Things have been a bit up and down in the carriage workshop this month, literally!
We’ve known for some time that we have a bit of remedial work to do on the bogies of Bulleid open-third 1456 before it can enter service, and having borrowed a pair of lifting jacks from our friends down at the Bluebell Railway, Rob and Sir Christopher of Yates have been sending the carriage up and down again! The problems we’ve been having are to do with the ride height of the carriage, and while these bogies are ostensibly the same design as those used on the earlier Maunsell carriages, looking at drawings suggests that while Maunsell bogies have some adjustment on them, the Bulleid bogies heights are adjusted with packers underneath the springs, which means lifting the carriage and removing the bogies. What a lot of fun! With the borrowed jacks, it has been simple enough to remove the bogies one at a time, do the work, then put them back under, and we’re well on the way to having the set up sweetly.
There has been plenty of other things going on with the carriage too, all of it fitting out the final items to bring the carriage into service. On the exterior of the carriage, Gordon put a tenth and final coat of paint on the roof in mid-January (very, VERY carefully, making sure of no paint splash down the sides… We aimed to have got up to ten coats before the sides were painted but it was alas, not meant to be!). With that done, it was only the door fittings like grab handles, door handles and bump stops to go on and the exterior would be finished. As I write, I think five of the six doors have been so treated, with a few final other fixings to go through. Not far from finished at all.
On the interior, things are also progressing rapidly towards the finishing line. The communication cord is in place, as are all the internal sliding doors. The toilet doors and frames are finished, just awaiting a tickle with some sand paper and a few coats of varnish. Something that I’m quite pleased with is our speaker covers. The carriage didn’t have speakers for the on-train PA, so we’ve had to conjure something anew. We’ve put one speaker in each compartment, and covered the speaker itself with a gauze inspired by that used on a certain brightly coloured British guitar amplifier manufacturer (guitarists among you may know who I mean, they’re a bit of a tiny terror!).
Another piece of exciting news is the first sample of our chromed luggage racks. This has been a bit of a mammoth job, and a bit of a pet project of mine, so seeing one fully finished is really gratifying. You will be pleased to hear that all of the luggage rack components (plus a few other bits and bobs) are with our selected company being chromed up, and will return looking as good as the sample bracket, which I’ve included a couple of photos of accompanying this blog. They are going to look great in both of our CanPac Bulleid coaches!
Final mention needs to go to some of our star volunteers, who have helped install an all new dust extraction system in our machine shop. Particular mention has to go to Neil, who only began volunteering with us relatively recently, but came in for an entire week during
January to get the job done. The system works brilliantly, and we all really appreciate the work put in by everybody who helped install it. Thank you!
Till next month, thanks for reading.
After writing this blog, I heard the very sad news that Roger Williams, who was one of the main men restoring Bulleid coaches down at the Bluebell Railway, had passed away. Roger was incredibly knowledgeable about vintage carriages, especially Bulleids. Always generous with his time and knowledge, he will be very sadly missed by all of us in the carriage workshop at Ropley, and no doubt by our friends down at Horstead Keynes. The latest carriage he had a hand in overhauling (to the best of my knowledge), Bulleid CK 5768, is a spectacular restoration and well worth a visit down to the Bluebell for. So next time you’re down there, seek it out, and while you’re sat in one of its compartments watching the lovely countryside of the Sussex Weald roll past the window, say “Thanks, Roger”.