Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of chains, brakes and headlamps

14th February 2016

I'll start off with an apology to anyone and everyone who was unable to get on to Weekend Rails (or for that matter www.andrewbriddonlocos.co.uk and www.petebriddon.co.uk) on Wednesday afternoon and evening. At about 2pm the servers where our websites are held had to be shutdown unexpectedly and were off for several hours while checks were made and the systems re-booted. By mid evening one or two of the websites were up and by the early hours of Thursday all was back to normal.

Andrew has had donation of various useful bits from one of our regular readers, including a brand new under-bench fridge, grease dispenser, barrel pump, a couple of flashing tail lamps and a bardic. These are as usual much appreciated and the sooner we get that corner of the shed where the electrics and sink are to go, the better. It'll be quite a little home-from-home with fridge, hot water boiler (an earlier donation) sink and kettle out of the Portakabin.

We spent a couple of evenings down in the workshop on Charlie during the week. The lack of 'latch' on the run circuit turned out to be because the wires on the torque converter temperature switch were on the wrong terminals (well one of them was), and when we ran the engine again, but this time with the 'faulty' coolant temp sender disconnected, my nice new oil pressure LED warning didn't light up at all. To lose both red and green elements of the LED had to be a fault on the return side, and set my mind wondering whether the LED had been finding a return (neg) via the coolant sender, which is also on the neg side. Somewhere, I presume, I have got a defective connection on the common returns for the new gauges, so ran an extra link from the gauge on the far side of the desk (which was clearly working) to the engine coolant gauge and voila, everything started working properly.

So we ran the loco for a while, found a few more leaks to attend to and built air pressure up – but awfully slowly, I was as usual up in the cab watching the gauges, while Andrew was on the ground watching the engine, and spotted a bubbling from the pipe between the air compressor and the governor which he suspected might relate to the slow build up of pressure. We got as far as putting the clutch in and out but as Charlie was sandwiched between Pluto and Cheedale didn't try to make any movement, but rather satisfied ourselves that the control system functioned, although the clutch is still a little slow to operate.

We also made a bit of a start on the cab roof, cutting and drilling aluminium strip and fitting one by tapping the cab roof struts M5. Andrew tried the last section of floorboard in – the one in the middle to the rear of the desk – and found it wouldn't fit.

Although the public statement I described last week was rather slow in taking off (it was into the 400s by around Tuesday) the news started to travel and in particular it got plugged on one or two enthusiast forums and we found ourselves with hits at 100 per hour for some time. Not everyone has been supportive, though I suspect most of those who've criticised us for publishing – usually along the lines of washing dirty linen in public – have either not read the piece thoroughly or simply not understood it. We have not engaged in arguments on these forums, though Andrew did place a few comments on one and invited anyone wanting further clarification to contact him, resulting in several interesting phone calls. Let us not forget that Peak Rail is a plc – a public limited company - operating within and seeking support from the public at large. If it does not operate with propriety and integrity then is it not a matter to be discussed publicly? Anyway, the statement is continuing to get read and is now over 2700, making it by far the most popular page on Andrew's website!

I was out on site Thursday and Friday and got back too late and tired to go down to the workshops again. I had gone out in the first place to attend to a coolant leak on a loco that I had known about (it was around the water pump) but which had, according to the customer, got much worse. The front of the loco was wet and when I rubbed it it felt oily, but I didn't think more about it and cracked on releasing the fan drive so as to change the water pump body seal. By early afternoon it was all done and water-tight, so I fired it up and admired my work, only to find a veritable fountain cascading down the front. But it wasn't coolant, it was fuel – one of the torque converter cooler lines had a pin-hole and at 40psi it came up and out and the air flow to the fan did the rest. That's why the front of the loco was oily. In fact I was part way through changing the loco from fuel to oil anyway and was waiting a date when they could spare it for a couple of days, so was back on Friday to drain it all down, change the defective hose (and its companion – if they're both the same age will the other be far behind?) re-connect the hoses and refill with hydraulic oil. Before I refitted the orifice and its gauze filter, I took the precaution of opening it up and cleaning it. Apart from the usual dark-brown/black bits which are some sort of carbon deposit, there were several flakes of brass. The rule is this – brass comes from the bearing cages, steel comes frrom impeller or turbine rubbing bits that they shouldna. Not having had this filter apart before, I don't know how long the flakes have been there – could be last week, could be last century. For that matter they may have had some converter failure in the past, and never thought to clean the orifice filter when refitting the converter; the customer doesn't recall. I only mention all this because (a) I might not have all that much to write about this week and (b) those of you who are involved with Twin Disc locos on other heritage lines might do well to think about inspecting their orifice filters every now and again. Better to find out before too much damage has been done.

