Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of landmarks and sand-castles

9th July 2017

Every so often we pass a milepost – some event or other that marks the next stage in shed development or a loco restoration. Some give a sense of satisfaction, even elation, while others just leave you with a feeling of 'well at least that's over'.  

I was looking back through the blog to see when it was we started repositioning the concrete panels. Andrew reckoned it was a year ago but it seems that we were under way on it at least 17 months ago. There have been periods, of course, when we got on with other things, but the need to get it all done, insulated and then proceed to sort the floor and rid ourselves of all this dust has never been far from our minds.

So Saturday was the day that we promised ourselves that the last two panels would be cut and moved, but before we move on to that, let's go back earlier in the week.

On Wednesday, unless the weather ruled it out, our alternative shotblast contractor was due to hit the cab of RS8 and everything else we could lay our hands on to keep him occupied for the day. Andrew had the day off, to follow up priming as quickly as possible (obviously the longer you leave the freshly exposed metal without any protection the quicker rusting will take hold) and we had been promised a handful from Team Frod.

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We got down about half-eight and prepared the site by shunting the train out the way with Charlie so that the lorry could come around the back. Paul M arrived about nine and after taking stock, suggested we lay out a few pallets and start putting the 'smaller bits' on them for him to move across to. When he made a start, we were a little apprehensive about how much mess and noise it would create. Noise from the point of view of upsetting our neighbours and mess from whether it would turn our yard into something reminiscent of Cleethorpes – though given the razor wire, perhaps the Normandy beaches in '44 would be a better analogy! Sadly the far-flung members of Team Frod did not make it, leaving Andy H, on his final visit before he migrates to North Wales climes for the summer, to uphold the Team Frod honour.

Of course Peak Rail was running so apart from providing a a bit of spectator interest, he couldn't hear the trains above the noise of the 400cfm compressor and impact of sand and compressed air against metalwork and to be honest, there was little we could do while he was at it, so we shut the doors and got on with some other things.

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At lunchtime, Paul M declared he only functioned when topped up with chips, so while Andrew made a start on priming that which he had completed, I took Paul around to the chippy. Now, I forgot to mention that traffic on the A6 was in a bit of a mess. It seems to be a Derbyshire sport to dig up a bit of the A6 somewhere between Matlock and Bakewell. On Wednesday, so Andy informed us, there was a teensy-weensy incursion into the road up by the Shalimar restaurant (just by the Peak Rail Rowsley entrance road, Harrison Way) which had had temporary lights up to protect it, but whereas south-bound traffic was largely unaffected, the north bound side was backed up past Briddon Country Pile, past the Whitworth Centre and down to DFS, making it about a mile-and-half of single file traffic! This, even by the rules of the Derbyshire Roadworks League, puts it into the top flight. There was, incidentally, another set operating just out from Matlock that day but by comparison only produced a couple of hundred yards of queues – clearly they must try harder.

So I took Paul out along Church Lane, through the estate and was thus able to turn right on to the A6, thorough the queue of vehicles, and come to the chippy southbound. He ate his fare down at the shed, giving his little terrier time to explore (and show considerable interest in one corner of the shed, which might be concerning) and Andrew time to get as much primed as possible before he resumed his blasting.

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Andrew meantime, was unhappy with the primer I picked up last week. He hadn't been much impressed in the first place, so had bought a tin of his favourite zinc-phosphate primer (in a 'desert sand' colour that matched the growing appearance of the yard) in preference to the grey Dulux Metalshield that I had splashed out on. But in the end, it used all his tin so he had to use the Dulux, which in line with modern environmentally friendly requirements, is water based.

OK, think on this for a moment. What causes rusting? Water, well not only water if I remember my chemistry lessons but water was a primary component after the iron. So, if you have a paint that is water based, and you apply it direct to bare metal, why should the metal not start rusting as soon as it is applied? Even by the end of the day there was a tell-tale rusty brown haze on certain parts that were otherwise grey, but the zinc-phosphate remained desert sand throughout.
Aside from the big lumps of RS8's cab and 1382 casings, there were a whole host of lesser parts – RS8's seat bases and cab rads, air receivers, cab window frames, trunking, engine mounts and engine rad surrounds. All in all a good days work. Paul departed about five, but it took the two Andrews until past seven to get everything primed .

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The ground was so churned up and flangeways obliterated that Charlie had to stay over on the far line siding for the night. And what was I doing during all of this? Well of course, I see my role as essentially managerial, but during the afternoon Dom B had arrived to carry out the regular maintenance of the crossover that connects us with PR, so that fell to me, together with tea production. But with access to the second of the end columns now possible, I set about mounting and cabling the 3-phase outlet that is intended to feed the Matterson jacks, though it wasn't connected up that day as to do so meant switching off the power. A further 110V outlet was also mounted on the same column, but that was as far as that got. The cable-tray however, was extended towards the corner of the building, ready to accept cables for further outlets up the footpath side of the shed and a resumption of ceiling light installation.

