Watercress Line

You’ve been framed – May Carriage Shop Blog

As our title suggests, it’s been a right royal frame-up here in the carriage shop this month! With one eye on the upcoming double weekend gala at the beginning of July, we are rocketing forward with framework on Open Third Bulleid coach 1456. The frame is now complete from the middle doors on the south side, up around the London end, and down the entire north side up to the toilet compartments. What’s more, as soon as the top rail was bolted in place on the north side country end, the Acrow props were swapped to the south side and that section was then taken out. This means that the only part of frame that is still untouched is the country end.

The London end finally went in for good last week. It’s been a tricky job, as not only is little straight here (the corner pillars are curved two ways, on the side and the end faces), but there’s also angles to contend with. It’s all sitting together now, connecting up the north and south sides of the framework for the first time in several months. The moment that the Acrow props were finally removed from there was a very sweet moment. They’ve been holding up the gangway plunger housings and to a certain extent the roof, for several months now, so to see the frame doing its job again was really, really good.

The south side, country end saloon framework came out earlier this week (22nd May). A delightfully messy/smashy/bangy day was had by all, hacking various bits out, surmounted by Sir Christopher of Yates cutting away the wasted rigger plate. Very soon the underframe was needle gunned and the new rigger plate offered up and cut to length. As I write this on Friday it is about to have its top coat on its bottom face (!?), so the replacement rigger plate is on course to be in place not much more than a week after the old one was removed, pretty good going says I! Then it will be marking out where the brackets have to be welded in place to receive the timbers, a few coats of paint, and the frame can go in there too. For those of you who do come to the summer gala, we are aiming to have at least some of the floor in place, and possibly to allow you to walk into the carriage to see for yourself… Fingers crossed!

Elsewhere in the workshop, we’ve got a fair few things going on. On the MK 1 CK, 16083, we’ve welcomed a fabricator named Rob into the mad world of Ropley. He’s going to be whipping the coach into shape, and looking at the state of it, it’ll probably be here for a good few months to come. I’m sure it’ll be worth it though, the carriage has seven compartments and it’s a lovely way to travel.

On the other Bulleid coach, semi-open brake third 4367, the bogies and underframe are really coming along. I’ve included a photo of both. The bogies are basically done, except awaiting the delivery of a few specialist bolts and washers that just need fitting on, while the underframe is really looking the part now. By the time it is finished, then framework on 1456 will be done, and we can then follow on with that on 4367. As the coaches were built practically alongside each other, the layout is near enough identical, so we are already set up to knock out the components.

Those of you planning to attend the July galas may also be pleased to hear that we are planning on having the carriage shop manned every day as well. Normally we set up displays to explain the work we’ve been doing, but as this is a really special event we are planning on having staff and volunteers on hand to show people around. We will also be selling the pens, pencils and light pulls made from reclaimed carriage timbers by our man Graham on the lathe and also (see photos) some very special Lazy Susans! They’re quite something, the grain of the timber is magical when it catches the light as it rotates, so make sure you make it in here to bag yours, with all proceeds going to the Canadian Pacific project (which, of course, includes the coaches as well as the locomotive!).

Thanks for reading, and hopefully see you in July,

Ali

Please help support the progress of the Canadian Pacific project to bring back our flagship steam locomotive and two Bulleid carriages back to life by clicking here.  You can do this by Sponsoring a Stay or making a donation. Don't forget that we need to raise funds to complete the overhaul, especially as a new firebox is costing an extra £120,000, so all support is very much needed and appreciated. To sign up to the newsletter, please click here.

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