Watercress Line


Well with holidays and Christmas it been a few weeks since the last Wagon Group report, not that works themselves have slowed that much. So a bit of a compilation of recent works...
The missing and rotten steps to the 3 dogfish wagons at Medstead have been renewed and non slip pads have been fitted. The final issue was to finish off the centre door on Dogfish DB 993161. The almost seized plain bearing had been removed and stripped previously. This was cleaned up by Jose, to remove rust and scale along with the inserts and shims, while Dillon crawled under the wagon to clean the shaft up.

Jose drilled an oil hole in the top half of the block and insert, and also fashioned a blanking plug to stop dirt ingress.

The assembly was then rebuilt and bolted to the bulkhead with new bolts, then the fight began! The large centre nut refused to budge. Based on previous experience they went straight for the gas axe and the offending nut was heated glowing bright red, then with a large spanner and extension bar it was gradually turned 1 flat at a time. It seemed a simple enough job...but wasn’t! Eventually it gave in.

This now means all three Dogfish are fit and ready for ballasting down the line.

Friday 28th was a last minute working party at Medstead, for those wishing to get out and get some fresh air after the Christmas excesses. Present were Jamie, Dillon, Dave R and Jose. With no particular plan in mind, it was decided that as the Pipe and Tube wagons have got to come out of long term hibernation at the end of Bennetts siding sometime in the New Year (hopefully), that the axle boxes and brake rigging should be oiled.  Jamie and Jose took on this task. The Pipe’s oil trays were dry apart from some gunge in the bottom, and these were duly emptied and re-filled with fresh oil. Also the pads were examined and found to be in good order. The Tube was on roller bearings so no further action was necessary here. All the brake rigging on both wagons were given a good dowsing with oil. Lowfit wagon B 453433 parked in front also had the axle boxes checked and oiled as it has been stood for about two years, but will need to be moved to release the Pipe and Tube.

Dillon set up with the angle grinder and chopped out another piece of the rotten steelwork on the Gunpowder van, then armed with a chipping hammer, hammer and cold chisel started attacking the rust on the  solebar on the non running side. Josie and Jamie started rubbing down the Alresford end of the body work, shortly followed on by Dave who managed to get the first panel up to undercoat. Subsequently more derusting and priming works have been carried out on the van by Jose and Darren on 5th January. 

At Alton Wednesday works have been progressing on vanfit B 760337 sanding down, filling, priming and undercoating. The ex grounded van body, (now the Mess room) progresses further and now includes pictures on the walls; completion of the electrics; and outside electrical sockets. The Mess room it appears cants slightly, but that only became apparent when John Q put the pictures up level! Any slight cant is not really a problem, but it might be if we installed a snooker table...
There was a good turnout on Wednesday 2nd January at Alton, from those looking to burn off the Christmas and New Year calories... It was a bit chilly, but with the "Mess room" now insulated (excepting the door), and an electric heater, it was almost quite warm therein. 
Wagon wise we continued preparation works on vanfit B 760337. Adrian and Steve fitted a wooden fillet on the south side of the van and this was ali primed and undercoated. John B and Roger were lightly sanding down the previously undercoated sides at the L/E, and I was derusting and priming some patches on the L/E corrugated end. Clive derusted and primed the south side solebar. Ian oiled the springs after Paul had cleaned them off.
Mick meantime was mending the pressure washer, with I believe a spare part from China (!), and was then presented with a squawking electric drill by Paul. Mick was also sawing large timber baulks, but I have no idea what these were for! 
John Q was working on the grounded van body door, which has delaminating ply sheeting on the inside, and organising Bob who was painting the outside electrical box and the grounded van body window frames.       

Steve completed the front roller sheet to the timber store and applied some labels to the shelves in the ISO container.
Later in the afternoon Richard Bentley arrived with the 08 shunter and the news that he needed to take back to Medstead vanfits B 760336 and B 772824 ... as they might  be needed by the S&T over the next 6 months. Both wagons are still in painting preparation stages, so we will have to come up to Medstead to finish them off, when the weather is warmer.
Coming in from the Meon siding with the 08 was the LSWR bogie wagon S 57849, which because of it's length can really only get into Alton in the closure time. This was built in 1926 and after the SECR "Dance Hall" brake van is the second oldest wagon on the line. It was used at one stage on the "Bertram Mills Circus trains", and when these ceased running was subsequently taken over for civil engineers use. 
As I left Alton Richard and the 08 were disappearing westwards with the ex Bovingdon Tank Museum BR 21 ton mineral wagon, on a tactical military retreat before being cut off...
Yes you may have heard that the railway between Alresford and Medstead is going to be cut off from civilisation at Alton until the end of July, and how you will all manage we just don't know! In preparation Richard Bentley has given us a good supply of wagons to keep us busy. So see you again in six months time...
Chris Le Corney

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