Recent Work Reports

Working parties take place most weekends – see Home Page for details of the next working party visit to Bo’ness.

WORK REPORT – to 30th June 2008 by John Horne & John Miller

Members working:
John Horne, Stuart Mackay, John Miller, Brian Ward
Non-members working:
John Burnie, Eric Fitzgerald, Diesel Group, Ian Robertson, Stuart Sellar, W.S. Sellar, Andrew Thompson, Derek Thompson, Muir (C&W)

Mick Hughes and Stuart Mackay have been employed to do some work on the buffet and power cars respectively. Their work is included with the volunteer element in this report.

The last heating/vent outlet was screwed to the floor at the rear of 51043’s front saloon before fitting the last two seat units. We found a problem with the last seat to go into that saloon. The corner seats have extra moquette-covered timber to fill the triangular gap formed when a standard raked seat meets the vertical bulkhead. The one on the other side was OK but the floor studs for this one were slightly too far away from the bulkhead. We could either get a gap at the bottom or at the top so the front legs were built up with washers to improve the angle. This was not an ideal solution so we solved the problem by bending a pair of legs to give the correct alignment with the bulkhead. The seat was removed and dismantled then finally fitted using the adjusted legs.


John Miller demonstrates some motivational techniques on John Horne.

In mid-April 43’s rear saloon was cleared to let us start on the kickplate, etc. It is now all fitted but, as usual, this was not a simple task and most was new aluminium that had to be cut to length and drilled. The pieces at the radiator header tanks had to get a mouse hole-like cut-out to clear the filler pipe. Some aluminium wall join strip was shortened to give clearance and various undulations in the lino had to be flattened using a hammer and a wooden block. A screw broke when fitting one length so it had to come off and, after an eternity of drilling, the re-mains removed to allow fitting. We found enough original kickplate to use on the bulkheads at both ends of the saloon, plus the bulkhead side of the rear vestibule (to be done later). Very dirty, all were thoroughly cleaned. Veneer trim on both rear saloon bulkheads was trimmed to allow the kickplate to fit then the pieces were screwed on. Sealant was squeezed along the bottom edge of all kickplate in the rear saloon.

After being held up due to lack of space to spread out seat units for preparation, this work really got going when a couple of seats were moved into 43s rear saloon. Now only three units await painting. Most seat legs are now bolted to the rear saloon floor, after cleaning the stud threads (one broke but we can get by without it). Our original nuts and washers were quite rusty so a trial batch was steeped in rust dissolver. This was a success so it will be used for the rest plus other parts in future. A corner seat was assembled and fitted temporarily to create space. It can’t be installed yet because a metal wiring loom cover should be attached to the bulkhead and floor behind and under the seat but needs repainted first. It has been primed. Assembly and fitting of the rest of the seats has begun. Two more plywood panels were made for corner seats and green moquette is being stuck to them.

We counted all of the armrests we could find for both power cars, finding all but one one for 43s front saloon. It was thought that the upholsterer that repaired some armrests may still have it but that wasnt the case. Ann Stewart can get a spare done for us: we found one but now can’t find any vinyl to cover it with!

Attention turned back to 43’s window pelmets and more were sanded. A few have brackets and end pieces missing but we have a supply of several loose ones. Most end blocks were chosen and glued and brackets fitted where necessary. Window pelmets fit above specific windows as they have cut-outs to clear the luggage rack brackets. Our stock of prepared, part-prepared and untouched pelmets was checked and the right one for each window identified. Only four have been fitted in 43 so far. We were thwarted with one completed pelmet due to the wall panel above it coming too far down and obstructing the bracket. Most require at least some work before they can be installed e.g. one required a split to be glued and filled. Most have been repaired and await a final coat of varnish.

