Sunday, 30 July 2017

July News Part 5

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

The focus has continued to be on the underframe. Many of the brackets that were mentioned last week have been painted and a reasonable number of them fitted to the underframe. As they are sometimes in different places lots of new holes have had to be drilled which has been fairly time consuming. Despite the underframe being 118 years old the metal is still tough! The brackets that are being fitted are for the brake rigging and vacuum cylinder. Other mechanical items such as the drawgear continue to receive coats of paint ready for fitting.

British Railways 1959 Brake Corridor Composite E21224

The windows continue to be prepared for refitting. Several frames are now having their sliding windows refitted into them.

A few days have also been spent manufacturing brand new wooden window surrounds to clamp the glass in place.

British Railways 1956 Tourist Second Open E4236

This week has seen some small and boring "snagging" jobs hoovered up to prepare the coach for its departure. Some of the more visual tasks have included repainting the floors in the vestibule areas, and picking out white lettering on the various plates etc that are fixed to the corridor ends. The corridor ends themselves are now both complete and have been repainted gloss black to freshen them up.

British Railways 1958 Covered Carriage Truck M94125

This van has now entered service again and is back on the end of the main coaching stock set, it certainly looks a lot nicer than it did when it came in!

British Railways 1960 Covered Carriage Truck E94464

In a deviation from our original 2017 works programme, the railway's other CCT, E94464, has been brought back into works for a "Bronze" standard overhaul. This is so it can supplement the recently out-shopped M94125 (see above) and so we can go back to the original system that was in use a few years back, when there were two CCT's in use during the summer services with a bike/buggy van on the end of each of the two sets.

Whilst mechanically fully operational, the vehicle is cosmetically in very bad condition sadly, the reason it was withdrawn from service in the first place! Given the limited time and resources available, we will not be able to work miracles, however some of the patched over corrosion will be improved and the doors made to work again. So far a start has been made of swapping some of the doors with spares we have, and a few of the patches have been ripped off by a swarm of Monkey's!

Southern Railway 1951 Parcels & Miscellaneous Van 1476

The Holt end of the vehicle has been sanded back ready to receive its resin coats.

Colman's 1908 Mustard Van 4807

The ends that were undercoated have now been gloss painted up at Holt.

Hurst Nelson 1942 4 Wheel Tank 1982

No progress to report.

Friday, 21 July 2017

COMPLETION SPECIAL: Royal Navy 4-wheel Flat 269

This week sees the completion of the restoration of our Royal Navy 4-wheel flat wagon 269.

269 was built in 1940 during the Second World War for the The Royal Navy Armaments Depot (RNAD) and was a simple 4-wheel un-braked flat wagon for carrying loads of any description, initially based at a propellant factory in Caewent, Wales. We actually have very little information as to the history of this wagon, perhaps understandably as the activities of the armed forces are rarely openly publicised.

It is quite likely that 269 was used comparatively little (compared to similar wagons in use on British Railways) and may have spent extended periods of time on MOD and other similar rail served sites throughout the UK.

Eventually 269 must have been made surplus to requirements and ended up in preservation at our neighbours the Mid Norfolk Railway. From there it was purchased by the M&GN Society as a wagon to be modified as a chassis to run the reclaimed Midland & Great Northern tool van body (which was undergoing restoration) on.

When 269 arrived at Sheringham it was temporarily put to use as an accommodation chassis for the body of Great Eastern Railway 853 (now also under restoration at Weybourne) whilst the body of the M&GN Van was readied. However 269 was then set aside as by chance it was noticed how much of a good fit it was (in terms of length) as a donor chassis for GER 853. For this reason the M&GN van would get another chassis whilst 269 was reserved to accommodate 853.

Fast forward to 2015, and the plans for 269 were changed yet again after it was realised how good a condition 853's own severed underframe was in. With 853 now not needing a donor chassis at all, 269 was in fact surplus to requirements after all this time.

However the simplistic nature of the wagon and the desire by supporters to see a longer demonstration freight train soon led to the idea of 269 being restored as an item in its own right for the goods set. Inspections were made and it was realised that a good clean up and some mechanical work and the wagon would in fact be fit for service!

Over the past few months the wagon has been fully restored cosmetically and mechanically.

A through vacuum pipe has been fitted so it can coexist in the freight set nicely. The wooden deck was restored and the sides painted in RNAD blue colours.

The only item missing was a suitable Navy-themed load to make the wagon more interesting. A 21 foot torpedo built from plywood and wooden slats was chosen.

