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Autumnal April

Arriving at work this morning, if the calendar is to be believed, it should be the final day of April today. If anybody had only been observing the weather, I think the assumption would be it must have reached autumn already; we had the snow, then the sun... now it must be autumn. Probably best we’re not put in charge of meteorology or horology, we’ll stick to carriages.

Aside from being utterly confused by the weather, we’ve been having a really good month in the carriage shop. On the Bulleid coach - open third 1456 - progress is being made on all fronts. Graham and Norman have done amazing and very speedy work on the wiring. After only two days on the job, they’re within a gnat’s whisker of having finished work on the wiring through the ceiling/roof space of the carriage. The reason they’ve started here is because Gordon and I need to put the ceilings up before the outer panels go on, but with their help we are almost in a position to do it.

Interestingly, we’re planning on using a flexible plastic for the ceilings instead of the original hardboard or the plywood used during 4211’s re-build. The hardboard used originally is difficult to obtain in large enough sheets and also gets damp very easily, while the plywood we used on 4211 was difficult to push up into the tight shoulders of the roof. Our friends down at the Bluebell Railway recommended the sort of plastic often used for large posters as being just the job, so we’re about to give it a whirl. The proof will be in the pudding, and if it looks half as good as the coach they’re working on I’ll be a happy man, take a look at coach 5768 on the Bulleid society website – superb!

In other work, out thoughts are very much turning to the fitting out of the carriage. There are interior panels going in, ready varnished, and also other mounts for things like lights and light switches. The ceiling frames are being reinstalled in the vestibules, and also the woodwork on the ends of the carriages to take the corridor connection gear. In my last blog, I did voice the hope that we would have the panels on the toilet compartments in place, and while this hasn’t quite happened, we DO have four panels on the carriage, in the shape of the end panels on both ends of the carriage.

Other preparation work for fitting out we’ve been doing, is making the mounting timber for the carriage skirt. This is a nice little feature, now almost unique to the two Bulleid coaches in our workshop. They were both built for the Bournemouth line dining trains, of which there were eleven six-carriage sets. They were set apart from all other Bulleid coaches by having a skirt which covered the underframe solebar, giving a nicely art-deco outlook to the carriage. To the best of my knowledge, of the surviving Bulleid carriages, only our very own 1456 and 4367, along with 4365 and 1457 down at the Swanage Railway ever ran with these skirts. The two on the Swanage Railway have not yet made it to the head of the restoration queue, so when it’s finished 1456 will be the only Bulleid carriage in service to be carrying them, until 4367 joins it!

Over on the MK1, CK 16083, things are also going well. Rob and Ian are really getting into their stride, the fitting out of the interior compartments is looking great, while the structure of the country end has changed a huge amount when compared to the photo from this blog to the March blog. It’s almost ready for the panels to be fitted back in place.

To borrow a phrase from Boston Lodge Works of the Ffestiniog Railway, it’s all “jolly good fun!”

Thanks for reading,



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Photo gallery

  • A momentous moment, the first run of wires goes into the carriage!

  • The wiring in the roof is completed, paving the way for the ceilings to be installed

  • Gordon has been busy putting some of the interior panelling in

  • The seat A-frames are complete, just ready for a lick of paint

  • Gordon checking the angle for the skirt mount along the bottom of the carriage

  • Woodwork around the London end of the carriage being fitted

  • Gordon rocking the old school with a hand brace drill

  • Bulleid doors being painted

  • The exterior panels having a gloss strip applied for where the panels overlap

  • An ingenious method of delivery, two toilet pans for 1456 brought up from Alresford!

  • Country end of 16083 from the inside

  • Country end structure complete

  • Panelwork and window frames in 16083

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