Friday, 29 May 2015

May News Part 5

Midland Railway (later M&GN) 1886 6 Wheel Picnic Saloon 3


Attention has returned to the exterior painting of the carriage, with the seaward side and Sheringham end of being rubbed down ready for a first coat of varnish.


Great Northern Railway (later M&GN) 1887 6 Wheel Third 129


Not content with ravaging one underframe, the swarm of locusts have descended on a second underframe wielding hammers and cutting equipment as they go. However this second example is set to be more constructive in the quest to create a proper 6 wheel underframe for No129. Originally a Southern Railway 4-wheel parcel van, a fire at a previous home rendered the body beyond repair but made the chassis ripe for an NNR conversion into a vintage underframe. The underframe has a row of “outriggers” which the bodyside struts used to bolt onto, and these have been removed to make the chassis more in keeping. The buffers and drawgear have also been extracted from the Sheringham end, this is necessary as the underframe requires shortening to fit No129. The first underframe, being dismantled for spares, is now officially history and is a kit of parts. The steel “W irons” which hold the wheelsets in position on the chassis, have been cleaned down and rust-protected ready for re-use.

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641


The framework revealed last week at the Sheringham end of the coach has now had a good few days of old framework being chopped out and replaced with new. This is particularly required around the windows where water has penetrated. Further stripping on the interior has seen this quarter of the coach now devoid of wood so all metalwork can be completed. At the Holt end of the coach, the framework for the floor in the store cupboard (ex toilet) has been fitted and is awaiting the plywood floor itself to go in.

The framework of the store cupboard now fitted

British Railways 1954 Mark 1 Suburban Second W46139


Work has been confined to the underneath of the coach this week. A lighting box has been refurbished and painted whilst new batteries have also been fitted and wired up. Some further adjustments and testing then resulted in the lights illuminating for the first time since the 1990’s!


Whilst the illumination was going on, several (un)willing members have been scraping away at the underframe ready for repainting, a thankless task to say the least...


British Railways 1957 Class 101 Railcar Driving Trailer Composite Lavatory E56062


This vehicle has seen constant focus each day this week. The patch welding repairs have been completed around the whole vehicle, which allowed a rapid process of sanding and filling to take place. This has, remarkably, already been completed and now the vehicle awaits final fettling before its ready for paint. The process of cleaning the windows, illustrated last week, is also progressing, with a start on the seaward side being made this week. A troublesome door has also been adjusted, the opportunity of the raised staging area being too good to miss.

E56062 with rubbing down well advanced

Maintenance


One of our stores vans, another SR parcel van (of the same design as the underframe being converted for No129), is being readied for movement to Holt. Having been a resident of Weybourne yard for many years, a quick inspection has been made and the axleboxes cleaned out and refilled with oil so it can safely make the journey to the other end of the line.

Workshop


Lastly, a tool cabinet has been donated to the railway, which was rather rusty. It has quickly been rejuvenated and repainted into Birds Eye blue house colours.


Friday, 22 May 2015

COMPLETION SPECIAL: Mark 1 Suburban Brake Second E43357


Today saw the rolling out of the first of the four coaches being restored as part of the joint NNR and M&GN “Suburban 4” project. Fittingly, the honour fell to Brake Second, E43357, which has been on the NNR since 1977 (arriving in BR’s tired blue livery) and has accumulated the most mileage of any suburban Mark 1 vehicle on the railway. E43357 has proven to be a real workhorse for the railway, having been overhauled and painted maroon several times in preservation for prolonged periods of use carrying thousands of visitors on the NNR. The vehicle also saw many years use in the early dining trains where its brake area proved useful both for accommodating the guard and in housing a generator to power equipment. E43357 was later replaced by M81033 but continued in use in normal passenger trains, the brake being particularly well used as a bike and buggy carrier during the busy summer months. In the mid 2000’s when the general condition of the railway’s suburban coaches resulted in most of them being stored out of service awaiting major rebuilds, E43357 soldiered on, and for almost 10 years was the only suburban presence in the NNR’s trains (with the exception of the special occasions when the Quad-Art set was in operation). During this time, of the five suburbans originally preserved on the NNR, three were either sold on or swapped for alternatives (in better condition) but E43357 was one of the pair which remained. The vehicle’s long term future was secured in the early 2010’s when the Suburban 4 project, lead by the late Clive Morris, was launched and E43357 was selected for receiving a major overhaul as the brake vehicle for this special set.
Being taken to Sheringham today

