Watercress Line

More power to your elbow

4 March

An important job that has been on the work schedule for quite a while is an up-grade to the electrical power system in the station building at Alresford. The current electrical distribution was not as resilient as we would have liked to keep everything operational in the event of a power problem. Consequently, the main 3 phase board had to be completely replaced in order to create the correct protection to the supply for the various operational areas of the station building. A new main board was installed and then work moved onto complete the upgrade to the consumer units in sub-areas. As this necessitated the shutdown of power to the building this was the best time of the year to tackle the task, over several consecutive days, before trains started running again. This should make the business much more power resilient to faults and keep the show on the road (rails).

The electrical shutdown also meant that we could invade the kitchen area of the West Country Buffet whilst it was closed. This was to do a wash down and repaint of all the walls as part of a regular refresh. The kitchen equipment was moved out as part of a deep clean of those units which enabled the wash-down and two coats of diamond finish emulsion to be applied.

Following an earlier repaint of the staircase lobby in the Old Goods Shed at Alresford we have re-hung some of the artefacts that were taken down whilst the work was in progress. In addition we revamped a board on which to display some artefacts from the locomotive Sir Frederick Pile, currently stabled on the Mid Hants Railway awaiting renovation. These include a nameplate, coat of arms and loco number plate and a brief historical outline was written to be displayed with information about the locomotive and Sir Frederick Pile -the man. This should provide some interest to visitors to The Norman Atherton Room on the first floor when that is open to the public and for other occasions. 

The window replacement programme moves steadily along in the workshop, involving replacing some original windows which after 150 years or so have finally got beyond redemption, and also some more recent ones (40 years old) which haven’t lasted quite as well. Some timber isn’t what it used to be in Victorian times. The configuration of these is fairly intricate to replicate and with several operations having to be undertaken to produce the various pieces to be fitted together.

Another carpentry task is the building of another hose reel cabinet for the train watering hose at the Refreshment Room end of Alresford station. This one is a little more complex than the first one as there is a return on the wall at that point which has to be accommodated in the construction.

Yet more work with wood was making a replacement balustrade panel for Ropley footbridge steps. A cross-brace panel on the upside steps had been previously patched up but had now become quite rotten. A new one was needed to make sure that smaller visitors were safe going up and down the steps and is now fitted. Again, some careful measurement of angles was required to ensure an accurate fit in a rhomboid space- a quick return to long forgotten geometry lessons here.

Bob Brooks

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