Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of accidents and Air Ambulance

30th October 2016

Traditionally we have convinced ourselves that the last weekend of the month is the one where everything goes wrong and the first weekend of the month is where it all goes right. But this is one month where things have not gone wrong – well not for us anyway, but with two road traffic accidents nearby may it have rubbed off on somebody else?

It is fortunate that I was able to announce the impending departure of Charlie last week as it takes up a large part of this week's saga. Sadly, when I advised Peak Rail's management of the need for it to depart, in accordance with the Agreement, I received a blunt refusal to permit it except on a date next week that was convenient to Peak Rail's management. I had to advise that we were not about to change Fox's schedule to suit Peak Rail and that alternative arrangements would be made to out-load direct from Darley and hold Peak Rail liable for any additional costs – the reply maintained Peak Rail's position.

About a year ago we had Allelys have a look at the gateway and we subsequently drew up a scale drawing. Allelys ran it through with some software that simulates the trailer/tractor and its manoeuvrability and reckoned that their shortest modular Goldhofer trailer could squeeze through with a few inches to spare. Not a reassuring assessment (I wouldn't like to guarantee my scale plan to anything like + or – 100mm), but one that it looked like we would have to put to the test.

Of course, we have had Heanors in with a 5-axle live neck but this required a ramp up to 3ft and although we have plans to fabricate a second stage ramp to get us up there in a reasonable gradient, the Goldhofer was nominally a low-load trailer so Charlie could be winched on. Or rather it couldn't, because the amount of space around the track precludes getting the tractor unit to the other end, so it must either be driven, or pushed.

By Thursday I had just about done all bits I could usefully do to make it ready and although Fox had rescheduled the start of testing (otherwise I would be on my way south tonight and I don't know when this blog would have had to appear) they still needed the loco on site Monday, so Allelys were given the 'go' to collect out of Darley Dale first thing Friday morning, which, to allow for transit up from Studley, meant ten to ten-thirty, with cranes waiting to lift it off at the studios up to 4pm.

So first thing Friday morning, Road 1 as we call it was shunted out with James while Charlie waited patiently at the buffer stops, then made its way up to the area where it would be loaded. I brought James up behind with the VBA van to act as a barrier if a shove was needed. All was ready by 9.50 but a call to Allelys revealed the news that the driver was off sick and a scratch crew had had to be sorted and had only just left. Despite predictions that they would be here for 11.30 it so screwed up my plans for the day that I locked up and headed for Rotherham and Sheffield to pick up parts that I had planned to get once Charlie had left and could not be postponed. Meanwhile I phoned my man at Fox and he took the decision to stand the cranes down until first thing Monday, so if Allelys were kept waiting it was no detriment.

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Going round at breakneck speed I still only got back at 1pm but nonetheless was ahead of the Allelys rig, which rolled up at about 1.30, but wasted no time in turning round and making an attempt at getting in. The first attempt was of course, merely a practice run and after a few cars had gone by they had another go and made it through, assuring me that it would be easier going out. The ramp was assembled and although much steeper than I would have normally expected, Charlie climbed up without too much difficulty, and James was not needed.

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Andrew as able to spare a bit of time to join me and as the crew reckoned they needed some break time before proceeding, we made them a cuppa. But by the time we came to back out, another little drama was taking place outside. A white van had driven across the level crossing and stopped to give way to one of Mr Waters' artics, whereupon a motorcycle following had rear ended it. This was right outside the gate but when it came to it, the offending motorbike ('Only a Ducati' said the Allelys driver) was moved aside. By now it was 15.30 and with Andrew's help it was much quicker returning the various locos and wagons to Road 1 than pulling them out had been.

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Saturday, and Pieman and Charles were joining us from Team Frodingham. Charles came with several large boxes of Whitworth spanners – a later count up revealed over 270 – which had been bought for a song from a 'mate on the market' and they spent some time cleaning them up and sorting them in their container. More of their equipment was moved in too, but until they can dispose of the doors and things that still are in there they insist there is no more room.

For myself, my first job, having collected the new adaptors for the HATRAMM, was to get the priming pump installed and re-connected, then pump the fuel up ready for another run, but time did not allow anything more.

With an eye to 03 901 following Charlie down, Andrew spent some time on it, replacing the water pump belts and removing the alternator for repair. But first, we had moved various bits from the middle of the workshop, including a workbench, (and while the forklift was in the vicinity, raised the transformer 6”and levelled it) so that the Terrypicker could be moved down ready to tackle Lamp B8.

Our weekly quota of 3 enthusiasts was fulfilled during Saturday, with a party who said they had come up from Essex to see the PCV. OK, I know I've said before that I didn't think there were enthusiasts for these things; I should have known better, but their interest, they said, stemmed from their younger days when this was an EMU driving trailer running out of Broad Street. I gave them the guided tour (well one of them passed me a tip so I could hardly turf them off once they'd photo'd the PCV from almost all angles) and then had to straighten one out who clearly thought he had come to the Heritage Shunters Trust. He went on to say that his real interest was steam locos, so I drew him over and showed him RS8(!). Actually, just before they left he started telling me how he had regarded Peak Rail as one of the most unfriendly of heritage railways, citing in particular an incident when the shop at Matlock refused even to admit him ten minutes before closing time, but that my willingness to show him and his friends around had changed his opinion.

