Friday, 27 March 2015

March News Part 3

The blog is back after a week’s holiday, so bumper progress to report on...

Midland Railway (later M&GN) 1886 6 Wheel Picnic Saloon 3

More progress inside and out. On the exterior, great steps have been made with the paintwork. The landward side crimson gloss is fully complete and the top half of the seaward side has been similarly treated. Additionally, this has cleared the way for the mouldings on the landward side to be glossed in black, which has changed the “look” of the coach again. Also on the outside, it has been discovered that the footboards of the vehicle are actually lower than the current set of brackets (ready to fit to the chassis) allow so these will have to be modified by the tame welder in the near future.
Black mouldings and a completed crimson side

Moving inside, two out of the six saloon lights have had specially made castings added to the rims which complete them nicely. The remaining four are still to be cast so will follow later. The two picnic tables have had a further coat of varnish, it is intended that the final coats are to be applied when the weather is slightly warmer. On the two passenger doors, the sliding ventilators have been fitted which brings the doors close to completion. Inevitably, we now move to the toilet where a light “mount” is being constructed. This is wedge shaped to fit into the curve of the ceiling and will ensure the (mock) gas lamp sits level.
A completed saloon light

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

A sizeable amount of work has been done on this vehicle considering it is still locked away in storage. Preparations are being made on some metalwork which is already inside the workshop. A set of brackets which essentially hold the main springs for the axles have been salvaged off an ex Southern Railway PMV van, 1137, the chassis of which was scrapped long ago whilst the body survives as the headquarters of the permanent way department. These brackets require some remedial work however they have all been dismantled into their separate parts and two (out of eight) brackets have been shot blasted. Also salvaged, this time from a scrapped Class 101 DMU bogie, are eight threaded “eyes” that go through the brackets and form the adjustment for the springs. These have also been cleaned up and primed. Finally, there are two I shaped poles which fit on the backs of the seats and support the roof (remember there are only two passenger compartments in this vehicle) which again have been cleaned and primed.
The spring brackets (front), threaded "eyes" (at the back on the right) and I shaped poles (on top) for 853

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641

A lot of work has been completed on our mainline Mark 1 overhaul. Our metalworker is doing a fine job ploughing through the previously unexpected corrosion which was discovered in the floor. This has been partially cut away in an area extending over two windows in the Holt/seaward area and new metal is replacing the old. It is very important to get these structural elements of the carriage repaired before any further steel panelling is attached.

Meanwhile volunteers have assisted in cleaning up more parts of the interior, with the aluminium luggage racks being polished to improve their appearance. Readers must now prepare themselves for the revelation that is Toilet-gate. During the ongoing reconstruction of the lavitorial area, the porcelain sink and toilet were removed from storage ready for reinstallation. However once the toilet was lined up and the “waste hole” cut into the new lino/floor, underneath was revealed an impenetrable steel section of the chassis about four inches below the pan (We were told heads would roll if the toilet was delayed!). A special design of chute is currently being investigated. The rest of the toilet by comparison is going well, with the window now installed and the window woodwork also fitted. A sink was cleaned up ready for fitting, but sadly it was discovered at the last minute that irreparable cracks would prevent it being used.
Toilet window now fitted

British Railways 1956 Mark 1 Suburban Brake Second E43357

With the beading finished in the guards van, this week has seen the wiring trunking finished, and additional trunking fitted for the guards lights. These lights have also been fitted and tested.

British Railways 1954 Mark 1 Suburban Second E46139

One bogie has now reached completion after being painted in black gloss and all the brakegear and axleboxes reassembled, adjusted and lubricated. It is now back under the carriage. The second bogie is not far being and is now also black glossed, with work on brakegear reassembly and axle restoration currently underway.
Completed interior

On the interior, the ceilings are now all in undercoat, having received two coats, and work is progressing on some crescent shaped panels which sit immediately next to the ceilings to bring them up to the same stage.

Hurst Nelson 1944 Fuel Oil Tanker 5304

All the brackets for the through vacuum pipe have now been completed following the application of black paint. All that remains now is the fitting of the pipe to the actual wagon.


