Friday, 22 May 2015

COMPLETION SPECIAL: Mark 1 Suburban Brake Second E43357

Today saw the rolling out of the first of the four coaches being restored as part of the joint NNR and M&GN “Suburban 4” project. Fittingly, the honour fell to Brake Second, E43357, which has been on the NNR since 1977 (arriving in BR’s tired blue livery) and has accumulated the most mileage of any suburban Mark 1 vehicle on the railway. E43357 has proven to be a real workhorse for the railway, having been overhauled and painted maroon several times in preservation for prolonged periods of use carrying thousands of visitors on the NNR. The vehicle also saw many years use in the early dining trains where its brake area proved useful both for accommodating the guard and in housing a generator to power equipment. E43357 was later replaced by M81033 but continued in use in normal passenger trains, the brake being particularly well used as a bike and buggy carrier during the busy summer months. In the mid 2000’s when the general condition of the railway’s suburban coaches resulted in most of them being stored out of service awaiting major rebuilds, E43357 soldiered on, and for almost 10 years was the only suburban presence in the NNR’s trains (with the exception of the special occasions when the Quad-Art set was in operation). During this time, of the five suburbans originally preserved on the NNR, three were either sold on or swapped for alternatives (in better condition) but E43357 was one of the pair which remained. The vehicle’s long term future was secured in the early 2010’s when the Suburban 4 project, lead by the late Clive Morris, was launched and E43357 was selected for receiving a major overhaul as the brake vehicle for this special set.
Being taken to Sheringham today

In 2013, E43357 was withdrawn from service and brought into the workshops for its full strip down and rebuild to begin. This progressed well until May 2014 when it was pressed back into service for the summer season, another indication of how reliant the operating department were on the vehicle. November 2014 saw the coach return for the remainder of the work. A lot of the later tasks undertaken during 2015 have been well documented on these pages, but in summary the vehicle received a good combing over its bodywork and the exterior fully repaired where required with new metal. This was followed by full body preparation and repaint into original 1954 Crimson colours. Underneath the coach was largely rewired, the running gear dismantled and overhauled and reassembled. The interior was gutted, the woodwork stripped and re-varnished, seating reupholstered and he brakevan transformed from an empty shell (from its days as a generator vehicle) into a fully fitted out original condition guards and luggage area.

E43357 was built by BR’s York works in 1955 and had a career lasting 20 years, which was spent entirely on the Eastern region of the railway, mainly on suburban services running out of London Kings Cross. It was one of 283 vehicles of its type to be built. The guards area which has made the vehicle so useful on the NNR evidently proved attractive to other heritage railways as well, as thirteen of these vehicles survive today, making them the most common type of Mk1 suburban in preservation. A high proportion of these (ten at the time of writing) have been maintained in operational condition.

E43357 will rejoin our operational fleet but only used on an occasional basis to preserve its condition until the other three suburbans can be finished to join it.  In the next few months it is planned to be used on trains on Saturday 23rd May (tomorrow) and over the Diesel Gala weekend. It is expected to also be in use for other very busy events such as the Steam Gala and 1940’s weekend. The vehicle still requires a few finishing touches, which will possibly be undertaken at Sheringham next week, however before the coach was out-shopped the batteries were refitted and the lighting wiring completed/tested successfully. The coach was lowered back onto it's bogies after this was completed and the braking all reconnected and tested. On the interior, lots of small fittings were refitted to the guards van interior after the yellow paint for the walls finally arrived. The compartments have also had the lino polished and sealed.
Part of the wiring for the lighting

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

With all the excitement of completing our first suburban, it is hard to believe that work has been progressing elsewhere. However M&GN 3 has received another tidy up inside, and the mirror, described in May News Part 2, has been fitted into the vehicle, albeit with more work on the frame required. On the exterior, the process of adjusting the springs has begun and whilst this is still in the early stages, one axlebox has already been found to be stuck in its guides, so off course this will have to be rectified in due course.

Great Northern Railway (later M&GN) 1887 6 Wheel Third 129

The savages have continued their insatiable consumption of the donor underframe, and appear to be refining their techniques of setting fire to the floor... Joking aside, a huge amount of effort has been put into efficiently reducing the underframe to its salvageable components and in a remarkably short space of time the area has been tidied up with only the wheelsets remaining on the track. The springs have been placed on pallets ready for dispatching to a firm for modification and repair with a view to their re-use. Soon the task of modifying the new underframe itself, destined for No129, will be commencing.
The donor chassis now all but gone

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641

Work has been limited to the exterior of the coach this week. The welder, having finished the Sheringham corridor end, has stripped out the old steel panelling from the first of the four windows on the seaward side, and the framework is currently exposed awaiting any required repairs.
The seaward side loses more paneling
The stripping of the metal was possible after Dan spent a few torturous days extracting the aluminium window frames off the body of the coach. Volunteers have been helping strip down the window frames as they are being removed back to bare metal.
David strips one of the window frames
Meanwhile back at the Holt end of the coach the stripping off of the remaining paintwork (pictured last week) has also progressed. A similar process has also been employed recently on the six passenger doors.
An exterior door after partial stripping

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Second Lavatory Open E48001

Varnishing and trial fitting of window surrounds continues.

British Railways 1957 Class 101 Railcar Driving Trailer Composite Lavatory E56062

The chipping off of the paint defects and rust bubbles has been completed over the entire vehicle, and the areas rust treated ready for fresh body filler. Approximately 15 holes have been discovered and about a third of these have been dealt with with new metal. Work is now focusing on welding the remaining areas following which the sanding and filling will begin.
Chris rust treats E56062

In parallel with this work, the polished alloy window frames are being deep-cleaned to return them to their former gory. These were restored in 2009/2010 but have since been afflicted with a layer of steam loco smut and general grime. However these are coming up a treat and so far half of them (the landward side of the vehicle) have been finished.
Hardcore window cleaning


A week of two-steam-train running is planned for the half term, which required the department to give the second rake of coaches a check over at Sheringham with particular attention being paid to the brakes. A brake defect has been found on BSK W35148, but thankfully was minor and not a problem at present. It is planned for the coach to operate for the duration of the half term following which it will come to the workshop for a day to have the suspect cylinder swapped for a refurbished spare.


The station folding information boards described last week have now been completed and will be dispatched from the workshop shortly.

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