Thursday, 30 December 2010


Tim and Co. continue to make great progress with the standard 20T BR brake van No. B953944, the body being built from scratch and mounted on the now-restored bare chassis over the last few years. The roof timber has gone on, and since this photo taken a couple of weeks back, has been trimmed to length.

An overall view of the van which is already out of date! Tim's Fotopic site found here has a comprehensive collection of photos taken during the restoration, with more being added as work progresses.

Another platform trolley undergoes a complete rebuild - this is the primed metalwork from the broken one that was next to the Southern TPO...

...and this is the remains of the rotten woodwork!

Every Sunday in January should see steam-hauled services operating on the NVR (yellow timetable), and also on Saturday 1st and Monday 3rd January. So if you have been suffering from steam withdrawal symptoms over the Christmas period, come along to the railway for a day out riding the rails!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Out and about at Wansford - in daylight!

NSB (Norwegian State Railways) 2-6-0 No.377, 'King Haakon 7'. This attractive engine is on loan from Bressingham during the 'Santa' season whilst our other steam locos on site undergo essential repairs. I believe the brown diesel shunter behind, English Electric 0-4-0 D1123 'Muriel', is undergoing investigative work by volunteers in order to fix an oil leak.

SNCB No.21013 also in daylight and out of the shed. It should be coming back into the shed in the New Year for further attention to the end vestibules, which aren't too bad and were deliberately left in order to get the coach serviceable for the 'Santa' trains.

Now the LMS steam crane has been completed, a TPO coach (I think it is brake tender vehicle No.80456) has taken up residence in the Heavy Overhaul Workshop. The old paint is being stripped off to reveal quite severe corrosion in several places. The new livery is to be early Post Office red, although the coaches are in post-1963 (Great Train Robbery) condition with small bodyside windows, and most of our examples weren't built until the late 1960s anyway - when they would have been painted in the then current blue and grey livery.

A view of the other side. In the foreground can be seen the steps which are intended to lead to a first-floor viewing gallery in this workshop at some point in the future.

A close up of some of the corrosion on the end of the carriage. There are also holes around the bodyside windows.

Finally for now, I would like to wish all readers, volunteers, staff, and visitors a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Friday, 17 December 2010

Great News!

Further to previous postings, I am very pleased to hear that the new owner of the 'Toby'/Y6 Tram loco is a keen NVR supporter and working member and wishes to keep the engine on the railway.

This is great news, and with a little imagination in how it is used it could be a real asset at the railway. Thomas on the 'main line' and Toby up to Yarwell? Hiring in the always unusual, now unique, surviving Wisbech & Upwell coach (number 7, built 1884) from the North Norfolk Railway for a special event? An authentic short goods train photo charter with a couple of general open wagons and vans? An unusual 'Driver Experience'?

Although it has a vertical boiler and outside cylinders (unlike the real 'Y6's), the bodywork and side skirts will hide these internal details. The engines frames (chassis) have already been rebuilt and extended, presumeably to 'Y6' dimensions, which offers a unique opportunity to recreate one of these lost locomotives in appearance at least.

Workshop Overhaul

The new overhead gantry is undergoing installation, with some other bits still to add, such as hand-rails and walkway spans to the ends. This gantry can be swung up and out of the way quite quickly, unlike the previous scaffold towers that took a lot of time to set up each time they were needed. The railway is indebted to volunteer Andy, who has made this long-desired piece of equipment a reality.

The BR Mk1 coach in the background of the above shot is 4466 - owned, and being restored by, a very supportive working member of the railway - which has come into the shed over the Christmas period for roof repairs. I believe the intention is for this one to emerge in BR Maroon, and its restoration will hopefully lead on to the creation of a second rake of Mk1s at the railway. I am unsure how close this coach is to completion, but it is clear that a lot of work has been carried out on the bodywork over the last few years.

We also have a new carpentry area shaping up nicely in a corner, which I may find useful when I can get back to wagon work...

