Welcome to the OVS Bulleid institute of advanced carriage restoration, here at Ropley and I'm your tour guide Ali Steele. Let’s take a look at the latest developments!
Carriage restoration has often been compared to a game of chess. Well... alright it probably hasn't but it’s the analogy that I'm going to use for the next few sentences so just stick with me. The trick is to get all your pieces in the formation you need them, and then BANG, your move comes together. We're assembling a load of little bits that, hopefully by the next blog, should have resulted in some very visual changes to the carriage.
The biggest change to the carriage since the last blog is that finally, the entire new roof is in place. I write this with a rather large dollop of relief, as it's been my job to do it! It's been a classic example of what we often find with the work on the carriages, it isn't technically difficult to do, but is cumbersome and time consuming to achieve. Not having a motorised genie lift I've been working off a pair of scaffold towers, gradually working along each tongue and grooved board. While over most of the span of the roof are boards 6.5 inches wide, the final five boards are barely 2.5 inches wide, meaning that the speed of the area filled in by each of the final boards slowed down to a crawl. But after (a fairly accurate estimate) of well over two thousand screws, they're all on! This opens up a huge amount of work.
For starters, Graham and Norman have started work on wiring up the carriage, and once they've threaded their electron flow highways (sometimes known as wires) then in go the ceilings. The chaps have started by working underneath the carriage, where the nerve centre of the carriage electrical system is located. The batteries, dynamo and electrical regulator all sit underneath the underframe and the wires will flow from here, up through one of the partitions in the middle of the carriage, into the roof space. From here the wires will run along the peak of the roof space, dropping down to each light above the seating bays and its corresponding switch above the seats.
Once the ceilings are in, then on go the outer panels. This will obviously be the biggest visual change that the carriage will go through in its restoration, and we are so close to it happening. In fact, in the next couple of weeks at least the first four panels will go on, so by next blog you should see panels in place! These are the toilet/country end panels, which aren't affected by how we install the main ceilings. It will be good to finally have some of the panels on, and also be useful as a bit of a practice run of the technique for putting them up.
In recent days we've had all of the safety wires replaced in the workshop, and this necessitated the removal of the MK1 that our fabricator Rob has been working on. As he was unable to work on the MK1, he gamely stepped up and put in the dimples (see photos) on all the Bulleid coach panels. These form the recess for the countersunk screws that hold all the panels on, and are made using a big press. Rob really enjoyed this job (SARCASM ALERT), every hole in every panel had to be done individually, and there being getting on for 100 panels across the two Bulleid coaches to do, it took several days to complete.
In other work, Gordon has got back on board the Bulleid, and has been making a lot of noise and sawdust but getting stuck into the seats. As has been reported in a previous blog, we've got a specialist company in to make the main seating units, and we're putting together the timber units that fix to the actual carriage sides. While in theory they're a simple A-frame, they fit onto the carriage side which is obviously curved, but by being angled for the A frame, it's a different radius to the carriage side. Gordon and his spindle moulder made light work of this though, and by the time we've got the seating units in, they'll be spot on and solid as a rock!
Over on the MK1, things are moving well ahead. We've got a new member of staff in to help the job along, in the shape of Ian. He's been happily familiarising himself with the classic ways in which a sixty year old carriage implodes. I've very rarely seen a man happier than when he was presented with a book all about MK1 carriages! Welcome to the workshop Ian.
Thanks for reading.
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