Although not very exciting, the annual examinations of the running Mark 1’s based at Sheringham have been completed over several days. This includes (but isn’t limited to) examination of the buckeye couplings and running gear, oiling and adjusting of brakes, and other sundry tests. A fair amount of work was flagged up with the tests and was completed putting the coaches in a good position to start the season next week.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

March News Part 2

Firstly, an advance apology that there will be no update next week due to your scribe being on holiday for the week, playing at another railway...
This isn't your scribe, but does show the sheer joy that working at the NNR carriage & wagon department brings! Why would anyone want a holiday from this?!?

Midland Railway (later M&GN) 1886 6 Wheel Picnic Saloon 3

Only a brief update - a full update should return next time. Progress continues on all fronts with the most visible being further gloss paintwork being applied to the sides of the vehicle.

Great Eastern Railway 1884 Wisbech & Upwell Tramcar 7

After receiving a few reports on the handbrake mechanism, which was possible to overwind when it was being taken off causing it to re-apply, a few minor modifications have been made. This was done soon after the steam gala (where No7 was in use) and the work has been completed in time for the vehicle to be a saloon for a Branch Line Society charter, It is nice to see this vehicle, which normally lives inside the sheds at Holt, out and about so much this month.

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641

The decision has been made to repanel the Holt/seaward ¼ of the coach with new steel. Whilst rather drastic in appearance, this approach actually takes less time than keeping the old skin on the carriage as patching areas as required is very time consuming. So far, good progress has been made with some framework repairs having been undertaken followed by new panelling being measured, cut and fitted to almost half of the area currently being focussed on.
Part way through attaching the new steel panelling
On the interior, stripping of old varnish from the Holt end vestibule continues at a steady rate.

British Railways 1956 Mark 1 Suburban Brake Second E43357

The body smoothing and filling of this coach has now reached completion. The vehicle is now fully in primer and ready for paint. Internally, the guards van beading described last week has also been completed.
Completed beading

British Railways 1954 Mark 1 Suburban Second E46139

The bogies are now looking much better with one now in black undercoat paint and the second not far behind. Those involved with these bogies are to be congratulated for sticking with the unpleasant part of the restoration.

The lone warrior inside the coach continues to work on getting the ceilings up to scratch. At the last count, all nine ceilings had been primed (see picture last week) and two had been undercoated.
Ceiling in undercoat

British Railways 1956 Mark 1 Suburban Lavatory Open E48004

No, not a typo, the railway does have a second SLO vehicle, E48004, which is a close sister to E48001. The latter is currently under restoration and regularly appears in these jottings. The former, not mentioned here before, is the 5th suburban on the railway and has lived in Bridge Road sheds in very poor condition.
E48004 was originally in store, intended to be part of the "Suburban 4" lottery funded project. However the acquisition in 2011 of E48001 which was in much better condition effectively rendered E48004 as surplus to requirements. After the funding was awarded and the project started, E48004 was left with an uncertain future. Happily, it is going to a new home at the Llangollen Railway where it will be restored to operate in their own suburban set. This week, the vehicle was extracted from the sheds and its contents were emptied (it had been in use for storage of parts).
On the subject of emptying contents, here the C&W manager is seen trying out the toilet for size... 
The vehicle was then dispatched to Sheringham for onward transportation by road to its new life in Wales.

British Railways 1958 Conflat & Type AF Container B502824 & AF65970B

This vehicle, which featured heavily upon its completion last week, has successfully entered traffic and started on a high by starring in the demonstration freight train at the spring steam gala.

Hurst Nelson 1944 Fuel Oil Tanker 5304

The through vacuum pipe has been gloss painted and is now ready for fitting. The supporting brackets made last week have also received paint.
Completed vacuum pipe

Thursday, 5 March 2015


This week we have cause to celebrate the completion of the AF Container, which emerged resplendent in full Birds Eye colours on Tuesday. Fish fingers all round! The completed container was lifted out of the shed, down the yard and onto the eagerly waiting conflat wagon without issue. The final touch was then added when the eye of the bird was sign-written on.
On its way from the shed to the conflat

This week marks the end of an approximately 12 month rebuild project of this container, as only the external metalwork and fittings are original. The container itself (originally timer framed with metal panels) was too dilapidated for restoration so was dismantled. The container you see today is an all-steel replica and will hopefully last longer. The container was brought to the NNR in 2012 as a partner to the conflat wagon which had been acquired from the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre two years previously as part o the M&GN Society’s freight wagon fleet. With no load to go on the conflat, a chance enquiry to the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre lead to the AF container also changing hands and making the same journey. Initially, the container was stored on the conflat wagon and operated in the freight train hidden under a tarpaulin due to its poor condition. However in 2014 after the completion of the 16 ton mineral open wagon, the container was craned off the conflat and restoration undertaken. It is worth pointing out that the container is running to offer a flavour of local freight; it is not purporting to be an exact and accurate restoration. The distinctive Birds Eye white and blue livery for example, was only applied to the “AFP” containers, which although similar to the AF are longer and have more doors. Already mentioned is the change of material used in the structure of the container.
Gently loading

