Covering the period up to and including Saturday 24th January 2015
Here is a mixed presentation of news from the team this week, covering site activities and progress in the RHEC as well as the ongoing activities with all things narrow gauge.
Rowley Station Signal Box
The former Carr House East signal box is currently receiving a much needed facelift, which has entailed surrounding it with scaffolding in order to carry out this work. It may be recalled that the subsidence and cracks in the wall were attended to previously, work which included fitting wall ties to prevent further movement.
Below: The box, replete with scaffolding.
Below: The most noticeable change, perhaps, for 2015 will be the renaming of the box as ‘Rowley’ in place of ‘Beamish’ – it seems rather odd to use multiple names around the station area and as the station and its surroundings are universally known as ‘Rowley’ then ‘Rowley’ it shall be!
Below: The window sashs are in particularly poor condition and are being removed for repair.
Below: The window frames are also patchy – some areas are fine, others are as bad as this, and are receiving extensive attention to insert new wood.
Below: The porch roof has decayed and will be slated in place of the roof felt. New flashing will feature.
Below: Plastic gutters – arghhh! These are being replaced with new timber gutters, which are fitted to new soffit boards all around. This area, around the chimney base, will also be repaired and new flashing fitted.
Below: Broken slates are being replaced – fortunately there are only a few to attend to.
Below: The top of the roof has decaying flashing, and will be repaired and have an appropriate ventilator fitted (something that was always missing). We have a very narrow window of time to complete this work, so are contracting out the building repairs whilst our own team focus on the decoration. The colours will be revised in line with recent research and overall the signal box should present an altogether happier picture for the forthcoming season!
Below: Two new vantage points offered by the scaffolding…
Below: Also at Rowley, the excavation work for the pit has started, with the track being uncovered and prepared for removal.
Sunderland 101/Blackpool 703
Below: During its routine ‘C’ exam this week, a fault developed on 101’s tyre, propagating from a small an older fracture and resulting in a sudden breaking of the tyre ring on one of the wheelsets. The fitter observed the moment this occurred and the tram has been immediately withdrawn from service pending investigation and a USAN (Urgent Safety Action Notice) issued to all operators of both ex Blackpool cars as well as heritage trams using shrunk-on tyres. Nobody can recall having seen such a thing occur previously. We will look at the options for 101, but its place in the queue wouldn’t, at present, see it receive attention until Gateshead 52 is completed! The suggestion of fitting a replacement tyre/wheelset/bogie is initially attractive, but it is thought that the dismantling and resulting lift of the tram would certainly lead to the need to carry out further work, which is not budgeted for nor within the present capacity of the team. Gateshead 10 is waiting on new tyres, to coincide with our new financial year, and 264 is the priority at present. The aim would be to return both of these trams to service this year, with 10 probably continuing to run in its green livery until the beginning of 2016. It requires some body work and a repaint – the limitation being other work ahead of it in the queue for this work. We have a Gant Chart for mapping out the transport fleet and so a critical path can be mapped through it – bringing forward 10’s re-tyring and other work, returning it to service for next winter, then shopping it again for body repairs and repainting giving us the most benefit from both the operational as well as workshop capacity points of view. We will not be seeking to extend 280’s loan as the space it occupies will be required for other projects, not least the new accessible bus later this year. So we shall have to keep our fingers crossed for a good summer to make the most of 31 and 114!
Here is an old view of 101 – note the B type bus still in red livery. The tram has served us superbly and will, in due course, be rebuilt. But it shows that the remaining life in ex Blackpool trams is finite and once they finally finish this stint of operation, the subsequent rebuilds required will be extensive and expensive…
Below: The Friends team have been making more noticeboards for Rowley, including this ‘A’ board, which has now been painted by Terry and lettered by Sarah, Phil Anderson’s apprentice. It awaits varnishing before moving to the station in time for the season’s operational start-up in three weeks (yes, three weeks!!!).
Below: In the Finishing Shop, Rambler’s cylinder cover has lost its inauthentic chrome finish, replaced by the rather more subdued and accurate painted version. I’m carrying out this work as part of a cosmetic tidy up of the Fowler roller and its being fitted in between many other jobs – but provides some ‘therapy’ from the rest of the job! Borders and lining are still to be applied, followed by varnishing – the cover is seen here very much in ‘wet paint’ guise.
Work on painting 264’s lower deck is now underway with further stripping of paint and filling/priming/filling underway. It is now beginning to wear the familiar silver primer scheme that is now favoured on bare wood repaints. The top deck repairs will begin shortly, allowing the truck to be extracted for removal of the wheelsets. The motors have now been overhauled, along with the controllers, and the master electrical panel has also been overhauled and upgraded. Paint swatches for the ‘Prussian Blue’ are also being prepared using samples from our stores.
Narrow Gauge Railway
Below: An evening session in the machine shop/fabrication shop saw the 12 angle brackets for the rebuilt Hudson (I think we’ll call it the ‘Joicey’ waggon) cut, bent, drilled and primed. We have a couple more sessions planned this week which should see the chassis re-wheeled and brake gear reassembled. There is a good chance the body will be in its basic shape by then for trial fitting. After which its more aluminium primer and a lot of painting!
Below: A growing collection of refurbished/new components for the Joicey waggon. Assembly of this rebuilt waggon will begin next week…
Barford & Perkins Motor Roller R025
Below: The team working on R025 continue to make excellent progress on its total restoration. Seen here is the (Landrover) silencer and the ‘spider’ which joins the gearbox to he engine via a flexible coupling – the component shown being the clutch side. This has been built up and machined by Dyers, to remove considerable play in this area. The forked selectors for the gearbox have also had considerable work carried out to remove a lifetime of wear – and ensure that clutch and gear operation should be positive and without ‘drag’.
Below: A closer look at the exhaust pipe as it threads sinuously from the engine manifold, through the bulkhead, down around and under the flywheel, then back under the engine (via the silencer) before it takes a 90 degree turn upwards to the outlet which is mounted on the front of the canopy. No mean feat!