Friday, 18 August 2017

August News Part 3

The railway is preparing itself for Morgan the Railway Cat's big weekend, but we weren't sure if cats and Monkeys were compatible so have stuck to carriage restoration instead.

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

Setbacks can often come in threes and this was the case this week. The first concerned 853's brake-gear which on Monday was spotted to be in slightly the incorrect orientation for it to work when it is all connected up. This will require some further thoughts and modification. On the bright side however, the main vacuum cylinder overhauled last week has now been painted and fitted to the underframe.

The second setback was the fitting of the four leaf springs which had been cleaned up for the vehicle. These were also found to be slightly unsuitable in their shape when the first one was offered into position. This sadly means that Plan B will have to be implemented, which is selecting the four ex-PMV van springs and sending them away to be modified in their springing (made softer) which will be much more expensive than Plan A. Hopefully next week will be better!

British Railways 1959 Brake Corridor Composite E21224

This week has been particularly fruitful for this project, our current major (or "Gold") overhaul, with a lot done mainly by volunteers. Following last week's interior wood stripping, some of the large wall panels are now being sanded smooth ready to receive varnish. These are large, time consuming areas so will be a big milestone when completed. So far the Sheringham end vestibule, adjacent to the guard's compartment, has been treated.

The second of the five compartment sliding doors has been stripped of old varnish and awaits sanding.

Those items already at the varnish stage have also been receiving further coats of varnish.

The store cupboard was missing several sections of panels where it had all been cut away to accommodate the hideous shower unit. These areas have now been paneled over in a plain plastic material. This plain approach is appropriate as because it is a store cupboard we will be painting the inside and not restoring any of the original Formica panels as such. A start has now been made on fitting beading timber on the inside to cover some of the joins between panels.

British Railways 1957 Corridor Second E25189

This carriage's brief stay with us is approaching its end. The collapsed vacuum pipe at the Holt end had to be cut out and removed in several sections, the level of corrosion around the pipe was not pretty and the toilet flooring had to be dismantled to gain access to it.

With the pipe removed, a new section was made and welded in it place. The toilet floor was then reinstated and the coach tested. Frustratingly there is some form of tiny leak somewhere else in the system (we wanted it perfect!) however this repair has improved matters considerably. We are now awaiting for the coach to be collected for a return to Sheringham.

British Railways 1960 Covered Carriage Truck E94464

Work has continued to focus on the extremely rotten window bottoms, which have spiraled out of control as there simply isn't anything left of them.

We have gained access to the interior of the vehicle, which was difficult as it is stacked full of equipment, and started removing the internal window woodwork so that the new bottoms can be welded in and the windows can be re-secured. Three out of the six windows have now been dismantled.

Southern Railway 1951 Parcels & Miscellaneous Van 1476

In case you thought we had forgotten the third mistake of the week mentioned in the section on GER 853, then fear not! This week was to see the gloss paint applied to the Model Railway Van, however it soon became apparent that the green was not really the desired shade... Never mind, the rest of the side was painted in any case, as a holding coat, and when the correct colour arrives it can go on top in due course. It will indeed provide an extra layer of protection on the vehicle.

Colman's 1908 Mustard Van 4807 & Hurst Nelson 1942 4 Wheel Tank 1982

No progress to report up at Holt.

Future Projects

A juicy delivery of wagon underframe spares arrived from the Wensleydale, bought by the M&GN Society for future underframe and wagon restoration projects. Of interest is four standard three hole wagon wheelsets and axleboxes. These will be cleaned up now and repainted and protected before they are put into storage. So far the first one has been cleaned down, rust treated and coated in primer.

Friday, 11 August 2017

August News Part 2

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

The focus has continued on the underframe with lots of volunteers swarming on and around it like a climbing frame! The fruits of their labour is shining through with brakegear assembly rapidly progressing. This is taking advantage of the many brackets which have been fitted in previous weeks which are now holding some of the equipment they were meant for.

