Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of location, location, location

11th September 2016

Several readers speculated, after my teaser at the end of last week's edition, whether things had kicked off with Peak Rail's management again, which was logical but actually not so.  'It' has had a significant effect on events this week though, and resulted in the title being apposite (not a house move, but count them!). Plenty of pictures too, so should be a colourful edition.

A few weeks ago I commented on the 'election' of a new chairman at the AFRPS and the mass resignation of most of the Committee that followed it.  Although approaches were made to the AF Athletics club (which is a registered company and the AFRPS' ultimate controlling body – every AFRPS member must also be a member of the Athletics club, making it a rather expensive group to join) it appears they took the word of the new Chairman and remaining Committee members and intended to take no further action. Team Frodingham, and in particular Captain Idiot and Stephen McB, as custodians of the Yorkshire 0-6-0DE '1382' , had made overtures about bringing it over to Darley Dale for completion (parts of it had arrived here anyway), and hence, the numbers who had been visiting recently and the equipment they had brought with them.  

Andrew, on the other hand, having had no response from the Athletics Club chairman about his appeal for intervention, felt that having put his head over the parapet he was likely to be singled out for reprisal, and a plan was hatched to bring both 1382, 03 901 and Tom out of Scunthorpe together.  Although no announcement of this had been made (Andrew's suggestion in Committee that proper agreements with loco owners should be created was derided by certain other member(s) so no notice needed to be given) the possibility had been picked up back at Scunthorpe and all three were unceremoniously pushed onto the siding outside. Worse still, news came back to us that one committee member, quoted as declaring that he would 'make things more difficult' had instigated the fuel being drained out of 03 901 and Tom. (Tom had arrived with over a 1/4 tank-full, the 03 had been almost dry on arrival but we had brought our own later to see us through start-up and testing etc, as certain members had been so sceptical of our ever getting it going.)

With that background, we can now begin the week's report. On Monday I agreed that I would head over to our fuel suppliers on Tuesday and collect 45 gallons of gas oil for the 03, but first thing that morning I had been down at the shed at 07.30 to meet a skip lorry from C F Booths', which never came.  Various phone calls later and it was all re-arranged for Tuesday.

So Tuesday it was down to the shed again to draw the wagons out of the way and allow the skip lorry access, take away our old skip and leave us a nice empty one.  Then it was back for breakfast and out again to get the drum etc and after lunch, head to Ashbourne.  It being an empty 45 gallon drum I didn't bother securing it in the back, and dropping down the B5056 from Longcliffe, closely following an 8 wheeler aggregates wagon, was somewhat taken aback when he stopped suddenly after coming face to face with a 40ft artic curtainsider at a bend. My deceleration had to be even smarter, and at this point the empty 45 gallon drum ceased contact with the floor of the van and made a valiant attempt to overtake me.  Having filled it at Ashbourne, I secured it firmly for the trip back.

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At an uncomfortably early hour on Wednesday I set off for Scunthorpe. Captain Idiot had arrived before me and offered to start filling the 03's tank with the hand-pump I'd brought, whilst I superintended loading the engine and generator for 1382 onto the HIAB-lorry that had arrived just before.  This was duly achieved and for good measure, we repositioned the three locos into the order Andrew had proscribed. Captain Idiot dashed off to work and I tore back to Darley, arriving barely two minutes before the lorry which duly unloaded into the shed doorway. By now it was gone noon,  Steph and I had dental appointments at 2.30 in Sheffield and I had to get changed and eat something, so there was little time to waste.

And now for something completely different. For some weeks now we have been waiting instruction from Colas about a PCV. No, not a new computer, but a former 'propelling control vehicle' converted by EWS for Royal Mail traffic from an emu driving car. Indeed, the one destined to be coming our way was one of the two prototypes, and fortuitously one of the best structurally from a line in store at Carnforth. The deal is that certain components must be recovered from it, but in return the rest becomes ours (well technically mine but no doubt that minor detail will get overlooked). Andrew's plan sees it as a – well a push-pull driving vehicle, able to connect to one or other of his locos (suitably wired for multiple operation), and possibly acting as an air/vac translator as well. (Actually his latest plan is for it to become a bar car, but that is getting ahead of this narrative.)

