Friday, 25 November 2016

COMPLETION SPECIAL: Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641

Narrowly beating Mark 1 Composite Lavatory E43041 into service is Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641:

E4641 the day it was removed from the workshops

E4641 is one of our “bread and butter” carriages. Unglamorous and of a common design, E4641 is part of a core fleet of standard Mark 1 coaches that keep the railway in existence. The railway currently have another eight coaches of identical layout and design as E4641, making them the most numerous within our collection. They travel up and down the railway covering around 60 miles a day, a task they literally perform daily throughout the main tourist season. They are the vessels in which the vast majority of visitors are carried to savour their steam experience. Whilst the more historic carriages bring great joy and variety to the railway during special events, it is rugged workshorses such as E4641 that earn the money that allows the railway to remain sustainable. Almost every visitor to the North Norfolk Railway will have travelled in a coach of this design.

E4641 less than a month after entering the workshops for its overhaul

We are therefore proud to present this, which after discussion with my predecessors, can lay claim to be the most thorough rebuild ever undertaken on a non-dining Mark 1 carriage in the history of the NNR. Some very thorough Mark 1 rebuilds have been done in the past, however such work has mostly been reserved for the dining train. E4641 will be operating throughout 2017 in normal day-to-day trains, meaning the considerable effort put into its overhaul can be enjoyed by the everyday visitor. As long term followers of the Blog may remember, the lower half of the carriage is made from brand new steel, both frame and skin. Both corridor connections have been rebuilt and all of the windows removed, refurbished and returned into place. It has had a brake and bogie overhaul and underframe repaint. One of the toilets has been reinstated and the other converted into a cleaner's store room. Both of these areas were stripped out and disused prior to the overhaul.

2/3rds of the sides of the carriage were replaced

The interior was completely stripped out and every components thoroughly cleaned and refurbished. All the woodwork, and there was a mountain of it, was laboriously stripped back of its many years of stain and varnish and varnished up again to its 1950's glory. The interior of the coach used to be a dark mahogany colour due to previous owners staining it down. The same interior is now a much lighter and brighter timber, and the natural grain and pattern of the wood is now far more visible. Finally, all of the seating was reupholstered in new material. It took two years and three weeks to complete this work, although it should be noted that there were periods within this that the coach had to be set aside to ensure continued progress on the Suburban restorations.

Eagle eyed viewers will notice that E4641 entered the workshops in Maroon livery, but leaves in Crimson & Cream, the colour used for the dining train. The reason for this is that the railway has for some years operated a single 64 seat carriage (TSO) painted in Crimson & Cream to act as a strengthener to the dining train (which is required approximately half a dozen times a year) and also as a maintenance spare should one of the dining coaches be out of service for unplanned repairs. This coach has traditionally been TSO E4667 however the condition of this coach is worsening with both the interior and exterior appearance declining somewhat. E4641 has therefore been painted Crimson & Cream in order to "replace" E4667 as the dining train strengthener. The seating has also been upholstered the same colour as the dining train seats, which coupled to the high quality of E4641's interior restoration, will make it a much better prospect for dining passengers than E4667 currently is. When the resources are available for E4667 to be overhauled, it is likely that it will be painted maroon to re-balance the fleet.

E4667, the current dining train strengthener, seen here fulfilling its normal role within a standard service train. E4641 is the third coach back!

Going back to the beginning, E4641 was built in 1957 at British Railways' York works, which were at full capacity producing a lot of "standard" Mark 1's at this time. It was the third carriage within its "batch" and the NNR owns another two identical carriages from the very same batch (E4651 & E4667). Weighing 33 tons, E4641 seats 64 second class passengers in three saloons (one of which was designated non smoking). There are three passenger vestibules allowing entry/exit, or alternatively two corridor connections each end of the vehicle for movement to an adjacent coach. At one end are two toilets, although one is no longer extant.

