Tuesday, 29 December 2015


We hope readers had an enjoyable Christmas, so in the lazy period between then and New Year, with the workshops closed, here is a summary of the year 2015:

A total of five vehicles have entered traffic this year, following either major restoration or light overhaul. The first was Container wagon AF65970B, which took its place in the freight train during March after a 12 month rebuild including building a steel replica of the original (wooden) container which was too dilapidated to salvage. It had originally come to the NNR in 2012 but had been in storage until 2014. It was launched in full “Birds Eye” white and blue livery, representative of the slightly different “AFP” containers which were heavily used locally to transport frozen goods from Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft. The container was restored entirely by volunteers from the M&GN Society’s Coach Fund team.

In May, it was the NNR’s turn to shine, with the completion of the first of the Suburban 4 project: Brake Third number E43357. This coach had been on the NNR since 1977 and had also run the most miles of any suburban coach on the railway. Its major overhaul had been in progress since 2013 and included comprehensive bodywork repairs/repaint, full interior restoration of the seating and panelling in the compartments, and the back conversion of the brake area into original condition after it had been converted in the 1980’s into a generator compartment to power the NNR’s early dining trains. It was re-launched into service during the Diesel Gala event and is now patiently waiting for the three other suburban coaches on the NNR to be completed so they can run as a dedicated set.

Just in time for the summer season, “Fruit D” wagon 92097 received a light overhaul and was used on passenger trains for the first time in many years in July. It had been operating in the freight train but was looking decidedly shabby, so in an intensive few weeks saw the vacuum braking reinstated, the brakes adjusted, the doors made to open freely again and finally, three sides repainted and one side varnished. The light overhaul allowed the vehicle to be used on the second rake of coaches for the school holidays, carrying buggies and bikes during our busiest time of year.

Late August saw the trailer car of the railway’s DMU set, E56062, released from the workshops after receiving bodywork repairs and a full repaint. The interior and mechanics had been restored five years ago so required no work, however the paintwork required attention so it was repainted in order to match its partner which had had identical treatment in October of 2014. Sadly the vehicle has not yet carried passengers since its “intermediate overhaul”, due to problems in returning its partner powercar to service, however it is hoped to resolve this during 2016.

The fifth, and final, vehicle to be completed during 2015 was also the most spectacular. Midland & Great Northern Railway Saloon No 3, built as long ago as 1886 and returning to traffic for the first time since 1932! It had been salvaged by the M&GN Society in 2002 from a garden in Briston the and was stored until 2010 when a full five year ground-up restoration was undertaken by volunteers. An underframe was salvaged from a scrap Midland Railway brake coach then adapted and fully restored for passenger use. The body was stripped down and the skeleton was extensively repaired where required following which the sides and windows were built back up. Doors and a reconditioned/re-canvassed roof followed and perhaps most impressively the luxurious saloon style seating, interior panelling, bench tables and toilet compartment was reconstructed from scratch piece by piece. The vehicle was finished off with a resplendent repaint into Midland Railway Crimson. The vehicle then took its well earned place in the railway’s vintage train.

Vehicles in the workshops which received a lot of major restoration work during the year but aren’t yet finished include Mark 1 TSO E4641, Mark 1 Suburbans W46139/E48001/E43041, a replacement underframe for M&GN number 129 and the commencement of the restoration of Great Eastern Railway Brake Third 853.

We also got up to plenty of smaller projects over the year. In January, a grounded-body number DB975129 (an old Mark 1 BSK) was scrapped in the yard at Weybourne and dining coach E4372 received replacement vacuum cylinders. The 1965 built petrol tanker 53083 (in use by the Loco Department as a water carrier) was also fitted with a through vacuum pipe.

February saw us repaint over the graffiti on stores coach M81114 to freshen up the appearance of the vehicle and also make it watertight. This coach had been a new arrival from the Churnet Valley Railway. Conflat wagon B502824 was re-varnished in preparation for loading the newly restored AF container onto it. We also heard of the passing of our Chairman Clive Morris, who had been instrumental in the project to restore the Quad Art set.

March saw a handbrake repair undertaken to the Wisbech and Upwell tramcar coach to allow it to run some charters, and the disposal of our spare suburban E48004 to the Llangollen Railway.

