Friday, 20 October 2017

October News Part 3

Quite a lot to report this week, although spread over numerous projects!

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

This week has seen holes cut into the floor of the body which will be accommodating the handbrake mechanism and vacuum piping (to serve the guard's brake gauge etc). It is remarkable how sturdy some of the original Great Eastern Railway wood still is in the areas where it has not rotted during all those years!

On the end of the body, work on the end handrails has progressed and these have been trail fitted and painted in primer.

The underframe has also continued to have parts added. Brake linkages continue to emerge, and end steps have been welded to the guards end corners.

One of the main areas of progress however has been the bending of the brand new vacuum piping which will be fitted soon to the underframe. It is not very often a vehicle gets a whole new pipe from end to end!

British Railways 1959 Brake Corridor Composite E21224

No progress to report.

British Railways 1959 Tourist Second Open M4843

The refurbishment of the doors is approaching completion. As mentioned last week, internal painting is now completed, and this week has seen the varnished door cards permanently fitted in place and the "do not lean out of the window" signage added.

A start has been made on the metalwork replacement on the Sheringham end of the vehicle, which was badly corroded. This proved to actually be a real pig, and what normally takes just over an hour turned into two days, as this one did not want to budge...

In the end, after various methods were tried and tested, the Axeman had to step in to apply some serious heat but even then the connection refused to comply to our demands! However we always get our way in the end and the following day it was finally off!

British Railways 1958 Class 101 Railcar Driving Trailer Second Lavatory M56352

The National Railway Museum's DMU trailer car has been selected as the next vehicle to receive reupholstered seating, which will hopefully be completed before the start of the 2018 season. The first six seats have been loaded into the upholstery workshops, and upholsterers Keith & Martin have made a swift start in working out how these seats are to be tackled.

The first seat back has now been produced, and looks a million times better than the damaged, holed, faded old examples!

British Railways 1960 Covered Carriage Truck E94464

The vehicle was lifted into the air this week, a task which has been delayed as we have required extension brackets manufacturing for our lifting jacks to properly lift it. which in turn required input from "management"!

With these fitted and the vehicle successfully skyward the two out-of-profile wheelsets were rolled out and the axleboxes removed. They are now ready for transferring next door for tyre turning, but as the volunteer who undertakes this comes in on Thursdays (6 days away), we took the opportunity to make a start on stripping all of the detritus off them so they can be repainted in due course. So far the first wheelset (being a 4 wheel vehicle there is only two to do!) has nearly been cleaned up.

All four of the wooden end doors have now been repaired and all have now been painted in primer. In order to fit the doors, the rotten floor at the same end of the vehicle (which was removed several weeks ago) has been remade from new timber, test fitted, and also primed. All of these components (including the doors) can now be brought up to gloss paint together prior to actual fitting!

The interior sanding of the walls has also been finished so these are now also ready for paint.

Royal Navy 4 Wheel Flat 269

This vehicle, the latest wagon to be added into the demonstration freight train, is having a few "extras" added to it to increase the Naval theme. A box of warheads has been produced, complete with fibreglass tips, and are in the process of being painted, along with two depth charges!

The cradle for the depth charges has also been produced from scrap timer and has already been painted.


The two TSO coaches which were selected to go on hire to the Churnet Valley have had their final checks, which included some last minute lighting modifications to E4651!

They both were picked up on time and made an interesting sight on the road lorries.

Other maintenance continues, with a batch of Direct Admission vacuum brake valves having Dan's magic overhaul touch, and very nice they look too!

Friday, 13 October 2017

October News Part 2

Member's Day has now been and gone, and as far as we know everybody enjoyed their tours around the workshops.

This week has seen a reduced presence on the ongoing restorations as a fair amount of time has been spent getting two of our open coaches ready for going on hire to another railway for the winter/Santa Special season. As is always the way with these things, the nominated pair required more work than originally envisaged but the job list was getting smaller by the end of the week!

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

The modifications to the hand brake mentioned last week have continued, with a link bar having been cut and shortened to suit the new arrangement. The holes for the new buffers at the Holt end of the vehicle have been successfully drilled and the two remaining buffer shanks bolted into position. All four buffer shanks are now in position and painted.

Work on the sanding, filling and wood repairing on the wooden bodysides is also progressing in its usual ongoing manner.

British Railways 1959 Brake Corridor Composite E21224

The end of the long and arduous task of scraping the roof clear has been reached, with the last vents and central sections scraped back to bare metal this week. The stripping of the roof has highlighted a few odds and sods up there that need to be attended to, but nothing serious has come to light thankfully!

