Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of lightsabres and switches

6th November 2016

Well now, what on earth am I going to write about tonight? That may be your regular question when you long on to Weekend Rails, trouble is, tonight it's the one I'm asking myself.

You see normally I have a raft of pictures to go through, select, resize and caption, and with that under my belt I can sit down and write about what's been going on knowing that I can steer the text in the general direction of the photos that illustrate it. But this weekend, well, the only time I got my camera out to take a few photos of work going on, well, it just keep telling me that the battery needed changing, so for tonight I am indebted to Phil and Plumtree who have sent me a selection of photos that they took, albeit on a more rectangular format than usual. (Actually, when I got the camera back home on Saturday night, it worked normally and the battery indicated ¾ full, so it was presumably unimpressed at me taking it out into the cold weather.

Anyway, at the end of last week I had taken careful observation of various prices and ordered up various sockets and switches from e-bay suppliers to continue with the electrical installation over the weekend, and at one point had planned a dash over to Sheffield on Friday afternoon to drop the 03's alternator off for repair and pick up a few lesser items from the electrical wholesalers. These bits began to trickle in from Tuesday, and was to include a 6-gang light switch to provide control over the various combinations of the 3 rows of floodlights. Alas, it arrived in nothing more to protect it than its original plastic bag and a plain outer envelope. Within a few minutes I spotted a shard of plastic that ought not to be there and on opening it up, found that something had been dropped on it during transit so that it was badly broken internally. The supplier is sending me a replacement – let's hope he packs it more thoroughly this time!

Broken switch blog

I suppose you're all dying to know how things are with Charlie and what's happening at the studio – well tough: beyond announcing that I have gained the official title of 'Principal Locomotive Driver' (not that it will get on the credits) my lips are sealed.

So on Friday, Andrew, having taken stock of the weather, declared that Saturday would be bogie removal day from the PCV and could I go to Derwent Treescapes and collect half-a-dozen oak sleepers. That effectively scuppered any ideas I had of getting across to Sheffield, but I had said I would do it rather than pay a princely sum for delivery when the firm is barely 3 miles from Darley. I dunno about you, but I see these 'railway sleepers' are something of a misnomer. They are railway-sleeper-sized pieces of wood, yes, but they have never been under a rail in the lives and are oak which is not a sleeper material I have heard of being used anyway. But as packing material for lifting PCVs or other items of railway equipment they are quite useful, though carrying 6 of them each 2.4m long in a van whose load space behind the bulkhead is barely 2m is not the best on a cold day. Oh, and when I went into the shed, what was there to greet me but that Robin flying round inside again. It's not that I object to it adopting my shed for a winter retreat, just so long as it doesn't relieve itself over freshly painted locos. (Years ago, as the majority of the Pendolinos had been commissioned for Virgin, and the activity at the Asfordby Test Centre wound down, the pigeons that had been merely an irritation grew in numbers and became a positive nuisance in the enormous multi-road building. One pigeon managed to electrocute itself by an unfortunate landing on the live overhead while too close to parts of the building, but on one of my later visits, the Test Centre Manager was passing the time taking pot-shots at them with an air rifle. He had been a crack-shot in his days in the RAF, he assured me. Whether he was still sniper-material I do not now recall.)

Talking of the van, coming back from a site visit on Tuesday, I was very aware of the overall drop in air temperature. For some months now the temperature gauge on the van has been reading low, taking ages to come up off the bottom stop and reach even its normal running temp of about 74-75 deg C. Tuesday night though it wasn't registering at all (I was reasonably certain there was coolant in there to measure!) and the air into the van was hardly warmer than that outside. To cap it all, as I dashed, shivering, along the M1 trying to get home and warm again, the blithering Engine Management light came on. Just what I needed! So Wednesday afternoon was spent at my good friends in Matlock who changed the thermostat and when that didn't seem to raise the engine temp, swapped the sender to convince themselves that it was reading correctly. On the good news front, the engine now warms up and provides me with hot air – but it still says it only runs at about 74-75.

Plumtree1 blog

Plumtree3 blog

So after all that we have just about got around to Saturday. Team Frodingham were back to assist in the PCV lift, namely Charles, Pieman, Phil, Plumtree and Jagger. And for good measure Andy H arrived too. Steph meanwhile had gone off to our daughter's for the weekend, having first boiled a large piece of gammon to provide sandwiches for the company on Saturday, which meant that I had the job of catering. But that is getting ahead of things. I got down at half-nine to find the first two car loads had arrived and they were having a mock battle outside the Portakabin with lightsabres. The best way to bring about a truce was for me to open up and put the kettle on, so we trooped inside and swapped gossip – er important intelligence of topics of interest – until Andrew, who had barely started his breakfast when I'd set off, got down and took over man management duties.

Phil1 blog

Phil2 blog

Leaving them to get on outside, I returned to my electrical tasks. The second connector box (where cables to Rows B and C will go their separate ways) needed wiring with the incoming 7 way and the earth bonding to the adjacent column. I tried out a length of 5-way 4mm to see whether it was long enough to become an additional, unplanned 3-phase outlet, but it wasn't, in fact, I think it would best become an additional extension cable at some point. Over on the mainline side, and half way up the building, a 110V outlet I had fitted some weeks ago received a conduit connection up and around to the traywork, but without that trip to Sheffield on Friday I had no more cable to connect it anywhere with. In fact, what cable I did have left was laid out and just made it to form a new 240V twin outlet above the workbenches, and I set about drilling a suitable hole to mount the back box only to discover that I had no more suitable wall plugs, so that job came to a stand.

Of course, by lunchtime I had had to break off, return home and go into mass production of gammon sandwiches. Outside the workers had been busy trying to raise the PCV sufficient to roll the bogies out safely, having successfully dropped the pivot mounting from the underside of the underframe. But they ran into problems, and, safety being paramount, eventually abandoned the attempt in favour of thinking out another solution. But they did release various other components on the bogie so that when they do emerge from under the body they will come part easily.

As the evenings draw in they were coming in by four pm and I had the overhead lights on. I had taken down one of the two 50W floodlights we bought last year for a trial - this will be re-located into row C – but the other, and the string of incandescents in between are still up for 'emergency' use if required, although the 50W floodlight will come down shortly as it too will be needed on Row C. (We need two more 100W floods for Row C and Andrew has now ordered a batch of 5. One as a spare, and two to go outside over the tracks to give us some external lighting for occasions when we need to work – or shunt- outside in the dark. With this in mind I have pondered what additional cables and switches I will need to power them, plus the Fire Exit light I need to put over the south end pedestrian door. I was originally intending to put reflective signs up and while they would probably have met Fire regulations, Andy H has persuaded me that proper LED 'maintained' – i.e. they stay on for a few hours if the power goes out – Fire Exit signs are worth a little cost.)

With Andy H around we did some tests on the wiring done so far, and not long after a snag was revealed. I really should have planned an isolator in the fed to the 415-110 transformer so I may re-allocate the isolator I put up for the water heater and re-arrange the cabling there.

Despite the cold and dark some of Team Frod were determined to have a bonfire – it was 5th Nov after all – which helped me tidy the place up a little, and after a final cup of tea, war broke out again over the Portakabin. This time Andrew was on hand to record the conflict.

lightsabre1 blog

Today, a rather later start, it being cold and wet, and Andrew and I spent our time on a customer's loco inside the shed. And that's about it really. So let me see, I started off thinking I had nothing much to say, nor pictures to illustrate with. It was true, yet I seem to have managed to concoct another 1700 words or so. Thank you for reading them. Maybe there'll be something more erudite and thought-provoking next week, or just the usual mumble-jumble.

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