Saturday, 28 November 2015

November News Part 4

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

The largest visual progress this week has been that the smaller of the two fireplaces (known recently as the “cat flap”) has now been plugged up with a section of reclaimed coach framework from a donor body which was found many years ago in Docking. This has been cut and spliced into the coach’s original framework adjacent to where the fireplace was installed.

The paint stripping mentioned in previous weeks has also progressed further, with the seaward side now finished and the Holt end and Landward side both being started this week. Some roof vents and gas lamp apertures in the ceiling have also been revealed, after they had been covered over with biscuit tin lids by the previous owners! Work to renew the section of wood at the bottom of the luggage double doorway has now also started, this piece having been sacrificed to make way for the hearth of the larger fireplace. Finally, many of the bolts which hold the metal reinforcing brackets (in the corners of the framework and in the doorways) have been removed as they require replacement having rotted inside the frame over the last 100 years or so...

Nigel uses his booster seat and invisibility cloak whilst shotblasting parts for GER 853

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641

This vehicle has been moved into the staging area this week for a short stay, easier access to the interior and windows being one advantage.

E4641 seen outside during the shunt

Work to refit the window frames long the seaward side is now progressing, with two installed fully and a third receiving its upper section and glass.

The interior also continues to progress, the steam heat pipes have been fitted to the Holt end saloon which finishes this task. Now the wood supports that go below the main saloon windows are being cut to size and fitted.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Composite Lavatory E43041

Welding has continued and the framework repairs to the landward side have now been completed along roughly one half of the coach’s length. Some more flooring has also been removed to allow further access for more floor supports to be replaced.

E43041 outside during the shunt

British Railways 1954 Mark 1 Suburban Third W46139

This coach has been moved into the lifting area so that the remaining tasks on the chassis can be completed.

W46139 during the shunt

First the remaining sections of underframe steel need cleaning up and rust-protecting, which is already one third complete. Also accessible whilst on the jacks have been the vacuum “Direct Admission” valves, which have now been overhauled and fitted into the system. These work in conjunction with the brake cylinders so are important components in the mechanical makeup of the vehicle.

On the interior, the lighting shades had gotten damaged lightly so were all removed and cleaned/repainted where required. They now await refitting.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Third Lavatory Open E48001

A few more heaters have been overhauled for eventual use on this coach.


As hinted last update, dining car E4372 came up to Weybourne for two days during the week to have its vacuum cylinders swapped. This was completed successfully and the vehicle is now back in traffic.

Future Works

A great deal of thought has been going on behind the scenes this week regarding the strategy of the department and its activities over the next 12 months. It is good to review these matters to keep well in touch with the railway’s needs and to identify priorities and which direction we need to be pulling in to. These plans include which of the vehicles currently in works get the most attention and also which coaches replace them for future restoration/maintenance. Whilst it is not appropriate to state the content of such a plan here, readers may appreciate the knowledge that these matters are being reviewed regularly and that the strategy for the next 12 months will soon be agreed and later implemented (hopefully!).

Friday, 20 November 2015

November News Part 3

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

The team have wasted no time in getting their teeth sunk into this new and exciting project, with progress centred on three fronts this week. Firstly, the heat-gun paint stripping of the landward side exterior woodwork/tinwork has been furthered and the side has almost now been completed.
Nearly stripped: the seaward side

Secondly, the inside has been 90% stripped of the wallpaper that had been added (during its time as a house) which has revealed the original planked interior to be in good condition. The remains of the original guard-to-compartment divide have been removed and the ceiling de-nailed (itself a large task).

The wallpaper finish had seen better days!
Guards compartment during wallpaper steaming

Finally, the section of missing framework where the smaller of the two fireplaces had been installed has now been replaced, most fittingly using a section of reclaimed carriage underframe!

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641

Interior reconstruction continues. In the Sheringham end saloon, the steam heating pipes have been refitted and the centre bulkhead (which originally was there to separate smokers from non-smokers) returned.

