Anyway Andrew arrived in the middle of a mass shunt at Rowsley, and as this involved repositioning the NB 0-6-0, he was assisted in removing its side rods to make it run smoothly. We have known for years that the NB's final drive (reversing) box has a problem - periodically it will lock up and refuse to move, indeed, on one occasion at a certain MoD yard near Stratford-on-Avon, "Pluto" fought valiantly but unsuccessfully to budge the NB a single inch. Because of the joint layout, all the rods have to come off together and although Andrew loosened the retaining caps in anticipation some time ago, there has never been suitable tackle handy to achieve it, but that day there was. Afterwards, turning the flycrank by hand (do-able but of course distinctly out of balance) the chatter of a less than smooth bearing can be clearly heard.
With the NB dealt with he returned to "Tom" to investigate where and why we were getting exhaust into the engine bay. Working in the gathering gloom of a December afternoon, he was unable to locate the bolts that held No.5 cylinder's exhaust manifold with the socket. That was because there weren't any, and not only that, there was no joint between it and the cylinder head. This might explain it: I have now ordered and received a set of replacement joints.
Later in the week the news came through from the pump man that one valve in the governor had stuck and when replaced the pump worked perfectly. It is currently on test to ensure that all is now well.
On Saturday we had a day out down at Blaenavon. This was primarily a social call and planned for sometime, with the opportunity to inspect how they had installed the vacuum brake pipework on their accident-damaged Hudswell. You may recall a year ago when an errant Class 37 collected a Class 31 and met the Hudswell at a reported 30mph. The Class 31 suffered a dropped cab. Chassis wise, there does not appear much damage to the Hudswell, though I remember a Sentinel 0-4-0DH years ago that when we removed the bodywork had frame plates bent like proverbial bananas after a similar collision. The power unit however is a different proposition - it broke away from its mounts and not only took out the radiator but bits of the converter are now on the cab floor. There are big dents in the cab side where it encountered a box van or two.
In happier circumstances the Austerity was handling 2 coach Santa Specials full to capacity, while we looked over some other locos, like a Hudswell 0-6-0DM, 56ton "Stephenson" 0-6-0DH and a 34ton chain drive Sentinel. One interesting conversation was with an ex SRPS member, now resident in South Wales, whose claim to fame was having driven Andrew's 14 901 by pulling on a piece of wood attached to a wire which operated the engine throttle. At last, first hand proof! We were invited into the cab of the last remaining Hunslet twin-engined 0-8-0DH (ex Ebbw Vale) where we have been offering advice over the last few weeks on converters and what to do with them. At least one of the co-owners is a regular reader of this blog and I am always happy to socialise with my fan-base (!). I once rode "the line" at Ebbw Vale in one such 0-8-0 - after the steel plant had gone but before the Garden Festival truncated it. It was like peering out of a space capsule at a moonscape, though this moon-buggy had a rather rougher ride. Back to today we ended up in a huddle in the new Station Building, sipping tea and swapping tales of the rails till it was time to shut up shop.
Sunday, and after a brief detour we headed up to Scunthorpe. The barriers were stuck in the raised position as we arrived so the ANPR never logged us in. For starters we both attacked the rear casing section of D2128. It seems it got slightly distorted when we lifted it off in November and now refuses to return to its appointed place. In our arsenal we used a combination of Gee cramps and lorry straps but had to admit defeat: it will have to be lifted off again and corrected the hard way.
Andrew then left me to it. While he continued painting the casing top of "Beverley", I set up and marked out the last of the new doors in order to fix the hinges, handles and catches. I also tapped out the holes in the casing frame ready to mount the compressor bulge, to which Andrew added further primer.
Put like that it doesn't sound much, but somehow the afternoon ran away with us and it was time to pack up and set off home at six o'clock. But the Scunthorpe ANPR security system was back in action and as it hadn't logged us in, it refused to let us out. Technology is wonderful.