18/07/21 – Scarabs, Signwriting and Sorting

Matt starts this weekend on Friday by starting chalking up the Ferry Tank. There’s a lot on this wagon with all its continental markings, so Matt and Dave have their work cut out! Some other news, Jamie and Pat welded the body of the Palshocvan to the donor chassis, so this is now one piece.

The team were at Quorn on Saturday, tidying up the yard in preparation for the Living Van‘s return. Dave, Matt and Jack spent some time on Madge, getting her ready for a photo charter. There’s more work required in the future, but for now Madge is running better.

Once I’d fixed our power cable, the rest of us tidied the yard and removed the remnants of the now redundant gate and fence up to the turntable. This opens up the area, making it easier for all persons to manoeuvre.

Sunday saw us back at Rothley, Dave and Matt signwriting one side of the Ferry Tank.

I worked on the coach, sorting out some tower bolts for the doors that won’t be used often. I also sorted out some rigid conduit for the jumper cable from the Test Car. I’ve finalised the arrangement and painted into primer, so that will get top coated next week.

Richard and Jake painted some of the underframe of the tank, in behind the anchor plates that hold the barrel down. Richard then worked on some replacement wagon label clip backers for the tank.

Weather dependent, we’ll be back at Rothley next week to progress the Tank, the Palshocvan and the coach. I’ve some conduit to lay in and there’s the East side of the tank to signwrite. Join us then and see how we get on.

04/07/21 – BCKomplete

Last week, we left you with a coach that was cosmetically and bodily repaired and repainted, leaving just the varnishing to go. Before I get onto the varnishing though, I need to mention some work Matt and Dave did for the wagon group at Chasewater. Their group has been working on a VEA van, much similar to our own 230097 (B784409), and asked Matt and Dave if they’d signwrite the van into an early Railfreight Livery. Dave did 2 days (Wed/Thurs) and Matt just Thursday. The van really looks excellent, and Matt and Dave enjoyed themselves. Matt also enjoying seeing an original Master Cutler headboard!

Onto the weekend and working on both the Living Van and the Ferry Tank. The team began on Saturday by wiping down the coach. Richard and Jake then moved onto applying undercoat to the tank barrel and bodywork. Unfortuantely a bit of a patchwork as we didn’t seem to have enough grey undercoat to finish the tank. The gloss black will cover all the same though.

While Richard and Jake attended to the tank, Matt and I covered the coach in a coat of varnish. Its the first time that either of us had varnished anything, so we took our time to ensure we got a good finish. Following Jamie’s advice we went down each side; first person focusing on the panels themselves and the other on the intricate and tricky details on the coach like the bump stops and window frames. Matt and I flipped a coin for it, and I drew the short straw of having the panels.

Taking our time, we got the west side completed and up to the guard’s door on the east side where we had to stop. This task was continued by Dave and I today. Between us we did the final section of bodyside and both ends of the coach, complete the repaint. There’s a few items still to sort out on the coach, but these can be done anywhere.

Richard and Nick concentrated on the tank wagon again, this time getting black gloss around the tank filler and other accoutrements on top of the barrel. Once we’d done with the coach, Dave joined the work on the tank.

I had other duties, in my capacity as our resident sewing expert (not a huge accolade for us really, just means I have and can drive a sewing machine!) I was roped in to help Matt make something for work. Answers on a postcard for what said item is…

Matt was only around until dinner due to a prior engagement, but came to complete his homework for work. He also popped in at Quorn and popped a lock on the new gate by the signal box, which was pre-agreed with the Ops Manager.

That about concludes the work this week. All that left on the coach is to clean the windows and give the roof a wash, and the tank to continue painting. Both of these and probably much more will be tackled next week, join us then!

20/06/21 – The Final Furlong

Yet again the end of another week and another update from us. This week starts with some Friday work from Dave. The battery box doors got a coat of gloss. The gas boxes and their lids and some underframe parts got a coat of undercoat. Dave removed the guard’s desk to paint the back of it into primer for an eventual coat of black, similar to the boards in the bedroom and mess area.

