Friday, 26 August 2016

August News Part 4

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

This week the guard's letter rack has been completed and mounted onto the wall. The item is an interpretation of what was likely to be there based on evidence found on the wall. The rack has been made from reclaimed parts and has the correct style for a vehicle of this vintage.

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

Welding has continued to progress whilst the "W irons" have all received coats of black undercoat to ready them for fitting.

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641

Work has focused on the mechanical completion of the vehicle. All four repainted wheelsets have now been finished and refitted into the two bogie frames. The surrounding brakegear has all been connected up once more heralding the completion of the bogie overhauls. Ceremoniously on Friday, the coach was lowered back onto its bogies, all being well for the last time during this overhaul.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Composite Lavatory E43041

It has been a week of woodwork restoration. A team of three have tackled a huge pile of interior trim, veneered panelling and door surrounds, all of which require the dreaded varnish stripping and sanding prior to re-varnishing. Not a very exciting task to report on I grant you, but a large segment of the interior restoration. A select portion of the interior "window grippers" (which hold the glass in place to the bodyside) have been bleached and are now being varnished up with several coats. These window grippers are already nearly complete, which should allow glass refitting to commence on the vehicle.

British Railways 1958 Class 101 Railcar Driving Motor Brake Second M51192

This week has been painting week for the DMU. The first few days were spent working in a circle around the vehicle coating the bodysides and doors in a sort of pea-green undercoat. The comment was made that this disgusting shade should be lined out and put into service, but we had to decline! The latter part of the week saw topcoat applied in a repeat of exactly the same process, which has now been fully completed.

As a bonus, the guard's van floor has also had a repaint to freshen its appearance. Next week should see a few minor "trimmings" painted (such as exhausts, handrails etc) as well as an effort to get as much lining and lettering applied as possible before the vehicle is swiftly taken from us during the Steam Gala and put back into daily service.

British Railways (LMS Design) 1949 20 Ton Brakevan B950133

The footboards have now been gloss painted on the vehicle, which concludes the "mid life overhaul" undertaken at Holt during finer days. The vehicle is now back in service and looks wonderful. Well done to team Pete for taking it on and keeping the lowly freight vehicles looking nice! This van should be in service in the demonstration freight set and can be enjoyed during the gala this weekend.

Ken Barker

We sadly had to say goodbye to Ken Barker this week, who had decided that he's getting a little advanced in years for this game. Ken has been helping out for many years on the vintage coach restorations and was a valued member of the team that most recently produced the M&GN Picnic Saloon. Ken will be greatly missed, but no doubt will be welcome when he comes back for a cuppa, a chat, and a trip on the vintage set!

Next Week's Update

Due to holidays, the update covering next week's activities will not be published on Friday, it will be somewhat later and likely to be on Tuesday (8th). However the railway is having its Steam Gala that weekend so there should be plenty of action to satisfy people's appetites until the Blog of choice catches up!!

Friday, 19 August 2016

August News Part 3

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

The guard's letter rack which was started last week has advanced further and is now sporting the obligatory cream colours.

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

Nothing new to report, drilling and welding has continued nicely.

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641

With work concentrating on other coaches in the works, little has been done to E4641. Yet more paint has been applied to the corridor connection bits ready for their eventual refitting. Repainting of the four tyre-turned wheelsets is progressing well and have now been undercoated. It is anticipated that there will be a drive on getting the mechanical underside (bogies, brakes etc) fully completed on this coach next week.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Composite Lavatory E43041

With the corridor bulkhead now refitted to the third class end of the carriage (featured last week), this has re-created the "corridor" itself which can now be reconstructed. A start has been made on the main wiring loom which runs along this corridor, hidden from public view above the ceiling. In a first for the Suburban 4 project, we have unfortunately found significant sections of wiring that are degraded and require replacing. Luckily, we have an ex-engineer called "Aeroplane Dave" who is on the case and re-pinning the loom to the wall and replacing any sections at the same time. Also in the corridor, the wooden roof "hoops" which support the ceiling panels have been remade (the originals didn't survive the removal process) and fitted into position. A test section of ceiling panel has also been fitted to the corridor, to test that they will fit correctly.