I was back in the shed Friday afternoon. The 3-phase outlet was cabled in and bang-tested, and a new shelf for the security camera monitor assembled, together with one of the two fire alarms.

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So at last we come to Saturday, and the final two panels. It took quite some time to get things organised. Jack's engine, and its removed components, were in the way and so everything had to be moved. Charles had arrived from Team Frod with the intention to add further primer that that which Andrew had applied on Wednesday, and was anxious to try out the pressure-pot spraying equipment (you can see Andrew using it in one picture) by which means you can if you have the stamina apply a whole 5 litre tin in one go and without the use of thinners. Well, you might if we had a compressor capable of keeping up – until that Hydrovane is overhauled and commissioned the little one Andrew has is not intended for continuous use and gets rather hot. So while he was setting Charles up and showing him how to use it, I was left to huff and puff and stack manifolds, fuel pump, rocker boxes, alternator and the like onto a pallet. Jack's engine and torque converter had to be moved too, and for this we transferred it from the two original stands that Andrew made, to two that Andy H replicated, with the addition of a angle bracket that facilitated bolting the flywheel housing of the engine to the stand, making it rock steady. We figuered we could get away with leaving the bridge rail and beam in their places (the rail must one day rise and be refitted to the crane beams) and with a bit of careful manoeuvring, lift the beams out swing back and round and straight onto the trolley.

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The first beam was cut with the last of the diamond blades left over from last week, but I had splashed out on a new one from the builders merchants on Friday (actually I splashed out on a plug for the shed sink too, there are times when I can really push the boat out) and the second beam was cut with the new disc in half the time. Charles had of course left before the cutting took place, so the beams were refitted, like all the earlier ones, with but two of us. Are we getting slick and nonchalant about it all? No. A one ton concrete beam clouting the column makes a resounding 'dong' that reverberates through the whole building. But we didn't break any, didn't injure ourselves and finished with stuffing more insulation in behind.

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I had hoped I would feel a sense of satisfaction and achievement after all this, but I found I couldn't.  There remains so much to do – the floor being one example and with everything moved around to make space, the place is an absolute mess – but Andrew announced he most certainly did, along with a very tired wrist/forearm from all the concrete cutting.

In consequence we didn't get down to the shed very early today: indeed the second train of the day was proceeding across the Darley Dale level crossing as we drove down Station Road, top and tailed by D8 leading, with Jennifer and the 31 at the back.

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Andrew has been determined to improve things with several 'racks' for hanging things on, and decided that as he had some welding to do today, - including a set of new engine mounts ready for Cheedale - this would be on his list, using a piece of heavy angle left over from mounting concrete panels. Instead of his complicated plan to fabricate parts to hold said angle to the top of aforementioned panels, I offered him a pair of my profiled brackets as end pieces, so here is the Mk1 version, suitably decked in slings, chain sets and shackles.

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I began by cabling up the 110V outlet, making 4 connected to the transformer and with two more to go up the footpath side now that the way is clear. We had 4 lengths of the 8 inch wide cable tray remaining, so later in the afternoon these were loosely put up in position and bolted together. Various fixings need to be drilled before they are put to use, and I'll need about 4 more lengths of modern 75mm tray to reach the front of the building.

Part way through the afternoon we were joined by Tom D, who was after a cup of free tea, and our favourite Derbyshire PC Tammy to fill the forms in for the 'restorative justice' that will see two of our recent unwelcome visitors coming in to remove the graffiti they applied in bitumastic spray paint.

Oh and a brief commercial. Do you have Matterson jacks? When you've jacked your loco or carriage up and removed the wheels, what do you stand it on? You leave it on the Mattersons? Shame on you, that's bad practice. And not recommended by Mattersons themselves. You build piles of timbers? But how time and space consuming. What you need is a man-handle-able stand like the ones we use at Darley Dale. Standing about 2ft 3 inches high (but with extension pieces, if required, to add 7 inches) these are proof loaded to 10 tons, so 4 will easily support a loco frame or coach. I have a batch coming in similar to ours in the photo, if you'd like to know more, contact me.

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And that's about it for the week. Hopefully these bits of RS8 will be on their way back to Tunstead shortly. Grandson is due to come over next weekend, so I might be on my own for much of the time, but I daresay I'll get up to something. Care to find out? Same time next week.

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