Watercress Line

Wagon Group Report 5th January

A very Happy New Year to one and all.

A compilation of activities over the past couple of weeks.

We had a shunt at Medstead and Alton on December 20th, the net result of which is the SW Tar wagon No 95 is now back in the operational rake in Bennetts, and moving down to Alton for overhaul has been LMS van M 520771 and milk tank W 2960. 
At Medstead the previous day they oiled the axleboxes on the red CCT S 1765; had a bonfire; overhauled door fittings on the workshop PMV and CCT; cleaned off a length of pipe for the Queen Mary stove ...and indeed feasted on a large supply of chocolate cakes kindly cooked by Richard's wife, Sue.
Meantime on BY S 653 Chris and Malcolm finally fixed the Country End sliding door facing pieces. They still have to fit the strike plate in the door jamb which requires a rebate to be chiselled. They then moved over to the Town end sliding door. They can now confirm that they are the proud possessors of two Country End doors! They should not be Identical which means they have quite a bit to do to modify the one for the Town End. Initially, they fitted the sliding door rail and refitted the door hangers on the opposite side of the door. They had to pack the rail out by 1/4” to allow sufficient clearance for the door to slide. There will be quite a lot of other things to do here in the New Year 
Quite a mild day (for December anyway) at Alton on Wednesday 20th. A warm welcome to Ray Benitez, making his first visit to us. Previously helping with car parking at special events he wants to broaden his activities... So we started him off on the LMS van M 520771 with a quick rub down of flaking paint, before we sheeted it over - to hopefully allow the side timbers to dry out a bit. 
Meantime Roger and John B did some degreasing/cleaning work on the horizontal plate work of the big crane, but it was too damp to apply any paint. Bob and John Q completed the second pair of legs for the work bench to go in the ISO container.
Final work for the year was up at Medstead on Saturday 30th, with Jose and Jamie largely working on the Rudd wagon .........cleaning off brake rigging and painting and removing, cleaning and priming the cast iron number plates.
And so the New Year started on Tuesday 2nd at Medstead with John D, Richard and Kevin and steady rain. This set the scene, more or less, for the rest of the day hence indoor work was the order of the day, which led to the Queen Mary brake van stove pipe. First job was warming themselves up by removing the cracked 3 inch section from one end of the pipe. This was achieved by taking it in turns with the hacksaw, without too much effort being required.
They then continued inside the Queen Mary with a makeshift plumb bob (a length of string and two nuts attached as a weight). This was used to find the centre of the stove flue stub to which the main pipe will eventually be attached. Having realised that Bennetts siding, and hence the Queen Mary slopes down towards Ropley, they then calculated and measured the offset required to ensure that the pipe would sit square on top of the stove, when fitted. The final task was to mark the eliptical outline of the hole to be cut in the roof, in due course. This involved some cardboard being wrapped around the end of the stove pipe offcut and a bit of DIY marking out onto some more cardboard stuck to the inside of the roof. This resulted in a reasonably well marked eliptical outline which was then spot marked through onto the roof boarding with a small drill. They then called it a day at about 3 pm in fading light.
Wednesday at Alton we knew was going to be windy, but upon arrival, it did not seem too bad. At least it was dry. The bad news was on opening the grounded van body ... there was no power therein, so this changed the plans for the day slightly.
Ray B (back again) and we untied the Alresford end of the sheet over vanfit M 520771 and tied it back half way down the van. Ray removed three rotten timbers on the south side, and one on the north side and we hand scraped off any loose paint on the timbers and the corrugated Alresford end.
Pete and Clive started on the milk tank. Removing moss from the timber baulks under the tank, and chipping some heavy scale off the solebars. The latter was Vactanned.
Meantime John B and Roger continued on the big crane DS 1580 and after further cleaning off of rust, oil and grease managed to prime some horizontal sections.
We did manage to find some power up at the station ... to boil up a kettle on the platform for our tea/coffee, to bring back to the grounded van body. This was our "buffet", but as we could not see in the dark and gloomy van body, all we could hear was the wind "buffeting" us from outside! 
After lunch the wind seemed to be getting much stronger, and working outside was getting quite unpleasant. So we decided to pack up early. However such was the wind strength that it took 4 of us about 30 minutes eventually to replace the half removed sheet back over M 520771. Normally this can be done in 5! 

Chris Le Corney

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