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Plane Sailing – April Carriage Shop Blog

As usual it’s all go in the carriage shop! Currently in the dry dock, Bulleid open third 1456 has had significant progress on several fronts.

On the timberwork side of things, we’ve been working on two areas, the London end, and carrying on down the North side. The London end timbers have been finished, though due to all the curves, this has been a bit of a tricky job. In making the new corner pillars (see last week’s blog), Admiral of the fleet Gordon actually modified the design slightly, leaving one inside edge straight, and this proved a lifesaver. It meant I couldn’t copy the old horizontal timbers exactly, but could make them all the same length. As I know the width of the floor, and know the angle of the end section, I was then able to work out the length of the timbers (see photo 1)

Due to running out of several pots of paint, the London end will be sporting a somewhat multicolored look – first we ran out of white, then we ran out of orange, so now there’s a fair dash of blue in there too. One of our friends in the Wednesday cake club assumed we must be being clever and colour coordinating all the timbers! Would that it were so simple…

The London end structure will be finished off with a large metal bracket that binds the framework and the roof together. This is largely made up of metal angle following the roof line, then plates at either end marry up with the top of the corner posts. To say this was a little moth eaten is a bit of an understatement. Lieutenant-Commander Yates has been tackling this sea-snake (see photo 11), and it’ll be shipshape and Bristol fashion before we know it.

We have also put in the next section of framework on the north side. This means the re-installed framework includes seven of the eight windows that side, so we’re really getting there with it. The new part will be finished off in the next day or so by having the top rail put on and then bolted in place.

A small milestone was reached this week with the final section of outrigger plate being installed on the north side of the carriage. It still needs some welding on it, such as some of the footings to take the frame, but it’s all on the carriage and not coming out again (at least until it’s somebody else’s turn to restore it in a few decades!). We’ve had our friends from the boilershop in again to do some riveting on the outrigger plates above the bogie, and now that’s done we can do all the other welding.

The boiler boys have been doing some other welding for us, in the shape of the brake rods for 1456 and 4367. Captain Netherwood of HMS Boilershop delivered them yesterday, and very soon afterwards Commodore Page of the light machine shop deployed some other brand new and beautifully machined components for the brake rigging to us (see photos 7&8). Being a wood man I’m normally more interested in a tasty grain on a nicely planed piece of timber, but there is something special about a newly machined piece of metal! Wouldn’t look so good with a bit of varnish on it, but it’s still got “it”.

Speaking of varnish, it’s worth noting the sterling work one of our longstanding volunteers has been doing with a varnish brush. Roger is something of a fixture around Ropley (I’m sure he must be First Sea Lord or something by now…), and he has his own domain in the painting area of the carriage shop above our mess room. We’re already making the interior panels to go in 1456 as they’re relatively small and all of a uniform size, and Roger has been steadily showing them the finishing touch. The sapele faced ply we use really does come up nice, and Rog has the knack.


That’s about it till next time,

Mr. Midshipman Steele


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Photo gallery

  • Working out the lengths of the end timbers

  • Test fitting the London end uprights

  • All the bits for the next section ready to go…

  • …starting up…

  • …and it’s in! Not bad for before ten o’clock

  • Gordon drills the top rails – not his favorite job

  • Brake rods for 4367 freshly welded

  • Freshly machined brake assembly part – nice!

  • Prepping the plates for riveting

  • Outrigger in place the entire length of the North side

  • London end top plate under repair

  • Panels being varnished

  • View of the workshop as of 26/04/17

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