Dave wasn’t with us on Saturday, but the rest of the team were in attendance, sorting out small details on the coach pushing us ever closer to the finish line. Nick, Richard and Matt went round the coach and painted a first coat in the blue round the door jambs and shuts.

Richard applied black gloss to the areas undercoated by Dave on Friday.

I concentrated on the Shore Supply inlet and the eventual Jumper cable to enable us to feed the coach power from the Test Car’s Generator. These got a clean down and a coat of primer on Saturday.

I also removed the north end buckeye as it was deemed to be in excellent condition and replaced it with one in passable condition. The North End is rarely going to be coupled to anything and would just hang there in all weathers, so doing this has enabled to good buckeye to go into stock for the service stock.

Sunday was much of the same, Matt going round and applying grey to the door shuts, signwriting the OLE warning flashes and generally tidying up paint wise. Matt alos applied a first class totem and no smoking transfer to the bedroom window as these were missing.

I continued with the jumper plugs and shore supply inlet, applying a coat of undercoat and then orange top coat.

Nick sorted out a small issue with one of the door chains, then joined Jake and Dave with scraping the bogies.

Once scraped and hoovered, the bogies got a coat of black paint. Dave also picked out the details on the gas box door plate.

Next step is to apply a coat of varnish to the body work and finish the bogies on the east side. Hopefully both of these can be done next weekend. Join us then, and see if we manage it.

06/06/21 – Déjà Blue

As Matt mentioned in last week’s update, I’ve had the past week off work and have spent it working at Rothley on the Living Van (we can’t really call it the Yellow Coach anymore!) Tuesday was spent painting the two sliding gangway doors into their first coat of gloss. Wednesday was spent sanding the undercoat on the bodysides with 400 grit paper, which left Thursday to finish off the sanding by hand in areas that couldn’t be done with the air sander and then to clean the coach down, ready for glossing at the weekend.

On to Saturday with almost the whole gang in attendance, the main focus was, naturally, glossing the coach, the first of many layers of paint were applied. The photos will let the cat out of the bag, so I might as well reveal that the coach is going to be Blue and Grey, in its BCK guise; SC21202. The first, and biggest bit of painting done was the blue. Gutters and Cant Rail, Ends and lower Bodyside. Dave started the second coat of blue on the internal portion of the corridor connection, with Richard on the body ends themselves. This left Matt, Nick and I to start the bodysides.

With that left to dry, the gang tripped to Quorn to trial load a British Railways Universal Trolley Equipment (BRUTE) into Nick’s new road vehicle to see if such an item would fit in readiness to pick one up.

It would also be remiss of me not to note that being the railways first special event since the COVID pandemic, the revitalised Mixed Freight has been in use, feature a majority of the repainted tank wagons.

The gloss used was re-coatable in 16-24 hours, so Sunday was pretty much a repeat of Saturday. Once finished, Dave, Jake, Nick and Richard moved to painting both the headstocks in gloss black.

Matt and I made some boards to put inside the bedroom and mess area windows on the compartment side instead of painting the windows out as was done previously.

I’ll leave the update there. We now have a coach that has 2 coats of Rail Blue, awaiting the grey, the lining and signwriting, and then the underframe. Matt has the week off work, so will be progressing the coach. I’m sure he’ll tell you in next week’s update. Join us next week and see what Matt and the rest of us get up to.

23/05/21 – Gloss on high

We’re back for another weekend update, some mid-week work to mention before we get stuck into the main report. 6463 was tripped to Loughborough some weeks ago to have the Shock Palvan body mounted onto it. On Tuesday Nick was called as the van body was dangling over the four-foot in front of the loco shed, ready to be positioned. Having been lifted on and positioned, it now awaits welding to the chassis. Once done it will be tripped to Quorn and will wait for our return. Thanks to Alex Burnside for the pictures.

Onto the weekend, our first focus was the roof of the Mess coach. If you remember, we left last weekend with the roof having been painted into undercoat. That undercoat has had all week to go off, so its now the turn of the roof top coat. Nick, Jake and I went up first thing to paint all of the roof furniture, after which we had tea. Dave and Richard were with us, and between them they started to come up with a solution for the cat walk on top of the Ferry Tank.

