30 minutes) was due to the fact that the compressor delivery hose, after one year in use from manufacture, was blocked solid with carbonated oil with the consistency of concrete. A new, highly expensive hose and associated non-return were duly fitted and hey presto, we have air pressure, but that only revealed two valves further down the line that are not functioning. Still, it was a nice pleasant day with sunshine and a lot of wind, the “04″ and the “N7″ were out and about and I found myself explaining to a middle-aged couple that the carriage in front of them was not “old” but a 10 year old conversion from a 1980s BR long wheelbase van into a ‘Henrietta’ to run with nearby “Toby” (which they had failed to recognise as being a loco). I find it odd that a couple visiting a railway museum should know nothing whatsoever of Thomas the Tank stories. During the afternoon I got a call from Gwili that 14 901 would not start – but it seems to have been a problem of not paying attention to what they were doing and a call later on confirmed all was well, though the engine has developed a bit of a ‘hunt’ in rpm, which may be water or air in the fuel but we will have to see in due course if it gets worse.

'the works train had now been carefully distributed over adjacent roads, further blocking "Pluto" in'

Monday: I woke to the sound of rainwater on the bedroom windows – I must get that gutter fixed. We did not rush to Rowsley – Terry was to join us at about noon but he wasn’t there by quarter past when we drove in. Far from moving the tamper, the works train had now been carefully distributed over adjacent roads, further blocking “Pluto” in. It had not been done deliberately, I’m sure, but having brought out freshly-painted front and rear pipework which required certain clamps to be welded in place, it was more than a little frustrating as stick-welding a wet loco in steady rain was a no-no. I took myself to the VBA and made up some joints ready to install the vac brake valve into its bracket. Terry arrived and Andrew set him off cutting the radiator core out. At one point poor Terry tried to flip the radiator over and strained his back, so he’ll be suffering tomorrow!

The vac brake valve and bracket are now in place.

.. as is the ex Cl 31 double check valve.

Andrew returned to “Pluto” and started re-arranging the 1/2″ straight air brake pipework to include a double-check valve (ex Class 31) which will be where the vac/air proportional branch joins in. I wandered over to another little storage area of ours and selected a suitable small air receiver to act as vac reservoir and made up some straps ready to secure it. As the day drew to a close the rain stopped and the sun came out. Typical Bank Holiday weather.

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