Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of trucks, TNT and Tom

9th September 2012

As I was saying, on Monday I had a Transit drop-side booked. It was a venerable old machine - "Y" reg in fact, geared down so far that it was best not trying for more than 60-65 on the motorway. I am not a fan of Fords - I ran two Courier vans of theirs in the early 90s - but this one quickly earned a soft spot, especially when after coming to rest at a traffic lights, the speedo would start flicking up to 10 or 15mph...

Anyway, the purpose of the trip was two fold. Firstly Andrew had acquired from yet another e-bay deal a couple of racks suitable for parts storage, together with a workbench, from a firm being "downsized" (i.e. shut and emptied) in Oldham. Finding it was fun, but having done so the 3 items were rapidly loaded and strapped down and I was invited to see if there was anything else that took my interest. There was, but all of it far outstripped my available resources, but after purchasing a steel cabinet, I set off back to Derbyshire. The truck was soon emptied at Rowsley and in its place came the second segment of the day - the last major pieces of Libby's casings were substituted. By mid-afternoon these were unloaded at the shotblasters in Sheffield and the truck was returned to the hire company.

Come the weekend and Plan A was to go to Scunthorpe and continue with Beverley. But this only worked if the necessary parts had arrived from Cummins, and we were unsure whether they had been despatched. I hung around Friday morning waiting for TNT (the man-who-always-wears-shorts) who usually delivers about 09.30 at Briddon Towers but when he hadn't shown by lunch time I headed off to my favourite profilers. When I got home there was a sorry-we-missed-you card from TNT timed at 14.15...

Amongst the batch of weirdly shaped pieces were flanges for the exhaust on "Tom", and brackets to support the replacement torque converter filter assembly, and for D2128 the parts for the calliper bracket plus the relay lever and bracket that will direct the handbrake force.

So we were in two minds as to whether to go to Scunthorpe on Saturday morning - we had reckoned we had two days of work to get Tom up to engine running stage and the final decision was taken following a phone call from Steph - who had popped up to our daughter's house to check that things were OK while she was away - that the front door lock had jammed and she could not get out. While we waited to see if a dose of 3in1 would do the trick, we decided on Rowsley if we were not needed to rescue a damsel in distress.

The oil freed the lock and we got to Rowsley just after lunch. Andrew disappeared off to start making exhaust bellows and tail pipe sections, leaving me to fit firstly the coolant temperature sender (suitable adaptor fitted perfectly) and secondly the oil pressure sender (special adaptor just a touch too long - sender fouled adjacent fuel filters. A temporary length of flexible piping was installed). Andrew was cajoled into making the first of the brackets for the converter filter, so that at least I could get the converter oil circuit completed.

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I couldn't put the wiring part off indefinitely so drilled a couple of fresh holes in the wring box at the back of the engine and created some flexible conduit runs to feed the 4 new pressure and temperature senders now on converter and engine. I had just about got the wires pulled through (with various interruptions from Andrew to aid him in trialling bellows, tail pipe and tacking the latter together) when the steamer returned to shed indicating the end to the day.

Sunday - and reasonably early we returned to Rowsley.. Andrew disappeared off to make the joints for his exhaust sections leaving me to give the batteries a bit of a boost and finish the wiring. I will admit I was a little unsure about this - the electrical box, you will recall, had had a bad attack of water and I had rebuilt it at various times and well over a year ago, based on my old Thomas Hill wiring diagrams and "interpreting" the cable numbers on old wires which were barely legible. But a complete wiring diagram of the loco I did not have, and so how the Hills' bit interfaced with the Sentinel bit was something of a mystery.

By lunch time the exhaust was complete and the cooling system filled with plain water. A few minor weeps were attended to but the level didn't seem to drop and water didn't turn up anywhere it shouldn't, which were hopeful signs. So we carried on by filling the converter oil reservoir and proving it through to the charge pump.

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So far so good, and I could not put off turning on the battery master switch any longer. I did, and there were no sudden flashes or gurgles of shorted-out batteries, in fact there was not a lot of anything. Time to start tracing where volts were turning up and where they weren't.

I won't bore you with all the details - but about 14.15 I had the starter motor making loud and unpleasant noises and Andrew went in to action to tweak the motor as it was not engaging with the flywheel. A few more tries and the engine cranked, for the first time this century.

Now, actually running the engine was not our immediate intention. The fuel was off, the fuel solenoid was mysteriously not operating and Andrew had undone several of the injector lines. The plan is always to crank it gently, and get some oil around bearings and bores which have not seen any for years. Once the pressure gauge started indicating we got more adventurous. Andrew turned on the fuel and primed the pump: I decided that my substitute timer relay was not hacking it and changed to a manually operable run relay to get the fuel solenoid working, and we had another go. That sounds quick but in reality it was several attempts, punctuated by pauses to give the batteries a bit more charge, but eventually the engine almost fired - when a fuse blew.

The Sentinel desk includes several traditional CAV fuse holders that carry traditional fuse wire, the kind once to be found in every home. We had none, and after destroying several strands of what was probably 5amp rated (and the fuel solenoid, momentarily, pulls 40amps+, but it wasn't going then) Andrew raided an old "spare unit" in the VBA and returned with a small supply of what looked like 45amp rated fuse wire.

Armed with that, Tom came to life with a cloud of exhaust from the tail pipe and dust out the radiator.

We stopped and started it several times, but couldn't seem to get the charge pump to begin filling the converter, despite priming it. I was watching the surface of the oil in the tank and became convinced that it was forming air bubbles. We have checked the books on return tonight and are now fairly sure that someone has turned the pump 180 degrees, i.e. instead of pumping oil round it is attempting to pump air back!

So Tom's engine runs at last, although there is as yet no alternator connected, the timer relay needs replacing and the lights don't work, and that's before the converter oil and air pressure are tackled to make the loco operable - but at least it is one giant step along the way.

More in this category: Of Tom and tribulations »

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