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December? Are you sure…?

First off I pose a question; how on EARTH is it December?! I propose we all agree that it being December is just a bit silly and agree it’s September or October, which feels a bit more sensible (though with the speed this year has gone by, I’d probably settle for March a bit more happily!). Aside from my confusion regarding time, it’s been a good month in the carriage workshop, on both Bulleid carriage 1456 and BR Mk1 16083.

On the Bulleid coach, now the canvas is on, it’s time to paint the roof. So far, it’s just had the one coat, which we were lucky enough to put on while the scaffolding was still up around the coach. It being put on bare canvas, the paint got sucked up like a sponge, so it was useful having the scaffold still in place as we would have been forever getting down to refill our paint trays! Gordon also took the opportunity while the scaffold was still up to fit the timber surround to the water tank (see photo). This would have been really cumbersome to fit from a tower, so having it all done now is great.

In other work, Gordon and I have both been working on end doors. Gordon has been playing with the London end door. We’ve managed to re-use the old one, with only the varnished panel that is on the interior side of the carriage needing replacement. I’ve been on the Country end door, which is a bit different. Most end doors are one large, curved door, but this one is two narrow sliding doors which meet in the middle. This is because of the layout of the toilet compartments at the end of this type of Bulleid coach (diagram 2017). The two toilet compartments have the cisterns mounted on the end bulkheads, hidden behind panelling. With these and the associated plumbing, it means there is only a limited amount of space a sliding door can go into. It being identical on both sides, the SR went for two narrow sliders. On the later BR Mk1s, a single hinged door was used in similar locations, not so simple for us though! New doors have been made, and while we had most of the fittings, we were in need of a single indented door handle, so our tame fabricator Rob stepped up to the plate (in-between coats of paint on the Mk1 roof!). We’ll get these and the other door handles chromed up to really look the part.

An interesting aside on Gordons London end door, was the discovery of an old Southern Railway poster inside it! This had obviously been used as a packing material, as it was backed with card. While it is incomplete, it appears to be promotional material by the SR, promoting the opportunity to advertise in their trains. I’ve not been able to find an image of the poster, so if anybody knows what it looked like then do get in contact with us here.

Elsewhere in the Bulleid coach, we’re continuing to fit out the interior. Graham and Norman have been putting up more of the ceiling, specifically the long cover strips down the centre, including cutting the holes for the ventilators. We’ve also taken delivery of the heater guards for the steam heat system, and begun to refurbish and re-panel the surviving sections of the toilet compartment cupboards. The seating should be turning up early in the new year, and there is still plenty of time to sponsor a seat here.

Over on the Mk1, CK 16083, things are looking really good. The toilet compartments are now all in and being painted, while the plumbing has been installed in the bulkheads. Rob has been busy putting several coats of paint on the roof, while also refitting all of the “gubbins” on the ends, such as communication cord fittings, electrical connections, water pipes and foot steps.

The interior is coming along nicely, Ian has even set up a nice varnishing area in one of the compartments with a fan heater to help the application of this slightly temperamental material (or maybe he just wants to keep warm in the cold weather! Can’t really blame him to be honest). Ian has also been very pleased with himself having fitted his first exterior door. Doors are something of a rite of passage when it comes to railway carriage restoration, and can prove a bit of a pig! Annoyingly, he seems to have got it going relatively quickly, and can’t quite see what the fuss is about… only six more for him to do on that carriage! I hope he has fun.

As you may be able to guess, I can’t quite believe this is the last blog I’ll write this year, so thanks for reading and have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Stay tuned for another year of updates from the carriage workshop, something tells me there will be exciting times next year if you like travelling in Bulleid coaches.

Thanks for reading, 


Photo gallery

  • Beginnings of the new door handle

  • All done!

  • The new end doors

  • Toilet compartment cupboards

  • Saloon ceilings coming together

  • Southern Railway poster used as a packer in a sliding door

  • Toilet tank surround being fitted

  • Bulleid toplights in etch primer

  • Bulleid coach gutter strip

  • Rob painting the Mk1 roof…

  • Four coats done!

  • Mk1 end with all the gubbins going on

  • Plumbing for the toilets

  • Ian’s special varnishing compartment

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