Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of anti-biotics and bus bars

14th January 2018

I decided to give Mr Strawbridge's antics a miss tonight. As a friend commented, he'd watched it last week but with gritted teeth. I knew exactly what he meant and I have no wish to return prematurely to my dentist.

So I went to see my GP on Monday with some trepidation. On the one hand convinced that it would be a 'it's a virus, can't do much about it, go home, go to bed, etc' and on the other a little despairing after having had this infection for coming up 4 weeks. But the Doctor listened to my tale of woe, followed by my chest and a blood pressure reading, and prescribed anti-biotics and steroids. I came away much happier that at least something was being done about it.

There wasn't much time to waste though, as with Monday now the revised 'Tunstead day' I was due up there, so hurriedly changed and drove up the A6. As I passed Rowsley, 'Ring Haw' was sat on the headshunt, so I presumed it was returning to the North Norfolk.

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Up at the Sigma6 workshops I found Liam and Jack, and we tried to pick up the pieces of where we had got to and what to do next. The wheelsets had been painted, perhaps a little premature as the new crankpin (that's the nearest one in the photo) hadn't been welded around the back as planned, but a little damage here won't show. Since it was a late start we set about draining the coolant out of the engine and removing the radiator, which has been promised as a spare to the IDRPG. I discussed with Liam various bits to be changed, painted or not painted, but all being well we'll be having a full 'review' meeting next and hope to make significant progress in the near future.

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As I drove back down the A6 at about 4pm, I passed Calkeld Heavy Haulage heading away from Rowsley for Bakewell with 'Ring Haw' on the back (it's the standard route to the M1 from Rowsley. Whether you're bound north or south). The NNR's 'shed pet' arrived back home the following day and I am sorry to say there have been a number of disparaging comments on a 'certain social media site' regarding the dirty condition it was returned in.

I was out all day Tuesday, and felt the effects, being a little more poorly on Wednesday, tired and low. Managed to get some admin done, but 'real' work was postponed. Instead Thursday I dashed out on a quick job, in order to get back in time for a blood test during the afternoon. Still got some, still much the same colour it seems (well I think so, I try not to look and the practice nurse made no comment).

Come Saturday and the IDRPG contingent had whittled down to 3, viz Stephen, Jagger and Charles. Just as Andrew and I were about to set off, the postman arrived with a package containing a telescopic towel rail to go next to the sink, and I also had a shoe rack which Steph had brought back from our daughter's. Setting these up were my first tasks, and what with the duckboards in front of the sink/fridge (temporary ones from 1382's cab which the IDRPG had discarded) the coat rack and the shoe rack, the domestic organisation is beginning to come together.

The IDRPG lads continued painting 1382 and investigated the cause of a low resistance around the Voltage regulator. At some time someone has had this apart and somehow in reassembly a bus bar has ended up contacting the cast aluminium casing. Andrew lent Stephen a mounted stone set and a suitable gap was created to prevent a recurrence.

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With the Terrypicker already in place it was sort of expected that my main task was to crack on with Row A lights, and I got the first 3 up during the day. Andrew meantime carried on with manufacturing the 'tips' of the ramp for the low-loader, having had the actual pointy-bits milled by a local machinists earlier in the week. He also had the tie bars to manufacture, and at one point brought one of them outside to trial fit it on two of the lengths of rail allocated to trailer and ramp. His plan had been to end up at a gauge of about 1440, but instead it was tight on 1435, though a washer or two should sort that.

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We also spent a while looking over that Lister engine – the SL2 I brought back last week – and had a crack at starting it, to no avail. It all came about because I decided, on a whim, to remove the cover over where a starter motor would go to see if it had a ring gear. It didn't. So then I've got others hovering over me, turning the handle, becoming knackered at the compression, and the engine bucking and scratching the floor paint, but no exhaust smoke whatsoever. Personally I couldn't hear any 'creak' from the injectors, though Andrew was convinced he could, and after removing side covers, proceeded manually to force the fuel pumps to raise fuel through a loosened injector line. We decided anyway that we ought to wait to run it outside rather than in the shed – so eventually it was put back together and left.

Stephen set off for home accidentally leaving his camera behind: we phoned him up and thanked him for his contribution, which would be on e-bay later! Talking of which, we finally got the old van listed, so one in-between job on Saturday was to fire it up and make sure it still moved happily up and down.

After they'd gone and we returned home, and Phil G turned up having been indulging in his other hobby, radio controlled lorries (large scale modelling). He stayed the night.

Sunday, and getting up was a slow process: in the end Phil and I went down and made a start until Andrew finally appeared. At this point the Terrypicker, having enabled me to access all the lights within its arc, was dragged back over the rails into the middle of the shed. Andrew and Phil then headed off to go and do a final inspection on the low load trailer, as it is due for its MoT on Tuesday and after the disappointing result of the voluntary brake test, Andrew was apprehensive. I however, started up James and with it drew 1382 forward to where the Terrypicker had been so as to make room to get at lights 4 and 5, if not 6. For having seen how flexible it was, I had concluded that if I turned the Terrypicker square to the track and ran the wheels right up to the edge of the rails, I should be able to reach both light positions with a little left or right rotation. I set up the Terrypicker, levelled it firmly on its outriggers, and waited, as our rules are that you don't go up on that when alone in the shed.

