Thursday, 23 July 2015

COMPLETION SPECIAL: GWR Designed "Fruit D" 92097


The second item of non-passenger rolling stock to emerge from the workshops this year, “Fruit D” 92097, has now been released for service once more. 92097 was built in 1958 by British Railways’ Swindon Workshops (well, no vehicle can be perfect...) and was produced as part of an extension batch of an outdated design created by the Great Western Railway in 1939. The Fruit D design was so named as during Great Western Railway days each type of wagon was assigned a telegraphic code to enable formations of wagons to be easily communicated by telegraph. As this type of van had extra ventilation built in specifically to handle fruit and produce traffic it was assigned the designation “Fruit”. The D suffix was merely to identify separate types or batches, so presumably the Fruit D was the forth in a series of Fruit vans. The Fruit D’s were built with electric lighting and were fully braked with standard vacuum braking, two features which made the vehicles suitable for conveyance in passenger trains. For this reason, the vans also carried the branding “Passenger” and during British Railways days carried the colour schemes for passenger coaching stock rather than goods stock.

After a successful, or some might say fruitful(!), career on BR, 92097 was acquired by the M&GN Society and moved to the North Norfolk Railway where it operated in freight (and occasionally passenger) trains for many years, repainted into BR crimson livery. By 2012, the vehicle was looking very worse for wear and was brought into the workshops and stripped down, exterior woodwork replaced, new floor fitted, interior restored, underframe repainted and finally the exterior painted into Great Western Railway colours, a scheme that 92097 (being built by BR) never carried. During this work the vacuum brake equipment was isolated due to a fault which precluded the vehicle from running in passenger trains. However it did take its place, resplendent, in the railway’s demonstration freight train and indeed was one of the first vehicles refurbished in the recent “renaissance” of the previously rather neglected freight set. Sadly for reasons unknown 92097’s paintwork deteriorated extremely rapidly and by 2015 was looking decidedly shabby again, much to the disappointment of the volunteers involved in the 2012 restoration. The past few weeks has seen some of this decline reversed.

The completed (varnished) landward side

Some background to the Fruit D’s resurrection: Several years ago the NNR ran two 4-wheel Mark 1 “Covered Carriage Trucks” (CCT) during the summer season to carry bikes and buggies during the busiest months of the year. For the rest of the year, only one CCT is normally required. The second CCT was withdrawn from service due to rampant corrosion in the body and is currently out of service. To replace the second CCT, in previous years the NNR’s Suburban BT carriage was substituted and its brake compartment used for the bikes and buggies. However after putting so much labour and finance into the BT to restore it to as built condition as part of the dedicated “Suburban 4” project, it was felt it undesirable to use the BT in daily service on the summer trains when the other three suburban coaches will not be receiving anything like the same wear or usage. For this reason, to spare the BT for the summer 2015 season, an alternative was sought and (with the kind agreement of the owners the M&GN society) the Fruit D was deemed suitable to act as the second bike/buggy carrier for the six week summer season.

A fast-track partial exterior refurbishment has been implemented to improve the Fruit D’s appearance for use this summer. This involved chipping off any loose paint that had flaked off the wood and then priming the revealed areas of bare wood. The seaward side and two ends were then fully repainted, the ends black and the side into BR crimson. The landward side, which had survived better, was patch painted in GWR brown and the side varnished to bring back a shine to the paint applied in 2012. Finally, the appropriate numbering was applied to the repainted side. To allow service in passenger trains once more, the vacuum cylinder was repaired in situ and reconnected to the braking system, which was tested and the brakes fully adjusted up for vacuum use. All running gear and axleboxes were also examined and lubricated to ready the vehicle for more intensive use than the freight train it normally operates in. 92097 is now complete and has been released to the operating department, and is currently awaiting movement to Sheringham where it will join one of the rakes of coaching stock in use during August. Look out for the Fruit van on the back of the train!

Lettering applied to the seaward side


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


The saloon continues in leaps and bounds, with particular attention to the seaward bodyside which is playing catch-up to the landward side. The yellow lining has now been applied to compliment the red lining mentioned last week, and the whole side has also been varnished (1st coat).


The lighting rings (also mentioned last week) are now in white gloss and are approaching completion ready for fitting.


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


An interesting array of jobs to report on this week. The most visually striking is the chassis members themselves, most of which in the central section of the vehicle have now been brought up to the black gloss stage, making them look all nice and shiny and finished!


Also glossed have been the three wheelsets out in the yard. These are black on the insides and imitation teak on the outsides, to fool people into believing they are wooden when the flash past in the vintage set.