Andy H arrived at lunchtime and before long I was up on the Terrypicker fitting B8. Unlike the first seven, this lamp is connected to SWA cabling which is stiffer and heavier, and I was not looking forward to passing it around the beams and then assembling its gland at the connection box, up under the roof with my hands at or above my head. Andy tactfully pointed out that the gland could be assembled to the cable before it went up (duh!). Nonetheless, getting enough of it round to reach the junction box, securing it so the weight of it didn't pull 'box and wire down after it taxed my patience. Actually, the difference in size between the live and neutrals on the feeds and those to the floodlights themselves make them infuriating when trying to get them into the choc block together. You tighten up the clamping screw only to find the little one was never in at all.

I came down and we decided it was time to Bang test. Wires were carefully bared and made off, and without fanfare the row of 100W lamps all came on, but when we swapped over and tried the 50W lamps, the 100W lamps glowed a bit as well, until Andy spotted that one of his temporary connections was making a temporary connection of its own. We tried all 8 together to see the effect, but for the present things are rigged with just the four 100 watt lamps and as the evening drew in, just how effective as little as that gives us was extremely satisfying.

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But so far the heavy SWA was just hanging down the column and scarcely going to pass an inspection. I was thinking about Stauff pipe clamps but the smallest we had were too large, Andy and Pieman were conferring about different beam clamps when I suddenly remembered we had a load of beam clamps that had come in an auction lot which had included Unistrut clamps and vast quantities of nuts and bolts. With half a dozen of these, a spanner and some tie wraps up I went in the Terrypicker again and secured the cable firmly and no doubt, provided another perch for that Robin if it comes visiting.

With the transformer moved it was opportune to start clamping the traywork that was no longer foul of it and then connect the transformer with the cable that was languishing nearby. I also used the Terrypicker to collect the clock – the battery expired some weeks ago but I hadn't been up to sort it as, after all, it did still display the right time twice a day.

As Team F prepared to leave, they had been instructed to bring with them the air horn cluster that Captain Idiot owned that hopefully was sold, and could not resist seeing what it would look like on Charles' estate car. This is 'standard' kit on North American railroads, but then they do have bloomin' large compressors on their locos.

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Today we were joined by Andrew's former colleague Gareth H, currently with DB but uncomfortable (major re-organisation going on if you haven't heard) who caught us out by arriving at Darley Dale while we were still at the Briddon Country Pile (but partly because he had overlooked the fact that the clocks went back – I should sympathise as one of my early dates with Steph had me waiting an hour for her to arrive!). Andrew and he started off re-arranging stock in the yard to make the HATRAMM and the VBA easier to access, while I cracked on with electrical jobs, such is the effect of getting the lights going that I wanted to press on with more success.

With some more trunking in place where the main feed cables will enter the distribution box, I moved over to the transformer and decided that if we had a connection in, then a feed out to the nearest 110V socket would be a logical step and that meant finishing off the conduit first. When I opened up the circuit breaker box on the side of the transformer, I had a feeling of deja vu. The big distribution box, which came through e-bay, has/had a mixed bag of circuit breakers, most of which were inappropriate to our requirements. I had already bought half-a-dozen via e-bay, of the correct pattern and ratings to suit the layout of the outlets (mostly the effect of needing 32A 3-phase sockets in strategic places) and changed them over. Now I was staring at a different make of distribution box, but whereas we standardised on 16A 110V outlets (which are right for most power tools) all bar one circuit breaker was 32A, so I shall have to shop around for replacements here too.

Just after lunch Rob S and a colleague from Peak Rail's P/Way Department appeared for a few minutes natter. It seems that the frog of the turnout that forms the main line side of our access crossover is finally to be changed for a new one and to do it the rail crane is to be re-commissioned and certified. (Some weeks ago I wrote to another part of Peak Rail management offering to do this with the HATRAMM when it is up-and-running: I have yet to see a response.) Oh, and before you excitedly tell me that 'frog' is a term exclusive to model railways, actually historically it was the correct term used in the early days but fell out of favour.

I moved on to manufacturing and fitting the junction box where the SWA cable from Row B will junction with the feed wires and the branch to Row C, while Andrew and Gareth were outside pressure washing some bits of brake gear. We were interrupted by the loud noise of a helicopter. Chinooks of the RAF are not unusual around here, indeed, one flew so low at night a couple of weeks back that it set car alarms off, but this was louder and slower, swept over the yard and landed somewhere up the top of DFS Furniture's car park – it was the Air Ambulance and we could not see any moving traffic on the A6. It was down for almost an hour before taking off and charging away in the direction of Derby. I daresay we'll hear what sort of accident it was responding to in due course.

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With the nights drawing in the new lights were plugged back in and work continued until Gareth packed up at about 6pm and Andrew declared he'd had enough. James was started up and brought back to its usual home outside the shed, its headlight being required for once, and we called it a night. Years ago we used to work at Long Marston well into the night, under the glow of expensive Sodium lights. The light levels we had there were no better, maybe poorer, than these four 100W LEDs and these are much, much cheaper to run.

Next week? Well I should be with Charlie part of the week, but don't expect pictures as that sort of thing is tightly controlled, indeed I doubt if I shall be able to report much other than in the most general of terms. But with more light switches and sockets ordered up there'll be more than enough to keep me occupied electrically and who knows, Row A beckons.

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