Friday, 29 December 2017


It's that time of year again, the "dead" time between Christmas and New Year, where we can all take the opportunity to look back favourably on what has happened over the past 12 months.

In raw terms of light or major overhauls produced, we have fallen right in between the previous two years, with six vehicles entering service after such work (compared with five in 2015 and seven in 2016). We have done quite well to achieve this, as in 2016 we enjoyed the completion of several major overhauls, the effort for which was in reality spread over several years. With more projects being started from scratch this year, to produce six would seem perfectly respectable!

The first project to be completed was the fourth and final of the major Suburban Project "Gold standard" overhauls, Composite Lavatory E43041, which left us in March having been in works for almost two years. This represented a major step change for the department, as we were now no longer working on any suburbans for the first time in over five years. It also opened the opportunity to go "full tilt" on our normal, less glamorous, operating stock. E43041 was finished in time for the official Suburban 4 launch day which was held in April (more on that day below).

Also in March, Phase 1 of our new 4-stage dining train exterior refurbishment was completed, the "Silver overhaul" of  Restaurant Buffet E1969. This coach had given us some nasty surprises in the form of bad corrosion around the windows and doors, which was unexpected as the coach had already been through a Gold overhaul relatively recently. Additional pressure included the buffet car being essential to the operation of the dining train, so overruns were not acceptable on this occasion. Thankfully the work was completed in time for the "main season" commencing in April.

During May, Class 101 DMU M56352 emerged from the works having received "Bronze" exterior repairs and repaint. This was the first "extra" of the year for us i.e. projects which were added in to the original programme at shorter notice than normal. This was done due to the exterior appearance of this high mileage vehicle becoming unacceptable for the railway to continue with.

July saw the only wagon of the year to be added to the operating fleet, Royal Navy wagon 269, which received repairs and a repaint comparable to a Bronze overhaul. Other wagons were maintained and painted over the year, but this one is singled out as it was returned to service having previously been a "works/store" vehicle. It was added to the freight set complete with false Torpedo load, being a flat wagon it would have looked too empty without a load on!

Also in July the department produced the second "extra" of the year. Covered Carriage Truck M94125 was looking rather shabby, and much like the DMU, being a high mileage and often visible vehicle, it was felt an exterior spruce up was required. Bronze repairs and a repaint followed and it was returned to service just in time for the busy summer season trains for which its use is essential.

August saw our final vehicle return to the rails. Tourist Second Open and true "bread and butter" coach, E4236, had been receiving "Silver" overhaul work and rejoined the fleet part way through the summer holidays.

Vehicles in the workshops which received restoration work during the year but aren’t yet finished include Mark 1 Brake Corridor Composite E21224 (Gold), Mark 1 Tourist Second Open M4843 (Silver), Mark 1 Covered Carriage Truck E94464 (Bronze), Southern Railway Parcels Van S1359S (Bronze) a replacement underframe for M&GN number 129 and Great Eastern Railway Brake Third 853 (Gold).

We also undertook plenty of smaller projects throughout the year. In January, the customary annual examinations had to be completed to allow the operational stock to operate into the year ahead.

In February, we bid our farewells to Roger Williams who had been part of the C&W staff for over 10 years but had this year decided to commence his retirement. His replacement was Phil Utting, who had already been working with us on the Suburban 4 project for some time on a Heritage Lottery Funded temporary contract, but was henceforth able to continue as a permanent staff member.

March saw the Class 03 shunter released, which had sneaked into the works with us for a few months to be repainted into BR Blue. We also started the major restoration of BCK E21224 which had been waiting its turn very patiently in Bridge Road sheds for several years.

During April, the stand out event was of course the official launch of the Suburban 4 project, which nicely drew to a close approximately five years of hard work.  Back in the workshops, steam loco WD 90775 was repainted, and our upholstery shop was also used as a backdrop to take some publicity photos for the Cromer Pier Pavilion's production of “Made in Dagenham”.

In May we had our old stores coach inside the workshops for the first time in a long while so that it could be emptied onto our new Mezzanine floor level, which required a lot of lifting, shifting and sorting! The freight train also saw some improvement works with the 16T mineral wagon and the conflat (which carries the Birdseye container) receiving re-varnishing.

In June, we accommodated the National Railway Museum's DMU powercar as it was required to be lifted for bogie repairs. The M&GN Dray, which normally resides at Holt, was also repainted.

July saw more freight stock attended to, with some vehicles on static display at Holt repainted. These included the interesting Colmans mustard van. Two more vehicles, resident at Weybourne in the cattle dock, were also repainted. These were PMV 1476 and an LMS box van.

The month of August left a hole in the form of the departure of our foreman and carpenter Michael Biss who moved onto a job in the building trade after working with us for three years. We also undertook emergency vacuum pipe repairs on Mark 1 SK E25189 after it started leaking at an unacceptable level.