On Saturday Steph and Andrew were off to collect grandson and I had some admin work to see through before heading down to the shed.  In fact I was still around when the postman delivered a cheque from Peak Rail in time for the Court deadline. I got down later though and plodded on with some wiring that needed tidying up. I also succeeded in refitting the front grille to the casings – though first time I got it the wrong way up and only because Cheedale was sat nose-to-nose did I compare them and realise my mistake.

Today we got back down and fitted the casing roof and exhaust cowl. While Andrew was removing the leaking air delivery pipe I notched the offending floorboard so that it fitted (I can't show you a super-duper picture as it is covered with newspaper until we've finished tramping around on it). The pipe on exmaination had worn through by fretting against the pipe clamp that secured it. The wall was too thin to be welded so he cut it off, threaded each end and secured it with a barrel. Reassembled to the loco, we tried to start it. It wouldn't run: partly because Andrew had changed the copper washers on the fuel filter banjo and hadn't bled the pump, but more particularly because in my wire tidying (mostly putting protective wrappings on the last few inches of wiring where it emerges from the trunking to get to the individual switch or sender) I had managed to pull a wire off the converter temperature switch again.

IMG 1183 blog

James meanwhile had shunted Pluto out of the way and so Charlie came out of the shed and up through the yard under its own power. We did this a couple of times and then the oil pressure gauge started reading 'high' and fluctuating. Back at the shed Andrew went round and saw that one connection on the sender had come loose – that tightened we then went to do some stall tests. By rights you should do this with the wheels chocked, if not up against a buffer stop. Putting the engine at full power but with the converter output stalled gives you clues very quickly as to how the power unit is. Typically the engine will lug down to around 1600rpm and temperature rises very quickly (so better done with an engine that has already warmed up) much lower than 1600 and you are down on power, black smoking and in worst case the engine is so far below peak torque that it stalls. Too high an rpm would suggest that either the clutch is slipping, or base pressure is low in the converter. I've seen an engine put under stall which promptly blew off a coolant hose, so it does give you some interesting effects.

IMG 1186 blog

Oh, but of course, don't try this with a diesel electric, the smell of burning traction motors tends to linger. Actually, don't try it with a diesel mechanical either – there's a fusible plug in that fluid coupling

In Charlie's case with just the brakes fully applied it drove through quite happily and as soon as Andrew took the power off, slid to a stand.

In between all of this we were surprised to find a Robin flying around the shed. Whether this was because we had left the roller shutters open and it wanted out of the cold wind, or whether it has aspirations of setting up home in our workshop, I don't know. In fact, come to think of it I don't know where it was when we locked up, but I certainly won't be issuing it with a key.

We took the loco back inside and jacked up the front end. One side spring needed its leaves knocking back into place, and the coupling chain (Charlie drives the rear axle from the gearbox and has a coupling chain forward to the front) needed taking up a little slack, which in turn means resetting the brake rigging as you have increased the wheelbase a bit. With that all completed, we swapped things around so that Charlie was at the shed door end, easier to get it out in future, with a few jobs to continue on during the week. As the light was falling (it was a day that had alternated between sunny periods and snow showers) the LED headlamps could be seen in much greater brilliance.

IMG 1188 blog

Needless to say Andrew is thinking of ordering some more for Cheedale and whatever one we do after that. Since they are on e-bay in batches which bring the price down to about £6/lamp – which when you get down to it is little more than the price of a couple of 70W halogen bulbs - it would seem a worthwhile investment. Just have to take it out in the dark now to see the full effect.

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