In 2013, E43357 was withdrawn from service and brought into the workshops for its full strip down and rebuild to begin. This progressed well until May 2014 when it was pressed back into service for the summer season, another indication of how reliant the operating department were on the vehicle. November 2014 saw the coach return for the remainder of the work. A lot of the later tasks undertaken during 2015 have been well documented on these pages, but in summary the vehicle received a good combing over its bodywork and the exterior fully repaired where required with new metal. This was followed by full body preparation and repaint into original 1954 Crimson colours. Underneath the coach was largely rewired, the running gear dismantled and overhauled and reassembled. The interior was gutted, the woodwork stripped and re-varnished, seating reupholstered and he brakevan transformed from an empty shell (from its days as a generator vehicle) into a fully fitted out original condition guards and luggage area.
Rewiring

E43357 was built by BR’s York works in 1955 and had a career lasting 20 years, which was spent entirely on the Eastern region of the railway, mainly on suburban services running out of London Kings Cross. It was one of 283 vehicles of its type to be built. The guards area which has made the vehicle so useful on the NNR evidently proved attractive to other heritage railways as well, as thirteen of these vehicles survive today, making them the most common type of Mk1 suburban in preservation. A high proportion of these (ten at the time of writing) have been maintained in operational condition.

E43357 will rejoin our operational fleet but only used on an occasional basis to preserve its condition until the other three suburbans can be finished to join it.  In the next few months it is planned to be used on trains on Saturday 23rd May (tomorrow) and over the Diesel Gala weekend. It is expected to also be in use for other very busy events such as the Steam Gala and 1940’s weekend. The vehicle still requires a few finishing touches, which will possibly be undertaken at Sheringham next week, however before the coach was out-shopped the batteries were refitted and the lighting wiring completed/tested successfully. The coach was lowered back onto it's bogies after this was completed and the braking all reconnected and tested. On the interior, lots of small fittings were refitted to the guards van interior after the yellow paint for the walls finally arrived. The compartments have also had the lino polished and sealed.
Part of the wiring for the lighting

Midland Railway (later M&GN) 1886 6 Wheel Picnic Saloon 3


With all the excitement of completing our first suburban, it is hard to believe that work has been progressing elsewhere. However M&GN 3 has received another tidy up inside, and the mirror, described in May News Part 2, has been fitted into the vehicle, albeit with more work on the frame required. On the exterior, the process of adjusting the springs has begun and whilst this is still in the early stages, one axlebox has already been found to be stuck in its guides, so off course this will have to be rectified in due course.

Great Northern Railway (later M&GN) 1887 6 Wheel Third 129


The savages have continued their insatiable consumption of the donor underframe, and appear to be refining their techniques of setting fire to the floor... Joking aside, a huge amount of effort has been put into efficiently reducing the underframe to its salvageable components and in a remarkably short space of time the area has been tidied up with only the wheelsets remaining on the track. The springs have been placed on pallets ready for dispatching to a firm for modification and repair with a view to their re-use. Soon the task of modifying the new underframe itself, destined for No129, will be commencing.
The donor chassis now all but gone

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641


Work has been limited to the exterior of the coach this week. The welder, having finished the Sheringham corridor end, has stripped out the old steel panelling from the first of the four windows on the seaward side, and the framework is currently exposed awaiting any required repairs.
The seaward side loses more paneling
The stripping of the metal was possible after Dan spent a few torturous days extracting the aluminium window frames off the body of the coach. Volunteers have been helping strip down the window frames as they are being removed back to bare metal.
David strips one of the window frames
Meanwhile back at the Holt end of the coach the stripping off of the remaining paintwork (pictured last week) has also progressed. A similar process has also been employed recently on the six passenger doors.
An exterior door after partial stripping


British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Second Lavatory Open E48001


Varnishing and trial fitting of window surrounds continues.