After tea Nick, Jake and I started the main roof paint, which aside from the furniture as to be done in one go, otherwise you get a dry edge. Dave and Richard persevered with the grills. Once they were complete some scraping was started, but not too much as roof paint was still rather wet!

Sunday rolls around, with the first job was removing the ‘Dalek’ from the top of the tank wagon. When converted to internal use, an elbow and flange was attached to the top of the tank, with a large pipe to drop the inlet/outlet down to the solebar. Nick didn’t like the elbow and flange and decided it must be removed. Dave undid the four nuts from the tank top, and then copious amounts of force was used to remove the flange. Upon closer inspection (with me in the tank), the aim wasn’t achieveable. The elbow was attached to the main tank feed pipe that runs from the top of the tank to 3 or so inches from the bottom. We neither had the room to the roof of the shed, nor a safe way of lifting the pipe up given the mass of it. The pipe was knocked back down and re-affixed. Matt plans to remove the elbow tomorrow another way.

Other tasks done today was the annual exam on the Warflat which Matt and Nick did, with me oiling the brake gear. Matt and Dave went to Loughborough to measuring across the roof width on the Shock Palvan and to take a picture of the CCT behind the loco shed, though more on this in the future. Once back Dave carried on filling the coach, ready for sanding next weekend.

That wraps up this weekend’s activities, next weekend is a bank holiday so should see a lot of activity on the coach with the next sand and 2nd undercoat being applied. As always, join us then and see how e get on.

09/05/21 – Tank Train Together

Last week, we started the long task of scraping the roof of the Yellow Coach, which we continue this weekend. Matt has also been continuing postering the bulk load boxes, with 73 currently sat in the van waiting. Eddie is also sourcing more, so we are well on our way to achieving our target of filling the van. (Of interest to some, it takes 314 boxes to fill the van with the size of box we’ve got!)

As aluded to above, this weekend our intended focus was the roof of the Yellow Coach, so scraping was continued. This took most of the team most of Saturday.

Dave, looking to expand his signwriting experience, assisted Jamie and Pat on their work on 1525 as both have been really helpful to us in our stint at Rothely. Dave signwrote the gas box lids, some of the solebar writing and ETH socket plates.

Sunday’s first task for me was to check the ropes and chains on the two containers at Quorn. The Van train is running in a couple of weekends time for crew refreshment, so it was necessary to check the ropes. These are purely for aesthetic purposes as the container is secured in the Medfit by other means.

Once I got to Rothley Dave, Nick and Jamie were prepping to shunt the yard, which culminated in the six finished tanks put together for the first time.

Four tanks have come down for their exam of which two require an axlebox exam and all bar one an inspection sheet. Four vacuum hoses were made up and fitted and the train pipe integrity checked.

Matt and I washed the two tanks completed by the Swithland Wagon Group and I then fitted a bung to the out feed pipe of the China Clay Slurry tank, which had a tap off to log the pressure of the liquid loaded. Matt also made spacers for the brake rigging on A6581, which has its wood removed, but nothing put back in its stead.

Last task for me was to start fitting the extra door lock to the Yellow Coach, as has been done to the Test Car. I sadly didn’t take any pictures of this, but fitting a Euro Cylinder into the door is a better and cleaner solution than a crude hasp and staple.

There is some more for me to do on the lock fitting next week, along with hopefully painting the roof of the coach. As always, join us then and see what we get up to!

25/04/21 – Less and less Yellow

A bit of a quieter week for us this week, but no let up on progress. Before we got onto the weekend, we’ll cover a little bit of work done in the week. Eddie has been obtaining boxes by the car full. The recent batch are all the same size and shape, so we are making a bulk van load for Photo Charters/Galas. With the blessing of M Wright & Son, Matt has been applying a period appropriate branding to the boxes. From the ones done already, a van or trailer of these are just going to look brilliant.

This weekend we’ve been working on the Ferry Tank and the Yellow Coach. Dave and I concentrated on the Yellow Coach, sanding down the filler applied last week then patch priming any bare metal areas ready for undercoat. We are undercoating at this stage in the full knowledge that there is more filling and sanding to do. The one single colour of the undercoat will help us pick out and remaining defects in the bodywork, instead of struggling with the patchwork of multiple paint colours showing through.

