We’re back at work!! No more H&S inspections, no more worrying about how much work we aren’t getting done; we’re back and working. At last we can breathe a sigh of relief and get on with bringing 3417 back to running condition. After the agonies of Lockdown, and trying to see the light at the end of what looked like a very long tunnel, we are very very glad to be back on the tools.
Unusually, we have managed to squeeze two work days into less than a week. The work we managed to fit in during those two days were by turns the most disheartening and encouraging things we have done on the unit for quite some time. Sunday’s task is very simply summarised – to strip 70797 of trim to make room for the train heating re-wire with is due to commence imminently. Stripping the coach took most of the day, and to see it bare after it was so close to looking serviceable was a depressing sight. But this is the nature of preservation, and sometimes you have to take a step backwards in order to be able to progress at a later date. However we resolved to get our heads down, allow the fitters to do their work and move on with the work on 62236.
On the subject of the re-wire we have been offered additional assistance from two ex-depot managers (one from the South Western division and another from South Central). Both are fully qualified fitters and will assist our own Senior Spanner Minion Buckie. We have high hopes that this will considerably shorten the time needed to complete the work.
Incidentally; have you ever wondered what Minions do on their tea break…? Well, they don’t just drink tea and eat biscuits. They are also briefed by the Senior Spanner Minion on subjects such as dealing with radioactive materials at work. Yes – radioactive. Everyone looked nervous when this was brief out, except for Potter who thought it might help him read comics after lights-out. Silly boy…
Which brings us neatly to Tuesday. We started the day with a clear objective; getting the seatbacks back into the Large Saloon on 62236. This end of the coach has been completely bare of trim for the last 18 months, while we have completed repairs on interior window frames, changed faulty components such as lighting inverters, refitted the saloon lighting, removed rotted and wet insulation and wood from the interior body sides and thoroughly cleaned the coach. Thanks to the stock of trim cleaned for us by TBM Rail, as well as the trim donated by the Brighton Belle group, we already knew we had sufficient parts to refit the whole saloon. We hadn’t bargained on having to modify some of the backs to make them fit – remember that these units were largely hand-built and so some seats were very much ‘made to fit’ one seat bay on one unit, and that unit might not have been 3417! Interestingly, several seats appear to have been fitted to at least two different units prior to 3417.
But they’re ours now, so (with the occasional application of brute force, adjustments and Railway language) in they went!
As you can see above, by the close of play we had refitted all the seat backs and swapped out two faulty lighting inverters. To say that we were pleased with the results of two days work would be an understatement; we were delighted. 70797 is now ready for the attention of Buckie and Comrades, and 62236 is ready for the next stage of restoration. We will be putting timber spans into the coach sides, cutting away and re-welding some retaining bolts as required, refitting fresh insulation to the bodysides, then attaching freshly made quarter panels to the timber. After that seat bases go in. And then someone can actually sit on them!
Away from the coach interiors, Darren has been carefully and sympathetically applying marking to the unit which will allow it to adhere to current railway H&S standards. A lot of equipment on the unit functions with high voltage power feeds (up to 750v DC line voltage, which can sting if you play with it) so we need to ensure that any equipment is potentially harmful is labelled accordingly….
So that was it. Two very busy and very productive days. I have to salute the work of Darren and Doug who were absolutely flawless in their effort and attention to detail. The results of their work speaks for itself.
Every penny you spend goes towards bringing 3417 nearer to service, and now more than ever your support is vital to see this unique piece of railway history doing what it was built for – carrying the fare-paying public.
One the subject of the shop, here’s a hint at just a few of the things we’re hoping to bring to you in the next few months….. Keep your eyes peeled!
The final piece of news, and one that we are particularly proud of, is that the SETG has now joined the Heritage Railway Association. The HRA is a voluntary run trade association representing Heritage & Tourist railways, related Museums, Tramways, Cliff Lifts, Railway Preservation Groups and related organisations. We look forward to using our membership to gain contacts, advice and access to further skills which will both bring 3417 back into traffic on heritage railways and make our goal of mainline operation more attainable.
It’s important to stress that just because we’ve be recognised by an important railway organisation we still have absolutely no intention of behaving ourselves. Buckie will still have to wear a muzzle and be fascinated/terrified by his own reflection, I will still be banned from branches of Greggs, Lynn will still spend most of her time apologising to strangers for “whatever Potter has done this time”, Darren will keep singing the theme tune to Ghostbusters to himself, Maggie will pretend she doesn’t know any of us, Trousers will carrying on hiding in the engine shed at the Great Cockcrow Railway “because you’re all nutters”, Oz will blame Buckie for everything (who wouldn’t?) and Paul will continue to wisely hide on another operating company.
In short, we mean to continue having fun and we all hope you lot continue to enjoy the ride. Thank you for your support, everyone.