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No excuse for tardiness!

My regular readers will no doubt be dismayed at the lateness of this particular communication from the carriage workshop. I can only offer my apologies, and say that I was about five thousand miles away from Ropley, in sunny California (though weirdly I hear that the temperatures were often hotter back in Britain! I think I dodged a bullet on the heatwave front...). While on my travels I did take in a bit of railway action, not only the wonderful cable cars and trams of San Francisco, but also the wackiest steam loco I’ve ever travelled behind. The Shay type loco was, to the best of my knowledge, not much used outside north America, but to those of us with an interest in narrow gauge articulated locomotives, they are well worth a look at (see photos). I visited the Roaring Camp Railroad, and the two Shay’s at work when I was there really put on a show, on some very steep gradients.

Back home in the carriage workshop, we’ve made great steps in the last month and a half, on both of the carriages we’re overhauling.

On Bulleid open third 1456, the panel work is progressing very well. It’s transforming the look of the carriage, especially as now the in-fill panels between the windows are being installed. A landmark was reached near the end of the south side on a window panel, with screw number 1000 going in. With the toilet compartment panels, and several in fill panels now in place, we’ve reached 1728... only another 1092 to go!! We’ve also had a go at offering up some of the skirt panels for the first time. These sit below the main panels and almost cover the underframe, giving a very distinctive look to these Bulleid carriages. We won’t fit any until all of the main panels are in place, but there is some cutting and shaping to be done beforehand (and it’s also nice to have a sneak peek at what it will look like in the end!).

In a more specialist section of the panel work, Sir Christopher of Yates has been busy forming the corner strips. These were bent to the correct angle by an outside contractor, then back in Ropley, Chris has been carefully curving them to the profile of the carriage. A tricky job but it’s looking really good.

Another job that is looking great is the electrical system on the carriage. Graham and Norman have completed the first fix on the carriage, but while I was away Norman worked some magic on it, that sadly will be almost invisible to the visitor once the carriage is in service. From his professional life, Norman knew the dark art of properly lacing cables together, and has gone right around the exposed cables underneath the carriage lacing them together. It’s a beautiful piece of workmanship to my eye, and I just wish it was in an easier position to photograph because I don’t think my picture accompanying this blog really does it justice! Either way, nice job Norman.

Over on the MK1, CK 16083, things are really hotting up. Especially for fabricator Rob, who has spent a lot of time over the last few weeks working on the roof! In the hot weather working on a carriage roof in this workshop is not a pleasant place to be. Still, the work on both ends is now structurally complete, and Rob has been forming new roof panels for the London end. On the interior, the structures for the toilet compartments have been refitted, and the panel work is being stained and varnished. Ian has been playing around with techniques for this, and has been getting some really nice results. They’ve also been readying water tanks for refitting, which has involved a lot of time filling tanks and checking for leaks, letting the water go, repairing and then filling up again, but it seems like they’re done. The London end tank has had insulation installed on it, and now looks like it’s dressed up as a Mercury 7 astronaut!

If you’re in the area then do pop in and see us even if you’re not travelling on the line, the viewing gallery in the workshop is open every day the railway is running.

Thanks for reading, 



Please help support the progress of the Canadian Pacific project to bring back our flagship steam locomotive and two Bulleid carriages back to life. We now have a MyDonate page which you can use to donate to Canadian Pacific's restoration by clicking here.

Photo gallery

  • Shay locomotive, at the Roaring Camp Railroad

  • Test fitting the skirt panels on the Bulleid coach

  • Brass corner strip formed

  • A landmark! Screw number 1000

  • In-fill panels on the North side

  • Roger’s handiwork on the light shrouds

  • Bulleid open third 1456

  • Brake vacuum cylinders under repair

  • Norman’s wonderful lacing on the electrical system

  • Ian’s wood stain on MK1 panels

  • Space age water tank

  • Insulation in ceiling

  • New roof panels being fitted

  • MK1 16083 country end

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