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Raising the roof

The problem with starting this blog (and the trickiest part is always starting), is that George is needle gunning just outside. The dulcet tones of the needle gun, to those of you who have not had the pleasure of experiencing it, are somewhat akin to having a hornet the size of a bull elephant reacting to derogatory insinuations about its mother, while being trapped inside a particularly reverberant biscuit tin, that’s been mic’d up, played through the PA at Knebworth, and then broadcast on all channels...It’s a bit noisy.

That he is needle gunning is a good thing though, as he and his merry band of crashy/bangy ear splitters (variously made up of Mike’s, David’s and Chris’s, all of them plural) have moved work on considerably, on several fronts. Bulleid coaches 1456 & 4367 and now MK1 16083 have all seen attention on their metalwork, with 16083s underframe having taken a massive leap forward recently. It’s a messy, dusty and noisy job that needs doing, and we’re very grateful that they step up to the plate. Above the underframe, the rest of 16083 is also coming along nicely. Rob has been busily fabricating new framework and side sheeting, and it’s really looking the part.

Back to the Bulleid coaches, and we’ve had progress on several fronts, the biggest of which is metalwork! Over the last few months we have been journeying along the road of manufacture for the panels and window frames of both carriages. This has been a big project involving several people. Measurements and diagrams were done by the team in the carriage workshop, that were then turned into excellent CAD (Computer Aided Design) drawings by Pete of the Wednesday cake crew. These in turn were given to two specialist manufacturers, each of whom completed different portions, before all components were collected at one of the specialists for final assembly.

On Friday last, Gordon and I ventured forth to Southampton, to collect said artefacts, and it was worth the wait. The job has been done brilliantly, all the sizes appear spot on, where they interact with old components (such as the window top lights) they fit together nicely, and when offered up to the carriage they look the part. “Phew” is an understatement! You can measure as many times as you want, but there’s always that little niggly worry that something silly has gone wrong, especially when you’re spending several thousand pounds of somebody else’s money.

Before it can be fitted, there is still a fair amount of things to be done, such as painting, especially on the interior side of all the panels, not to mention the window frames, which need soldering to the panels to give a watertight fit and the final profile, but it is so good to have all this stuff finally in the workshop. Good work everybody, thanks!

Next, we come at long last, to the title of the blog! A couple of weeks ago Gordon had a week’s holiday in his beloved Cornwall. Being the summer holiday a few of our volunteers also weren’t in, so it seemed a good time for me to start stripping the old boards from the roof. These need replacing as the boards are very dry, very split and have shrunk considerably. The screws holding them onto the coach have also rusted, and are more just acting as locators than fixing them down. When applied, the canvas covering tightens up, so our worry was that it would simply pull itself apart if we didn’t change the timber up there. I spent a dusty week at altitude (often surprising visitors in our viewing gallery by popping up unexpectedly!) stripping the roof off to the centre line, as you will see in the photos. It has changed the look of the carriage once again, but last week we had just about the biggest timber delivery we’ve ever had, including the new tongue and grooved boards for the roof, so hopefully it won’t be too long before it gets replaced.

One final item is that our apprentice Rob has finished his time at the railway, and is escaping the mad world of Ropley and moving on into the big wide world of work. Good luck Rob, we wish you well.

That just about wraps it up for this month, 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 by clicking here.  You can do this by Sponsoring a Stay or making a donation. Don't forget that we need to raise funds to complete the overhaul, especially as a new firebox is costing an extra £120,000, so all support is very much needed and appreciated. To sign up to the newsletter, please click here.

Photo gallery

  • Removing the old wiring

  • Removing the old roof

  • Half of the roof removed

  • Gordon attempting to remember what he ordered all the timber for

  • The new window frames and panels being picked up

  • Offering up the window frames for the first time

  • A sample of work on MK1 16083, new framework welded in place

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