Friday, 27 May 2016

May News Part 4

Important news has come through regarding Monkey. Sadly he appears to have been chimp-napped, possibly by highly organised criminals. Monkey was sighted on Friday so may be operating under duress on behalf of the criminal gang. He had been missing for over a week but given Monkey's "previous" we initially thought he may be on a self inflicted leave of absence. This is one reason he has been unable to appear in any images for a while. We will endeavor to report his return whenever that may be.

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

The interior wall painting inside the guard's compartment has now been completed, the whole area now coated in cream gloss. As one of the North Norfolk Engineering employees commented earlier this week: "I'm getting a bit worried... they seem to be getting on with this coach"!

Elsewhere on the interior the frames for the compartment seats, which are being created from scratch, have progressed well this week and the areas of wall underneath the seats has been painted maroon, which stripping revealed was the original colour in this discrete area. The rear gas lamp tail light casing, pictured last week, is now complete, with the final parts being attached by the Axeman. NNR stalwart Nick Johnson deserves a mention for making the outer bezel and lens, very fine work which has been done to a great standard. The lamp casing is now in primer, but doesn't have to be heat resistant as I believe the light source inside this lamp will be electrical this time around.

Moving onto the exterior, the seaward side guard's "ducket" window has been refitted, which is a milestone for those who have been working on it for several weeks.

Great Eastern Railway 1884 Wisbech & Upwell Tramcar 7

The work to strengthen the bufferbeams has been completed in good time and they have been "boxed in" so they cannot be seen. A second task which was completed was the replacement of the failed battery which has also been moved inside the coach, and now resides behind the bar rather than in an external box. GER 7 has now returned to Sheringham where it joins the rest of the Vintage Train which is in service next week.

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641

The march towards interior completion continues. The luggage racking has been fitted throughout the whole coach now which concludes this particular task.

All of the studs on the walls which will hold the seat frames in position have been re-threaded or replaced as required. The floor has had a second coat of floor paint throughout the carriage which will be drying over the bank holiday weekend.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Composite Lavatory E43041

The re-panelling work along the seaward side of the carriage has now been completed, a major milestone for the coach.

This also signals the departure of Steve Slough who has been employed for many years by the railway primarily for welding our increasingly corroded coaches! We all wish Steve the best for the future. The clean lines and fresh metalwork of coaches such as Suburbans W46139/E43041 and TSO E4641 (the most recent in a long line) are testament to the fine work Steve has undertaken.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Third Lavatory Open E48001

The mammoth task of the bogie rebuilds has finally ended! This week, braking components have been added, split pins fitted and the coach lowered back onto its bogies for connection and testing. The repainted underframe and bogies are now together and they look suburb. It certainly shows that if the time is available, it is certainly the way to do it.

Currently lots of small tasks are being attended to to finish the underneath; including the attachment of the steam heat and vacuum pipes onto the ends, painting of detail parts such as electrical box covers etc. A faulty vacuum cylinder has also been exchanged for a working example, as the seaward side one had failed before it had even seen service!

Who you gonna call? COACHBUSTERS!

The interior has also progressed dramatically, with the repainted floor allowing more components to be bolted into position. In the Holt end saloon, the large varnished seat ends have all been fitted, closely followed by the heater grills which sit on the floor.

The upholstered side cards have also been fitted to the sides of the coach which effectively completes the two sides.

The two toilets continue to progress modestly although this wasn't helped by a member of staff locking himself inside the toilet after fitting the door catch inside the door and testing it before he had fitted the door handle! He might have been trapped in there forever had it not been for his savior: the mobile telephone. Restoration can certainly be a dangerous game... The two communication chains have been repainted and fitted back into the coach, via laborious re-threading through the pipes that span from doorway to doorway at head height. The only question now is which coach will win the race for (interior) completion, this one or E4641?

Friday, 20 May 2016

May News Part 3

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

Repainting work has focused on the guards brake area where the first areas of gloss have now been applied. As promised in previous updates are some images of the rear gas lamp tail light, as produced by Mr Axeman himself:

Great Eastern Railway 1884 Wisbech & Upwell Tramcar 7

Work to strengthen the bufferbeams has been started and good progress has been made. A section of spare boiler plate was recently sighted with "Axeman" chalked onto it, and said plate has now been cut down into the relevant shapes and stick welded into position each side of the draw hooks on the verandas and each end. The engineering department also assisted with some of the more unusual welds.

