Sunday, 5 July 2015

Mike Sprules

Snowy in his natural environment: sat on his stool next to M&GN 3 with a smile

We start with the sad news of the passing of volunteer Mike Sprules, known around the department as “Snowy” due to his white hair. Snowy was one of the kindest gentlemen I knew around the railway, and he never had a bad word to say about anybody. When I first started at the NNR, Snowy was one of the quickest in accepting a strange new face and his warmth towards people was instantaneous and infectious. Universally popular around Carriage & Wagon, he regularly came in on Tuesdays as a key part of the volunteer team who are rebuilding M&GN number 3, and also turned his hands to any other side projects asked of him, including most recently items such as the M&GN Dray and overhaul of the workshop sack-barrows. I’m sure Snowy wouldn’t mind me saying that he was “slow and steady” on his feet (a situation he would always be referring to himself with a dollop of good humour) and he therefore was most often to be found sat on a stool next to M&GN 3 restoring a component on the bench there, always available for a friendly chat to anyone who walked past. Sadly, a breathing related illness recently took hold within a matter of weeks, and we can all be thankful that the process was not drawn out. Indeed, Snowy was at the railway performing his usual duties just a few weeks before he died. It is a tragedy that Snowy, who was dedicated to M&GN 3 for five years, will not be there to see the vehicle enter service, but he will certainly be with us in spirit.

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

With work focussing on 129, progress on M&GN 3 has been limited to the frame of the toilet mirror receiving more varnish.

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

Work continues apace on the chassis modifications. Work to paint the bits of the old PMV chassis (that are to be retained) in primer is now 95% completed with a just a few odds and sods left to complete. The wooden packers which were bolted onto the top of the chassis to hold the old body on have also been removed to allow the full chassis to be painted. The two new headstocks arrived at the railway in the form of a 5 metre long section of steel which is currently acting as a garden ornament adjacent to the shed. The headstocks were cut off the end and various holes have been cut into them for the buffers, drawhook etc. The first one has been trial fitted already and the areas on the chassis they are going to bolt to are now being painted ready.

Drilling the new headstock, with repainting of the chassis going on it the background

As the chassis is being shortened, the PMV buffers no longer fit into their housings within the chassis properly. To combat this, a 7 inch section from each has been turned down to make them fit in the modified space – the best way to describe the modification is making a square peg fit into a round hole! They look very nice in any case after having gone for a trip through the lathe in the shiny machine shop next door to us...

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641

Due to staff holidays and other priorities, no progress to report this week.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Composite Lavatory E43041

The two bogie frames themselves are now completed having been fully sprayed in two coats each of black undercoat and gloss. Attention is now due to turn to the wheelsets themselves and all the brakegear components, which both still have to be cleaned and painted.

Progress on the underside of the coach has been rapid, with volunteer input being high to speed up the process. Within one week (over several days), the last of the old gunk has been removed from the underframe, all remaining areas rust treated, the pink primer applied over the whole coach and finally a coat of black undercoat.

Mike painting the pink primer

Next week will see the gloss coat before the job is declared complete. Whilst the above descriptions of the bogies and underframe is just a paragraph long, the labour involved has been considerable, and this coach has certainly taken up the lion’s share of our attention this week!

British Railways 1954 Mark 1 Suburban Third W46139

The luggage rack cleaning described last week has now been completed by Roger Ison, who gallantly took on the job nobody else dared to take on. The nets have been washed and are now awaiting some new string to be ordered before they are strung back onto the cleaned frames.

Clean luggage racks

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Third Lavatory Open E48001

Roger did such a good job of W46139’s luggage racks that we managed to force him at gunpoint to move onto the racks for this carriage! The process of stripping, cleaning and net repair will be the same, however the shape of the TLO’s are very different to those already refurbished.

Meanwhile, work continues on the toilet reinstatement, with some more metal grills and woodwork from round the windows either cleaned up or manufactured from new to create a full set to fit and varnish up. Progress has also been made on the piping which will feed the various sinks and toilets on both sides of the carriage. At the weekend, a great deal of varnishing was done on a large number of components from around the windows, as well as the large veneered bulkheads that form the toilet walls. These parts have now had several coats so fitting to the vehicle should not be too far away all being well.

British Railways 1958 GWR Designed "Fruit D" W92097

With the completed Suburban Brake Third (E43357) now being used as little as possible until the other suburbans are completed and added to the train, the department made a request to spare the coach from performing its usual duties on the second rake of mark 1 stock during the summer holiday timetable. E43357 has been very useful as a second brake coach to handle the vastly increased numbers of buggies and bikes that turn up during August. In the distant past, the NNR had two 4-wheel Mark 1 CCT vehicles to perform this function, however one has since fallen out of traffic meaning E43357 has been replacing it in recent years when two steam trains have been running in service.

With the overhaul of the second CCT not feasible at the present time, Fruit D 92097 (restored in 2010) has been extracted from the goods train at Holt and the M&GN Society have kindly agreed for the NNR to use it for six weeks as a second bike carrier. It has therefore been moved to Weybourne for a rapid preparation for daily service.

So far all the running gear, brake linkages, draw gear, buffers and wheelsets have been thoroughly inspected and passed as fit for passenger (as opposed to freight train) useage after some oiling and remedial adjustment work was completed. Work is now ongoing to see the vacuum brake system reinstated, as it was isolated in 2010 as there was a cylinder fault and it was not needed at the time to operate in the freight train. The cylinder has been partly dismantled and replacement parts fitted and it is now awaiting a test to see if it works. If it doesn’t it will be replaced for a reconditioned example.

Nico oiling the Holt end coupling
Whilst all this has been going on, volunteers have been busy chipping off all of the old flaking paint and patching the areas of bare wood in primer. This is to tidy the vehicle’s external appearance which had become quite shabby as it is to be much more publicly scrutinised on the summer trains. One side is to be parch painted and then varnished, but sadly the ends and remaining side are too far gone and will require a full repaint. However it is anticipated that this can be done quickly to hopefully (ha ha ha!) make it for the summer trains which will be starting in a few weeks time. Even if it’s a quick job however, it’s nice to see some work going into a wagon, the Cinderellas of the railway!

David primes some of the exposed wood

92097 with its patched end

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