The reason for its restoration and inclusion in the freight train is to mark the significant use of these containers by Birds Eye locally. Entire trains of these containers were loaded with frozen goods at the plants at Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft (both closed in the early 21st century) and were distributed around the UK using the British Railways system throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s. The striking Birds Eye colour scheme arguably makes the container/conflat the flagship vehicle in the freight train and certainly the most eye catching wagon currently in service. It will be in operation for all three days of this weekend’s steam gala.
Ta da!

Midland Railway (later M&GN) 1886 6 Wheel Picnic Saloon 3

Let there be light, and there was light... The interior has taken another step forwards with the wiring up of most of the imitation gas lights in the vehicle. These consist of a wooden ring which holds a plastic “bowl”, accommodating a main electric light in the ceiling and a mock gas pilot light represented by a grain of wheat bulb. The lights can be viewed both with just the pilot lights on or the full lights lit. Also on the inside, the picnic tables have seen more varnish (pictured in January News Part 2).
Looking good are the imitation gas lights

Turning to the outside, the gloss paint is spreading and now includes the top section of the bodysides, which include the louvers for the ventilation. The droplight windows from the two passenger doors and the window frames along the vehicle have also been painted brown.

Glossed louvers

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

The urinal has had some filling and sanding to smooth out some of the fabrication marks followed by more primer.

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641

The metal removal mentioned last week sadly has revealed more widespread corrosion than thought. The panelling has therefore been taken off to reveal the entire framework of the lower half of this section, which has changed the appearance of the coach dramatically. There are even several places where the corrosion has spread into the floor supports, so more time than originally planned will have to be spent on these metalwork repairs.
Close up showing corrosion extending under the coach flooring. Not good!

In the toilet, the skirting mentioned last week is now fully fitted as well as the remaining wooden beading. All of the wooden components (towel rack, toilet seat etc) have also been fully varnished and now await fitting.
General view of the Holt end seaward side

British Railways 1956 Mark 1 Gangwayed Brake M81033

Unfortunately this coach was reported this week as gaining wheel flats. Inspection revealed that the flats were severe enough to make the entire bogie vibrate/bounce on each wheel revolution, and whilst waiting for the afflicted train to arrive the noise of the coach could be heard before the train even came into view! Needless to say the carriage has been withdrawn immediately from service, not ideal the week before the steam gala. The work programme is now being revised to accommodate the repairs for this most important vehicle (it is essential for the operation of the dining train).

British Railways 1956 Mark 1 Suburban Brake Second E43357

With the return of an extra member of staff (who works part time), progress on sanding and repainting the exterior of the seaward side of the vehicle has resumed at a rapid pace and the coach is now nearly ready for final painting. Inside the guards van, work has turned from the ceiling to the finishing beading which takes just as long as main panels themselves.
Repainting the seaward side

British Railways 1954 Mark 1 Suburban Second E46139

Cleaning and painting of the bogies, described in February News Part 3, continues. Work is also progressing on painting the ceilings inside the compartments. So far, two or three compartments are in various stages of primer and undercoat having been prepared accordingly.
Ceiling in primer

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Second Lavatory Open E48001

No progress to report.

Hurst Nelson 1944 Fuel Oil Tanker 5304

The through vacuum pipe (for a description and image see last week) has now been painted ready for fitting. Further preparations have been made using the forge “next door” to create some mounting brackets for the pipe. These have also been drilled ready for fitting to the chassis of the tank wagon.


As part of the wider developments of the Weybourne site, a sheet steel guillotine machine is moving from the current machine shop into our works. This has required clearance of the Holt end of the shed to accommodate the new area. A lot of time has been spent this week moving a, frankly huge, steel rack to the opposite end of the shed where it will be better suited for metalwork as well as opening up the area required for the guillotine. This work also contributes towards a wider aim of reconfiguring the shed to make the most of the space available and to increase the department’s efficiency.