This came to light as we investigated why a regular reader could no longer access the site unless he was using his mobile through his phone network. For the moment, VM is re-instated but we can't promise it won't happen again!
So back to a long week. Of course, things resumed on January 2nd, beginning with a mass shunt around to get the HATRAMM down to the shed but firstly to get the 50ton press out the back of the van. So here's your first view of it. Ok, if you are eagle-eyed you can see it has the frame and a ram assembly (with a pressure gauge to tell you just how many tons you are applying), but no pump, and no cradle or whatever-you-call-it that moves up and down depending how tall a thing you want to press. Ironically, Andrew had very rapidly found that one of the UK importer/suppliers of this particular press (it's made in the USA) were offering replacement pumps for it on e-bay. Or were they? The heading said pump, the picture showed a pump but the description stated it was a ram. So he dropped the seller a note and they confirmed it was a ram. Well it certainly wasn't a ewe. We had our doubts, and later in the week I phoned them up and after several phone calls and an exchange of e-mails they confirmed what they were offering was indeed a pump, so we've ordered one. It hasn't arrived yet: it had better be right. The cradle-thingy we will make ourselves from bits languishing around – there are numerous bushes in the brake rigging of 1382 that need pressing out and replacing so it is required soon.
But to return to Monday. With the HATRAMM down at the shed, Terry D arrived and he and Andrew spent the day investigating why it wouldn't go, and while they had the engine running for quite a while (with a piece of wire as a throttle control), generated plenty of air pressure and even took up the slack in the transmission, but throttle control eluded them and they were forced to conclude that the electronic throttle governor is u/s. We will get back to that in the near future as HATRAMM operation is becoming rather important in the strategy.
By the end of the day, we ended up finishing something of a re-arrangement in the dark – RS8 and Jack have for the moment moved to road 2, taking the place of D9500 which has migrated over to Road 1, and the VBA, which has come to just outside the shed where we can access it easier as we swap stuff around between container, shed and 'van.
On Tuesday, after getting some admin out of the way, I headed off and brought back some concrete paint, and went back in that evening to apply a second coat and a generous first coat to the bit I'd missed. To be honest, a bit of it was a trifle too generous as in the available light I failed to spot a pool which I hadn't fully rollered around and which took several days to dry out.
By Wednesday Andrew was contemplating ordering the steel for the second ramp stage, using Ainscough Metals of Skelmersdale who had slightly rusty sections at very attractive prices. It then turned out our regular haulier was running out to Runcorn on Friday and offered a special price as a return load, so we hurriedly tied up the commercial bits with Ainscough and I ensured I would be home Friday afternoon to unload.
On Friday though things went a little awry – their customer in Runcorn had left for the weekend before the lorry arrived and he had to be called back (he was half way to Peterborough) to unload. Thus I got a call at 4.40 that he had just left Skelmersdale, with an ETA of 7pm. By now Andrew was home from work which made life easier as there was no HIAB on this rig.
At 6.20 he declared he was passing Ashford on the Water (about 7 miles away) so we dashed down to the shed and fired James up again to shunt the locos out the way so that the vehicle, when it arrived, could get around the back. Once we'd got it off and him away (he had to pick his wife up from work) we detached Thelma from Louise and put the steel on to that, ready for starting fabrication.
Saturday and we'd arranged to go back to Rocks by Rail. RbyR was having an informal steam up so we'd asked, and been promised, the opportunity to get Ludwig Mond out for a run up and down the line in-between brake van trips. Our departure from Darley Dale was a little tardy and most of Team Frodingham had been there for some time before we arrived. The loco had been pulled out of the shed before so we got started straight away. Andrew had brought down a pressure switch to change for one in the rear compartment that was leaking air. With that the engine was started and pressure rose quicker than last time. Andrew heard an air – or maybe vacuum – leak under the cab floor and on lifting the 'boards, poked at a tiny hole in a 2” vacuum pipe which promptly became a large hole and threatened to scupper any attempt at a run down the line. I remembered the best Thomas-the-Tank remedy for this (a newspaper and leather bootlaces) but several layers of gaffer tape did almost as well.
