Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of DV8s and changing plans

26th June 2011

14 901 has continued to be in the centre of our minds this week. Having been handed over in the first few days of April, we are, under the operating agreement, due to do a 3-monthly “A” exam in the first few days of July, but the “hunting” that the engine was apparently exhibiting was reportedly getting worse, and after it ‘died’ at one point we were under pressure to bring it forward.

Now, if you keep up with Andrew’s website, we knew all too well what hunting might indicate – it had happened at Butterley when we had managed to get bio-infested diesel into the fuel header tank and then into the pump governor. With the changes going through to gas oil (red diesel) this year, we are all going to see more of this, I suspect. There are certain microbes – algae, whatever – that actually thrive in diesel providing the amount of moisture and temperatures are right. It is most prevalent on the leisure marine market, where the weekend sailor parks his Volvo at the marina, fires up the diesel on the yacht and is most perturbed when a little later it dies away. If he has sufficient expertise to extract the fuel filters, he finds them coated with a thick brown layer of gunge. This is not the microbes themselves, but mcrobe-poo, which effectively blocks the filters, or in our case at Butterley, got through into the governor and gummed it up. We asked Gwili’s resident engineer to drain off a little of the header tank and see what was in there, and the report of brown debris had Andrew seriously concerned. At one point I was likely to be headed Gwili-ward on Friday, but I have a living to earn and was relieved to be able to do the slightly shorter day-trip back to Chappel to knock some of the last jobs off on their crane. Meanwhile, draining the header tank down seemed to give 14 901 a new lease of life – no hunting and all normal – so what was it? Maybe it was nothing more than water build-up in the bottom of the header tank and water tends not to burn like diesel…

On Andrew’s website I have discussed the evidence for and against 14 901s engine being recovered from a Class 17 “Clayton” and remained sceptical (or for any American readers ’skeptical’) “unless more information comes to light”. Out of the ether comes an e-mail from Neil W., a former Rolls-Royce service support engineer, which may force me to change my view. I knew Neil from my days at Thomas Hills (when it was initially a part of Rolls-Royce Motors, Diesel Division) so am prepared to take what he says seriously. Apparently he was called to the GPO in Glasgow to attend to this engine – it was indeed, he says, out of a Class 17, having been fitted with a 3-phase generator by a third party who failed to take into account the subtle differences between the loco-build generator spec and the stand-by power generator spec, with the result that in a stand-by application it would not govern properly (and all sorts of funny things happen to synchronous motors if 50cycles isn’t maintained). He has promised to hunt around the dark recesses of his loft to see if he has any further notes of the period – maybe even an engine number? I’ll not revise the website, yet, but I think it might be imminent.

With Andrew away in Norfolk I had been persuaded to pop over to Rowsley on Saturday morning to meet up with Mike G from Kent, visiting to collect a number of “surplus” bits from D9500 for D9504, which he is involved with restoring. They are spending vast sums of money getting their 6YJXL professionally rebuilt with a marine diesel specialist – it is one thing I don’t like about Paxman that any repairs to them seem to involve costs with a 2 or 3 times factor applied compared to other diesels – so fuel pumps, rockers, push rods and exhaust manifolds headed south to become either part, or essential support spares for the future. Steph was with me so we headed on, hoping to see “Charlie” at Matlock but it was parked with the works train at Darley Dale. Never mind, we went on and while Steph popped into Sainsbury’s for a few bits for lunch, I took a couple of photos of progress – remember, in one week’s time this is open for passengers!

From "that bridge" looking north

- and south.

Meanwhile a complicated arrangement had been set up for me to pick Andrew up and take him with me down to Chappel on Sunday. The P&T crane had a brake pneumatics defect that was difficult for me to trace on my own, and Andrew and I operate on much the same wavelength. Sure enough, a valve I was suspicious about is stuck, but with a temporary mod we at last got it moving up and down and ready for formal hand-over. By the time I had got home, having had a migraine during the day, I was too knackered to do the blog in its usual time slot and planned a quiet day’s recuperation today (Monday) but first thing comes the call that “Charlie” is making funny noises and it seems I may have to go and change the alternator….


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