With less than a week to go until the 2017 Great North Steam Fair, most of our work is centred on the preparation for this event, with the first rolling stock arrivals being readied for their role. This year we anticipate the majority of exhibits arriving next week, in the immediate build-up to the event, which leaves a little more time to prepare the ground and sort out the display areas. One of the key focal points is the Colliery, with the standard gauge ready to operate with Coffee Pot plus one other (it won’t be No.18 – its bearings are still being worked on as a full set of new brasses is being manufactured for the locomotive) – more on this next week… Another area is adjacent to the Fairground, with a threshing and baling display planned there. We had anticipated a lot of the Remaking Beamish work being underway now, but this won’t be the case and so some plans to contract the operational areas have, as a bonus, not been implemented. River Mite and Providence are due next week and will undertake out-of-hours trials to ensure all is well and as you will see below, Samson has relocated to the Waggonway giving opportunity for some new and unique photographs.
The Waggonway will be a focal point for activity with a number of displays and demonstrations taking place there as well as open display (i.e. outside!) of the Forcett Coach for example. As usual the roads will be a hive of activity and as Thursday and Friday are not in school holidays this year, they should be a little quieter for those wishing to sit and watch the amazing variety of transport artefacts go by…
Gathering for the Great North Steam Fair…
Below: A number of wagons have arrived to take part in the GNSF this year. The theme is ‘timber’ and with Diana coming, the aim is to recreate something of the old Kerry Tramway. In conjunction with the railway there will be two saw bench displays, with recently felled timber being processed to provide some of our winter firewood.
Below: With the restoration of the FR granite side-tipper nearing completion by the BINGE team, the FR have kindly loaned us its sister waggon, 848, seen here after arrival on Thursday. It will stay a little longer than some of the other waggons, and in return for this loan, we will tidy it up and repaint it.
Below: This bolster-pair is part of the Apedale Valley Railway fleet, owned by the Moseley Railway Trust who have been huge supporters of our events in recent years. These wagons will be loaded with long timbers for the event and will return to Apedale in a fortnight along with the Pershing wagon, which we have greatly enjoyed having on loan and which has had some brake components manufactured to return the favour.
Below: Two single bolsters, of the same design as the pair seen above, have also come on loan, and will remain with us for one year, in which time we will tidy them up and repaint them. They are being fitted with bolster stakes to enable single-wagon loads to be carried at the event.
Below: The recently completed reconstruction of a Ffestiniog Railway bolster pair has also arrived for the event and rather nice they are! The bolsters were set high in order to enable slate waggons to act as spacers between them for longer loads (something I happen to be modelling in 7/8 scale…). This pair will also be loaded for the event. Our thanks, as ever, go to the Ffestiniog Welsh Highland Railway and its heritage team and the Moseley Railway Trust for lending us their rolling stock for this event (and longer).
Below: Tony and Matt B manufacture the bolster stakes using last year’s cut timber…
By the end of Friday the waggons were all loaded with timber ready for next week…
Below: In preparation for next week, Samson has been relocated to the Waggonway – we hope to use it as a catalyst to sell some more of the ‘Book of Samson’ books too – Dave will be manning it and will be delighted to talk to visitors about the project and perhaps sign the book… Meanwhile, here it is settling in to its new and temporary environs. As mentioned earlier, we are making the Waggonway more of a focal point for the event this year, and Samson’s appearance here is integral to this.
Below: The creation of the painting area continues apace, with the sheer scale of the partition wall something to behold! It would make rather a nice climbing wall… Dust lighting, heating and dust extractors have been fitted and the floor given a second coat of ‘can’t miss it’ yellow!
Below: The other side of the wall faces into the Erecting Shop and the displays used by Tyne & Wear Archive and Museum for the Dene exhibition have been incorporated to add some historical interest. This wall will also be home to various pieces of machinery to enhance the workshop facilities at this end of the building.
Below: With an eye on next week, Chris and the volunteer team are progressing R025 to displayable condition (running!) – seen here with the canopy fitted and looking really rather impressive. It will be painted quickly for the event, then return to the workshop afterwards for any snagging to be completed and a full repaint in readiness for its final roll-out (get it?!) later in the spring.
Below: Bill has been completing the bolster waggon made from odds and ends – the uprights are now made (using Glyder’s old boiler tubes!) and a deck fitted. The buffing plates are recycled from other projects too. We might make another of these in due course, perhaps with the facility to carry a water tank.
Below: David continues to progress Samson’s tender. This won’t be running at the event (it will only shorten the railway!) but is being readied to go to Wales for Samson’s Ffestiniog Railway visit over the first May Bank Holiday.
Below: The BINGE ambition to complete the FR side-tipper rebuild in time for the GNSF is still on, even if next week’s deadline is missed – whilst the momentum is there the project is being pushed towards imminent completion (so we can start the next one!). We also have the brakevan chassis to complete (the body of this will move to the painting area shortly) and a few other ideas in the offing. It is all spare-time work for staff plus a handful of volunteers drawn from the FR ranks who live in these parts, so progress is reflected in availability of time, but so far it has seen two complete rebuilds plus some other smaller jobs, so we’re very pleased with that. Matt has selected the next granite waggon to be tackled, to make up a train of (this year…) two side tippers and two slate waggon conversions – with more of these to follow.
By 11pm on Friday night it looked something like this…
Below: Shaun, Daniel and Ben continue to work on a miscellany of projects as an honorary RHEC team until such a time as they move into the construction team for Remaking Beamish. The W. H. Smiths kiosk is structurally complete in the Town and has also had first and second electrical ‘fixes’ with painting now underway. They have therefore found time to complete the body for the Morris Commercial, which will run as a van in its revised role. To complicate things, a herringbone style of cladding was selected, this being affixed to the marine ply shell, itself attached to the lightweight steel structure. The standard of work is very high and as the cab/chassis will shortly be repainted following their overhaul last year, this should make for a very attractive vehicle in use around site. Here the cladding is applied – noting the complications of lining not just the two parts of each side up, but also the ends and the curved tops to these. The top strips are removable to aid attaching the roof canvas.
We’ll see more of this in due course, but the Fordson Thames has been out on test ahead of being handed over to the Attendants team next week – here is a sneaky pre-view. Whilst cosmetically it has been transformed, this doesn’t reveal the extent of the work carried out the chassis, cab structure and mechanical components too, so a more detailed report will follow (and regular blog readers will have seen these stages along the way).