E4641 entered service in July 1957 on the British Railways Eastern region, and would have likely have been delivered in BR's (then standard) lined maroon livery. It then started a reasonable life working medium and long distance locomotive hauled services within and to/from the east of England It would have been hauled by both steam and diesel locomotives. In 1964 it was renumbered NE4641 to reflect usage in the North East, but the coach was returned to E4641 four years later, the same year as the demise of steam traction. Around this time, E4641 was repainted into the new corporate Blue & Grey colour scheme, which it would carry until its withdrawal from front line duties in November 1985.

The coach was preserved the following year by wildlife artist and steam devotee David Shepherd who was building up rolling stock for his railway the East Somerset. Whilst there the coach was repainted back into original maroon colours and in-authentically presented as a First Class open coach. Electric table lamps were fitted and the carriage used in their dining train. 15 years later, much stock and the railway was being sold by Mr Shepherd to new owners. During the year 2001, officials of the NNR were inspecting other Mark 1 stock (which led to M26012 being purchased for the NNR, but that is another story) and during this visit E4641's good condition was noted.

Stock being inspected at the East Somerset. E4641 is thought to be the second coach back (picture Steve Allen)

18 months later, E4641 was also put up for sale and the NNR immediately made moves to purchase it. This successful, the coach was relocated in the Spring of 2003 and started operating services almost immediately.

E4641 on its first day in service, 2003 (picture Steve Allen)

The coach was badly faded so received limited works and a repaint before rejoining the "coal face" working daily services up and down the NNR. Having been in reasonable condition when purchased, a major overhaul was not necessary prior to getting usage from the vehicle. However this situation inevitably would change as the condition of the vehicle started to slowly worsen, understandably given the coach's excellent suitability for most services. The interior survived well but was extremely dark due to various wood stains being used in its past to hide old water damage. The exterior fared much worse and by 2014 (10 years on) the paintwork was thin once more, corrosion was becoming a problem in the lower half of the coach and the doors were requiring more and more maintenance to keep them operating.

E4641 working trains in the summer of 2006. Note the painted over toilet window, and indication of the locked out of use toilet

A slot became available that year for a TSO to enter the workshops for an overhaul. Four of the railway's coaches operating in service at that time were "shortlisted" and E4641 was selected, mainly on the basis that its exterior paintwork made it stick out most when working within trains. The original scope of works for E4641 was much smaller than what was eventually done, as within six months of the overhaul it became apparent that E4641's condition underneath was much worse than originally fared. Thankfully, the railway were in a position to decide to undertake all of the required works and produce E4641 to a high standard with (hopefully!) years of life ahead. It now joins the rest of the fleet at Sheringham as the best standard service coach, having previously been one of the worst! It will be in use on Santa Special services and will then be in normal trains for 2017 and beyond.

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

Elsewhere in the workshops, progress has continued as normal. The door reconstruction, described in previous weeks, has continued steadily.

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

The underframe for 129 has now been shunted back into the workshops, now that E4641 has freed up some space. However due to the refurbished springs having not yet arrived, no further progress has been able to be made.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Composite Lavatory E43041

This coach continues to hurtle towards completion at great speed. The exterior paint preparation has now been completed in record time, with our long suffering Phil taking the brunt of the punishment. He now requires the sound of an electric sander to be played to him softly each night or else he can't get to sleep!

Nico sands the Sheringham end

The two ends of the carriage were also completed but required more than just paint prep. There were handrails, electrical jumper sockets, lighting control gear and lamp irons to fit, all of which have been cleaned up and installed so that painting can commence on Monday.

Interior reassembly also continues with more woodwork fettled into position. Pretty much all of the woodwork is now in position, so work is now concentrating on returning to problem areas where they don't fit so well against each other, and also increasing the number of coats of varnish on some of the panels.