With Peak Rail having agreed to remove the buffer stop at Rowsley on Thursday for the arrival of loco(s), the OK came through to get the PCV moved and it was programmed to be collected first thing Thursday to arrive at Rowsley that lunchtime (which I thought a little optimistic) but in the event it was collected Wednesday afternoon.  The crew were the same two who had moved RS8, and Wednesday evening we had forewarning and dashed up to Bakewell. Regular readers may recall that when Cheedale came to Rowsley we blocked traffic in Bakewell so that the lorry could go wrong way across the roundabout. (With a low loader, even with rear wheel steering, the roundabout is a tight one and we actually save time for all concerned by circumventing it.) We were about to do it again, and this time I managed to bag a picture, although the camera was struggling with the light level. In fact, on the final couple of miles they had picked  up a police escort – well, a patrol car was following them – and the officers didn't seem perturbed by our impromptu traffic control – but it may have been near to their clocking off time.

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We had gone up in two vehicles, now I managed to overtake down the straight stretch to Haddon Hall so that I could get gates open at Rowsley and bed them down for the night. But before that it was my job to run the secondman down to the cash machine and back via the Darley Dale Fishbar.

So on Thursday morning it was up early and yet again point the van for Scunthorpe. Actually I should have really said earlier that Andrew had sent a further e-mail to the Athletics club Chairman  and followed this up with a phone call, as a result of which a modicum of fuel had been returned to the Sentinel. At Scunthorpe two of the three vehicles had arrived before us as had four of Team Frodingham – Stephen, Pieman, Phil and Plumtree – but the last vehicle was delayed which was to cost a lot of time. Indeed, I feared that the whole operation was too ambitious as these things always take longer than you expect. The schedule was to begin loading at 08.00, be away by 11.00, into Rowsley by about 14.00 and ready to convoy down to Darley Dale at 16.30.

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It got under way all right, the folding neck trailer that we use for locos up to about 30tons was deployed and the Yorkshire 1382 was winched aboard and moved aside.

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The second trailer was a big low-loader with rails throughout its length, thus Andrew planned to load over it onto a step-frame trailer which would back up to it. This is in a way a rehearsal. There is still a loco that I am responsible for marooned at Rowsley. It cannot be towed down to Darley Dale as it has a collapsed wheel bearing. I had had an undertaking from Peak Rail that I could lift the loco at Rowsley and remove the wheelset for repair but this was reneged on: thus I will have to road it to Darley and the 5 axle trailer used with RS8 will perform the task when we have a suitable ramp fabricated (the one for RS8 would be far too steep for a long 0-6-0). Either that ramp would have to be moved to Rowsley by a separate vehicle, or we arrange it when something is incoming with a low-loader like this, and use the trailer as the ramp.

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So they had set up the low loader but too close to the curve on the siding, and although 03 901 went up satisfactorily, Tom following it derailed, pushing the outside tip rail off the rail head in the process. Nothing for it but to winch the 03 up onto the trailer, and reposition the trailer to come off the curve in a more tangential alignment, which took up a lot of time.

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But we had more time than we knew, as the 3rd vehicle only left the yard at 10.00 and rolled in to Scunthorpe just after noon, by which time both Tom and the 03 were sat on the trailer (pity it wasn't legal to carry them both like this!) and the step-frame backed up and the 03 was winched across. Add a minor defect on the low-loader and it was 14.15 before the convoy hit the road.

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Meanwhile, during the morning, the PCV had been unloaded and the lorry departed – Steph was there to witness the operation...

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Plumtree had to go to work but the other three Team Frod members chased over to Darley Dale and were in high spirits as we waited for news. Rob S turned up out of the blue, and we felt bad having to leave him as a call came through that two out of the three were approaching Bakewell from the north. Team Frod managed of get ahead of us as I got stuck behind a sight-seeing Hyundai dawdling on a busy A6, but Andrew bailed out with just enough time to assist as they came through....

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.. and then leapt back aboard and took photos from the passenger side...

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Arriving at Darley Dale, we found the roofing company were in the middle of unloading a curtainsider in the middle of the road to the Nanny Goat bridge, and as it was 16.45 and their contract staff were arriving back to clock off, an unprecedented queue resulted stretching back to the roundabout and the council depot.  

The folding neck with the Yorkshire aboard was slightly quicker and had arrived on another route (the 03 on the step frame measured just about 15ft 10, too close for comfort through the bridge at the south end of Matlock, but the Yorkshire was lower) and was awaiting our arrival.  The step frame headed into the yard to turn and the Sentinel and the 03 were deposited in the same manner as they had been loaded. I started up the 03 and moved the consist clear, but it was now 18.15 and I had to leave, with the Yorkshire last to unload. The train moved down the line later on and was parked up for sorting.

