Friday, 28 April 2017

April News Part 5

The Steam Gala last week went very well by all accounts, with very little disruption and most things behaving. The Suburban set received positive comments and apart from a minor vacuum conundrum (possibly caused by the guard's emergency brake valve not seating correctly) ran the three days without trouble.

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

Back in the workshops, a great deal of effort has been put into the underframe of 853. Many victims, or volunteers, have been crawling over the inside steel sections building them up with the correct layers of paint.

The inside of the frame is now fully primed and a fair amount of it has also been brought up to top coat black.

Some focus is now turning to the "dangly bits" that will be required to be attached to the frame once it is lifted off the Navy wagon. The Axeman is never far away from talk of dangly bits, so it was therefore no surprise to find him busy fabricating some of the first bracketry that will be used for the underframe in due course.

Woodwork on the doors also continues to progress. It is thought that these are now over 3/4 of the way there, and will soon be finished to the stage where they can't be continued until they are fitted onto the carriage, which has to be done once the body is lifted on the chassis in order to guard against the possibility of the door apertures changing shape during the lift.

British Railways 1959 Brake Corridor Composite E21224

Compartment woodwork is progressing well, there has been less varnish stripping this week and more sanding of the stripped items to clean them right up and bring a rich wood grain back to the surface ready for new varnish. A steady pile of sanded components has been growing, and another row of larger, veneered panels have been receiving their first 50/50 coats of varnish/white spirit.

Welding work has been progressing well. By the end of the week, the framework repairs had been completed to the first compartment and this same area skinned with new metal. The areas further along the coach around the brakevan still to receive the skin and lower "skirt" were also treated, so the whole Sheringham half of the seaward side is now fully completed from a metalwork point of view. 25% of the way there!

British Railways 1956 Tourist Second Open E4236

All of the doors have now been removed from the coach and have been worked on intensively over the week. They have all had their component parts removed and repaired where required. Several of them have also had rotten sections of wooden framework remade and repaired, returning them to full strength. The steel skins had bubbled through with corrosion holes in several places, so these have been welded up again good as new. A few have even been partially reassembled.

On the coach itself some of the large saloon windows have been removed where corrosion has dictated they require to come out. We are not anticipating on taking too many out, as the interior gets damaged in the process unfortunately.

All of the sliding windows have been removed from the coach so that the runners and windows can have a thorough clean. These can become troublesome in service so its worth giving them some attention whilst the coach is in the works.

The interior woodwork is also receiving a rub down ready for re-varnishing. This is not a full strip down (which takes a very long time) but is a relatively quick way of giving any tired sections a glossy boost to improve its appearance. A few minor items have had to be removed to allow full access for this rubbing down to be done easily.

British Railways 1958 Class 101 Railcar Driving Trailer Second Lavatory M56352

No progress to report. Currently parked outside the boiler works of all places!

Royal Navy 4 Wheel Flat 269

The new oil pads have arrived for the axleboxes this week, which is one of the items required to turn this vehicle from a "works only" wagon into a fully maintained one i.e. one which can run regularly in the demonstration freight set. These pads will hopefully be fitted next week, which will complete the mechanical work on this project. I have included a picture of the outside of the wagon showing the lettering and Navy blue colour, as I didn't take one last week.

War Department 1943 Austerity 90775

Still awaiting emblems to be fitted.


The green stores coach remains in the heart of the workshop (the staged area) where it is slowly being emptied, sorted, and re-stacked on the new mezzanine floor. This week a milestone was reached, after the ex-luggage area of the coach was fully cleared. This is just over 1/3rd of the length of the whole vehicle, however it represents more like 1/2 of the clearance because this area was the most densely packed with "stuff"!

The doubters didn't think the contents of the carriage would fit on the new mezzanine, well we shall see!

Friday, 21 April 2017

April News Part 4

With all the excitement of the Steam Gala upon us, it has been hard to concentrate in the workshops on the final day of the working week. However an action packed tea break was still to be had watching the engines (and Suburban 4 set!) go by...

5 wise monkeys enjoying the gala!

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

Painting of the underframe continues with all of the inside of the chassis now rust-killed. Metal primer is now progressing smartly along all of the steel sections.

The woodwork on the doors also continues to progress.

British Railways 1959 Brake Corridor Composite E21224

The woodwork varnish stripping mentioned last week has continued, as has the paint stripping from the vehicle's ends. The Sheringham end has now been completed as far as we can go until the coach is moved into the staged area, so we have now started the same process at the Holt end.

Great progress continues to be made on the bodywork. The area around the guards van has had some skin added on top of the new framework and the first compartment side has been cut out and new framework welded in. The first section of lower "skirt", which runs along the bottom, has also been welded into position and is pictured below:

British Railways 1956 Tourist Second Open E4236

The latest project has arrived...exciting! It comes in the form of TSO E4236, built 61 years ago at British Railways' York works and more recently in service as one of our front line vehicles. It has come in for corrosion repairs to the ends, doors, doorways and some windows. It will also be repainted and generally refreshed, having last been painted eight years ago.