Less glamorous but equally necessary has been work on the axleboxes. These have had some of the "front doors" fitted with handles so that they match the rest of the boxes, and all six have been fitted with a modified steel tray in the bottom, after difficulties in making the brand new axlebox oil pads fit were encountered. More brakegear, this time the hangars and brake shoe carriers, has been cleaned up, rust protected and finally coated in primer.

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641


As declared last week, body repairs to the Sheringham/seaward quarter of this coach have now been completed and the panels have been protected in primer this week.


Meanwhile, stripping out of the final quarter of the coach to be tackled has continued with the windows and window frames being prised out after much resistance.


British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Composite Lavatory E43041


The Holt end bogie has been completed (without brakegear) with the bogie frame, associated equipment, wheelsets and axleboxes progressing rapidly over the week and being finished in black gloss. This was followed by reassembly of the wheelsets and the bogie lowered back onto its wheels and placed under the carriage. The process has immediately been repeated for the Sheringham end bogie, the frames of which are already well on the way to being repainted with the axleboxes and wheels not far behind. A big push next week should see the Sheringham end bogie reassembled and the brakegear for both bogies tackled, so that the bogies match the recently completed underside of the carriage.

The Sheringham end bogie with a primed wheelset on the right and axleboxes being painted on the table in the foreground

The wooden battery boxes started looking rather forlorn after the surrounding underframe steel was cleaned and painted, so now these have been stripped out, cleaned up and undercoated to improve their appearance.


British Railways 1954 Mark 1 Suburban Third W46139


Work continues on the reupholstering of the seats. The rest of the coach is awaiting the completion of DMU E56062 so that the interior refit can commence.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Third Lavatory Open E48001


Revarnishing of woodwork, toilet reconstruction and luggage rack cleaning all continue as described in previous weeks.

British Railways 1957 Class 101 Railcar Driving Trailer Composite Lavatory E56062


The upper line of the two required on the bodyside has now been applied. The second line, plus numbering and lettering, remains outstanding.


Workshop


The crates of wagon components (which were dragged out in June News Part 2) have ben sucessfully sold so will be moving to a new home soon.

Friday, 17 July 2015

July News Part 3

The Carriage & Wagon soapbox did the department proud at the Derby at Cromer on Sunday. The initial parade gained much interest, as everybody likes steam trains! We were also the largest and certainly heaviest soapbox to enter, not surprising from a team used to 30 ton carriages! We then had our first race having been placed in the “Shops & Businesses” class, where surprisingly the soapbox came second. This position earned a place in the final with around five other entrants. The final winner was the White Horse Pub’s soapbox. Staff and volunteers alike had great fun taking part or spectating, the highlight possibly being the soapbox’s tendency to lift up its front wheels after negotiating the jump!


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


On to more serious matters, such as signwriting and varnishing... The saloon is really looking the business now, with the landward side main panels varnished including the gorgeous M&GN insignia described last week.


On the same side, the chassis lining (yes, it has lining on the underframe – how plush!) has received its final of the three required colours, the black edging. The lure of completion must be strong, as lining is now progressing on the seaward side (hitherto untouched) body panels, the red lining being the first element to be applied.


The arrival of some cast decorative rings that sit around the replica gas lamps in the passenger saloon has resulted in them being primed ready for further paint and fitting.


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


The chassis continues to be painted with many of the main chassis members now a fetching shade of pink. It is presumed that black is to follow!


There has also been a lot of painting of the huge number of metal bits that form the various spring hangers, brackets, axleboxes, running gear and vacuum piping.

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641


The major body repairs to the Sheringham/seaward quarter of this coach have now been completed, a sentence that sums up a huge number of hours... This week, the metal panelling has been completed, suitably attached to the framework (renewed earlier) and all joins welded up and dressed.


This marks the 75% point of the body reconstruction, as only the Sheringham/landward quarter now remains to be addressed. In preparation for this next phase the same quarter of the coach has been stripped out internally with a contingent of young, mainly work experience, victims doing the honours of removing the seating and woodwork.


British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Composite Lavatory E43041


The underneath is still the centre of attention. The Holt end bogie frame has been fully painted gloss black and is now awaiting reassembly.


The wheelset cleaning is complete and one is in primer whilst the other is complete, resplendent in gloss black.


Axleboxes are also complete and repainted. It should not be long before this bogie can be reassembled and the process repeated for the Sheringham end bogie.

