Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of cables and labels

13th November 2016

Once again it has been a week where the work has mostly been on the shed infrastructure and is not particularly 'sexy'. The temperature has dropped, so the space heater was dusted off and fired up for several days, though I'll have to stock up on paraffin soon. This weekend we didn't get our regular allocation of 3 visiting enthusiasts, but three have already booked a visit next Saturday – thinks: must get around to making a collection tin.

For the first three days of the week I hosted two members of the East Anglian Railway Museum who were up cleaning parts of the underframe and wheels of their 04 which I am getting ready to rewheel.  When we entered the shed we found the Robin happily fluttering around inside like he owned the place, but our presence discouraged him and when I went outside later he was over near the Portakabin and I haven't seen him since. I was largely able to leave the EARMS guys to it, and meant that on Tuesday, for example, I was able to head over to Sheffield and drop off the alternator from 03 901 for repair (which turned out to have been quite simple as I had a phone call before the end of the day to say it was fixed and awaiting my return which I must slot in this week) and visit my favourite electrical wholesaler.

On of my regular readers questioned me some time ago about whether I price-checked everything that Andrew and I acquire from ebay, and this was a case in point. I went in to purchase cable – which I know is cheaper from the wholesaler  - but with some specific items to price which I knew the costs I could get them for on ebay. One was a replacement double-pole isolator for the water heater to superceed that which I was re-allocating for the 415-110 transformer, and the other was Emergency bulkhead lights. The wholesaler was actually better for the former than any I had seen on ebay, but the Emergency light was around £35 + VAT, whereas I had spotted on e-bay what I thought was the same thing at £12. The wholesaler was quick to question me, pointing out that theirs was LED, was the one I'd seen? I had to admit it hadn't occurred to me, and when I got back I checked and of course, it turned out to be T5 fluorescent.

I suppose I had better go into this a little further for those who, like me, are unaware of all these regulations. A Church Hall that I go to socially every few weeks had toilets where the lights were triggered by PIRs, and if you went into a cubicle and took too long, they timed out and everything went dark, which was rather annoying. (Actually I worked out that if I used a particular cubicle, all I had to do was briefly open the door and the PIR spotted me again, but it wasn't very convenient, if you'll excuse the pun). Then a year or so back they changed all their illuminated Fire Exit signs and installed emergency lights on the ceilings, and these are what are called 'Maintained', that is, if you have a power cut, these lights have batteries inside which must maintain a light output for a minimum of 3 hours – not brilliant, but sufficient for you to find your way out of the building.

The fluorescent ones I had been looking at were rated at about 8watts, not much by old incandescent lamp standards, but the modern LED ones are rated at about 1watt, so I judged, one over each pedestrian door could be run for 500hours (that's about 3 weeks) and just clock up one kW/hr on the meter. So I looked around again on ebay and found some LED ones from a Bradford firm for £18 each and ordered up two.

Meanwhile the replacement light switch arrived, suitably boxed, followed by a batch of replacement 16Amp MCBs for the 110V output on the transformer. Andrew had ordered a batch of 100W LED floodlights, sufficient to  finish Row C, provide two for external lighting outside over the tracks and  one spare. These arrived on Thursday, by which time I had progressed installation of the 110V by inserting the heavy duty isolator (from the water heater) into the 415V feed,  connecting up a socket half way up the building on the west (main line) side, and was contemplating where to use the balance of the cable I had picked up from the wholesaler.

On Friday Steph and I were off to collect grandson for the weekend, Andrew being down in South Wales and very much occupied by work. Of course, Royal Mail attempted to deliver while we were on the road and when we got back the red card was on the hall floor.  

Saturday as usual saw a contingent from Team Frodingham arrive, this time Stephen, Pieman and Charles, and as Andrew had only got back  - shattered – at half-ten on the previous night and had grandson to look after, it was down to me to keep them occupied. Now as a progressive, benign taskmaster I wasn't one to lay down the law and make them feel that they do nothing at Darley Dale but slave for me and Andrew – even though the free bacon and sausage sandwiches Steph prepares at lunchtime are of course worth travelling miles for – so it was that I gave them a free hand and Charles went on to progress the painting on 1382, while Stephen tested how long his knees could take being bent by squatting over by 1382's engine and manually cleaning it.