Work on sanding and varnishing the interior woodwork continues like a reassuring heartbeat. Compartment doors are the main bits being sanded at present, with more trim work and beading having increasing coats of varnish applied.

British Railways 1959 Tourist Second Open M4843

The refurbishment of the doors continues. They have had a second coat of "wood effect" brown gloss and the varnishing of the timber door cards has also been completed. With these two elements ready the cards can be reattached to the doors themselves.

Four out of the nine window frames which were removed have been refitted top the coach side, on the seaward side, there is just one more on this side to complete. This is a good visual milestone, given the length of time people have been working hard on the stripping down and repainting of these frames.

The 1/4 steel re-skin is progressing well, with new panelwork now more than half way along the section we're replacing.

British Railways 1960 Covered Carriage Truck E94464

Work on rebuilding the wooden end doors continues. Slower progress this week, however three of them are now repaired and painted into primer.

Work on sanding the interior walls has been completed with just a few of the inside planks on the doors still to receive the same treatment.

Other Projects

The latest quality project has been the building of a cage specifically designed for volunteers who show signs of working in another department, or worse another railway...

...or so we thought. It is actually a paper storage bin for the bookshop who occasionally have to dispose of items to the paper bank for recycling. Being able to store them in here will increase their space and reduce the number of trips to be made to the paper bank.

Friday, 6 October 2017

October News Part 1

The workshop was thoroughly swept down towards the end of this week to make it a suitable venue to host workshop tours during Saturday's M&GN Member's Day. Hopefully everybody who attends these will enjoy the close examination behind the scenes. Monkey is located somewhere in the workshop - will any of the tour participants spot him?!?

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

The handbrake mentioned last week has been further tested and found to require a slight modification to increase the gearing on which the wheel acts upon the brakes themselves. The team have got straight onto it, introducing a further lever in to the system.

As ever, the Axeman assisted but do not fear, the handbrake will be exhaustively tested now that we know he's been involved!

Elsewhere on the underframe, more buffer shanks have been fitted, with the Sheringham end now complete. Specialist oval holes are being drilled into the frame at the Holt end so that the London North Eastern shanks can fit into the Great Eastern apertures.

Body repairs continue on an ongoing basis.

The Royal Norfolk Regiment

The third nameplate from recently dedicated WD steam loco 90775 is being mounted on a commemorative board which will also carry information and images about the dedication ceremony and the engine.

British Railways 1959 Brake Corridor Composite E21224

Not the highest prioritised vehicle this week, nonetheless the roof scraping work has continued with the centre section of the roof chipped clean for about 1/3rd of its length. This is by far the hardest section of the roof to scrape as it contains all of the awkward crevices such as the toilet filler pipes and roof vents.

British Railways 1959 Tourist Second Open M4843

Another good week's progress with this vehicle seeing the most attention. The window frames which have been removed from the coach have had their hidden edges protected with several layers of paint to try and separate the steel body reacting with the aluminium frames. These are now resting and await refitting to the coach.

The light refurbishment of the six doors continues. They have all received a first coat of brown paint on the insides, and the wooden "door cards" are now being varnished up.

Body filling and paint preparation has turned to the landward side, now that the seaward side is finished. This is progressing nicely from the Holt end towards the centre of the vehicle.

The biggest visual transformation has however been the rapid progress on the Sheringham half of the landward side. We decided this needed re-panelling as the distortion and filler was just too great on this section.

In just one week all of the old panelling has been removed and the framework below all repaired where required. We were lucky in that the framework was in overall good condition.

With the framework all painted, a start has already been made on the new steel panelling. It has gone so well so far we almost wished we'd re-panelled the whole side now!

British Railways 1960 Covered Carriage Truck E94464

The end doors mentioned last week have progressed. The first two (there are eight in all) have been rebuilt and the wooden framework reassembled and painted in primer. They will receive further coats of paint when more of the doors have reached the same stage.

Sadly, unlike M4843's framework, these doors have been much, much worse than they originally looked. Several have even fallen apart just being handled! It would seem heavy replacement of woodwork and a lot of time consuming joinery repair work is the only solution! The bins have gotten significant fuller since we started repairing these doors! The steel hinged straps that hold the doors on have also made it into undercoat.

Work on sanding the interior walls of the vehicle ready for repainting has also continued steadily.


We reported on overhauled steam heating valves last week but there was no image. They look so good that we have included an image this week, at the request of the " man behind the magic" who was quite rightly disappointed that his fine work was not illustrated!

The maintenance works continue to be heavy again this week. Aside from the usual carriage faults such as changing seats etc, there has been interesting lighting faults to attend to this week on the suburban set (lights do not switch on and off using the normal buttons) and the sleeping coach at Sheringham, whose corridor lights seem to be dropping like flies. Being a sleeping car, this is one vehicle where the internal lighting is actually used!

