Watercress Line

Wagon Group Report 30th May 2017

Lots of good progress everywhere this week ... starting with Dave V’s report from Medstead on Tuesday, advising that it was a significant one for the SW Tar Wagon No 95. With the help of the P.Way “new” road railer the tank was lowered into position on the new timber balks. It fitted pretty well considering the amount of effort and head scratching that went into trying to guess / calculate where the wood needed to be cut. It will need a bit of fettling in a couple of areas but overall it fits pretty well.


Rob, John D, and Richard made a start on the second silver top coat on the bottom half of the tank and a few other areas that needed a touch up. Kevin and Clive removed the remaining rotten timber from the country end frame, this proving quite easy with the tank back in position. They then derusted the inside of the channel on the frame and applied some Vactan. Clive then joined the painters, while Kevin joined Dave and Keith in the lower yard sorting out the wood pile and cutting the good stuff into useable pieces.


Chris S went for a trip down Bennetts siding and cleaned, sanded and black gloss painted the two verandas horizontal surfaces on the Queen Mary brake van S 56302. Very smart it looks too!


Malcolm and Chris finished off the Country End T&G boarding on BY S 653, although it is not yet bolted in. This is to make it easier to replace the 5 curved block sections of the timbers which the roof boards are nailed into. All these sections will have to be replaced, having been split in half by the rusting of the CSK coach bolts securing them. They made a start by knocking out most of these rusted bolts with a club hammer and a cold chisel. It will be worth doing anyway, as several similar blocks further into the vehicle also need replacement; so, once they make one new set, they will have pattern pieces.


Roger reports from Alton on Wednesday. With the day set to be hot, he arrived early to finish off cleaning down/top coating the London end inside the vestibule of SR brake van S 56506, left over from last week. Bob was next to arrive and started to de-rust and scrape off all loose paint on the bv veranda floor at the country end. He was joined by Adam who enthusiastically wielded wire brush and scraper. Their happy band was completed by Paul who commenced top coating with black gloss the undercoated areas of the crane runner.


As Adam had brought his customary box of chocolate biscuits and they were fearful of them melting in the heat .......... they took an early tea break! Suitably refreshed they then returned to their tasks and Bob and Roger commenced the priming of the horizontal surfaces of the bv veranda.


After the 12.00 train departure they were joined by John Q who had been working in the Alton shop/ticket office. He has made a wonderful recovery after surgery, and is keen to return to the Wagon Group looking for some light duties. They told him that they were always looking for those .............. but like hen's knashers they were somewhat elusive! John joined them for lunch, and shared with them a box of Mr Kipling's finest apple pies.


With all of the tasks allotted to them having been completed after lunch, a team decision was to taken to draw stumps and retire from the heat of the day.


Thursday was very warm at Alton. I started by lightly rubbed down the timber on the sides and ends of S 56506, and applied a second topcoat to these areas. Steve and I then rubbed down the underframe and veranda steel work and we, plus Ian, applied black top coat here. Finally we touched up some of the blacktop coating on the crane runner from Wednesday. Having achieved all planned to do that day, and getting very hot, we decided to call it an early day...

Available for Saturday were Jose, with Jim and Dillon available for the morning only. With the lack of timespan to do anything meaningful on the wagon front, it was decided to have one last attempt at getting the Fergie tractor engine going. After removing the covering sheet, the battery was put on charge, and suddenly both Eddie and John Moody from the P-Way turned up. They all studied the wiring against the diagram and agreed a couple of changes needed to be made. These were undertaken by Jim and Jose.
Dillon went off looking for an acro pole to support the roof in the Gunpowder van. Unable to locate one, a piece of 3x3 wood of the right length was found, and fitted as a temporary measure. Just as Dillon returned to the others, they said it was ready to give the tractor a try. Ignition on, press the start lever and the engine turned over. After only a couple of seconds it gave a few coughs and splutters, followed by a small backfire, then fired up with a cloud of grey smoke, sounding a bit like an old bi-plane, due to the lack of exhaust pipe. The engine was left running for a few minutes before turning off to check for any leaks. A quick mug of tea then a retry...success!!! There was just enough time for a short test run. It was found that third and forth gear do not work, but first, second and reverse worked fine. Fergie will now be prepared for loading onto a wagon, as a “new” tractor being delivered to a local farmer.
Chris Le Corney

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