Saturday, 27 February 2016

February News Part 4

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

The short-back-and-sides on the Holt/seaward corner of the coach mentioned last week was further progressed this week, and it will not be long before the new splices are being let in to repair this corner. A further section has also been cut away, this time on the landward bodyside, ready for repairs. New splices have already been made at the bottom of the carriage at the brake end, and refurbished steel GER corner strengthening brackets refitted. 

Internally, the ceiling throughout much of the vehicle has now been deep sanded now that the paint stripping is complete, and a first coat of wood primer has been applied to part of the Sheringham end.


....and painting

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

The stands which will hold the chassis whilst work is being undertaken on them have now been finished and painted.

The Axeman continues construction of the stands

They are now awaiting inspection by a member of our neighbours the NNR Engineering team, who will make calculations to determine a safe weight capacity for the stands and then (all being well) pass them for use by our department.

Finished example

British Railways 1962 Mark 1 First Open M3116

Contract seat re-upholstery is still in progress.

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641

The coach has now returned to the staging area now that W46139’s repaint has been completed.

E4641 being shunted

Work to re-glaze E4641 has continued with 15 of the 16 main window panes now fitted. This has been quite a challenge as the wooden “gripper” bars which hold them in position have not always wanted to fit properly.

Cleaning glass for refitting

The Holt corridor end has also progressed with the rotten panelwork now cut out and removed to reveal the framework below. The framework itself is pleasingly in reasonable condition, so has been cleaned up thoroughly and protected in anti-rust primer.

A small job that was also started to save time later on was the polishing of the external brass grab handles for the doors.

Moving onto the interior, the table brackets mentioned last week have had a second coat of silver paint bringing them to a completed state. The Holt end vestibule has seen a repair made to the floor in one of the doorways and the sliding door (into the passenger saloon) has now been hung in position. In the Sheringham end vestibule, varnishing of the wall panels and doorway surrounds has been progressing with several coats applied. A start has also been made on the final sanding of the first of the bulkheads inside the passenger saloons, bringing them up to a standard where re-varnishing can commence.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Composite Lavatory E43041

Still awaiting the delivery of some pressed window side sections to allow re-panelling to commence.

British Railways 1956 Mark 1 Suburban Brake Second E43357

Regular readers might remember this carriage, the brake in the “Suburban 4” set which we completed last May. One or two minor tasks have been undertaken on the vehicle at Holt so it can operate with W46139 as a 2-coach set during the Steam Gala next weekend. Two missing steam heat hoses have been refitted so that passengers will be warm, and one of the pictures has been removed from each of the six compartments and replaced with a period 1960’s “No Litter” poster to add variety.

The six prints that have been removed have been immediately reused in W46139. A broken picture frame glass was also replaced, so the interior of E43357 is now spot on for the gala.

British Railways 1954 Mark 1 Suburban Third W46139

The repainting work is now substantially complete with both coats of Crimson gloss completed all round the vehicle. This has allowed some of the final jobs to be completed, most notably the fitting of the pictures to the coach interior. They look very nice on the veneered panelling. A myriad of “finishing jobs” too numerous and boring to list individually have now been completed to ensure the final details of the carriage are spot on for its launch into service (hopefully) next week.

The numbers are currently in the process of being sign written and there is only about one day’s work remaining on the vehicle before we open the shed doors and release it into the wild! Monkey commented during afternoon tea break now nice two running Crimson suburbans will look when paired with a 1950's BR Black locomotive...

The British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Third Lavatory Open E48001

Awaiting the departure of W46139 before it can be moved into the workshop.


The failed vacuum cylinders on E4843 and W35148, mentioned last update have now been either replaced or rebuilt, tested in the workshop and refitted to both coaches.

W35148 sans cylinder

This was done in good time with the assistance of the operating department who brought the coaches from Sheringham to Weybourne to be repaired. This has now been done successfully and the coaches can perform and next week’s steam event.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

February News Part 3

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

Monkey has now been apprehended and seen the error of his ways. A period of cooling off time inside 853 was required without food to make him see the severity of last week’s actions. He has now agreed to be a good Works Monkey and apologised to the Joint Heritage Coach Fund volunteers, so we can now all move on happily!

Elsewhere on the coach, it has all been about corners this week so you could say that the team have been living on the edge. The Holt end/seaward side corner which was badly rotten has now been chiselled away back to good wood so that a major splice repair can be undertaken soon. The rot had extended into the window frame nearby so this has also been chipped out as required.

Already, the floor section at the bottom of the pillar has had a new piece let in so the road to recovery has already started. The guard’s ducket next to this corner has also been removed for its own repairs and to access the corner woodwork better.

Each of the four corners of the coach has a brass angle strip, and these have also been removed from all four corners of the carriage - many of them were found to have GER stamped on the backs, so they're genuine stock!