Moving 4466 into the C&W shed has freed up a little space in the siding outside. The maroon LMS coach (BCK 18017) nearest the camera is due to be moved into the main yard at Wansford to have corridor connections reinstated (for cosmetic purposes; internally the coach is being converted into overnight volunteer accommodation). I've no idea what is happening with the Class 56 Diesel under the bridge - it could be a source of spares for other Class 56's that operate on the mainline but I could be wrong on this. I believe the BR Green DMU car that is next in line is still undergoing rectification work to eventually bring it into passenger use, and the 'blood and custard' Mk1 bringing up the rear (E25639 if I remember correctly) was a serviceable coach until recently, but the flanges are worn out so is now out of use. The plan is to bring some spare Mk1 bogies into the yard/workshop early in the new year for overhaul, then put them under this coach to get it back into service as soon as possible.

I am hoping to take advantage of this general move around of stock, and reserve a slot on this siding for wagon restoration work - it is ideally located for proximity to C&W tools and equipment, power supply etc - but we are rather pressured for space at Wansford so I will have to wait and see what happens.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Going green

As mentioned in the previous post, this week I saw that Gordon had progressed 'Vanfit' B759852 in my absence. He has wire brushed the metalwork on the lower panels and painted with green primer as a fill-in job between carriage maintenance duties.

He has also needle-gunned and painted the end piece (to the left of the 'VANFIT' lettering in the photo). This had been stripped back to bare metal a few years ago, but had not been painted to protect it from the elements. Due to the lack of C&W volunteers, the stripped lower panel was then unfortunately left to rust up all over again. It is good to see that it has now been properly dealt with.

This side of the van is now ready for pink undercoat but the weather must warm up first. When I carried out this visit, the sides of the van were coated in a thick crusting of ice, apparently the temperature at Wansford has been down to -12 on some mornings during this cold snap!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Flying Visit 3 - 7th Dec 2010

I called in very briefly to a sub-zero Wansford this week, and found 'King Haakon 7' and 'Thomas' being warmed up in the yard. 'King Haakon 7' seen here (if you squint a bit) is a lovely little Norwegian 2-6-0, and at her (or should that be 'his'?) usual Bressingham home only runs on a short demonstration line. Being a Continental locomotive, the NVR is the only railway of any length it can run on in the UK. (Continental stock, which is larger than UK stock, will not fit through many UK platforms and bridges).

During my brief visit I was pleasantly surprised to see that Gordon has made a little progress on 'Vanfit' B759852 over the last few weeks during my absence - pictures and report to follow shortly. I have not been able to properly volunteer for a couple of months now, but am hoping to put in a few hours work at Christmas. Hopefully the cold weather we are experiencing at the moment will ease up a bit by then, as the freezing temperatures are no good for painting jobs.

Friday, 3 December 2010

'King Haakon 7'

I have just noticed that the official NVR website announces the visit of Norwegian 2-6-0 'King Haakon 7' to the railway for the 'Santa' season, courtesy of Bressingham Steam Museum.

It is due to operate its first trains on Wednesday December 8th.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

'Y6' Replica Tram Loco - Sold

The sadly stalled project to reconstruct Belgian Cockerill steam tram loco No.1626 into a replica GER 'Y6' now has a new owner, after being put up for sale on an online/telephone auction website by its previous private owner.

It would be wonderful if the new owner chooses to complete and run their new purchase at the NVR, but of course there is now a possibility that this engine will move away from the railway for a new home base. I have no further information at present, so do not wish to speculate. Whatever happens, it will be lovely to see work resume on the engine and the restoration/rebuilding finally completed after a number of years.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Santa Claus is coming to town...

Preparations continued this week for the 'Santa Specials', which are running from Sunday 28th November. The marquee shelter over the platform at Wansford was undergoing assembly, a load of christmas trees have arrived on site, and the Continental coaches were being prepared and decorated.

However the big news is that SNCB 21013 is now complete! Launched without fanfare, it is seen here coupled to SNCB 23009, ready to provide First Class accommodation for the 'Santa' trains.

These two SNCB coaches are now in excellent external condition, leaving No.21033 as the only Belgian coach on the railway still requiring attention to its bodywork.

The carriage restoration shed vacated by 21013 looked very strange and surprisingly big without a coach in it! I believe the plan is to carry out improvements to the workshop over the next few weeks whilst it is empty, including a clever fold-away scaffolding system to be hung from the shed framework. After that, 'Thomas' should be coming into the shed for a repaint as he is starting to look a little shabby.

