Full Work Update

After the hectic weekend we have had time to regroup, calm down and take a deep breath.

First of all, we are absolutely delighted with the reaction to the video we posted of No. 3417 on Saturday. To hear the shed filled with the noise of a running MG and Compressor, a noise that hasn’t been heard on the Southern Region since 2013, was a wonderful thing and we are very very pleased to have seen the positive reaction from so many of you. All credit has to go to our Chief Mechanical & Electrical Engineer Chris Buckland and his team of fitters (Darren Franklin from Southern Railways and Steve Trower of SWT) for the magnificent job they’ve done to this point. What this proves that the mechanical fabric of the unit is sound; we have a good base from which to work from.

Below details the work carried out last Saturday alone. Chris has passed me these details of the work carried out that day, including his thoughts of exactly how good it felt to see No. 3417 energised again. I’ve done my best to add punctuation and, in a few cases, real words; Chris is, after all, a fitter and not used to communicating to the masses!


The MG (Motor Generator) electrical boxes were cleaned and repainted along with all broken cover bolts drilled and retapped.
The MG was run up with lots of smiles, but no power output from the MG. Faces turned to a grimace! Fault finding and lots of schematic reading traced the fault to the batteries at 1.8 volts so no feed to the voltage regulator. This supply’s the generator side field coil which controls the output from the MG keeping it at a constant 70 volts. The voltage regulator had to have a false battery feed put to it from a 6v torch battery (and old fitter’s trick) to get the field generating again. Once this was done a full output was obtained and of course lights, heat and compressor all kicked in. Grimaces turned back into bigger smiles!

The batteries need a service. This will involve filling them with distilled water, cleaning and recharging. Hopefully the internal cells have not deteriorated over time ( the battery fuses were removed in storage to save the cells) as the batteries are needed to get the mg supplying 70 volts. We shall see after the service what voltage they are showing.

Further Work:

76263: The remaining shoearm was refitted (it still needs to be gauged) and the ripped out shoelead is now reattached. We found one of the shoelead cleats had been broken off and needs rewelding to the shoearm pivot bracket. Trousers (Steve Trower – sorry Steve) has volunteered for this but the VEP now, finally, has all four boots ready to take power. Thanks are due to Peter Spokes who kindly loaned the VEP two shoe arms from his stock of spares – Pete, you’re a life-saver!

76263: The rotten internal cab boarding was removed to provide a pattern for replacement. Green paint has been donated by Trousers (again). Top man!

One of each of the body to bogie Motor Coach and Trailer air pipes and the slack adjuster to brake cylinder air pipes have been removed. They have been passed to Pirtek Ltd for examination and to get a quite for full replacement – 16 pipes in total. They were a common source of faults when VEPs were in service. (IMPORTANT FITTER MINION SECRET: Fitters used to use a 5p-piece to block the broken pipe and get a unit moving.) The pipes from Pirtek will be of a higher quality than the old ones (good for 250psi) so the SETG can keep the 5p’s in the piggy bank.

We have sourced a private sponsor for the total cost of the replacement of these pipes; we are deeply grateful to Keith Usher for his generosity. Thank you!

Some of the Main Reservoir and Train Brake air pipes have been removed; not an easy task as they have been fitted for a good few years and are covered in toilet excrement & brake block dust. (The pipes have the date of 1997 written on them so are 20 years old so a bit past there best to say the least!) they have all been removed (20 in all).

They will be sent to Arlington Fleet Services who have kindly offered to donate replacements for them. 

76263: Cab master controller was freed off as it was seized. It still needs work but at least it moves – cunning use of lots of “Fitters Fat” ( WD40) was put onto it to help the freeing process!

All the internal curtains were replaced; the broken springs they hang on were changed for new ones so there is now a nice clean surface to rub against when walking through the vestibule. No more dirty trousers! (It’s small jobs like this that make the unit complete so are not to be underestimated.)

The warning horn on 76262 was tested… A lot.

A Little Bit of Horn Action

(Buckland, you’re a child! – Potter)

As the lighting and heating were now on, we took the opportunity to check the state of the bulbs throughout the unit. Apart from a few “D” lights and a couple of long tubes which had blown, all was fine. Heating checks revealed some defects that will require repair; a few elements are ‘open circuit’ and a couple of compartments not working due to defective ‘unipolar.’ We have sufficient units in stock to rectify this. Oh – the shed still smells of burning dust of off the heaters. It’s a lovely smell….. I think!!

A control equipment sequence test was carried out and apart from being a bit slow (she hasn’t had a sequence test for at least 5 years) she ran through beautifully in both test mode and simulated “on the juice mode.”

All defect sheets of completed work were filed and new defects raised against the new faults found while under taking repairs. We are now upto 58 open defects which we are working on one by one as time allows. The paperwork side of preservation and the traceability is just as important as blowing hooters and opening power handles! As the Vep is being kept to a strict mainline maintenance regime the paperwork is all encompasing to ensure compliance.

For example, one new defect that has been opened is on 76262; the AWS worked once when the cab was opened up then decided that was enough. After 4 years of inactivity it would retire back into a deep slumper for another 4 years. It’s got a shock coming!!!

In other news, lots of tea was drunk & biscuits consumed! Thanks to Darren for all his work and to an MPV Driver who stopped at the signal outside the depot and was suitably abused as a result. Just another normal day in the life of the SETG Minions!



So that was Saturday – there’s a lot more to come!

Stay tuned for further news!