Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of sumps and such

31st July 2016

For those bemused at my recent reports of mileages accrued in the course of trying to earn a crust, this week has only clocked up 750. Quite relaxing in many ways, and hopefully slightly fewer in prospect this week (though events might dictate otherwise). At one time, or rather, in the early days of the Geoffrey Briddon Building concept, I saw myself commuting the seven-eights of a mile, there to potter on with some clean and tidy project – perhaps wiring up a loco here, programming a PLC there – with a return to the Briddon Country Pile for a leisurely lunch. But it doesn't seem to be working out like that. And if you're thinking how nice it would be to be self-employed, your own boss, out of the rat race, etc., etc. Dream on. You're at the beck and call of all your customers, you can't pass the buck to anyone else and you spend an extortionate amount of time in administrative work, worrying about when certain big companies will get around to paying you and when someone asks you 'where you're going on holiday to this year?' you are tempted to punch them on the nose – well I am.

I was over near Whaley Bridge on Monday so dropped into Paintmaster and came away with a fresh bucket of red concrete floor paint and a smaller tin of green. Consequently – as Andrew was away for the night – Steph and I wandered down to the shed after tea and applied a layer of paint to the big expanse of floor you saw sealed up ready at the end of last week. Meanwhile, in Neath, the genset was loaded up on to a large Hiab-fitted artic and transported to the Forest of Dean, where it was to remain until Friday.

IMG 1935 blog

Meanwhile, not to be out-done, Andrew applied a second coat of red on Thursday night while I was out, and he plans a third coat (as it will be subject to the forklift more than the rest of the flooring) before we start 'using it' properly, so we are largely tiptoe-ing along the edge on the unpainted side and skirting around the work bench at the end.

IMG 1931 blog

At five to eight Friday morning I drove up to the shed entrance, and there on the other side of the road was a lorry which had arrived a few minutes before. I got him off the road before firing James up to shunt the wagons clear and allow him through to the yard side of the shed, then pushed them back again to make the bogie well wagon accessible. By now Andrew had arrived and within an hour we had not only the genset, but two ex Admiralty 2'6” gauge wagon chassis belonging to a certain Doctor Ben, unloaded, strapped safely down, the train moved clear and the lorry off on his way back to the Forest of Dean.

With that we took an opportunity to go over this engine in more detail. I suspect that the genset was made for the NCB, but it is a comparatively late C6N (in that it has guards over belt drives that didn't used to have them, and 4 Z belts and an alternator where the older engines had 3 A belts and a dynamo) and seemingly relatively few hours on the clock. It does have the later wet sump rather than the semi-dry sump of RS8's engine (we'll have to see whether it would be necessary to change sumps) and there'll no doubt be other detail alterations to make, but in essence it will become RS8's new prime-mover with much greater confidence than we would have had with the old one.

The vendor expressed a hope that we would get it running – and we did consider this as the cooling system appears full of fully-anti-freezed coolant – but in the event this was scratched from the list of things to do in its present form. For the priority would be to strip off the generator, fuel tank and control gear, recover the radiator to travel on to Scunthorpe as a spare for the 0-6-0DE (it is an 8sq foot rad, suitable for an engine alone, as with the additional heat load off the converter a bigger radiator is needed, so unsuitable for RS8).

With the possibility of 'serious work' starting on RS8 at the weekend, we brought it across and parked it outside the shed, for Team Frodingham were coming over on Sunday and if enough bodies arrived we wanted to make sure that there was plenty of work in hand.

On Saturday Andrew was off first thing to collect grandson, and as I had a raft of paperwork to catch up on (it being both month-end and a VAT return quarter), I didn't get down to the shed at all. To make up for it I was down early on Sunday morning, and was leaning on the entrance gate – the archetypal country-yokel chewing on a spring of hay watching the world go-by (except I had no hay and few country-yokels tour the countryside in hivi) when an estate car driven by Captain Idiot himself tooted and aimed for me. I opened the gate and let them in.

