Normal service is resumed in this post – with the latest progress from around the workshops. We also have No.18 back in traffic in the Colliery, complete with new regulator linkage – this has much improved the locomotive and makes it better suited to the driver experience operations that have become a popular and regular part of its operation. The attention the engine shed is receiving from a weekly member of staff is also showing, with a much improved standard of presentation and cleanliness evident as well as the visitor benefit of having someone there to talk to.
Below: Dave Young has picked up one of the Binge projects, assisting with the construction of the narrow gauge brake van chassis. The roughly machined bearings have moved to Dave’s own workshop where he has completed work on them over the last week or so. First we see him boring the journal face on his Schaublin milling machine, here fitted with a Naerex/Wolhaupter boring head.
Below: Swapping to a Kaiser boring head, the finished surface is machined.
Below: Dave notes another German boring head in use here – adding the radius to the end of the journal face. The axles are also advancing, with one nearing completion complete with the shoulders that locate the journal within the axlebox as well as the wheel seats – I’ll include a photograph of these next time.
Below: Here are the finished pedestals – complete with grooves for the distribution of oil around the bearing. The pedestals were cast from patterns discovered in the collection here. In keeping with the bricolage approach to this project, the lubrication will be from spare oil boxes originally manufactured for No.18 but in the end swapped for glass feed gravity lubricators within the cab. Once the wheels are pressed onto the axles thought can be given to wheeling the chassis (a steel sub-frame that fits beneath the brakevan). After this the brakegear can be finalised – largely made from point rodding components recovered from site. Most of the van’s construction utilises ‘spares’ from the site or left over from other jobs in order to minimise the cost!
Below: I wasn’t sure if I had included a photograph of the completed flat/bolster wagon after Bill had finished it in time for the Great North Steam Fair. So here it is, in company with the open wagon. Both utilise Hudson components, hidden as much as possible behind artificial wooden solebars. The idea is to have a small number of these types of wagons, to a standard design for running gear and couplings.
Below: We now have a more or less full time painter within the RHEC, with Rebecca taking on a variety of jobs including the Leyland Cub tipper (currently being sign-written) and the gallopers horses. These are seen here in stripped and primed/undercoated state. The application of their new livery will commence soon, with an earlier guise being adopted, more in keeping with the Edwardian era in which the Fairground is nominally set.
Below: Parts come and go – awaiting shot-blasting is a water supply box for road steam vehicles (to be located at Rowley) and also Edward Sholto’s smokebox and a trio of NER bollards that will be installed at Rowley as part of the ongoing detailing of the area.
Below: The brakevan, whose bearings were seen earlier, has also had the roof canvassed – again using offcuts of material from other jobs. A metal plate will be fitted around the chimney as well as a cowl.
Below: In the painting area, contractor David Purvis is working on what was the S&N van, but will need a new identity! It is seen here rubbed down and with extensive areas of filler applied.
Below: The Morris Commercial will be next to be painted, seen here in semi-prepared state.
Below: The spare engine for the B-Type bus is now mounted on the engine cradle for dismantling and overhaul by Russell. It also features on the Museum’s facebook page under the ‘Workshop Wednesday’ banner. The aim is to overhaul this engine and fit it before the existing one expires, rather than after!
Russell has had a good week, with all of the buses available for service on Friday following the fitting of a new brake servo on the D-Type. Its absence has kept the bus off the road for a while, the replacement part (plus one spare) being obtained from the USA. The Renault chassis under the D-Type is a Dodge design, and so spare parts for this are becoming increasingly important to find and stockpile for this vehicle.
The design team are currently working on the initial phases of the Remaking Beamish programme, including a review of the infrastructure works that will shortly be commenced by a contractor. This is an extensive programme in itself, and will produce the map on which to build the buildings and connect them to the myriad services a modern Museum needs as part of its engagement. It also includes enhanced power distribution, IT connections, sewage and waste water disposal, a district heating system and a series of new roads.
One of these new roads will branch off from the main site road adjacent to the tram/bus depot and head northwards straight for the site of the 1950s urban area. This will provide a discrete access road during the construction years but will also become the route accessing Spainsfield Farm, which is to be situated in this locality. Though we are few years away from moving visitors around this area, I was musing that we don’t anticipate running a transport service to this location. I had pondered upon a Town-Foulbridge via Spainsfield horse bus/charabanc service, which might work, but also considered that we have the ideal bus in the collection already for this service.
At present we have representations of company and municipal buses in the fleet (for instance, Northern as a company and Newcastle Corporation as a municipal operator). We do not operate a country bus/privateer vehicle – but have just the bus for this story. With the aim of running low-cost services, numerous one-man band operators were set up in the 1920s, often using former military vehicle chassis and locally made bodies. Working long hours and with dubious operational practices, these ‘pirates’ fought for business – often physically. Less contentious were the rural routes, and working from Rookhope, in Weardale, was a gentleman named Baty, who operated his 14 seat single deck bus on the local roads. The body was built by Robsons of Blackhill, a few miles from Beamish, in 1929 and is believed to have originally been fitted to a Chevrolet chassis. It was later fitted to a 1931 Dodge UF30A chassis, with a 21.03hp four cylinder petrol engine connected to a four speed manual gearbox.
Registered as VK 5401, the bus was later preserved by the VK Club, constituted in its later years with four owners, and made numerous early preservation era forays around the north east from its various bases in Northumberland. Interestingly, two supporters of the club were later to become stalwarts of the Beamish Tramway Group and at least one of the owners is actively involved in bus preservation in the county today.
The bus spent 32 years with Mr Baty, and 33 years with the VK Club. It had operated from Rookhope until 1952, the 1931 Road Traffic Act restricting it to a four mile route to Eastgate where it met the main valley bus services. Before this date, it had roamed through Weardale and even as far as Crook. It was stored between 1952 and 1963 when it was purchased and began its new life in preservation.
The bus was later loaned to Beamish (from 1980), though was moved away only to return, this time now in Museum ownership in May 1995 when its base ceased to be available to the club. It was by then a non-runner and exhibiting damage caused during a filming assignment. Since then it has been in store, initially in the Regional Museum Store and more latterly in one of the barns housing artefacts for use in the Remaking Beamish project.
Whilst there is no immediate plan to restore the Dodge, it is one of those ‘itches to scratch’ projects that might just find its way into the RHEC for assessment – after all, it links perfectly with Spainsfield and would provide a very satisfactory means of assisting visitors unable to walk to the farm reach this location, in very appropriate style. One to ponder on just a little bit more…
Below: The Dodge is seen here at Beamish in the early 1970s. The location is Foulbridge and for those familiar with the area and layout, the location of the bus here is pretty much where the toilets of the Regional Resource Centre are now located. The cottages were demolished after the area became the engineering and administrative support base for the Museum. In the background, at the far end of the row, is the Bluebell Garage, an early exhibit in which much early restoration was accomplished by the Friends of Beamish. The livery carried is that originally worn, researched with the assistance of its former operator, Mr Baty.
Below: The bus is seen again in 2006, by now in Beamish ownership and on the day it returned to Rookhope for what was hoped to be full restoration. Unfortunately this project was aborted and the bus returned to store at the Museum.
Below: The Dodge four-cylinder engine. One of the pistons is a replacement, from a diesel unit and lightened as much as possible to harmonise it with its lighter petrol brethren.