Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of MIG and miniature

15th May 2011

The invoice arising from last weekend’s auction appeared on Andrew’s e-mail account on Monday and caused a certain amount of consternation. Payment methods acceptable to the auctioneers versus the time available were slightly conflictive – so on Tuesday I added organising a banker’s draft to my list of things to do, which included booking a 3.5ton dropside to collect the purchased lots.

Andrew took Wednesday afternoon off with the intention of joining me in Doncaster to aid transferring the material to Scunthorpe. In the event however, the staff at Doncaster, knowing me from the week spent getting that P&T crane back into action, were very helpful and I was loaded within the hour, so returned to Sheffield and unloaded some of the smaller bits before picking Andrew up from the station. We spent an hour or so sorting out the “wants” from the “don’t need, stick on e-bay” and the “is this good for anything other than scrap?” then hit the road east.

On arrival at Scunthorpe I backed the vehicle up alongside Andrew’s Palvan and we took a closer look at the three radiators acquired.  One – a standard Covrad/R-R 10sq footer – is now earmarked as contingency spare to cover those on “Tom”, “Charlie” and “James”. A second, also intended for a Rolls’ engine, may be used on one of the other long term projects that have yet to feature in this blog. The last, labelled for a GM engine, is now allocated to the 03, as its condition, and position of the inlet and outlets, better suits the Cummins than the Rolls’ types.

Down in South West Wales, steam loco problems had knocked on the Gwili’s door. Austerity “Haulwen” had suffered from tube failures after only 4 years, and the newly-hired “Jennifer” from Llangollen was also stopped for attention, so 14 901 had – for several days – been handling the now daily passenger service. All had been quiet from that direction but, having left my phone in the cab of the vehicle while we handled the radiators, we had missed two panic calls since  having been shut down after bringing a train into Bronwydd Arms, 14 901 was “dead” when it came to start up again. Such a complete loss of electrical energy points to battery terminals – the loco could, and would, run quite happily off its own alternator alone – I geared it up so that if the engine is run up to 1800rpm the alternator is rotating at 6000, so it will produce charge even at engine idle. We directed the engineer to search and expect a loose battery terminal and lo and behold he reported after a few minutes that on one (a normal commercial vehicle terminal which clamps to the battery post and has a stud and nut to hold a standard cable lug) the stud had somehow come completely out. Repair effected and loco back in traffic.

Saturday: Plan A had been to return to Scunthorpe and complete the preparations for the grand engine installation on the 03, but welding outside in the rain does not feature highly on Andrew’s list of desirable pastimes and the forecast was for heavy showers, so we headed instead to Rowsley with Andrew’s big MIG welder in the van. Once unloaded and set up, Andrew assembled the two dummy brake handles which will be installed into “Pluto” to operate the new vac brake valve. He also effected a minor change to the rear vac pipe arrangement (the pipe itself still awaits paint as the garage at Briddon Towers is somewhat cluttered with parts from Doncaster!) and finished by some more sorting out of the VBA.

One of the two was trialled in place before coming off for painting.

Sunday: We were booked back at Rowsley to update our PTSs for working on Peak Rail, and after the Foxfield debacle I suspect every heritage line is hurriedly trying to ensure that all its paperwork is up-to-date. In our case we added approvals for driving/shunting within Rowsley yard so that we can legitimately reposition things in the course of our activities. Enthused with Andrew’s prowess with the MIG, we had brought over the chassis of my embryo 7.25″ i.c. loco – a project which must have been embryo now for over fifteen years. Certainly the wheelsets were assembled to their axleboxes 4 or 5 years ago and the frame made about that time. The project began after driving a friend’s 7.25″ 4wPM which was in turn inspired by the 2ft gauge Lister loco I then owned. So unlike most rigid framed miniatures where you drive it from a tender/wagon behind, you sat on the loco sideways in true n.g manner. I decided I wanted one like it, and the new-build began spasmodically. Andrew has decided to give it a kick-start and welded the fixed part of the suspension assemblies to the chassis, giving me little excuse other than to source the springs. It attracted considerable curiosity in the Rowsley workshops! Whether this contraption ends up as the 4wPetrol or diesel mechanical originally planned (and for which I have a reversing gearbox in stock) or metamorphoses into a 4w Petrol/Diesel electric, using two 200 or 300W 24V DC motors commonly found in invalid buggies and their ilk, remains as yet undecided. You can see from the picture how rusty some of the chassis and components are, but at last we have a rolling chassis to encourage us.

The chassis of the 7.25" gauge loco, in one piece at last.

I said last week that “Charlie’s” headlights were being checked ready for night-time operation, and Rob had collared us earlier to report that although he had renewed all the bulbs in the headlights, none of them worked. So before we left Rowsley we investigated. “Charlie” was fitted in 1998 with some spare headlight assemblies (one “flood” and one “spot” at each end) which were designed to carry 2 bulbs, but which I had only wired to energise one bulb at a time, i.e. one on each headlight at a time. The lights automatically changeover by a single relay, but as each bulb pulls around 3 amps and the older relays were only rated for a maximum of 5, two bulbs were technically overloading, and putting 4 per end on would be a sure fire way of destroying the relay contacts sooner or later. Quite when we don’t know, but it seems someone in the intervening years kindly put a jumper cable into each headlight so that all 4 bulbs at each end were live. We pulled the relay out and sure enough, the clear plastic was blackened around the centre pole of the 3 poles, and closer examination revealed that that central contact was completely burnt away. Fortunately we had a spare relay sat in the van, and after removing all the unauthorised jumper wires, “Charlie” has working headlamps again, ready for nocturnal perambulations – possibly this next weekend.


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