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Canvassing opinion

Welcome to this month’s blog, and we’ve got an awful lot to tell you about both carriages we’re working on, so strap yourselves in for a rollercoaster ride!

First off, another terrific gala has come and gone. With three visitors and a Western theme it was quite a show. My dad was born in Oswestry, consequently I’ve grown up with an appreciation of all things Cambrian being impressed upon me from an early age, so seeing Foxcote Manor running up and down the line was great stuff. Our first Bulleid coach, 4211, was newly out of the works after some maintenance and was working well, though with a few bright spots of paint that show what we’ve done (which will no doubt weather down soon).

If you made it in to the carriage workshop over the weekend, you would have been in for quite a treat. Not only was the scaffolding up for canvassing the roof (more on that below!), making the place look rather different to normal, and the ever-talented Graham present on the Friday with his pens, we also had something very special in the shape of the first working prototype of the new seats for the Bulleid coaches. We’ve had several months of meetings and testing ideas with Allen who is designing and building the new seats, but only thought of doing a display about the new seats a few weeks before the gala. Allen came through with flying colours, whipping up a full seat unit and delivering it on the Thursday before the gala.

We put together a fake portion of carriage side to display the seat on the floor of the workshop, allowing people to give it a try and sit in it, and it all slotted together perfectly. Usually we would have set it up in the coach, but with the scaffolding around it there was no easy way of accessing the carriage interior for visitors. We did take the opportunity of offering it up inside the carriage, and as you’ll see from the photos, it worked a treat! If you like what you see, then please donate to our seat appeal here.

Over on the MK1, CK No. 16083, things are progressing very well. Rob has been painting up the roof, and with the help of Sir Christopher of Yates, dismantling and overhauling the bogies. This began with some steamy time using the steam cleaner to remove several decades worth of crud from the bogie frames, before George and Mike went at them with the paint brushes. On the carriage interior, there are now toilet compartments back in, sliding doors being re-mounted (always a trying job...) and all manner of interior fittings being put back in place. Real progress indeed.

Back on the Bulleid, the biggest news of all is that the carriage has had the canvas roof installed! Thursday the 1st November was the day, and everybody (even George) turned up bright and early. It must have been the busiest day in terms of volunteers we’ve ever had in the carriage workshop, but all hands were needed to spread the yellow canvas bedding compound on to the roof of the carriage. I’m told this is made from linseed oil and chalk, and has a quite wonderful smell, but does get EVERYWHERE!

We start on one half of the roof, with the canvas folded out of the way. The bedding compound is spread on, then the canvas itself is lowered and smoothed on to it, before being pinned around the edges. We then fold back the other half and do it all again. Last time we did this, on Bulleid brake 4211 it took us six hours, this time around we broke that record, and managed it in about four and a half! Not bad says I, and if you take a look at the photos, you’ll see that the seam down the middle is dead straight. We took a time-lapse video of installing the canvas, so do please take a look and see how we get the roof on.

Thanks for reading,


Photo gallery

  • Prototype seat fitted in Bulleid coach 1456

  • The beefed up internal structure

  • New brackets for vacuum reservoir

  • The canvas arrives on the roof.

  • MK1 roof going in to primer

  • Bogies being steam cleaned

  • MK1 wheelset removed

  • He’s not the messiah, he’s a very naughty boy.

  • Sliding door between First and Third class compartments

  • Toilet compartment

  • Gutters all fitted

  • A good spread at the gala!

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