Outside work started to become more limited by the end of September, however Esso tanker 1982, on static display at Holt, was repainted nonetheless.

October was a busy month for distractions, with two Mark 1 TSO coaches prepared to be loaned to the Churnet Valley Railway for the winter, of course they needed more work than we'd first estimated! We also started the re-upholstery of the trailer car in the National Railway Museum's DMU set.

In November, the final vehicle of the freight train to receive attention for the year was finished: Fruit D Van W92097. This had only been brought in for emptying of storage contents, but the time undercover was taken advantage of with some body repairs, a revarnish and some patch painting work.

Finally, December saw the unwanted distraction of cleaning graffiti off one of our stored coaches, as well as some more positive work on PMV 1359 which is being prepared cosmetically for the S&T department who will be having it at Sheringham as a workshop over the next year or so.

So I think it's fair to say that 2017 has measured up well to the equally action packed 2016 and 2015 that the Blog has chronicled so far. These pages themselves are now three years old, how time flies! Readership has grown as well which is excellent! 2015 saw 26,400 visits, which increased to 48,700 during 2016, and I'm pleased to report a further increase to 63,400 for 2017. Although numbers aren't everything, the "success" of online Blogs can be notoriously hard to measure so this increase in page "hits" would lead me to suggest that they are getting more popular which of course makes it worth continuing with! I would like to finish by thanking all of those who have shared with me kind words of encouragement concerning this Blog, be it through online comments or to myself in person. This feedback makes sitting down each week to type it worthwhile! So let us all look forward to 2018 - all being well another year that we can share together watching the North Norfolk's Carriage & Wagon Department stumble forwards!

Friday, 22 December 2017

December News Part 4

This will be the last "normal" working update for 2017 although stick around as next week, when the workshops are closed, there will be the traditional Review of the Year where we can look back on everything that has been achieved over the past 12 months.

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

Work has restarted on this elderly vehicle, now that S1359S is approaching the finish line. The pre-prepared vacuum piping was able to be threaded this week. This in turn later allowed the pipe itself to be bolted up onto the vehicle and various elbows and fittings etc attached. This is another major step forward in completing the underframe.

Most of the handbrake linkages have also now been finished, although there are a few loose ends and testing to attend to yet...

British Railways 1959 Brake Corridor Composite E21224

The interior bulkheads along the side corridor have been sanded down again ready for their next coat of varnish, however this will now not be done until warmer weather returns... Filling work on the store cupboard also continued this week.

British Railways 1959 Tourist Second Open M4843

Several tables have had their edges re-varnished to improve them. The table edges can get a battering when in service so this particular addition of varnish should be most helpful.

British Railways 1958 Class 101 Railcar Driving Trailer Second Lavatory M56352

Seat reupholstery continues at a very good pace. This week has seen some of the more complex seat backs from the middle saloon receive their new material. All of the wider 3-seat backs have now been completed from this area, and approximately half of the smaller (but more numerous) 2-seat backs have also been completed ready for refitting.

Whilst the seats are removed, the repainting work on the ceiling continues. The middle saloon has been primed and given two coats of white undercoat and is already looking better!

British Railways 1960 Covered Carriage Truck E94464

As mentioned last week, the underframe was in primer last week and has this week progressed through to undercoat. We have decided not to gloss paint it until the body-sides have been painted as drips can occur...

Moving upwards, the bodyside paint preparation and filling work is substantially complete on the seaward side. Four metal covering boards have also been produced from scratch (as the originals were long gone) and will eventually be attached to the wooden chalk boards which were recently added to the exterior. The metal covers will be painted in blackboard paint and is actually what a guard chalks onto when writing the destinations on the van.

The biggest change on the interior has been the gloss painting of the ceiling, two coats, which has made quite a difference.

This in turn has allowed the porcelain light fittings and bulbs to be fitted, finishing off the ceiling.

The interior focus has now therefore transferred to the two sides. The landward side window glass and wooden surrounds have been fitted which now means the vehicle is fully glazed once more. The wooden planking, towards the end of the week, received its final repairs and any bare patches of wood spot painted in primer. The sides are now ready for undercoating in the new year.Whilst the walls are being painted, the four lighting control face-plates have been removed and cleaned up back to bare metal and repainted. One of them has even had its lettering picked out in black and it looks great, far too posh for an old bike/buggy carrier!!

Southern Railway 1939 Parcels & Miscellaneous Van S1359S

As mentioned last week, two plated over windows were in the process of being reinstated. New frames were made, some plastic that roughly matched the others was sourced, and the two windows reinstated.

The round shaped chalk boards have also been finished off, assembled on the vehicle and painted up. They really set off the Crimson bodysides nicely and somehow make the vehicle look much more "whole". S1359S has also received its true identity following the visit of our resident signwriter who has applied numbering and some end detail including its "PMV" designation. As always, the numbering looks very smart!

