The rot set in when the BAOR started to run down. An internal political battle was won by the returning personnel with their fleets of lorries, statistics were massaged, the Army Railway Organisation was disbanded and various establishments ceased rail altogether. Yet the track at Bicester seems in better condition than ever before, the old 75lb rail bolted to light concrete sleepers has been replaced with track that would take a Pacific at 70mph, but sidings have gone, the rolling stock has been reduced in number and for yet another visit I saw no rail movement at all. For our inspection there was a long line of wagons including old ferry vans, open-sided wagons, Warflats and even an Ex SR brake van. We examined closely, making notes for ourselves and others who wish to bid through me, then beat a hasty retreat for a pot of tea at the nearby Little Chef. After that, taking the opportunity, Andrew had arranged a visit to a rail depot to see a loco that had escaped us for years.
Saturday: That Gwili expect 14 901 to be ready and relocated around the end of March has concentrated the mind, and for the moment “Pluto” has gone on a back burner while we press on with the outstanding list of jobs. One of the things we had long since been unhappy about was the air filter on the DV8. It was – and is – a standard generator set type filter, designed to function in relatively clean and dry rooms. It looks altogether undersized for a locomotive, and I have had it drummed into me over the years that you do NOT want to draw air for an engine from within its own compartment: you suck clean cool air from outside. On the “genuine” 14s the air filter panel sits behind a grille on the first door, but what happened to it I don’t know, so some months ago I set about drawing up a replacement using a current Fleetguard filter panel. The fabrication has sat in our garage for some months, but its time has now come, though it did require a little grinding before the element condescended to slide in.
Fleetguard filter, PB casing
While Andrew got on with this I returned to the control cubicle to continue with the last electrical jobs. Apart from the need to install a deadmans’ before it goes to Gwili, there are a number of other bits still needing wiring to the PLC and programming within it, but I had run out of inputs on the computer and so firstly clipped another input module onto the rack. On our way out in the morning I had stopped at our electrical suppliers and picked up some “SY” multi-core armoured cable, but they hadn’t got the right size cable glands for our £200-each-list Telemecanique pedals ["Can I ask where you got these from?" - presumably we don't look the sort to splash out on expensive kit - "E-bay....."] so it was not going to get finished that day. Back at the air cleaner, we had a conference about how it was going to mount. Plan A had been to weld it in place, but there were a selection of tapped holes in the casings which presumably once held the original, so we decided in the end to bolt it in place, and come back on Sunday with the necessary setscrews. Andrew wandered off to D9500 and came back with two fabrications which cover gaps under the control desk, though needless to say the fixing holes wouldn’t line up.
Sunday: Andrew and I returned to Rowsley, pursued by Steph. They say that one of the hardest jobs in engineering is getting a hole in the right place – Andrew drilled one set of mounting holes before deciding that wasn’t quite right and redrilling them all slightly further over, summoning me to assist in trialling it in place.
"Right said Fred..." About there should do..
Yep, I'm no Wireman
Between this, I was trying to finish the remaining cabling in the cubicle, though Steph and I were climbing over one another as she continued the task of the window surrounds. Andrew and I have agreed that, to protect the loco, there must be a limit as to what maximum speed the driver can re-engage the Voith, and as the speedometers won’t be working in time, but the speedo detection system is functioning, it should sound the bleeper if the loco exceeds 25mph. This requires only two additional wires from one circuit board to the PLC, and a bit of programming, so is simple to incorporate.
We broke off for a while in the afternoon as we were joined by a gentleman involved in producing 14 901’s cyber-ego for Microsoft train simulation, and wanted the “real” 14 901 noise for incorporation. We obliged, though I was somewhat disconcerted to spot sparks coming off one battery master switch terminal and a nut glow red hot! Must stick that on the list for attention.
Air cleaner frame fixed in place
With the air cleaner in place, Andrew attacked the standstill detector, which drives the speed/distance detection system and although it had clocked up 24 miles, had mysteriously stopped working. Getting the unit off the side of the gearbox is darned awkward but after tweaking the sensor setting on the ground it seems to be working again. Finally he decided to investigate mounting the casing vent fabrications, which had been crudely blanked over. The casing temperature gets a trifle high in summer and I had the vents fabricated last October, but too late for them to be painted before the winter weather.
One casing top vent (in red oxide)
Andrew trialled one in place, but decided that the casing top needs treating properly to get a good finish without rust developing underneath, so that may be one of next week’s tasks.