The four leaf springs that are being fitted for the vehicle have been extracted from storage and have now been cleaned down and inspected prior to fitting them to the underframe.

An 18 inch vacuum cylinder has been rebuilt and tested on our test rig, intended for 853. This is the heart of the brake system so is a nice symbolic component to restore!

British Railways 1959 Brake Corridor Composite E21224

Work on the windows continues. All of the window frames were gloss painted on the hidden inside faces in the early part of the week which then enabled the seaward side examples to be fitted to the repaired bodyside on the coach itself.

On the inside of the coach the large corridor partitions have now been chemically stripped of their old stain and varnish.

These walls are now ready for sanding.

A start has been made on replacing some of the plywood flooring where it has been removed for repairs or due to rot. A replacement floor has been fitted firstly to the Sheringham end toilet (the old shower room) which is now going to be a store cupboard.

On the benches in the workshop, more interior doors and woodwork are being stripped and re-varnished.

Some of the more advanced stuff is now getting up to three or four coats of varnish and is starting to get that trademark "glow" of gloss varnish!

British Railways 1956 Tourist Second Open E4236

This coach has completed its three month stay with us and has now been returned to traffic. It has received some very positive comments and looks very nice in the main passenger set.

British Railways 1957 Corridor Second E25189

The replacement coach for E4236 was planned to be TSO E4843. However this was changed this week to SK E25189. This latter coach has had a small vacuum leak for some months and it had been noted that certain smaller engines were struggling on occasion to raise the vacuum along the train. Given that it was a known issue, appeared to be surmountable, and was on a coach which is not used as often as many of the others it was descided to leave it alone for now until the coach came in for mid life overhaul in the next year (or so!). However since the start of the summer season it suddenly appeared to get worse an visiting N2 No 1744 in particular seemed to be struggling hauling trains which included E25189. After dragging brakes and wheel slipping was reported during the recent rainy weather E25189 had to be pulled from service and brought in for the required vacuum repairs.

Another reason to put off the repair was the simple fact than when you start "poking around" these things you often make it a lot worse! Sure enough within a few hours of the coach entering the shed a "small" hole was found in the main vacuum pipe underneath the toilet, which we think is the source of the problems. The toilet pan and part of the floor were stripped out to gain full access to the identified section of pipe and it was smartly tapped to see if the surrounding pipe was solid enough to be able to fill up the hole with a small welding repair from above, which would have been the swiftest repair.

Alas, at this point a large section of the pipe collapsed in on itself and the coach is now well and truly disabled requiring a much larger repair to the vacuum pipe in the most awkward of places! It has corroded right through where it passes through the reinforced buffer-beam and "dragbox" (a common place for these vacuum pipes to rot) and will probably have a few feet replaced next week. I say "probably" because the pipe collapsed in on itself about half an hour before home time on Friday afternoon, so being perfectly honest (we are human after all!) it was decided to enjoy the weekend first and re-assess the full battle plan on Monday morning! All good fun...

British Railways 1960 Covered Carriage Truck E94464

The rehanging of the doors has now been completed on this vehicle. Considering they had been in store and were all stuck getting all eight closing and latching smoothly and properly has been a great achievement!

Work is now fully focussed on the bodywork repairs to both sides of the vehicle. A combination of welded repairs and rivet patches are being employed as we do not have full resources currently available to direct at this van. Some pretty horrendous corrosion has been found underneath however we are doing our best to tackle what is required in the best possible timescale!

Southern Railway 1951 Parcels & Miscellaneous Van 1476

This week has seen the landward (platform) side of the van completed up to the undercoat stage. Nearly there...

Colman's 1908 Mustard Van 4807 & Hurst Nelson 1942 4 Wheel Tank 1982

No progress to report.


