Friday, 25 August 2017

August News Part 4

We start with the sad news that our shed foreman Mike Biss left us today for pastures new. He has been with us for three years and worked for several years before that on the Permanent Way staff. A skilled Carpenter and morale raising character he provided a lot of the "get up and go" during the latter half of the Suburban 4 project and of course across the day to day activities as well. He will be missed by volunteers and staff alike.

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

This week has been more positive than the last. The incorrect brake gear mentioned last week has now been modified with the addition of another bracket which has slightly changed the geometry of how the rods pull the brakes on. This will hopefully solve the issues highlighted but we await testing of the full brake system to be 100% sure.

Meanwhile the four alternative leaf springs are being prepared for their new role on 853's underframe.

British Railways 1959 Brake Corridor Composite E21224

A new floor has been fitted into the guards compartment and interior woodwork stripping and varnishing continues steadily. On the exterior, most of the glass has now been fitted into the frames along the seaward side.

British Railways 1957 Corridor Second E25189

E25189 was collected early in the week and is now running up and down in the trains once more.

British Railways 1960 Covered Carriage Truck E94464

Bodywork continues apace. The replacement sections of framework have now been fitted to all six windows around the vehicle, so there is now only panelwork left to complete.

A start has also been made on bodywork preparation on the landward side to ready the vehicle for a repaint once the other repairs are completed. This has involved the usual sanding and filling routine that regular readers will be so familiar with!

The window apertures have had to be taped up temporarily as we have been asked for the vehicle to be tripped to Sheringham next week so that the Beer Festival contents can be used for the Steam Gala! This was unusual news to have part way through bodywork repairs but we try to help out as best we can!

Southern Railway 1951 Parcels & Miscellaneous Van 1476

The "martian green" applied last week has been coated over this week in some surplus DMU green which is a fairly close match to the Southern Green that some of these vans were originally painted in. Sadly there wasn't quite enough to finish all of the panels so another tin will have to be ordered.

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

No progress to report from Holt.


Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641 (the one we fully overhauled and launched into service last November) suffered a broken window in one of its doors whilst operating a dining service. This has been changed this week and the vehicle returned to Sheringham without fuss.

Wagon Spares

The recently obtained wagon underframe spares mentioned last week have received some more attention. The first wheelset has now been finished in its gloss paint ready for storage.

Friday, 18 August 2017

August News Part 3

The railway is preparing itself for Morgan the Railway Cat's big weekend, but we weren't sure if cats and Monkeys were compatible so have stuck to carriage restoration instead.

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

Setbacks can often come in threes and this was the case this week. The first concerned 853's brake-gear which on Monday was spotted to be in slightly the incorrect orientation for it to work when it is all connected up. This will require some further thoughts and modification. On the bright side however, the main vacuum cylinder overhauled last week has now been painted and fitted to the underframe.

The second setback was the fitting of the four leaf springs which had been cleaned up for the vehicle. These were also found to be slightly unsuitable in their shape when the first one was offered into position. This sadly means that Plan B will have to be implemented, which is selecting the four ex-PMV van springs and sending them away to be modified in their springing (made softer) which will be much more expensive than Plan A. Hopefully next week will be better!

British Railways 1959 Brake Corridor Composite E21224

This week has been particularly fruitful for this project, our current major (or "Gold") overhaul, with a lot done mainly by volunteers. Following last week's interior wood stripping, some of the large wall panels are now being sanded smooth ready to receive varnish. These are large, time consuming areas so will be a big milestone when completed. So far the Sheringham end vestibule, adjacent to the guard's compartment, has been treated.

The second of the five compartment sliding doors has been stripped of old varnish and awaits sanding.

Those items already at the varnish stage have also been receiving further coats of varnish.

The store cupboard was missing several sections of panels where it had all been cut away to accommodate the hideous shower unit. These areas have now been paneled over in a plain plastic material. This plain approach is appropriate as because it is a store cupboard we will be painting the inside and not restoring any of the original Formica panels as such. A start has now been made on fitting beading timber on the inside to cover some of the joins between panels.

