Phase One will involve achieving work to allow the unit to be hauled on the National Network, and to allow passengers to be carried on preserved railways. We have fond memories of visiting railways in the South of England, and enjoyed the reactions of the travelling public who arrived to ride on the unit.
The first aspect of Phase One will be an overhaul of the unit’s brake system and re-certification of the air tanks. We are in a position to achieve some of this work ‘in-house’ but we will need to bring in outside expertise to overhaul the Brake Control Chests under each coach, and to have the air tanks ultrasonically tested. Should any tanks have insufficient depth of metal remaining (4VEPs were never fitted with an air-drying system, so moisture liberated from the air under compression can sit in the air tanks and corrode the internal surfaces) they will have to be removed and replaced. As well as this we will strip, service and rebuild the brake cylinders.
The approximate cost for this work is £10,000.
As this process is ongoing, we will fit new step boards to each coach. Some of the boards had rotted through and would not support any load (in other words “passengers might fall through them”) so our attitude is that we should replace all the boards that are life expired. Any boards which are still sound will remain in place. While we will not compromise on safety or standards, we are also not intending to spend money where money doesn’t need to be spent; money will be directed to where it’s most needed. Partially perished boards will be cut and any sound timber salvaged to make ‘new” small stepboards.
We expect the cost of materials for this will be approximately £2,500.
The single largest task will be the restoration of the internal trim. We have previously carried out extensive research into sourcing the appropriate materials to re-upholster the unit and found the amount of money needed to meet the minimum order of raw materials was well beyond our current capabilities; £36,000. Fortunately we were invited to work alongside the National Railway Museum’s Project Commuter team, who are cosmetically restoring 2HAP No.4308, which allowed us to order just under 100 metres of trim which will allow us to begin refurbishing our passenger accommodation. This material was collected from the NRM in early August 2018. At the same time we also sourced a further 120 metres plus of suitable trim from the North Norfolk Railway which will move the project forward further. Both these purchases were funded through the successful Crowdfunding appeal the SETG masterminded in 2017. Our depot at Strawberry Hill now has a small dedicated trim shop where we can begin to strip, salvage, retrim and produce cushions and quarter pads for the unit as required. As part of the preservation process we will also treat the unit with insecticide to eliminate any of the remain infestation of moths noted when the unit moved back from Ilford after refurbishment.
We have already committed £6,000 of funds for the purchase of materials.
We are waiting for a final figure for completing restoration of the water-damaged seating, but the expected cost (with contingency funds included) is approximately £4,000, meaning a total of £10,000.
We have already committed £6,000 of available funds against a target spend of approximately £23,500.
This requires us to raise £16,500 to achieve the goals set down for Phase One.
As of early March 2020, we have been unable to raise sufficient funds to address any of the work above, and as a small group we cannot see a point at which we will be able to remedy this within the next few years. However work continues to progress at Strawberry Hill. Our goal at the current time is to bring the unit into a state where it can be hauled on the mainline and is able to carry passengers on preserved lines, as it has done in the past. This will allow the unit to once again earn revenue which can be ploughed back to fund further improvements.
Project Phoenix is alive, but progressing slowly.
We take heart from the encouragement and continued support we are receiving from the public through our Facebook and Twitter accounts and, as finances allow, our work will continue.