During April we had to undertake an emergency repair/wheelset swap to dining train kitchen car M81033, which was involved in an incident leading to the coach getting severe wheel flats.

May saw the 6 wheel underframe of Great Northern Railway 46 scrapped to provide the required parts for the project to return M&GN 129 to an original 6-wheel configuration. The month also saw a lot of maintenance on the second set of Mark 1 coaches down at Sheringham, to enable them to run during the busier summer months.

In June, future restoration project, Mark 1 BCK NE21224, was extracted from storage and asbestos stripped before being returned to Holt. The National Railway Museum’s DMU, M51192, also received a historically accurate 1950’s route indicator box on the cab end, replacing the 1990’s headlight it previously carried.

During July, the department entered the Cromer Soapbox Derby and had a great time racing our steam-engine styled soapbox “Snowy”, named after a much loved volunteer who had passed away shortly before. We won second in our class! Four Mark 1 coaches also had to receive replacement vacuum cylinders after a strange series of failures in quick succession.

To follow up the soapbox in the Carriage & Wagon’s endeavour to provide a rolling advert for the NNR, three C&W members plus another two from the Engineering department went to Aldborough (south of Cromer) in August to join members of their own club for a game of Cricket and amazingly, two of the C&W members won!

September saw a works hooter fitted to announce the commencement of tea breaks!

October into November was chaotic as the 4-coach Quad-Art set was brought into the workshops for revarnishing, being completed in record time. A replacement set of access steps were also fabricated for one of the stores vehicles at Sheringham, M81269. Another session was also required on brake adjustments to keep the fleet at Sheringham moving. Amazingly, dining coach SO E4372, was required back again at Weybourne for replacement vacuum cylinders, repeating the same job that had only been done in January!

Finally, December included many trips to solve steam heating problems with the operating coaching stock, as well as the mechanical resurrection of ballast hopper HW426 ready for planned track renewal work in January 2016. We also said goodbye to Andy Phillips, who retired from the department after a long involvement which started as long ago as 1979.

So, an action packed year certainly with many, many vehicles receiving attention, both day-to-day coaching stock and rarer vintage items. It is also worth noting that the Blog celebrates its first birthday, as it was New Year 2015 that it was launched to provide free information and updates of the department to anyone interested. The pages have received a magnificent 26,400 visits, so thanks to you, the readers, for coming back and making the effort of producing the reports worthwhile. All that remains is to wish everybody a Happy New Year, updates will continue into 2016 where all being well we will hit the 50,000 barrier...

Saturday, 19 December 2015

December News Part 3

The department held its annual Christmas meal on Friday at the Dunstable Arms in Sheringham and a good time was had by all. This is the only time when many of the staff and volunteers who come in on all different days can actually be seen together in one place at one time! It is also the only time the C&W manager offers free drinks! Unfortunately due to illness and other commitments we were a few short, but the picture gives an idea of the size of our team.

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

Not a terribly exciting update this week – the mammoth paint stripping task continues as described in previous weeks, with a good deal of progress on the interior stripping, including some of the insides of the doors.

Paint stripping the interior of a door

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641

With the underframe painting of W46139 completed, several volunteers have been working on preparing the ceilings in this coach for repainting. These ceilings were in reasonable but not perfect condition. The decision has been made therefore to leave them alone and repair any loose beading before repainting them to freshen their appearance. Almost half of the carriage has now been sanded to key up the surface (and also remove any old stickers etc) ready for paint.

On the exterior, several of the aluminium surrounds for the sliding windows have been cleaned back and repainted in primer to match the bodysides which have already been so treated.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Composite Lavatory E43041

The “announcement” last week that the last three doors were complete was slightly premature. In fact they were only painted and partly assembled, so this week the various mechanisms and fittings have been added into the three doors, bringing them to (true) completion. Welding work continues to progress and a delivery of more steel framing will allow this work to continue into the New Year. The end steps have also been fabricated out of steel angle. These steps fit to the end of the coach and allowed staff to climb onto the roof to attend to the toilet pipework. They were however removed in the 1960’s when lines received over head electric wires, but we have decided to reinstate them for historical accuracy.