This week's workshop improvement project for the Axeman has been creating some extensions for our lifting jacks. These are being produced from some very heavy material and will be inspected (by the relevant qualified personnel from our colleagues in the Engineering department) prior to use once they are completed. Well, one does have to keep the eyes peeled when there is an Axeman, or indeed Wild Monkeys, on the loose!

Friday, 4 August 2017

August News Part 1

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

Much effort was spent this week on lifting and adjusting the underframe to lower it onto the axles. This was achieved by first fitting the axleboxes onto the axles and greasing up the W irons on the frame. Then with much adjusting the W irons were married up to the boxes and the frame put back onto stands (the wheels cannot carry the actual weight until the springs which fit on top of them are fitted). It now sits and looks approximately where it will be once the springs are fitted.

Elsewhere on the frame, more hole drilling and bracket fitting on the brake gear has been in progress and the brackets for the main vacuum cylinder are now in place.

Panel repairs to the wooden body next door continue to edge along in parallel with the underframe work.

British Railways 1959 Brake Corridor Composite E21224

Progress has continued to be focused on the windows. These have now all been cleaned and many of them have received their first coat of primer on the inside to prepare them for eventual refitting.

The glass for the same windows has also been cleaned of all of its old sealant and polished, another large task as there were over 30 of them to do! The wooden window retaining surrounds (pictured last week) have now all been test fitted to the windows and removed again for varnishing. So far they have received two coats.

British Railways 1956 Tourist Second Open E4236

This vehicle is still on the cusp of returning to traffic, the extra week in the shed has seen some more minor mechanical adjustments to the brakes and ride height made so it is ready to re-enter passenger service immediately. The solebar and bufferbeams have also been repainted black to freshen then up. The signwriting on the vehicle ends and underframe has also been completed.

Observant readers will see that we have fitted an optional extra to E4236 to bring it into the 21st century!

British Railways 1960 Covered Carriage Truck E94464

Just one lonely member of staff working away on this one this week, but he has done well and has now swapped and adjusted 3 out of the 4 double sets of doors so that they are now all closing and locking properly for the first time in a long while.

This is essential work to return the vehicle to a state where it can operate in service again.

Southern Railway 1951 Parcels & Miscellaneous Van 1476

The Holt end is now complete having had all its resin applied and repainted into black gloss. The resin has also been finished on the platform side, and green undercoat is starting to appear on the first few panels at the Holt end.

Colman's 1908 Mustard Van 4807 & Hurst Nelson 1942 4 Wheel Tank 1982

No progress to report.


Finally, the Axeman has got his hands on a steel welding bench which now looks like it has been dragged in from the North Sea gas field... It has been suitably modified for the workshop and has now been installed.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

July News Part 5

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

The focus has continued to be on the underframe. Many of the brackets that were mentioned last week have been painted and a reasonable number of them fitted to the underframe. As they are sometimes in different places lots of new holes have had to be drilled which has been fairly time consuming. Despite the underframe being 118 years old the metal is still tough! The brackets that are being fitted are for the brake rigging and vacuum cylinder. Other mechanical items such as the drawgear continue to receive coats of paint ready for fitting.

British Railways 1959 Brake Corridor Composite E21224

The windows continue to be prepared for refitting. Several frames are now having their sliding windows refitted into them.

A few days have also been spent manufacturing brand new wooden window surrounds to clamp the glass in place.

British Railways 1956 Tourist Second Open E4236

This week has seen some small and boring "snagging" jobs hoovered up to prepare the coach for its departure. Some of the more visual tasks have included repainting the floors in the vestibule areas, and picking out white lettering on the various plates etc that are fixed to the corridor ends. The corridor ends themselves are now both complete and have been repainted gloss black to freshen them up.

British Railways 1958 Covered Carriage Truck M94125

This van has now entered service again and is back on the end of the main coaching stock set, it certainly looks a lot nicer than it did when it came in!