British Railways 1958 Class 101 Railcar Driving Motor Brake Second M51192

This has taken over the department this week, with a huge effort being put in to progress its preparation for repainting. All the areas that were previously corroded have been body-filled and then sanded back smooth. Areas of bare metal and filler have been spot-primed and flatted back again so the whole vehicle is now ready to receive undercoat.

A bonus, not originally planned, has been the cleaning up of the aluminium window frames and chromed door handles which has further perked up the outside appearance of the vehicle.

The roof, which was prepared last week, has received the first of two coats of flexible paint, and looks very pleasing in its light grey colour, This will contrast nicely with the black we use on the loco-hauled coaching stock and the white used on the vintage stock.

British Railways (LMS Design) 1949 20 Ton Brakevan B950133

A visit has been made from the signwriter, and the van now sports LMS lettering. Progress is also being made on repainting the footboards.

Monday, 15 August 2016

COMPLETION SPECIAL: Mark 1 Suburban Third Lavatory Open E48001

It has been five months since a vehicle was out-shopped from Weybourne following overhaul, so we are pleased to say that it is the turn of Suburban E48001 to have its time in the limelight!

E48001 is one of the railway's most unusual carriages built to the standard 1950's Mark 1 design. Weighing 29 tons, it is a Third Lavatory Open (TLO) and is the only Suburban design carriage within our collection that has open style seating inside, i.e. not in separate compartments. 80 third class passengers can squeeze into two smoking saloons entering or existing using one of the 16 doors. In the centre is a small corridor connecting the saloons and providing access to two toilets. However like all Mark 1 suburbans, there are no corridor connections at the ends of the vehicle which prevents access to adjacent carriages. The TLO vehicles were built specially for the Eastern Region, who were the only one of the five BR regions to request suburban stock with toilets. This “special feature” meant that the TLO design was the least numerous design of suburban, with only 28 being built, all by British Railways' Doncaster Works in 1955. Compare this figure to the suburban “Third” fleet, of which there were 300 examples. The only other design of suburban to have toilets was the Composite Lavatory, another “Eastern Region Exclusive”, one of which is also resident on the NNR and is the forth (and final) member of the Suburban 4 club. E48001 is therefore the first vehicle in the Suburban 4 project to enter service with toilets. Do try them out when you travel!

E48001 was introduced into service in February 1956 and spent its entire working life on Eastern Region suburban services. Its exact workings are not known, although evidence exists that the coach operated commuter services from London Fenchurch Street out to Shoeburyness. The coach could also have operated on secondary services further afield if required. During E48001's working career it was repainted twice, starting out life in BR's original suburban livery of unlined Crimson. It was repainted shortly after introduction into the standard lined Maroon livery as the Crimson proved difficult to keep clean and was particularly susceptible to fading in sunlight. It received a final colour change into BR's corporate Blue livery, which was rather uninspiring on suburban stock as it consisted of a single colour with no lining or other features.

The first members of the TLO fleet started to be withdrawn from service in 1965, only ten years after they were built. The BR suburban stock was the last non-corridor coaching stock to be built in the UK, as modern practice was favouring multiple units and electrification for suburban services, which explains the short working lives of this type of stock. E48001 was to become one of the final six TLO's to remain in service, eventually being withdrawn in October 1977 with only sister E48009 outlasting it (by just a further two months). Towards its swansong E48001 was working peak services out of Kings Cross, along Great Northern lines being hauled by Class 31 diesel locomotives.

E48001 entered preservation in 1977 and became one of 11 TLO vehicles to dodge the cutter's torch. This was fairly remarkable as 40% of the original fleet had been saved, however this situation was to change drastically. Preservation was not to prove a guaranteed sanctuary, as the lack of corridor connections, numerous doors and poorly designed windows resulted in the coaches being unsuitable for normal tourist railway operations, and the limited resources of enthusiasts in the 1980’s and 1990’s resulted in the situation where water damage and steel corrosion was far outstripping the capacity to conserve and repair the coaches. Consequently, most of the preserved TLO’s declined in condition to the extent that disposal was the only remaining option and by the 2010's only five TLO’s were still in existence. However their condition was fairly good, with three out of the five survivors still in regular service.

