Welcome to this latest edition of Weekend Rails. Nothing earth-shattering this week, in fact, rather mundane in many respects, but I hope there'll be something of interest.
Over the last few years we have collected many things 'for the shed' and much of them have been stored in the dark recesses of the container. I once collected two pigeon hole type racks for nuts and bolts from a firm in Oldham (together with a workbench and a cupboard) and on another occasion managed to load 34 stackable tray units into the van from a man in Dudley that taxed my ingenuity in squeezing them all in. The pigeon holes came with their contents of nuts and bolts; the trays were empty, but Andrew filled some with malleable pipe fittings. And in the container they stayed, except on the day that we tirfor'd the container sideways, propelled it down the track and tirfor'd it transversely again to its present location, during which time one rack fell over.
But it was time to start bringing greater semblance of order into the shed and with sections of floor painted and so officially 'finished' much of the work in the last few days has been emptying, moving and refilling the various units. While Andrew concentrated on pipe fittings, proving we have cornered the world's supply of 1” malleable tees, it was my job to start placing the nuts and bolts into some semblance of order, right down to vacuuming out each pigeon hole to remove years of accumulated dust which came with them from Oldham.
Although I will gladly sing the praises of Sir James Whitworth and his thread form, and I have heard BSF described as the best thread ever created, most of the time, for practical purposes, we stick to metrics as they are most readily available. (Indeed, at one time we heard that one supplier was sourcing Whit fixings from India, but that the metal quality let them down a bit). Thus I have been squatting sorting nuts, bolts, washers, checking threads and lobbing them into the pigeon holes in front of me. Not all our contents were in the correct holes to begin with (and that especially applied to a large quantity I got from a Sheffield auction in yellow linbins where you could find M8 and M10 in M12 trays, even the odd M3) so amalgamating them all is a slow business. Oh and I cannot resist sharing another titbit of education today. The pigeon holes have earlier markings that we have sprayed over in order to mark ours. But one of the originals makes me shudder. 'Caphead' screws are bolts whose head is cylindrical and has a hex recess for an Allen key. But whoever marked the 'holes either couldn't spell or didn't hear well, as one was marked 'M10 Cappeggs'. Pigeon capp eggs, obviously.
Talking of Sheffield auctions, I popped in on Monday to view what was on offer at the monthly sale, but as Steph and Andrew were running grandson home on Tuesday, contented myself with putting in a few commission bids, but just as I thought I'd lost out completely, a phone call revealed I had been successful on one, so Steph popped in on Wednesday for some diamond cutting blades ready for our next panel-trimming day.
E-bay of course features a lot in this blog and this week has been no exception. Eagle-eyed Andrew spotted a colour neg on offer which was merely described by the letters and number on the loco cab side as the vendor knew nothing of what it really was. But the fact that it was a Planet and had 'Rosyth' on a building in the background caught his attention. I looked up the old IRS books and it was none other than our old friend 'Pluto', so it has hurriedly purchased. Once I've had time to get a print made I might show it to you all.
Also on e-bay we took the decision to pick up a moderately sized electric-motored Hydrovane. At the moment we have, sat in a corner, a large air tank with a motor and Broomwade compressor on top, but we like Broomwades on locos (the 14, the 03 and Coronation have them). Besides, apart from sanding down paintwork, or maybe charging an air system up for static loco testing, our requirements at the moment are limited and a small Hydrovane, with the tank to act as a capacity reservoir and smoothen out the demand, will probably be all we require. That's on my list to collect sometime this week.
But the most important bit of e-baying this week has been towards RS8. Although the Rolls-Royce C6N in RS8 does at least bar over, we have to recognise that after 20 years of idleness, and kind children/young adults having inserted who-knows-what down every orifice, including thieved pipeworks, bits off air cleaners, oil fillers, etc. it will at the very least require a very thorough strip and survey if it is to run again. Moreover, it has a hydraulic governor on its CAV fuel pump, and whilst these can be serviced, any excessive wear in some of the cast aluminium housing components, caused by dirt or other frictions, cannot be rectified. So when Andrew spotted a C6N on a genset being offered at a low starting price (but no guarantees) in South Wales, it went on to the watch list, and as the bid finished in the early hours, he acquired it unopposed. Now all we have to do is recover it and we have a spare power unit for RS8, even if, in the worst case scenario, it means building two into one. This is the first major commitment in funds towards RS8's restoration, and given that Andrew initiated it, shows that it will be carried through.
Talking of RS8, a work colleague texted Andrew during the week to draw his attention to the current issue of Heritage Railway. In case you don't purchase the magazine (although I would of course recommend it, and Andrew did) I've scanned the small piece concerned, from page 24....
Now, if any of that seems familiar, go back in this blog a month (to June 12th in fact) and you might spot that two-thirds of the Heritage Railway piece is word-for-word from that entry. So why is the loco credited to the Heritage Shunters (Trust)? (I know it doesn't say Trust, but Heritage and Shunters both start in caps - 99.9% of readers will interpret it that way.) I have written to the Editor suggesting that a correction would be appropriate.
Andrew has continued to assemble his engine stands. Here's the first one part way through, followed by the completed pair with Jack's engine on ready to drop the oils and sump so that the bottom end can be inspected. One of my readers has kindly offered loan of an ex RR engine turnover stand, which we might well take up, although from discussion we have concluded that it would be best placed in the VBA or similar where it would not take up valuable shed floor space when not in use. Satisfied with his work, Andrew is muttering about making a further six, two to accommodate the ex-genset engine for RS8 and four for a forthcoming, top secret project (he says in a manner intended to tease at something in the offing that he won't be telling you about for another week or two). The engine stands have been manufactured from redundant eave beams and there's still enough left over to put this in hand.
Finally we applied a second coat of red paint to the area of floor which Andrew was painting while I was writing this up last Sunday. If I get a chance during the week I think I'll tackle another section with vacuum and sealant as I'm sure it is beginning to have an effect reducing the dust.
So that's about it. Next Saturday is the visit from Phoenix Railtours, so we'll have to be up early to get everything ready and ensure the place is reasonably tidy and presentable. Oh and make some sort of collecting box for generous, voluntary donations - although I reckon a loaded AK-47 is a more effective means of extracting funds. As Mike Harding used to say at the end of his shows: 'you'll never be poor if you remember these three words – STICK 'EM UP'.