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Yuletide Carriage Shop Blog 2016

It’s been a Christmas cracker of a month in the carriage shop this December! We have both carriage treats and a festive (well not really, but ‘tis the season so I’ll say it anyway) motion picture bonus for you, so read on…

The big news is that there is framework reinstalled in the carriage! The section is roughly half of one side of the carriage. Work on this started in earnest in the middle of September, and by the middle of October all the joints were cut and fitted, and we were able to display the section at the gala. Since then it has all been painted up to gloss and stored while we finished the metalwork that the timber frame sits on, and also got on with making the next sections of timberwork.

The upright timbers all slot on to metal footings on the underframe, and these were welded in place through October and November. The chaps in the boiler shop also lent a hand by riveting a part of the outrigger plate in place for us. This section sits above the bogie so needed to be well fixed. Once all this was done, it was a question of making sure that the first time we fitted the frame was also the last time. We offered up the top rail (using some of the uprights to give us the height) to mark where we needed to drill through for bolts from the roof. This was slightly awkward, ideally we would have drilled through the brackets from the top, but somebody put a roof in the way! Instead we had to mark it, and make a special jig that allowed us to drill at an angle. All a little tricky but we got there in the end (with a little persuasion…).

It was then a simple matter of installing the frame. We knew it all went together, as it had been assembled on the floor, so we laid out all the parts and began to assemble them. The plan was to assemble the frame in its footings on the carriage, but lean it out at the top so we could place the top rail on to the tenons of the upright timbers, and simply pivot it back into place – and you know what? It worked like a dream! Once that was done, we had to do up a few screws and bolts, and we could move on to the next section. The frame went in on Monday last (12th), and on Wednesday the corresponding section on the North side of the carriage was removed.

Other than this one operation, we have been busy doing other things, though predictably most of it to do with framework. The components of the frame are now made or refurbished for the entirety of the passenger saloons, except for the top rails down the North side, for which we’re waiting on the delivery of some big chunks of timber. We have also updated the slideshow of restoration work on the carriage, the first version done back in March, so you’ll appreciate that it’s moved on a fair bit since then! You can view it above.

In other news in and around the workshop, the good Lady Yates of Bishop’s Sutton has struck again, with an awesome Christmas tree made of biscuits - seriously tasty, thanks Rach!! Also, those of an ornithological bent may be interested to hear about our local barn owl. I’ve managed to get a couple of photos of said beastie (see below).  Most mornings when we arrive at work, the young barn owl can be spotted hunting in the field just below the workshop. It’s quite magical to see, and if you find yourself in the vicinity of the Harry Potter (ex-Kings Cross) footbridge, with nothing to do, at around sunrise, I really recommend going to have a look. As well as seeing the Barny, the end of the Harry Potter bridge was the best place to see what was quite the most incredible sunrise from a week or so back. I’ve not played with the image at all, that’s what it looked like. Between that and barn owls, it can be quite special arriving at work of a morning, regardless of the steam engines et al!

This is my final blog of a very productive year, MK1 4910 was finished to a high standard, and we’ve now got Bulleid 1456 really cooking. Let’s see what happens next year! Till then, have a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.



The HLF supported Canadian Pacific project includes the restoration of Bulleid coaches 1456 and 4367.  We are currently requesting help with funding the overhaul of Canadian Pacific, by sponsoring a stay or stays, which come with a number of incentives.  Click here to sponsor a stay!  Alternatively, you can download and print the form at the bottom of this page.  We are also still accepting other donations for the project, so please click here to do so.  To keep up to date with project progress, please sign up to our newsletter by clicking here.

Finally, to find out more about the Canadian Pacific project, check out our new website at www.watercressline.co.uk/canpac.  Thanks for reading!

Photo gallery

  • The happy face of interdepartmental cooperation! One of the Andys from the boiler shop helps us with riveting.

  • Offering up the top rail ready to drill bolt holes.

  • Laying out all the parts.

  • First section of frame goes in!

  • Working along the frame

  • Task complete!

  • Losing no time, the corresponding section on the other side was removed

  • The photo doesn’t do it justice, but occasionally the beauty of the material we are using springs out at me – what a lovely grain! The timber is sapele

  • The good lady Yates of Bishop’s Sutton strikes again! A lovely biscuit Christmas tree – YUM

  • Sunrise in Ropley – WOW

  • Barn Owl photographed at Ropley

  • What a sight from the Harry Potter Bridge!

  • View of the workshop as of 22/12/16

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