Covered in thin steel sheet with a mock propeller end.

A hot water cylinder covered in car body filler  as a nose cone added to the effect!

The wagon, with completed load, is now ready for service and been successfully test run up to Holt where it now joins the other freight wagons in the demonstration goods set, which is now one wagon stronger.

Meanwhile, back at the Ranch...

There was excitement in the works this Wednesday morning after the storms the night before. Ceilings had burst through, roofs had leaked, drains overcome and workshops flooded! Comms were down but the lack of ringing phones actually worked to our advantage in the end! With a stiff upper lip we rallied the Works Monkeys and kept the wheels of industry turning... OK to be fair none of the water damage was actually in Carriage & Wagon but in Norfolk you has to grab every sensational headline you can!

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

The W irons continue to be worked on and all the spring hangers have now been fitted also. A large number of supporting brackets and brake gear has been dragged out of stores, some of which has already been cleaned up and painted some months/years ago. The rest has been gathered and some items, such as the drawgear (coupling) hooks coated in rust-killer to start their transformation ready for re-use.

British Railways 1959 Brake Corridor Composite E21224

Steady progress continues to be made on the ongoing tasks. A new cluster of woodwork was found lying forgotten at the side of the workshop so this has triggered a fresh bout of woodwork stripping and 50/50 re-varnishing. Window frame stripping also creeps along to ready the windows for re-glazing and refitting when the body is ready for them. Even the Works Monkeys have had to be drafted in for this huge job!

During a week's work experience we had a student with us who was able to rub down the guard's desk and paint the areas that had worn down to bare wood into primer.

Bench work rebuilding the second batch of exterior doors (intended for the landward side) has continued and they are starting to gain items such as opening windows and look like they are coming together fast.

British Railways 1956 Tourist Second Open E4236

This vehicle is now on the cusp of completion having been in for a very respectable three months for "intermediate overhaul". On the exterior of the vehicle, the lining out is now complete and the lettering "E4236" has also been applied. The vehicle was numbered M4236 when it came in but as it was delivered new to the Eastern Region we have taken the opportunity during the repaint to show its original prefix from now on.

The British Railways coach roundels have also been applied to the sides, which really finishes off the paint job nicely.

Attention has now turned to finishing the vehicle's ends. The corridor connections and end footsteps, which were removed to enable bodywork repairs, have all been craned back onto the vehicle and the rubber bellows and associated equipment bolted up. These bits and bobs are now receiving their final paint. Also on the end, the removed vacuum pipe which feeds the emergency passenger communication chord apparatus has been returned to its rightful place.

The interior is also receiving its finishing touches. A great deal of effort has been spent on modifying two odd tables at the end of the coach.

Odd tables that do not match the others

These had been swapped in the past and the originals lost so have never matched the blue patterned Formica tables that are fitted to the rest of the carriage.

The Formica tables fitted to most of the carriage

Some time ago we took a high resolution photo of one of the Formica tables and digitally tweaked it so that it could be printed out on a vinyl roll. This has now been done and the "fake" Formica stuck onto a wooden insert which was carefully shaped to sit into the tables that were of a different design. We are all very pleased how they have turned out and are eager to see how hard-wearing the vinyl is in front line service.

The new "fake" covering

Elsewhere on the interior, some general tidying up of repainted and mastic filled areas has been done to improve the final appearance of the windows.

British Railways 1958 Covered Carriage Truck M94125

The need for this vehicle to be in service in time for the summer season has meant a big push to get the refresh work completed this week. Two coats of Crimson gloss, left over from the Suburban 4 project, have now been applied which has brightened up the vehicle considerably.

The original numbers, which due to time constraints had been masked up for the duration of the painting works, have been revealed once more. They are slightly messy if you look at them very close up, but they are more than adequate considering that the alternative was to go without any numbering at all.

The doors have also received some maintenance to remove some of the wear they had (as one set was groaning when you opened them!) which has been done by lubricating some parts and replacing some others. Also on the doors, all of the handrails, luggage handles and step boards have been painted black to smarten them up.

M94125 has now been handed back to the operating department and will be back in traffic next week.

Southern Railway 1951 Parcels & Miscellaneous Van 1476

The roof repaint is now finished. Attention continues to be on the sides which have had several coats of resin applied to try and seal and stabalise the timber which faces the harsh sunlight.

London Midland & Scottish Railway 1940 12T Box Van 514207

The repainting of the roof has now been finished, which completes the planned work for the vehicle for this summer.

