Workday 10th December 2020

Good evening all. We bring Nearly-Christmas tidings from Strawberry Hill, written by Buckie, our Senior Spanner Monkey, Depot Lunatic and Tea Disposal System. We would like to apologise in advance for the crimes about to be committed against the English Language.

“Well here we are again at rather warm and cosy Strawberry Bill. (Yes, the B is correct. That’s what fitters at Wimbo used to call Strawberry. Why? I don’t know. The explanation is lost in the mists of time. The same is true at Staines. The sidings were referred to as ‘Staines in the Pants’ and the Waterloo and City as ‘The Drain’.

I digress! Today was the day we started on the heating fault, from now on to be known as “The £$%^&$ bleeding £$%$%£$ pain in the £$£%$%$ ass heating fault. I had some help in the name of JD – John Denyer –  to those who don’t know, John is a legend in the railway community and was my training controller when I was a wee snip of a lad. Well today Mr Denyer was under my control as, for just once in my life, I was in charge . (Who am I kidding? I’m still the Lad and the Boy in his eyes. I’m 56!!!)

After showing JD around the locker room, office and mess room, tea was made (well for me anyway.  JD doesn’t drink tea and I’ve told him he’s not a railway man if he doesn’t drink tea. I get told to ‘go forth and multiply ye of doubtful parentage’)  Having shown him the whereabouts of tools, spares etc; we started on the SETG equivalent of painting the Forth Rail Bridge. We discussed an action plan. (Yes! “We!” I nearly fell over). We decided that work would start from the end of 70797 the next to Driving 76262, furthest from the heating jumper as it would be easier to rewire and fit conduit  backwards. Honestly, it makes sense but you have to be there and just start basically ripping and grinding the conduit off the coach frame as most of it is rotten and needs replacing. We decided that the “T” pieces carrying wiring into the coach body should be as far as practicable be saved as this is the bit that will take the time rewiring, though the first one decided that it was very happy being here since 1967 and wasn’t going to give up its comfy position with out a struggle. But we hit it with hammers and ground it into submission.

I did say ‘Ripping’, didn’t I? York Carriage Works built things to last back in the day and the conduit may have been a bit rusty but none of it was giving up without a fight. And boy!, did it fight. By the end of the day we had only removed three compartments worth of conduit , but the remaining   step boards had been removed and mercifully came off easily so can be saved. We’ve managed to get some idea as to how we are going to tackle the rest of the job.

Trust me this is a big, big, big job but we are determined to get it done properly: no half measures from this group. We have more people joining in the fun after Christmas – Tony Francis and Mick O’Connor, both well known, senior and knowledgable railwaymen,  so things will progress a bit quicker i hope. I’m under no illusions, though. On the Big Railway this would be a “Back to Works Job”, done in an inspection shed by a team of twenty men working for weeks full-time. For us, though, this could be a 6 month job. But at the end of it we will have the smell of burning dust on heaters clogging our nostrils on 70797 which is the smell that tells you the heaters are on!!!”

Editors Note:
I’ve done my best. For those of you who have struggled, I can sum things up this way:
Buckie and JD have started work on 70797’s re-wire.
JD still thinks Buckie is a Boy.
70797 is, despite the knackered conduit, built to last. The re-wire is going to be a long job, but it’s going to be carried out to a proper standard.
Buckie and JD will be joined by more Guest Minions after Christmas.
When things won’t come off the coach willingly, Buckie hits them with hammers until they do. If that doesn’t work, he breaks out the angle grinder.

Oh, and railwaymen who don’t drink tea aren’t proper railwaymen. I look forward to watching Buckie continue to lose this argument with JD.

Sounds like a useful day’s work, and frankly with Buckie and JD on the job, we would be pushed to find two more qualified men to lead the re-wiring project.