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. 

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