News and Updates

19/01/2020 – Charters, Coaches and Cylinders

This week has seen the GCR host a number of photo charters with the visiting K1.  4 days in total with a mixture of stock – Minerals, Crimson & Cream, and Maroon Coaches, but of relevance to us the Van Train.  Matt was in attendance for 3 of the days with Wednesday being the depute of the loaded Conflat and ‘Madge‘.

Friday and Matt visited the Mountsorrel And Rothley Community Heritage Centre to begin the task of signwriting their Tar Tank. The Eastside was completed and a return visit will be required to finish the vehicle.

A now seemingly rare day at Quorn on Saturday, with us preparing for the gala next week. With the TPOs unable to run due a Temporary Speed Restriction just on the approach to Quorn, we shall be opening up the Test Car and having our own little open day. We are planned to show what we do on a weekend-ly basis to visitors to the gala, and are planning to show a vacuum cylinder overhaul, re-flooring a wagon and a release valve overhaul. To preapre for the above, we swapped the cylinder from under the ‘regular’ LNER Steel High E281882 fitting a new branch-pipe and overhauled release valve, and removed the 15″ cylinder from the Iron Ore Tippler B385782 ready for overhaul (this is awaiting an overhaul kit). Some attention was paid to the Test Car, with Harry, Eddie and James cleaning and tidying up in preparation to open it again.  This trio also tidied some of the yard area too.

Sunday saw more work on the Yellow Coach. Dave worked on re-panelling the last area where there was a gas heater, in front of the guard’s office. Matt began by painting the boards he’d fitted last week. He then assisted me in cutting and fitting the conduit to the sockets. Eddie started cleaning the mess area, and has made a huge difference to the state of the walls. Nick concentrated on fitting the last window that had been welded up on Saturday (Thanks Jamie!). Dave finished off by painting the areas of bare metal welded in, and then fitting a bit of wood above the guards door, with its fire exit sign.

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.

05/01/20 – Post Christmas Working

With the Christmas holidays still in effect work continues.  Although Monday was rather lucrative with a trip to the Llangollen Railway but more on this in a future update.

So Tuesday (New Year’s eve if you prefer) Nick, Matt, and Dave in attendance and work continues on ADB977107. The Guards compartment ceiling was progressed as well as the roof repairs.


Wednesday, Nick, Matt and Jake with Roof vents and repairs sealed as well as previous repair patches and rain strips


The tank filler that had detached from the north end was refitted with a new piece of hose


Finally, for Wednesday, a tale of hinges,  Due to a lack of right-hand door hinges the north most luggage door top body side hinge was actually fitted with a lower hinge.  This was rectified by using a modified door side hinge although as part of the task the GCRs collection of hinges was also sorted and paired up.


Thursday and Nick and Dave with Jamie from C&W.  Jamie continued with welding concentrating on the removed window areas.IMG-20200102-WA0011.jpg

The Guards ceiling was completed as well as a few areas on the side walls.


Once the welding was complete the First Class door was fitted as well as new packing wood for the window bottoms.


Friday, Nick and Jake fitted the windows to Thursdays repaired areas.


Saturday, and for once back at Quorn. Nick, Matt, Dave, James, Eddie, Harry, Jack and I in attendance. Dave and I kicked off by taking a look at the generator feed contactor for Test Car 2. The contactor clicks in when the button is pressed but doesn’t latch as it had previously. Unfortunately, without a wiring diagram, it’s tricky to fault find the cause of the problem but we shall put the feelers out for assistance where we can find it with the bespoke system. Nick, James and I had a brief trip to Rothley to check on supplies and returned with some more items that can be back at Quorn.

Once back at Quorn, I took a look at the vacuum system on the Iron Ore Tippler. It is fitted with a 21″ and a 15″ cylinder with an empty and loaded changeover lever. As the wagon will never be loaded, and to remove complications, I have directly piped to the 15″ and removed, overhauled and refitted the release valve. This was subsequently tested and failed. The next step for this cylinder is an overhaul.

Nick and Eddie prepped some more vacuum hoses for fitment while James and Harry began scraping the wagons in the yard, getting them ready for paint when the weather turns.