E48001 was originally owned by the Railway Vehicle Preservations group, spending its early years at the Nene Valley Railway until being sold on to the Great Central Railway in 1983. It is not known whether E48001 ever carried passengers whilst at the Great Central, however in 1997 it was sold again to the Churnet Valley Railway who had aspirations to create a three coach suburban set. E48001 was in the best condition within the Churnet Valley collection so it was stripped down and partially restored during the early 2000's. Sadly, a change in circumstances resulted in the restoration attempt stalling and E48001 was returned to storage in a partially completed state, where its condition started to worsen again.

E48001 in storage at the Churnet Valley

The vehicle’s long term future was secured in the early 2010’s when the NNR’s Suburban 4 project, lead by the late Clive Morris, was launched and E48001 was sold to the NNR for a nominal sum. This was instigated because the NNR’s own TLO E48004 had only been acquired for its rarity and the fact it was the only TLO available at the time, despite E48004's extremely poor condition. E48001 represented a far better restoration prospect than E48004 due to the previous restoration progress. The NNR are grateful to the group at the Churnet Valley who practically donated E48001 to us, and we hope that it’s rebuild and launch in original condition assures the group that their actions have helped to save the coach. E48001 moved to the NNR in May 2011, however due to a lack of workshop capacity at the time it was initially parked outside the workshop on a separate siding where a small team of volunteers re-started the restoration.

E48001 during its time outside

In 2013 a space became available in the workshop for approximately six months. E48001 was brought in and treated to most of the steel metalwork repairs it would require. This would not prove to be as severe as some of the other suburban vehicles, again due to the efforts of previous restorers. The roof was also repaired and repainted during this time and residual asbestos from under the flooring and around pipework was removed.

During early 2014, replacement doors and window glass was fitted after which E48001 had to return outdoors where volunteers continued to restore interior components. The seating, which had been removed from the vehicle, was also reupholstered. A year later, in February 2016, E48001 was brought back into the workshops for its overhaul to be concluded in earnest. This period saw the vehicle lifted and a full mechanical overhaul undertaken to the bogies and underframe, including a full strip down and repaint. The exterior was prepared and then painted. The interior, which by this stage had been fully restored in component form, was fully assembled like a majestic jigsaw puzzle.

E48001 was completed in August 2016, in time to be formed into a 3-coach suburban set with Brake Third E43357 (completed in May 2015) and Third W46139 (completed March 2016) for use at the Grand Steam Gala. Once again, a great deal of effort was put into finishing the coach to a good standard and all staff and volunteers should be proud of their endeavours. E48001 now joins our operational fleet but will only used on an occasional basis to preserve its condition until the final suburban, CL E43041, can be finished to join the set.

Carriages to Cromer

A second achievement to celebrate this week is the NNR's first runs to Cromer over Network Rail metals. The work to register the four dining train coaches was phenomenal and the staff and volunteers involved should be very proud of the result which was made possible by their efforts and the simultaneous efforts of the wider railway in getting the other parts of the project ready. The work undertaken, and the midnight oil burnt, has been reported on in a decidedly low-key fashion on this Blog. This was in no way an indication of a lack of importance or interest in the work, rather the ins and outs of the processes which were required were not always suitable for open publication. However the end result is the important factor, and from a Carriage & Wagon point of view the preparation and instigation of the first two days of "mainline running" was undoubtedly a success. Cheers to that!

The dining set (with 76084 on the front) on Network Rail metals near West Runton

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

Work on the guard's van interior continues. Now that the cupboards and shelving are fitted, another item has been started, a letter rack, which is being hand made out of mesh and timber. Work to complete and strengthen the compartment seating also continues, and the creation of a companion's seat for the disabled area is now underway, and this will also double up as a handy toolbox!

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

In similar vain to last week, there is more metal going onto the underframe (welding) and more being taken out again (drilling). It will probably end up weighing the same after everybody is finished...

