Tuesday, 27 November 2012

MoSI Railway's electric loco gets a boost!

The battery electric locomotive at MoSI today
I visited the Manchester Museum of Science & Industry (MoSI) today to attend a meeting regarding the proposed Ordsall Chord, a Network Rail proposal which is part of the 'Northern Hub' scheme to improve rail in the North West (the chord's alignment might spell the end of the MoSI railway). I noticed the railway's battery electric locomotive, bonnets up, being ministered to by a couple of blokes from the Exide battery company. As ever.please click on any picture for a larger image.
One of the original batteries after being removed from the locomotive
 This 4-wheel loco is very useful at MoSI for shunting our steam locomotives and train in and out of the power hall at the beginning and the end of the day when the steam loco is not in steam. It also has many uses around the site moving rail vehicles. But her batteries are now 25 years old, 50% longer than their published useful life. Some cells have failed and have been shorted out, while the others only retain a small part of the charge they should, and that doesn't last long. Now £12,000 has been spent on a new set of cells, and today they were being installed in place of the old ones by the men from Exide.
 One man extracts the old cell, while his mate brings a new one to replace it
 A long pair of 'pliars' is used to extract the old cell, then it is replaced by a new one
 The loco was in the Liverpool Road platform for its battery change despite the rainy weather, so the heavy cells would not need to be lifted too high by the guys doing the installation
A view under one of the two bonnets shows 90 individual lead acid cells connected in series. The other bonnet contains another 90. These 180 cells have the electrolyte in already, and are about 70% charged, so once installation is complete a short charging session should see our battery loco ready for another 25 years of life!

The battery electric locomotive photographed on an earlier occasion, hauling 'Planet' prior to getting the latter into steam 


Sunday, 18 November 2012

'Stepping out' to Mouldsworth Motor Museum

Today was a brilliant cold but clear-blue-sky sunny late autumn day, so some form of motorcycling had to be done!

Malc and I decided to visit the Motor Museum at Mouldsworth, near Chester. It's a trip we'd had 'on the back burner' for a while, waiting for the right day. The museum is only open on Sundays until the end of November so today was ideal. We rode there on the 'Steppers' (low power step-through motorbikes). I went on my Honda C90 so Malc (who has a few 'Steppers' and 'Chicken Chasers' [sub 50cc machines] to choose from) took his C90 as well.

As ever, click (and click again!) on any picture for a better, more detailed, clearer, and larger image.

The C90 photographed on another day, with my MX5 in the background. I bought the bike earlier this year (it's in the blog - go look!), and added the rear rack and rare white top box myself, care of eBay.

The back roads (steppers are more fun on these than on 'A' roads) were still a bit frosty this morning so we had to be careful on the first bit of the run, out through Warford, Ollerton and Peover to visit Graham at Northwich for a warming cup of coffee. Graham took a picture of us on our Steppers on arrival,seen below.

Malc and I on our 'steppers' in Graham's yard this morning

After being shown around Graham's latest 'home improvements' (including a central heating boiler he recently installed, complete with its own gas meter!) we hit the road out through Northwich to Hartford, Gorstage, Cuddington, Norely and through Delamere Forest to Mouldsworth. From Hartford onwards the route was along country lanes, delightful in the low late autumn sunshine.

Not a handsome building! The museum is housed in this concrete ex-water treatment plant. Our 'steppers' are by the fence on the right.

This Vincent HRD is worth a bob or two.... There were a few more motorcycles in the museum, including a Sunbeam, Frances Barnett, and Royal Enfield.

 We were told that this little Morris tourer was extremely rare, one of only three in existence

Trojan bubble car, a licence built Heinkel

This general view down the museum shows its industrial origins. There is a bore hole in an adjacent building but the water from it is very hard, so it was 'softened' in the treatment plant which is now the museum. The Mid Cheshire Railway runs by the rear of the site, and Northwich rock salt was brought by rail to the plant's own sidings for use in water softening. These days the bore hole is only used in case of drought, the usual water supply for the Chester area (including Mouldsworth) coming from Lake Vyrnwy in Wales.

Malc inspects a Rover chassis. The dun-coloured car is Crossley, built in Manchester.

Not just cars on display here, either....

This original Heinkel left hand drive bubble car had only one owner all its life and was purchased in its present dilapidated condition by the museum owner. When the purchaser heard that the garage the little car had been stored in was going to be demolished, he offered to take it away. It was re-assembled in the museum, once again providing a home for its long-disused occupant!

I've always thought a mid-60s 3.8 Jaguar E-Type convertible in red to be probably the sexiest car ever. This one is a 1969 4.2, and lacks chrome wire wheels, so doesn't quite cut the mustard. But it's very nice anyway!