Finally, the interior shelving has been modified slightly to accommodate the reinstatement of the windows on the outside - so there is now no shelving in front of any of the windows.

Sleeping Car

Although there are no pictures, the Mark 3 volunteer accommodation carriage at Sheringham (Hotel Babylon) has seen a large amount of work this week to secure a new tarpaulin over the roof section. Mark 3 roofs corrode very badly and this one is now beyond redemption. With no resources available to repair/replace the roof, a "5 year" solution involving the tarpaulin has been engineered to allow the sleeping car to continue performing its job for the foreseeable future. Hopefully this will stop the majority of the water ingress which has been recently plaguing this vehicle and causing a bit of a headache for both the user and maintainer!

Merry Christmas

All that remains is to wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas from all of us in Carriage & Wagon, plus Monkey of course! We hope many of you choose to continue following our updates, which all being well will continue throughout 2018, but before then, don't forget the Review of the Year next week...

Friday, 15 December 2017

December News Part 3

In the words of the satirical TV quiz Have I Got News for You, "we start with the bigger stories of the week". I am of course talking about the Carriage & Wagon Christmas Meal, which is nearly as famous as the Cromer Pier Christmas Show! Aside from being responsible for very little work being done on Friday afternoon, the meal was a great gathering of all of the separate portions that make up the Carriage & Wagon family. 35 of us dined at a local establishment for lunch, and is was nice to see most of us together in the same place at the same time. Due to volunteers coming in on different days of the week, this meal is about the only time that one can find most of them together at once! Just like looking at someone else's holiday snaps, we have pictures of us enjoying ourselves as well!

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

No progress to report, due to the normal team working on 1359.

British Railways 1959 Brake Corridor Composite E21224

The main progress has been the re-starting of the interior refit on the store cupboard (which was in fact one of the two toilets). The remaining paneling out has been completed so we have now a blank canvas to build up on. There is a lot of poor/damaged/broken Formica that was badly chopped about when the previous owners turned this space into a shower cubicle. For this reason we have decided to apply filler en-masse into all of the cracks, missing corners etc and then paint the whole area. This will be perfectly acceptable for a private cupboard. This filler work is now in progress and sanding smooth will follow. The skirting around the lower edges has also been completed, as this was missing when we got the coach.

British Railways 1959 Tourist Second Open M4843

No progress to report.

British Railways 1958 Class 101 Railcar Driving Trailer Second Lavatory M56352

Nearly all of the bottom seat cushions have now been reupholstered (only 4 left) so the bulk of concentration will now turn to the more complex seat backs. With the vehicle now out of service until February, we have been able to remove many of the seats and move them in bulk into the upholstery shop to be treated. The centre saloon was chosen as the first area to be stripped out.

Whilst the seating is removed, we are taking the opportunity to repaint the ceilings as they have clearly not been touched for many years (and certainly not by us) so would benefit from being all one colour! This sort of work is a nightmare to undertake whilst a vehicle is in service, so each saloon will have its ceilings painted before the new upholstered seating is refitted. So far, the centre saloon's ceilings have been rubbed down so that the new paint has a key.

We also painted the two air intake grills for the heaters whilst the seats were gone, as these are also impossible to get to effectively with the seats fitted.

British Railways 1960 Covered Carriage Truck E94464

The dreaded underframe cleaning has been completed this week, which has allowed the next stage of the underframe renovation to be tackled. Over a few days the landward side has been painted into primer and now awaits undercoat.

We would like to re-wheel the vehicle soon and get it back on its freshly turned wheelsets. A small shunt was undertaken this week which has allowed us to move the two wheels back in close to the vehicle so they are now ready to have the axleboxes refitted.

Moving onto the exterior works, the various fittings including chalk boards (pictured last week), the hooks and bump stops for the doors have all been reinstated now that all the welding repairs are done. All of the doorways have also been reexamined and a few areas of corrosion dealt with, to hopefully arrest any problems with door alignment in the near future. The woodwork around the door jambs has also been made good and is complete again after the vehicle's repairs. With all this complete, we are now ready for paint preparation and then final painting! Phil has once again stepped into the fold and got his filler and sander out, which is now the main focus for the exterior.

On the interior, the ceilings have had all of the beading strips fitted, of which there were many, and any gaps (due to uneven ceiling panels) have been filled. This can now hopefully be painted in gloss next week, which should finish off the task. With the ceilings approaching completion, and following a "top down" approach, the sides are now being looked at. So far, the seaward side window glass has been refitted including all of the wooden window surrounds on the insides, which also act as retention strips for the glass itself. As we have been attending to each window, any small planking repairs in the immediate vicinity have also been completed. The seaward side is now therefore also ready for painting.

