Spring is one of my favourite times of year. Traditionally Spring has been a time for ‘new life’ and new ‘beginnings’. I’d say that 41001 is in the Spring of its life and this has recently been hit home with us as we see yet more and more progress with the project bringing it ever closer to its return to working order.
We left you last time with the cubicle out of the power car and some sundry mechanical items left to complete. We haven’t been resting on our laurels and substantial work has been on-going with electrics and other odds and sods.
Tony has been very hard at work with the cubicle over the past few months. We left you last time with the cubicle painted but completely bare, with most of the relays and contactors overhauled but not mounted. In the past 3 months the cubicle has gone from a bare shell to having all its relays and contactors fitted. Fitting these isn’t as easy as you’d think as we weren’t going back to what was in 41001 when we got it; the power car had this hybrid wiring that was part original prototype and part production HST. We have taken the decision to make 41001 as close to a production power car as possible to ease troubleshooting in the future. So Tony has now fitted the relays as per a production power car; this has added some relays into the cubicle and deleted some contactors – as an example, the start circuit used to have a Start Circuit Contactor (SCC) which was enormous (same size as the Lub Pump and Fuel Pump contactors). On the production they obviously realised this was overkill and replaced it with the Start Circuit Relay (SCR) which we have now done on 41001’s cubicle. With all the relays and contactors in position, Tony could start the mammoth task of wiring the cubicle. This isn’t particularly complicated, even by Tony’s own admission, but it is time consuming and requires a great deal of patience and dexterity. All our wiring is being done using railway standard approved cabling (TDE/76/P/16) which is lovely stuff to work with, being easy to strip and make off to ring crimps, but it is ferociously expensive. We managed to get the first 1000m (yes, 1km) of cable for a discounted price but having just ordered the second 1km, I can tell you those discounts don’t last! Every cable in the cubicle has a number; a simple system that BR used which means you can always work out what a cable does by looking at the ident on the cable next to the crimp, which is useful given all the cable is grey in colour! Tony has a point to point spread sheet we follow that says which two points within the cubicle the wires go between. Most of the regular crew at Neville Hill have had a go being Tony’s wiring mate and one soon gets into the rhythm of wire number being called out followed by start and end point and then working out what the neatest way of getting the cable between those two points will be. We have strategically placed loose cable ties around the cubicle frame so we can bundle together the loom as it starts to fill out.
The cubicle is rather clever in the way it is wired – something all BR locos have had – where the control and monitoring connections come into a compartment at the top and are “made off” to a series of ring terminal posts. That means you can remove the cubicle by “just” undoing these connections and then lifting the cubicle out. There is one caveat to that, which are the heavy duty connections which come in the bottom on 41001, namely for alternator and traction. This is an area we need to look at as there is some confusion as to how 41001 has been wired up; our original documentation from 1972 shows the traction motors in a 1+4 / 2+3 configuration with the armature connections next to each other and the field connections at one end. The production cars are in a 1+2 / 3+4 configuration with armature/field/field/armature connections. This will require some more digging to see what is what with the big cables and bus-bars appearing out of the floor where the cubicle sits.
Tony has also replaced the electronics rack that was in the prototype cubicle with one kindly donated to the project by HST supremo Dave Moore at Brush. It is actually from a Class 56 but we have modified it so it fits into the prototype cubicle and also takes HST production control cards – the same as those still being used by FGW. There was a bit of metal cutting and welding required by EMT to get the rack to fit, as one of the bracing struts was just where we didn’t want it. We have also replaced the 3 phase ac short circuiter with a dc machine that was originally from 56090! The AC short circuiters were renowned for causing more fires than they prevented and the DC variety is now standard equipment on all production power cars. The short circuiter has now been mounted on top of the cubicle as per the production power cars.
On the power car itself a lot of work has been carried out in addition to the cubicle work. Led by James, the team have worked their way round the inside of the power car and painted all the surfaces that can be painted to provide some corrosion protection, as well as protection from oil and fuel that will undoubtedly coat the engine room floor after a few months of operation! An important area that required painting were the battery boxes underneath the power car, as these hadn’t been looked at for over 30 years. John Zabernik and Chris Rose did a very thorough strip and rub down of the internal surfaces of the battery boxes and then John Zab came armed with masks, gloves and brushes and painted the entire inside of the boxes in a special rubberised white paint, which acts to protect the boxes as well as providing a safety layer against any possible short circuits that could occur with the batteries. A very satisfying result I am sure you’ll agree. We also painted the surfaces in the cab area to ensure these were all the correct colour; the NRM had used an odd shade of grey that wasn’t as it should be so we now have it all as near to the correct “BR Grey” as we can.
Ben, James and Gary spent a lot of time working out some of the remaining wiring in the power car. They were puzzled by the connections coming from the battery box and battery isolating switch (BIS) area, so armed with a multimeter and many pairs of hands they worked their way round each wire to see what was what. Part of this task involved ripping out the inspection lamp connections which are never used on the production power cars and they just make life more confusing for us. Once that wiring was out of the way we made good headway and managed to label all the connections as well as Ben re-wiring the BIS so that when it is in the “isolate” position it does actually isolate everything except the lights.
Ben and Gary tackled a problem that had been bothering us for some time with regard to the governor wiring; 41001 had a bit of a bodge when modified to run a governor with LDVT, instead of the original “traditional” vane motor – they put the LDVT box on the A side and the rest of the governor wiring in a box on B side. We wanted it all in one spot as per the production cars, so the A side box was removed with a view to getting everything in the B side box. However, when Ben and Gary totted up the cables in the new box they realised they were one short! So they took the bold decision to re-run the cables in some new trunking back to the front bulkhead junction box. This was relatively straight forward using some trunking that Garys company had “thrown out” during a recent move. However, they made a slight mistake and forgot to put screened cable in for the LDVT connections, so this will have to be re-done during our next visit.
Ben and Gary also worked on putting new cabling into the front cab which went well. The cab wiring was a bit of a hit and miss affair and given the state of the heater/blower unit we removed in the autumn, we thought it best to re-wire it to avoid any accidents! The wiring isn’t too difficult, although getting the wires down a narrow gap in between the cab and bulkhead can cause some swearing and pinched fingers. We have about 75% of the wiring through now, sticking out through holes in the desk where the instruments go. We should complete this fairly swiftly once the cab lighting switch panel is re-installed. One area that is a mystery is the brake controller handle which has 9 connections, none of which are marked or documented at either the brake controller handle end or on the E70. This may require some trial and error to get it working properly.
Steve and Bob took up our main mechanical challenge this period which was to install our newly converted carden shaft into 41001. This was quite involved, as you may recall S508 has a Vulkan coupling with M16 holes, as per production, but the flange on the ZZ gearbox on the Marston in 41001 has M14 holes. So Tony and Gary had been to our storage facility one Saturday and remove a flange from one of our mountain of production gearboxes which did have M16 holes. Steve and Bob used a pulled to remove the flange off 41001’s gearbox, which was much easier than the production one as someone had put some grease on it! Then the production flange was installed onto the shaft ready to take our especially lengthened production shaft, which is a thing of beauty and looks like new! The shaft went in with a bit of swearing and all that remains is to fabricate a cover to protect those in the engine room when the engine is running from falling onto the rotating shaft.
So another lengthy update and hope you’ve all made this far. We have had several discussions between ourselves recently and we think its amazing how much we have achieved in a year.