Friday, 18 October 2019

October News Part 2

London North Eastern Railway 1950 Brake Corridor Third E1866E (GOLD)

Several of the vehicle's doors have been the focus of attention this week, the repairs to the wooden framework of most of them can be considered as ongoing.

As part of the restoration, the M&GN Society's Thompson Gangwayed Brake (BG) vehicle has been removed from Bridge Road sheds for the first time in around 10 years and tripped to Weybourne to have some components recovered from it for use. So far, several items from the guards brake area have been removed and many of them have already been stripped down for repainting and further use on E1866E. Some (but not all) of these items included: the steam heating element for the guards compartment, LNER pattern swinging guards table, securing chain for the handbrake wheel an largest of all, the Holt end gangway connector. E1866E arrived with incorrect BR Mark 1 style gangways (its originals had been lost long ago) so these are being swapped with the correct LNER style ones fitted to the BG. So far, the BG's connection has been removed and laid down so it can receive further work before being fitted to E1866E. E1866E's one has been taken off and fitted onto the BG as a cosmetic only feature in the future, as the BG is planned to be used as a museum coach and some point in the future.

British Railways 1959 Brake Corridor Composite E21224 (GOLD)

At long last, the bodywork welding repairs have been completed! The Sheringham end seaward side corner, the final piece in the jigsaw, was welded up and repaired this week, so now reassembly of the interior can start in earnest.

Work to hang the doors continues, with the passenger door on the landward side receiving its protective weather strips this week. The set of double luggage doors, also on the landward side, are the next doors to receive attention.

The project to "produce" two replacement doors for the Holt end creeps forward slowly, this week the insides of the two door skins have been protected first in rust-kill prim er and now also in gloss.

Internally, the fitting of tubing to direct condensation from below the windows safely away from the inside of the coach is progressing well, with several compartments now fitted with more to follow. This is one of the final jobs required before compartment panelling can be refitted.

Any rotten or missing supporting woodwork in the compartments is currently being re-secured/repaired/replaced where required, with the compartment nearest Sheringham being the first to be "done". This also happens to be one of the worst compartments so hopefully the others will not take anywhere near as long.

As part of this work, new boarding which goes below the compartment windows at ankle height is being produced as the originals's were quite rotten with several holes drilled through them. These are currently being painted black before they're fitted.

British Railways 1957 Tourist Second Open E4521 (SILVER)

The woodwork for the two toilets has received a further coat of varnish this week. Due to other priorities on other coaches (see below), this one has had to take a back seat for now.

British Railways 1957 Corridor Second W25189 (BRONZE)

Compartment varnishing has continued to do well, with 7 out of 8 compartments now re-varnished (minus the final coat which will be done after other repairs are completed). Ceiling painting in the compartments is not far behind with 7 out of 8 compartments now painted in one coat, five of those having also had a final (second) coat.

The replacement ceiling panels for compartment number 6 have been primed on both sides and gloss painted on the rear (hidden) side. Replacement beading has been produced this week and primed in readiness for the fitting of this ceiling.

Externally, repairs to the lower "skirt" of the coach have been completed which has allowed most of the sanding and filling work to be undertaken around the lower half of the body. This has changed its appearance considerably!

British Railways 1956 Tourist Second Open E4236 (REPAIR)

After getting bad wheel flats whilst in service, this coach had to be withdrawn for the problem wheelset to be removed. Given the coach is to play an important role in the upcoming "Trains of Lights" and of course the Satan Specials, urgency is needed for its repair. It has been squeezed into the shed following GER 853's departure and immediately lifted to gain access to the bogies.

So far, the good bogie has been removed and a wheelset pinched from it to go in the bogie at the other end replacing the bad one.

The one pinched from the good bogie will next week in turn be replaced by a spare example from our wheel rack that has already been turned to profile during a quieter period this wheel has been cleaned up and painted ready for fitting.

The reason for swapping them around in that manner is because two wheels in one bogie can only be different in diameter by a small margin, whereas wheelsets on two different bogies can have a larger difference. Swapping them around allows us to use our spare wheel whilst keeping the rest of the coach's wheels "within spec". Does that make sense?!?!

British Railways 1962 12 Ton Box Van B784254 (GOLD)

The painting on this wagon has now been completed, and sadly its space in the shed was required by E4236 so it been returned to its owner and moved back outside.


The spreader beams described fully last week have now been completed and painted in primer.

Also coming through works in another background job for one of the stations: the rebuilding of a porters trolley which came in incredibly rotten and full of woodworm! It has quickly been transformed and is now being gloss painted.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

COMPLETION SPECIAL: Great Eastern Railway Brake Third 853

This week we celebrate the entry into traffic of Great Eastern Railway Brake Third 853. This is the conclusion of a four year restoration effort, and sees the coach carrying passengers for the first time in over 90 years, a staggering 120 years after it was built. Just pause for a moment to consider those figures, for a coach older than anyone alive today.

Rewind two lifetimes to 1899: 853 was born in the Great Eastern Railway's Stratford Works the same year that produced Fred Astaire, Ernest Hemingway and Alfred Hitchcock. The railways were almost unrecognisable from today, with engines and coaching stock most noticeably being much smaller than we know today. 853 was built for London suburban commuter traffic, specifically for short-coupled fixed formations serving Enfield from Liverpool Street, the Great Eastern's terminus. It was one of a batch of 27 built, the last one being completed the following year.

