Watercress Line

Carriage Shop Bonus Blog!

Yes, that’s correct readers, this month it’s two for the price of one on blogs from the carriage shop - get yours here, just in time for the Christmas Rush!

The reason being is that we have finished work on a carriage, British Railways Mark 1 Tourist Second Open (BR MK1 TSO) 4910. In railway restoration work these milestones don’t come around too often, so I thought this was a good opportunity to take a moment to look back on the work done on this vehicle since it came into the workshop.

The BR MK1 design is a real workhorse. First produced in 1951, loco hauled stock was produced to the design up until 1963, although electric units based on the MK1 were still rolling out all the way up until 1974! Since being retired from the national network, Mk1s have become the staple carriage of choice for preserved railways in the UK. This particular carriage was built in 1960 at Wolverton works in Buckinghamshire. When it came in to the carriage shop mid way through 2015, it had the classic MK1 disease - rot at both ends and around the window frames. This meant a lot of cutting away and welding back in of structural and panel metalwork, and once the outer metalwork starts going, you can bet the interior wouldn’t be far behind! It really wasn’t.

The interior paneling was mostly made of Formica, a sort of plastic. The panels were very tired, but also looked very dated, and not in a good way. The decision was taken to replace with veneered plywood which would be varnished. One thing that was originally made of timber in the carriage were the windows. What with the leakage around the metal window frames into the interior, these timber frames were in a very poor state, in some places (especially the toilet windows) they were little more than powder! All the window frames, along with the door timbers were replaced.

Some things were still good though, the seats needed some TLC, but often not much more than a good clean and sewing up a few corners, while the tables needed just a lick of paint here and there. The interior doors simply needed a re-varnish, and most of the ceiling could stay where it was too.

The biggest change in the carriage is where there were originally two toilets at one end. This was where the worst rot was (aided by condensation and spillage from water tanks in the roof), and it was decided to get rid of the toilets and have an open plan area. The coach is a useful one at Thomas events (it’s often been the one behind the little blue engine himself!), and having a big area like this in a coach can be very useful for parking prams and baby buggies.

Finally, the coach was repainted. After a good long time in BR green livery, it was decided to put it into BR maroon. Interestingly, rubbing back through the layers of paint with sandpaper, it was possible to see several of its previous liveries, including BR blue and grey, green, maroon and Network SouthEast.

We really hope you enjoy riding in it. If you’re passing through Ropley then give us a wave, or pop in to the carriage shop viewing gallery via the Handyside bridge and see how we’re getting on with the next one!

Ali

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