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Going off on a tandem…

Real Ale Train customers - excuse me - passengers (it always annoys me when train announcers say "customers". And "final destination", what's that all about? You never hear them say "as we reach the antepenultimate destination on our journey this evening from London Waterloo to the Fra Mauro Highlands..." do you? I've gone off on a tandem (drunk in charge of a bicycle, officer?) My apologies, I'll start again). To those of you who frequent the RAT, rejoice! Not only do you have a floor fit for purpose in either end of the carriage, the bar is back in, the toilet works, the roof doesn't leak, and there's only one footprint in the floor paint from when it was wet! Luxury indeed.

The guys in the carriage shop, and here I must come clean that I actually did not lavish even a single minute of my own work on the bar coach (so I can heap as much praise as I want without any of it falling on my strictly Bulleid shoulders) have done a super job, right on time. The coach has left the workshop and CK 16083 has reappeared, as if by magic. Sadly, nobody thought to finish it for us while it was secreted in the back of the wheeldrop shed, which we were a bit disappointed by, but it gives Ian and Rob something to do. The bar coach was actually picked up by Schools class Cheltenham, an unusual visitor to our shed road, being normally only attended to by coughs and sneezles (Thomas fans will know that means Diesels). Anyway, the bar car is done in time for the RAT, and GM Jason thanked the chaps with a couple of boxes of shortbread, which I have been trying to steal ever since.

Back to the Bulleid coaches, and let's be honest, lots more progress on that front. The big news is that we now have ten of the sixteen main window panels installed in the carriage for good. With the relief that the glass fitted reported in last month’s blog, it was time to actually get them in this time around, and they've gone in very quickly. Indeed, it almost takes longer to clean off the excess sealant than fit in the panels in the first place. The problem cleaning it off is the use of two different sealants in close proximity, and while they are still wet immediately after being applied, it would be very easy to mix them together while wiping them off, and then a delightful, sticky mess would definitely ensue! Instead, we've waited till it's all gone off, and then with a mixture of a delicate tickle with a Stanley knife, the wielding of a scraper and a liberal amount of white spirit, we've got the excess all off. The reason we've halted at window number 10 is that we've run out of the rubber extrusion which the window sits in. It was difficult to tell exactly how much we had in stock, and it doesn't take too long to order more, so a delivery of enough to finish 1456 and also complete 4367 is imminent. We may even have it soon enough to glaze a few more windows by our Spring Steam Gala on the 8th-10th March, but I ain't promising nuffing, righ'?

Gordon "Dusty" Cable, has spent a large proportion of this month filling my toolbox up with very fine sawdust, as he sands down the window beading for 1456. This, unlike the beading for our previous project, brake third 4211, is only decorative and does not hold in the window glass, but with a lick of varnish it still looks the bee’s knees. Several of our volunteers have been lending a hand with the varnish brush to get these components sealed up and ready for fitting, and if you take a look at the photos, you'll see that it's all really looking the part. G-Man has actually already started bedding some of the parts in place, specifically the bottom corner pieces.

Another exciting piece of news to report is the imminent delivery of many of the seating components for both Bulleid coaches! We plan to have one entire saloon fitted for inspection by any visitors to the aforementioned Spring Steam Gala. We are of course still asking for donations to cover the cost of the seating, so if you can spare a few pennies then please either donate online HERE, or come along to the gala and see for yourself, where you can part with your ready cash or fill in a sponsorship form.

In addition to the seating for the open saloons in the carriages, of which there are two in 1456 and one in brake 4367, 4367 does of course have two compartments. I'm excited to work on these, as neither 1456 nor 4211 have compartments, so it will be an interesting exercise to work on them. The seating is different too in the comps, and when the seating for 1456 is delivered, the remaining components for the compartment seating of 4367 will be taken away for refurbishment. None of the saloon seating survived for 1456, and that for 4367 was reused elsewhere while the vehicle was itself not serviceable, but the structure of the compartment seating remained in place, albeit a little moth eaten. We’ve dug it out and cleaned it up, ready to be taken away and brought back to life, which will be really great to see.

That just about wraps it up for this month, thanks very much for reading. I hope to see you at the gala; we will be in the workshop on Friday 8th selling Graham's special Bulleid carriage pens as usual.

Thanks for reading,


Photo gallery

  • Bar floor, layer one

  • Someone ignored the wet paint sign...

  • The bar back in place on its new floor

  • We don't normally let steam engines in the carriage shop!

  • Glass!

  • New destination board brackets

  • Interior with heater guards in place

  • Gangway cinder guard template

  • Some window beading ready for varnish

  • A coat of varnish on window beading

  • Corner pieces being fitted

  • 4367 compartment seat frames, complete with crud and makers plate

  • The same seat frames after the needle gun and rust converter treatment

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