British Railways 1957 Class 101 Railcar Driving Trailer Composite Lavatory E56062


The chipping off of the paint defects and rust bubbles has been completed over the entire vehicle, and the areas rust treated ready for fresh body filler. Approximately 15 holes have been discovered and about a third of these have been dealt with with new metal. Work is now focusing on welding the remaining areas following which the sanding and filling will begin.
Chris rust treats E56062

In parallel with this work, the polished alloy window frames are being deep-cleaned to return them to their former gory. These were restored in 2009/2010 but have since been afflicted with a layer of steam loco smut and general grime. However these are coming up a treat and so far half of them (the landward side of the vehicle) have been finished.
Hardcore window cleaning

Maintenance


A week of two-steam-train running is planned for the half term, which required the department to give the second rake of coaches a check over at Sheringham with particular attention being paid to the brakes. A brake defect has been found on BSK W35148, but thankfully was minor and not a problem at present. It is planned for the coach to operate for the duration of the half term following which it will come to the workshop for a day to have the suspect cylinder swapped for a refurbished spare.

Stations


The station folding information boards described last week have now been completed and will be dispatched from the workshop shortly.

Friday, 15 May 2015

May News Part 3

Midland Railway (later M&GN) 1886 6 Wheel Picnic Saloon 3


A modest level of visible progress this week, with many of the larger jobs progressing nicely. On the ends of the coach the black beading, already painted, has been given a neater straight edge by our sign writer, who has also had time to progress the red lining on the chassis of the landward side of the coach. The step irons for the full-length foot boards are now painted in shiny black gloss.

Great Northern Railway (later M&GN) 1887 6 Wheel Third 129


Like parasites, the M&GN Coach Fund team have been crawling over the wooden framed donor chassis, relieving it of all sorts of metalwork that will be instrumental in creating a proper six wheeled underframe for M&GN No129. Sparks, flames and sweat have been exuding from the process and large parts of the wooden frame are starting to collapse (sorry, “professionally removed”) leaving the ironwork behind for retrieval.
Gas-axe Murderer Collier tackles the stubborn donor underframe. Going...
Going...

Gone.

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641


Welding work continues apace, with more metal going into the Sheringham corridor end. Efforts are now being made to remove the window frames along the seaward side of the carriage so that re-panelling in this area can start. Also on the seaward side, but at the other end of the vehicle, volunteers Peter and Peter have made a good start on stripping off the remaining maroon/BR blue paint in the areas that haven’t been replaced with new metal. This is to get the coach ready for its body finishing in these areas.
Paint stripping

British Railways 1956 Mark 1 Suburban Brake Second E43357


This coach has again been the main focus for the paid staff this week. Finishing work continues. The door adjustments, painting of the footboards, and the sign writing is now complete which concludes the exterior of the coach. The vacuum valve to protect the handbrake (explained in April News Part 4 in the M81033 section) has also been installed in its greasy crevice under the carriage where it will now quietly do our bidding... The coach is still on jacks however as the next job, started this week, has been the rewiring for the lighting and battery circuits. The battery boxes have been measured up to determine the type of batteries to order for the vehicle.
Nico & Dan joining the handbrake valve into the coach's vacuum system