Colman's 1908 Mustard Van 4807 & Hurst Nelson 1942 4 Wheel Tank 1982

Progress on the two vehicle's currently undergoing a refresh up at Holt has continued this week, but I haven't been able to get there for an update so it will have to wait until next week!

Saturday, 15 July 2017

July News Part 3

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

A real milestone was reached this week as for the first time in 90 years the underframe for 853 has been "un-grounded" i.e. it has gained lower "danglies". This has been in the form of the W irons which have now been bolted into position and are now being prepared for the wheels themselves to be fitted. Some limited work has also been completed on the spring hangers which will also be required before the underframe can be wheeled.

British Railways 1959 Brake Corridor Composite E21224

Four of the five exterior doors have now been test fitted to the seaward side of the vehicle successfully. The fifth has been held up as it is the unusual inward opening guards door. This is currently on the bench being rebuilt and playing catch up to the other doors.

The window frames mentioned last week continue to be cleaned up back to bare aluminium, the seaward side windows have been prioritised as we know it is this side we will want to be refitting first.

A big push has been made on varnishing the large stack of interior woodwork panels and trim which have been steadily stripped, sanded and protected over the spring. These all now need lots of layers building up on them so they can be found spread around the workshop on racks to allow this to happen.

British Railways 1956 Tourist Second Open E4236

Not many people went for the red herring in last week's Blog. The brown 4236 was simply a new undercoat for our standard maroon gloss paint! This week, two coats of maroon have been applied to the vehicle, and the windows have now been cleaned up where any stray paint had splashed. The task of lining out the coach has now started and the top line has already been applied.

On the ends of the coach, the removed lighting jumper cables have been refitted and can now be painted.

British Railways 1958 Covered Carriage Truck M94125

After the gloss on 4236 had been applied, painting of M94125 started immediately. Over the week the vehicle has first been primed, then undercoated.

Southern Railway 1951 Parcels & Miscellaneous Van 1476

No progress to report.

London Midland & Scottish Railway 1940 12T Box Van 514207

This van, which is parked next to 1476 in the cattle dock at Weybourne, is receiving the same refresh treatment as 1476, whilst the weather allows.

Colman's 1908 Mustard Van 4807

With the M&GN Dray at Holt completed, some intermediate refresh work is now being carried out on some of the other freight vehicle's on display at the museum there. Like most wooden vehicles, the Colman's 4 wheel box van was beginning to flake so the loose paint has been removed from the vehicle's ends, resin applied and some undercoat.

Hurst Nelson 1942 4 Wheel Tank 1982

In parallel with the work on Mustard Van 4807, the Esso tanker which is displayed adjacent to it is also receiving a freshen up. The top section of the tank, which faces the sky, was beginning to look shabby so this section has been cleaned down and is also in the process of being repainted.

Royal Navy 4 Wheel Flat 269

No progress to report.

M&GN Dray

The dray has had its final repainting work completed, and now looks a lot better at Holt. It has been handed back to the museum and continues to be displayed there.

Friday, 7 July 2017

July News Part 2

This week's Blog is relatively brief and also a day early, due to more weekend commitments for the scribe...

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

This week work has focused on continuing the wooden beading repairs, and test fitting the first "W iron" to the underframe. At least there are only four this time to fit, rather than the previous two underframes which have both had six!

British Railways 1959 Brake Corridor Composite E21224

The 20 sliding windows have now all been cleaned up to their original aluminium glory, these have been kept to await the rest of the windows to catch up. In order to achieve this, more of the ten large bodyside windows have been laid out and cleaned up of all their old sealant and detritus so they are nice and flat ready to be refitted. There is a lot more aluminium surfaces within the frames of these windows that will have to be cleaned up in due course.

A few of the exterior doors have now been rebuilt to the stage where a start can be made on adjusting and test fitting the doors back into the apertures on the coach. As bodywork repairs have only been done on the seaward side of the carriage so far, this latest task with the doors can only be done on this side.

The windows on the seaward side have been protected with anti-rust paint in the areas that will be covered up in due course when the windows are refitted.

British Railways 1956 Tourist Second Open W4236

W4236 has been entirely in the hands of the painters. The first part of the week was spent completing the primer coat, with the second part of the week applying the undercoat. Now that the railway has hired a Great Western Railway observation saloon, resplendent in Chocolate & Cream livery, a special request has been made concerning the livery of our next standard Mark 1 to exit the works, to be revealed in full next week!

British Railways 1958 Covered Carriage Truck M94125

The bodywork "freshen up" has now been completed and the vehicle is now awaiting painting which can be done once 4236 has been finished. As a prelude to this however, both ends have already been completed in gloss black.

