Two new locos and things moving
It has been some months since the last news piece here but things have not been standing still. For starters two further locos have been added to the collection, bringing it up (officially) to 19 (but number 20 may not be far away...). Both locos curiously revolve around opposite ends of the same traffic flow, namely the limestone hoppers from Tunstead to Northwich, both once owned by ICI.
From the Tunstead end we have acquired “RS8”, the oddball 0-4-0DH, that has lain, heavily vandalised, at the National Stone Centre car park for the last twenty years. Negotiations began last autumn, after a casual inspection during a walk on the High Peak Trail when we saw a “responsible adult” jumping up and down on the cab roof. The NSC spent some time verifying the true ownership of the loco, but we heard just before Christmas that it was likely to be gifted to us, and finally transport, using a special trailer, took place during June.
RS8 was built as a steam loco by Avonside in 1923 for a limestone quarry near Denbigh, part of the Buxton Lime Firms group. When the quarry closed a few years later, the loco transferred to Tunstead. Out of use – possibly having sustained rear end damage as a photo in may 1957 shows it parked up missing rear buffers and brake weighshaft – it was selected for a unique conversion to diesel hydraulic, using a Rolls-Royce C6N engine and free-wheeling converter that was being fitted by ERF to tractor units being built for the quarry. But it is the superstructure that attracts most comment: it is in fact within the load gauge but proportionately the cab looks taller. The excellent driver visibility is enhanced by having duplicate throttle and brake controls at each corner.
RS8 marked the first generation of diesels to Tunstead, Cheedale, marks the second, so RS8, apart from its history and unique features (part of it at least is now the oldest loco in the collection) is well-deserving of preservation. Although heavily vandalised, with radiator core and most of its copper pipework stolen, does not appear to prevent any insuperable problems to getting it operational again, with many missing bits available from parts we have acquired over the years.
One of the notable traffic flows from Tunstead was that of the big hopper rakes to Northwich, which became the last vac-braked normal freight traffic on BR. At the Northwich end the last new locomotive for the ICI works was GEC 6wDE “Ludwig Mond”. Built as a 50ton 500hp version of the 65-75ton Stephensons supplied to BSC and NCB, it was also the very last loco of its type built, and possibly the very last loco from the Vulcan Works. The loco is currently located at Rocks by Rail, and is in near running order.
Back in Darley Dale work has continued on the Geoffrey Briddon Building, but much of it is not obvious to the outside. The internal concrete panels are being cut and repositioned, which will recover at least 25 square metres of otherwise lost floorspace, sufficient for cupboards etc to be placed without impinging on the floor area. The sink and water heater have been installed (although the latter is not plumbed in yet) and work has begun on a permanent electrical installation. As the dust from the concrete floor has been increasing, we have started progressively clearing, sealing and painting the floor, although this is a time-consuming process and less than 15% has been achieved so far. Outside the front of the building, our good friends “Team Frodingham” have been digging and trial-laying the slot drain.
On the loco front, work on 14 901 was progressed and the loco moved to the Churnet Valley railway where it has operated trains from Froghall to Leek Brook. However, the new fuel header tank proved not to be the improvement we hoped as it appears that fuel was getting aerated and moving into the hydraulic governor, causing the engine to cut out. In the light of experience a Mk3 header tank is in the course of manufacture.
Yorkshire 0-4-0DH “Jack” has been brought into the workshops and the power unit removed. An engine stand is in course of manufacture after which the engine will be opened up to assess how much damage has been sustained to the crank.
Over at Scunthorpe, the vac brake system was commissioned on 03 901 (formerly D2128) with the installation of the drive to the exhauster. The locomotive has performed a number of tours around the Scunthorpe site, now once again “British Steel”. Sentinel “Tom” has had a new set of batteries fitted, but will require engine attention in due course.
Charlie and Cheedale have both left Darley Dale for the moment, being deployed by Andrew's father.