12/01/20 – The living van saga continues

Even though ADB977107 is our priority at Rothley, time was taken to pop into Quorn to continue investigating the contactor fault on the test car a way forward is being planned.IMG-20200111-WA0002.jpg

The main reason for the stop at Quorn was to prepare the van train for next week’s photo charters and of course the winter gala.  Trade Posters, wagon labels and chalked destinations being applied.

Back to Rothley and the Southernmost Mess room and Kitchen windows corridor side were removed to allow more body repairs.

Another task we have begun is to make the vehicle a little more user-friendly specifically for those of us who stay over on occasion.  During the vehicles’ original conversion there were no provisions for modern electrical devices, as these have become a part of everyday life and to increase versatility we have started fitting sockets around the vehicle. Included in this scheme is a shelf in the bunk room to store such modern devices.

During the week I purchased some paint colour matched to the Formica, the first coat was applied to the areas of ply applied last week.

The final task for Saturday was the removal of paint that had been applied to the glass of the guards’ compartment.

On to Sunday and we were joined by Jamie from the GC C&W department.  His focus was the window bottoms of the two removed above.  New steelwork was cut and welded.

As welding was complete the windows were refitted. As well as new lower panels under the southernmost mess room window which had its first coat of Formica orange applied.  As the paint was out second coats were applied to the bunk room and northernmost mess room window as well as chips, cracks and bare bolt heads in the Toilet, Mess room, and Kitchen

Further sockets were fitted under the messroom table and Jamie’s final task was the removal of rivets to allow access to the northern luggage area corridor window, his next area for welding.

Still a fair way to go but things are starting to piece together and the end is beginning to come into sight.

01/01/20 – End of year review.

So 2019 has come to an end, time for the statistics.

14 Vacuum Cylinders
9 defect book holders
8 conflat chains
8 coach doors
4 periscope roof repairs
3 sheet hoops
3 open days
3 magazine mentions
2 Containers
2 sliding door
2 roof paints
2 first aid kits
2 award nominations
1 award
1 hood
1 Toolbox
1 Buckeye
1 Dave Bower
1 floor
1 Brake actuating arm
1 hydrovane
1 mobile toilet
1 generator
1 slip coupling
1 Scammell Scarab
-1 Dace

So what have we completed?
Test Car 2, of course, took up a large proportion of our time but was worth it. This years overhauled vehicles are shown below.



29/12/19 – It’s Christmas

So with the Christmas period upon us, it’s no excuse to hold back. Monday, Nick and I in attendance. Nick applied sealant to the Midland and Southern Brake vans this completes the Overhaul of the van trains brake system and we await a full brake test of the rake, later in this update.

I began the final tasks on Container BD4303B filling holes with foam. and applying a layer of fiberglass to each. Nick applying heat to cure each once the resin was applied.

To complete Monday’s activities I manufactured sand red oxided the missing fork protectors that sit under each of the side doors.


Tuesday or as most seem to know it as Christmas Eve. Nick and I again, continuing with Nicks Container. Filler applied to the fiberglassed areas.

Nick applied heat to reduce the cure time and allowed me to sand the areas.

Once sanded fiberglass primer was applied followed by undercoat again heat applied to assist the drying of the paint.

Once the paint was sufficiently dried we riveted the fork protectors under the side doors and applied undercoat.

Finally for Tuesday an unusual perspective from inside the container.20191224_124427.jpg

Wednesday was of cause set aside for other duties with no one on-site. Back to normal on Thursday as we made up a few spare vacuum hoses in preparation for a brake test of the van train on Friday.  But the weather didn’t play ball so the rest of the day was spent Signwriting “Madge” the Scarab.  No images yet we are building the suspense.

On to Friday and we begin at Rothley, assisting Jamie from the C&W staff welding up the south end of ADB977107

Friday’s main task was the scheduled brake test of the van train. 15 Bauxite Vans, 1 Conflat, 1 Fish van, and 2 Brake vans. Our motive power was once again provided by the Heavy Tractor Group’s 37714. The test was a success, with 19.5 – 20 inHg shown on the 19th vehicle.

Harry and Eddie were also in attendance and made an excellent job finishing the clean of the Yellow Coaches kitchen as well as the office.20191227_130306.jpg

Saturday and the full gang in attendance,  first job with a favorable temperature was to apply the final topcoat of crimson to the previously repaired areas and folk protectors on BD4303B.

Once we completed the container we did a few items on QW6128E namely painting the engine and wheel hubs. We then moved up the line to Rothley.

My first job was to secure the table in the office. The previous image above it is just perched on the cabinet.  The cabinet was secured to the window frame and two locating blocks for the table.