The rest of the team concentrated on the Ferry Tank, with Richard (Nice to have you back!) and Michael scraping and sanding the barrel; ready for painting. Matt and Nick carried on removing the platform plates and preparing the end for the replacement arrangement. Last thing to do was etch prime the back of the new aluminium deck plate.

Sunday saw a coat of undercoat applied to the west side of the coach, the north end and half of the south end. Michael, Jake, Eireni and I did this. It is weird seeing the coach as a single colour, but we’ll get used to it I’m sure.

Matt and Nick re-assembled the platform end of the Ferry Tank, fitting a new deck plate, kick plate and refitting the hand rail. Michael initially continued sanding the tank, but this had to stop while we applied the paint.

Next steps for the coach is to clean, scrape and paint the roof, then paint the other side with another round of sanding and filling to follow. Work on the tank continues apace with more sanding and scraping and some work due on the catwalk on the tank top. We’ll be back, as always, next weekend!

11/04/21 – Wrapping up the mixed.

Saturday began with a spot of shunting, with the Ops Department sending a loco to move our completed wagons from Rothley to Swithland Sidings and replace them with others requiring exam from both Swithland and Quorn.

We also utilised the C&W shunter to move the Single Bolster out of the way, this is remaining at Rothley to complete its refresh.

Whilst the Ops Department shunted Swithland and Quorn, which included Michael who is leading the Bolsters refresh we turned attention to 3436 with its fine coating of dust.

We left this vehicle pre-lockdown in full black gloss awaiting signwriting.
Back in January we decided to cut some sections of old roof section to recreate the oval Esso plates. Over lockdown however, it came to light that the Swithland Wagon Group had a set manufactured. These were dropped off, although they had been made using the modern Esso logo. So we sanded the rear of each to bare aluminium to facilitate repainting.

Once back to bare aluminium one of the plates was offered to the vehicle and clamped into position. Blocks of wood placed under the plate to induce a curve.

Each clamp was positioned in such a way that to draw around it would place a mark in the correct place to line up with the attachment bracket on the tank.

These were then drilled at a smaller size than final and bolted up using smaller than final size bolts.

This confirmed the positioning of the holes, we then removed the plate and fitted it to the other side to confirm the alignment with the brackets on the other side. Thankfully they matched which allowed us to drill the other plate to the smaller size and once again each plate was bolted into position using the smaller sized bolts. These were then removed one by one, the holes opened up with a cone cutter and larger bolts including spring washers were fitted.

Finally, the plates was given a coat of etch primer.

By this time the Ferry tank along with some coaches requiring annual exam had been brought up from Loughborough and Quorn, this is in preparation for work next weekend after completion of the exam work and hopefully the Esso and Creosote tanks, these will be our focus from Monday as non essential volunteering may resume. With the shunt moving on to Swithland for collection of the final vehicles we turned to straightening the bent step mounts.

Whilst the centre road was empty it gave us opportunity to take a relatively clean shot of “The Yellow Coach”

To wrap up Saturday the next selection of wagons requiring exam arrived.

On to Sunday then, with the exam work starting on the Iron Ore Hopper, LNER Steel High, Shochood B and Medfit. Both Nick and Michael undertook the axle box exams on the Steel High and the Medfit, while Jake oiled the brake rigging.

I carried on warming parts of the Ferry Tank up to encourage some movement, this time on the south end coupling, a UIC screw coupling seized in its longest position. Unfortunately no amount of heat or penetrant was effective, so this will be left for another day. With the hot spanner in hand, I also removed some bolts from some plates bowed with rust to remove the plates and the old step bolts on the east side.

Dave and Matt inspected each of the 4 vehicles, and using Rothley’s Class 10, we checked the vacuum functionality on the 3 fitted vehicles. These have been overhauled recently so no issues were found. These 4 wagons are now back in traffic and can rejoin the mixed freight.

Vacuum Gauges in the resident Class 10.

