Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of guilty hellos

18th June 2017

As usual I like to start this blog with a thought-provoking commentary on an aspect of railways or our daily lives. But it's too hot.

First thing Monday Andrew and I were off up to Tunstead. I had been inducted there long ago, but they insisted on Andrew going through the video and Q&A session. Then we drove down to the Quarry workshops and went through with the staff what bits needed to come off the old engine as they would be needed on its replacement – cross-dressing in the vernacular. It transpired our regular contact – Reg - had been on a cruise hence being unable to arrange the lorry, but we left them with a clear idea of work to make a start on, and ourselves with a list of bits to sort out for a fresh visit on Wednesday.

That evening I popped down to the shed to check all was well and as I walked into the yard, saw a group of 4 lads whom, I thought, were about to climb over the fence where our razor wire terminated. I could not decide whether to duck out of sight and challenge them once they had trespassed, or walk on and frighten them off - and in that split second before I could make up my mind they saw me. Instead of entering they walked up the footpath and said a guilty-sounding 'hello' as they passed, and continued on into the Whitworth Park. I hung around an hour or so in case they came back, which they did not.

On Tuesday first thing I was on to an e-bay supplier and as a result, I ended up in Keighley later that day loading ten rolls of military-grade razor wire into the van. Consequently I didn't get back to Darley Dale until half-seven and having no stamina to start unloading and reloading the van, postponed my planned return to Tunstead until Thursday. This was particularly advantageous as I had been told to expect a visit from Keiron T, who is both a rep and a customer of mine, so good to be able to find out what is happening in the big wide world.

Once Keiron had gone to his next call, I unloaded the van and was out in the yard area at lunchtime when two lads came up the footpath and appeared to be about to climb over the fence where the 'wire ended. They saw me and suddenly seemed to change to walking up the footpath and saying a 'hello' guiltily as they passed. So whatever else I planned to do was dropped and I started deploying some of the new razor wire, transporting it up the site over James' buffers. Andrew joined me later and we finished rolling out 8 rolls in total, arriving at the point where the only sections of plain fence are those which are heavily under-growthed and probably impenetrable from the footpath side, and we've two rolls still in hand for any further incursions that we find. We did notice that one of our 'Beware, Razor Wire' signs had been nicked – probably a sign that the local kids were angry at us shutting off their access points, so Andrew ordered up some more.

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But if this makes it seem as though we are under siege from the local riff-raff, take heart. Although the two the Police nabbed would only give christian names, one was unusual enough to give Andrew the idea of searching through social media. And having found a candidate for him, he identified others. Thus we had passed some names on to PC Tammy, including the possible for our graffiti-ist who had kindly given us part of his name. She matched him to stills of our CCTV footage and went to interview the lad, who admitted his involvement and gave up the name of the lad with him. This we found out about on Saturday, when she came to report back. The lads' parents are shocked, the lads themselves are remorseful and it is intended that they come down, apologise to us and remove their graffiti from the PCV and VBA, which as they did it in bitumastic paint will take them some time. This is termed 'restorative justice'' and we'll see how it shapes up.

So, on Thursday I went back up to Tunstead with a van-full of bits, Reg had been down looking for me on Wednesday but although he was on site again that day, nobody knew where he was, so I hung around for a while. At least work had begun on the two engines, with flywheels off, indeed, all the required bits we'd marked off the old engine and quite a bit started on the new one. I dropped off brake pull rods, bits of vac pipe and sundry other pieces with guidance to 'clean, repair and paint' but couldn't stay too long as I had to get back for a dentist visit. So I missed Reg again.

Grandson is back up with us after Steph and I collected him on Friday, so Andrew was unavailable on Saturday and I went to the shed to be joined by Andy H. Together we continued stripping RS8 – I had hoped to get all 4 road springs out and maybe the spring hangers too, so we started by dropping off the hornties. But when we jacked the front of the loco up, the right hand wheel came up too, which showed that through disuse, the axlebox was jammed in the hornguide. (*) Eventually, with packing pieces and big hammers, the axlebox was forced downwards and penetrating fluid sprayed over the guide. The two front springs came free but the pillar pins too were stuck and had to be hammered, emery-clothed and eventually dragged out. Some wooden packers were cut to go above the axleboxes and when I lowered the jack, both sides came back down so the front right axlebox is free to move again. But the heat was tremendous and although the temperature inside the shed was lower than outside, it was not conducive to physical work and a large part of the day was spent drinking tea and discussing past events.

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(* The North British 0-6-0 is in a similar condition, where the front left axlebox has defied our efforts to shift it. Unfortunately it is jammed with the wheel about a three-quarters of an inch above rail level, in other words, sufficient that when propelling it into a right hand curve it is likely to climb over and off the rail. We were forced to move it from Rowsley to Darley Dale in that condition in May '15 following solicitor's letters from Peak Rail, and nowadays refer to it as our 0-5-0.)

Andrew was incidentally, taking grandson around the GCR model railway show, where it seems most of Team Frodingham had gravitated.

I have a return visit to the dentist tomorrow for attention to a tooth that will require some serious work to extract it, and I've been suffering, though whether from actual pain or heightened awareness from the anticipation I don't know. Either way with heat and discomfort I was less than enthusiastic and eventually Andrew and I went down together at about 4pm, after the worst of the day's heat had passed. The next visit of the Tunstead lorry is due on Wednesday, and amongst other things we had a planning meeting about where things need to get positioned while the HIAB-lorry is available to pick things up. RS8 will need to be transferred to the other track (where Charlie is currently standing) so that we can free up the rear of the shed that side to gain access to the remaining concrete panels that need remounting.

So that's it for another week. Andrew has started his new job with a well-known train-building company so yet again the front of the Briddon Country Pile is home to four vehicles and the need to sort out which order they are parked in as to whom is going off first in the mornings. Next Saturday one or both of us is supposed to be at the Colne Valley Railway to crew-train on 14 901. Lots more driving. Can't wait.

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