Dave’s attention was on the ceiling of the Guards compartment which had been damaged by water ingress. The remains of the old ceiling were removed, new baton affixed and were possible the previous ceiling panels reused.  Those that could not were either replaced or trimmed to be used elsewhere.20191228_184614.jpg I went on to the roof to find the source of the leaks although I had a really good idea.  As suspected the blanked off periscope holes were the culprits. I removed them but during its departmental conversion, the 110v feed was placed over one of the repair plates, this will need dismantling to ensure a good repair can be carried out.

At the moment the main coach feed is via the 110v inter carriage supply, Ross is looking at manufacturing a new 240v lead that will supply the main shore supply input.

Nick and Jake acted as the odd job men.  Holding, finding and assisting where possible. The other tasks complete were a backing piece for the previously created access hatch.  Fitment of a lighting control panel, moving the detonator storage and fitting a coat hooks.

On to Sunday and the final segment for this bumper addition. Priority being the electrics. As mentioned above the 110v distribution box was placed over the area I need to carry out a roof repair. The first job ensure the coach can be powered from the shore supply point, this has never been done whilst the vehicle has been on the GCR.  Ross completed the new cable, all the fuses were removed and the plug fitted. The power was applied and no issues. The first fuse to go in was the main supply fuse and pop, the coach tripped. This also happened when we initially tried Test Car 2 the solution was to feed the other side so we did and this time no trip. We systematically replaced the fuses and all came online correctly apart from the shore supply applied lights. A quick check of the bulbs and both were blown. A quick trip to B&Q, new bulbs and for the first time since at least 2010 the lights came on.

With the coach now powered from an alternative supply, we went on to the roof and the 110v cables were disconnected from each end isolating the roof and vehicle end conduits. This will allow us to make a full weather tight repair to the roof however the cables and conduit will be sealed and left in place and if the needs arises a new hole can be cut and the 110v reinstated.

Whilst up on the roof, the areas for repair were cleaned up and red oxided and the repair plates cut to size by Nick and visiting us from the Mid Hants Railway Wagon Group, Dillon has known Nick for many years and assisted Nick when he first started to collect wagons.

Ross tidied the now redundant cables, we also got the NRN radio to power up although with the network ceasing to operate on the 12/12/15 we couldn’t locate it.

Other tasks included fitting the sawdust bin and chock stowage to the Guards compartment fitting a blanking plate to one of the end sockets used for the new shore supply cable and a look into the electric heating system which is missing its thermostat and is the only fuse not to be reinstated.

All that is left to say is Merry Christmas, thank you for reading our updates, we are looking forward to the New Year and we wish you all a happy and prosperous 2020.

22/12/19 – Doors & Windows

This update begins with news of our latest arrival, those who view our facebook site will already be aware, this one, however, has rubber tires, not steel. Dave, Jack and I had the opportunity to purchase a 1953 Scammell Scarab,  an opportunity we thought could not be missed. The intention is for her to complement our wagon fleet as well as for gala and photocharter cameos.

So on to the weekend,  with the heavy rain and the van train essentially sitting in a lake we moved to Rothley to work on ADB977107.  Ross’s attention was on the rebuilding of the kitchen,  cleaning the walls and fitting the oven and fridge as well as reassembling the counter.

Jake and Nick continued with window removals, removing three more on the East side.

My focus was on the East side first-class door, this was removed as part of the living van conversion and we are reinstating it.  The outer skin was removed followed by the internal ply. The ply was then trimmed and refitted.

To finish Saturday, we cut a hole in the Guards compartment wall to allow access to the power distribution cupboard.  As part of the conversion, the compartment was removed but was refitted a number of years ago when the Irish boiler vans that once frequented Quorn yard were scrapped.

On to Sunday, I continued with my hole in the wall. Making a door fitting trim pieces and fitting pie warmer and steam heat mounting plates. This took me most of the day.

Jake having previously applied bitumen to the bottom of the window frame refitted the window opposite the kitchen,  assisted by Nick.

Ross rebuilt and strengthened the Guards Desk. Which was fitted.

Harry and Eddie were also present and did an excellent job of cleaning the kitchen.20191222_190033

Finally, an image of the double doors refitted by the C&W team.  Although there is still a little fettling to compete.


Of cause, Merry Christmas to you all and thank you for following us. We will have an update before the new year and will take a look over the year we have had.

08/12/19 – Brake Overhauls continue

Another weekend and the brake overhauls for the van train continue.  Nick, Jake and I in attendance. First cylinders on B777728, B780282, and B777171 were prepared for removal.

Once the three were ready, we dropped B777728s cylinder.

This was promptly overhauled,  insides vacuumed, piston rod polished, seals replaced and the cylinder rebuilt.

The cylinder was then replaced under the vehicle and as the light failed B780282s was dropped.

The final task for Saturday was to reseal the joints on the through pipe of B850498

On to Sunday Nick, Ross and I in attendance B780282s cylinder was stripped, cleaned and overhauled internally and replaced under the vehicle.

