Elsewhere - www.andrewbriddonlocos.co.uk - you can see the "official" face of the locomotive collection my son has built up. Here on "Weekend Rails" you can read a blow-by-blow account of our work in restoring and improving them.
Obviously one of my regular readers decided to follow up on my plug for Fascinating Aida as he wrote to me during the week to say that if I ever bought a Smart car he would never be able to look me in the face again. While it is a proud boast of mine that I have never owned a car with a “boot” (the nearest I got was buying my former company car – a Ford Escort hatchback – from Thomas Hills in the 80s) I think that would be going too far. I did once tell someone that I thought my next car would be electric – that was about three or four vehicles back – but the technology hasn't quite made it. Well, not in my price range.
It's coming up to my financial year end and the order book is looking very healthy with new customers and active old ones. You don't really want to know all this but it serves to explain why work on Andrew's locos and the shed really has moved back to being a weekend thing again.
After a slight hiccup in communication, which resulted in me sitting around most of Monday afternoon, I set off for Langwith to collect the newly-ebayed cement mixer. It was though waiting for me on arrival, swiftly loaded into the van, and I set off back for Darley Dale with it in the back and I thought, unlikely to 'go anywhere'. It is a cross-country trip up hill and down dale, and all was well until, braking steadily on a downhill with a sharp bend at the bottom, a car coming the other way came wide around the bend and onto my side of the road. I braked hard. There was no collision, but the mixer set off down the van, toppled over and sculpted a new dent in the toolbox.
My faith in human nature is being brought into question. I mean, three brake vans full of camera-toting enthusiasts, and doesn't common-sense tell you that at least one would have posted up a picture on Flickr or a video clip on you-tube? There must be thirty or forty on Flickr from visitors who did a tour on the 7th February, yet the lot we took round last Saturday, when 03 901 and I were in command – is there one single picture showing the loco or even my smiling/scowling face at the cab window? Despite a whole week of checking all the usual tags – not a sausage.
And so we're in to the third month of the year. This week has had us sorting out 03 parts and getting ready for a Tata Tour, sorting out the forklift ready for more regular use and still finding time for Andrew to win a regional competition – but do read on...
For most of my news this week I must rely on other people's efforts: for with less than a week to go before Rob leaves Peak Rail (at least in a full time capacity) the pace to get the trackwork completed has hardly slowed down.
So as I left it last week, the works train, but without motive power, was down at Darley and Rob, aided by whomever was available, was pursuing the track modifications and repairs. Cheedale was parked at Rowsley awaiting a new lift pump and fuel filter, and pretty much all was well with the world.
At the end of last week, Cheedale and Charlie were awaiting a fuel delivery, after which Charlie would take the works train to Darley to resume work on the tracks in and around the shed, leaving Cheedale to act as works shunter at Rowsley and Ashdown - well Ashdown is a bit more pernickety and only Rob and Harvey are authorised to use it.
A slightly alarming number of readers commented early in the week how much they were looking forward to hearing about part two of our fork lift truck training. It never fails to amaze me what peculiar interests you all display, but who am I to deny you the full story....
The highlight of the week was I suppose, our first formal day of Forklift truck training. That may be a strange thing to say in a “railway” blog, but the art of driving and operating a forklift is likely to be a vital skill to restoration work in the future.
2014 went out with rather more of a bang than a whimper as snow suddenly covered over everything. Just before though, I had been up to our favourite battery suppliers and acquired a couple of nice new ones for James, which had “hand-me-downs” from another loco and which frankly weren't up to the task.