The underframe of the coach, after a short delay, has now been completed and is black and shiny for the first time since the mid 1950’s. Work on the steam heat pipe repairs has temporarily stalled whilst new pipe is on order.

On the interior, the first class (Holt) end has now been fully stripped out of glass windows and the surrounding wood work and veneered panelling. Whilst this allows a metalwork assessment to be made from the inside, there are more fittings (such as luggage racks and Formica panelling) still in situ that will have to be removed at some point for restoration. However for now, the same items are being removed from the third class (Sheringham) end which is about half way there. Additionally, all the mirrors and picture frames have been removed from the compartments so that the carriage prints can be safely removed for assessment and in some cases digital re-mastering.

British Railways 1954 Mark 1 Suburban Third W46139


Work continues on the reupholstering of the seats. The rest of the coach is awaiting the completion of DMU E56062 so that the interior refit can commence.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Third Lavatory Open E48001


Revarnishing of woodwork, toilet reconstruction and luggage rack cleaning all continue as described in previous weeks.

British Railways 1958 GWR Designed "Fruit D" W92097


The Fruit D wagon has progressed in fits and starts in a rather frustrating manner, due to it being outside in the hands of the currently very changeable weather. Nevertheless, the seaward side has received the first of two coats of crimson paint whilst the landward side has been varnished for just over half of its length. The latter side is being kept in its Great Western livery whilst the former was too far gone to save so is having a total repaint. The summer season “Red Timetable” starts on Thursday so time is fast diminishing. Thunderstorms permitting, the vehicle will be in traffic on passenger trains by the next update.

Seaward side

Landward side

Maintenance


We do love to hide in the workshops (Ivory Towers?!?) and concentrate on the heavy restorations in relative peace and harmony, but from time to time the troublesome coaches that are actually out there earning the money require serious time and attention! This week has been such a week, with between two and four full time staff fully occupied with a series of vacuum cylinder swaps. These had arisen as we had a few carriages that had minor vacuum faults that had been deferred which were very quickly last week joined by more coaches which chose to fail in quick succession. With the much appreciated assistance of the operating department coaches have been tripped to Weybourne Yard in pairs and the vacuum faults rectified, most commonly by swapping the vacuum cylinders entirely then quickly overhauling the defective cylinders to fit to the next poorly coaches. TSO’s M4236, E3868 and E4651 plus brake coach W35148 have all be so treated this week.

The dining train has also received attention, with RBR E1969 receiving the annual “flush out” of the water systems, an essential routine which keeps the drinking water tanks clean and fit for purpose.

Mike Sprules


Mike’s (Snowy’s) funeral was held earlier today at his home village of Sedgeford. Thirteen NNR volunteers went to pay their respects and it was touching to hear some of the memories of fellow friends and his family, all of which echoed our own sentiments. He will be much missed.

Friday, 10 July 2015

July News Part 2

I shall start this week with a shameless plug for some railway themed fun. Members of the Carriage & Wagon department have spent the past few weeks constructing a masterpiece of design: a soapbox for the upcoming Cromer Carnival Soapbox Derby this Sunday. We are to officially represent the North Norfolk Railway in the races. The “loco” has been created from scrap, donated and surplus materials from around the Weybourne site and is currently (Friday) receiving its paintwork, the mechanical work having been completed earlier this week. The soapbox has been named “Snowy” in recognition of the recent passing of Mike Sprules (see last week) as the soapbox would have certainly have raised a smile and had his support. The image shows the (at the time unpainted) vehicle ready for a successful test run at Weybourne. The races start at 1pm this Sunday (12th July) at Beach Road (A149) in Cromer, come and see us in action!


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


Getting back on to more relevant matters, the eye of progress has once again turned to this old girl. The ends of the coach have received a further coat of varnish which has increased its shine even further, whilst the signwriting on the landward side is now complete, with the addition of the “M&GN” and “3” symbols, which have very elaborate and attractive shading to them.


The chassis on the landward side has also had its red and yellow lining completed, leaving only the black still to complete. An effort is being made to complete all lining/signwriting on the landward side so that the varnishing can progress. On the mechanical side, the completed spring and axlebox arrangements have now been painted in black gloss giving them a most pleasing shine.


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


The brand new headstocks mentioned last week have now been permanently fitted at both ends of the chassis. Other components have also progressed rapidly as Mr Shot-blasting Man has been for a visit and transformed the three axleboxes, three wheelsets, the vacuum piping and all the various spring hangars. The latter three have all been coated in primer as well.