British Railways 1957 Corridor Second E25189

This carriage's brief stay with us is approaching its end. The collapsed vacuum pipe at the Holt end had to be cut out and removed in several sections, the level of corrosion around the pipe was not pretty and the toilet flooring had to be dismantled to gain access to it.

With the pipe removed, a new section was made and welded in it place. The toilet floor was then reinstated and the coach tested. Frustratingly there is some form of tiny leak somewhere else in the system (we wanted it perfect!) however this repair has improved matters considerably. We are now awaiting for the coach to be collected for a return to Sheringham.

British Railways 1960 Covered Carriage Truck E94464

Work has continued to focus on the extremely rotten window bottoms, which have spiraled out of control as there simply isn't anything left of them.

We have gained access to the interior of the vehicle, which was difficult as it is stacked full of equipment, and started removing the internal window woodwork so that the new bottoms can be welded in and the windows can be re-secured. Three out of the six windows have now been dismantled.

Southern Railway 1951 Parcels & Miscellaneous Van 1476

In case you thought we had forgotten the third mistake of the week mentioned in the section on GER 853, then fear not! This week was to see the gloss paint applied to the Model Railway Van, however it soon became apparent that the green was not really the desired shade... Never mind, the rest of the side was painted in any case, as a holding coat, and when the correct colour arrives it can go on top in due course. It will indeed provide an extra layer of protection on the vehicle.

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

No progress to report up at Holt.

Future Projects

A juicy delivery of wagon underframe spares arrived from the Wensleydale, bought by the M&GN Society for future underframe and wagon restoration projects. Of interest is four standard three hole wagon wheelsets and axleboxes. These will be cleaned up now and repainted and protected before they are put into storage. So far the first one has been cleaned down, rust treated and coated in primer.

Friday, 11 August 2017

August News Part 2

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

The focus has continued on the underframe with lots of volunteers swarming on and around it like a climbing frame! The fruits of their labour is shining through with brakegear assembly rapidly progressing. This is taking advantage of the many brackets which have been fitted in previous weeks which are now holding some of the equipment they were meant for.

The four leaf springs that are being fitted for the vehicle have been extracted from storage and have now been cleaned down and inspected prior to fitting them to the underframe.

An 18 inch vacuum cylinder has been rebuilt and tested on our test rig, intended for 853. This is the heart of the brake system so is a nice symbolic component to restore!

British Railways 1959 Brake Corridor Composite E21224

Work on the windows continues. All of the window frames were gloss painted on the hidden inside faces in the early part of the week which then enabled the seaward side examples to be fitted to the repaired bodyside on the coach itself.

On the inside of the coach the large corridor partitions have now been chemically stripped of their old stain and varnish.

These walls are now ready for sanding.

A start has been made on replacing some of the plywood flooring where it has been removed for repairs or due to rot. A replacement floor has been fitted firstly to the Sheringham end toilet (the old shower room) which is now going to be a store cupboard.

On the benches in the workshop, more interior doors and woodwork are being stripped and re-varnished.

Some of the more advanced stuff is now getting up to three or four coats of varnish and is starting to get that trademark "glow" of gloss varnish!

British Railways 1956 Tourist Second Open E4236

This coach has completed its three month stay with us and has now been returned to traffic. It has received some very positive comments and looks very nice in the main passenger set.

British Railways 1957 Corridor Second E25189

The replacement coach for E4236 was planned to be TSO E4843. However this was changed this week to SK E25189. This latter coach has had a small vacuum leak for some months and it had been noted that certain smaller engines were struggling on occasion to raise the vacuum along the train. Given that it was a known issue, appeared to be surmountable, and was on a coach which is not used as often as many of the others it was descided to leave it alone for now until the coach came in for mid life overhaul in the next year (or so!). However since the start of the summer season it suddenly appeared to get worse an visiting N2 No 1744 in particular seemed to be struggling hauling trains which included E25189. After dragging brakes and wheel slipping was reported during the recent rainy weather E25189 had to be pulled from service and brought in for the required vacuum repairs.