43’s vestibules have been improved too. All seven sets of sliding door mechanism cover trim (for 17 and 43) have been sorted out and those for 43 sanded and varnished. The centre vestibule has received most attention. Its bulkhead veneer and hardboard were cut back to accommodate six lengths of cleaned original kickplate. A strip of lino was laid to fill a gap between the lino in this vestibule and the rear saloon. Both door tracks were screwed to the floor. Door frames and jambs have been fitted to both saloon doorways, altering as required. Formica wall panels were trimmed and fitted around the bodyside doorways, with rubber sealing strip and door trim added. The triangular timber that the rubber sealing strip is attached to was missing from one of the bodyside door surrounds so some new lengths were fitted, primed and painted (to match the bodyside) before the strip was attached. Four green Formica panels were cut (from our dwindling supply of Pistachio) and fitted to the bulkheads, under each internal window. The same Formica was also glued to the front saloon sliding door before fitting it. The rear saloon door was fitted but later removed for Formica fitting (now done). The mechanism cover trim was also trial-fitted, altered to fit properly then removed for varnishing.

The rear vestibule woodwork i.e. bulk-head veneer and toilet, van and saloon door frames has been sanded and varnished. Sanding of the toilet door is on-going it was removed to make the work easier. We finally sanded and screeded the floor then laid lino. The long curved Formica cover for the rear vestibule wiring loom was given a thorough clean with our tried and tested McConnell method and now looks much better. The three new ceiling panels were made a while ago but only one was fitted. The others need to be trimmed to fit and this has now been done, although one still needs a circular hole for the conical lamp.

51043’s cab floor was still only bare key sheeting. Cabs and van previously had a concrete-like floor but we know that the original material was something slightly different called Indasco. This is a bitumen emulsion and cement mixture. Holes in 43’s cab floor were blocked and a wash coat of bitumen emulsion applied. Indasco flooring material was mixed up according to the recipe and spread into the channels of the key sheeting. It was hard to work with and turned out rather lumpy. This was OK because we just let it form a base layer and plan to add the top layer once we have worked out how to get it smoother. Since then we discovered that the emulsion has a very short shelf life and it hadn’t been used quickly enough. More will be bought and used promptly the next time! We need grey Formica for the cab walls and compartment shelves so we chose some samples from Formica’s website. These were compared to the original light grey, a good enough match found and three sheets ordered.

Work resumed in the brake van with the remainder of the rotten key sheeting on the drivers side (the side that started all the van floor work) being cut out, after removing the concrete-like material above. The frame underneath was cleaned up. The floor will also need repaired at the doors on the secondman’s side but this will be done some time in the future. New studs were welded in and the metal surround for timber threshold (drivers side) was made. Flat bar was welded in to use at the key sheeting joins. Four new key sheeting panels were cut to size (two large, two small) and the undersides primed and glossed. The sheeting was then welded in and the top surface primed and glossed. The new van door threshold (a larger piece of the keroin hardwood used for the passenger thresholds) was fitted on the drivers side, primed and glossed. The metal treadplate was later fitted onto that and primed and glossed also.

Door locks have been removed from 51043 and passed to Carriage & Wagon for inspection then refitted. One failure was replaced but has still to be adjusted. With the door panels off, we cleaned, primed and glossed the usually-hidden alloy door edges. Three have been put back on, after greasing the droplight lazy tongs. Locks have also been removed from 51017. All power car door handles were cleaned. 59404 has had a faulty budget lock replaced. Two of the centre cars bodyside door recesses have been altered to allow the doors to open and shut properly then the bare wood repainted. The other four doors were subsequently adjusted. 404s droplights were also checked and adjusted as necessary (while the door panelling was off to get at the locks).

Another 200 screws were used to securely level the floorboards in 17s rear saloon. The boards were then screeded, ready for new lino-leum. We had asked LC&W to make a new floor hatch in 17 to give access to an air tank but they did not make a good enough job of it. After unsuccessful attempts at getting it to work, the metal edging around it was ground down level with the floor and a new hatch made.

