The Digital Minion writes…


Digital Minion here. I’ve wrestled control of the website away from Potter to write a brief update. Essentially, we lured him into a supply cupboard with a bacon sandwich, and told him that if he searches really well, just behind the stack of seat bases, there’s a door to Narnia…

Now, first off, thank you to everyone for being patient when you’ve ordered goodies from the website. (Ahem, linkage here… ) – this preservation lark seems like a full time job, and sometimes it does take up enough time to be a full time job… but we’re all volunteers. With proper, full time (No sniggering at the back, Mr Buckland) jobs on the big railway.  This means that sometimes we’re not able to be Amazon and turn your orders around same day.  Your support is always appreciated and we do try to do our best, but please bear with us when ordering – you’ll get an email with a tracking number when the order is dispatched.

Being the Digital Minion means that I don’t make it to the Shed as often as I’d like. There are numerous reasons for this.. Firstly, working on the *correct* side of the former Southern Region, I must undergo a comprehensive decontamination procedure each time I return from venturing west of Factory Junction.  Secondly, being a Driver, I’m only allowed to break stuff and then look forlornly on as our engineering colleagues sigh, mutter something about ‘Bloody Drivers’ and stomp off to fix something that looks important and expensive.  I am trusted to arse about with seat bases (again, in a purely destructive capacity) and the occasional use of power tools.  

What I’ve learnt in my time and occasional appearances at the SETG HQ is that this project is huge. There are more considerations that just making a train roll out of a shed and into service.  Paperwork (and wow, the railway does love paperwork) is king and everything we do needs to be evidenced.  The upkeep and upgrading of the unit isn’t the only thing that needs to be looked at – the Shed forms an integral part of the project – I never thought I’d be running Cat5 cable into and around a structure that was built in 1897.

I’ve also learnt that while the venerable British Rail was all about records, catalogue numbers, strict design and maintenance standards – when you’re stripping seat bases for their component parts, there are an awful lot of staples, screws (of differing length, diameter and condition), hand-built spring forms, plywood bases and layers of hessian, foam, canvas and moquette – you discover that no seat is the same as the other – mainly due to the differing amounts of dead moths and crisp packets from 1997. 

However, I’m glad to report that the rather large mound of life expired seats has turned around into a rather impressive collection of pristine seating that will be the envy of any preservation effort, mainly down to the efforts of the Trim Shop.   I also have a renewed hatred of moths.

Right, must go and let Potter out of the cupboard. He’s complaining that there’s no doorway to Narnia, all he’s found is some tins of Hammerite and a requisition form for Dove Soap.