Moving onto the interior, a frustrating lack of yellow paint has again prevented us from completing the repaint of the interior, which is also stopping the fitting of a lot of wall-mounted equipment. This equipment is now starting to queue up, restored and awaiting fitting. The guard’s ladder, spare coupling, vacuum hose and fire extinguishers are all in this category. The emergency equipment cupboard, the contents of which we weren’t sure about, now has a “game plan” for it following advice from the railway’s Operating Superintendant. We are now in the process of ordering all the items which have gone missing so the restored coach enters service with a full set of equipment available. Finally, the passenger compartments which are 99% completed, will soon receive possibly their most defining feature: the picture frames that house scenes of interest from around the British Railways network to visit, an early form of advertising for BR’s excursion traffic. The railway’s Carriage & Wagon director has taken a wide selection of original posters (salvaged from various coaches/sources) and digitally reversed the effects of age such as rips and water staining, effectively restoring them to their former glory in virtual form. Several of these have been viewed on the computer and we are most impressed with them. They will be printed shortly so that the originals can be preserved safely, while E43357 can be fitted with these reproductions. The backing card and plastic frames for these pictures have already been restored and are awaiting the prints so they can be fitted to the walls of the compartments.
Chris caught working hard on E43357. An yes, that is a Hawaiian welding cap, such cool items DO exist! 

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Second Lavatory Open E48001


Varnishing has continued apace with several “racks” of components from around the windows being varnished. Large sections of the coach have seen the window surrounds “dry fitted” to ensure a good fit. A review of the Formica panelling to identify which sections are either damaged or missing is also being undertaken.

British Railways 1957 Class 101 Railcar Driving Trailer Composite Lavatory E56062


One third of the landward side has had all of the paint defects and rust bubbles chipped off to reveal any damage beneath for treatment. So far, only one hole has been found in the bodyside, but there’s still plenty to chip at!

British Railways 1958 Class 101 Railcar Driving Trailer Composite Lavatory M56352


Last Sunday this vehicle was reported with a defective vacuum cylinder. Whilst Railcar mechanical maintenance is in the hands of the Locomotive department, C&W provide all vacuum cylinders for the Railcars. Consequently after the failure we extracted a cylinder from stock and tested it prior to fitting. Sadly, it badly failed the test, so was stripped down immediately and rebuilt following which a successful test was undertaken. The Railcar was then withdrawn for half a day whilst the rebuilt cylinder was swapped for the defective example by the Loco staff.

Stations


A request was made to provide some small, folding information boards for the three stations and also one for the M&GN Society’s Gresley Buffet car. These are designed to have adverts and/or information chalked onto them for the consumption of the passer by. Presumably Man’s sixth sense to detect the presence of real ale is not currently strong enough to direct them all the way into the Gresley Buffet, so these boards will hopefully drum up extra business...

Friday, 8 May 2015

May News Part 2

Midland Railway (later M&GN) 1886 6 Wheel Picnic Saloon 3


Mirror, mirror on the wall... Well, not really on the wall just yet and not a completed mirror either. Anyway, what will become the mirror on the wall has been on the bench this week and it having its wooden frame manufactured. As will all fittings in the Picnic Saloon, there is an air of elegance to the mirror, quite a contrast to the rectangular utilitarian mirrors to be found in the NNR owned Mark 1 coaching stock. Sticking to the interior, the shiny toilet door lock complete with “Vacant/Engaged” indicator has been installed in the toilet door, and interestingly a guard operated emergency override has also been incorporated into the design, so if anyone is planning on keeling over inside a locked toilet then I can highly recommend this one as the best option. Perhaps this sell-out feature could be incorporated into the railway’s next edition of its guide book? Moving on to the luggage area a battery box, which will house the leisure battery to supply the carriage lighting, has been made and is currently painted in undercoat.
The fitted toilet door lock

Attention on the outside has also not been overlooked. On the seaward side of the carriage, the moulded beading on the panels has been painted in gloss black, having made it this far staying in undercoat. Meanwhile the intricate lining on the landward side has been completed on the body itself, and a start has now been made on the lining which is on the underframe. This in itself is an unusual feature, and No3 is the only carriage on the railway to have a lined out underframe. Also on the chassis, the step irons (large brackets which hang downwards and will support the full-length footboards) have been trial fitted successfully but are now off again to allow further work to be undertaken to the chassis.