British Railways 1960 Covered Carriage Truck E94464

In a deviation from our original 2017 works programme, the railway's other CCT, E94464, has been brought back into works for a "Bronze" standard overhaul. This is so it can supplement the recently out-shopped M94125 (see above) and so we can go back to the original system that was in use a few years back, when there were two CCT's in use during the summer services with a bike/buggy van on the end of each of the two sets.

Whilst mechanically fully operational, the vehicle is cosmetically in very bad condition sadly, the reason it was withdrawn from service in the first place! Given the limited time and resources available, we will not be able to work miracles, however some of the patched over corrosion will be improved and the doors made to work again. So far a start has been made of swapping some of the doors with spares we have, and a few of the patches have been ripped off by a swarm of Monkey's!

Southern Railway 1951 Parcels & Miscellaneous Van 1476

The Holt end of the vehicle has been sanded back ready to receive its resin coats.

Colman's 1908 Mustard Van 4807

The ends that were undercoated have now been gloss painted up at Holt.

Hurst Nelson 1942 4 Wheel Tank 1982

No progress to report.

Friday, 21 July 2017

COMPLETION SPECIAL: Royal Navy 4-wheel Flat 269

This week sees the completion of the restoration of our Royal Navy 4-wheel flat wagon 269.

269 was built in 1940 during the Second World War for the The Royal Navy Armaments Depot (RNAD) and was a simple 4-wheel un-braked flat wagon for carrying loads of any description, initially based at a propellant factory in Caewent, Wales. We actually have very little information as to the history of this wagon, perhaps understandably as the activities of the armed forces are rarely openly publicised.

It is quite likely that 269 was used comparatively little (compared to similar wagons in use on British Railways) and may have spent extended periods of time on MOD and other similar rail served sites throughout the UK.

Eventually 269 must have been made surplus to requirements and ended up in preservation at our neighbours the Mid Norfolk Railway. From there it was purchased by the M&GN Society as a wagon to be modified as a chassis to run the reclaimed Midland & Great Northern tool van body (which was undergoing restoration) on.

When 269 arrived at Sheringham it was temporarily put to use as an accommodation chassis for the body of Great Eastern Railway 853 (now also under restoration at Weybourne) whilst the body of the M&GN Van was readied. However 269 was then set aside as by chance it was noticed how much of a good fit it was (in terms of length) as a donor chassis for GER 853. For this reason the M&GN van would get another chassis whilst 269 was reserved to accommodate 853.

Fast forward to 2015, and the plans for 269 were changed yet again after it was realised how good a condition 853's own severed underframe was in. With 853 now not needing a donor chassis at all, 269 was in fact surplus to requirements after all this time.

However the simplistic nature of the wagon and the desire by supporters to see a longer demonstration freight train soon led to the idea of 269 being restored as an item in its own right for the goods set. Inspections were made and it was realised that a good clean up and some mechanical work and the wagon would in fact be fit for service!

Over the past few months the wagon has been fully restored cosmetically and mechanically.

A through vacuum pipe has been fitted so it can coexist in the freight set nicely. The wooden deck was restored and the sides painted in RNAD blue colours.

The only item missing was a suitable Navy-themed load to make the wagon more interesting. A 21 foot torpedo built from plywood and wooden slats was chosen.

Covered in thin steel sheet with a mock propeller end.

A hot water cylinder covered in car body filler  as a nose cone added to the effect!

The wagon, with completed load, is now ready for service and been successfully test run up to Holt where it now joins the other freight wagons in the demonstration goods set, which is now one wagon stronger.

Meanwhile, back at the Ranch...

There was excitement in the works this Wednesday morning after the storms the night before. Ceilings had burst through, roofs had leaked, drains overcome and workshops flooded! Comms were down but the lack of ringing phones actually worked to our advantage in the end! With a stiff upper lip we rallied the Works Monkeys and kept the wheels of industry turning... OK to be fair none of the water damage was actually in Carriage & Wagon but in Norfolk you has to grab every sensational headline you can!