More fittings continue to be installed. The heater control discs (seen each side of the windows in the picture above) have all been fitted so slowly all of the gaps and holes are being occupied. Another milestone is also the fitting of all of the lighting wiring and bulb holders. The wiring was in poor condition so this was quite a task. We are unable to test currently as the coach has no batteries but hopefully there will be a grand switch on in time for Christmas! The passenger communication chords and the plastic "scoops" in each compartment have all been fitted down both sides of the coach and hooked up to the relevant apparatus at the end.

Reupholstering of the seats is progressing well with several compartments worth of seating now ready, I really must get round to taking a picture of these magnificent items as they are impressive with their brand new material, particularly the first class examples.

British Railways 1956 Mark 1 Suburban Brake Second E43357

With remedial works having been completed, the coach has now been returned into service and is tucked away inside Bridge Road Carriage Sheds for the winter with the other two suburbans.

Metropolitan Cammell 1965 4 Wheel Petroleum Tank 53083

The tank wagon has been brought into the shed now that E4641 has departed and consequently has been a source of attention once more. The remaining side which had yet to be repainted has now been cleaned down and undercoated.

The chassis solebar has also been primed ready for further paint.

Some of the smaller details are now in a position where they can be attended to. Some brake pipes, chassis numbering details and axlebox covers have been picked out in red, yellow and yellow respectively. Strangely, it is these smaller items that actually grab people's eye and provoke compliments when repainting, rather than the plainer, larger areas.

Nigel over-coating the faded numbers on the Holt end of the wagon
A large rubber hose attachment has also been removed from the seaward side where the tank used to be discharged back in the day. This pipe had been modified many years ago by the railway so that this tank could provide additional watering facilities for steam engines at Holt station during gala events, before the water tower was built there. Last used around 10 years ago, the attachment is being removed so that the original cap can be refitted.


There have been two items of progress on the workshop improvements this week. The first will most be a surprise for regular readers, as it involves us going round and round again. Yes you've guessed it, the Axeman! He has been busy designing a ingenious device that slots onto our existing wheelset stand and allows the wheelset to be moved around on wheels. Previously it had to be semi-dragged around using a pallet truck, which isn't really man enough for the job. This simple addition will make wheel movements around the workshop significantly easier.

The second item concerns the mezzanine floor. Whilst it will be January before we can get onto it properly, the floor has at least been painted this week, and is now a fetching grey colour, perhaps to try and match the tank wagon?

Saturday, 19 November 2016

November News Part 3

A fairly thin update this week, as there has been a lot of larger jobs already reported on that have simply continued to be worked on.

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

The exterior doors, pictured last time, have continued to progress with more repairs and wood splices being added to them.

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

No progress to report.

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641

Interior cleaning has now been concluded, with the saloons and both end compartments (one toilet and one store room) all having had a serious wipe down, hoover and tidy up to remove the temporary workshop dust that had settled on all the surfaces. The doors have now been shut and the interior is officially complete and ready for passengers!

One challenge to overcome was the door "budget" locks (used to lock a door out of service if it is defective). Whilst trying to lock the carriage in readiness for releasing it back into the operating fleet we suddenly realised that the slots in the door frames for the locks to engage into had been missed out and weren't there! A day was therefore spent cutting these out, very neatly as the coach has now been fully painted, and the vehicle now has six fully locking doors.

On the exterior, the new batteries have been fitted and tested and work very well. Some other minor painting tasks such as picking out small lettering in white have also been undertaken. It is anticipated that next week, after two years in the workshops, this coach will be leaving us and returning to service.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Composite Lavatory E43041

More woodwork refitting and toilet reassembly has been done. All of the Formica paneling throughout the coach has now been cleaned which has improved its appearance greatly. The bodyside preparation work also continues to progress rapidly, with the landward side now completed apart from a final (fine) sand the seaward side is now being brought to the same standard.

The roof scraping was also completed this week, and the first coat of new roof paint applied. Before this could be done, a few roof vents and other "furniture" up there was resealed into place as a few bits had come away.

