On 23rd and 24th February the RRRG sales stand attended the Nene Valley winter steam gala. The stand was predominantly coordinated and managed by Tim and myself; Mark was around on Saturday morning to bring stock down and help set up but couldn't stay because of a family appointment. It was cold. Very cold. So cold, in fact, that it was the first time in ten years of RRRG trading that we have had the sales stand out whilst snow has been falling... That said, it was nice to see a preserved line trying something new and trying to extend their operating season to make more money. Saturday trading was reasonable although in the afternoon the star attraction no 70000 Britannia unfortunately derailed at Yarwell Junction whilst backing onto coaching stock at the end of a run round manoeuvre. The non-availability of this locomotive undoubtedly affected attendance levels at the gala, which was a shame. We sold a mixture of items but no really high value items such as the boxed Hornby model sets you see in our online shop, sold, which was again a bit of a shame.
The final figures for sales were:
Saturday 23rd Feb: Total Turnover £161.55
Sunday 24th Feb: Total Turnover £137.25
Total RRRG profit after fees was £93.08 for the weekend, which was a respectable showing. Renown Repulse Universal, RRRG's commercial wing, also sold a number of items from the stand over the weekend to create profit which can be re-invested in RRRG and its activities (such as the hosting fees for this site!) and contributed to the putch fee.
Even though I fell ill late on Sunday evening with one of the worst colds I've had in many a year, doubtless aided by standing out on a freezing cold platform all weekend, it was still a worthwhile event and our thanks go to the Nene Valley Railway for inviting us to have a stand once again.
As long-term followers of RRRG will know, for some time now we have been investigating the remanufacture of CU2 field divert units to replace the ones missing from our locomotives. Our contractors for the job, Industrial Electronic Services Ltd, had analysed a genuine CU2 kindly loaned to us by another Class 50 owner and were confident they could reproduce the circuitry and components in the unit, using modern equivalents where possible/necessary. They had however hit quite a snag when it came to replacing the little relay in the original unit. The CU2 is a really amazingly compact piece of equipment for mid-1960s electronics as seen in the photo of the loaned unit below. The relay in question is the small black box seen in the centre of the picture. It switches at the operating voltage of Class 50 auxiliaries, namely 110v DC which brings about the problem of how to find a modern equivalent. Electronics is obviously one area where technology has progressed leaps and bounds in the near-half century since the Class 50 was constructed by English Electric and relays to operate at such high DC voltage, let alone such compact ones (it appears the original was custom-made for EE by ITT) are almost completely obsolete these days. Most modern relays, even of a size too big to fit the case, would burn out very quickly if asked to switch 110v DC.
We thought about various ways to overcome the problem. Inverting the current to AC, using an AC relay and then rectifying it back to DC was suggested but dismissed as impractical. 50030 Electrical Officer Andy Rowlands suggested using a spare NR28 relay, as used elsewhere in the locomotive to switch 110v DC. It wouldn't fit in the box for the CU2 (and the CU2 is deliberately designed to be compact as it fits into a very tight space in the cubicle) but Andy reasoned it could be mounted externally and wired in. We supplied IES with a couple of NR28s to test the theory and they agreed it would work but felt the new divert unit would need some circuit modification if it were to be used. IES decided to have another look at the relay market and managed to source a relay from the US which has a 24v coil and can switch up to 220v DC. IES ordered a number of these relays on our behalf and have now advised us that they have arrived and appear to work fine in our 110v DC application.
We now expect progress to be rapid on the rebuild of these electronic units. IES have invited Andy to inspect the new relays in person the first week in March and if approved by us, IES expect to finalise the design within the next couple of weeks with production of the two units requested following imminently thereafter.
A full description of the electronic units in a Class 50, and how many of each type RRRG has, can be found in RRRG newsletter Issue 23 (Autumn 2011). Since that article was written, we have acquired one original CU2 from another Class 50 owning group however we still intend to have two units built by IES to cover for possible future failures.
A good attendance this last weekend, others will contribute their own reports in due course. New volunteer James Andrews arrived on Saturday for his first working party and we were also blessed with the presence of Paul Sturm on an impromptu trip from the Netherlands. Dave Rolfe was the usual permanent fixture on site as Tim and I arrived at about midday on Saturday. Later on Sunday we were joined by Mark Burrows, Ian Kemp and Peter Carter.
