This week some shiny 'new' refurbished wheelsets were installed under BR 20 ton brakevan B954024, as the flanges on the previous wheelsets had worn to unacceptable limits. I have undertaken this operation on an '00' gauge model in the past, but doing it on the real thing takes considerably longer! I can imagine that the new heavy overhaul workshop (with its 10 ton overhead gantry crane) makes a huge difference for jobs like this.
The van is in the workshop and the job is assessed. We have removed the lower step-boards and the tie bars from the W-irons (the parts that support and hold the axleboxes) ready for lifting. The overhead crane is moved into position.
Up and away! Chains are wrapped under the chassis, and the gantry crane makes light work of gently lifting the van at one end to release the first wheelset.
The old wheelset is rolled out and taken away by JCB. The new wheelsets were moved from the far end of the workshop to the van at the other end with precise control of the overhead gantry crane.
One of the new wheelsets installed. This one went in fairly easily, but the other put up a fight as the leaf spring refused to sit properly on the first attempt.
After the wheelsets were fitted, the W-iron tie bars were reinstalled, the brakes were adjusted (not as easy as it sounds!) and the van was shunted on to a siding in the yard outside.
The step-boards were bolted back on...
...and some minor repairs were made to some of the step-boards. Unfortunately some of these could do with replacement, but the repair will have to do for now. This van really requires a lot of new timber to return it to first class condition as the body frame and cladding is decidedly shabby, but at least for now it is useable once again - it is a very important vehicle as it is the only operable brake van on the railway.