To fill up the rest of the time, the team washed the Ferry tank before it enters the shed to remove the algae settled on the tank. The algae seems to only be removed by detergent, water and plenty of scrubbing. In doing this, some older details on the tank come to the surface as pictured below.

The team moved to Quorn around 1600 to move Madge’s trailers around and to start the Test Car’s generator and compressor to ensure these still function when we do finally get our sense of geography back. In striking up the compressor, we took the opportunity to put some air in the Volvo’s tyres.

Final point of order before I sign off this week, Dave has been refreshing the Test Car 2 Booklet. These are now on sale through Dave’s eBay page and on very kindly on West Hill Wagon Works’ website. The proceeds of any booklets purchased go toward the upkeep and maintenance of Test Car 2, and of course are very gratefully received.

Last thing for me to do is sign off. Non essential volunteering can recommence from tomorrow, so we’ll be back working on the tanks and Yellow Coach, join us next Sunday to see how far we get!

28/03/21 – Oiling and Overhauls

We’re back again for another weekend of maintenance, this time on a portion of the mixed freight set. Those being: B740654, B721587, B724570, E301588, B732357, E212315, B916549 and B425356. As per the preceding few weeks, the wagons received an axlebox exam and the brake gear oiled. Dave and I also inspected each vehicle, noting down items/issues as required.

The vehicles that we have been working on this weekend haven’t seen any vacuum attention for a while, so it was decided to test the vacuum and give the fitted vehicles a vacuum overhaul. The vacuum piped vehicles had their hoses changed as required and the vacuum hose & dummy seals replaced. I also replaced some vacuum branch pipes which had seen better days.

Given the new hoses and seals, we connected the exhauster plant up and tried to create a vacuum, which got got to 19 inHg at the other end of the consist. The vacuum was destroyed using the test cock and the brakes observed for any activity. Two vehicles passed the vacuum test, having just had their hoses replaced. These will of course be done when they come back to us for bodywork and painting. Of the other vehicles, three are piped (though one with an issue) and the other three had failed the test. The Pipe, Shock Hybar and LNER Tube will receive vacuum overhauls over the coming weeks.

Sunday saw us attempt the vacuum overhauls of the three failed vehicles, starting with the Shock HyBar. Our conclusion is that this vehicle is a right pain to remove the vacuum cylinder from, having to remove the door banger/stop and possbily the handbrake lever. After a considerable amount of faff, the cylinder was removed and taken apart for inspection and overhaul.

The Shock Hybar having taken longer than expected, we then took a look at the LNER Tube. This was somewhat easier to remove (although the hot spanner was required to undo the nuts) and was in remarkable condition when taken apart. The cylinder was cleaned out of the rolling ring dust and reassembled with new rolling ring and joint seals. Dave removed the release valve and overhauled that so it was ready to refit when the time came. Matt took away the piston rod and polished it.

The cylinder was re-assembled and it was put back under the wagon and tested. The re-fit was much easier than the removal!

With just the Tube connected to the exhauster, 21 inHg was achieved and exceeded with the rig, and the cylinder exercised a few times. The brakes applying and releasing just fine, a slow brake application was made and the brakes allowed to apply and sit. The brakes were applied around 1600 and were still on when we left Rothley at 1800, a good result as when initially tested yesterday the cylinder didn’t apply at all!

Next weekend is Easter weekend, and the vacuum overhauls will continue on the Pipe and the Shock Hybar and we will also look at the leaking trainpipe on the Coal Hopper. Join us then and see how we get on!

14/03/21 – Bearing up

Our second week back, and continuing with our routine maintenance regime. This weekend the gang has been at Quorn undertaking axle box exams and brake oiling on the van train, its brake vans and a few other vehicles. These vehicles being the 2 Catfish, which also had their doors oiled; the Fish Van, which just had its brake gear oiled as we ran out of the bearing oil; and the Iron Ore Tippler, which had its brake gear oiled. We were quite stuck in, so not so many pictures which makes this rather a short update.

Once work on the van train was completed, we took the opportunity to rebalance some of the loads in the van train including some of our parcels.

We’ll be back again next week, working back at Rothley on the Rudds and some of the Grampus wagons.