Tim, Paul and I concentrated on the continued cleaning of brake rigging equipment where a large stash was extracted from storage:
Although not in the "Chris Thorn" level of restoration skill the wire brushing of these took much elbow grease and many cups of tea and ready meals during the day. The gradual accumulation of brushed parts into a pile for Tim to hone with the smaller drill was quite satisfying:
Meanwhile Dave and James had removed one of the adjustable radiator louvres from 50030 with a view to getting the shutters to work again. The linkage was seized utterly solid and heavily rusted. However Paul brushed it up and when Ian arrived on Sunday their combined efforts made for an amazing transformation:
I have to confess to have been a lapsed 50 fan for 25-odd years, I last saw Renown in January 1986 on a Waterloo – Exeter service and Repulse in August 1985 on the lengthy Scots Streaker II Railtour. It had been too long. I have recently “come back” and joined RRRG, and in late February finally joined a working party. After a few dead-ends in the sprawling Peak Rail site, I eventually tracked down the locos and it was great to see them again after all these years, although sadly quiet for the time being.
Dave greeted me with the immortal words “Have I got a job for you!”, and, having shown me round and letting me linger for a bit around Thunderer’s 16CSVT, we set to work removing the bolts holding in the louvre grills at No 1 end of Repulse. It wasn’t clear if these had been removed at refurbishment or never at all, but they were a job! While we were working through these, Dom and Tim arrived along with Paul Sturm, fresh off the ferry from the Netherlands. They tackled cleaning up the brake rigging gear while we slowly but surely removed the bolts. In classic tradition, the last bolt followed form by thinking itself completely invincible, being not only firmly stuck but also seemingly utterly inaccessible. After lunch and a fortifying mug of tea though, we were on a roll and spitting defiance finally got it out, allowing the frame containing all of the (very jammed) louvres to be taken out and gently lowered to the ground. In no time, they were freed up and moving again, and the upper louvre re-aligned to match the others – cracking job! The very corroded arm which should open and close the louvres was also removed – it looked like to have been under the sea for years and I thought it was beyond hope, but Paul and Tim brought it back to life with a bit of grinding and a diet of engine oil.
I had to return home in the evening and so missed the beers and curry, but what a superb day – up close and more personal than I ever imagined to Renown and Repulse (they’re bigger than you think from ground level), and a feeling of complete satisfaction at having contributed something real (albeit miniscule) to getting them back up and running again. Looking forward to my return, and thanks to Dave, Tim, Dom and Paul for putting up with my general clumsiness and endless questions. And they never even sent me for a bag of steam or striped paint once…..Thanks guys!
Dave spent his usual weekend on site, this time removing pipework in no.1 end clean air compartment to allow it's cleaning & refurbishment. Ian & Pete are currently reassembling power unit valvegear & fitting cork gaskets between the various cylinder head covers. I fitted a missing copper strip between two of the rad fan contactors. I had had a suitable piece for some time, but needed to copy the mounting holes from another 50, so copied it from the same piece in Thunderer. I also hunted out & found a copper busbar I had retrieved some time ago from a scrap 31 to cut a piece from the reverser to no.2 motor contactor. I also found a suitable piece of Paxolin board from our stock to cut pieces for the rad fan electronic unit we are having made for us. As Ian and I missed the pre-Chrismtas curry due to the weather, after we finished at Rowsley, we went for one at the Maazi in Matlock, and very nice it was too, but yours truly had a coughing fit when some mint sauce went down the wrong way & frightened the waiters.
A few photos of work taking place on brake rigging equipment. We have decided to move the bogie overhauls up our schedule as they are mostly cheap to do (we can do much of the work ourselves) and it frees up financial resources to spend on overhauling electrical equipment and preparing for the lifts we will need to do to swap power units between our locomotives.
I had the day off work on Friday. Dom worked an early half day in Theale and drove from Reading to Peterborough.
Technical Officer Chris Thorn had prepared some tasks for Dom, new volunteer Mike Backler and I to get our teeth in to for the next few months. This involves grinders with wire brushes so goggles are essential. However fogging up is a real pain. I therefore went to B&Q then Screwfix in search of some fog-free goggles. I bought two different pairs to test.
After arriving for lunch, Dom and I ventured to Tesco to buy supplies for the weekend and the accommodation/ mess coach BG1 generally. After unloading; our mascot Jack (black and white 4 year old russell/ collie cross) persuaded us to go to the Palmerston Alms in Woodston to meet Uncle John Pinion, fellow RRRG member, for refreshments.
Saturday found us delayed for the morning in Peterborough trying to sort out bringing Renownrepulse.com back from the dead. We spoke extensively to Dan Horton in Ripon who is going to host the new site. We also tried three different ways of getting a backup to him. We then loaded the car and set off about 1400 arriving at a snow covered Rowsley South 1615.
