January/February 2021 Update

Author’s Note: I’ve been rather remiss in updating the website for the past few weeks months and we have made some significant progress with the unit since agreeing a “Return to Work” with depot management at Strawberry Hill. As is always the case, the Minions are also threading their work on 3417 around the requirements of Real Life, in particular the rigours of shift work.
So please excuse the “lumped together” nature of this update.

Well, it’s been a busy two months and a bit, folks and we are continuing to make progress. As Absolutely-Not-A-Bloody-Minion Doug observed when we were at the shed last week it sometimes it feels like we are making only infinitesimal progress with the project. And on most days he is right. There are a lot of small steps along the way towards getting 3417 back into traffic. But we have been able to turn a lot of those small steps into one very large leap forward – the completions of internal restoration on Motor Brake No. 62236.

The work put in by Darren, Maggie, Doug, Lynn, Chris, Trousers cannot be underestimated. This coach has gone from dark, damp and derelict to being effectively fit for passenger traffic. We’re under no illusions that it’s a completed job – these projects are never really ‘done’, because there’s always a detail or a problem that flags up at some point. Having said that, several of our team have prepared trains for service as part of their railway careers and the phrase “I’ve prepped worse” seems to keep cropping up. All that’s needed is a brake exam and air systems exam and this coach, like Driving Trailer 76262, is fit for the next Down Pompey stopper.
As BR used to say, ‘We’re Getting There.’

But that isn’t the only progress we’re making. Here is Senior Spanner Monkey Buckland sporting some particularly fine Middle-Aged Knitwear and explaining how things are going with the protracted re-wire of the Long Trailer, 70797.

We’re hoping that once lockdown is eased further we can bring our Celebrity Heavy Works Team (who have been instructed to shelter for various reasons) back into the shed to support Chris with this part of the project.

On 76263 we have corrected a massive problem; namely the collapsed floor in the standard class passenger saloon. During the years in open storage (and, judging by the extent of the damage, starting before that) water had been leaking into the bodyside via a detached window drain. As time went on the water soaked into the insulation beneath the seating for doors B & C. That water soaked into the flooring – made up of 18mm marine plywood – then it dried, then it was soaked again, and so on. This cycle went undetected for several years while the unit was in unmonitored open storage. Once we had the unit undercover this job filed under the “Big Job To Do Later” list. Simply, we would work through the coaches in better condition, and use spares where possible from 76263 to shore up the rest of the unit. Eventually we would get to one “rough” coach and then we could deal with everything in one go. Now, thanks to our progress with the other 2 coaches (70797 doesn’t count), as well as carefully applying the expert eye of Trousers to the problem, we no longer have a hole in the floor.

As well as these large tasks, we have been carrying out smaller jobs such as adjusting the droplight windows, replacing lost screws and collars on the formica inner door panels, polishing the “Built BR Workshops” floor plates, cleaning the windows, hoovering out the inside of the vehicles (Buckie is still needle-gunning badly rusted fittings on the frames of 70797, the dust is staggering and it gets bloody everywhere) and cleaning the shed itself. As much as fixing 3417 is our primary focus, maintaining our standards and protecting the work already done is an important and unending task.

Away from the shed we were proud to work with the noted railway illustrator Tom Connell and commission an illustration of 3417 as a means to raise funds towards the restoration project. To say the we were impressed with Tom’s efforts would be a gross understatement; his work is a triumph. At the time of writing we have sold just under 100 examples of the piece, and we hope that the sales will continue! Tom is rightly proud of his handiwork – have a look at Tom’s website to see the finished article.

If you want to buy a copy of Tom’s magnificent artwork, you will find them available in our eShop.

So where does that leave us at the moment?
The shop is ticking over, the shed is in reasonably good order and the coaches are coming along. The thing is, of course, that we have been saying “coming along” for a few years now. The good thing is that, as Doug is coming to understand, this project was never going to be finished in a short time frame. In that we’re in good company – there are steam locomotives out there that have spent 40 years under restoration – and we also have a few advantages. Firstly we’re now under cover. Secondly we have a good core of regular support, with in terms of the people on the ground and our supporters who continue to donate funds towards the restoration project.

And finally, the best news of all – we found Buckie’s Mug. After extensive searches involving the British Transport Police (Kitchenware Division) and the assistance of Interpol, we finally found the missing drinks receptacle and reunited it with its owner. Buckie managed to make use of it for nearly 37 minutes before losing it again. This is now the standing record and we hope to build on this early success to keep track of the mug for more than an hour – we have been examining potential ways to achieve this including gaffer tape, industrial staplers or heavy-duty contact adhesive. We will of course keep you posted on our further exploits.

Thank you for reading.
Please – visit the shop, buy many 4VEP trinkets and keep abreast of our efforts to restore 3417 on Facebook and Twitter and now Instagram as well.