We were back for a while on Monday, and apart from trying to do bit of tidying up (you saw a picture of how things looked a few weeks ago – it was actually worse since the weekend with the Merc Sprinter) we'd got on with some other work including making a start on building up a twin-pack heat exchanger.
On Tuesday I was charged with returning grandson to Norfolk, and was slightly embarrassed to receive a phone call en route from Tarmac asking after progress on stripping RS8. I got the feeling that they had really got the bit between their teeth and wanted the loco there now.
And this week's edition will really feature that loco as you'll see. But first I had a run around on Friday (it was going to be Thursday but I got engrossed in some e-mail replies until it was really too late to set off) both to my favourite profilers and foundry.
From the foundry I collected 4 new sandbox lids for RS8. As you may recall, Rocks by Rail kindly lent me one from an Avonside and I had hoped to cast directly off it, but suspected that it wouldn't be possible. And sure enough, because of the piece of wire cast in to the recess, a new pattern was required, so that's another item to add to the Pete Briddon commercial website sometime. Anyway, here's the new sandbox lids. The first photo shows one on the leading sandbox, but as it is set into the running plate and doesn't look like it's anything but just sitting there, the second shows one on the rear, 'real' sandbox under the cab.
From the foundry it was on to the profilers, to collect a large quantity of bits, most of them for commercial work but including the base and buckle to rebuild one of Charlie's springs, and engine mounts for Cheedale. Such is the nature of business nowadays that I came away with a considerable wadge of paperwork for this lot, most of which I had to sign, date and add my name to in block capitals. Not only that, there was an envelope with no less than 14 pages of inspection certificates and no, I won't be mounting those on the wall either. Indeed, I said to the guy pulling my stuff together that I could picture the policeman coming over to me:
'Well Mr Briddon, we've had your van over the weighbridge – the load was in order but the paperwork put you overweight'
(Some years ago, I had a Yorkshire Engine fitter collect stuff from Marcroft at Stoke to take on to Long Marston. He was stopped and weighed going through the Birmingham area)
And so around to Saturday, and nobody due from Team Frodingham as they were saving themselves for a day at Foxfield. I'd been asked for a favour by Toby K, to dig out a set of batteries from their container and give them a bit of a charge, a task I was nearly unable to start as the key they'd provided me wasn't seeing eye-to-eye with their padlock. But after about 10 minutes it condescended to open and I got the first two batteries onto the charger.
Andrew had arrived before lunch by which time I had started up James and drawn RS8 out of the way, rolled a certain land Rover chassis clear and then powered up Charlie and drawn the entire rake back to open the access for the hired van that the EARMS were sending up. Then at the corner of the shed on the footpath we found a familiar face, who insisted he was just there to eavesdrop (he's a reader of my blog, of course) with his wife, so we invited them around for a cuppa. Our setting the world to rights was terminated when the 7.5tonner arrived; we lined it up with the PCV and slid the pallet and its precious load down some planks and safely aboard.
With the visitors all away and the train reset back to position, it was finally time to start the tidying up that was so desperately required. The VBA was brought inside and the forklift came into its own once again as we lifted bits out, and in, to and fro. I did, back in the early days of our shed planning, wonder whether I should put in fume extraction for the locos. I didn't, but have considered whether I should now install something for the forklift, as after an hour or so a haze of fumes can be seen lingering in the roofspace. Part way through the afternoon, Andrew dug out the second pair of batteries from the T-F container and put these on to charge, ready for them to collect in the morning.
Shed tidying is not a very scintillating thing to talk about. It takes up a lot of time and detracts from the real purpose of getting loco work done, but when there's a dozen pallets of bits and the first order of battle is to move clutter to the point where you can even get enough room to swing the forklift, you know it is an urgent task – like laundry when you run out of clean socks and underpants.
We managed to insert Toby's C6T, Andrew's C8 block, my two C8 cranks tidily into the VBA before it was time to go home, and returned after tea for another hour starting to go through boxes of lesser bits to see what was worth keeping. Along the way I had begun to realise that the few decrepit valves remaining in RS8 were the same Lang Pneumatic ones that we had turning up in sacks, boxes and wire baskets amongst the stuff on the floor, so maybe RS8's pneumatics will stay fairly original after all.
The engine turnover stand also received attention. The plan is now to remove anything vulnerable - like the castors - and send the framework for shotblasting along with RS8's casings, so the pivot and worm wheel assembly has been removed.
On Sunday I was again down before Andrew, expecting as I was someone from Team Frod to be pacing up and down outside waiting for me to open up and hand them their batteries, but I was alone until Andrew got down with lunches. Again the VBA was pushed inside, but I was largely able to leave him to get on whilst I spent some time on RS8.
Thus off came the old battery box (or at least that part of it that still existed), the conduit that carried the starter cables up to the cab and back to the starter, the last bit of throttle linkage and a sub-frame that stands over the converter. The prop-shaft was extracted, proving that the gearbox input is free to turn but the converter output is absolutely solid. The top coolant connection to the radiator revealed a thermostat housing full to the brim with powdered rust, but taking off the bottom one had a half-gallon of vaguely anti-freezed water pouring out. The fan's removal will make lifting the power unit clear of the radiator that much easier, and disconnecting the clutch cylinder ( a dinky one if ever I saw it – it's barely a quarter the size of the cylinder I'm used and we paused during the afternoon to do some quick calcs to see if it is actually big enough for the task – we know it is, but maybe there was little margin for error) will speed up detaching the converter.
After all this, another day's work between us should see everything ready to lift out and then split the converter from the engine. Tarmac are back tomorrow – in force – so the momentum for it is growing. Ben R called in during the afternoon – he'd been working on Darley Station and was waiting for the next train back to Rowsley, and whilst I cannot yet declare him to be a convert, he did after a little while admit that RS8 had character, and the visibility from the cab was excellent. He said he could see all the buffers except one from the cab, which was fair enough as the fourth was inside the shed.
By late afternoon a pile of stacked pallets showed just how much progress Andrew had made, and floor space was proportionately improved, although, as I took RS8's portraits back inside the shed, you might be excused for not believing it. He meanwhile, had moved on to the container, which is due to receive some of the heavy duty racks that reside in the VBA. I was thinking that this stuff had featured in the blog in the past, but no, when I look back I find that it was actually being put together in May 2010, before this blog even started. How the time has flown by. So here is Terry of the Terrypicker welding the box sections of the first of 3 slightly differing units, one or more of which are to go into the container for small parts, leaving the VBA free for large lumps, like engines.
So that's about it for another week. I get the feeling that there'll be plenty to report next week, and a bit of variety as on Sunday I'm due to go to Fimber (Yorkshire Wolds Railway) over that short story competition. I get the feeling though that RS8 will be taking centre-stage again, and like Cinderella, it was waited long enough for it.