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

The W irons continue to be worked on and all the spring hangers have now been fitted also. A large number of supporting brackets and brake gear has been dragged out of stores, some of which has already been cleaned up and painted some months/years ago. The rest has been gathered and some items, such as the drawgear (coupling) hooks coated in rust-killer to start their transformation ready for re-use.

British Railways 1959 Brake Corridor Composite E21224

Steady progress continues to be made on the ongoing tasks. A new cluster of woodwork was found lying forgotten at the side of the workshop so this has triggered a fresh bout of woodwork stripping and 50/50 re-varnishing. Window frame stripping also creeps along to ready the windows for re-glazing and refitting when the body is ready for them. Even the Works Monkeys have had to be drafted in for this huge job!

During a week's work experience we had a student with us who was able to rub down the guard's desk and paint the areas that had worn down to bare wood into primer.

Bench work rebuilding the second batch of exterior doors (intended for the landward side) has continued and they are starting to gain items such as opening windows and look like they are coming together fast.

British Railways 1956 Tourist Second Open E4236

This vehicle is now on the cusp of completion having been in for a very respectable three months for "intermediate overhaul". On the exterior of the vehicle, the lining out is now complete and the lettering "E4236" has also been applied. The vehicle was numbered M4236 when it came in but as it was delivered new to the Eastern Region we have taken the opportunity during the repaint to show its original prefix from now on.

The British Railways coach roundels have also been applied to the sides, which really finishes off the paint job nicely.

Attention has now turned to finishing the vehicle's ends. The corridor connections and end footsteps, which were removed to enable bodywork repairs, have all been craned back onto the vehicle and the rubber bellows and associated equipment bolted up. These bits and bobs are now receiving their final paint. Also on the end, the removed vacuum pipe which feeds the emergency passenger communication chord apparatus has been returned to its rightful place.

The interior is also receiving its finishing touches. A great deal of effort has been spent on modifying two odd tables at the end of the coach.

Odd tables that do not match the others

These had been swapped in the past and the originals lost so have never matched the blue patterned Formica tables that are fitted to the rest of the carriage.

The Formica tables fitted to most of the carriage

Some time ago we took a high resolution photo of one of the Formica tables and digitally tweaked it so that it could be printed out on a vinyl roll. This has now been done and the "fake" Formica stuck onto a wooden insert which was carefully shaped to sit into the tables that were of a different design. We are all very pleased how they have turned out and are eager to see how hard-wearing the vinyl is in front line service.

The new "fake" covering

Elsewhere on the interior, some general tidying up of repainted and mastic filled areas has been done to improve the final appearance of the windows.

British Railways 1958 Covered Carriage Truck M94125

The need for this vehicle to be in service in time for the summer season has meant a big push to get the refresh work completed this week. Two coats of Crimson gloss, left over from the Suburban 4 project, have now been applied which has brightened up the vehicle considerably.

The original numbers, which due to time constraints had been masked up for the duration of the painting works, have been revealed once more. They are slightly messy if you look at them very close up, but they are more than adequate considering that the alternative was to go without any numbering at all.

The doors have also received some maintenance to remove some of the wear they had (as one set was groaning when you opened them!) which has been done by lubricating some parts and replacing some others. Also on the doors, all of the handrails, luggage handles and step boards have been painted black to smarten them up.

M94125 has now been handed back to the operating department and will be back in traffic next week.

Southern Railway 1951 Parcels & Miscellaneous Van 1476

The roof repaint is now finished. Attention continues to be on the sides which have had several coats of resin applied to try and seal and stabalise the timber which faces the harsh sunlight.

London Midland & Scottish Railway 1940 12T Box Van 514207

The repainting of the roof has now been finished, which completes the planned work for the vehicle for this summer.

Colman's 1908 Mustard Van 4807 & Hurst Nelson 1942 4 Wheel Tank 1982

Progress on the two vehicle's currently undergoing a refresh up at Holt has continued this week, but I haven't been able to get there for an update so it will have to wait until next week!