Southern Railway 1939 Parcels & Miscellaneous Van S1359S

This van is now starting to blossom, with all of the Crimson gloss topcoat being applied this week.

As you would expect, this has transformed the vehicle and it suddenly looks much better than when it came in just a few weeks ago.

The edges of the roof (which is covered in a green lorry-style tarpaulin) has had its appearance improved by painting the edges black. The extra time in the workshop (due to CCT E94464 not being ready to move just yet) has allowed further jobs that were not in the original scope to be tackled. This has mainly included quickly tidying up the underframe gear and painting the visible bits into primer (gloss to follow soon), and the reinstatement of one or two of the original windows that were panelled over when it was a departmental vehicle. So far the old patches have been pulled off revealing fairly sound woodwork beneath where a new window and outer frame can shortly be refitted, making the vehicle look more original.

Having seen the chalk boards on E94464, somebody must have decided that 1359 could have them back too! A mixture of new and spare examples have been gathered for use on this vehicle (which had them missing) and they are currently being painted prior to fitting.

All of this rapid progress on 1359 is the main reason why GER 853 hasn't had many updates over the previous few weeks.

Friday, 8 December 2017

December News Part 2

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

No progress to report

British Railways 1959 Brake Corridor Composite E21224

Work has continued on the ongoing projects. We hope to direct a bit more manpower towards this restoration soon, and start a few more new jobs in the New Year. Meanwhile, one of the pair of sliding doors mentioned last week has now joined the completed pile, which means we are now varnishing up the last door...

The varnishing of removed components, a huge task, is therefore now reaching its completion. The inside walls of the coach's side corridor has also received a second coat of  75/25 varnish/white spirit to further protect it before the winter.

The collection of steel handrails and other odds and sods are doing well, with most of them now completed up to black gloss paint.

British Railways 1959 Tourist Second Open M4843

The Sheringham end continues to receive welding repairs in a similar fashion to last week.

Quieter days (typically on Fridays) have also allowed some of the electrical box covers from underneath to be shot blasted and repainted to improve their appearance and make them nicer and easier to handle for maintenance. The same treatment has also been given to the battery box covers.

On the interior, the repainting of the internal window surrounds has been completed and they look great in a fresh coat of brown. The reassembly of the inside of the Sheringham end saloon is also progressing and most of the side panelling is now all refitted meaning that the seating units and backs can start to be refitted.

British Railways 1957 Composite Corridor M15997

With graffiti now gone (see last week) the coach has had a few bits and bobs loaded into it (to get them out of the way and out of the main workshop) and it has now been returned to storage where it rejoins its restoration queue. We are still very hopeful that one day this coach will be brought it and be done properly so it can join the main running fleet!

British Railways 1958 Class 101 Railcar Driving Trailer Second Lavatory M56352

Re-upholstery work continues.

British Railways 1960 Covered Carriage Truck E94464

The end of the underframe cleaning is now in sight, just a single victim this week struggled on with this thankless task which i think has seen several volunteers flee the country in order to avoid! Fingers crossed this can be completed next week so that it can be painted, which is a much more pleasant pursuit...

More work to get the outside bodysides complete and ready for painting has been started this week. These CCT vehicles used to have a wooden chalk board (for writing destinations etc on) on each of the four corners, however this poor example only had one left when it came into the works, all the rest having rotted off over the years! We have decided to return the vehicle to full original layout and will be reinstating all four boards, the first of which has already been fitted.

The interior has taken large steps forward this week. The main ceiling panels which have required a lot of preparation work, have now all been fitted to the supporting roof battens and most of the electrical trunking which feeds the five interior lights has also been fitted.

In readiness for refitting the glass to the vehicle, all of the wooden window surrounds have now been sanded down and repainted in primer.

Southern Railway 1939 Parcels & Miscellaneous Van GE1359S

Now that all mechanical and wooden body repairs have been completed on this "lightening restoration" the team are concentrating on its repaint. Nobody bit on the bait I laid out last week, so this week it has become plain that the vehicle will be receiving a coat of BR Crimson. Very quickly over a few days the final resin applications were completed and pink primer applied.

Then two days after that the colour had changed again to crimson undercoat, with the ends receiving black paint at the same time.

Towards the end of the week gloss crimson was starting to be applied. Some other smaller details such as the handbrake levers etc were also painted black and their handles picked out in white.

As a final note, some more relevant information regarding the vehicle has emerged since last week. The vehicle was purchased for the railway in April 1999 and had its last movement on the mainline in September 2000 when it was tripped from Temple Mills to Stratford for onward road movement to the NNR. It was just before this rail movement that the vacuum system was last tested, and being used on the NNR solely as a stores vehicle since, it is therefore approximately 17 years since the braking systems, recently reinstated, last saw use! It has required remarkably little mechanical work considering how long it has been stood!