To fill in the time, I had started cutting a blanking piece for the bottom of the incoming electrical distribution box, as it had arrived completely open and was on the 'snag' list. Having cut and drilled it with no sign of the wanderers returning, I decided it was time to fit it so turned off the main power and removed the box front. And having got that far, I started replacing some MCBs for RCBOs, which were also on my to-do list although I collected the last RCBO a month ago. Whereas the MCB merely switches off the live in the event of an overload, the RCBO is a two-pole isolator so requires that I trace the neutral for that particular circuit and route it into the RCBO, which has its own neutral going to the busbar. Then there's a small white wire which must be earthed, as the RCBO has a test button which uses this to produce a 30mA 'fault' and prove the breaker works. So swapping them out is not a five minute job, and I had finished the second when Steph rang to say she was bringing lunch down, so I boxed it back off again.

Phil and Andrew returned and after lunch, I got the Terrypicker up to start on light A4. So far I have been reasonably well organised on these, after all, there are 2 rows of 8 each so far erected, so surely I know all the tools I need and take care working at height? Yes, and no. I was up in position ready to fix A4 when I reached into my pocket and realised that my marker pen was in fact on the bench next to the sink. My kind co-workers offered to save me the time of lowering all the way back down by throwing said marker pen up to me. Andrew's first try bounced off the ironwork of the cage. But after another attempt or two it landed on the floor next to me and they returned to their appointed tasks. I put the pen cap in my mouth, detached pen from cap and it promptly sailed out of my fingers and down to the floor, where it endeavoured to hide under some lengths of steel.

My two co-workers returned – muttering. I dropped them the pen cap and they made fresh attempts to return it to me. You'd think with the previous practice it would have been a doddle, but this is a sport that clearly needs refinement before entering the Olympics. Anyway, eventually I had the pen once again, the purlin marked, centre-popped, drilled and the floodlight bolted in position. I picked up a No.1 Philips screwdriver to release the four screws of the junction box – and the screwdriver left my fingers and dived to the floor. Screwdrivers are a touch heavier than marker pens. I lowered the Terrypicker until Andrew could pass it back to me.

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The Plan wasn't quite perfect, I couldn't quite reach the position for A5 without leaning uncomfortably far out of the cage, which is bad practice, so re-set the Terrypicker a few feet over and went up again. A5 was fitted although it was one of the most awkward connections I can remember. The cables feeding the lights are 1.5 sq mm, but the individual lights are much, much smaller, as each lamp carries only a small current. So much so that the remaining copper conductors have little or no rigidity and trying to get them in to the same screw-connector with the big wire was frustrating. Time and time again I would tighten the screw, confident that I was gripping both, and tug on the small one to find the end wire all crumpled and loose, having failed to reach the screw. But in the end I succeeded, and looked longingly towards A6, A7 and A8, or rather, the places where they are to go, high above Pluto.

Andrew had finished the first of his tip rails, and compared to the tips you see haulage contractors using – rails with the webs gassed out, hammered down and welded – it looks a well-engineered job. The tip rails often get a beating (I've seen them bent and chipped but still in use) and it will be interesting to see how these cope when he first comes to use them in a week or twos time. The second rail still needs to be brought up to this standard, but all his tie bars are about finished.

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Up to now, Phil G had been stripping and scraping the brake crossbeams from RS8 and drilling out the remains of the split pins, ready for them to meet back up with the loco at Tunstead. Now, he professed, he had never seen Pluto move in all his visits to Darley Dale. And it's true that Pluto has been sat, patiently awaiting attention for many more months than we care to admit, evidenced by the number of things placed on, around, or leaning against. Phil and Andrew gave me a hand moving as much as was necessary, and while I was all set to use a pull-lift off 1382, Andrew favoured using the forklift and I was too tired to argue. So Phil got his wish and saw Pluto move up the shed (OK, not under its own power but you can't have everything) and with a pallet or so to shift I can position the Terrypicker ready to proceed with those last 3 roof lights. It would have been nice to have got all 8 up today, although as Andrew pointed out we have never managed to do that before. But it was already dark outside and the light levels would have been difficult even if I'd had the time, and rigging up a work lamp would have been too complex. It's just that now I'm getting near the end of this task (that side of the shed is quite dim as the locos on 3A effectively block the other roof lights) I am keen to see it through. We still have the external floods to fit, but after that Terry can have his 'picker back and we'll find a Terrypicker sized space on the floor for other uses.

I mentioned it last week that 'Todays Railways' - not the highest circulation magazine, but an interesting mix of articles and news – in the February issue (which came out on Jan 4th) has an article on Andrew's collection which runs to 5 pages. Our copies arrived during the week, and although a couple of photo captions have got mushed, it's well worth buying a copy if you see one. It was written before the recent addition of the Hunslet 0-6-0DH, but otherwise is up-to-date – I suppose I had better add 'for now' as you never know what's around the corner..

And finally for this week, an apology. The new website has been delayed for reasons I won't bore you with. But it is up now, and if I get a minute I'll put a link in to it from the 'Other Briddon sites' part of the Links section. You won't find it on search engines for a week or so, as Google and their ilk take time to propagate, but in the meantime, try https://www.peakrailaction.co.uk. It's nothing sophisticated, just the basic facts. If you have an interest in the future of Peak Rail, read it and consider whether, after 20 years of failing to make any progress north, the present management can really be termed 'fit for purpose'.

Until next week.

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