In case you were wondering, this paragraph contains the word “corner” seven times!

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

The Axeman decided to make a stand this week, four to be precise. These, in true preservation fashion, have been recycled using redundant material from the new Boiler Shop project and welded up accordingly. They are intended for use standing small coach chassis and bogie frames whilst the wheelsets and/or “W irons” are either removed or under repair. These will be first used later this year when the new 6 wheel chassis for 129 is being assembled.

British Railways 1962 Mark 1 First Open M3116

Contract seat re-upholstery is still in progress.

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641

The reglazing work has continued, with a further six sheets of glass now fitted which represents half of the total number which has to be done.

The Holt end corridor connection has also been removed following the discovery of more rot in this end than previously thought.

Interior work has included the restoration and repainting of the table brackets which hold the tables to the walls just below the windows. A sliding door has been re-varnished for the Holt end vestibule but was unable to be fitted as it requires some heavy adjustment, so the toilet door was hung instead, which nicely compliments the Store Cupboard door opposite which was fitted a few weeks ago.

Varnish stripping has concentrated on the vestibules with the Sheringham end vestibule now completed and the final, centre, vestibule currently in progress. Also in the Sheringham end vestibule, the last of the wall panelling has been refitted into position, the ceiling undercoated and the steam heater cleaned up and repainted ready for refitting.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Composite Lavatory E43041

No progress to report this week.

British Railways 1954 Mark 1 Suburban Third W46139

As a low-dust policy is in place for the duration of the repainting work, finishing work on the coach cannot continue until the repaint is completed. The painting has therefore been the sole focus on this coach which is very nearly ready for service. The entire coach received its first coat of Crimson gloss, followed shortly by the second (top) coat. Only the seaward side now requires its second coat.

The reproduction carriage prints have arrived and are now waiting refitting in the picture frames, of which there are five in each of the nine compartments.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Third Lavatory Open E48001

Many of the areas of wood underneath the seating have received another coat of gloss increasing their protection. Much of the restored door woodwork has also been gathered together in readiness for when the time is ripe to assemble the final fittings on the doors.


Two more coaches, TSO E4843 and BSK W35148, decided to stop working properly in the vacuum braking department. This is obviously not a very good situation, so three spare vacuum cylinders are now in the process of being overhauled and tested to replace the failed examples on these two casualties.

The other valves within the system are also requiring overhaul/changing on W35148 in addition to the cylinders themselves.

Friday, 12 February 2016

February News Part 2

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

This week has seen the coach the subject of an unforgivable crime. The paint stripping of the interior (and odd-bits on the exterior not already completed) was severely hampered after Tuesday’s morning tea break when the volunteers came back to find their radio not working.

The fact that said musical device had been blasting out “old classics” all morning had absolutely no bearing on the motive of the perpetrator. After a full investigation it was discovered that the fuse had been deliberately removed from the music box with intent to not return. THEFT I hear you cry! Luckily spare fuses are available and the machine was manufacturing more sweet notes by noon. A sickening twist to the tale unfolded on Thursday morning when the coach was re-entered and the missing fuse was found tied to a string from the roof of the carriage. Not only had the criminal returned to the scene of the crime, he was taunting the workers, toying with their emotions... This sickening act was not to last much longer however, as on Friday a routine inspection by your author resulted in none other than Monkey being caught red handed, going in for a second bite of the cherry!

Sadly he could not be apprehended as he made a quick escape before a citizen’s arrest could be made, so Monkey is now very much at large around the workshop. We must all stay alert until this vigilante is brought to justice.

We will prevail however, and no crime could ever stop progress. On the interior of the coach the guard’s end wall has seen the internal panels taken off in order to inspect the framework with a view to any required repairs.

These sorts of framework repairs are in progress elsewhere, on the doorways, with capping pierces being spliced into position this week in several areas. The door hinges have also been source of attention. All except one hinge have been removed from the doors themselves, quite a tricky task, and the various parts gathered together with a view to filling the gaps in the set as the coach was incomplete in this respect. Spare hinges will require sourcing, either from other coaches or perhaps cast from new. Several tread plates, now fully repainted, have been returned to the doorways. It’s good to see refurbished parts being refitted to the coach only three months after restoration started.

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

Work has continued on the building up of metal on the “W irons” and dressing to give the correct clearances for the axleboxes on the chassis.

British Railways 1962 Mark 1 First Open M3116

The tables have been removed this week as part of the winter interior refurbishment. Contract seat re-upholstery is still in progress.

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641

The Sheringham end corridor connection (described last week) was refitted on Wednesday following completion of the metalwork repairs.

The exterior window frames have seen further progress and most are now filled and sanded flat. The ones which are at this stage have received a coat of red primer to match the bodysides of the coach.

This has allowed a start to be made on refitting the glass, with two windows refitted so far.

