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.