At Last! AT LAST!!
We’re into Strawberry Hill depot! Last Saturday marked the first work day we’ve been able to arrange for nearly 12 months. I won’t bore you with the drawn-out story of Why and Where, but suffice it to say that we have been impatiently waiting to finally regain access to 3417 for a very long time, and working very hard behind the scenes to make it happen.
To illustrate where we are at this moment, and where our restoration project starts from, we should explain the current state of the unit:
The unit is stabled inside Strawberry Hill Depot – for the benefit of clarity, the doors of the shed are classed as the London-end, whilst the buffer stops are the Country-end.
From the London end, the unit is marshalled:
Driving Trailer Composite No. 76263
Motor Brake Standard Open: No: 62236
Trailer Standard Open: No. 70797
Driving Trailer Composite: No. 76262
As of the start of work on Saturday, the unit was missing shoe arms on the Country end driving trailer No. 76263, and required pick-up slippers fitted to the London end driving trailer No. 76262. The unit requires work to the Motor Generator, the power train line, brake chests, brake cylinders, brake shoes and rigging, doors require examination, both driving cabs require overhaul and repainting, GSM-R and OTMR are to be fitted, and research is underway on some form of Central Door Locking to allow the unit to eventually carry passengers on the mainline if required. Internally the trim is in variable condition; thanks to the prolonged period of open storage at Clapham Yard the unit has suffered water (specifically condensation) damage which has rotted internal wooden surfaces at various points and damaged fabric seat covers and carpets. We have a considerable amount of work ahead of us before the unit is ready to move again. Still, it’s something to do eh?
Work was split between four teams. The first team concentrated on refitting the missing shoe gear. Team Two worked on beginning work to restore the toilets to working condition. Team Three aimed to revive the Motor Generator and power train line to a serviceable state. Team Four concentrated to evaluating the state of the passenger accommodation, assessing each coach in turn and recording what work will be required within each vehicle.
Refitting the shoe arms and shoe gear has been a relatively straight-forward task – thanks to having a stock of spares and an experienced team who have worked on 400-series rolling stock in the past. Unfortunately several of the original shoe arms were damaged on a visit to a private railway and our spares float wasn’t large enough to provide a full set of replacements. Thanks to the generosity of Peter Spokes we have sourced replacements; by the end of our next work day, No. 3417 will have shoe gear on all four corners for the first time in 3 years.
The toilets in DTC No. 76262 work for the first time in 3 years! After working magic with a soldering iron and a degree of creative thinking on how to make a 10 metre hosepipe stretch 12 meters, we now have toilets that work properly. DTC No. 76263 has been slightly more troublesome; the toilet now works but the sink taps have seized. These will be removed, refurbished and refitted during the next work day. Regarding the toilets, we have some slightly less pleasant work to address. Thanks to various unnamed persons who used the toilets despite having no water in them (delightful) we have the unappealing prospect of clearing the toilet pans of what can best be described as “detritus.” We will be deploying industrial bleach and other substances to allow this work to happen as safely and as odour-free as possible.
The motor generator (MG) has been refurbished, with the copper commutator segments cut back and perished & frayed start resistance wiring replaced to allow the MG to run and provide power to the auxiliary systems aboard. Additionally the power train line, which had suffered from water ingress, has been dried out and tested. It is now sound and, when the unit is powered up, will be able to transfer 750 volts through the unit.
Internally we’ve had to remove more than half the seat cushions from the unit. Some of these will be salvageable, some not. Unfortunately the unit was in cold storage, and exposed to the elements, for some time. Coupled to this was the lack of a functioning 750dc supply to the unit; the combination of cold, damp and exposure to the elements resulted in a build-up of condensation and damp within the coaches damaging the seat trim and internal window frames. More than half the trim will need repair, and Saturday’s work involved removing all the damaged trim for assessment and repair. Fortunately we have managed to source an amount of replacement trim which we hope to collect in the near future. That, along with some repairs to other parts of the internal fittings, will mean that the VEP is once again able to carry passengers in a degree of comfort!
By the close of the day we had a unit all but ready to be powered up for the first time since May 2013; not bad for just under 9 hours work!
From here we move forwards.
The next work day is currently expected to be on February 4th. Although it won’t be a full day (owing to Real Life, Work and the start of the 6 Nations Rugby Tournament getting in the way) we hope to complete assessing the interior of the unit. The replacement shoe arms will be fitted, the remaining toilet in DTC No.76262 will be reactivated and then attention will turn to the brakes.
Lots of work to do!
Stay tuned, and keep an eye No.3417’s Twitter feed for the latest news.