In the Holt end saloon, a great deal of supporting woodwork (which attaches to the steel frame of the coach and in turn supports the wooden interior panelling) was found to be missing so much of the week has been spent machining replacements up from new timber. A large number of heater covers have also been cleaned up and painted silver.

On the exterior, a few aluminium window frames have been refitted to the seaward side to bring it up to the same level as the landward side.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Composite Lavatory E43041

The bodywork reconstruction unsurprisingly remains the main focus. More framework repairs and welding have been completed to both sides (on the Sheringham-end half).

More framework repairs to the landward side

The last of the second class compartments have also been removed (partitions, ceilings etc) which allowed the floor to be removed to facilitate replacement of the steel beneath.

More soul destroying removal of the interior so we can replace the floor

The refurbishment of the steam heaters is now complete and these are now in a large pile so they can be fitted when the coach is ready for them.

British Railways 1954 Mark 1 Suburban Third W46139

Progress has slowed whilst we await more materials (such as lino flooring) to arrive, but a few “snagging list” items have been attended to such as door lock adjustment and fitting of wooden trim which got missed first time around. All of the floors have now been cleaned out and painted under the seats where there is not going to be lino. The paint will hopefully guard against any stray water/condensation.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Third Lavatory Open E48001

With the heater elements for E43041 complete, some more have been overhauled for eventual use in E48001.


Second Open E4372, probably the best vehicle running in the Dining Train, has been found to have defective vacuum cylinders. Two cylinders have been overhauled from stored examples ready to fit to the coach, hopefully next week. The failed examples will be removed and then be either examined or stored to await overhaul for another vehicle.

Friday, 13 November 2015

November News Part 2

There is a comforting sense that normality is being restored within the workshops now that the Quad Art set has been dispatched.

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

The most exciting development has been the commencement of this new rebuild: Great Eastern Railway Brake Third number 853. As the title suggests, this coach contains a large brake compartment and the reminder of the vehicle is taken by two third-class passenger compartments. It was built in 1899 and forms the fifth, and final, member of the M&GN Society’s vintage train rake which has been growing since 2006 when the first vehicle (LNER Pigeon Van 6843) entered traffic.

853 in all its glory

 The vehicle has been located in Bridge Road sheds since the shed was built and had previously been in storage at Sheringham after being rescued by the society in 2003. The vehicle therefore still had its tarpaulin on it from the days of outside storage and the first task was to pull this off to reveal the vehicle.

The coach body had been elevated off the ground and lean-to extensions built along both sides. Both of these factors resulted in the body being very well preserved, and in the limited time spent on the vehicle so far there is already an opinion that the vehicle is in much better condition than the previous restoration (M&GN Picnic Saloon number 3) was when the team started on it.

The original number, still visible!

Despite being of 1899 vintage, this old lady certainly knows how to roll as neon lighting and a ghetto blaster were found when emptying the interior of what can best be described as household additions. OK, in reality it was a 3-bar fire and a speaker, but this is still fancier than other members of the fleet!

Interior in "as found" condition

A personal favourite was the frilly pink lampshade on the ceiling, sadly this has also been mercilessly removed during week one but I’m assured it will be preserved in our C&W “museum” which holds plenty of valuable artefacts. Other items in said museum include a hardboard cricket trophy, a piece of wood which nearly chopped off a member of staff’s middle finger and a swimming certificate! We digress however...

New lighting required!

The volunteers wasted no time at all in getting stuck in, and the theme of removing the effects of 853’s use as a house was followed. There were two fireplaces grafted into the coach, the smaller of the two (already removed) has had the floor area prepared for replacement woodwork to the carriage frame, as a large section was simply cut away to accommodate the fire.

Mick removing end panels to facilitate a repair where the fireplace was cut out

On the landward side of the vehicle where the guard’s double-doors were located, a concrete hearth has been removed from the location of the larger fireplace. On the seaward side, a third of the vehicle has been heat gunned and the old paint stripped off revealing the panel work and beading beneath.

 Interestingly, this vehicle has a mix of wooden and tin panels and both appear to be in excellent condition considering the coach’s history. It is hoped a lot of the original material will be retained during the restoration process.