Nico TIG welding the end steps

British Railways 1954 Mark 1 Suburban Third W46139

As hinted last week, the underframe gloss black painting continued this week and was completed on Wednesday, which heralds the end of the underframe repainting project on this coach. With everything painted, vacuum and steam pipes were fitted to the bufferbeams and the steam heaters were connected to the main steam pipe which runs under the coach from end-to-end. The battery boxes have also had their covers and “interiors” painted (black/white) and these are now fitted.

Dan painting the inside of a battery box cover

The only underframe components outstanding now are two fuse box covers which are slighting lagging behind but will be finished shortly.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Third Lavatory Open E48001

Progress on fitting the wooden window surrounds has continued with one end now almost completed. Also in progress is the restoration and polishing of the various alloy fittings that go in the toilets, on the interior doors and on the ends of the seats. These items are being worked on off-site currently. A set of door cards (which hide the scissor mechanisms that operate the windows within the doors) for the Holt end saloon (a total of 8) has also been selected and varnished ready for fitting. These will all require individual tailoring in due course to match each door which is slightly different!

Gloucester RC&W 1955 Ballast Hopper HW426

Our thanks are with the Locomotive department who very kindly have accommodated the ballast hopper inside their shed this week, allowing us to access the centre set of doors from below using their inspection pit.

The ballast hopper, behind Ring Haw, shortly before entering the shed

This centre door was found to be very stiff and the problem was being caused by a rotating pin which wasn’t rotating as easily as it should. The whole assembly had to be cut of the wagon so the pin could be removed using a press in the workshop. The cut-off bracket, with pin, now awaits welding back into the wagon.

HW426 inside the Loco shed


The Santa coaching stock continues to absorb our time and effort, batteries requiring topping up this week with deionised water.

Happy Christmas

On a final note, a very Merry Christmas to all the blog readers. There should be one more update before the year is out, in that lazy week between Christmas and New Year; however as the works is shut down during this period, this will consist of a review of 2015.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

December News Part 2

Full size Andy receiving his gift

With heavy hearts, we had to bid farewell to Andy Phillips this week who has retired from the railway after 36 years involvement with the Carriage & Wagon department. For many of those years he was full-time manager until stepping down in 2013 and continuing part-time on the Suburban 4 project. He was responsible for the growth of the department from working in all weathers on a shoestring budget into what we see today, and his legacy is clear to see if you look at the coaching stock fleet in service today in comparison to that in 1979. Andy is moving to his much loved Scotland but will be visiting us in the future, in his words “probably at galas”... We presented him with a commemorative suburban model, complete with Andy figure painting a door, on his last day.

Small size Andy painting a door!

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

Paint stripping of the exterior woodwork continues to progress, with the landward side completed and the final side (Sheringham end) now under scrutiny.

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641

The fitting of the window frames has now been completed with the one closest to the Sheringham end requiring replacement using a spare, as the old one was damaged whilst being removed.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Composite Lavatory E43041

The final three doors have now been rebuilt and are in primer ready for fitting, which is the conclusion of Andy’s last job. On the coach itself, more steps forward have been taken with the welding work with progress on most fronts including more new framework going in, further floor sections let in and painted and more areas of wooden flooring and steel skin removed to allow further framework replacement to commence. Some of the upper sections of paneling which are being retained have also been cleaned up to detect any pin holes of corrosion.

Nico looking for corrosion on one of the (upper) window sides

The area now “under repair” has reached the toilets which are over half way down the coach, so only the three first class compartments remain untouched. We have had several positive comments over the past few weeks from visitors admiring how thorough these repairs have been.

British Railways 1954 Mark 1 Suburban Third W46139

A push on the repainting of the underframe has been made this week, which resulted in the lurid green primer being completed in the early part of the week, followed by a record breaking session painting the black undercoat on Thursday. With five people on the task, the entire coach was coated in just one day, a first for our railway. This resulted in the gloss black being opened on Friday but with far less staff available just over 1/6th was covered! This work will continue with completion scheduled sometime next week. The two bufferbeams were also glossed to freshen up their appearance.

Mike Biss "fixing trains"

Attention has also turned to finishing the mechanical elements of the restoration, with the two couplings being freed off and then repainted. Two new vacuum pipes have been prepared and await fitting to the pipe. It was whilst repainting the chassis that your author heard a cry for help coming from the seemingly unoccupied Sheringham end of the coach. After a few glances then further investigation, my naivety was cruelly ridiculed by the perpetrators who were laughing at the Holt end of the coach, having “cried for help” down the vacuum pipe with remarkable realism! Strange how sound waves work...

