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Ice Station Ropley!

The short version of this blog can be summed up in three words. “Cold”, “been” and “it’s”, but not necessarily in that order. Feel free to play around with them, see what you come up with…

Despite the weather, we’ve been really pushing on. Framework for Bulleid carriage 1456 is approaching completion, just before settling down to write this blog I put together the final of sixteen window assemblies (see photos). This completes the side framework except for the short toilet compartment sections in the country end. To put that in perspective, the toilet sections are roughly five-foot long, of carriage sides that are sixty-four foot long. The timbers are made for the toilet compartments, just not fitted together yet. To sum up, we can see the finishing line! Not bad having only really started work on the frame in September 2016.

Those of you who came along to the October gala would have seen the section now residing in place on the carriage, displayed on the floor beside it. We’re hoping to do much the same in a few weeks at the February gala, and with all this framework ready to go it might look quite special so make sure you come along! Due to us running out of white paint, we’ve been using up the spare paint supplies. This has meant that framework has recently been seen sporting some delightful, green undercoat, gloss orange, while some has been paying homage to my beloved Brighton and Hove Albion, sporting the classic blue and white stripes of the south coasts finest! About the only pieces of framework that still need making are the four corner pillars. The originals sadly can’t be reused as they are very rotten and twisted, and being in such an important position we really can’t take any chances.

Several of our volunteers have taken a turn painting the sheets of plywood that will be forming the floor of the carriage. Once the north side of framework is in, it will only need the bottom rails to go in to allow the floor to go down. This in turn allows us to begin work on the interior of the vehicle.

On the metalwork side, the outrigger plates are fitted from past the middle doors down both sides, up to and including the London end (which is more than half the carriage), with the angle brackets ready to receive the woodwork. Other than one plate that needs riveting by our colleagues in the boilershop, we will be able to refit more frame work very soon. We’ve also started working on the doors for 1456, and started refurbishing the gangway connection parts. Our thoughts are also turning to other items such as luggage racks and roof ventilators – if anybody has a bountiful stockpile of correct pattern roof ventilators especially, then do please get in touch!

In other work, we’ve done several little jobs for Martin Orford and his 80xxx tank team to help protect 80150 from the elements, making various bungs and covers to stop water ingress. Martin and co are trying to protect the loco from the weather, but also make it movable so it can be brought up to Ropley and work can start in earnest. It’s a great project, not least because the sight of a standard 4 tank pottering along with a Bulleid three set in tow is a sight I’d love to see, and I know I’m not alone there, so let’s make it happen sooner than later!

That’s all from me, thanks for reading.


Thank you to all of you who have donated to support the Canadian Pacific project. Excluding gift aid, the Sponsor a Stay appeal that many of you have generously supported, has raised £25,825!  As part of the appeal we had a prize draw for a Hornby 00 scale model of Canadian Pacific. Mr. Brian Cross is the lucky recipient of this prize draw.  Congratulations Brian!  Although there is no longer a model of CanPac to give away, we have decided to keep the appeal open, so that the other benefits of sponsorship still apply.  Those who sponsor 8 stays will get a seat on the inaugural train when Canadian Pacific returns to service and those who sponsor 40 stays will get a 20 mile round trip footplate ride on Canadian Pacific when it returns to service. To Sponsor a Stay, please click here.  If you wish to make a donation without Sponsoring a Stay, please click here.  The estimated cost of the new firebox is £120,000 so we still have more donations to find! To keep up to date with project progress, please sign up to our newsletter by clicking here.

Photo gallery

  • Ropley Arctic Station

  • Adding a splash of colour to proceedings

  • In honour of Brighton and Hove Albion’s current lofty league position…

  • The final window assembly going together, for window N8

  • Various gangway parts…

  • …to which the splashes of colour also were added!

  • Old verses new – the outrigger brackets go on

  • London end outrigger complete

  • Mike glosses the floor, look at that reflection!

  • A view we don’t often get, North side of 1456

  • The good Lady Yates of Bishops Sutton strikes again, thanks! Pasties, still hot from the oven – YUM!!

  • View of the workshop as of 31/01/17, including Norman working on a door

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