It has only been in for four days but already preparations to remove the Holt end corridor connection (for steelwork repairs) have been made, and several doors have been removed. These are in fair to poor condition so will be repaired where required, the first of which has already been stripped down and is in the process of being repaired. The seaward side toilet window has also been removed in readiness for corrosion to be put right.

Elsewhere on the coach, lot of yellow circles have appeared where flaking paint is to be removed or more serious work done, although the sides of this carriage are in good condition compared to the ends and doorways.

It is anticipated that this coach will receive a modicum of improvement works but will be returned to service relatively quickly.

British Railways 1958 Class 101 Railcar Driving Trailer Second Lavatory M56352

No progress to report.

Royal Navy 4 Wheel Flat 269

More good progress has been made on the repainting front. The last sections of the underframe have received their gloss black and only the wheels now remain in primer. The sides have now been lettered out with the vehicle's number, dimensions and RNAD insignia. This has also included picking out some information plates in red with white lettering.

New oil pads (which lubricate the axles) have also been ordered so that the axleboxes can go back together.

War Department 1943 Austerity 90775

Our locomotive shaped visitor has now exited the shed so that it could be on display for the Steam Gala weekend. The only task that remains is the application of the new, larger, emblems on the tender.


As suggested last week, work to unload our stores vehicle onto the mezzanine floor has now started in earnest. The woodwork and fittings store, which is at the Sheringham end of the carriage, has been tackled first and is about 50% emptied now.

Fame at Last

A while ago, the Pavilion on Cromer Pier used our upholstery facilities, including a vintage Seiko sewing machine for some publicity shots for their production of “Made in Dagenham” about the ladies who fought for pay equality in the Ford motor works at Dagenham. The show is playing between May 27 to June 3.

Saturday, 15 April 2017


Saturday saw the formal launch of the Suburban 4 set into service after a six year restoration. It was the first time the set had been used in its full 4-car formation with the first run (for special guests) in the morning followed by the first public run in the afternoon.

The day started when Standard 4 76084, the most appropriate engine on the line at present, backed the suburban set into Platform 2 at Sheringham where the invited guests had congregated. The loco department, particularly fitter Joe Issitt, are to be applauded for providing 76084 after it had failed the previous day. Without the efforts of Joe splitting his shift and returning to the railway after hours to repair the Standard, it would have been a back-up loco working the launch train instead.

Short speeches then followed by Hugh Harkett (NNR Managing Director) and Betty Morris, widow of Clive Morris who masterminded the restoration project.

The speeches spoke of Clive's passion for coaches and particularly those of suburban origin. It was explained how the steam locomotives are often the focus of a heritage railway, but the carriages were what the visitor actually experienced. Betty recounted some of the stories along the way of Clive's involvement, and how sadly how he had not lived to see the completion of his second major suburban set (the first being the Quad Arts).

Immediately afterwards the set was formally launched into service after Betty cut a ribbon into the entrance of the Brake Third vehicle (behind the engine) and revealed the dedicated carriage board (Exterior) and brass plaque (interior) for Clive.

The set then made its way to Holt where half an hour was available to inspect the coaches themselves. The stars of the show were of course Brake Third E43357, Third W46139, Composite Lavatory E43041 and Third Lavatory Open E48001.

Whilst at Holt the opportunity was taken to take a photo of all the working members who did physical work on the restoration of the coaches. Whilst the fantastic financial and administrative contributions of other donors are certainly not to be underplayed, it was nevertheless nice to have a group photo of the "grafters" whose sweat and tears turned the set from a rusty storage headache to a pristine operating set for the NNR.

It was then back on the train for a short hop down the hill to Weybourne where the guests immediately went to the railways new boardroom/meeting room/library, which was then dedicated the "Clive Morris Room" by Betty.

Further speeches from Hugh and Andrew Munden (General Manager) followed before breaking for nibbles.

Shortly afterwards, tours were conduced around the workshops before returning to Sheringham. The doors were then thrown open (and yes there are quite a few of them!) and the full set opened up for the first public run. The Standard then conducted a second trip to Holt and back faultlessly, with a fairly full train of would-be commuters!

The day ran very smoothly and was a credit to all involved in the organisation. The C&W department received many favourable comments with regards to the suburbans and a good time was had by all. It was a strange feeling seeing them complete and being launched, which isn't the usual protocol for us workshop types who normally see each carriage exit the workshop and released into the wild without fuss. We now look forward (hopefully) to a long and successful period of service for the set!

Of course it wasn't all ribbon cutting this week... if you're still interested in the workshop goings-on then keep reading...