Sadly, this Team Frodingham visit was rather depleted – just Toby, Charles and new-boy Andrew, and before we get into more confusion, known by his nickname of Plumtree. After the obligatory tour for Plumtree's benefit, and a visit from a customer collecting a compressor, I managed to steer them round to actually doing something beneficial.

IMG 1938 blog

Andrew's plan had been that Charles would crack on with dropping the sump on Jack's old engine, whilst Toby (et al) would make a start on stripping the Neath genset up into its major component parts. It almost worked, save that Team Frodingham is a gregarious bunch and consequently jumped from one to the other in turn. Andrew arrived at lunchtime with – surprise – lunch, and we broke off not only for sausage and bacon sandwiches, but a couple of rounds of a card game called 'Cards Against Humanity'. Heard of it? Lest you haven't, it comprises two piles of cards: black cards have questions, white cards (by far the more numerous) have 'answers'. Players start with ten white cards, and then, in turn, each player draws a black card, and reads out the question. The others then select what they consider to be an appropriate answer (obviously the word appropriate in this case has considerable latitude) and place them face down on a pile. The question player then shuffles them, (so he cannot favour any one of the others) and reads out the alternatives. The results can be hilarious, certainly risque, and mostly downright ludicrous – and if we hadn't rationed ourselves to two rounds we might have been playing it all afternoon!

Before lunch the switchgear cabinet on the genset had been toppled, narrowly missing the shed wall and resulting in my firing James up and drawing the wagons forward a few yards for safety. The fuel tank (dry) and angle-iron stand followed it. After lunch, in between dropping the sump pan on Jack's engine and leaving it so that the last dregs of oil could be captured, we set about splitting the generator off the back of the C6. This proved slightly more awkward than we'd hoped, and in the end we achieved it by opening the torsional coupling (which appears to be the same type, but smaller, than that fitted to 14 901) but we intend to recover this as it might come in handy at some time. It looks like it will be up to us to remove the radiator (though Andrew has released some of the mounts ready) after which the engine can be lifted off its bed frame and the latter sent for scrap.

IMG 1941 blog

IMG 1939 blog

Speaking of scrap, although the price currently offered is pretty poor, (by comparison with what it was a decade ago) our scrap skip is full to overflowing but we have rather blocked it in with concrete sleepers and such. So while James was handy we turned it 45 degrees to enable the skip lorry to pick it up in a week or two's time.

IMG 1943 blog

While I started recovering a few useful bits from the switchgear cabinet (which, before you question whether it might have had resale value, I should have explained had clearly not been sheeted over adequately at some long period in its life and was riddled with rust holes – part of it remained attached to its support frame when Toby toppled it, and the rest won't contribute much to the scrap bin proceeds) the others adjourned back to Jack's engine, removed the oil pump and pipework and removed the big end bearing shell from No.1 piston. To recap, when Jack was last run, it had a serious metallic knocking from the engine and a conspicuous lack of oil pressure, so we assume that one of the big ends or mains has suffered a failure (and an oil sample analysis indicated considerable metal deposits that were consistent with that diagnosis) so the question basically is to find out which one and how bad. But time was running out and for today, only No.1 has been investigated. Team Frodingham packed up and departed for that flat expanse they call Lincolnshire (one of the erudite conversations we had had whilst stripping the Neath genset was whether they were currently in Derbyshire or Yorkshire, as it was all the same, i.e. hilly. (Students of the characteristics of limestone country compared to the more durable stone lands of south and west Yorkshire may wish to address their opinions to Toby Kirkby, c/o Captain Idiot's Home for the Incurable.)

IMG 1944 blog

And that about wraps it up for this week. Maybe next week we'll get back to cutting concrete panels, erecting traywork for cabling, sorting out that coolant leak on Pluto and getting it going again (I was asked, rather pointedly, today as to whether it does 'go' as the questioner bemoaned the fact that he had hardly seen anything operate here other than James). Right now I have no idea what I'll be soing next weekend - after all, grandson is here for a week and a half.

Oh, and I nearly missed it altogether - this entry marks the sixth anniversary of the blog. No fanfares, no celebrations. And on into year seven.

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