Today two minions spent another productive few hours aboard No. 3417, this time completing the internal clean. The fruits of the previous work was immediately obvious – the unit no longer smells stale inside!
The first job involved walking through the unit, opening windows and getting more fresh air into the carriages. It’s rewarding to see how much better the unit looks after simply removing accumulated dust and detritus.
After this the internal clean continued, taking in Motor Brake Luggage Standard No 62236 and the country-end Driving Trailer Composite N 76263. The comparison between the rebuilt and un-rebuilt ends of the motor brake is striking. The re-built end, converted at Eastleigh when 4VEPs lost their full-length luggage space in the late 1980′s, is completely water tight. There is almost no sign that the unit has been out of service for a considerable length of time. However, the un-rebuilt end has not faired so well. As the picture below illustrates, there has been a significant amount of water ingress via leaking doors and windows. Coupled to the lack of light and heat this has lead to extensive damage to seats, cushions, quarter pads and the internal window fittings. The fabric used to cover the seat cushions, and the quarter pads, has perished badly and will require replacement.
The same is true of other seating bays in the motor coach and country-end driving trailer. The upside is that this problem is well known in Mark One pattern coaching stock and units, and can be solved by re-seating and sealing the windows properly. This is on the (long) list of jobs to do once we can get the unit under cover.
Despite the loss of a considerable amount of material from quarter pads and seat covers, overall the feeling is positive that at last the restoration of the unit towards full working condition has begun. The internal condition of the unit matches the exterior condition and can best be summed up as “faded but sound.” There are considerable technical obstacles to overcome, but the SETG and the Bluebell Railway are committed to ensuring the long term future of this now unique piece of Southern Region heritage.
We hope to have an announcement from the Bluebell Railway soon regarding the care and operation of the unit. in the meantime, thank you for your continued interest and support!