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

The doors continue to progress, as has the underframe. The latter has now seen the rotten end supporting steel plates removed along with the old rivets that held them on. Large sections of the framework inside the underframe have also been cleaned up with wire brushes and treated to some "rust kill" primer.

British Railways 1959 Brake Corridor Composite E21224

Paint stripping continues with a large proportion of the Sheringham end now naked.

As mentioned last week, we are now asbestos free which has allowed corrosion repairs to include the Sheringham end toilet area, which had been converted to a shower. New framework is in place with a new skin to follow shortly. We also have more labour available now for bodywork on this carriage, so the lower "skirt" of the bodywork is being ground off so that it can be replaced and any repairs to the lower sections of framework made.

On the interior side of things, a growing stack of wooden panels and window surrounds are being stripped of their old varnish, via heat guns and other similar weapons...

British Railways 1958 Class 101 Railcar Driving Trailer Second Lavatory M56352

A repair has been made to the steel plates which support the floor in the corridor connection, reversing the corrosion and allowing them to be repainted black. Unfortunately we did not have the correct bolts in stock to refit them to the vehicle, so these have now been ordered and will hopefully arrive next week.

Suburban 4 Project

In readiness for the launch featured above, three days were spend applying the final touches to the assembled set. This included fixing on the remaining brass plaques for the project donors, fitting the last of the missing luggage racks, repairing some broken/missing parts on the coaches that have already seen some gala use and finally a thorough clean inside and out. Several departments were involved in organising this and making sure they looked their best, a good example of different branches of the railway working together. Back at the workshop, the new reproduction destination boards were sign-written and varnished, a task which itself took three working days (as there are 16 of them!).

Royal Navy 4 Wheel Flat 269

Repainting continues at a fast rate. This week, the undercoating has been completed and most of the running gear painted into black gloss. The upper section of the underframe has been painted in an approximation of Navy blue, in recognition of the vehicle's unusual history.

War Department 1943 Austerity 90775

The engine has been moved out of the staged area where all of the lower "bits and pieces" were able to be painted black, as you'd expect for a War Department locomotive. The bufferbeam and numbers have also been painted as the finishing touches. The engine itself is now complete from a C&W perspective, so has now been handed over back to the loco department for mechanical work to continue. The tender has had a BR emblem applied, however the feedback has been that it is too small, so it has been obliterated and larger examples ordered to apply over the top. This has slightly delayed the final completion of the tender, but there is still plenty to be getting on with on the loco itself.


As part of loading up our new mezzanine floor, our stores coach has been moved into the staging so that it can be easily unloaded and its contents transferred skyward. This is likely to progress in earnest next week.

We have also received a large donation of racking to use on the mezzanine, generously donated from a local firm. Many thanks go to Alice from Jewsons for making this possible.

Friday, 7 April 2017

April News Part 2

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

Not a particularly inspiring update this week, although work has been maintained at its usual rate. The doors have continued to be the main focus with wood repairs ongoing.

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

Well what an ordeal! The "simple" task of refitting the overhauled leaf springs became a bit of a marathon. This was mainly due to the chassis currently having no weight on it, and the springs required to be bent almost horizontally before they spread outwards enough to be bolted to the chassis itself via two solid linking pieces. This is a peculiarity of the Great Northern Railway design, most vehicles having adjustable "spring hangars" which are a lot easier to fit and adjust!

The chassis was lowered onto the springs but they were so powerful it was not long before they were taking the weight of the underframe and stopped straightening themselves out. They each had to be forced the rest of the way downwards before the bolts lined up with the holes. Additionally, as each spring was bolted in and started acting on the chassis, it became progressively harder to get the next one in, so by the last one it became near enough impossible!

However after a team effort and lots of grunting and head scratching all six springs were in position. As expected, it sits a little too high at present, but we are expecting it to "sink" after the springs bed in and after the weight of the coach body is added to the top of course. This will be the final update on this project for a while, as due to the requirement of the vintage set in service throughout the season, it will likely be next winter before a slot becomes available to transfer the body of 129 off its current chassis and onto this one. The chassis will be shunted to Holt now for storage until the body can be released.

British Railways 1959 Brake Corridor Composite E21224

Progress on several fronts. The exterior paint stripping pictured last week has progressed well and both sides are now completed. Only the two ends now remain.

The asbestos contractors have been in again and have removed the harmful material from the two toilet areas, so these zones are now accessible again for restoration to continue. The Sheringham end toilet, or shower as it was, has seen more stripping down towards the end of the week after we were given the all clear.

The guards brake compartment has taken a step back after significant corrosion was found in the lower sections and the floor. However this is being swiftly tackled with the relevant sections of the interior walls removed, including the guards desk, as well as the plywood floor itself. This has allowed corrosion repairs to the lower body and framework to progress, as well as a taller section of replacement doorway and skin.

