Last weekend we hit the awards: the Heritage Railway Association annual awards in Birmingham to be precise. The North Norfolk Railway and the Midland & Great Northern Society were represented in the form of a table for 13 from Norfolk (twelve humans and one Monkey!). We were fortunate enough for this very Blog to be nominated for the Communications award along with the restoration of Great Eastern Railway 853 for a second award.
Unfortunately, for us at least, neither were successful in winning the awards themselves, but we had an excellent evening and it was an honour in both cases to be nominated in the first place. The carriage award was won by Test Car 2 at the Great Central Railway whilst the communications award was won by the Patriot Project's "Warrior" magazine. We would like to offer our congratulations to both of those organisations, worthy winners indeed.
I would also like to personally thank everyone who wished us well during the period between being informed of the nomination and the awards evening itself; and also all the positive feedback we have had after learning we were runners up... your collective kind words are appreciated!
Monkey is still developing the photos of the evening itself, as he has come complicated darkroom adjustments to make to delete his double chin, but hopefully they will be appearing next week...
British Railways 1957 Corridor Second W25189 (BRONZE)
The exciting news this week is the completion of W25189's minor overhaul and repaint. The first thing people are likely to notice is the colour scheme, Chocolate & Cream! This is likely to prove controversial on a hardened Eastern Region railway, but the livery was requested by the coach's owner upon the start of its overhaul.
W25189 was built in 1957 by Metro Cammell as an ordinary corridor second coach in standard maroon livery. The coach was not set to lead an ordinary life however, as in 1962 the vehicle became one of the Western Regions selected vehicles to be re-liveried in their Chocolate & Cream scheme reserved for top express rakes of stock. In addition to this, it became the subject of a catering experiment, the "Auto Buffet".
This interesting conversion entailed the removal of one of the eight passenger compartments, to be replaced by an early example of self service buffet. Several chrome vending machines in the latest style populated the space offering snacks, drinks, sweets and cigs!
The coach was then trialed by being added to the formation of the Cambrian Coast Express for a portion of its working. It would seem the trial was not considered a huge success or indeed viable for mass application, as W25189 was later converted back to a standard coach.
|Official photograph of the Auto Buffet conversion in 1962|
|58 years later, a photo-shopped image showing what W25189 might look like had we have been able to reinstate the Auto Buffet|
Almost no evidence survives today of the conversion, the only visible clue being that the woodwork inside what was the buffet is of a slightly newer wood (in better condition) than the rest of the coach.
|W25189 being hauled by 7819 "Hinton Manor" in 1962|
W25189 was later repainted into Blue/Grey livery and became a normal coach for the remainder of its career. Its earlier preservation life included a return to original maroon livery and spells at the Great Central Railway and Mid Norfolk Railway before moving to us on loan in 2008.
|25189 in use at the Mid Norfolk Railway|
|On arrival at the NNR|
E25189 (as it was numbered then) was repainted on one side only before entering service, mainly used as a summer season strengthening coach. Ten years on, the vehicle had received minimal work having given reliable service and was looking decidedly shabby. It was brought into works for overhaul in July 2019.
We will not dwell on the work for too long, as regular readers will have followed it through the Blog the past six months. Needless to say the usual amounts of toil were put into the interior and exterior transformation, with the return to the 1962 Chocolate & Cream colour scheme being the most talked about topic during its application. It is worth noting that W25189 is the only Mark 1 vehicle on the NNR that carried Chocolate & Cream "back in the day", and indeed when sanding the paint back evidence of the BR colours was found.
But enough about colour! W25189 can now return to Sheringham and the rest of the Mark 1 fleet to reenter service. Its first use will be at the Spring Steam Gala in March where it will be on the end of the train next to the engines all being well. Over the weekend it is hoped to see W25189 "paired" with the visiting engines which have both been announced to be of Great Western origin. Look forward to seeing you there and enjoy a re-varnished compartment!
Great Northern Railway (later M&GN) 1887 6 Wheel Third 129 (BRONZE)
Back in the workshop, the newly printed adverts for the picture frames have now been mounted in place. Rather than build in house, the frames were bought in through a framing company and they look excellent. The chairman of the NNR, who is a dab hand at electronic image/graphic restoration and manipulation, has assisted in the selection of the prints and they also look excellent now they are in position in the compartments. These picture frames are another example of items which should have been done during the original restoration ten years ago, but were never undertaken due to the requirement for the coach to be in service at the time. It is nice to see them at last!
Some other finishing touches, such as repainting the floors, has also been completed.