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641

The seat framing parts (including legs) mentioned last week have now been undercoated and gloss black painted ready for assembly hopefully next week. The sixteen metal boxes which contain light bulbs (also pictured last week) also reached completion this week after they were spray painted with several coats. These have now all been fitted to the coach interior, which is starting to approach completion along the two sides. Additionally, the Holt end saloon has also received its luggage racks which represent one of the final fittings required on the sides. As we are fast approaching the stage where components will be fitted to the floor (we are working generally from the top down) the floor has just been painted in green floor paint to improve its condition, which has transformed the interior once more. A great deal of clearing, hoovering and washing was required to reach the stage where the floor could be painted!

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Composite Lavatory E43041

The steel re-paneling has continued around the toilet window on the landward side. This window had completely disintegrated so a brand new centre section, which incorporates the ventilation grill (blast vent?!?), has been fabricated and is in the process of being welded in.

Meanwhile, the compartment window surround woodwork marches on towards completion, with more rubbing down and varnishing evident.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Third Lavatory Open E48001

The Holt end bogie has come on leaps and bounds this week with the painting fully finished (three coats leading up to gloss black) in an intensive couple of days.

Towards the end of the week this has allowed the wheelsets to be reunited with the axle-boxes and the bogie lowered back onto its wheels and springs, which have all been refurbished. It is looking rather complete now, with just a few bits of brake rodding and ancillary bits now being cleaned up and repainted to complete the job.

The completion of the interior paneling last week has allowed a degree of clearing up and stock taking to be done on the interior, which coincidentally has now pretty much reached the exact same stage that E4641 has. This lead to the bright idea of painting the floor at the same time, so after much more brushing and traipsing around on hand and knee, this coach has also had its floor transformed into green... We have now effectively locked ourselves out of two whole coaches as the floor paint is allowed a decent length of time to dry!


The nameplates for Black Prince have been finished and look very smart indeed. They will now be refitted to the loco shortly as we have handed them back to our friends in the Locomotive Department.

Friday, 13 May 2016

May News Part 2

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

The spread of white has continued with the two passenger compartments now having a distinct hint of "asylum", which is fitting as the coach is indeed a place of healing and rehabilitation for the afflicted amongst us who choose to involve ourselves with such a project! The ceilings are being coated in a matt/eggshell which is ongoing.

Inside the same compartments, some painting below the seats has been undertaken to tidy these areas should anyone be on their hands and knees and look under the seats. The guards van centre "lamp box", described last week, has also been progressed (I really must get a picture of it...). Woodwork repairs have also continued, with a new edge to the rotten seaward side guards "ducket" window now installed.

Great Eastern Railway 1884 Wisbech & Upwell Tramcar 7

This coach has been noted in service as being required to pull a small locomotive on the rear of the train, which is more demanding on the coach than the operations it was originally designed for on the Wisbech & Upwell tramway. The coach has therefore been brought outside the workshops for strengthening around the ends of the chassis. The inclusion of this coach is one of the reasons why the vintage train has guidelines and limits on the manner in which it is operated (i.e. top speed).

British Railways 1962 Mark 1 First Open M3116

This coach has now returned to traffic. Its last week with us saw some patchwork of the carpet to cover a few spots  which were bare yet still visible from the aisle.

The windows and tables have also been cleaned and the whole coach thoroughly vacuumed. The refreshed interior is certainly an improvement to before.

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641

Paneling out of the interior walls has now been completed with all the veneered woodwork and window surrounds now in place. The seat framing continues to progress as they will be installed soon and some finished parts are now in primer.

Work has now focused on finishing off and installing the fittings which go onto the walls. This includes the brackets for the tables, three of which have been fitted out of a total of 16.

There are also a set of 16 metal boxes which contain light bulbs which are supposed to illuminate the tables, although they are pretty rubbish to be perfectly honest! However for the purposes of history they are being restored and refitted. So far they have been shotblasted and painted in brown on the outside, the insides due to be tackled next week.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Composite Lavatory E43041

A good week for welding progress this week. The re-paneling of the steelwork has marched onwards on both sides. The landward side has reached the toilet window which is more than half way down.

