Watercress Line

Wagon Group Report 28th March 2017

Malcolm reports from Medstead on Tuesday. They then continued on with re-boarding the running (south) side - doorway to Guard’s Compartment of BY S 653. After lunch they finished off that panel and made a good start on re-boarding the non-running (north) side - doorway to Guard’s Compartment.  Next week they expect to complete that panel, and start finishing off the top of the Country End Panel.

No report from Dave V (he was on away after Tuesday)........., but they were working as usual on the SW Tar wagon. A very warm welcome to Clive Dawson, who came along for the first time.

Mick and Steve arrived at an already wet Alton on Wednesday, expecting steady rain all morning.  In the event there were dry intervals, but wet conditions did limit activities.  Fortunately we had a visitor who provided more tasks!  First things first, last week it was noticed that fixing the plywood with screws to the wooden blocks tended to pull out the blocks despite them being jammed into position.  So Mick came up with the idea of self tapping box headed screws to give additional fixing, so he and Steve clamped the door and fitted the screws all the way around edges of door to secure the plywood.  Work on the second door was precluded by the rain.

 As this was being done they were greeted with a cheery hello from Dave Mould who was PAT testing all the equipment at Alton.  So he was taken up a steady stream of Wagon Group equipment and cables for him to test. He registered the items, and checked each one thoroughly for structural & electrical integrity, condition of the lead and the amperage of the fuse in the plug.
Meanwhile, Mick and Steve set about repairing the table that they had managed to partly saw through last week!  First of all the leg with its securing bracket was removed and put away for repair.  The corner brackets were unscrewed from underneath and the end trim was removed. The formica covered top was cut off square and the side trim was, well trimmed (what else), then rebated to accept the corner brackets. All was then screwed together.
The weather forecasts were changing during the week, and Wednesday did not look a good day for working outside........ so in the end the other Alton regulars plumped for Friday. First thing at Alton John B and I rubbed down M 460001, cut off a few oversized bolts, and applied a first topcoat of bauxite to the side planks (well the south side is one plank, and the north side is two planks!) and ends.
Clive and Paul then arrived, and we all went down to Alresford ........ the purpose of which was to put three sheets over three vintage carriage bodies, at the request of Mr Chambers. He said he had got some sheets, and I had got some rope, and we ambled down the head shunt and found the vintage carriage bodies on two Salmon wagons. No sign of the sheets, but we found them inside one of the carriage bodies. I assumed they would be similar to the sheets we use, but no these were heavy duty canvas ........ and very heavy to move. After about three hours we had got all three vintage carriages covered over and roped down, and made it back to the station for tea/coffee and lunch. We also bought back the two sheets for the “A” and “AF” containers, left at Alresford after the Gala. After a rest we decided that our strenuous activities with the sheets had worn us out, and we wended back to Alton, and homeward bound. 

Saturday was a mixed bag with bright sunshine and a stiff easterly breeze. Johns B and D spent all day on the Fergie tractor out of the wind. A few more dents were knocked out of the bonnet before flattening back and re-undercoating. They also managed to undercoat all the transmission, gearbox and back axle. This is now beginning to look really good now in two tone grey, instead of a whole multitude of colours.

Dillon set Jamie up in the “Gunpowder van” W 105691 removing screws on the London end internal cladding, before helping Jose remove the handbrake lever from the Tar wagon. Ian Johnson had managed to remove the nut for us last week, but the lever was rusted solid and required a lot of heat and hammering. Once removed it was time for a tea break. Tea break was cut short by the arrival of the class 33, returning the Atlas wagon from earlier in the day. Richard Bentley offered them a cab ride from the up yard into the station. Dillon, John D, Jose and Jamie couldn’t get on quick enough! Dillon and Jose then joined Jamie in the gunpowder van removing what seemed like millions of screws. The London end was stripped with the exception on the two uppermost planks which were left as a support for the roof. Also the two side panels from the London end were removed almost complete. As with the other end, most of the T+G can be reused along with most of the brass screws.

 After a mug of tea and a clean up in the mess room they called it a day at 17:00.
Chris Le Corney

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