Work on cladding the shed was completed during the latter half of November, and although a couple of minor leaks have to be attended to, working conditions have improved vastly. Remaining construction involves internal work with electrics, relocating internal concrete panels and insulating them, finishing off the crane beams and a host of minor tasks. Externally, a slot drain across the front (Matlock side) of the building is planned for February, at which time we need to locate the end of the drain put in two years ago which Peak Rail buried when it ballasted the track. A small area outside will then be concreted to facilitate transfer of loads from road vehicles using the forklift.
Later in the year we plan to extend the intermediate siding (which was never relaid to the length we drew up on the plan) and to this end a small quantity of bullhead rail and fishplates has arrived.
After over a dozen years of service as Peak Rail's principal works loco, Thomas Hill Vanguard 'Charlie' has entered the workshops and started to receive a moderate overhaul. The radiator and power unit were lifted out before Christmas – the bottom end of the engine is known to be fairly good but the top end was an unknown and so the cylinder heads have been removed and sent away for attention. Replacement injectors and fuel pump will be installed.
We realised on close examination that the rear engine mounts have failed and the power unit was sat on – rather 'in' – the bump stops whereas there should have been a 7mm clearance. The engine mounts are of a Metalastik pattern that was much favoured by Rolls-Royce but went obsolete 20 years ago, therefore new rear bracketry has been manufactured that carries the alternative mounting scheme that Peter first applied in 1996 and may also be found on 03 901. In addition, the converter was found to be leaking slightly on the front seal, and a needle bearing in the clutch housing had collapsed, giving rise to eratic operation and wear in certain clutch components. The converter was therefore sent away for attention. On return it will be reconnected to run on hydraulic oil rather than engine fuel.
Stripping the power unit out revealed just how awkward the original Thomas Hill termination box was to access (the power unit will have been wired on the shop floor before installation to the loco) so it was decided to re-wire the power unit, and in line with our normal practice, replace the mechanical pressure gauges and capillary temperature gauges with electrical ones. A warning light for oil pressure is also going into the desk. Aside from a general cab clean up, it is receiving fresh roof insulation and lining, and new flooring.
A screaming noise at the front of the engine appears to have been because at some time in the past, the belts on the water pump were replaced with 'A' section where 'Z' should have been, with the result that the belts were touching each other and not seating properly. A converter return line oil leak has been found and rectified. Work is progressing on the exhauster drive – which is the last project before the vacuum braking becomes functional. Finally power connections are being run out to the code light boxes. The locomotive worked a brake van tour on the 9th January.
With our efforts switched to Charlie, Cheedale has had little attention save that the cab floor has been lifted and the running plate underneath cleaned out. The cab a/v mounts are shortly to be renewed throughout. The hydraulic oil tank intended for Cheedale has been re-allocated to Charlie, but we will get back to Cheedale in the next month.
The two conflats, dubbed 'Thelma' and 'Louise' received a rapid overhaul including new buffers, drawhook springs, the knuckle couplers correctly serviced and new uncoupler mechanisms manufactured for them. The old ballast weights were removed, the 'timber' underneath burnt (it was so rotten it would hardly bear any weight) and and a new timber floor put in. With new train air hoses (and in Louise's case, a new train pipe fitted through) they left Peak Rail to undertake a contract at Arriva Traincare under Peter's auspices.