British Railways 1956 Mark 1 Suburban Brake Second E43357

The additional guards steps mentioned last week have now been completed and are just in the process of being painted.

Metropolitan Cammell 1965 4 Wheel Petroleum Tank 53083

The weather has now taken a downward turn, so the completion of the vehicle's repaint is awaiting space in the shed.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

November News Part 2

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

With the assistance in the overhaul of the WD locomotive concluded, work has been able to recommence on 853. In preparation for lifting the body from its current "accommodation chassis", the body has been lifted about four inches from the frame and is now standing on temporary blocks. This gap will allow the proper lifting gear to be used when the body is lifted fully from the current underframe. Meanwhile, wooden repair works have continued on the passenger compartment doors. These doors are real old ladies so are being treated to a fair bit of work to return them to their Victorian (just!) prime...

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

The chassis is currently standing outside as there isn't enough room to accommodate this, 129 and the construction site that is the new mezzanine floor. However a few hardy souls ventured outside and fitted several brake hangars, links and brake blocks to the chassis. These "trimmings" are certainly making the chassis look less bare underneath and more complete.

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641

The door interiors, mentioned last week, have now been completed in brown gloss and the doors have been finished off with their "do not lean out of the window" period signage. Whilst the transfers were out, other examples throughout the carriage such as the alarm chain warning signs and various labels inside the toilet compartment, were also applied. This done, the interior is now getting its final cleaning prior to entry into service. So far, the insides of the windows and the tables have been cleaned.

On the exterior, lining has continued and the coach now sports both of its lines along the whole coach, concluding this aspect. Lettering is now in progress. The numbers have already been applied, and underframe and end data will soon be added.

The underframe is seeing some final parts cleaned and painted black, and a new set of batteries have arrived ready for fitting to the battery boxes. The coach will be needing these as the lights will be very much in use during the Santa trains that this coach will hopefully be operating next month.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Composite Lavatory E43041

All of the tasks featured last week have progressed well. The glass fitting is now complete so the coach is now a seal-able item for the first time in many months. The entry of the carriage into the staging area has allowed roof work to pick up where it left off. The main central section of the roof has now been scraped of all its old paint, and this work is now proceeding along the two edges, which are attacked from ground level rather than from on top of the roof. A few roof vents are loose so will have to be resealed. The other major exterior change is the commencement of the bodyside preparation and filling work, which is (as usual) giving the coach its patchwork quilt appearance, temporarily of course.

On the interior, woodwork restoration and fitting continues apace and several areas are now starting to look very advanced in terms of fitting out. The areas which we haven't had chance to varnish yet will be returned to later on.

Lots of Formica has also been refitted where appropriate and the toilets in particular (which are very Formica heavy) are progressing well. The tedious process of correctly modifying and fitting door woodwork, along with brand new lower panels, has started with several doors now dry fitted.

British Railways 1956 Mark 1 Suburban Brake Second E43357

The brake vehicle from the suburban set has been temporarily returned inside the workshop for a modification to be made to the guard's step arrangement, as the original BR arrangement has proved problematic for some of the guards. Rather than see anybody struggle, it had been requested an extra step be fitted, which after careful inspection of the bogie, was deemed possible whilst maintaining access to the spring and axlebox. So far, the start of some mounting brackets and steps have been designed, cut and welded/bolted into place on to the bogie.

Metropolitan Cammell 1965 4 Wheel Petroleum Tank 53083

No progress to report.