Meanwhile, the seaward side has reached the last compartment so is on the brink of completion.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Third Lavatory Open E48001

In a similar manner to E4641, the interior of E48001 has reached a milestone with the completion of the woodwork fitting out from around all the windows and doors, of which there are a great many! We have to decide now what to do next with the interior!

The Holt end bogie has been the sole source of attention for "team underneath" now that the Sheringham bogie is ready to roll. The bogie frame itself has been stripped of detritus and coated in rust-kill primer.

The four axleboxes have also had the same treatment. Project manager Dan was almost disciplined over a paint shortage, but an extra tub was found allowing him a stay of execution!


The lower-half of the dining train (the red section of the Crimson & Cream livery) has received a boost in the form of a re-varnish on the landward side just to get it through this season before the exterior refreshing programme commences on this set. The "Play Coach" at Sheringham (a Gresley Corridor Third) has also had some roof leaks cured after dripping ceilings were reported during the monsoon season, sorry, the British early summer!

Newsflash: Monkey now has his own Monkey-sized lathe to operate!

Monday, 9 May 2016

May News Part 1

The update is a few days late this week, as the author has been away all weekend keeping the wheels of preservation tuning...

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

The guards area is really starting to come together from the point of view of the walls, with the filling now completed and the whole saloon, including ceiling, now coated in white undercoat paint, giving it an almost clinical appearance, and quite a contrast from its shabbiness when first started.

Elsewhere on the interior, the seating continues to progress steadily in the two passenger compartments, and the patterns for the new castings required to build the luggage racks are almost complete.

One new project has been a metal case and cosmetic chimney for the central gas tail lamp, for which only the round hole in the centre of the coach survived. A new case has been fabricated, complete with opening door, to be mounted in its rightful place. As with the previous vintage train carriages, a small battery will be fitted in a discrete location to feed electronic representations of the original gas lighting.

British Railways 1962 Mark 1 First Open M3116

A flurry of activity has seen all of the seating refitted into position onto their re-varnished legs. Finishing touches are now being applied and the coach being cleaned after which it should be returned to Sheringham to return to service. Sadly an image is not available showing the new seats but we will endeavor to provide one next update showing the coach ready for service once more.

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641

The process described last week of fitting out all of the varnished woodwork onto the walls of the carriage has continued throughout the week, and the coach is starting to transform.

So far, the Holt end saloon (half) of the carriage has been fitted out, which includes brand new varnished panels below the main windows. These have wiring behind them as well which has been fitted at the same time, with provision for table lamps included in the form of a discrete socket. This is the second coach to gain the potential for table lamps, which may form part of the Dining Train at some point in the future.

The next step after the paneling is the seating, which is now starting to be looked at. The huge pile of splintered wood which forms the frames for all of the seat bases have been pulled out and organised to see what needs replacing and what doesn't. The sections and seat legs which are being retained are now being sanded down and repainted.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Composite Lavatory E43041

The woodwork from around the windows continues to progress well, and sections from all of the windows in the whole coach are now stripped and are receiving varnish of some description, with all the different pieces at different stages at present. However they are starting to look very good.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Third Lavatory Open E48001

Interior refitting continues, with the woodwork from around the doors being fitted this week. This includes the draught excluder which was made up by our upholsterers and is "trapped" in the doorway when the large wooden surround is screwed around the door aperture. Underneath the coach, the small steam heat pipes (which link the main end-to-end pipe with each individual heater below the seats) are in the process of being refitted, as well as any blanking plugs required to make the system steam tight.

The Sheringham end bogie has now also been completed, with the brakegear reassembled, greased up and fitted. Any areas which have been damaged since painting have been touched in, so the bogie is ready for refitting.

Bogie work can now solely concentrate on the Holt end example, which this week has had its wheelsets manually stripped of all of detritus that had accumulated on them over the years.


Other workshop work this week has included a small repair on one of the windows of the steam fleet to help out our neighbours in the Loco Department. Obviously impressed with the professionalism of our outfit(!) we gained another task in the form of polishing and painting the new nameplates for Black Prince. The former has been completed and the latter is now in the progress, the plates having had a coat of etch primer, which had to be lovingly applied to miss the shiny letters and border.