Lastly, but by no means least, four new brackets have been produced which will attach to our lifting jacks and allow them to "reach" further and lift vehicles more effectively that have previously been very awkward to lift as the limited reach jacks had to be positioned in certain places on the underframes, which was not conducive for the work being done on them. Inspection has of course been made and its a Yes from Monkey!

Friday, 29 September 2017

September News Part 4

There was unfortunately no update last week as the author was busy off on the annual railway trip so was not able to observe the workshop progress as is normally the case. However a good time was had with the East Anglian Railway Museum, Bluebell, Sittingbourne & Kemsley, Romney Hythe & Dymchurch and Kent & East Sussex all visited and of course compared to our own outfit here in Norfolk! Monkey was of course involved in the holiday and has been looking at a few ways other railways do things to gain inspiration for the next year's NNR restoration!

Back at home in the workshops, we would like the wish Brian and Sylvia a happy 50th wedding anniversary. Brian works with us in Carriage & Wagon and is engaged mainly in the restoration of GER 853, whilst Sylvia does valuable work assisting with the running of the Weybourne buffet. I don't know what either of them did to get a 50 year sentence, but as they're still going strong they must be doing something right!

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

Further progress has been made with the handbrake mechanism under the recently installed column. This has now been linked to the brake gear and test operated.

A nice new linkage has appeared underneath the centre of the vehicle to join up various parts of the brake system already installed. This was another recycled rod which was ably extended by The Axeman, who seems intent of continuing the come in despite the closing in nights...

A number of safety chains designed to "catch" the brakegear if it falls off(!) have also been fitted and painted. On the end of the frame, the buffer shanks are now back with us after some machining work, and the first one has been fitted to the chassis on the Sheringham end.

Moving onto the body of the vehicle, the end steps (for staff gaining access to the roof) have been trial fitted onto the brake (Holt) end. Further paint has also been applied to the interior walls in the compartments.

British Railways 1959 Brake Corridor Composite E21224

There has been great progress on the roof stripping, which has now been completed along both sides of the vehicle. There is now just a strip along the centre of the roof which still requires stripping.

Inside the vehicle, all of the interior bulkheads have received two coats of 50/50 varnish/white spirit which has brought out the colour of the wood and also protected the "raw" bulkheads from workshop hazards such as dirty fingers!

British Railways 1959 Tourist Second Open M4843

The bodywork repairs to the seaward side of the coach are now completed, and the side has been filled and sanded ready for repainting. The windows which have been removed have had their apertures protected with gloss paint so that the window frames can be refitted shortly.

The cleaning up of the nine removed window frames which were removed from the coach has now been completed, closing what was a mammoth task... The glass from these windows has also been cleaned and polished on the bench ready for refitting.

All of the renewed door cards for the six exterior doors have now been completed, test fitted and removed again so they can be varnished properly. The doors themselves, which are aluminium, are now in the process of being sanded down inside ready for a freshening coat of paint.

British Railways 1960 Covered Carriage Truck E94464

The Holt end set of end opening doors have been dismantled this week. These doors were designed to open to allow end loading of goods and even cars. However in preservation they are seldom used and being made of wood can allow water ingress so become a weak point in the vehicle's design. The doors are too rotten to ignore so to keep the water out of the vehicle once it is returned to the trains the doors are having to be removed, repaired where necessary and then rebuilt and refitted.

So far, the Holt end doors (there are four) have been removed and the steelwork left behind freed off, cleaned back to bare metal and repainted in primer. Hopefully it will not be too long before they are going back on!

On the interior of the vehicle, more of the interior walls have been sanded ready for a fresh coat of paint. The vehicle is now well over 3/4 sanded inside.

Some missing internal planking on several of the doors has been replaced to make them complete again and ready for sanding to match the rest of the inside of the vehicle.

Hurst Nelson 1942 4 Wheel Tank 1982

Repainting work on the tanker has now been completed and the team are pleased this has been able to be done before the weather turned. Due to the time of year, no more "outside work" will now be started up at Holt and the next freight wagons to receive a freshen up should start in 2018.


Not often reported in the Blog is the constant barrage of small maintenance tasks to keep all of the operating Mark 1's and other vehicles in (often daily) service, which often occupies two of the department on a very regular basis. This week has seen the dining set prepared for their run across the crossing and onto Network Rail on Wednesday, whilst preparations to ready the remaining coaches for the steam heat season are also underway. Some steam valves are being changed and hose and seals renewed etc to try and get the aged steam heat systems working again as reliably as we can before we actually need them in anger, such as on the Santa Specials!