Pieman however is an apprentice electrician at Scunthorpe, so he was prevailed on to start wiring up another 240V socket which is over the workbench and coupling it back in to the one near the sink. I meantime made a start on running a cable to the south end of the shed to provide a 240V output for the steamcleaner/degreaser, then taking the first of the Emergency lights (which Steph had collected from Matlock post office first thing) over our main pedestrian door.  

Up to now, I had been under a misapprehension. I had assumed that the semi-transparent labels that came with the lamp could be used so that the whole thing acted as a light that showed you where the Fire Exit was and provide an element of light sufficient to guide you there. I had just about got it wired in when Andy H, my Hon Electrical Consultant, arrived and educated me. It could be one or the other but not both, he explained, and either way, it also needed a keyswitch in circuit so that every month or so it could be turned off and tested to make sure that it does in fact, maintain. Why not an ordinary switch? Well it seems that the regulations specify a keyswitch so that no Tom, Dick or Harry (none of whom are members of Team Frod) can interfere with it. So having splashed out on these multi-LED emergency lights I must still invest in either a maintained Fire Exit light or a reflective stick-on label, which was all I had intended in the first place when it was just going to be me and Andrew. For the moment, the light over the side door is up and on, and quite effective it is too, I must admit.

So with more electricians than I needed I set Andy off to install the south end outlet and moved from one little task to the next (such as fitting up the replacement water heater isolator), in between providing Andy or Pieman with whatever widget they required -that and make the occasional cup of tea. By the end of the afternoon the bench socket was functional, and Andy had mounted his socket and made up the conduit to where the traywork will meet it (for the moment the cable is laying safely within the purlin). After the others had gone, for some reason we turned our attention to the personnel door, as its operation has never been right (Andrew is convinced the frame is slightly distorted) and the bottom bar didn't engage with the hole which meant it wasn't properly secure. In the end, we knocked up a 3mm packing piece to go between the uppermost catch doobree and the door frame. This had a beneficial effect on the operating mechanism on the door itself, and with that functioning correctly the bottom bar could be adjusted so that it finally went into its hole. Andy departed for home, but I stayed on a while, terminating the cable to the south end and rolling up the extension cables that have trailed across the floor for the last twelve months.  When all this is finished, there'll be outlets up the east side wall too, and there'll be no need to have a loose cable in the central area where the forklift roams. (Talking of which, we managed to leave it switched on for several days, and as the hour counter records from the keyswitch rather than directly from 'engine running', it now records over 250 hours which is probably three times its actual operating hours since we fitted it. More particularly, leaving it on flattened the battery...)

With Andrew still devoting himself to grandson, I was all alone at the shed today and once again it has been electrical work, though I really should have got on with other things too. I had to sort out re-tieing some of the cables where Pieman had snipped ties to give him freedom to work, which took longer than I had expected. The pedestrian door had settled down and required a further bit of adjustment as the bottom bolt was now sticking, but now operates better than it has ever done. I spent a bit of time in the container hunting out a couple of enclosures which will facilitate inserting these keyswitches, and Andrew reckoned we have a couple of suitable Telemecanique keyswitches somewhere, but I couldn't find them. Given that the emergency light is not a Fire Exit light, I had a re-think about where to put the one at the south end of the building – rather than put it directly over the doorway, I will raise it on to a purlin half-way up the end wall, which will enable the light to spread out over much more of the shed  and leave the doorway top clear for a  reflective Fire Exit sign. With this in mind I found that some odd left-over lengths of conduit were just about right to connect the planned light-switch there back to a connector box (the base of the former broken light-switch enclosure) so made that all up ready and left it clamped to the purlin. (One of my readers recently wrote and congratulated me on 'succumbing to the conduit-bug'. I will be happy to be cured of this as soon as the west side of the shed is completed!) Since the plan is to run a feed cable for this and the external floodlights in an SWA which will have to come over the top of the roller shutter, and this cable is in stock (and has been for several years) this may be something I tackle quite soon, though I am conscious that Row A rooflights beckon.

And that I am afraid is about it. Little loco work to report, and although several readers have commented how fascinated they are at the in-and-outs of this building lark, I refuse to resort to publishing photos of 3 pin sockets, hence no pictures this week.

A couple of service announcements though – Weekend Rails will change appearance slightly in the near future, as it changes to a template more suited to mobiles and other devices, and those of you who e-mail me direct on my personal family e-mail account, please remember that from Monday 21st it will be 'off' for a week or so while it migrates to new servers. During that time either use my business account or my old yahoo one, which I'll be watching over for the while.

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