Photo shows a similar vehicle as-built

853 seats 24 passengers in two third class compartments, which are only semi-enclosed internally. Over half of the vehicle is dedicated to a guards and luggage space, essential when formed in a long train of similar vehicles which only contained passenger compartments. A simple early design 4-wheel steel chassis was mounted below the all-wooden body. Developments and improvements to carriage design were to make considerable steps forwards shortly after 853 was built, rendering it basic and uncomfortable relatively quickly after being introduced. Higher capacity coaches with better riding bogies would soon make inroads into the UK's railways. However financial constraints meant that 853 was to run into the grouping era (1923), being withdrawn from working service by the London North Eastern Railway in 1927.

This was to not prove the end for 853, as its well built body found further use after being sold off and moved to Mattishall (near Dereham) in Norfolk where it was grounded for domestic use. It became part of a Bungalow and over the years was boxed in by other developments alongside it.

It was this unintentional protection that was the make 853 survive in a better condition than other similar bodies in Norfolk who braved the outdoor elements over all those years.

853's history as a Bungalow from the 1930's through to the 1990's would be a private affair, the full details of which we will obviously never know.

However in 2003 demolition of the buildings led to 853 being offered as a donation to the Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway Society, this being accepted and the body moved to the North Norfolk Railway in summer 2003.

With the restorations of other vintage carriages in progress at the time, 853 was sheeted over and stored outside at Sheringham on a spare chassis - ironically probably in worse conditions than when it was boxed in as a bungalow.

2006 Sheringham

Over the years several donated Great Eastern bodies deteriorated beyond restoration on NNR premises and were disposed of, however 853 was to be the lucky one and was included  as the final member of the Joint Heritage Coach Fund's 5-vehicle Vintage Train project. In November 2015 853's turn had finally come and it was moved inside the workshops for restoration to working condition to begin.

The initial strip down revealed now well the general structure of the coach had survived, and the body was soon split off its accommodation chassis (which later became the "Torpedo wagon" in the freight set) to allow repairs to the wooden frame and panelling.

At the same time the interior was stripped of its domestic paint, with some fittings including light shades still present!

The original underframe was found to be salvageable, it being repaired and "new" running gear (from another scrapped vehicle).

The chassis in as found condition

Completed chassis ready for the body

Several years interior and exterior restoration followed, most of which has been documented in this Blog, 853 slowly transforming into a restored item.

Bodywork in the early painting stages

The bodywork completed and primed

Opened out interior as found

Dividing half height wall between the two compartments being reinstated

Fully restored compartment

Fast forward to this week, the long journey almost over. A successful test run was made during the week, after which the vehicle was launched at the M&GN's members day on Saturday 5th October 2019.

All those involved in its restoration step aboard for the first run

A very happy Axeman waiting departure

Most of the team who worked over the four year project

Even on the test run, finishing touches were being attended to by the dedicated!

In the latter part of the restoration, the "two Pete's" project managed the process 

Nigel Scarlett, overall manager of the JHCF and project leader for the restoration, enjoys a trip in the guards van

A big well done is required for the whole JHCF team who have spent the last four years transforming 853. This is one of the few vehicles restored entirely by volunteers and they have a lot to be proud of.

What's next for the Vintage team we hear you ask? There's a few vehicles that require attention and even a few that need their full restorations starting - keep checking these pages to see which project makes it to Weybourne first!

London North Eastern Railway 1950 Brake Corridor Third E1866E (GOLD)

Elsewhere in the workshop, further focus has been on the rebuilding of the doors. The router tool is being mastered to produce new side stiles for the door that fell apart. Hopefully these new sides will be married soon to the original cross pieces which have been retained.

British Railways 1959 Brake Corridor Composite E21224 (GOLD)

Bodywork continues. The final corner, the Sheringham end seaward one, is now being tackled from a metalwork point of view. The gutter has been removed, skin cut away and corrosion revealed. New sections are expected to be produced for it shortly!

Inside the vehicle, progress has been limited to another coat of varnish along the side corridor, which is really starting to come up nicely now the varnish layers are increasing.

British Railways 1957 Tourist Second Open E4521 (SILVER)

All of the woodwork from the two toilets has now been fully sanded and bleached at last, and it appears to have come up very well at first glace. The first coat of varnish has now been applied to this woodwork, which should blossom as more coats are applied.

British Railways 1957 Corridor Second W25189 (BRONZE)

Good progress continues on all fronts. Number six and seven of the eight compartments have now been rubbed down for refreshing leaving just one in an "untouched" state. Compartments number 7 & 8 have also had a first coat of varnish applied which kick starts their transformation.

The replacement ceiling panels for compartment number 6 have now been cut out to size and painted in primer on the visible side. More painting of both sides is planned before they're fitted in place.

Welding continues along the seaward bodyside. All window bottom repairs have now been completed, so now attention will turn to the lower "skirt" along the lower edges of the body.

During the middle of last week, one of the welding machines was out of action for a few days, during this period a brief start was made on bodywork preparation with some limited sanding and filling work being done on the Holt/landward corner. This is now halted again whilst the rest of the welding is completed.

British Railways 1962 12 Ton Box Van B784254 (GOLD)

Progress on this freight vehicle has accelerated owing to labour previously employed on GER 853 offering to give a helping hand on this project on a temporary basis. A great deal of preparation works have come to a conclusion allowing the body to be painted. Brown undercoat was applied at the weekend allowing a first coat of brown gloss to be applied on Monday.

This in turn led to a Tuesday gang applying the second coat of brown completing the body. A start has also been made on black glossing the underframe and bufferbeams.

Other ancillaries such as these "scoops" (that fit into cutouts on the doors) are also being painted off the vehicle.


A spreader bar is now taking shape which will be used shortly for keeping straps away from bodywork of coach bodies as they are lifted by the crane.