Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Christmas & New Year hols

3rd January 2011

Tuesday Dec 28th: For the first time in over 33 years, there is no Land Rover in the Briddon household, with the departure of the 1960 Series II which has languished in the garage since 1986, when I was given a company car. This has no relevance to a railway blog save that it explains why, as its new owner had first travelled from Sutton Coldfield to somewhere up north and was collecting it on the return leg, by the time I had eased the venerable Landy down the drive on its handbrake and on to his trailer, it was easily lunch time and 2pm before we arrived at Rowsley.

The main purpose of the trip was to collect the torque converter ready to go to Telford the following day, though having been promised it would be in a stillage ready for us, it was a touch disappointing to find it undisturbed, so we had first to liberate one of Andrew’s stillages, then borrow an engine hoist from the LMS Carriage Association. (No, I don’t know what engines might have been fitted into LMS coaches, but let’s not be too nosey, huh?). By various means we succeeded in loading stillage and converter into van, and that was pretty well it for the day.

Andrew straps the converter into the stillage

Wednesday Dec 29th: Andrew wanted to be away by 08.00, but with Mrs B away at our daughter’s, that left me with feeding the cat, washing up and making lunches, so it was about 09.15 when we finally hit the road. It was a grey and very damp day, more so in the Midlands than up our way. We reached Horsehay two hours later, and as Richard the crane driver was waiting for us, a rapid start was made. Off came “Tom’s” casing sections; I had meanwhile detached the wiring and after a wet and uncomfortable time under the front of the loco disconnecting the front engine mounts, the Rolls-Royce C8S was out of the loco by 2pm.

Rear casing section heads aside

Ready to lift

The casing sections went back on (to save clutter) and the stillage was encouraged to exit the van and be temporarily housed until we return to fit it to the engine. The “new” engine rear mounting brackets were fitted (this was a pair I had produced when back at RMS as a replacement for the standard R-R arrangement, which utilised an obsolete Metalastik mounting) and after measuring various miscellaneous pieces, we removed one of the R-R mounting assemblies in order to produce an additional bracket to carry the transmission oil cooler. The front mounting rubbers are however, spalling so I must source some replacements before we put everything back.

Thursday Dec 30th: Again we achieved a similar start time for the shorter run back to Rowsley. “Charlie” was started up and with it D9500 was moved around to a track by the loco shed, since we were to be joined today by Terry, whose task was to gas various rear casing section bolts which seemed too stubborn to surrender to spanners. While Andrew briefed him on this, I was running round setting up the cut saw and chopping surplus pieces from our last racking-building operation so that, when Terry had finished the destructive part, he could move over to assembling a workbench. I had barely achieved this when Andrew wanted to head off to the far side of the site with the van in order to strip useful parts from a couple of now-redundant Cummins’ engines, so I had first hurriedly to unload the bits I needed to get on with 14 901. My plan was to continue with pegboard and strip, but first I allowed myself time to fit the new aluminium desk labels to the brake and throttle controls. In truth, I tend to drive from one side exclusively because the two rotary brake controls are mirror-imaged and without a clear marking it was easy to get “apply” and “release” momentarily confused. The “Dymo” type labels had all but worn away but by opting for the same side (which fortuitously was signal-side both at Butterley and Peak Rail) I did not need to stop and think. But Andrew had agreed to getting proper labels on and plans to renew the instrument panels, (which we put in as laser cut steel for cheapness) before the loco heads on. With another half mile of ally strip screwed down, I do feel as though the cab interior is on the final stretch, and late in the afternoon, as Andrew returned and darkness approached, we got around to firing 14 901 up for a little while to exercise the bearings. With the ambient well above freezing point the oil pressure issue did not arise, and I drove the loco up and down 300 yards of track a couple of times to make sure all was well, no oil or coolant leaks and wake the batteries a bit. While it was available I also tested an air horn which Andrew had refurbished – he has not had much luck in the past, but practice obviously pays off because this one blasted forth straightaway.

Saturday Jan 1st: With Andrew celebrating the new year with his girl friend, I had the strange experience of being able to walk into my garage and do “work” within it. First task was to take the  new steel frame of the workbench and clad it top-and-shelf with timber/plywood. After this, I moved on to the cab cupboard belonging to 14 901, which had been crudely adapted by the SRPS into an electrical  start/stop panel. A new front panel, and a panel pop-rivetted over the holes drilled in the bottom for cable glands and it was ready for painting.

Sunday, Jan 2nd: Andrew had opted to meet us at Rowsley, so accompanied by Mrs B I set off, but on a circuitous route via Butterley. A friend down south had bought a small compressor off e-bay, and I had agreed to pick it up. Such is the nature of the world that the vendor turned out to be a Bombardier Derby employee with a passion for stationary engines – a member of the group based at Butterley. Anyway, over at Rowsley the Christmas decorations were fast being removed. Andrew commenced operations on the casing parts recently gassed by Terry, while Mrs B and I returned to 14 901’s cab, the pegboard and plywood. Unfortunately one of the side window frame pieces that Mrs B had varnished before I fitted it a couple of weeks ago was looking distressed and had to come off. The window this side has shown a marked propensity to leak water in, and someone had suggested that it might in fact be a wrong-handed window. I took a closer look and of course he had to be right – we have two “left hand ” windows on the loco, and being in a right hand position, it collects, rather than deflects, rainwater. How this has happened, given that this is the first place since 1969 that this loco has been anywhere near another class 14, remains a bit of a mystery. Anyway, we completed the roof sheets and Mrs B spent some time marking up the plywood framing pieces for the other windows.

Monday Jan 3rd: When I moved in to our house in 1978, one of my first projects was to install a decent-sized garden shed on a 6″ concrete base. Not that I have any enthusiasm for gardening, I always intended much of it to be given over to storage of loco parts – I had, after all, at one time six 2ft gauge diesel locos. Said shed is now showing signs of imminent collapse – indeed, the bench and shelves I put in there, being more substantial than the “cost-effective” flimsy shed that surrounds them, are probably holding it up. Andrew declared it time to start sorting the components ready to relocate to the garage, and in the process, identify bits for scrapping. That took the morning up, after which we relocated to Rowsley again with a quantity of ferrous scrap to join the “collection” Andrew is amassing for a worthwhile visit to Mr Booth’s. Having repossessed one of his stillages for said scrap, Andrew returned to collecting and sorting bits of D9500 while I went back to 14 901s cab (it was quiet there). Having cut and fitted the last few pieces of pegboard, and p-clipped the air lines to the front wiper motors, that job is all but complete, save for Mrs B’s window frames. That just leaves the air cleaner, deadmans and a few dozen other minor tasks to get on with.

More in this category: « Of 08s and trawler engines

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