Watercress Line


Dave V reports from Medstead on Tuesday that they had an interesting day. They welcomed a younger (?) and enthusiastic member from Alton (CLC), ably assisted by Brian and Dave.

First up was a meeting with Jason Houlders, the new General Manager. CLC, Brian and Dave showed him round the yard and introduced him to the carpenters Chris P, Malcolm and Keith. He was very complimentary about our efforts ... indeed it appears he cut his teeth on wagon restoration on the Severn Valley Railway. He departed for a 10:30 meeting at Ropley, and we put the tarpaulin back over the presflo PF 29, which after a brake test didn’t quite make it into the freight train over the previous weekend. 

The freight train returned to Bennetts siding during the morning, so we replaced the tarpaulins over the "A" and "AF" containers.

Dave had an unseemly fight with Terry the bull in the cattle van. The intent was to remove him from the wagon and return him to the workshop PMV for storage. He clearly didn’t want to go and after much struggling and cursing he finally gave in, but he had the last laugh as Dave remembered Richard B planned to take the cattle wagon to Ropley for the Thomas week ... so more wrestling from Dave to reinstate him!  We found Dave's wrestling match with Terry very funny to watch from ground level!    

Meanwhile, after working with Chris and Malcolm on the workshop CCT stairs, Keith made three planks to replace those removed from the south side CCT door the week before. Dave primed these ready for fitting next week.

Malcolm advises they completed the main body of the CCT stairs. It is secure and can be used with caution, until the handrails are fitted next week. There will be an additional sleeper positioned at the bottom of the steps to make a better step on/off height. In addition, an anti-slip surface will be applied to the deck and the steps.
Steve E reports from Alton on Wednesday. Roger pulled back the sheeting from the London end of the 'Dance Hall' brake-van to find that the blue sheet had been ripped by the recent high winds and the protruding nails and screws on the roof.  It was quickly decided that this should be replaced at the end of the day.  

Roger set about preparing further angle iron struts on the south side of the Dance Hall brake van S 55506, with Steve working similarly on the north side.  All was scraped, and rotary wire brushed down and brushed off then painted with red oxide primer before lunch.  After lunch Roger selected a replacement tarpaulin and with the help of Mick, John Q and Adrian, Steve and Roger re-covered the brake van after knocking in the offending nails and screws on the roof.

The 33 diesel had brought up two "new" wagons B 760337 and B 772824 for overhaul from Medstead, one of which came with a "free" wasps nest ... the exact location of which they chose not to investigate.  In return completed vanfit M 520771 and the milk tank W 2960 went down the line... but the wasps chose not to go back to Medstead with them, and bothered them all day.  Fortunately, no one was stung.

Elsewhere, Bob and Adrian removed temporary bracing inside the wood store, and replaced it with a single piece of timber greatly increasing its robustness. They then did more carpentry by installing reinforcing struts to the steel legged table, previously sent up from Medstead, so that it can now be used as a stable, outside work surface under the veranda area.  The wooden struts replaced the missing metal modesty panel.

John Q and Mick meanwhile completed the plywood lining of the mess van body.  Mick loosened all the electrical apparatus and they installed a sheet of plywood to the north side.  Then they cut and fitted the remaining area on the south side under the coat hooks. Their good deed for the day was to repair the lock on the shop door at the station.

Saturday at Medstead was another lovely toastie day for Dillon, Jose, Jamie and Dave R. The scaffolders for the Mark 1 coach were already at it when they turned up, with the P-Way acting as lookouts, and they erected the south side scaffolding that day, with the north side to follow on.

Jose started by swapping the piping for the brake cylinders over on the Presflo. The south one which proved faulty during brake tests has now been isolated, and the north one connected up. 

A good days progress was made on the gunpowder wagon, de-rusting and red oxiding the under side. All that’s left to do now is the London end wheels, then undercoating can start.

Early afternoon, with no undercoat found in the paint store, they decided to give the tractor a run, as its stood for some time now. Unfortunately the fuel had dried up... The engine was spun over on the battery to circulate the oil anyway, achieving 25psi on the clock. When going to close the bonnet, a massive wasp nest was found on the back of the radiator, so bonnet down and a swift exit made! It appears wasps seem to like nesting at Medstead, with this and the one sent down to Alton earlier in the week...

Chris Le Corney

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