On the interior, the ceiling has been refitted to the Sheringham end saloon, which had previously been untouchable due to the work on the corridor connection being in progress.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Composite Lavatory E43041

The battery box covers have now been repainted and refitted to the vehicle. We are still awaiting the delivery of some pressed window side sections to allow re-panelling to commence.

British Railways 1954 Mark 1 Suburban Third W46139

The sole focus this week has been painting the vehicle.

Good progress has been made, with the entire coach (including the black ends) reaching the undercoat stage.

More than half required flatting off and coating in a second coat of undercoat due to problems with dust, however the second coat took better. This allowed the first gloss coat to be progressed towards the end of the week, with the landward side having received the Crimson so far.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Third Lavatory Open E48001

Still awaiting the departure of W46139 before it can be moved into the workshop.


Further sessions of fault repairs have been undertaken at Sheringham, a long list being drawn up which when worked through will clear all outstanding faults on the coaching stock prior to the commencement of the main running season in April. This has been very time consuming with several members of staff engaged on the tasks for several days.

Friday, 5 February 2016

February News Part 1

Monkey helps us out with the workshop tidying by pushing a wheel-barrow of waste

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

A milestone has been reached with the paint stripping, the ceiling having finally been completed in a blaze of glory. Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, the team can now move on. Gripped with a desire to stay with the heat guns however, the Holt end wall of the guards brake area has also similarly been stripped of old gloss paint. The burning question now is what will be tackled next?

Paint stripping the end wall

Also progressed are the end steps for the vehicle have been painted in primer.

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

Although the replacement 6 wheel underframe is currently stored at Holt, some more work on the "W irons" which will hold the axleboxes has been done in the workshop. Five out of the six W irons have been built up with weld where they were excessively worn and properly dressed back down to a smooth finish at the correct distance for the axleboxes.

British Railways 1962 Mark 1 First Open M3116

Contract seat re-upholstery is still in progress.

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641

A great deal of progress to report this week. On the exterior, the holes found around the corridor connection a the Sheringham end of the coach, sadly, were found to hide a much greater area of corrosion. However this has been quickly tackled with the corridor connection removed and the offending steelwork cut out and replaced with new.

Corridor being removed

The repaired area has already received a protective coat of anti-rust primer.

Some of the exterior window frames had a few holes and undulations still in them, and some hadn’t been restored as far as some others, so time has been spent with further sanding and filling followed by etch priming to try and get all of the windows up to the same stage.

Moving onto the interior, the main focus has remained with the Holt end vestibule and toilet/store cupboard areas. The bulkhead walls and all associated panelling and finishing strips have all now received four coats of varnish heralding their completion. The landward side vestibule doorway has had its woodwork fitted around the aperture and the vestibule steam heater (and its grill) has been refitted into position. The toilet plumbing continues with the hot water tank now installed behind the sink. The ceilings for this vestibule have also been sanded back and repainted ready for refitting.

Inside the passenger saloons themselves, the sliding windows have been painted in primer (this has to be done before they are refitted into position) and the ceiling ventilator grills have been returned to their former glory having had a good wash.

Priming sliding windows

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Composite Lavatory E43041

The framework repairs have now been concluded which is a huge milestone for the coach. We are now awaiting the delivery of some pressed window side sections , after which the new panelling can be welded onto the coach.

British Railways 1954 Mark 1 Suburban Third W46139

With the coach back in the staged area, a final push on the interior completion has been made with dramatic results in a short space of time. This week, the brand new lino flooring has been fitted by contractors, who made an excellent job of it.

Freshly laid lino

This was quickly followed by the installation of the heater grills which then allowed the reupholstered seat bases to be fitted on top.

Fitting heater grills

The appearance of the interior was well and truly transformed in just two days!

Freshly fitted seats making the compartment look virtually complete

Further work on the interior has included the painting and fitting of new passenger communication cord “scoops”, which then allowed the chain itself to be refitted and attached to the vacuum apparatus at the end of the carriage.

New scoops being washed prior to painting

The interior is now complete apart from the installation of luggage raking and picture frames. Next week should see the final painting of the vehicle commence.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Third Lavatory Open E48001

More areas of flooring have been painted in black gloss, and the saloons have been thoroughly tidied in readiness for E48001 to take the place of W46139 inside the workshop for further restoration work.

General view of the Holt end saloon
Window woodwork, now 95% complete


More work to ready the dining train for running services to Cromer has been undertaken. SO E4372, FO M3116 and RBR E1969 have all had buckeye couplings changed this week, concluding this particular task.

A Pway trolley and specially adapted jack provides a safe method of changing buckeye couplings, which are very heavy!

A major session has been made on brake rodding adjustment for several coaches which will be in passenger service again before long. M4236, E4667, E4843 and GE21103 were all adjusted improving their braking characteristics considerably.