Here is the latest news from the transport and engineering team at Beamish. A mix of coverage, as usual, and probably the penultimate post this year – though I’ll aim to wrap up next week and then do the usual annual review and look ahead over the Christmas holidays. The festive season has been attended by very cold weather, but this has made for some very atmospheric scenes – a look at the museum’s Facebook page will show you what I mean.
Fordson E83W Van (Northern Echo No.54)
Below: Last week we announced that a new vehicle had joined the collection at Beamish, in the form of Northern Echo fleet No.54, a Fordson E83w van. This was one of the fleet operated by the Northern Echo, based in Darlington and used to deliver newspapers to shows and newsagents across Darlington and County Durham in the 1950s and 1960s. It was retained by the Northern Echo as part of their archives, being used for promotional work and to attend shows across the region. In recent years the van has not been seen in public and the Northern Echo approached Beamish to see if we would like to add it to our collection – which of course we were delighted to do. It is in running condition and as part of the handover, a photo-shoot was arranged last Friday to officially transfer it to the museum. This was done so with Darlington 4 and the 1950s shops as a backdrop (No.4 carrying an advert for the Northern Echo in recognition of this donation).
Below: This superb photo from the Northern Echo archive shows some of the fleet of vans used for newspaper delivery outside the paper’s offices in Darlington. The vehicles here appear to be a mostly a mixture of Ford Popular and Fordson E83W vans.
Below: The aforementioned Darlington 4 has suffered some electrical troubles of late, largely in terms of finding a supply of spares for its lighting circuits. As an experiment, some of these are being converted to LED operation. An advantage of this is the vastly reduced power consumption – the vehicles here seldom achieving the speeds and miles in a working day to satisfy the appetite of the lighting on the batteries. Crosville 716 is already an LED fitted vehicle for example. We will try out some further lighting options for No.4, which will also reduce any down-time when batteries have to be charged (we see this impact particular in the dark winter months).
Below: Meanwhile, the continued strip-down and exploration of the Dodge bus continues. The chassis and springs have been reduced to component form for shot-blasting and then painting, and this work is being contracted-out. The team is now looking at the rear axle and differential, as these photos show.
Below: Gateshead 10 has now been lifted in order for repairs to the bolsters and brake prodding to be carried out. These two views show the further coats of undercoat applied, and the beginning of restoration of its once-familiar Gateshead & District Tramways appearance.
Below: The first of the painted bogies has arrived back in the workshop, with the second waiting for the same treatment. There is now a lot of assembly work to complete the bogies, including, of course, refitting the traction motors for the first time in several years.
Kerr Stuart 721
Below: I mentioned 721’s wheelsets in the last post – and here they are at Beamish following delivery. David Young is now the principle engineer on the project and has been machining various brasses to suit, as well as axleboxes etc. The frames will be inverted so that he can trial fit the wheelsets and boxes, work that will take quite a bit of time as all of the dimensions are new, but have to fit around some quite distorted and previously repaired frame plates.
NER K class 559
Below: Down in Darlington, the first assembly of 559’s boiler has commenced, with the front tubeplate being fitted last week. The plan is to complete the boiler in the new year, then paint it for display at Beamish, whilst the rest of the project catches up with it.
Above photos courtesy of North Bay Railway Engineering Services
Below: The steam team have redecorated the engineers office at the Waggonway and reorganised the display to better effect – as seen here. One of the numerous improvements that they are working on within their exhibits this winter.
Photo courtesy of Jorden Sayer