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641


We welcome Steve back to us after surgery on his knee, who has quickly returned to varnish stripping and sanding items from the interior of the coach. This week, two doors have had the magic treatment: one that separates the Sheringham end saloon from the vestibule, and also the sliding door that lives at the extreme Sheringham end.


Welding work on the Sheringham/seaward quarter of the carriage is also progressing nicely.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Composite Lavatory E43041


The Bogie Men continue to work their magic: the Holt end bogie has now been lifted onto stands and the two wheelsets extracted. One wheelset has already been needle gunned and looks very nice indeed.


Meanwhile the axleboxes off the wheelsets have been scraped down and cleaned by volunteers Ray & Lee. Paid staff have joined in on the fun and have been cleaning, rust treating and painting the underside of the bogie itself, along with all the areas which were impossible to access before the bogie was lifted.

Underneath the carriage itself, three quarters of the underframe has been glossed in black, and work is also being undertaken to renew the two extreme ends of the steam heat piping, which was found to be badly corroded.

Work has now started on the interior, with the first job being the dismantling of the wooden parts and removal of the windows. This is currently in the early stages with a few windows on the corridor side of the first class end being completed.


British Railways 1954 Mark 1 Suburban Third W46139


Upholstery work has been the sole progress on this project, with work concentrating this week on the side cards which also incorporate the arm rests for the seating. The upholstery shop is due to be cleared out of freshly upholstered bench seats for W46139 and old rancid examples put in their place so progress can continue!

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Third Lavatory Open E48001


The luggage rack cleaning described last week marches on, with the first five racks now completed. Keep going Roger! More varnishing work has also been done on the inside components.



British Railways 1958 GWR Designed "Fruit D" W92097


The vacuum braking reinstatement has now been completed following a successful vacuum test. Whilst the cylinder passed the brake gear was found to be slightly out of adjustment, so a morning was spend putting this right. The vehicle is now mechanically fit and safe to put into service, so all that remains now is cosmetic work. The two ends of the van have now been fully repainted into black and have a shine once more.


The sides are now to follow, with the landward side already patch painted in brown ready for revarnishing.

ICI 1968 Tube 4228


This wagon is currently a wreck stored at Holt, and amongst other ailments has failed “Oleo” buffers. Some years ago, four conventional (spring) buffers were obtained from the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre and sent up to us at the same time as the AF Container (from the same place) was transported, and said buffers have been in store since. As a prelude to an official start of restoration of this wagon, the buffers were shot-blasted this week (along with the other items for M&GN 129) and one has had a crack in the head ground out and re-welded.

Workshop


Lastly, a “small” miscellaneous job has seen a huge number of wagon components (mainly from scrapped vehicles of old) brought out of deep store from the corner of the shed and laid out for inspection by a member of the Isle of Wight Steam Railway who may be interested in taking them off our hands. These have now been gathered up again, post viewing, and palleted up ready for further action!

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Mike Sprules

Snowy in his natural environment: sat on his stool next to M&GN 3 with a smile

We start with the sad news of the passing of volunteer Mike Sprules, known around the department as “Snowy” due to his white hair. Snowy was one of the kindest gentlemen I knew around the railway, and he never had a bad word to say about anybody. When I first started at the NNR, Snowy was one of the quickest in accepting a strange new face and his warmth towards people was instantaneous and infectious. Universally popular around Carriage & Wagon, he regularly came in on Tuesdays as a key part of the volunteer team who are rebuilding M&GN number 3, and also turned his hands to any other side projects asked of him, including most recently items such as the M&GN Dray and overhaul of the workshop sack-barrows. I’m sure Snowy wouldn’t mind me saying that he was “slow and steady” on his feet (a situation he would always be referring to himself with a dollop of good humour) and he therefore was most often to be found sat on a stool next to M&GN 3 restoring a component on the bench there, always available for a friendly chat to anyone who walked past. Sadly, a breathing related illness recently took hold within a matter of weeks, and we can all be thankful that the process was not drawn out. Indeed, Snowy was at the railway performing his usual duties just a few weeks before he died. It is a tragedy that Snowy, who was dedicated to M&GN 3 for five years, will not be there to see the vehicle enter service, but he will certainly be with us in spirit.


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


With work focussing on 129, progress on M&GN 3 has been limited to the frame of the toilet mirror receiving more varnish.

