Watercress Line

So near, yet so far

It’s a strange time in the carriage shop at the moment. Almost all our efforts are being concentrated on BR MK1 4910, and while it is so close to being finished, it doesn’t seem to be getting any closer! We’re concentrating on the MK1, so we can get it done and out of the door, then put all our efforts into the two Bulleid coaches. Annoyingly, we seem to be in the weird endy bit of restoration where it’s all the silly little things that look like nothing but take AGES! We found exactly the same thing for the last few months of work on Bulleid brake 4211, when it looked finished, but lots of little jobs still needed doing.

One of the most noticeable things that will have happened to the carriage when it re-enters service will be the complete removal of formica panelling. This is all being replaced with veneered plywood that looks beautiful when it is varnished. The carriage will be something of a varnished wood fiesta! In the photos you can see many of the seat sides lined up. Until recently these had a rather ugly greyish plastic panel on them, which has been stripped off and a layer of veneer carefully put on by Gordon. A few coats of varnish later and you can see how good they look.

Other little jobs that are taking up our time include fitting the drains in all the main windows, fettling the doors and fitting out the end vestibules. The end vestibules are the parts of the carriage that are furthest away from finishing. This is because there was much more structural metalwork to do, so we weren’t able to get in and start making them look nice (by putting insignificant things like floors and windows in) until recently. The London end vestibule used to have two toilets in, which have both been removed to make way for buggy and pram storage. This carriage has been used a lot on Thomas days in particular, so storage space is at something of a premium.

One nice job that I’ve done recently is make the central part of the new frame for the former toilet windows (see photos). This takes the form of a squat upside down T shape of timber, jointed together. This brings to an end the work I’ll be doing on the windows for this carriage, and an enjoyable job it has been.

On the Bulleid front, work has slowed but not stopped. Metalwork for 1456 has carried on, but is similar to 4910 in that it is a lot of marking out of bits and bobs that takes ages but you don’t have much to show at the end of the day! On 4367, work dismantling the bogies is progressing really well. As you will see from the photos, one of them has been well and truly taken apart, the middle bolsters taken out of both and any removable components are being taken off. Once everything is off, the needle gun will be slung by our needle gunslingers, followed by repairs, painting and reassembly. Part of the brake gear has had an interesting repair already. The screw thread for adjusting the brake gear was worn beyond use, but casting a new component would have been very expensive. It has been spiral welded, and a new thread cut on to the old component. Very impressive!

Till next time,

Ali

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