The only items now outstanding for this vehicle are the completion of the ceiling lining in the compartments and some final brake design adjustments.
London North Eastern Railway 1950 Brake Corridor Third E1866E (GOLD)
Most of the progress this week has been a continuation of the extensive door dismantling and wood frame overhaul. There are now too many doors in the shed dismantled to keep track of numbers, but rest assured it is progressing!
British Railways 1959 Brake Corridor Composite E21224 (GOLD)
Exterior work continues, with more sanding of the bodysides and painting of the corridor end woodwork at the Sheringham end, which is now up the undercoat. The Holt end doors continue to be adjusted and built up, whilst work on the Sheringham end (guards doors) has now turned to the inside elements of them. They are planked and a lot of the original planks were rotten and disposed of during the initial strip down of the coach. New timber has now arrived to re-plank most of them, but we have also gathered up what remained of the original material and sanded them down and primed them ready for refitting.
The compartment refits are now complete and we have a cutting list of around a dozen items of trim which were missing and now require making to complete the compartments.
Already machined are the lengths of beading for the toilet. These are now up to their second coat of varnish.
Returning to the inside the compartments, we have had some switch faceplates reproduced using an original, as several were damaged and missing from this coach. These switches control whether the lighting is dim or bright in each compartment, and the new ones are now in place and look great. This coach is clearing entering the phase where things on the inside are starting to look all shiny and nice!
British Railways 1957 Tourist Second Open E4521 (SILVER)
Steelwork continues on the Sheringham end, with the centre panel above the corridor archway fitted this week, and the roof "hoops" above the skin now being progressed.
The steel around the toilet window on the landward side is now also completed, and the aperture for the window cut out.
With the paint stripping on the aluminium doors now finished, these are all being sanded to a smooth finish so that they can be repainted. Some stray components which got missed have now finally also been dismantled from them, so all six doors are now properly in kit form. Not a lot of words but there is so much to a door that this work takes considerable manpower to progress properly!
British Railways 1958 Covered Carriage Truck M94125 (REPAIR)
We have temporarily admitted defeat on this vehicle, having accepted that it will be some time before we can get it lifted in the air and its remaining damaged wheelset tyre turned. This is due to very high demand for priority vehicles to be using the lifting jacks between now and May, so the decision has been made to pension the CCT off to Holt. "I'll be back" as the Terminator would say...
British Railways 1962 First Open M3116 (REPAIR)
The replacement for SK W25189 came in the form of dining car M3116. We can't seem to keep the dining train away for some reason! M3116 is with us for mechanical repairs which have built up over the past few years and were not able to be tackled at Sheringham. It also requires bodywork and repainting but this unfortunately will have to wait for around 12 months. Limited time windows mean we are splitting the job list in half, with the dirty work first!
With the vehicle berthed in the shed the first task was to lift it and extract the Holt end bogie which has in turn been lifted leaving the two wheelsets behind. These two can now be taken away for tyre turning back to the correct profile, as they had become slightly worn.
One task which is being progressed is the repair of the electrical lighting jumper cables, these had rotted off in service so have been stripped off and the metal beneath rust treated. We are lucky that we caught these in time, the metal has survived and hasn't corroded away which would have required more extensive repairs.
The practically new-build sack trolley is now reaching the final paint stage and is looking very smart indeed. I shouldn't think it will be long before this is returned to a station somewhere between Sheringham and Holt.
We are getting through the final phase of the C exams for the stock at Sheringham:
The formation 35158/4236/4843/4958, designated "A set", and the current dining train formation (81103/4372/4641/1969) have all been examined and the main repairs done. This has included several buckeye (coupling) swaps along with door/window repairs and minor matters such as loose tables etc.
The exams include a full examination top and bottom, door examination, wheel examination, brake test, brake adjustments, buckeyes coupling and draw hook tests. Undersides have been "sloshed" (oiled), axle boxes checked and refilled and grease boxes checked for contamination. Doors have also been oiled ready for use.
Lesser used "B set" (21103/4667/3868/26012) have been examined except axle boxes and are awaiting repair work to be done and a brake test.
The team at Sheringham are awaiting the arrivals of the suburban set and quad art set for their exams leading up to the aforementioned Spring Gala.
In addition to the regular maintenance work, Friday saw an interdepartmental team building exercise, in the form of cleaning/polishing four railcar vehicles at Sheringham. Members of the operations, locomotive and carriage departments united in a blaze of North Norfolk Railway glory to get the filthy vehicles looking something like for our half term visitors!