Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of best laid plans

31st July 2011

A couple of weeks ago I said that the departure date for Pluto was the 25th and could not be deferred. I was wrong. All it needed was the driver to ring in sick and Heanors have no spare man available because of holidays. Peak Rail’s Rob Sanders and I had been waiting 45 minutes before we learnt this of course, and after a flurry of phone calls, we re-scheduled the move to Friday.

In contrast, there was a flurry of calls and text messages between us and Gwili. It had started with the report that the engine in 14901 had moved, snapping a mounting bolt or two and ripping apart a coolant hose. This, we were suddenly informed, followed a steady increase in vibration – reported by the drivers but not, it seemed, deemed sufficiently important to tell us. The tale gradually unfolded during the week that the torsional coupling, which we had had repaired this time last year (to save you hunting back, it was revealed that the SRPS had transferred the coupling from the old Dorman to the Rolls-Royce and neglected to fit all of it) was now running eccentric, and when stripped, the new part supplied last year had a crack in it. Whether this crack was the cause, or the result of the vibration (e.g coming from a propshaft running with severe imbalance) has yet to be determined, as the Gwili engineers are having some problems in removing the last bit of the coupling. The experts have been advised that the coupling will be returning soon for further TLC and we will see what they have to say. The trouble is, on a “normal” class 14, the propshaft is in such a confined space between Voith and Paxman with cab on top that the only means of removing it is by first removing the Paxman. On 14901, the faster revving, more compact Rolls provides a modest increase of space around the flywheel. Whether this means the propshaft can be wangled out has never been determined. We may yet have to find out.

Friday eventually arrived and I was back at Rowsley. Heanors appeared pretty much to schedule and “Pluto” was soon aboard for the trip to York.

An idea of relative size

Andrew had opted for a “folding neck” trailer, which has rails set in deck and neck, the latter forming an instant ramp, although for us with locos we had the added short rails to ease the transition angle. By half-past ten Heanors were on their way, and I dashed off to get ahead so that I could pick up some bits in Leeds. The driver reckoned a couple of hours to York, but in fact it took him until one o’clock. The folding neck trailer saves much humping and time in building the ‘conventional’ ramp, but requires accurate lining up of the trailer, when the neck is still folded. Working from line of sight at the end of the deck, any angular error exacerbates the final resting point of the tips, especially if the rails are not entirely straight. At Rowsley it had gone quite well – at Murton the wagon shuffled to and fro, repeatedly trying to get a better alignment yet each time seeming to be as far out as before.

Driver's view from Pluto aboard the trailer - WD72229 on siding left

Eventually they succeeded and “Pluto” drove down the ramp and up on to the loco siding. WD72229 stood on an adjacent siding, and I brought the loco up for loading. I shall draw a veil over what happened next, suffice it to say that the loco was loaded and away by 3.30pm. “Pluto” then shunted the DVLR observation carriage Sylvia back onto the siding vacated by the Drewry, I packed up and set off lickety-spit back to Rowsley.

Andrew had taken the afternoon off work so was already at Rowsley, ringing me to demand to know where the lorry was – they had taken the A1/M18 route – fortunate as some kind soul had clogged the M1 by pranging their car into somebody else’s – then Chesterfield and Bakewell. It was 6.15 by the time they arrived, had a little more trouble lining up then they had in the morning, and I backed the loco gently down on to Peak Rail. Andrew and I dashed off back to Sheffield to collect chips and my daughter Jennifer in that order.

Bringing WD72229 down the folding neck ramp

Saturday: Andrew, Jennifer and I headed down south for an essential visit to my father, so nothing of rail interest to record.

Sunday: Having put Jennifer on a 158 at Sheffield, Andrew and I headed back to Rowsley. The Drewry was fired up and having moved the stores carriage, the loco took up the space in the shed so recently vacated by “Pluto”. While Andrew prepared to drain the lube oil, I was despatched in the direction of “Charlie” to replace the temporary alternator fitted a few weeks ago with its original, now clean and repaired. When I came to test it the alternator warning light would not light up, so I accessed the panel and found that the bulb, an MES (Miniature Edison screw), had unscrewed itself and dropped out the holder. I replaced it and while I was in there changed the Reverse direction bulb which had blown months ago. Returning to WD72229, I repaired the door catch on one of the cab doors, and then took stock of the handbrake linkage, damaged slightly by the loading at Elsecar last year. I also took the opportunity to refit the lifeguards on the back, removed for transport out of Plymouth 5 years ago and a ruddy nuisance on any sort of loading ramp! The front ones are to go back on also, but must await some new bolts as they had been burnt off. We had never got around to bracketing the rear vac pipe dummy, so I prepared a couple of profiles ready and left Andrew to weld them while I went off to collect tea and Eccles cakes. He also did some work on the ‘oil seperator’ (AKA Land Rover air cleaner) planned to finish “Pluto’s” exhauster set-up. With the rear vac hose securely stowed, we ran the loco up to check oil pressures and inspect for any leaks and top-up, and then shunted the stores Van back into position, taking the opportunity to run the loco up and down the back road to check all was well and remind ourselves gearchanging on a Gardner and fluid coupling – well OK, play a bit!

WD72229 outside Rowsley loco shed

And this marks the first twelve months of this blog here on Railnuts. Although it attracts few comments it amuses me that I get e-mails invariably ending with an admission that the writer is a regular reader. Just as many people will not admit to being railway enthusiasts in public for fear of ridicule, it seems many enthusiasts will not admit to following our trials and tribulations for fear that being interested in diesel shunters – with or without a BR class number to grace them – is to risk ostracism from their peers. Be Brave: you have nothing to lose but your greasetop.

More in this category: « Of bits and brakes Of a wet Sunday »

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