The 10 doors are progressing slowly, with more of the aluminium runners and components cleaned up ready for refitting. The sprung "scissor" mechanisms which operate the sliding window up and down have also been cleaned up and checked for smooth operation.

A start has also been made on the MAMMOTH task of the woodwork stripping, of the old varnish prior to repairs and eventual revarnishing. This will be a long and arduous journey but will be worth it when we can rid the coach of its revolting stained appearance it used to have!

Finally, some limited electrical work has been started. The compartment reading lights had all been replaced by 1990's household fittings, these have been removed and we have dug out 20 original BR lamps from our stores which are a mixed bag when it comes to their condition. There are cracks, missing fitting and stuck switches, but a good set will be made up after a bit of parts swapping and restoration.

British Railways 1958 Class 101 Railcar Driving Trailer Second Lavatory M56352

The corridor connection has been craned back into position, but I failed to get a photo of it on, so will have to add one next week! The fabric "bellows" have been screwed back into place via the original timber surround. We still need to refit the steel plates to the bottom (which is what people walk on when they walk through) and make a new rain hood for the top as the original disintegrated!

Suburban 4 Project

The Suburban 4 set will be officially launched next Saturday, 15th April. This means that the last few "loose ends" which we never got round to finishing need to be completed by then so that the coaches are at their best for the launch. To do this, we have manufactured some destination boards which have been painted Crimson this week. Some tracings were produced whilst these were drying so that the lettering can be applied to them next week.

The last of the dedicated compartment plaques are also being produced ready for fitting, in recognition of the sponsorship of various items. A larger plaque is being fitted to the brakevan, and has been engraved in-house. This has now been taken away by a new volunteer who has experience in such things, and he will fill in the letters and polish the brass for us prior to fitting next week.

Royal Navy 4 Wheel Flat 269

Great progress this week with much cosmetic work painting the underframe. All of it has been fully cleaned up and painted in primer, and the black undercoat is now spreading fast, all under the watchful eyes of Monkey...

War Department 1943 Austerity 90775

The main areas of black have now received two coats and the smokebox has also been painted. The loco will now be moved out of the staged area so that the lower sections can all be painted and the numbering applied.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

April News Part 1

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

Work has been progressing steadily on all fronts. More door rebuilding, further repairs to the side beading on the carriage body, and more dismantling of the rotten parts of steel from the chassis have all been undertaken this week.

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

This chassis has been returned inside the shed as a small window of space has emerged until the WD locomotive is finished. The carriage jacks have immediately been positioned around the underframe ready for lifting next week. This will allow the refurbished leaf springs, which have returned from the "highly sprung contractor", to be fitted to the underframe/wheelsets.

British Railways 1959 Brake Corridor Composite E21224

The corrosion continues to be revealed at an alarming rate, but we are taking it in our stride. More of the brake van area has been dismantled to allow full repairs to be undertaken to any of the framework and outer panels that require it. The welder has started cutting sections out, and repairing framework and re-skinning where necessary. He has started at the Sheringham end and will be working along the seaward side first.

To allow this to happen the paint strippers have been very busy and have now completed the seaward side, with the exception of a small area around the toilet windows which are currently out of bounds until some asbestos has been removed professionally. The same team are progressing well on the same sections on the landward side.

Rebuilding of the doors has continued this week and the first skin has been stripped down and primed ready for building back up again. Some aluminium components (window runners etc) are now in the process of being cleaned as they are all rather grotty!

British Railways 1958 Class 101 Railcar Driving Trailer Second Lavatory M56352

No progress to report.

Royal Navy 4 Wheel Flat 269

It has been decided to do a little more work to this "accommodation chassis" than originally planned. Last week it was mentioned how a through vacuum pipe had been made to fit to 269 and the works have now been extended to a good clean up of the whole underframe running gear (visible sections) to improve its appearance. All of these areas have now been primed in "rust killer" and it now awaits proper paint. The axleboxes have been exposed, inspected and cleaned up. Although yet to be confirmed this vehicle may make an earlier addition to the demonstration freight train than previously planned, once its duty of carrying the underframe for 853 has been completed of course! So far, there doesn't appear to be anything substantial requiring work on this wagon.

War Department 1943 Austerity 90775

This interloper has followed the recently repainted Class 03 as the next locomotive to come in for repainting, as part of its major overhaul.

It has made history by becoming the first NNR steam locomotive to be housed in our staging area.

As most of the preparation work had already been completed whilst it was still in the Loco Shed, the engine and tender only required finishing off before it was being washed down and the black gloss started to be applied. The first coat is currently in progress.


Work has started in earnest on loading up the department;'s new mezzanine floor. This week, some donated racking has been cut down to size and is now being installed so that it can house lots of our treasures in the near future!