We were about to move off when I was engaged by a gentleman who wanted to know what 'these things' were. They were the rubber chevron spring units – it seems he'd never seen such things in his life, and I would have been glad to expand his education had we not been ready for the off. Although the vac pipe tended to drop a bit and drag the brakes, necessitating a vent of the reservoir to balance, Ludwig was allowed out for a single run, and here it was awaiting the crossing turnout to be unlocked. The test went well, coming back up the gradient (which is not modest) with very little throttle and a speedo hovering at 12.5, though both Andrew and I thought it reading a little on the high side.
Sadly the single run was all we had time for, and Andrew identified two other air leaks for attention as well as measuring up pipe lengths for renewal. I came away with loan of a sandbox lid – from an unrestored Avonside loco – to see if it fits RS8's sanboxes and if so, create some copies. My thanks to Rocks by Rail for their co-operation with both Ludwig and the sandbox lid.
On Friday Andrew had volunteered at work – if no-one else did – to go up to Inverness to do a loco repair on Monday, and as no-one else had volunteered, the job fell to him and a fitter from Southampton to travel up today. Thus I was down by nine am to open up for a massed group of Team Frodingham (Toby, Plumtree, Charles, Jagger, Spock, Pieman and Luke with Andy H due later) and put the kettle on. And quite a lot was achieved – the engine for 1382 was laid back in the chassis (to free up floorspace and the trolley for other duties), together with a lot of tidying of bits into their container, cleaning side rods, painting side rods and air receivers, and a lot of cleaning/scraping, etc of wheels and frame sides on 1382 which defied most of my attempts to get a photograph – the sheer volume of dust got in the way.
Andrew popped in, the fitter arrived and was shown around, then they headed off north, leaving me in charge, as much as one can be with Team F. Another visitor showed up, commenting that there were more people at work here than anywhere else on the railway.
On our way back from RbyR, Andrew and I had discussed locomotive policy and one of the things that we agreed was that for the present, we would look to getting Pluto into use as works shunter and release James for some TLC and repaint. Of course Pluto's batteries are well and truly goosed so I wandered up to Tom, which we don't envisage using for some months (and hasn't in fact been fired up since it arrived back from Scunthorpe in September) and detached her/his batteries to see if they're usable (actually I measured them first to check they'd fit within the battery compartment on Pluto. They will.) The theory is that although they may be tired (they came off 14 901) hopefully they'll have enough oomph to start the much smaller Foden. To get them back to the shed I took James around and after checking their voltage and setting them up for a charge I decided to have a quiet test with some of the snow I had brought back from Longcross.
I should have known better as even before I'd finished laying out a few feet of it I had an audience and decided to postpone further experiments until later in the week. Of course Captain Idiot did what one always does with snow; make a snowball, but I had to discourage such activity as unlike 'real' snow, this fake snow has substantially more density and hurts when it impacts.
Back inside I decided it was time to test a couple of our devices which had been awaiting further 'standard' 3-phase plugs and sockets, now fitted. The hacksaw powered up immediately, and I tried cutting a piece of steel with it though clearly it requires a new blade – preferably one with teeth. The Hydrovane compressor too, was run briefly and made some pressure (though seemingly not in the receiver) and will require further attention, but both should serve us well in due course.
By the end of the afternoon the stalwart painters of Team F determinedly continued until the wheels and frame sides of the lhs of 1382 had been primed. I left them to it and cleared the running plate of Pluto (which I must admit I had made into a 'cable dump' over the last few months) opened the front casing door and set about removing the exhauster belts, as the exhauster will not be required while it acts as works loco. There is a front mounting casting which doubles as a coolant gallery and we think this has been leaking, so the front of the engine must be supported while we release this part and re-joint it, after which it will be ready to be brought back to life.
And that I think is about all for this week. My thanks for Andy H and Plumtree for the additional pictures. Next weekend beckons and I'm sure there'll be lots more to report.