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While I was away on Friday, Andrew (who had taken both days off) and Captain Idiot set about shunting things and clearing space in the shed for the Class 14 Owners Group meeting next weekend. The PCV made a useful temporary storage area and at the end Yorkshire 1382 and the 03 were sat side-by-side. RS8 has had to go out again but its turn will come.

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Of course, for the 03 this is a return to old haunts. for in the 1990s, following its repatriation from the other side of the Channel, it was based here and there are photographs of it on the 'net working Peak Rail trains from Darley Dale (pre-Rowsley extension)  to Matlock (Riverside). Will it ever do so again?

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Well, that about brings me up to the weekend which is normally all I have to talk about. Saturday morning Pieman and Charles were coming over from Team Frodingham, but Andrew was feeling distinctly frazzled, having picked up a virus somewhere along the way. So it was left to me to open up and try to get some work going, but first I celebrated the arrival of a decent size teapot for the Shed Catering department. Of course, as these two had not seen the PCV this was the first port of call and we had achieved little other than to move the cabinets back into place in front of the panels that Andrew and I had cut and repositioned last week, when Andrew finally got down and marshalled them into man-handling cut off scrap rails into Mr Booth's empty skip, which turned out, as I feared, to be far more gruelling than Andrew had anticipated. In between times it was raining, and I instead set about extending the cable traywork along the main-line side wall.

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But in one of my moods when I start doing three jobs concurrently and switching from one to another in the name of 'variety', I started sweeping and vacuuming the next section of floor to be sealed and painted – which Steph had already gone over with a big sweeping brush – and when Andrew departed (he had to 'take possession' of a car park in Cardiff) Charles moved on to the engine for Jack, dismantling the main bearing caps, and Pieman the interior of the 03s cab. But as they had to go at 4pm, I was left alone to get out the cold tea and start sealing the floor section.

I did break off though to show the Darley Dale signalman around the PCV – he knew about them and was keen to see one in the flesh, and I'm always happy to oblige.

I had some paperwork and such to get out of the way this morning, and as Andrew was overseeing a big crane and two low loaders in his Cardiff car park, I had a leisurely morning and got down to the shed just after lunch. The signalman immediately came over to tell me that someone had been anxious to see me, but had gone not five minutes ago, and as I was putting my boots and ovvies on, the Stationmaster came over  to tell me much the same, or maybe it was about someone else. From recent visitors and odd snippets I get the impression that our presence at Darley Dale has finally become common knowledge in that part of the enthusiast fraternity that appreciates diesel locos.  Anyway, the Stationmaster was surprised to see 03 901 and even more surprised when I showed him over the PCV and gave an indication of some of our (Andrew's) long term plans for it.

Andrew and I had agreed that having put the cabinets back before that section of floor had had a second coat of floor paint, there was nothing for it but to put a protective mask at the bottom of the cabinets and roller up to it, and so first job was to slice up a bit of DPM and tape it in place. Then around the entrance, having marked where the join between green and red would be, I finished removing various obstructions, swept, vac'd and sealed the floor and put a barrier in the doorway.

A new roller in the roller frame and I was all set to start applying red, firstly to the large expanse by the 03, then to the area by the cabinets and lastly either side of the walkway from the personnel door to the sink. I had finished rollering and reverted to the traditional paintbrush (slower to apply but more controllable) when Andy H appeared at the doorway so a break for tea was in order, and of course, at the first sniff of tea Andrew rang in to say he was a few minutes away so a third mug was poured and we talked outside. Andy had of course not seen the PCV or the HATRAMM, and seemed to consider the latter lent itself to some sort of motorised garden party, taking tea and cucumber sandwiches on the verandah or the loadspace while travelling sedately through the countryside, giving the occasional regal wave to the riff-raff touching their forelocks at the trackside. But we're all entitled to our dreams.

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His main reason for coming (he said, though I know it is really for our whit, company and now exceptional tea) was to do a photographic survey of RS8 'with his conservation head on' and I left him to Andrew while I got back to my floor painting. I am trying to do this area in two stages – part one was to get the section from the personnel door towards the sink, without actually blocking access to the latter, and part two to treat the area in front of the sink, whilst just about being able to reach the sink from the bits painted in part 1. Follow me? No, it probably won't work, but  I'm determined to push on and get as much of the floor painted before next weekend as I can, though we are running low on the cold tea.

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So that's about it for this week. Three locos relocated (hence the title) and a PCV received into the bargain. Next week won't be quite so dramatic as Andrew hosts the Class 14 Owners meeting  - or will it be? There are a few things I've left out - deliberately - over the last couple of weeks which may pop up in the next edition.  And on that, I will leave you all to speculate.

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