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


Work continues apace on the chassis modifications. Work to paint the bits of the old PMV chassis (that are to be retained) in primer is now 95% completed with a just a few odds and sods left to complete. The wooden packers which were bolted onto the top of the chassis to hold the old body on have also been removed to allow the full chassis to be painted. The two new headstocks arrived at the railway in the form of a 5 metre long section of steel which is currently acting as a garden ornament adjacent to the shed. The headstocks were cut off the end and various holes have been cut into them for the buffers, drawhook etc. The first one has been trial fitted already and the areas on the chassis they are going to bolt to are now being painted ready.

Drilling the new headstock, with repainting of the chassis going on it the background

As the chassis is being shortened, the PMV buffers no longer fit into their housings within the chassis properly. To combat this, a 7 inch section from each has been turned down to make them fit in the modified space – the best way to describe the modification is making a square peg fit into a round hole! They look very nice in any case after having gone for a trip through the lathe in the shiny machine shop next door to us...

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641


Due to staff holidays and other priorities, no progress to report this week.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Composite Lavatory E43041


The two bogie frames themselves are now completed having been fully sprayed in two coats each of black undercoat and gloss. Attention is now due to turn to the wheelsets themselves and all the brakegear components, which both still have to be cleaned and painted.


Progress on the underside of the coach has been rapid, with volunteer input being high to speed up the process. Within one week (over several days), the last of the old gunk has been removed from the underframe, all remaining areas rust treated, the pink primer applied over the whole coach and finally a coat of black undercoat.

Mike painting the pink primer
Completed
Completed

Next week will see the gloss coat before the job is declared complete. Whilst the above descriptions of the bogies and underframe is just a paragraph long, the labour involved has been considerable, and this coach has certainly taken up the lion’s share of our attention this week!

British Railways 1954 Mark 1 Suburban Third W46139


The luggage rack cleaning described last week has now been completed by Roger Ison, who gallantly took on the job nobody else dared to take on. The nets have been washed and are now awaiting some new string to be ordered before they are strung back onto the cleaned frames.

Clean luggage racks

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Third Lavatory Open E48001


Roger did such a good job of W46139’s luggage racks that we managed to force him at gunpoint to move onto the racks for this carriage! The process of stripping, cleaning and net repair will be the same, however the shape of the TLO’s are very different to those already refurbished.


Meanwhile, work continues on the toilet reinstatement, with some more metal grills and woodwork from round the windows either cleaned up or manufactured from new to create a full set to fit and varnish up. Progress has also been made on the piping which will feed the various sinks and toilets on both sides of the carriage. At the weekend, a great deal of varnishing was done on a large number of components from around the windows, as well as the large veneered bulkheads that form the toilet walls. These parts have now had several coats so fitting to the vehicle should not be too far away all being well.

British Railways 1958 GWR Designed "Fruit D" W92097


With the completed Suburban Brake Third (E43357) now being used as little as possible until the other suburbans are completed and added to the train, the department made a request to spare the coach from performing its usual duties on the second rake of mark 1 stock during the summer holiday timetable. E43357 has been very useful as a second brake coach to handle the vastly increased numbers of buggies and bikes that turn up during August. In the distant past, the NNR had two 4-wheel Mark 1 CCT vehicles to perform this function, however one has since fallen out of traffic meaning E43357 has been replacing it in recent years when two steam trains have been running in service.

With the overhaul of the second CCT not feasible at the present time, Fruit D 92097 (restored in 2010) has been extracted from the goods train at Holt and the M&GN Society have kindly agreed for the NNR to use it for six weeks as a second bike carrier. It has therefore been moved to Weybourne for a rapid preparation for daily service.

So far all the running gear, brake linkages, draw gear, buffers and wheelsets have been thoroughly inspected and passed as fit for passenger (as opposed to freight train) useage after some oiling and remedial adjustment work was completed. Work is now ongoing to see the vacuum brake system reinstated, as it was isolated in 2010 as there was a cylinder fault and it was not needed at the time to operate in the freight train. The cylinder has been partly dismantled and replacement parts fitted and it is now awaiting a test to see if it works. If it doesn’t it will be replaced for a reconditioned example.

Nico oiling the Holt end coupling
Whilst all this has been going on, volunteers have been busy chipping off all of the old flaking paint and patching the areas of bare wood in primer. This is to tidy the vehicle’s external appearance which had become quite shabby as it is to be much more publicly scrutinised on the summer trains. One side is to be parch painted and then varnished, but sadly the ends and remaining side are too far gone and will require a full repaint. However it is anticipated that this can be done quickly to hopefully (ha ha ha!) make it for the summer trains which will be starting in a few weeks time. Even if it’s a quick job however, it’s nice to see some work going into a wagon, the Cinderellas of the railway!

David primes some of the exposed wood

92097 with its patched end