Watercress Line

Wagon Group Report 14th February

On Tuesday at Medstead Malcolm and Chris spent a lot of the morning getting the workshop CCT door to close – very cold work with the door open! This involved taking off the board filling the gap between the bottom of the door and the vehicle floor. They cleaned it up and reduced its thickness on the table saw. They also planed back the door edges in several places, as it had swollen over time with exposure to the weather. It closes more easily now and, although not perfect, it is easy to get the padlock through the hasp.
They spent the rest of the day working on the Town End sliding door area in BY S 653, and fixed the board which conceals the sliding door hangers and machined the concave curved door jam.
No report from the other Tuesday gang at Medstead, but they must have removed the sheets off the containers and Fergie tractor in Bennetts in preparation for the gala, and I am sure they were beavering away on other bits and pieces as well.
The forecast for Wednesday at Alton was very cold, so we all dressed accordingly. At least the sun was shining and the breeze was light. First job was to get a fire going in the stove in brake van B 953701. This was successfully done... Too cold for any painting works, so cleaning the milk tank beckoned. Armed with cleansers Roger and I scrubbed away on the south side of the tank (the north side was covered with a slight layer of snow!). Adrian and John B used paint stripper to remove the last of the horizontal black stripe on the south side, and this side of the tank was jet washed down.
John Q was busy sawing edges on the south side doors of the grounded van body, so that they now fit flush. Bob and Steve were progressing the workbench construction for the ISO container, and Mick was doing some more electrics, I think...
Richard Bentley turned up with the class 33 and QM brake mid morning. I knew he needed the BR brake van (with our newly lit nice fire therein) for the freight at the weekend, but after running around the QM he disappeared off back westwards. Accordingly we were later able to enjoy a tea/coffee inside the warm brake van.
I had a meeting (along with a number of others from the railway) at Ropley early afternoon with Southampton Uni students re some more filming they are doing next month. I've seen no other report from Alton, so I assume they had lunch, did some more work, and then went home!    

Saturday was a bit of a mixed bag for Dillon and Jim at Medstead. The plan was to do a little on the gunpowder wagon then go off on a jolly on the Gala, as Dillon was desperate to ride behind the visiting black 5 45231. This was because he had worked on it many years ago, but had never seen it run.

They started off sorting out all the equipment needed for the gunpowder van, angle grinders, extension leads etc. It was decided to re-cut the gunpowder van bodywork rather than trim the panel down ... so they only had one wonky edge instead of two. After fettling the panel and marking out the body, Dillon marked the hole positions in the new panel using a dolly guide he’d made earlier in the week at work. While he went off to drill the holes, Jim trimmed the body back approx. 1 ½ inches. The panel was then dropped into place and bolted up with the dummy rivets Dillon produced a couple of weeks ago.

It was by now raining quite sharp, so a temporary shelter was made from some old thin plywood. The decision was taken to start the welding. It took some time to get the welder set up to the correct amperage to get a nice even flow. The weld was then ground back and surveyed ... a bit more work required, but they can make good progress now. By now it was 1630 and starting to get dark. They packed away and cleared off home. 

Many thanks to all who visited over the weekend on the sales stand at Medstead or indeed had a ride on the Queen Mary brake van at Alton. The Guards and those helping on the QM were very grateful to have the stove operational, for what was a very chilly, but successful weekend.
Chris Le Corney

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