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Third Lavatory Open E48001

No new progress to report this week.

Gloucester RC&W 1955 Ballast Hopper HW426

Several “slop sessions” (no, it’s not what you think!) have been undertaken on the wagon this week to apply oil/grease to all the various worms and gears to further improve the travel of the opening ballast doors.


Our oxygen/acetylene trolleys have been improved this week by top improviser Axe-Man-Collier. He has designed and produced extension pieces to the trolleys so that they can more effectively/safely carry the gas bottles that we load onto them. Previously, the oversize bottles were not sitting fully on the base which made the trolleys’ use unnecessarily difficult. We could have purchased new trolleys and great cost, but you might say we “bottled” it!


The grinding task of keeping a single rake of “Santa” coaches with working steam heat has consumed between one and two members of staff all week (go electric, I say...) with a large number of steam heat faults being trouble short and rectified. Three leaking valves (from the bufferbeams of the coaches) have been swapped out for repaired examples, as has one of the drain traps from under the coach that was stuck open and losing steam. Three split steam heat pipes from between the coaches have also been replaced. As for internal leaks, a heater feed pipe inside E4843 has been attended to, as has a massive leak under one of the disabled seats in the ex-Brake van of W35148. Two breakfast baps were also consumed by “team steam”, a privilege simply not available to the hard working individuals who stay at Weybourne Works during these harsh winter months...

Saturday, 5 December 2015

December News Part 1

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

The strippers continue to wreak havoc around the workshop, with their hot air guns having now stripped the paint from the Holt end and approximately two thirds of the landward side.

The “cat flap” splice mentioned last week has been further reinforced with screws and is now complete, and the floor area around it repaired with new flooring to cover the hole left by the fireplace.

Also finished is the door edge in the landward side set of guard’s double doors.

Several door posts have now had rotten sections of timber removed in readiness for new pieces to be spliced in.

The four guards end windows have been removed and it has been discovered that the inner two originally opened outwards but had been screwed shut. We are currently unsure if they were screwed shut by the LNER or by the owners of the body after withdrawal, but we suspect the former.

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641

More of the seaward side window frames have now been refitted, and more seat ends from the interior have been stripped of old varnish.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Composite Lavatory E43041

Welding on the seaward side framework has continued this week, as has reconstruction of some of the steel floor supports. The final three exterior doors are now also in the process of being rebuilt, and some of the worst are being tackled as these were naturally deferred until last! Several skins, and frames, have had to be replaced entirely, but the finish line is now in sight for this long task.

British Railways 1954 Mark 1 Suburban Third W46139

The cleaning and rust protecting of the underframe, featured last week, has been completed this week, and attention has now turned to applying primer to the chassis. Two thirds have been completed and this will continue next week.

Great progress has also been made on the heating systems of the coach, with the heaters themselves bolted down through the floors and all connected up to the main feeder pipe below. As we are only having one heater per compartment, every other heater port has also been blanked off.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Third Lavatory Open E48001

Work to make up a full set of door woodwork has been progressing this week.

Gloucester RC&W 1955 Ballast Hopper HW426

The Axe-man returneth. Once again, we were treated to an extended period without him and we gathered amongst ourselves excitedly to discuss the prospect that maybe, just maybe, he was gone for good this time... Imagine then dear reader, our dismay when he returned last Thursday wielding the gas-axe once again in a threatening manner! Surely the declining weather would stop him attacking this wagon? Apparently not, as he has successfully freed off the opening doors below the hopper (that drop stone onto the track) via the rather clever heating of certain components (but not others) to create various expansions and contractions. This work has been requested by the railway as the wagon will be in use for track renewal early in 2016. Further lubricating/adjustments will follow next week before the wagon is returned to the Pway department.


A fair bit of maintenance to ready the Santa Special rake for service has been undertaken this week. A faulty lighting inverter has been replaced on TSO E4843 and BSK W35148 has received a brand new set of batteries. RBR E1969 has also had a repair made to its corridor end sliding door after itgot rather badly stuck.