Watercress Line


Despite the wet and windy weather, it's been a very busy week... Brian reports last Tuesday that a thick fog greeted those of them that arrived from the north, but Medstead itself was not too bad, except for the rain which arrived from about 1100 onwards.

First job for John and Kevin and Brian was to remove all of the paint tins from the store, and bring back to the workshop PMV to check the contents, the aim of this exercise being to establish the stock and what replenishments are needed for up and coming projects.

Richard started sorting and moving the massive number of boxes mainly of wood screws which are to be relocated to the CCT. The carpenters were by this time making some fittings prior to some shelving which is to be fitted on the country end of the vehicle.

Meanwhile Brian, John and Kevin set about dismantling the large life expired (demonstration load) "Pirelli" cable drum. This turned out to a considerable job as there were very many large nails holding it all together. They did not finish this, so it will be a next week job... at least it will make a good bonfire. Ian J was undertaking some serious welding work with the manufacture of some brackets required for BY S 653 vac braking system.

Three Dogfish vehicles had arrived in the yard on Monday evening from the Meon siding Alton, needing some maintenance activity, prior to their use for ballasting down the line next month.

Malcolm reports he and Chris P cut the end capping for the BY roof. Chris has taken the pieces home for final shaping and also to cut “biscuit” joints to fix the three pieces together.

 Steve reports from Alton on a wet Wednesday. John Q, Bob and Mick focused on the grounded van body (mess room).  John and Bob continued applying white emulsion inside the which noticeably brightened up the interior.  Working around them, Mick cut and fitted infill pieces of ply wood to complete the inside boarding and then set to work making up and fitting the distribution board, at the same time replacing the existing metal sockets with plastic ones.  Meanwhile, Steve fitted a hasp and staple to the wood store door.  The retractable tarp wall needed a pole fitted to the bottom to hold it down and to facilitate rolling it up.

Well with the mid week forecast not good, those of us wanting to work outside at Alton (in the dry!) plumped for Friday, which was probably the only dry day of the week - a beautiful sunny day. Surprisingly we had a turnout of 7 for this rare working Friday.

A very warm welcome to Nick Ralph who rashly had shown some interest in Wagons at a recent Volunteers Welcome Day at Alresford. He was soon scraping away loose paint on vanfit B 760337 along with Roger, Pete, and John B. Clive was busy with the hair dryer again on the north side doors, where a bit of rain had obviously percolated in under the sheeting. I spent a fair time with wood hardener, filler etc on these doors and the north side London end. Anyway by the end of the day the south side has all been undercoated, and the north side is all undercoated, excepting the doors which are at ali wood primer stage. If rain does get in again, at least it should not be able to penetrate the primer paint...

Roger also completed black top coating on the remaining exterior steel work on S 55506 the dance hall brake van, so this steel work is at least is protected for winter. Daniel turned up at the usual 1230, following his epic bus journies from Epsom (just in time for our lunch break), and washed down the solebars on vanfit B 772824, and assisted with ali wood priming on B 760337.

Saturday at Medstead was a very productive day despite the bad weather and the attendee’s being late on parade. 

The first of the 3 Dogfish, DB 993661, had the handbrake seized in the off position. Dillon and Jamie tackled this with copious amounts of oil and pry bars...it soon gave in! Jose replaced the badly split vacuum hose on the London end. As they didn’t have a new one in stock, the good one from the Alresford end of the gunpowder wagon was ‘borrowed’, as the gunpowder wagon isn’t going anywhere soon. Dave cut off and beat out the remains of the old step bolts on the north side. Jamie set up the pressure washer while Dillon opened the doors and got rid of all the leaves and debris from inside. Between Dillon and Jose they oiled all the brake linkage and all the pivot points on the hopper doors, while Jamie jet washed the insides.  One or two holes appeared in the hopper but were small enough not to cause any concern. The doors now operate quite freely. This wagon now just needs a footstep on the north side, then its fit for traffic. Interesting to note, this wagon is showing signs of "Transrail" livery.

After lunch it was on to wagon 2, DB 992987 in "Loadhaul" livery. This was given pretty much the same treatment, oiling , leaf removal etc. This seems to be the best vehicle out of the three, probably as it was re-bodied at Marcroft wagon works in 1995. Both the footsteps need replacing, as they are going rotten. Apart from that this wagon is fit for traffic also.

By now the rain had stopped and the sun was trying to come out, so it was decided to have a go at the third wagon DB 993259. This one was showing "Mainline" branding. Dave by now was having a good burn up with a bonfire, and Jamie had caught up with the other two, so he started pressure washing the wagon running boards of the previous two. After a jolly good oiling, the brake linkage was free, but the hopper doors were still stiff, and will need more attention next week. This also needs a footstep on the south side. It was at this point Jose decided to pressure wash the inside of the hopper to expose the main door pivots...then the pressure washer packed up! The fuse was changed and all it did was buzz, so this now needs a bit of attention also!

By the time everything was packed away it was dark, and a quick chat over a mug of tea and suddenly it was 17:30!

As a postscript, upon rail privatisation in 1994 all the BR owned wagons were split up between the 3 new "competing" freight companies created... Loadhaul, Transrail, and Mainline. Subsequently these companies were all purchased by EWS, but in the interim period the wagons had been branded, and we have one of each brand! The branding is somewhat faded now, and I'm sure soon we will repaint them in BR livery. 

Chris Le Corney

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