Great Northern Railway (later M&GN) 1887 6 Wheel Third 129


Those who know the railway well will realise that M&GN No129 has been restored already and features occasionally in the vintage train. However the coach has never exactly thrilled passengers with its comfort, this is directly due to the original decision to mount the body (which was all that had survived) onto a four wheeled freight wagon underframe. Subsequent running has proved the ride to be unsatisfactory, so there has always been a plan to re-mount the body onto a passenger chassis and also take the opportunity to make the vehicle more historically accurate by creating a six wheeled underframe such as that that M&GN No3 is carried on. The past fortnight has seen this plan spring into action, and a flat wagon (containing a wooden donor six wheel chassis) was brought out of storage along with another chassis from an ex Southern Railway parcel van (PMV) which was carrying a cattle wagon body.
The donor six wheel underframe that is in the process of being stripped

Firstly the wooden donor six wheel chassis was craned off the flat wagon and deposited in front of the carriage works door. Next, the cattle wagon was transferred from the PMV chassis to the flat wagon and then returned to storage. This left an empty PMV chassis and the donor six wheeled chassis in the yard. Still with us? A rapid few days has already seen most of the salvageable parts of the donor chassis removed for re-use on this project and there is now a healthy pile of components ready for refurbishment. The plan is to mount some of these parts onto the PMV chassis and also shorten it by 18 inches which will create a suitable six wheel passenger chassis for 129 to be transferred to. The donor chassis will be broken down and slip into history once it has released all its parts.
The "PMV" parcel chassis that is to be modified to take M&GN 129

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641


Welding work continues on the Sheringham end, with the landward side platework now attached and a corner fabricated and welded in. Efforts have been made to strip out the interior of the Sheringham end saloon ready for the metalwork to start in this area. So far seats, side panelling and window panes have all been extracted with some window frames, pipework and heaters still to follow.
Sheringham end saloon during stripping out

British Railways 1956 Mark 1 Suburban Brake Second E43357


Finishing work continues, and it will not be long before this coach is released all being well. Various door ailments which had slipped through the net have been attended to, with particular focus on the guards doors, which have seen retaining chains refitted along with window catches and other miscellaneous items. A missing steam heat pipe has been refitted to the Holt end. The sign writing of the numbers and bodyside notices/lettering is now also in progress which will complete the exterior of the coach. A missing section of footboard has also been bolted into position. The vehicle is now up on jacks so that a vacuum valve to protect the handbrake (explained in April News Part 4 in the M81033 section) can be installed. The emergency coupling mentioned last week is now also in gloss red.
E43357 on jacks - note the sign writing (still to be completed)

British Railways 1954 Mark 1 Suburban Second E46139


With the ceilings completed and the coach still outside, about half the compartments have had the bare metal protected in floor paint which will allow the interior to be installed when the coach returns to the shed.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Second Lavatory Open E48001


With varnishing still in full swing, the Sheringham end seat ends have been the main focus. Some other, smaller, seat ends which are currently off site are also reported to have received a great deal of preparation and varnishing work. Parts of the interior are now also being fitted and the wooden components adjusted where required, notably around the windows. Some of the doors have been left out for now, as it has been noted that several of them have a different (non suburban) style of door lock fitted. This will be rectified before the woodwork is fitted around them. Other pieces of interior have received a 50/50 varnish & white spirit mix to ready them for fitting. Efforts to install the Formica side panels have had to be temporarily halted as some plastic “cups” which house the passenger alarm chains are proving difficult to remanufacture, as many of the originals had snapped beyond repair.

British Railways 1957 Class 101 Railcar Driving Trailer Composite Lavatory E56062


This railcar has been loitering outside the shed for months awaiting a space in the workshop for a repaint to be undertaken. Whilst the vehicle is not really at the stage where we would normally demand a repaint, the railcars on the NNR run in pairs and the “partner” to this vehicle was freshly out-shopped last October and has been locked away inside a shed awaiting mechanical repairs so is obviously still looking very good. E56062 is therefore being brought in for a quick treatment of the body and then painting in order to match its partner. With luck the 2-car set can then return to traffic together later this year. Work has yet to start of E56062 due to E43357 taking priority of the paid staff labour; however it has been shunted into the staging bay ready for work to begin. The interior is fully restored (fairly recently) and there are no issues underneath or on the roof so the work on this railcar is going to be purely on the external body.

