Watercress Line

Notched Nuts at Ropley 29th November


Another month gone; going to work in the dark, coming home in the dark; Gawd; where's the St John's Wort? It doesn't make the days any lighter, but as a mild anti-depressant, it makes the dark days more tolerable; though, in fairness, it was a lovely bright day today, albeit naffin' cold and anyway, who can even think of being depressed when all our Ropley chums are gathered at the home for the bewildered which is Ropley MPD...
 
We thought we'd all come on the wrong day when we gathered for our first cuppa as the "white board" was just that; white! No words of wisdom were there to enlighten us so we just drank more tea until David came in and outlined his days requests. Seems he'd lost the whiteboard pens or something..
 
But first things first; our machine shop supervisor, Trevor is leaving us for pastures new tomorrow and the staffers asked for us to sign his card and then requested our presence in the machine shop at 1pm to suitably embarrass him... Have had this important briefing, we wandered downstairs to see what was cooking..
 
A little test first; the title this week of the photos was something about "Notched Nuts at Ropley" with a close up picture of a welding torch. Now I have been using a welding torch on and off for years; I had my own bottles at home for many years and so of course was familiar with the left hand thread for the acetylene (or propane) bottles and hoses. But I never knew, until today, that all left hand thread nuts for the welding kit have notches cut in their nuts so as to instantly recognise them.. Sounds painful to me and the fact that they are always on the red hoses is a bit of a give away, but there you go; you learn something new every day...
 
The last couple of weeks has seen a couple of the guys getting filthy inside the firebox of the Black Five whilst dismantling the brick arch. As it is fairly new, it was really tough to break up but it had to go to enable repair to the back corner of the boiler which was getting damp.. The boiler repair has been carried out and the loco steamed satisfactorily so a new brick arch was scheduled to be built today. The boiler shop lads had already built the wooden former for it so it just remained to get the concrete mixer, the ingredients; essentially concrete mix with extras and of course, the loco into place in the wheeldrop shed to complete the task. First problem was the 9F was having a boiler wash-out over the pit in front of the wheeldrop shed; "We'll be done by lunchtime" they said "go find something else to do", So we fiddled about doing a few other bits until it became apparent that they weren't going to be finished with the 9F until end of play, so the brick arch would have to wait for the Thursday gang..  
 
Colin's pipe men were still threading copper pipe, fabricating brackets and all the other regular bits they have been doing on Swanage for weeks now though one side is almost (?) done. The other side has not yet been started and as that side of the loco is close to the shed wall, it's a bit dark around there. So our resident whiz spark, Morley, raided his stores and came up with a new light fitting with switch and cable and spent the day fitting all this to the wall adjacent to the dark side of Swanage; It worked a treat, so Colin and co can have no more excuses...
 
The Pony truck gang have yet another bogie to work on. They are waiting for bits for the Can Pac pony truck so have started on the next in a long line; It only needs our newly acquired old friend, the Standard 5, to be ripped apart to add yet another bogie to their long queue in the shed. Incidentally, we don't know when The Standard 5 will be started as we have enough locos in bits at the moment and the boiler shop has a queue but it's fair to say, everyone is glad to see it back at Ropley even though it may be a few years before it's running again as, obviously, it's boiler "ticket" has run out.
 
So a fairly busy day incentivised by the very cold weather which isn't quite so apparent when we were busy! The only warm place in the whole building was the machine shop which we piled into at 1pm to see 2 Jags present Trevor with a card and gift from us all; he was, of course, suitably embarrassed but he did say he would pop in now and again when he was back this way in Hampshire. As he is moving to North Wales, that might not be too often but we all wished him well, even though he did say something about making sure it wouldn't be a Wednesday when he popped in!! Can't imagine what he meant by that...
 
Oh, and whilst we are wishing people well, I learned today that one of our staffers, Paul, has just become a Dad; Good luck mate; your life will never be the same again...
 
So that's it from me, your Ropley Scribe, for this week; won't be doing the blog next week as it's my turn to make a cake... (eh? can't do multiskilling, obviously...)
 
Dave.
 

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