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641

This coach has returned from temporary storage at Bridge Road and is now being progressed again. The Sheringham end saloon interior is now being concentrated on, and many missing pieces have already been manufactured and fitted to the wooden supporting framework which is bolted to the recently replaced steel framework. Many other pieces have been dug out and refitted, the main pieces being the long lengths of wood that the steam heating pipes attach to. These can be considered as basically a skirting board if trying to describe where in the coach they fit.

The "skirting board" fitted and supporting timbers in the foreground awaiting fitting 

Meanwhile tentative moves have been made to complete the toilet (which was 90% completed during the spring) with the hot water tank currently being modified to accept a modern pressure sensor which will switch off the immersion heater should the tank lose its water for whatever reason.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Composite Lavatory E43041

This coach has moved forwards considerably over the past week. Nico has joined Steve as a second welder to allow steelwork reconstruction to be done on both sides of the carriage simultaneously, something we think is a first for the railway. Steve has continued with the seaward side of the coach and this week a great deal of replacement framework has been welded into the second/third compartment side (the cut out aperture was pictured last week) as well as preparation work on the steel required to renew more of the corroded floor.

Seaward side reconstruction

Meanwhile, Nico has started on a large section of the landward side third class corridor with corroded panelwork and framework cut out and good progress made on welding in new framework.

Landward side reconstruction

The exterior door reconstruction has continued to progress with ten doors now completed out of a total of 13. The steam heater elements also continue to be overhauled.

British Railways 1954 Mark 1 Suburban Third W46139

A major painting session has seen the entire coach now coated in its final primer which it will now stay in until the rest of the work on the interior and underframe is completed.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Third Lavatory Open E48001

Work as described in previous weeks has continued steadily.

British Railways 1958 Class 101 Railcar Driving Motor Brake Second E51228

This vehicle has briefly returned to the works (having been completed by us 12 months ago) for a lift to enable its bogies to be swapped. It is now back in the hands of the locomotive department who will progress its mechanical overhaul.


When the top was chopped off the access steps for M81269 (see October News Part 2) the uppermost two steps ended up destined for the scrap bin. However a mini set of steps has now been created by welding a base onto the chopped-off section.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

November News Part 1

London North Eastern Railway 1924 Quad Articulated Set 74

As hinted last issue, the end is nigh for the Quad-Art saga and we will hopefully be getting our workshop back. Everybody involved with these coaches over the past three weeks needs a great pat on the back. The rubbing down/re-varnish process was undertaken in record time and the four coach set is now back at Holt and is available in time for a photo charter later this month. During the final week, all the windows were polished inside and out, the door grab handles were repainted, the bufferbeams and end vacuum pipes were repainted and the vacuum reminder device was fitted and tested successfully. This means it is now not possible for an engine to create vacuum if the handbrake is applied on the Quad set. Some brake blocks were also changed and the brakes have all been adjusted by Dan. Dan needs a special award for doing the majority of the brake work by himself as Chris was simply too busy working on W46139....such a shame.

Dan adjusting brakes

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Composite Lavatory E43041

The next compartment of rotten framework has now been cut out leaving a large aperture where new steel will one day flourish.

A trial replacement window side arrived but is sadly not quite suitable for our needs...

A pattern (left) and replacement (right) window side for a suburban

Door reconstruction also continues in a similar vain to last week.

British Railways 1954 Mark 1 Suburban Third W46139

The body prep has been furthered with the second half completed this week. The whole coach has now been dusted down and is ready for a coat of primer. More loose ends have been progressed with various items on the doors polished up and glass cleaned on the inside. More floor smoothing has been done to ready these areas for new lino.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Third Lavatory Open E48001

A fair number of copper pipework joints have been soldered up ready for plumbing into the toilets. Some woodwork that goes around the door apertures has also been in the workshop to have replacement pieces glued into where the cut-outs were for the door locks. These no longer align so will have to be re-cut to suit the new doors.

Martin refurbishing toilet components

Contract Work

Some steel corners for Mark 1 coaches have also been welded up as a contract job.