'A really useful engine' who has definitely earned a repaint...

Thursday, 25 November 2010

'Kriegslok' Boiler Preparations

As has been mentioned earlier on this blog and elsewhere, the massive 'Kriegslok' (War Locomotive) 2-10-0 No. Ty2-7173 has been sold by its private owner, and will be leaving the railway for a new home in Belgium at some point in the not-too-distant future.

Included in the deal is a spare 'Kriegslok' boiler, which last week was placed on a 'Weltrol' wagon by the LMS steam crane. The boiler was due to leave yesterday (Wednesday 24th Nov) and preparations on site had been carried out to enable lorry access, including emptying the 'Civil Engineering' display track.

The displaced Engineers' trolleys.

The spare boiler had sat in the yard at Wansford for several years, but at the time of my visit was perched on the 'Weltrol' to be shunted down to the lorry loading area (adjacent to the 'new' station building). If everything went to plan, this boiler has now left, leaving the 'Weltrol' free for the next job - carrying the boiler of under-overhaul 34081 '92 Squadron'.

The two remaining boilers on site - in the foreground is that from Danish Class F 0-6-0T 'Tinkerbell', behind it is the boiler from Swedish Class S 2-6-2T No.1178. The overhaul of the former is being undertaken by a team of volunteers, whereas the overhaul of the latter is sadly on ice due to lack of resources at this moment in time.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Flying Visit 2 - 16th Nov 2010

I called into Wansford on Tuesday to see how things were going, as I was passing by on the A1. However the light was fading fast so these photos are for the record only!

The LMS steam crane had been pulled out of the shed and the jib left in the raised position. Looking good! The next day the crane was steamed, and used to transfer the spare 'Kriegslok' boiler from the ground where it has sat for several years, onto an adjacent 'Weltrol' wagon. Some pictures of the lift can be seen here, on the official NVR Gallery page.

I was disappointed to see that the Fowler '4F' No.44422 had left the railway (the tender remaining as seen here), but asking around it has apparently only left temporarily to have some specialist work done. I believe this engine will now be staying at the NVR for the 2011 season which is great news, although I have not heard any official confirmation of this yet - fingers crossed all is ok. 44422 is very much appreciated on the NVR, it is an ideal size for our operational requirements and the type is historically accurate for our ex-LNWR/LMS line.

I was very pleased to see some planters in the process of being painted up, presumably to be interspersed with platform benches at Wansford station when they are finished. At the other end of the platform, the strings of Christmas lights were going up along with other preparations for the 'Santa Specials'. The first 'Santa' train is running on Sunday 28th November and it is good to see that First Class in particular is filling up nicely.

The parcels/luggage trolley with end rails has seen further work, including lettering.

The trolley seen in white primer whilst under construction in a previous posting has now been assembled and painted up. One of the platform benches has also been brought in for some TLC, the end/middle supports can be seen here in green primer. The cast CIWL crests have also been applied to SNCB 21013...

...the coach now looks like this, the destination boards and other small details have been added to the bodyside.

Monday, 15 November 2010

LMS Steam Crane - Nearly There...

The LMS steam crane is now very close to completion - I believe it passed its steam test a few weeks ago. It is a shame that it will have to live outdoors as the paint finish is immaculate. Congratulations to all the volunteers and staff who have spent the last couple of years working on this project, the finished article is a credit to you.

A view of the match truck undergoing painting. The solebar and everything below it is black this time, previously these parts were red. The new shade of red is apparently a very close match to the original red paint discovered during the overhaul.

An overall view of the crane, almost ready to go. A beautiful machine, and useful too.

To whet the appetite, here are a couple of shots of the crane in action in 2007, before the overhaul began:

The crane being shunted at Wansford by former resident B1 4-6-0 61306.

Crossing Wansford river bridge in charge of 'Type 1' (Class 20) D8137, which was visiting from the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Hitting the Roofs

I am pleased to report that volunteers from the IRPS have now given the Swedish 'B' Class 4-6-0 new cab roof timber and felt covering in time for the winter. Two of the cab windows that were badly cracked have also been removed to enable replacement of the glass.