It looks as good today as it did in the '60s!

Not sure why the RAC man is typing a letter on the bonnet of this 1930 Morris Minor....

Interesting little sports car powered by an earlier 500cc version of the 750cc parallel twin engine that powers my Triumph Bonneville motorcycle

At this time of year it soon starts to get dark, so we headed homeward about mid afternoon a quicker way back (even on Steppers!) using the A54 and A556 as far as Davenham, then the country lanes home via Lach Dennis, Peover, Ollerton and Warford.

My C90 was quite mucky by the time I got home, streaked in mud and probably a bit salty too from the semi-icy roads of this morning, so it got a thorough hose-down, clean, and drying-off before retiring to the garage and the company of the 'big bikes' (Triumph Bonneville and Suzuki Freewind) in there. These little 'steppers' are as much fun as those big bikes in their own way!

Another great day out for the old gits! 

Postscript, 20th January 2013

Sad news this week. It seems we saw the museum at perhaps the last possible time we could have, as it closed for the winter soon after our visit, and will not re-open. Here is a message from the proprietor:

14 January 2013

A personal message from James Peacop

After 40 years the Museum at Mouldsworth has been forced to close.
I would like to offer my thanks to all those who have visited and supported this popular collection during the past 40 years.

I have tried to keep this unique collection of cars and auto memorabilia together in Cheshire, but this has proved impossible.
I have therefore instructed BRIGHTWELLS, the auctioneers at Leominster, near Hereford, to arrange suitable sales.


Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Manchester Bus Museum

Malc, Ivan and myself had originally planned to do this trip on two wheels, but decided to go by train and bus. We got the 09:51 Wilmslow to Manchester Piccadilly train, walked to Piccadilly Gardens, where we boarded a 135 bus to the museum in Cheetham Hill.

As ever, please click on any picture for a larger image.

Ivan and Malc in front of the horse-drawn bus

Terrain-dependant variable power for the horse bus

Such a place would need to be capable of miracles...... 

Ivan is the only one of us who is not retired, so phone calls from work even when he is on holiday are par for the course for him. I remember it well and don't miss it a bit!

Welsh spelling of Nefyn.... rather unusual for those days.....

I remember these North Western Road Car Company double deck buses which operated from Stockport on routes with low bridges. The sunken gangway on the right enabled a lower roof line.

Karrier (later part of Commer) engine, with magneto ignition

The rear of an Atlantean bus with the engine removed

The classic London Transport Routemaster earns its place in this museum as it was trialled for a few months by Manchester Corporation, but none were ordered as it was felt that the City's buses should come from North West manufacturers such as Leyland

I remember these two North Western buses; the single decker was of a type used on the Altrincham to Hale Barns service when I was at school and I travelled on them regularly. The Daimler double decker ran up Ashton Lane in Sale on the Sale Station to Ashton on Mersey service.

Malc, former Boeing 747 driver, tries the Daimler for size

The Daimler's 'flight deck'

Daimler lower deck

It doesn't seem like yesterday that the Metrolink trams began running in Manchester, and now an early one is retired to the museum

 One of the volunteers showed us around the museum, including allowing us on buses not normally open to the public, and opening up engine bays for us. This AEC engine is tilted nose-up and slewed slightly so the gear box fits under the stairs to the upper deck.

A 6 cylinder Gardner engine on display

Yet another engine bay is opened for us at Malc's request...

 ....To reveal the Crossley engine within

'Big Cat' themes seem popular with bus manufacturers

This Park Royal-bodied Leyland Atlantean was known as the 'Mancunuian', being developed by Manchester City Transport in the 1960s. It was Manchester's first 'one man operated' type and its handsome design would not look out of place on the City's roads today.

 A rather nice pre-war Leyland Tiger of Manchester Corporation

A Bedford light coach of Warburtons Coaches

After a fascinating morning in the museum, being shown around by a knowledgeable volunteer, we made our way back to Cheetham Hill Road for a 135 bus into central Manchester for a scoop or two of ale and some lunch. For lunch we'd planned to visit one the 'all-in buffet' Chinese restaurants on Portland St, but before that, a pint!

Holts always was a good pint at a reasonable price as I remember from my Systems Programming Limited days at Heaton Mersey, when The Griffin was our local. The barmaid at this pub on Portland Street, Manchester, pulls us a scoop each.

Then it was over the road to do a bit of 'hoovering' at the 'all you can eat' Chinese. Excellent value and very good quality, too!

We made it to Piccadilly Station in time for the 15:38, arriving in Wilmslow just after 4pm where Ivan is shown, above

And so ended another superb day out for us Old Gits. Where next, I wonder?