A mixed assortment of news this week…
Below: Following the successful installation of the refurbished engine (with new, to this bus, block), the old B-Type engine has been placed on the frame in order for it to be overhauled – so that a spare is available for the future…
Below: The Fordson pick-up has been brought into the workshop with ‘milky oil’. A new head gasket is available and will be tried – to eliminate the worry that there is something more seriously wrong with the casting.
Below: The crankshaft for the centre engine has been examined, as part of the engine’s comprehensive overhaul. Two small cracks have been found and will be dealt with shortly. It should be remembered that this engine is our hardest working steam engine and it amasses very high rates of use over any given season. This is the motivation behind the very thorough overhaul it is now receiving, and some modifications that will be shown here in due course.
Below: The ‘pew coach’ chassis is progressing well with Dave Young machining the pedestals, manufacturing axles and assembling these onto the new, simple, channel frame. Brake gear has also been constructed – the idea being the rolling chassis fits up into the existing body and is then held captive via the coupling/buffer beams.
Below: This view shows some of the brakegear components.
Below: The access bus received a new steering rack and overhaul (again!) of the torsion suspension. It is (at the type of writing) still unavailable for traffic whilst spare parts are awaited.
Below: In the RHEC, pieces of the Wingate café, collected for assembly inside the new-build 1950s terrace, have been stripped of extensive graffiti. Whilst this does form part of the history of these booths, it very much post-dates the era we are recreating and had spoilt, quite considerably, the appearance of this panelling. Further restoration work and restoration of the varnished surfaces will continue once the construction joinery team receive these items and prepare them for installation.
Below: The Bramton coach is all-but complete now, with a few jobs still remaining to be tackled on the brake gear. It will move back to the Waggonway this autumn, for commissioning in the spring of 2019.
Below: Using some short-term available capacity, a couple of ‘nice to have’ jobs are progressing in the RHEC. One is a revision to the load carried on the Model T Ford Crewe Tractor, the other is the assembly of a small crossing cabin based on a North Eastern Railway design, for installation at the end of the NER branch line (adjacent to the tramway), where the telephone etc. is currently in a less than ideal location. One of the stock of scrap sash windows is seen being adapted for its new purpose.
Below: The working group responsible for the reconstructed Spainsfield Farm element of the Remaking Beamish project identified a need for a couple of grounded railway van bodies. These ideally need to be pre-war, so the ex GER fish van, which came to us from the Bowes Railway, is to be used for this purpose. The body was extensively rebuilt at Bowes and should in fact have the panels on the inside of the framework – as a result of this it never looked quite right. The body will be removed for its new role, whilst the chassis will be re-decked as the basis of a ‘replica’ of one of the Betchworth transporter waggons, as ran with Coffee Pot No.1 for many years. We hope to complete this work in time for next season, giving No.1 an accurate train for the first time, as well as Spainsfield the wooden store required there.
Below: Here is a random view of half-term bus/tram congestion at Foulbridge!
Below: Readers may recall that a few years ago we purchased a Seddon flatbed lorry for use around the Museum. It’s high potential payload and awkward driving position made it only suitable for a few of our staff to use and it had recently fallen out of use. Discussion with a local historic commercial vehicle collector and restorer, who was interested in the Seddon, has resulted in us exchanging vehicles, the Seddon leaving us and being replaced by this 1956 Ford Thames tipper. It has a more ergonomic cab for use here, and was originally fitted with a van body. Once commissioned it will join the working fleet of historic vehicles used around the museum by staff and volunteers in the course of their work.
Below: A recent filming assignment saw a number of our vehicles in action as part of the ‘street’ scenery. Here the SOS bus enjoys an outing in the autumn sunshine. The Leyland Cub tipper, Model T Tourer, Austin 20 Hearse, AW replica car, Blackpool 31 and Newcastle 114 were also made available for the same work.
Below: Sunderland 16 has re-entered traffic, just in time for the autumn/winter festivities.
Below: Samson is seen here during the final operating day of the narrow gauge in 2018 – where a shunt of the rolling stock is carried out to place it under cover or under sheeting for the winter ahead. Samson will now be prepared for its boiler exam.
Below: A similar exercise was carried out using No.1, seen here placing the running and non-running chaldrons out of the way of planned winter maintenance and development work.
Below: The maintenance and construction teams worked together on the recent (and urgent!) replacement of the repro-stone bollards at the Entrance building. Following the discovery of one being loose, an inspection resulted in the decision to remove them altogether. A sketch and conversation later and the result is a new wall, built in short-time and styled to match the main entrance building behind. Some lighting has also been added to the wall – not a historic addition but hopefully making the entrance area more appealing to visitors. Work on the handrails has also been carried out by both teams.
Below: The completed job, ready for the half-term and Halloween (then Christmas!) crowds…
Below: Following a number of incidents where visitors tripped on tram rails whilst cutting the corner on the grass verge at the bottom of Pockerley Bank on route from the Entrance, a temporary rope barrier is being replaced by traditional estate railings. Further railings will be installed around the Pockerley tram stop area, to provide a coherent style and some variety to the post and rail fencing.
Below: Recently purchased, these two 1965 views of No.18 at Seaham Harbour add nothing new to the known photographic story of the locomotive at that time (there are around 150+ images of No.18 working at Seaham over the years on file here), but they do come with copyright and also show Hal Weetman driving the locomotive – recognisable as he tells us he was the only person to work at Seaham Harbour who had a greasetop cap!
Over the fence
Below: Stephen Middleton sent a couple of photos (c/o Mike Heath) showing the completed NER Autocar and Autocoach during their launch event last week – you can find more about this project online but it is obviously one that we have followed with great interest and we congratulate Stephen and his team on the superb result and enormous hard-work that has gone into realising this project.