The main focus for Matt, Jack and Dave was Madge, the Scammell Scarab. The roof-mounted indicators, which were requested by the RAF but not by BR, were removed. The fuel and vacuum tank that was painted crimson were painted black as per BR specifications and she was given the opportunity to meet 45305 and have a little run around the yard.

WhatsApp Image 2020-01-04 at 18.17.47


Sunday’s work concentrated back on ADB977107 at Rothley. Nick and I began by focusing on the south end interior paneling with required removal prior to welding. The end sheet steel has been tacked into place, but now requires seam welding. I took one of the ceiling panels out to the workbench to have the frame strengthened and the plywood panel fixed back to it.


Matt started by sorting and tidying the bedroom, throwing out all the old clothes and detritus and making all the beds. Where the heaters had been removed, the paneling was removed and thrown out upon conversion. Matt manufactured some more and I fixed some timber battens to the Z irons for Matt to fix things too.


I had Jake on a wild goose chase for most of the day. To get the wiring to the thermostat in the saloon, I wanted to follow the existing wiring run through the conduit at head level in the bedroom and main saloon. As the toilet ceiling is lower than that of the saloons, the wiring runs above the toilet ceiling. I had Jake remove the trim pieces and remove the screws to drop the ceiling. Sadly, the ceiling is impossible to remove without stripping most of the toilet down further, so an alternative route will have to be used. On the plus side, an alternative heater has been found for the bedroom instead of the two underbed heaters. it is felt that a stand-alone heater rather than ones under the bunk will be safer.

Nick finished the day by blanking off the fresh air intakes for the now removed gas heaters from underneath the coach.  I think that wraps up this update, so thanks for reading and join us again next week, where we will be continuing to work on the Yellow Coach.

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.

15/12/19 – Mostly Fitted Freight

A slight picture light update this week, apologies! In other news, as some of you will have seen on our Facebook page, we have been awarded the 2020 Mortons Media (Rail Express) Modern Traction Award from the Heritage Rail Association, which is in addition to our two shortlistings.

This weekend has seen the final vacuum brake overhaul completed on our van train and a release valve replace on B763305. The final two vans, B852838 and B783082, have each had their brake cylinders lifted down, overhauled and replaced. With two vans left, we spend one day on each van. Saturday saw us concentrate on the Shocvan, starting by stripping the cylinder down enough to lift down.  The cylinder put up a fight when we tried to dismantle it, with rust around the dome studs preventing the dome coming free.  The cylinder has been untouched for at least 29 years, which is the amount of time it has spent at the railway. Unfortunately the cylinder had no tag fitted after its last overhaul, so the last overhaul date is unknown.

As a member of station staff, Matt and Michelle attended the Quorn Station staff Christmas Do in the afternoon, which meant Matt spent the morning signwriting the signs for the WHSmith’s kiosk at Loughborough station.img_20191214_1757024602619512976459306.jpg

While the light was disappearing I was rebuilding vacuum release valves to replenish the stock of valves overhauled by Dave. While doing this I also rebuilt our two C-type valves, which as it turns out use the same diaphragm as the more common E-type valves.

Sunday had Nick, Dave, Matt, James and I in attendance. We started by pulling the vans down to be able to access the final cylinder on B783082. Dave set about stripping the cylinder to make it ready to lift down, removing the piston rod, release valve and piston rod cover in record quick time.

We lifted the cylinder down and began the now familiar task of the overhaul.

This then got refitted and reconnected.

With the plyboard available, I attended to a previous mistake on B763305.


The vans were pushed back down, and the test rig again coaxed into life to test the Shocvan, Vanwide and B763305. Matt went under the Shocvan with his flair lamp to check for any holes.

Both the Vanwide and Shocvan still held their brakes on upon leaving this evening. B763305 now holds for the required amount of time. We finished the testing by lunch, so spent the afternoon clearing the site van out, and putting the tools back and investigating now defective tools. Matt continued signwriting the other kiosk sign.

Thanks for reading, and join us again next week to find out what we get up to.