More work has been done on the engines and other mechanical parts. Early in April, 43’s No. 2 radiator was filled with water and the engine started. A vacuum gauge, flexi pipe and couplings were found and used to set both automatic isolating valves to operate at the correct pressure. They control the vacuum retained in the reservoir. The cause of 43’s non-working engine stop buttons was traced to a faulty stop solenoid that was changed and tested. 17’s drivers feed valve and both auto isolating valves on the vacuum system have also been set. A length of exhaust pipe was test fitted under 17. This piece had been badly squashed during a move at Heysham but has recently been unfolded. This was done to check that it would fit and after a successful test it was taken off. The plan is to cut out the worst bit and weld in a replacement section before fitting it properly. We need two olives for that and eventually found them in our stores and treated them with rust dissolver.

On 29th April the 3-car set was formed for electrical and vacuum trials and had some runs up and down the siding to the headshunt. This was the first time they had been coupled as a 3-car since the power cars had returned from Butterley and the first in over ten years that it had moved as a unit. Thankfully, no major faults were evident and the electrics seemed to behave as they should. 404’s vacuum cylinders began to show signs of life after a few goes but soon leaked off otherwise the vacuum worked OK. 51017 was moved over to the MMPD on 4th May for the fitting of No. 1 engine. It was connected up and successfully started on the 22nd – full power at last! 17 now has two buckeyes fitted and 43’s missing buckeye has been delivered to the MMPD for imminent fitting. 43’s No. 2 engine has a water drip from the top connection between the cylinder blocks. This can be left just now as it is not serious. It was running fine except that the stop solenoid was permanently energised but this was solved by topping up the water!

John's pie

John Horne enjoys an Individual Fruit Pie during a brief lull in restoration.

A lot of time has been spent adjusting the brakes on both power cars. Ride heights have also been checked. 17’s were done first. All shoes were adjusted as they were too tight. Each pair of brake shoe mechanisms is mounted on a solid shaft which has been skimmed at the ends. Bolts pass through the bogie and connect to the shaft on each side via a link through which a further bolt passes to hold the axle. The springs which should fit on the skimmed section of the shaft were missing; this meant that the brake blocks were in the wrong position in relation to the flanged wheel and this would give rise to “lipping” on the blocks’ faces. We had to release the bolts and drop the brakes to enable the shoes to be removed. Only then could we attach the spring washers which also had to be filed out to fit round the skimmed shaft. All this was time-consuming work. The brake pins were also greased. 43 then replaced 17 in the MMPD on 22nd June for brake adjustments. 43’s brake blocks were mostly flanged. A complete new set is half fitted and the permanent shoes and the washers are being refitted to try to keep the blocks on the tyres. 43’s ride heights will do as they are until after the HLF demonstration run. A few other mechanical jobs, too numerous to mention, have been done whilst the cars have been over at the MMPD thanks to the Diesel Group.

In the middle of April we cleared bits and pieces away from the north side of 79443’s interior to give Mick Hughes space to work. We also spent some time removing window frames and handrails from the windows in the unrestored section of the north side. The idea was to speed up Micks progress by taking the windows out so that he could get started on bodywork repairs straight away but we didn’t get very far due to stubborn fixings. He was able to renew the framing and sheeting around another two windows and the frame around a third window.

Our eight spare jumper cables were tested to identify faults and whether they are White Circle or Blue Square. We have four of the latter from Haymarket depot, MC Metals, etc. and have found out that the Dean Forest DMU Group have two White Circle ones that are of no use to them. A mutually-beneficial swap has been carried out with the help of Mick Hughes – another example of inter-group co-operation amongst the DMU fraternity.

Other miscellaneous activities have been undertaken. Both power cars now have new vacuum release cords. 51017’s lights would not switch off so the off solenoid was adjusted to fix the problem. The wooden frames around 43’s cab bulkhead windows remained un-varnished so they were given two coats. With 59404 now outside, we have to protect the upholstery from the sun. Black bin bags were fashioned into sunshields, in lieu of curtains, and attached to the five compartment windows needing protection. Something better is needed however. More materials have been moved out to store in the RCB. These are mainly spare items and materials required for jobs that are now complete. Emptying bits out of 43 had put more pressure on workshop space so a lot had to go. Quite a lot of things have been thrown out too.