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3D printed mars bars

I write this sitting in a railway carriage of a slightly more modern variety than our beloved Bulleids and MK1s… an SWR 450 Desiro. Whoever has an inkling that they’d like to restore one of these in forty or fifty years’ time, I have advice for you. Take photos of EVERYTHING while you can, it will make your life SO much easier. We’ve taken loads of photos over the years, but shots of them as new, particularly interior images are hard to come by. It is interesting to compare carriages built around sixty years apart, some things similar, others very different. Not many laptop charging points in a Bulleid coach!

Talking of Bulleid coaches, we’re really getting somewhere on 1456. The interiors of the two open saloons are coming together really nicely. Gordon has been final fitting all of the window beading and panelwork. While some of the panels are varnished veneer ply, other parts are the first items of the upholstered seating components (see photos) to go in. Graham and Norman have also spent the last couple of weeks putting in all of the sliding toplight windows, which have not only changed the appearance of the inside (and helps to make it more of a sealed unit for when the seating is finally installed), but the exterior looks like an almost finished railway carriage now. It’s so exciting to see these bits in place!

I’ve been working on installing the toilet compartments to the country end of the carriage. It hasn’t been possible to save too many of the original timber components from the toilet compartments, as you can probably imagine the amount of water splashed around over the years led to an awful lot of rot, but luckily the two corner units which form the passageway through to the gangway connection were largely salvageable, though in need of some TLC. A really interesting part of this task has been to make the new walls of the compartments, which fan out to meet the gangway connection. This is difficult to explain, and almost as difficult to photograph due to the tight spaces, but the photos show what I’ve been up to, making nice angled joints in bits of 18mm ply. Really good fun.

In other work, Sir Christopher of Yates has been busy installing some of the last few components for the brake system by putting the vacuum cylinders in place. This involved the creation of a mobile lifting jig, and both are now sat in place for the first time in some years.

Over on the MK1, there are now at least bits of seats in every compartment, and in some of them the whole shebang! It’s looking really smart, with a nice detail difference being the change of moquette between the first and third class compartments. Ian is something of a stickler for detail, and in cleaning up the light fittings (which frankly look like a miniature porcelain urinal!), noticed that while the majority of them are marked BR, with a few BR(M), one proudly states LMS! Not something we see very often at the Mid-Hants.

Finally, I’ve got to say a big thanks to Alfie who runs the machine shop at Ropley, and Eric who volunteers next door in the boilershop. We’ve got a lovely little band saw, that looks like it’d be useless, but is a cracking bit of kit, especially for delicate work (we call it the sewing machine). Somehow the timing spindle, which is really just a plastic cog, snapped, and the belt it drove got caught and stripped its teeth. The belt was easily replaced, but the spindle was more problematic. Scouring the internet produced no likely candidates, but a thought struck me – 3D printing! Alfie is something of a whizz when it comes to drawing in CAD, while Eric and I have often shot the breeze about 3D printing, usually about possible modelling projects of mine. Alfie stepped up and drew the component in about 47 seconds (I’d promised him a Mars bar but still haven’t sent one his way, maybe we should 3D print one…), and Eric dug out his printer, and in almost no time at all I was inundated with new timing spindles! Eric did a few prints, all in a beautiful slime green colour, just to make sure they’d work ok, but number 1 is still going strong. Thanks so much chaps, much appreciated!

Thanks for reading,


Photo gallery

  • A taster of our varnishing

  • Country end saloon looking like it’s on the home straight

  • Interior detail

  • Toilet compartment panels

  • Close up of the joint which forms the angle

  • Country end doors in place

  • Water tank, 1 coat of paint and the timber being test fitted

  • Toplight windows are in!

  • Sir Christopher installs the vacuum cylinders

  • Robert makes the table brackets

  • MK1 interior being fitted

  • LMS is not a name (or acronym) often mentioned on the Mid-Hants! One of the MK1 light fittings predates BR.

  • Slime green 3D printed drive spindle, thanks chaps!

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