Dave Rolfe had arrived earlier on Saturday. It was -2c when he left Stourbridge but -7c on arrival at Rowsley. BG1 and BG2 doors were frozen and there was ice inside BG1. We transferred our stuff from the car to BG1 and set out our bedding in preparation for a very cold night. Dave had not brought non-work clothes so did not join us for the tramping through snow in to a fierce sleet blizzard on the footpath to the Church Inn at Darley Dale. Mike and his partner Lynne joined us for a few drinks while we discussed Mike's interest and our plans. The Shalimar at Rowsley kindly braved the snowdrifts to pick Dom and I up to invest in their fine cuisine. This set us up nicely for a short tramp through four inch deep snow to our beds.
Dave, Dom and I were up with daylight for breakfast and getting cracking on a number of jobs. My car read -5C but it was dry becoming sunny. Andy Rowlands, Mark Burrows, Ian Kemp, Peter Carter, Steve Tripp and Sarah McColl decided the road conditions were two hazardous to attend. Peak Rail had also decided to abandon services. The weather clearly put off other groups as for some of the day we were the only people on site. Rob Sanders did turn up with a signalling volunteer and they collected offcuts in order to assemble a staircase for the nicely restored signal cabin now resident at Matlock Riverside.
Dave showed us where the grinders, brushes and brake rigging were for us to remove for attention. I cleared the external work bench of snow and set up extension cables and the grinders. Mike arrived at 0930 and I showed him the ropes. Dom and Mike then spent most of the day removing these very heavy cast parts and brushing off rust and brake dust. I found drills and grinding stone bits and hand wire brushes and I cleaned up the bits the others could not reach. I also did the washing up, cleaned the worktop and removed the rubbish in an effort to discourage the mouse we have attracted recently.
Dave set off to vacuum out some underfloor areas in Repulse but could not as the dust had frozen! Instead he undertook some adjustments to a door on BG2 and took apart a hydraulic press in order to modify the better one we have acquired recently.
Mike says he enjoyed his first day with us and if any of our volunteers are up during Monday to Fridays then let me know as he may come along otherwise our next larger gathering is due for 25/26th February. Dave however will be up most Saturday and Sundays if anyone would like to join in.
We had some entertainment at the end of the day when my car battery was too weak to start the engine. We found jump leads but it refused to take a charge. We improvised a tow rope and Dave's 4-wheel drive pulled us out to Harrison Way and on the second attempt of bump starting BiG 06 WenDY fired, complained and started. Relief!
'Til next time. Tim
|Chilly Repulse||RRRG area under snow|
The old RRRG website was a cutting edge design... for the late 1990s. As a result it has been sent to Doncaster Works for a total refurbishment and is expected back in traffic later this year. Meantime we have set up this site to provide news, views and project updates until such time as the refurbishment work is completed.
As the next batch of new power unit parts have not yet arrived, Dave, Ian & Pete mated the remaining 12 pistons to their conrods, then sorted the unusable cylinder liners separate from the good ones and did further tidying of the container. Chris T did more tidying & sorting of 37 & 50 items in the coach, while I dismantled an old telecoms terminal board to retrieve useful terminal bars. Tim & Dom arrived at lunchtime & assisted with various things during the afternoon. I attempted to mount the resistor ladder network board I had made, but it was a case of one step forward & two back, as I had not accounted for a bundle of cables that run in front of where the board will mount & which fouled the bottom resistor, so I had to remove the resistors, re-drill the board & re-assemble it all. Sounds simple, but getting the resistor brackets mounted square is most difficult, as they tend to rotate when tightening their fixing bolts & we ran out of time before I could attempt to re-fit it.
Dave was bored so he took me to Rowsley today. While he cleaned off & painted one set of side, top & intermediate cylinder head covers, I marked & carefully drilled the board for the resistor ladder network on the pillar drill. After lunch, I dismantled some old terminal bars while Dave washed all the cups & plates that had been used & left, then we tidied & swept out the room in the coach which will be the changing/eating room. Apart from a few little jobs, the coach is now completely sorted.
We had more or less decided to give this one a miss with the threat of more snow as Rowsley usually gets more than lower-lying places, but Dave decided he was going anyway, so I went with him. The roads were clear & there was about 2-3 inches of snow on site. Dave started to fabricate a device to compress piston rings as the piston is lowered into the liner, as we had one ring break last workparty. We fitted the last two fluorescents in the coach & I did some more sorting of items in the coach & measured a paxolin board to be cut down to make what is known as a 'ladder network' of spare resistors to replace the Z71 earth fault de-sensitizing resistor. We were missing this item & the one I was given last year was open circuit and thus useless. The ladder network will be fitted in the redundant space next to the main start contactors.