Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of "Pluto", Teesmaid" and "Libby"

28th August 2011

And so another August Bank Holiday is upon us. Andrew was away on Saturday, but was anxious that I went up to the DVLR, partly to deliver two radiator elements as spares for Trevor and Vince – owners of D9523 – and partly so that I could make up a fresh drawing of the vac brake linkage on “Pluto” with a view to replacing it with a more rigid one.

Oh yes, I nearly forgot. During the week I at last got around to sourcing hose-tails for the inlet and delivery on the Clayton-Dewandre exhauster now embodied on “Pluto”. I had assumed, based on the age and cultural norms of the period, that the porting would be a UNF thread, so no problem. Nope. The thread was eventually identified as 7/8″ BSP – one which is marginally more recurrent than rocking-horse excreta. Two JIC hose tails have enough metal, just have to have the ends cut specially, what joy! Anyway, at the last moment I was asked to pop back in to Kirkby Stephen with a loaned component, so as York was in the right general direction, Steph joined me and we had a whistle-stop tour. The DVLR was much as usual, with volunteers pottering about, some on the Fowler 0-4-0DM and others on general “infrastructure maintenance” (=strimming the trackside vegetation). I dutifully ran a pristine tape measure over our linkage, and created a dimensioned sketch which, with luck, I will still be able to make head or tail of for a few days longer. Just to check that all was well I fired “Pluto” up for a few minutes, to wallow in the noise of the 2-stroke Foden, then it was back across to the A59, and up the A1-A66 to Kirkby Stephen.

The Peckett at the south end....

The Stainmore Railway company is probably the lesser known of the two groups at work on the northern end of the former Appleby-Barnard Castle route – the other is the group at Warcop, some 5 or 6 miles north. For while the Warcop group have been operating passenger services northwards for several years (admittedly on a bit of a Warcop-to-nowhere basis) the Kirkby Stephen group, having had to start from a derelict site, have been a largely static enterprise. I was up a few weeks ago and activity seemed to have made a step-change, with a platform extension having appeared from nowhere and tracks being rapidly set up on either side. For myself, my only real personal interest there is in a Planet loco known to me always as “Teesmaid” but which once rejoiced to the name of “Elizabeth” when it worked at a nearby quarry. As “Teesmaid” it was a hire loco which earned me money down at the Channel Tunnel, with Marcroft Engineering and at Poole Harbour, before being sold to Hays Chemicals. I caught up with it again some years ago, sat outside a petrol station near Chester, and had a fleeting glimpse some months later as it rode a low loader on the M62. I am glad it has found itself a permanent home where (I hope) it might be appreciated, although the preponderance of big main-line diesels at Kirkby – a 47, 2×37s, a 31 and a 20 – scarcely makes locomotive-sense on a line which will, for years yet, be a short out-and-back affair.

..with 78019 at the northern. 65033 just in picture (right)

But anyway, the group had certainly pushed the boat out, and appeared to be getting considerable support. Visiting 78019 was top-and-tailing two coaches with a resident Peckett 0-4-0ST – 100 people had presented themselves for what was billed as the first steam passenger train to depart K-S for almost 50 years (Steve Davies had done the opening honours) and if the weather had not been quite so sparkling – I brought a portion of the car park home as mud – that was scarcely their fault. I completed my purpose and left them to it.

Sunday: Andrew reappeared and after a bit of a sort out, we headed over to Rowsley. I continued with cutting and carving on “Libby”. The rusted slot you saw last week is now gone – instead there is a giant letterbox which I prepared with the 4″ grinder, finally opened up by Andrew.

Andrew finishes the last bit of rusted steel with a hammer and chisel

We have four pieces of steel and angle which will, in due course, fill up this, and that on the other side, which all being well Terry will finish opening with gas. We also had a conference about the converter oil reservoir. I installed this some years ago bracketed from one of the casing columns, but as we are going to change the converter cooler, we’ve decided to reposition it from the fuel tank front, where it will be rather less of a maintenance obstruction. However, Yorkshire had placed the Westinghouse compressor unloader valve right in the way, so I set too to remove it. Meanwhile Andrew had attacked all the casing doors, removing the catches and chromed handles, ready to be taken back to Sheffield for shotblasting and priming. One door will however be left, as current plans envisage a belt-driven additional compressor on the front right, with a new door/”power bulge” so as to leave the original in store should it be needed. Amongst the other miscellaneous tasks, I reassembled the fan drive, Andrew checked that the engine was still free (it hasn’t been turned over for 2 or 3 years), off came the temporary throttle cable (though the permanent electric one still lacks a vital component that I sincerely hope will turn up in time) and the top and bottom coolant rails were reassembled, after Andrew lifted the desk top and discovered that we had stashed all manner of goodies in there – including silicon hose connectors and tee-clamps – and forgotten about them.

That fan drive was rather more cramped than I'd envisaged it

Andrew is on leave this week and is due to go to Wansford on Tuesday to collect the (scrap) crankshaft ex D9500, but no rail activity tomorrow as we are heading down to see my father again, though how much of the time he will be conscious remains to be seen.

More in this category: « Of a wet Sunday

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