Another reason to put off the repair was the simple fact than when you start "poking around" these things you often make it a lot worse! Sure enough within a few hours of the coach entering the shed a "small" hole was found in the main vacuum pipe underneath the toilet, which we think is the source of the problems. The toilet pan and part of the floor were stripped out to gain full access to the identified section of pipe and it was smartly tapped to see if the surrounding pipe was solid enough to be able to fill up the hole with a small welding repair from above, which would have been the swiftest repair.

Alas, at this point a large section of the pipe collapsed in on itself and the coach is now well and truly disabled requiring a much larger repair to the vacuum pipe in the most awkward of places! It has corroded right through where it passes through the reinforced buffer-beam and "dragbox" (a common place for these vacuum pipes to rot) and will probably have a few feet replaced next week. I say "probably" because the pipe collapsed in on itself about half an hour before home time on Friday afternoon, so being perfectly honest (we are human after all!) it was decided to enjoy the weekend first and re-assess the full battle plan on Monday morning! All good fun...

British Railways 1960 Covered Carriage Truck E94464

The rehanging of the doors has now been completed on this vehicle. Considering they had been in store and were all stuck getting all eight closing and latching smoothly and properly has been a great achievement!

Work is now fully focussed on the bodywork repairs to both sides of the vehicle. A combination of welded repairs and rivet patches are being employed as we do not have full resources currently available to direct at this van. Some pretty horrendous corrosion has been found underneath however we are doing our best to tackle what is required in the best possible timescale!

Southern Railway 1951 Parcels & Miscellaneous Van 1476

This week has seen the landward (platform) side of the van completed up to the undercoat stage. Nearly there...

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

No progress to report.


This week's workshop improvement project for the Axeman has been creating some extensions for our lifting jacks. These are being produced from some very heavy material and will be inspected (by the relevant qualified personnel from our colleagues in the Engineering department) prior to use once they are completed. Well, one does have to keep the eyes peeled when there is an Axeman, or indeed Wild Monkeys, on the loose!

Friday, 4 August 2017

August News Part 1

Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853

Much effort was spent this week on lifting and adjusting the underframe to lower it onto the axles. This was achieved by first fitting the axleboxes onto the axles and greasing up the W irons on the frame. Then with much adjusting the W irons were married up to the boxes and the frame put back onto stands (the wheels cannot carry the actual weight until the springs which fit on top of them are fitted). It now sits and looks approximately where it will be once the springs are fitted.

Elsewhere on the frame, more hole drilling and bracket fitting on the brake gear has been in progress and the brackets for the main vacuum cylinder are now in place.

Panel repairs to the wooden body next door continue to edge along in parallel with the underframe work.

British Railways 1959 Brake Corridor Composite E21224

Progress has continued to be focused on the windows. These have now all been cleaned and many of them have received their first coat of primer on the inside to prepare them for eventual refitting.

The glass for the same windows has also been cleaned of all of its old sealant and polished, another large task as there were over 30 of them to do! The wooden window retaining surrounds (pictured last week) have now all been test fitted to the windows and removed again for varnishing. So far they have received two coats.

British Railways 1956 Tourist Second Open E4236

This vehicle is still on the cusp of returning to traffic, the extra week in the shed has seen some more minor mechanical adjustments to the brakes and ride height made so it is ready to re-enter passenger service immediately. The solebar and bufferbeams have also been repainted black to freshen then up. The signwriting on the vehicle ends and underframe has also been completed.

Observant readers will see that we have fitted an optional extra to E4236 to bring it into the 21st century!

British Railways 1960 Covered Carriage Truck E94464

Just one lonely member of staff working away on this one this week, but he has done well and has now swapped and adjusted 3 out of the 4 double sets of doors so that they are now all closing and locking properly for the first time in a long while.

This is essential work to return the vehicle to a state where it can operate in service again.

Southern Railway 1951 Parcels & Miscellaneous Van 1476

The Holt end is now complete having had all its resin applied and repainted into black gloss. The resin has also been finished on the platform side, and green undercoat is starting to appear on the first few panels at the Holt end.

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

No progress to report.


Finally, the Axeman has got his hands on a steel welding bench which now looks like it has been dragged in from the North Sea gas field... It has been suitably modified for the workshop and has now been installed.