The mezzanine floor level has now been completed by the contractors. It has now been handed over to the NNR's in-house team for some final finishing touches such as provision of handrails and moving of lighting. Elsewhere in the workshop, the M&GN Society's tool cupboards have been rebuilt to suit the new configuration of the tool stores (brought about by the clearance of the area for the mezzanine) which will hopefully help everyone in locating tools and keeping the area nice and presentable.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

November News Part 1

There was no update last week due to holidays to the Isle of Wight. Aside from some very nice scenery in full autumnal colours, the Isle of Wight Steam Railway was an essential segment of the itinerary, for academic research and comparison purposes of course! Their carriage fleet is exceptional, with late 19th century and early 20th century stock the norm for all passenger trains. Indeed, the youngest carriage in their fleet was built in 1924! Perhaps we should take a leaf from their book and have the vintage train in daily service?!?

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853 & Great Northern Railway (later M&GN) 1887 6 Wheel Third 129

No progress to report. This has mainly been due to the teams involved assisting the locomotive department in the overhaul of the M&GN Society's WD Steam Locomotive 90775. The inside of the tender frames required painting rapidly to allow the tank to be lifted on top. Accordingly primer, undercoat and black gloss were applied to said frames after the insides had a quick cleaning down. A team of loco volunteers were also engaged in this activity on Wednesday evening, so between everyone the task was progressed swiftly.

London North Eastern Railway 1929 4 Wheel Pigeon Van 6843

This vehicle is now back together again. The two wheelsets were cleaned down and repainted into wood effect brown with white rims and axles. They looked so good that the axleboxes and surrounding metalwork on the coach underframe had to be repainted gloss black to match. Unfortunately when reassembling the brakegear there were some problems adjusting the springs and ride height which prolonged the reassembly process. However these were overcome and the van is now back in service as it is required next week for photo charters.

British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641

The saga of the toilet plumbing continues. The hot water tank is now leak free and fully plumbed in. It has been tested and all was working well but the sink taps were found to be leaking. These repaired, the system was declared complete and working!

Painting has also continued well. The ends of the coach have been painted in black undercoat and gloss.

The two sides have both received two coats of both Crimson and Cream gloss which concludes the process of the main panel painting. The lining has been applied to the top above the windows, but the bottom lines (below the windows) will wait until the coach has been shunted out of the staging area.

A start has now been made on some of the fiddly painting jobs, such as painting the insides of the doors (they are not panelled on this coach due to the doors being one piece aluminium castings), painting door bump stops etc. All of the scratched glass out of the doors has now also been replaced with clean examples.

British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Composite Lavatory E43041

With the Suburban 4 project drawing to a close, activity has been frantic on this vehicle. Glazing continues with all of the smaller type of windows now installed. The larger panes, which had to be replaced as they were not safety glass, have arrived from the glass suppliers  and are now in the process of being fitted. Underneath the vehicle, a few loose ends are being tied up before the vehicle is trapped in the staging area. These have included fitting the overhauled vacuum cylinders and attaching repainted footboards.

On the interior, the corridor ceiling in third class half of the vehicle has been fitted, as have several replacement ceiling panels in the compartments. A start has now been made on refitting wall panelling to the corridors and compartments.

Where available, the veneered wooden panels have been refitted, but not all of these have been fully varnished yet, the woodwork which is not yet finished continues to be stripped, sanded and revarnished.

A lot of Formica panels have been cleaned up thoroughly by volunteers and are now being refitted around the windows. It is amazing how well they clean up.

The Formica panels out of the two toilets are also being cleaned and several have been refitted. The ceilings in the toilets are also Formica so there is a large area to clean up.

Metropolitan Cammell 1965 4 Wheel Petroleum Tank 53083

No progress to report.

Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway Society Lorry

The Society's Austin K2 lorry has now exited the workshop, its preparation and repaint having been completed. It is now sporting M&GN brown livery and its roof board has been lettered up M&GN. More sign-writing is required but this will be undertaken at the Lorry's base at Holt station.

Mezzanine Floor

We are pleased to report that after much lobbying a start has been made on the construction of the department's new mezzanine floor level in the corner of the workshop. This will be a valuable asset and will free up much storage space around the railway and Weybourne yard as well as making the workshop itself a much more open, neater and safer environment.