British Railways 1958 Covered Carriage Truck M94464

This stores van has now been reassembled with the wheelsets removed from M94125. M94464 is needed for the railway's Beer Festival next weekend so a speedy return to Sheringham was required. This was endangered however when alignment problems prevented us getting it back onto its new wheels! Thankfully with some lateral thinking and jiggery pokery the vehicle was persuaded onto the wheels and it has now been returned to Sheringham.

Southern Railway 1951 Parcels & Miscellaneous Van 1476

A new entry this week. This vehicle is more commonly known as the Model Railway Van at Weybourne, and lives in the cattle dock siding at the side of the station. It sits in the sun all year round and is wooden bodied so periodically requires a freshen up. This week the good weather has been taken advantage of and the roof repainted in bitumen to reseal it. The public facing side has been chipped of all its flaking paint and two boards that had rotted have been replaced using some offcuts of timber.

Royal Navy 4 Wheel Flat 269

The newly installed torpedo has been secured properly after a set of securing chains were dug out, painted and positioned successfully.

The end of the load has also been given an additional securing point which will prevent the torpedo moving forwards along the wagon should there be any rough treatment of the goods set. The last thing we want is a torpedo pushing through the wall and into the guard's brake van!

M&GN Dray

No progress to report.


In addition to all of the workshop based action, a further milestone has been passed with the successful registration and first public runs this year of the Dining Train to Cromer over Network Rail metals. Despite going to great lengths to run the set last year using West Coast Railway's system, this year we are to be running under the North Yorkshire Moors Railway's mainline systems which are different in several ways. This has consequently meant more "behind the scenes" work on the four dining coaches over the past month or so to ensure they are tip top and conform fully to the new way of working. Well done once again to the small team who are fast making the mainline operations their specialty (the paperwork alone is enough to make a grown man weep) and have succeeded once again in ensuring the coaching side of the operation runs smoothly.


In addition to the Axeman's steel frames described last week, he is also modifying a surplus metalworking bench that originated from Chatham Steam, which became available when they joined us here in Norfolk. The original corners, which stuck out somewhat, have been gassed away using pure grit and determination!

The bench will be more suitable than our current welding bench, which is actually wooden with a thin steel top, which is neither as flat or as substantial as we would like.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

July News Part 1

Sadly there has been another gap in Blog updates of late due to more holidays! The culprit this time was a very nice trip to the Isle of Wight for a Birthday celebration on board a 1930's Southern Vectis bus. Of course railways could not be neglected and a visit to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway was also made, a line which regular readers may note has appeared in this Blog before. I make no apologies for mentioning them again and the sterling work they do in their own Carriage & Wagon department. The most modern carriage they operate in (often daily) service dates from the 1920's and the heritage theme they portray is certainly something to inspire most other railways. During our visit they had both early 20th century bogied vehicles and late 19th century 4-wheeled vehicles in service, the pictured example being not a million miles away from our own 853 currently in works.

Similarly to 853, the IOW Steam Railway also start out with rather different looking grounded bodies which have been reclaimed from around the island and are slowly transformed over about 5 years in their own C&W works. Some of these future projects are available in their exhibition shed, such as this even older Oldbury body which is part of a future project to rebuild a train from the very dawn of railways on the Isle of Wight.

There are tenuous links between us and the Isle of Wight;'s railway system, so prepare for the useless fact of the day! Approximately half a dozen surplus Great Eastern Railway coaches were used on the Isle of Wight up during the 1920's, including a horsebox and six 5-compartment thirds... (many of the latter type still exist in rural Norfolk as grounded bodies, albeit now in poor condition).

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

Returning to Norfolk, our very own "old lady", GER 853, has only progressed modestly as the M&GN Society's resources have been directed elsewhere of late (see further down). However the vehicle has still progressed with more wooden beading work completed on the seaward side of the body, and the four axleboxes painted up into black gloss.

The ends of the axles themselves, on the bearing surface, have been carefully polished back up having been temporarily protected whilst the wheelsets had been in storage outside.

British Railways 1959 Brake Corridor Composite E21224

Although nothing new has been started, good progress has been made on all of the current tasks mentioned last time.

More of the compartment veneered wall panels have received their final sanding and are in a protective coat of 50/50 varnish/white spirit.

Progress has been made on stripping old paint off the ten main bodyside windows, which have aluminium frames. The sliding window refurbishment is now almost complete, with 17 (out of 20) now completed, these now look very nice and shiny compared to how they were!

