First off my apologies for the lateness of this official communication! I feel I have a reasonably good excuse, as my daughter was born in the middle of last month. Having taken a few days away from work to get well acquainted with nappy changing techniques, I have re-joined the fray, ready to get these carriages rolling!
There has been significant progress on all fronts. Those of you who attended our autumn gala may well have made it into the carriage workshop to view progress, and I hope you had a look inside Bulleid carriage 1456. We had both saloons in the carriage open to visitors, with all the seating in place, lights on, mirrors on the wall, and almost all of the beading installed around the saloons. While the seats have been in before, they are now finally installed, and are having all of the finishing touches like armrests and cover panels put on, which really completes the look. They're very comfortable seats which give a good view out of the window, the new structure allows the passenger to sit a fair amount higher than the older seating used in Bulleid Brake 4211, with the added bonus that the windows sit a little lower than that carriage, so the panoramic effect is complete. One item the gala visitors just missed out on was the luggage racks, which I had taken down earlier that week to get chrome plated. I'd had them installed for fitting the beading, and while it would have been nice to have them up it would have been silly to delay the work (and also without the tables in place to force you to bend down when taking your seat, it's very easy to bump ones head on the luggage racks. I know, because I've done it many times!).
The toilet compartments have been finally installed as well, with the associated plumbing also in place. As is usual with the testing of water systems, there has been the odd little leak (hearing running water for the first time in this sort of situation is always a little bit alarming...!), but all nipped up now and ready for the actual toilets and sinks to be put in place. First fix done, ready for the second.
The exterior of the Bulleid coach is also seeing a significant amount of change, in that Acting Chief Exterior Splodger, Duncan, has got as far as completing the second undercoat on the vehicle. This is really exciting to see, as it has completely changed the look of the carriage. For the first time it has a single uniform colour on the carriage sides, and there's still several coats to go. The undercoat dries slightly dull, so after the two undercoats there will be a coat of 50% undercoat, 50% gloss, followed by two gloss coats to finish.
Over on the MK1, CK 16083, we're getting very close to completion. While I was away there was apparently also a bit of "fun" with the plumbing, involving the discovery of a puddle on the floor upon arrival one morning... but an impressively quick repair job meant that when the chaps came in the following morning the puddle had not reappeared! Both toilet compartments are now fitted out, but the carriage is in the quagmire of the fiddly little jobs that seem never ending at this stage of an overhaul, but will suddenly be done, and the carriage will be complete.
The exterior of the MK1 is itself finished other than a couple of little touch up jobs. Duncan finished applying the BR Southern Region green paintwork a couple of weeks ago, and the class designation transfers have been applied to the first class doors. It is looking very smart.
One final thing I feel I should mention is the lovely set of gates which guard the entrance to the yard from the running lines. Until recently we had employed movable barriers to denote the areas off limits to the public, but it was not always clear to everybody, and if there were many yard movements they might not get put back. Rob, our expert fabricator had the idea of installing some gates and making them look like level crossing gates, and this was accepted as being a good plan very quickly. Rob rolled up his sleeves, and with some help from the rest of the carriage workshop team got them up and running in double quick time. If you have a look at the photos accompanying this blog I think you'll agree they really look the part.
Thanks very much for reading!