Anyway, I’m drifting off the subject; the point is with all this glamorous work being carried out by the apprentices, after they’d gone, we decided to have a go at refitting some of Pluto’s body parts to see what needed fixing and how the exhausts would go, etc. After all, why should they have all the fun? Then it all started to look like a locomotive again. Can you tell from the photographs which bits have still to be restored? Anyway, if you fancy tackling a similar challenge, why not look us up here. In the meantime, don’t let the apprentices know you’ve seen this. You don’t think they read these, do you?
As you know, at the start of the year the Apedale Apprentices set themselves the challenge of rebuilding a little 10/13 Ruston locomotive within 50 weeks, which was the birth of the project called “Pluto”. It is fair to say that excellent progress has been made against this target, which is sufficiently ahead of plan to allow us to aim for an early debut at the September gala. But after all the excitement of running the engine for the first time the other week come some of the more mundane jobs. Firstly, fitting the drive chains. Our standard gauge professional assures me that this is the most awful and fiddly job on any locomotive. How many HST power cars have drive chains I don’t know, but I’m sure he knows best. Then there is the fuel filtration system to sort out and, even in the days before wholesale recycling, Ruston had no truck with disposable paper fuel filters; all theirs were cleanable. One of the apprentices did try the line “well it’s been soaked in diesel all these years so it must already be clean.” Sorry guys, warm water, washing up liquid and a scrubbing brush are the order of the day and keep going until the water stops going black. The combined patience of about 4 people (only 2 of them apprentices) eventually got the job done and in the process we discovered the origin of the term “the mess room”. Then before we could re-fit the element, it would need to be dried out. No problem, that’s what the oven’s for and on a low heat it was done in no time. If Terry’s warmed-up oatcakes taste a bit diesely next time, I guess we’ll know why. And if you find that a bit icky, I assure you it’;s nothing compared with the time we discovered that the reason our favourite teapot never poured terribly well was because the spout was blocked with dead flies.