11th November 2012
There was frost in the grass as we made an early start across to the M1and then east to Scunthorpe. Andrew, still trying to get his body-clock straight after a few night shifts, was dozing in the passenger seat as I passed a plain flat-bed lorry. I was casually wondering what it was carrying in the red stillage on the back - some sort of engine? - a pump? Hang on, that's our powershift! I roused Andrew, who rang the driver. Yes, it was him. I pressed on, anxious to get in, unlocked and be as ready as possible before he arrived. At Tata's Gate D I drove up the barrier and waited. The ANPR did not recognise me and the light stayed red. Three guards were on duty and one came over.
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.
28th October 2012
An astute reader, referring to my expectation to have "Tom" back running by the end of this weekend, questioned whether that was a wise plan given that this weekend is the last of the month. For any new readers we find things "happen" on that weekend and all too often to our detriment. Aforesaid astute reader was probably right.
21st October 2012
I am writing this instalment from my (old) desk in the (new) office at the Briddon Country Pile. Yes, Openreach's engineer rang me at 08.15 on Friday ("I can't find your house") and by 08.50 the line was connected. Plusnet had promised that the broadband would be on in a few hours, and sure enough it was before the end of the day. Thus the move was on, and Steph and I are now relocated. Andrew, meanwhile, had nominated Saturday to go collect a van full of bits and Sunday has seen him successfully playing trains - er conducting essential trials at a SW Trains depot, located, surprisingly, somewhere south and west(ish).
14th October 2012
First thing on Monday morning we were back at Rowsley, and after a quick bit of a shunt the casings were coming off the Sentinel and by eleven o'clock the power unit was out and the converter was being swung into the back of the van.
7th October 2012
Back when I was about 20, I was invited to an Open Day at a private railway not far from Southampton, then under the general auspices of the Hampshire Narrow Gauge Railway Society. They had started building a small circuit on land belonging to their Chairman, Barry Curl, in 1967 and I was there the day the finished ballasting the far side of the line and were able to do the full circuit for the first time, with ex Dinorwic 0-4-0ST "Cloister" as well as a selection of Simplexes and one of two O&K RL3 0-4-0DMs.
30th September 2012
"Tom" has caused a lot of head scratching this week. The leak from the converter rear seal was concerning. Technical advice was that it might seal itself with a bit of running and warmth., but we weren't confident. It is not that we don't trust the guy who rebuilt the converter, but I have made it policy never to do a converter in an ordinary workshop. The carbon seals are pernickety - well, let's be honest, the technology is over 50 years old and there are probably better seals out there if you wanted to invest in development - certainly Nico, the Japanese licensee for Twin Disc, assured me 15 years ago that their converters don't leak.
23rd September 2012
This has been one of those weeks where it has gone way beyond the "Weekend" of the title. On Monday I went off to collect "Pluto's" fuel pump from our tame fuel pump expert. Later in the day I got a call from the shotblasters to say that "Libby's" casing parts were ready, so I hired a pick-up for Thursday. On Tuesday I popped in to the fabricators to collect the 'power bulge' that will go over the exhauster on D2128. Finally on Friday I touched base with a company who have the tackle to press the louvres in the doors for the said 03 - they don't seem to think it much of a problem and will get back to me shortly. Given that in between I have received back Steph's Micra after 8 days in the bodyshop for a job that was only supposed to take two and you may well wonder whether I have managed much (profitable) work this week and you're not the only one.
16th September 2012
It may surprise some people to know that I was an n.g. enthusiast before I became professionally involved with s.g. and in many respects I would rather be involved with 2ft than 4ft 81/2". I was at one point offered a job as Commercial Manager for Bala Lake Railway by the instigator and Chief-Of-Almost-Everything George Barnes, only for the company Chairman, Tom Jones (no, not that Tom Jones, this one was a Gwynedd County Councillor - you really must keep up with the Jones's...) politely to withdraw it as the railway "could not afford me".
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...