Although none have been finished yet, reassembly work on the ten exterior doors continues with most of the doors being built up a little more with cleaned up components.

E21224 being shunted a few weeks ago, showing the previous welding work to the seaward side

British Railways 1956 Tourist Second Open E4236

The interior refresh of 4236 is now substantially complete, with the re-varnishing of the inside now completed. The seat bases, removed to protect them, have now been refitted and some clearing out of workshop detritus has been done inside! The hinged door at the Sheringham end of the vehicle, which was scraping the floor when it was opened, has been adjusted and re-hung so that it now opens nice and smoothly. Only a few loose ends now remain and the inside will be ready for passengers once again.

The outside now looks very different from just a few weeks ago. The roof has been dusted down and a top-up coat of paint applied to fill up all of the small burns created by steam engine smuts landing on the paint.

The paintwork preparation of the bodysides and ends has also been completed rapidly and we are beginning to see how smooth the vehicle may look once its been painted. There hasn't been as much time available as a full overhaul to fill and sand the bodywork, and some small compromises have had to be made, however initial indications are that it should look very nice indeed. We have been successful in removing almost all of the visible "patches"which had been letting the vehicle down previously.

This has of course allowed us to move on to the painting itself, as the corridor connections are to be refitted after the repaint this time. The painters have moved in and half of the vehicle, the landward side and Holt end, has been primed this week.

British Railways 1958 Covered Carriage Truck M94125

This van is normally to be found covering a huge number of miles on the main passenger set in use as a bike and buggy carrier. However recently it had been removed from service as its wheels had worn out of profile and require tyre turning. It has now been brought in for some minor works before the main school holiday season starts later this month.

The vehicle has been lifted and the defective wheels removed. Some sticking brake gear was then removed, cleaned up properly and refitted/adjusted so that it works freely once more. The worn brakeblocks were also swapped over with a nice new set. The vehicle was then lowered onto wheels stolen from a similar vehicle (see below) which are still "in profile".

With M94125 now ready to go again mechanically, the very tired looking body has had some (very) rapid attention just to see it through the immediate future. The vehicle is badly corroded and has many temporary patches on it but its time for full overhaul is sadly not now so any loose patches have been repaired and some new ones added. A little bit of welding has been done around the windows and the bodysides are now getting a super-quick rub down to enable us to repaint it.

The ends, which are made from wood, have been chipped off of flaking paint and are in the process of having a quick repaint to freshen them up. The Sheringham end is in undercoat and the Holt end is finished in black gloss.

British Railways 1958 Covered Carriage Truck M94464

The railway's other CCT, M94464, was withdrawn from bike carrying duties a few years ago as it had declined too much in condition to keep running. It is currently used as a storage van at Sheringham. As it is not in passenger service, this vehicle has been brought in at the same time as M94125 and has been lifted to surrender its wheelsets to M94125, as there is no time at present to be able to turn the defective ones. No other work is being done to M94464.

Royal Navy 4 Wheel Flat 269

Explosive progress on the Navy wagon! Now that it is substantially complete, the identity of an ongoing secret project can be revealed...

M&GN Society members have been busy constructing a suitable navy-themed load for the flat wagon to be used in the demonstration freight set. A Torpedo was selected as the most suitable candidate and a false one has been under construction for many weeks.

A large wooden frame (which resembled lobster cages) was constructed out of various bits of reclaimed timber and donated softwood, formed into a barrel shape. This was then clad with some thin tin ton create the main tube.

The rear fin was created out of cut down buckets and other bits of rubbish, whilst the "dome" at the front was a sawn off old water tank from a house!

The whole thing was then filled and painted into blue. Last week, the completed Torpedo was carefully lifted into position onto the flat wagon.

Suitable curved "saddles" were made to support the Torpedo securely on the wagon, and work is now ongoing on refurbishing some securing chains that have been in store for many years to use on the wagon's existing rope/chain loops designed specifically for such use chaining down loads.

M&GN Dray

Work on refreshing the dray is approaching completion. The new wooden components have been repainted in-situ and the remainder of the body re-varnished to increase the protection from the elements. A team of two normally attends to it on site at Holt.


The Axeman's latest project is part of the ongoing workshop improvements scheme. He is building up some custom sized steel frames which should be able to be stacked on top of one another around the restricted spaces of the workshop and keep components from carriages neat and tidy and off the floor. These components currently either live loose or on top of wooden pallets which in many areas are too large for the spaces we have available in the workshop.