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Steaming Ahead - Carriage Shop Blog, March 2017

Here in the carriage shop, it’s been one of those months where suddenly a lot of little things have all come to fruition on Bulleid open third 1456. As always, this cues comments along the lines of “gosh, you’ve been busy this week…” and such like, to which we have to answer through gritted teeth, but it is nice to see the more obvious progress, even for us!

The most obvious thing is framework. In my last post, I wrote about the framework being put on display around the carriage for the gala. This time, it’s framework being put in the carriage! The south side went in a few months back, this time it was the turn of the north side, with the frame from the London end to the middle doors going in during the first week of this month. This means we’ve got nearly half of the side framework back in place, and as quickly as the new frame went in, the next sections came out. We’ve carried on down the North side, which has been removed right the way to the country end, and also removed the London end section. On the sides, we’re simply waiting for the metalwork to go in, while the end framework is a little way behind, but brings me nicely to my next subject; corner pillars.

On both the Bulleid coaches I’ve worked on (1456 and Brake 4211), the corner pillars have been the most difficult components to replicate. Regular readers will know that these carriages, while outwardly similar, were actually built by different manufacturers, and are quite different internally. 1456, which we are working on at the moment was built by the Southern Railway in house at Eastleigh works, while 4211 was built under contract by the Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Company. The corner pillars are consequently quite different, on 4211 they’re made out of two pieces bolted together, while on 1456 it is just one massive piece of timber, of what we might call a “funky” shape!

All four original corner pillars on 1456 are very rotten, and such an important component can’t be left to chance, so replacement was the only option. Gordon decided it was his turn to play with the corner pillars, after I had all that fun on 4211, so he set to work. They’re a nice job to do, we both like a bit of a head scratcher, and these certainly fit into that category. Have a look at the photos to see what I mean about the shapes and see some of the steps Gordon took to achieve them. Once the corner pillars were shaped, I took over to fit the frame together. I’m sure by the next time I write a blog the London end frame will be back in place. Once that is in, we can put in the bottom rails, which in turn means we can put the floor down! That will feel like amazing progress.

While the coaches are generally thought of as wooden, there is of course a huge amount of metalwork on them. One area we’ve had a focus on recently is the gangway faceplates. One pair of the mounting brackets needed replacing, but they’re a curious shape with a ball and socket joint, so presented another slight head scratcher, but this time for our metalworkers. It’s lucky that we’re good mates with the team in the light machine shop, they’ve come up trumps, see photo 12.

In other work around the workshop, needle gunning and painting the underframe of Bulleid brake 4367 continues at a good (if noisy…) pace, while Billy has been busy staining and varnishing panels for MK1 16083 ready for when that is reassembled, though it won’t be for some time as there is some serious metal work to do on that. Our apprentice Rob has also conjured up a rather nice door that I think will be hung on the accessible toilet up at Alton in the near future.

If you can’t wait another month for news of the carriage shop, then come on down to the railway! We’re running every weekend, and the viewing gallery will be open.

 Thanks for reading,


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Photo gallery

  • North side top rail, marking out bolt holes

  • North side frame work being installed

  • North side framework in place, with the corresponding south side this is nearly half the coach

  • London end framework removed…

  • …and on the floor for reference

  • Gordon starts work on the new corner pillars, first by removing an old one

  • The shaping process begins, they’re big bits of timber, but lots of curves to contend with…

  • …and also a lot of angles!

  • To rebate out the back, it was necessary to screw an extended side to work a saw from

  • The rough rebates are shown on three of the pillars

  • Looking down a profiled corner pillar, the complicated shape is obvious

  • New brackets have been made for the gangway face plates

  • Again, the good Lady yates of Bishops Sutton has out done herself! Sir Christopher of yates wasn’t best pleased to lose these delicious Scotch eggs!

  • View of the workshop as of 31/03/17

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