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Up the bracket!

The title of this blog does not refer to The Libertines classic 2002 debut album, but the fact that we are putting a seemingly endless supply of brackets onto Bulleid open third 1456.

My prediction last time out that the framework would be completed by the time I write this blog has thankfully (for the egg that would have been on my face) been proven correct. The country end framework was put in place on Tuesday this week (25th July), which means the frame is now in place right around the carriage, for the first time since May 2016. We find that we can work a lot quicker and more efficiently by doing jobs in batches. Much like when we made the framework, we make all the identical pieces at once. The same is correct for brackets. These need to be housed in to the frame, and for this we use a router. Then the exposed wood needs to be painted.

Here's a few numbers for you; on the frame there are 122 brackets as well as 62 frame footing brackets, most of which are fixed with 6 screws and 3 bolts. That's 1,104 screws and 546 bolts on the brackets alone, not to mention the screws on the framework and roof, and the bolts holding the roof onto the top rail of the frame! In other words, it's enough to be getting on with.

We've also put in the bottom rail right around the carriage. This is the wide timber rail that sits on top of the outrigger plate on the underframe, and is what the floor boards sit into. The floor is in three quarters of the way down the carriage, and having the bottom rails in now means I can install the rest of the floor in the carriage, meaning we can work a lot more comfortably on the next stages that need to be worked on.

These next stages include working on the electrics of the carriage, which are definitely beyond my capability, but luckily we have people with the necessary knowledge. Our man Brian, who did a grand job on 4211 and normally works with the wagon group is teaming up with Graham (of the pens) and Norman to form the "Electrical Steering Group", which held it's first meeting just after the gala. The carriage was inspected from a sparky perspective, a strategy was agreed upon, and work will begin as soon as Gordon and I have got some altitude and done a whole load of work on the roof. This is because most of the wiring on Bulleid carriages runs down a channel in the centre of the ceiling, branching off this channel to the lights above the seats and switches in the wall panels. A lot of the roof timbers are very dry and won't survive having a canvas roof laid on it, because the canvas tightens up like a drum. This would rip a lot of the roof planks off the carriage, not exactly what we want to happen just when we thought it was finished, so on with the harnesses and scaffold towers, and to the sky we shall roam... (well, the top of the carriage).

Speaking of Graham and his pens, thoughts turn to our recent gala. What a spectacle, I hope all of you that visited had a great time. We made an effort in the carriage shop to have volunteers or staff in every day, and up until the second Saturday we had real, genuine, workshop built merchandise to sell. All proceeds to the Canadian Pacific project, and proceeds we did make; including donations and sales, we made £1,154.44 over the two weekends!

Thank you to everybody who we spoke to, it was a pleasure, thanks to all our volunteers who helped out, and thank you to Graham for making so many wonderful things, all made from reclaimed carriage timber; either bits that have come off, or off-cuts from timber that is going back on.

By the end of the five days of gala, we only had one lazy Susan left, and we've still got it. So take a look at the photos, and if you like it, it's still for sale! £35, drop us a line at carriageshop.mhr@gmail.com if you're interested, and let's make a bit more money for the project.

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

  • Before...

  • ...after! The framework is complete

  • A sample of the brackets we have to put on

  • Gordon discussing being let out for good behavior

  • Two of the next steps we need to tackle, the roof and the wiring

  • The electrical regulator which is underneath the carriage

  • Two new volunteers, Me and Him, they're usefully thing if a little bit brittle

  • The last lazy Susan! £35, contact details in main blog if you're interested

  • Another view of the Lazy Susan for sale

  • Lazy Susan's bottom

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