Friday, 1 May 2015

May News Part 1

Sadly, no update on vintage restoration this time, normal service is to resume next week...

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641


The naughty crash pillars at the Sheringham end of the carriage have been replaced at the bottom and welded securely to the brand new plate atop the chassis. The metalwork repairs at the top of the bodyside structural pillars, mentioned last week, have now begun. Meanwhile, the wood stripping army continues to rid the timber of old varnish, this week focusing on doorway surrounds recently removed from the Sheringham end.
Metal that doesn;'t resemble chocolate coloured Swiss cheese!

British Railways 1956 Mark 1 Gangwayed Brake M81033


The maintenance work on this vehicle is now concluded, the coach departing the workshop today (Friday). Finishing off work during the week included refitting the disturbed interior panels and also fixing several previously loose tables to the walls permanently, which is a requirement for future operations on the main line. The buckeye couplings have also received new pins and a device which stops then “over-riding” their neighbours in the event of a collision, again for the Cromer aspirations. On the exterior, some unsightly areas of rust around the windows have been sanded down and treated, followed by a touched in coat of cream paint. This is not a permanent solution to its less-than-ideal appearance; however it will improve matters until the time when the coach comes in for the full quality job. Perhaps most importantly, the vacuum/handbrake valve (explained last week) was finished and test successfully. This will greatly reduce the risk of M81033 getting wheel flats in the future, and the decision has already been taken to similarly fit the Suburban Brake, E43357, before the latter is released back into the wild.
The ever faithful Weybourne pilot shunts coaches around the workshop

British Railways 1956 Mark 1 Suburban Brake Second E43357


Finishing jobs have progressed on the exterior. On the sides of the coach, all the windows are now scraped clean of paint/workshop dust and the door locks have also had the unsightly paint chipped off. The brass handles on the outside of the coach have all been removed, buffed to return them to their original 1950’s glory, and refitted. The ends of the carriage are now fully complete, with the data panels (which show the weight etc of the carriage) picked out in white and the lighting connector jumpers reconnected and the covers fitted. Finally for the outside, the second periscope has been fitted to the roof; completing this interesting return to original configuration (it is the first coach on the NNR to have these reinstated).
Nico Atkins, extremely impressed with Chris Moxon's white lettering on the data panel

On the interior, some ceiling repairs (damaged whilst resurrecting the compartment lighting) have been completed and a couple of disturbed seats refitted into their rightful place. Now only the picture frames are required to complete the passenger compartments. In the guards van, we are still waiting for yellow paint to finish the walls; however the luggage doors have been painted red (we don’t know why they aren’t cream to match the rest of the interior but that’s how they were originally...) and some more miscellaneous handles have been fitted. An emergency coupling, one of which is fitted to all guards brake areas, has been sourced/cleaned/primed as the original in E43357 seems to have gone missing.

British Railways 1954 Mark 1 Suburban Second E46139


E46139 has been temporarily brought back into the shed, taking the place of M81033, where progress has recommenced after a week’s pause. All nine ceilings this week have been gloss painted, just one sentence but one that represents days of work!

Also of note is the work progressed by our upholsterers, Martin and Keith. These volunteers haven’t featured thus far in these writings as they operate in a separate portacabin in a corner of the yard and it is all too easy to miss what they are doing week-by week! However efforts will be made to address this oversight, and for starters they are pictured this week working on the armrests which will be fitted to E46139. There are 36 of these to repair and recover with new (Lottery funded) material, and the armrests are the smallest of all the seat components. For some time Martin & Keith have been beavering away and the reupholstery of E46139, and there is still some way to go. However the results are extremely important and visible to the passenger environment, and some images of the seats themselves will be included in the future, the before and afters for which can be quite remarkable.


British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Second Lavatory Open E48001


Rubbing down and varnishing (building up the coats) the Sheringham seat ends is ongoing.

New Staff


A belated mention is due to our two new staff. Daniel Broughton and Martin Collins have both been ensnared recently to join our merry department, Daniel full time and Martin three days a week. No doubt they will feature at some point in the blog.