Viewed from Wansford car park, showing one of the cab windows removed.

The other side, showing the second cab window removed.

The LMS CCT in the bay platform has also had a new roof covering (apologies for the quality of the photo, it was dark when I made this visit so I have had to play around with the brightness/contrast to actually see anything!)

The timber on this van is in poor condition but the C&W department is very small in number and there is a lot of stock to look after - and the running carriage fleet always comes first.

Volunteers are desperately required in this friendly department to help with the large workload - no special skills are required and your commitment can be on an 'as and when' basis if need be. If you are interested in lending a hand, please contact the railway - E-mail (replace AT with @) or call 01780 784444 and ask to speak to someone about volunteering. We hope to see you soon!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Absolutely Trolleyed

The good news is that the NVR has started employing a part-time worker who is helping to restore the platform trolleys amongst other things. Hopefully this will mean that at least some of the currently very tatty platform furniture will be restored, which will really improve the appearance of the stations on the railway.

The bad news is that the trolleys come into the workshop like this...

Oh dear! The trolley 'in-tray', to which I added another from the platform.

However, as our volunteer Andy has proved, the timber bodies can be rebuilt and the metalwork restored. The last time I saw him, he was working on this trolley with end rails (featured earlier in this blog) which is now well on the road to completion.

Another completed trolley ready to roll.

Our new worker Dave is progressing the next trolley - there has been quite an output of overhauled trolleys over the last couple of years!

There are at least two more in the 'in tray', and there may well be others hidden away which need work. It is great to see these smaller items get the attention they deserve, and I hope secure winter storage space can be found to spare them the worst of the weather.

SNCB 21013 - Update 21

The painting, lettering and lining seems to be complete on Belgian K1A 21013, and the scaffolding has been dismantled.

New holes have been drilled in the pristine bodyside...

...for the new 'CIWL' crests. Previously the CIWL crest was carried as a flat transfer, this casting will look infinitely better.

This CIWL 'Pullman' livery is not authentic for these coaches, but there is no denying it looks very smart. These coaches form the First Class accommodation for the 'Santa Specials'. You have to pay a little more, but I would recommend the upgrade - the SNCBs have lovely interiors whereas it has to be said that the DSB coaches used for Third Class are not the best on the railway.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Every Little Helps

I managed to drop by Wansford this week for an hour or so to get some updates and do a little bit of work. I was very pleased to find that Gordon had fettled and temporarily fitted the one remaining plank on the south side of Vanfit B759852 - saves me a job! I just need to cut and fit a backing plank to provide the full thickness of timber - this will probably have to wait until mid-December unless somebody does it for me in the meantime.

I spent a few minutes painting the newly-fitted plank with white wood primer.

General view of the van. I must admit I didn't notice at the time, but thanks to this photo I see that the left-hand door catch, removed when replacing both the lower planks, has also been refitted during my absence - thanks Gordon!

I've now decided that the left-hand side could do with some more spots of white wood primer before applying undercoat. Pity I didn't think of that before putting the paint away!

To finish off this unexpected (and very brief) working session I moved a badly broken trolley that was by the Southern TPO off of the platform and hid it away out of public view. This area leaves a lot to be desired but even just doing this two minute job makes a bit of a difference.


...and after. Amazingly the trolley held together for its short journey to the trolley restoration 'in-tray' (more on that soon when I get a chance). I believe the TPO windows are currently being refurbished as they were leaking, and when they are reinstalled, the TPO should get a deperately required repaint of its current livery. (Nene Steam Issue 98, Summer 2010).

The rest of the platform equipment seen here (various weighing scales etc) would also benefit from some attention with a paint brush - anyone up for doing what would be quite a nice little job, that would make a huge difference to the general appearance of the site? I have found volunteering to be extremely worthwhile and would recommend anyone thinking about becoming a volunteer to go for it - you'll find a dangerously addictive hobby and great cameraderie. You will need to become a member of the railway if you're not one already (the form is in the timetable leaflet, or use the contact details on the NVR website) but that is the only requirement - there is a great variety of different jobs to do, and many jobs can be done on an 'as and when' basis if you have a very busy lifestyle. As a well known Supermarket chain says, every little helps!