Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of start-ups

4th November 2012

It has been a relatively uneventful week here at the Briddon Country Pile. Unlike the continual cacophony of fireworks being let off by the local underprivileged and underfunded youth of Sheffield, the nights have remained quiet and civilised. I did however have the amusement of being rung up by a customer who tried to congratulate me, or maybe Andrew, on our "lottery win", which a third party (who had better remain nameless) had told him about. Neither Andrew nor I play the lottery.

During the week I continued to bring more back from Briddon Towers, and collected a new piece of casings for the 03 as well as a compressor off e-bay and 34 pieces of pre-formed interlocking shelving which taxed my powers of persuasion to get them all into the van.

Come Saturday I left Andrew to unload the shelving, then we sauntered a little way up to Rowsley to resume our work on "Tom". First problem was that the plug I had bought specially to fill the hole in the radiator is too small, so we bunged it up as best we could and filled the cooling system full of water. The clutch cylinder was fitted and connected while I refitted the starter cables. In went the throttle linkage, air induction and compressor feed lines and I was just filling the transmission reservoir with oil when Andrew called me over to meet a visitor. The gentleman was a retired former employee at Sentinel - he had started in the sixties and drove the last Sentinel loco - 10292 - from erecting shop to paint shop at the end of loco production. We knew people we had both worked with and shared a few tales of events subsequent before he resumed his explorations, promising to come back and see the loco running later. In the event, when he re-appeared, it was to find us having a quick drink while waiting for the charger to boost the batteries, but a few minutes later, and after an anxious time cranking, the engine returned to life and slowly filled the converter. In the end, we had air pressure about the same time as base pressure appeared, and with only a slight water leak from our temporary plug, I started a short test run with 72229 as load/recovery vehicle.

Unfortunately, we still don't get 'clutch out' and tests showed that this has a lot to do with the fact that there is no air coming down the pipe to operate the cylinder. Now Sentinel pneumatic systems are in a class of their own - a mate of mine from years ago commented that whoever designed it could knit fog - having been influenced by steam loco drivers who insisted that an essential feature of any diesel must be the ability to reverse instantly. Sentinel transmission systems can't (some Voiths can) but they achieved as near as practical by having a pre-selective direction change that initiates on coming to rest and pressing the throttle lever against a roller-operated valve.. When it works, it is very effective, when it doesn't it can be a b****r to fault find as there are no test points and everything is interrelated. So that, and the fact that there is still no life coming from the alternator are our next areas of attack, but for that day we came away quite satisfied with progress.

During the afternoon Steph had rung from Briddon Towers to report that someone had extracted a window from the garage and presumably had been in to see what was worth stealing. So Saturday night we dashed over and filled the van with as much as possible, meaning that Sunday morning's first task was to empty it, then load up what was wanted at Scunthorpe.

I was hoping to be free to get on with fitting the compressor power bulge, but had to content myself with admiring "how it will look" by propping it and its door roughly in position, before heading over to "Beverley".

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My first task was to finish installing the driver's brake valve by inserting a plug in the end of the valve and connecting the pipes. Since these are 50 year old 1/.2" copper with brass olives they were an absolute swine, with no room to swing a spanner and unless you get the pipe absolutely in line with the fitting, the nut will not pick-up. In the end, Andrew, having completed his final bits around the front of the engine and part filled the cooling system, came and assisted. Together we finished filling the cooling system, refitted the batteries and after giving them a bit of a boost, Andrew cranked the engine over.

At this stage, the object of the exercise was to see oil pressure, not to run the engine, indeed the fuel was turned off. It took 2 or 3 longish crankings before we stopped to give the batteries a chance to recover and recharge, but on the next attempt the gauge sprung up almost immediately so he stopped, turned the fuel on and had another go.

So far, the crankings had sounded perfectly normal, and so it did as the engine cranked again until the fuel pump filled the top rail and the freshly-overhauled injectors did their stuff. First smoke, then it picked up and immediately there began a metallic ting-ting-ting sound which I could hear clearly from my vantage point alongside but which scared the daylights out of Andrew, who hurriedly shut it down. In the gloom of the shed I could soon see the cause - he had forgotten to reconnect a piece of conduit carrying the wires to the engine temp sender and this had swung down and was fighting it out with the fan blades. Put back into place he started it up again and allowed it to idle at about 600rpm, smoke rapidly clearing and if still hunting a little, maybe 50rpm or so, understandable for what is, after all 50 year old injection technology. We could also hear a number of air leaks - that will be the next task while mine must be to investigate why the charge circuit has stopped functioning and get the last lights hooked up. We finished the afternoon with a conference about where and how to mount the exhauster.

We are back at Scunthorpe tomorrow - TaTa's new ANPR-based entrance system permitting - to swap the transmission on D2128. The first weekend of the month will I hope still apply.

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