Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Beginnings and Endings

Tim is pulling out all the stops to complete his BR 20T brake van in time for the steam gala on 10th/11th September. The exterior lettering is now complete, all that remains are a few interior jobs. It's been a long and difficult road but it just goes to show what is possible with enthusiasm and dedication when you consider it started out like this.

Detail of the chosen lettering scheme, with signwritten regional allocation. I understand this is an early paint scheme that was seen on these vehicles, but probably not this actual example due to its 1958 build date - near the end of the production run of these vans.

Allan has put the C1 Restriction and "TSO" lettering on the end of his BR Mk1 No.4466 and the end is very much in sight for this project too. Some paint and other relatively small jobs will see this coach ready for its running-in period.

An attempt has been made to clean the exterior of BR Mk1 No.4200, this is the coach that is heavily graffitied on one side (currently the publicly-visible side) as can be seen in the photo below:

Once cleaned up, the intention is to turn it on the turntable so the graffiti is hidden from our visitors whilst it awaits its turn for overhaul.

A small cleaning experiment has also been undertaken on the neighbouring disused Mk1 coaches. Whilst still in relatively poor condition, once cleaned up they shouldn't look too bad to visitors on passing trains.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Preserving Britain's Railway History (sort of...)

Three 1950s BR 'A-type' containers arrived on the railway this week, from Rutland Railway Museum. These two have the corrugated end, the most common variation of the 'A-type' design...

...whilst the third is the all-wood design. They don't look great, but they don't look too bad, do they?

Oh dear. Rotten corner post betrays the illusion. One of the other containers has the same problem as well.

The all-wood container had to be moved so was tentatively picked up with the forklift.

Despite careful handling, there was no way of preventing it falling apart even more during transit.

All the wood was beyond saving so the decision was made to completely demolish it, but retain the metal parts in order to make a new wooden body. Here we see the container in flat-pack format!

This is planned to be a relatively long-term project so it will be quite a while before any progress is made. These parts will be loaded into the one container that does seem to be holding together for the time being, until we are ready to tackle it.

On an unrelated note, GWR 'Hall Class' No.4936 "Kinlet Hall" was due to arrive on the Friday for the steam gala on 10th/11th September. Unfortunately it got held up and should now arrive next week instead.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Wansford Site Progress

Fresh paint continues to advance on Swedish 'B' class 4-6-0 No.101. The cab now sports topcoat to match the boiler, and rusted sections have been cut out from the tender platework in order to let in new metal.

The brickwork continues to rise around the lean-to building adjacent to the Heavy Overhaul Workshop.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Wagon Roundup

The top half of the tunnel end of 'Vanfit' B759852 was quickly rubbed down and top coated.

It is more and more likely that this van will become part of the running fleet, after transferring the contents to another van which can remain static in this location. Whilst it makes sense to make this van a runner after all the effort that has gone into its restoration so far, unfortunately it requires new doors and some new timber on the other side, plus a new roof canvas/felt. The good news is that the doors are already built and in stock awaiting fitting, and thanks to the experience the restoration of this van has given me, I now have a relatively quick and easy method of replacing bodyside planks.

The first third of the southern side of the Esso tanker was given a coat of black topcoat. This means that the first third of the tank is completed, and properly protected from the weather. My plan is for the tank to remain in plain black until the rotten timber baulks are replaced (in a year or two, if funds can be raised?) then the whole thing will be rubbed down and given a second topcoat, followed by reinstatement of the "Esso" markings, lettering etc.

Another hour or two was spent needle-gunning the next section of the tank. I managed to get up to the middle bracing rail as seen here...

...and made the interesting discovery of this lettering under the paint. I think there was another line or two of text, but I couldn't prevent the needle-gun obliterating it. I will be more careful on the other side and try to preserve the whole thing for measuring/photographing so a record can be kept for the future. Study of other tankers in this 1950s/60s "Esso" livery suggests that this lettering doesn't appear to be a feature, and so I am led to believe that it belongs to its original WW2 Air Ministry livery. This tanker was constructed in 1941 as a 'Class A' tank, for the wartime job of transporting aviation fuel. It was later downgraded to become a 'Class B' tank, which means it was used to transport fuel and heating oils rather than 'Class A' spirits such as aviation fuel and petrol. For the record, the text reads, "NO LIGHT TO BE BROUGHT NEAR THIS TANK. THE COVER MUST BE KEPT SECURELY FASTENED". As mentioned, there may well have been another line or two which I was not able to save.

Speaking of lettering, Tim began the task of lettering his brake van. I believe it is hoped (and realistic) to have it ready by the steam gala on 10th/11th September.

Monday, 15 August 2011

More Mk1 News

The newly restored bogies for SK E25639 are just about complete, and the coach has been brought into the yard alongside. This suggests that the bogie swap is imminent.

Under-restoration Mk1 TSO No.4466 basks in the sunshine. This will be the first BR maroon-liveried coach on the railway for several years.

4466 viewed from the other end last week, after the carriage shunt. This coach is very definitely on the home straight, one coat of topcoat is required on the doors and lower bodyside to make it presentable for use. Lining out will probably have to wait until after the steam gala and 1940s weekend, as this coach is desperately needed in service for these events! The BR emblem and number transfers have also arrived.

