Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Riots, railways and rough justice

I often share pieces from the 'papers on here. Well, today is no exception, and whilst, on the back of a frank exchange of views I had with the official twitter feed of the Lords Spiritual, I was pleased to see some sense from former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey in the Daily Mail today, I have gone for a piece in today's Times...

I only noticed last night, packing Step Mum's prized newspapers from the Eastbourne riots (£1 plus postage off Ebay!) away having read from them at band practice, that the piece on the court judgement was published 120 years ago today. It turns out that there is to be no extravagant celebration of this particular 120th anniversary, although I look forward to seeing the locals' film some time.

The account of the events which led to the court case were reported in the 4 January edition, describing the chaos as the police set upon the Army march (which was not even playing!):
"In the scuffle several women were knocked down and had their clothes torn; both men and women lost their caps and bonnets, and one musical instrument was thrown into the sea and another considerably damaged. Ultimately, the Salvationists again got together and marched back to the citadel in procession."
Our corps has, for the time being at least, managed to face down the risk of a threat to our existence, but not even our reviled local authority have banned marching with instruments on a Sunday, as happened in Eastbourne - and even if they did, we wouldn't expect to be set upon by the police. The bench found in the brave Salvationists' favour and noted that they had every right to do as they had done:

Rather, it was deemed, in the matter of 'breach of the peace' that it was those who chose to give them a hostile reception that chose to put 'the peace' at risk:

Ironic that. That's what happened when we went to the Salvation Army corps you attend, last year. A mob set on us, the police got involved, and ultimately it was determined that we'd done nothing wrong and that those who had chosen to take offence were the only ones who were up for a scrap. That's classic Little Grandad tactics - incite a fight and then claim a big man did it and ran away.

Nobody ever apologised for what happened that day, which is sad. I am firmly of the view that as Christians, we have much to learn in these days, from our forebears who knew real hardship, lest we sleepwalk back into such days.

I sat and read the1892  judgement this afternoon, and stitched together several scans in order to make up a full size copy which you might be interested to look at. (Click here to download the pdf)

As I looked elsewhere on the page, I was amazed what else they were writing of in the legal round-up that day. A case involving the Attorney-General defending the Great Western Railway from a claim by an insurance company that they failed to use appropriate spark arrestors on their locomotives and had set fire to a man's barn by failing to take appropriate precautions. The slightly dry but very detailed reporting of the proceedings revealed that the great and the good of railway engineering were there! William Dean of the GWR was backed up in his evidence by the Midland Railway's Samuel Johnson, Dugald Drummond from Scotland, and George Whale, deputy loco superintendent of the LNWR. The mechanical engineering fraternity won their case, too.
In the light of recent unfortunate events with 'Lamiel' on the main line, it was particularly interesting. Oh to have been a fly on the wall that day.

Finally on the page, we have a divorce and child custody case! Interestingly, the father, representing himself, was found guilty of cruelty upon examination of evidence, and the judge permitted him to cross-examine his wife (I have to say I am wholly in favour of this; if you are prepared to bring a case and make allegations in a family court, you have to be prepared to stick by them and be questioned on them in court, as would be the case in criminal law) at that. That said, the respondent father explained that he was LIP due to want of means, and whilst he was clearly no saint, so too was he was clearly disadvantaged before the court. Custody was awarded to the mother, who was awarded decree nisi (they did it all in one hit back then, it seems). Notable in the proceedings was the application of the principle of condonation, which has no place in family law any more, to my understanding.

The Salvation Army getting in scrapes with a local authority, sparks from a steam locomotive causing fires, and a litigant in person father losing in court. 120 years ago today, the world was not as different as we might imagine!

Love from Daddy

Monday, 23 January 2012

Of blastpipes and blowers

I got home late last night, earlier than expected, having completed my weekend's tasks and nipped over to drop some things off with Grandma and Big Grandad.

Yesterday we finally got 'Oliver's blastpipe assembly off. This was not as easy as it should have been, and took about a day and a half in the end. Eventually, it turned out that one of the studs had sheared, and we had to burn it out in order to release it. All the time you have to bear in mind the relative fragility of castings, and the expense of pattern-making and casting of a replacement - not to mention the fact that the engine won't work without it!

When a steam engine is working, steam exhausted from the cylinders comes up the blastpipe and out of the chimney. In the process, it creates a draught in the smokebox, which draws the fire. On top of the blastpipe is the blower (seen here before removal), which creates that draught 'artificially' to prevent the fire from 'blowing back' at the crew, and to draw the fire when the loco is stationary.

Over time, hot oil from the cylinders builds up and bakes onto the inside of the blastpipe, and in the time 'Oliver' has been back in action, it had built up to the point where it was potentially causing excess back-pressure. To avoid the grot off the inside of the blastpipe going down into, and damaging, the pistons, the blastpipe has to be removed in order to chip it off.

So, early yesterday afternoon we finally managed to get the blastpipe out and the blower off, at which I could start chipping the crud off - it was over half an inch thick in places. Some of it split off in slabs, rather like splitting slate - the rest had to be chipped and ground away, and I was seriously encrusted by the time I finished. Three lots of swarfega, two showers and a bath later, and a little remains!

Some time with the whirly wheel on the angle grinder cleaned up the outside of the casting, too - including the all-important flange faces, so it re-seats nicely.

Final task for me (for someone will today be making a new stud to replace the one which met its end) was to make a new gasket. Unlike a car, you can't just pick one up off the shelf, shaped to suit - after all, there are only two 'Britannias' left in existance! A sheet of jointing is therefore the starting point to cut a new one out.

Jointing is pliable but reasonably easily torn. You can cut it with a knife, but on a heavy duty joint like this one, I tend to do it with a hammer. First, you stick bolts, the same diameter as the studs on which the casting sits, through the holes, to keep the sheet in registration.

Then, with a ball pein hammer, you work your way along all the edges to be cut, tapping the edge with the hammer and breaking the jointing cleanly around it. Very quickly you have a gasket of exactly the right dimensions to seal the joint. You then take a picture of your finished work, except I forgot to do that!

I suppose I may as well leave little tips like this on here for you to find in the future. Whilst I would sooner teach you face to face, that is no excuse for me to fail to provide the instruction a father gives his son.

Meantime, 'Oliver' will be back in action next weekend, and out on the main line again soon.

That's the first weekend I've spent at the engine shed for a very, very long time, and the exercise (in both senses of the word!) has done me good. Nose back to the grindstone today, and, speaking of chipping away at greasy filth, responding amongst other things to the CSA...

Love from Daddy

Friday, 6 January 2012

Dear Interested Reader....

When a child goes missing, after you've thought about where they might have gone, you invariably go back to where you last had them.

Two years ago this evening, my son was taken from me by the family courts. I had done nothing wrong - but my spiteful ex-wife decided to use force and lies to take my son from me.

I last played with my little boy right here, with Paddington Bear. He is now in Devon, miles up Brunel's railway line. I haven't seen him in over a year now - despite court orders for contact between us.

Every year, on this anniversary and on his birthday in July, my wife and I will come, to pray for a much loved, much missed little boy, and for an end to this torture.

If all else fails, maybe one day he will come looking, and find his Dad waiting for him here.

There are 3.8 million children, one in three, living without a father in this country. I am just one of those children's Dads. You can find out more about the life we lead by reading this blog, or tweeting @lovefromdaddy.

Thanks for your interest. God bless you.


Back to the Bear

Time to set off for the annual January 6 trip to Paddington station. You are obviously not likely to be there this year, but you know when you can find us by the bear on 6 January when you are older.

Love from Daddy