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641

Again, the Holt end corridor remains the focus, which is now complete and ready for refitting to the coach. The last parts of the metal bellows were painted this week, and the surrounding area on the carriage itself has been painted in undercoat as it is easier to paint this now than it will be once the corridor is back on.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Composite Lavatory E43041

E43041 is now Billy-no-Mates. With three Suburban's now completed the CL is the only suburban left in works, which has returned to a more balanced layout for the first time in several years, with one suburban, one "normal" Mark 1 and one DMU occupying the undercover spaces. Despite the big push to get E48001 finished, the drive on E43041 has continued unabated, and the big progress this week has been the refitting of the second class compartment walls. We decided to fit these before varnish stripping them as we feared fresh varnish may get damaged whilst the (rather large) walls were being installed on top of the coach's new flooring.

The inside window woodwork has also reached completion and positively shines in its new varnish. The same team that was previously working on the woodwork for TLO E48001 will now be turning their attention fully to the interior woodwork for E43041, so all being well these window parts will be the first of many.

British Railways 1958 Class 101 Railcar Driving Motor Brake Second M51192

The replacement for E48001 inside the workshops is the powered half of the National Railway Museum's DMU set, M51192, which is on loan to the railway and has been for some five years now. This has been brought in for emergency surgery as it's external cosmetic condition has become disgraceful. The vehicle has not previously been included in our main programme of works so it has had to be slipped in as an "extra", consequently there is only a very limited time window for remedial works to be completed. A super-quick roof and bodyside repaint is planned, with more thorough repairs being deferred for a future visit.

The attack so far has been swift. Shortly after entering the shed the whole bodyside and cab front was run round and all cracked filler and rotten areas chipped out. These areas have subsequently been treated for rust and will receive body filler next week. The roof has had all of its loose paint chipped off, and again the "bare" areas rust-treated, because we don't have enough time to employ our usual method of chipping the roof back to bare metal. Once up on the roof three of the patches (fitted by BR when they removed the original vents) literally fell off whilst we were scraping loose paint! Further inspection revealed that many years of expansion/contraction of the roof had sheared many of the aluminium rivets used on the patches. We are now removing all of the patches, cleaning them up, resealing them and re-riveting them to give them a new lease of life.

British Railways (LMS Design) 1949 20 Ton Brakevan B950133

Both sides of the vehicle are now top coated, as is the Sheringham end verandah. The Holt end verandah has also been 50% completed. This, the running boards and the buffers will hopefully be completed in the next few days, weather dependant!

Friday, 5 August 2016

August News Part 1

The countdown to Cromer continues to tick, with the preparations reaching a temperature akin to the inside of a baked potato. Pleasingly we are still on track and all being well the next update we will be reporting on the debut operations of our "Mainline Dining Set"...

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

Work has focused mainly this week on the cupboards and shelving for the guards van. Two shelves and a cupboard have been completed, resplendent in cream, and fitted to the walls of the vehicle. The brake van is now "Monkey Compliant", as all vintage trains have to have provision for carrying Monkeys after the year 2020.

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

Both welding and drilling of the chassis continues at a steady rate, the Axeman working his way around all four corners of the vehicle doing a magnificent job.

As fast as he is adding metal to the vehicle, others are removing it in the form of the many holes that are being drilled, of a not insignificant size either.

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641

The Holt end corridor connection, pictured last week, has progressed further with the faceplate now sporting a coat of black gloss. The rubber "bellows" (that attach to this faceplate and keep the rain out) have been cleaned up and are also ready for refitting. The final piece, the metal bellows, have been completed this week (made brand new) and await painting.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Composite Lavatory E43041

I must say that I am starting to run out of different ways of saying that the interior supporting timber installation continues! Alignment problems plus many missing parts have slowed this job down but we will prevail...

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Third Lavatory Open E48001

A long and boring list of finishing jobs have been completed on this vehicle, a spot of paint here... missing screw there...a clean...a polish...

Some of the larger final tasks have included the fitting of the full length footboards to the vehicle and the completion of the sign-writing and lettering.

The latter encompasses the vehicle's number and route letterings on the ends of the coach. We have returned what was found underneath the paint so authenticity is the name of the game.

We did a final water test on the toilets with the aim of signing them off but we found a few extra leaks that had been missed so these will be attended to next week.

British Railways (LMS Design) 1949 20 Ton Brakevan B950133

No progress to report this week.


Another project to distract us is fitting a new boiler to the wooden loco that normally graces Platform 2 at Sheringham. I have no idea how this came into our duties but it's here and will hopefully leave in a better state than when it arrived.