As quick as B780282s was lifted B777171s was dropped and again split and overhauled.

This was also refitted and our attention turned to coaxing life back into the test rig. With the warmer weather and after a little persuasion the rig fired up and the vehicles worked on so far tested.

E87674, B786348, B763305, B777728, B780282, B777171 and the through pipe of B850498.

The through pipe of B850498 was improved but exceeded the minimum 4 inHg drop over 5 minutes. The South end hose of this vehicle has yet to be changed and this will be the next course of action.  B763305 held vacuum for 16 minutes, the only item not looked at for this cylinder was the release valve as this is a C type westing house vacuum cylinder which has a different design of piston and release valve,  we have yet to overhaul this type of valve so further investigation into this type is our next course of action. E87674 required an adjustment of the brakes which was carried out and once a number of applications of the brakes on the various wagons were carried out and the timers started.20191208_151559

Our final image shows the winter wonder lights train passing Test Car 2 and when we left Quorn over 4 hours after the brakes were applied all but B763305 remained on.20191208_171827


17/11/19 – Loaded and Secured

Unusually this update begins on Thursday with a trip to Medstead & Four Marks.  The reason for the visit, to pick up some Conflat chains.  Our thanks go to the Mid-Hants Railway Wagon group for offering them to us, they were in far better condition than our own. 

Friday saw the December issue of Rail Express hit the shelves with an article looking ant our work on Test Car 2IMG-20191115-WA0000

On to Saturday and I continued with the signwriting started last weekend.

Nick drilled and attached the chains to the Conflat whilst Ross and Dave drilled and secured the additional rails placed on the vehicle last week.

Then the main event, before the light failed and after I had completed the high-level signwriting we lifted BD4303B on to B505313. With the subframe missing we had to first lower the container on to a set of sleepers.

The Container was then lifted from each end and the sleepers removed.

Once sat on the rails the Container was secured to the Conflat.  Earlier before the lift Nick and Ross also applied the identification plate above the door.

To allow the lift I left off the branding and applied it Sunday as well as a few other signwriting finishing touches.

Nick, Ross, Jake and Dave applied Bauxite to the Conflat. adding heat to cure the paint as they went along.  Sufficiently drying the vehicle before the rain started.

All of the conflat chains had reached the end of there threads although reasonably tight we took some steps to resolve. We couldn’t move inwards by a ring as the chains were not long enough so our next option was to shorten them.  We did this using an old BR trick, one of the links was heated in each chain and bent.

With the shortened chains we resecured the container. Jubilee clips were also added to prevent inadvertent loosening.

With it also being the Last Hurrah we saw a few of our vehicles in operation.  Notably the Vans.

The van train is now stabled in the yard at Quorn in preparation for the Winter Brake overhaul and to finish Ross and Dave serviced the Test Cars Generator.20191117_144934

03/11/19 – Quorn Wetter & Wetter

Once again the weather has conspired against us. So a trip to Rothley to progress ADB977107. The C&W team has been carrying out body repairs when the time has allowed. Progress has been such that we are able to reassemble interior fixtures.

Before we began, Jake applied bitumastic paint to all the bare metal areas on the inside of the vehicle’s skin


Jake and I then focused on the main saloon.

Nick with assistance from Jake also, rebuilt the toilet window

Ross with a little assistance from new recruit Will as well as Nick made progress with the Kitchen.

Ross also checked the batteries output, unfortunately, these are life expired


We can also show the progress of B954546 currently a volunteer project at Rothley. The cladding has been replaced, new duckets manufactured and glass windows fitted all round.

Sunday with the threat of rain, Ross and Dave cut down some plates to use as load distribution plates for Nicks container once lifted on to the Conflat. It transpires that we decided later that additional sections of rail shall be used to support the weight of the container.

The main task for Sunday was the rectification of Test Car 2’s incorrectly assembled buckeye draw gear. The buckeye was removed, supported by the loading shovel the draw hook and bar removed and the offending article lowered rotated and fitted correctly.

Whilst the majority of the gang worked on the Test Car, I looked at the chain boxes on B505313 these had fallen foul of the water trap that they are. With the bottom of each removed at an earlier date and the lack of suitable welding facilities, I riveted steel plates to the back of each in areas that had been eaten away.

As a none structural skin, this gives a solid backing for filler to be applied. In the future, the skin of the chain box will have to be replaced but at this time we have gone for this option.

As the rain that was forecast did not materialise and what ended up as a day of sunshine we sheeted BD4303B whilst it was dry. This will keep the wet out until the weather gives us the opportunity to apply the gloss crimson.

Also on site Eddie, Harry, and James who took the opportunity to tidy our surrounds and a good job they did in removing the many items of waste that wagon restoration inevitably generates.