I am indebted to Allan Nunn, the owner and restorer of this coach, for sending these three photos of the interior through and filling in detail on progress. This end is finished, complete with reading lights and luggage racks.

The saloon at the other end, this awaits reading lights and luggage racks but then will be complete. A new ceiling went in a few months ago, this is at top-right. In time, the ceiling on the other side may also be replaced.

A closer view of the section of new ceiling. The previous ceiling collapsed over the winter, due to water damage.

A few mechanical parts need finishing in addition to the external painting and internal 'cosmetics' before the coach can be released into traffic for its running-in period. These include the passenger communication cord emergency braking system which needs adjustment, and the outer springs on the bogies which require replacement (these are in stock). Once everything is sorted out, we will have seven operational BR Mk1 coaches, hopefully followed by the others (see posting below) once restored. For the first time ever, the NVR would then have two 5-coach BR Mk1 rakes (with the option of arranging them together in various ways to match demand for special services), and the extremely tatty and unappealing green Danish (DSB) stock can then be withdrawn from service.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Mk1s Emerge

The shunt to extract the out-of-use BR Mk1s from the tunnel for drying out and assessment for potential restoration went ahead as planned this week - today I got to see the results. The first coach in this line-up is Buffet coach No.1872, still in as-withdrawn BR "blue and grey" livery. Externally, this should clean up ok to improve its appearance before being restored.

Interior of No.1872, looking towards serving area. I love the retro 1950's diner-style ceiling in this vehicle - primrose yellow with chrome trim, and gorgeous 'flying saucer' ceiling lights.

The bar area of No.1872, don't ask what the magazine was about on the counter! Rather a bizarre find in a disused carriage...

Next in line is No.4627. Again, this can be cleaned externally relatively easily to improve its appearance before restoration commences.

No.4627 interior. Once restored, this could easily complement No.4686 and be used to serve at-seat dinners and cream teas.

Finally, we have No.4200, the former "Britannia Bar". Unfortunately it was attacked by vandals a few years ago and one side is plastered in graffiti.

A closer view of the damage, which covers the entire side of this vehicle.

The bar area in No.4200. This preservation-era modification is likely to be removed during the restoration, and replaced with the original seating bay layout giving a total of 64 seats.

Interior of No.4200, viewed from further up the carriage and showing its original layout. This is another vehicle that could complement No.4686, the 'club car', often used to serve meals and cream teas at special events.

We were also very pleased to see that space was left for a wagon or two under the bridge, as requested. Thanks John! The priority list has been drawn up and the first two vans will be brought to Wansford for attention as soon as possible.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Workshop Viewing Gallery

Blockwork has started to go up around the staircase installed a few weeks ago. This will allow safe public viewing of the interior of the Heavy Overhaul Workshop, adding a new dimension to the shed areas at Wansford.

A lovely job is being made of the new brickwork, which is beginning to enclose the existing blockwork of the lean-to area of the workshop. This north-east corner of the building will provide new volunteer toilets and showers, a facility desperately required as the existing 'Portacabin' currently serving this role is a little precarious... I did point out that something is not quite right about the doorway, but at least it's secure!

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Wagon Progress

A full working day was spent up at Wansford yesterday; the photos below show some of the progress made.

The Esso tank received black undercoat over the green primer applied last week.

Now ready for a quick rub down and topcoat, before continuing with the next section.

The top half of the tunnel end of 'Vanfit' B759852 was wirebrushed, and green primer daubed over any bare metal.

Ian and Peter's Southern brake No.55550 continues to make progress, the cabin end undergoing panelling with new timber.

Elsewhere, Tim continued to make progress with his BR Standard 20 ton brake van, making a good start with fabricating a new vacuum brake linkage. In a quiet moment, Tim also helped me to stash away some wagon parts that were in potential danger of being scrapped.

A shunt is apparently arranged for next week, which may see some of the out-of-use BR Mk1 coaches brought out from the tunnel and moved on to the Carriage & Wagon siding for drying out and assessment for potential restoration. I expect they will be in quite a state, yet eminently repairable as parts and repair sections are relatively easy to get hold of. Photos after the shunt to follow asap...

Monday, 1 August 2011

"Tinkerbell" Update

The bunker for Danish Class 'F' 0-6-0T No.656 "Tinkerbell" has been lifted into place on the frames (chassis). I don't know how temporary (or otherwise) this is at this stage, at the time of my visit only a few bolts were holding it in place. I believe most of the parts for this loco are now refurbished, and apart from the boiler, much of the remaining work is now general reassembly.

No.656 viewed from the front. The experimental fabric cylinder cladding has not been deemed to be a great success and will be replaced in due course!

Repairs to the boiler have been costed, and are relatively cheap (in steam engine terms). Further to this however, it is hoped that much of the boiler overhaul can be done in-house in order to save about two-thirds of the cost, and also provide an invaluable learning opportunity for boiler skills on the railway.

More volunteers to work on locos such as this, or financial donations, are always welcome - please contact the railway or simply drop by!