The filming work down at Longcross for Fox is winding down. I'm likely to be called on for a couple more days, and then there'll be a wait until they're satisfied with what is in the can and the locos will be released to return to Derbyshire. For the moment, the 03 is standing alone on a section of line, track either side of it having been lifted for use on other sets, where Charlie has had the lion's share of the work. Before I left last Tuesday I did a little private tour of that main set, where nearly one kilometre of track had been laid, remembering all the activity with camera crews, Special Effects team and all the inevitable additional personnel, before you get around to counting extras, actors, and us Railway Children. Now it was all quiet again, the fake snow swept up and bagged, the station building abandoned, the lamp standards laid on their sides. I checked the 03 over to make sure it was ready for transport, and came away feeling somewhat melancholic.
But I did promise to show you how my headwear was for filming – after all, an artiste must get into character – and have received some strange looks from 'crew' who maybe think that Fox really has a rail industry division. This was of course, by kind assistance of Mike Edge who produced two perfect etchings from my CAD artwork last year.....
Back in Derbyshire we did have an hour of entertainment one evening. A foreign lorry driver in charge of a 40ft curtainsider either didn't understand directions or had his Satnav mounted upside down. As those of my readers who have visited Briddon Country Pile will know, immediately beyond it the road, which is already narrow, throws off a tiny car park for the adjacent field and Junior Football club, then turns sharp right. It then becomes so cramped that I only drive out that way in dire need, as with parked cars even threading Steph's Micra through can be a challenge. But our Vulgarian lorry driver turned off the A6, squiggled his way up past our house and came to a halt at this point, climbing down to ask a passer-by if this was Eindhovens – the lead works on the opposite side of the valley. (A spot of history here – Eindhovens was once Millclose mine, the biggest in the area with 300 employees and a rail system that surfaced with a cable-worked incline and had underground locos.) It took him over half-an-hour and a lot of guidance from several home-owners to reverse him to a point we could turn up the remainder of South Park Avenue and get back to the A6.
Some weeks ago we came back from Skegness with a viewer/scanner for aperture cards and things have progressed with it. Initially I had my reservations – when we powered it up it worked – sort of – but the results were scarcely up to scratch. However, it was duly handed over to a specialist for assessment who reported that it was generally OK but that some of its internals were dislodged (probably due to transport/handling at some time) and that for our purposes we required different lenses. Andrew collected it on Friday and was very happy with it when he got back. There are now plans to set up a scanning station in the living room downstairs, using an old computer of Andrew's from which we can transfer the scanned drawings to USB stick or CD. Above all it will be slow, and with several thousand drawings to go through, it will be a job for quiet nights with half-an-eye on the telly.
Although I had popped in to the shed once or twice it was Saturday before I got in for any length of time. One of the jobs I had promised myself I would do when I had daylight and no-one else to disrupt was to connect up the SWA cable that was laid in to feed the emergency light over the south door and at the same time blank off two of the large bushed holes in the top of the distribution box that our Hon Elec Consultant had tut-tutted about. I had up to now left spare MCBs piled over them so nothing could drop in, but I soon had both the bushes unscrewed and blanking plates clamped in position, one with the gland for the SWA cable. Connected up and switched on, the green LED appeared on the emergency light, which means the power is there also for the external floodlights when I'm ready to erect them.
That done I turned my attention to one of the tilt rams from the forklift, unscrewed the end and examined the internal seals before deciding to leave it for now to when Andrew was available to go through it together. Last week I had dug out a little battery charger – one of the many bits and bobs recovered from my father's bungalow – and it had been happily trickle charging two of Tom's old batteries during the week – I now dragged up one of Cheedale's, which have had to be replaced, and put that on for a long slow trickle.
When I looked out of the bedroom window yesterday, the hills across the other side over Eindhovens were covered with snow, and light flakes took turns with rain through most of the day. On Sunday it was no better, and although only two members of Team Frod were coming over, they individually chose to come all the way along the main road into Matlock and back up the A6, rather than the icy delights of Sydnope Hill. Stephen and Charles joined me for the day, as Andrew had fatherly duties for the morning, though added his presence to the afternoon.
One of last weeks' jobs was erecting further racking in the container, and having looked over one of his newly-acquired fluorescents (realising in the process that it was an emergency type, with batteries to maintain it after the power goes off) I took on the morning task of fitting it to the overhead angle between the racks. Andrew wants a second, wall-mounted, to illuminate the door end of the container, then, as these are 230V ones and the existing one is 110V, once they are working we will use their light to recover the original for LED conversion and use in the workshop, installing another of his latest batch in its place.
Charles had brought with him a quantity of hardwood planking and oak blocks, and after priming the ledge onto which the floor is to fit, started cutting the blocks as intermediate supports with a 230V chain saw, giving rise to the inevitable 'Darley Dale chain Saw massacre' jokes. Stephen continued cleaning the wheels on the main line side of 1382. With their help I had brought in a side rod with a view to pressing out the crank pin bearing, and until the workshop press is commissioned, that involves a jack, some timber and a loco with lifting brackets. Since 1382 is the only loco currently in the shed with such brackets, it was so employed after lunch, with me and Andrew pumping away at the jack, and the loco slowly rising with no sign of the bearing pressing out. Trouble is, even a 30ton loco, when only jacked under one corner, cannot provide a great deal of weight. We probably only got 10 tons or so on it and were feeling that wee weren't going to succeed when without any warning the bearing shifted, taking all four of us by surprise. The earth certainly moved for Charles who was up in the cab at the time.
The workshop press is taking a little while to sort. Andrew identified the correct quick release coupling and bought one, but the rated pressure – 700 bar or 10,000psi – is not your standard hydraulic hose: I certainly wouldn't make one, but enquiries revealed that it would need to be a thermoplastic type hose normally found on Enerpacs and the like. These come in various lengths with either ¼ or 3/8 NPT male ends, hence the quick release coupler at one end to make it assemble-able. Ours really wants to be 1/4NPT, 24” long and a suitable right angle piece to go into the pump. My friendly local supplier doesn't have one quite like that in his catalogue, and for some strange reason all the elbows in the catalogue for that pressure rating (which are normally grade 316 stainless) are unequal elbows whereas we want equal. Frustrating huh? Andrew suggested getting a 5ft one from a supplier on e-bay, which is to my mind going from sublime to ridiculous.
We stripped the first tilt ram down and extracted the various seals, most of them in segments as they broke up. I'm not sure whether it wouldn't make more sense to unload both rams onto a hydraulics specialist, as I get the distinct feeling I could spend much time and money running around finding the relative bits and still not reassemble them successfully. A firm who do this all the time will have the know-how and parts and we'd get back two serviceable rams sooner.
So that's about it for this week. Not much loco work to show, but we need that forklift back in action to progress various jobs and at least Team Frod waved the flag on that side. Oh and that new heater is a vast improvement but I'm now out of kerosene.