T&I News 6 2020...

T&I News 6 2020…

There is something of a bus theme this week! However, to provide some balance, the steam locomotives are included, whose steam tests ahead of the 2020 season have been taking place across the museum.

We start with an update on the new WAV (Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle – Crosville 716), whose restoration and adaptation is nearing completion at a local contractor’s site.

Crosville 716

It is very gratifying to see the good progress being made on 716, with each week seeing more and more added to the bus and work completed. The second coat of Crimson has been applied (though a third is likely to be needed) before lining, signwriting and varnishing.
Work has been progressing on the interior. The switch-box to the right hand side of the drivers position has been constructed and covered, using a fragment of the original as a pattern. This contains the electrical control unit for the bus, houses the battery and will have numerous control switches mounted onto it, per the original arrangement. The seat base has also been covered with matching vinyl and will have an adjustment base fitted to the replicated seat itself – our drivers being of varied shapes and sizes. Note the new floorboards too. These will be painted black.
The ceiling is now complete, with wiring and light patresses installed. The ceiling has been painted gloss white.
The lamps are period glass with a newly spun chrome mount. Internally a warm/yellow LED unit is fitted to provide the light. These fittings are not original to this bus, but were selected from the spares obtained over the years as they protrude less into the saloon – a consideration given the restricted height of the roof and the positioning of wheelchairs within the vehicle.
Glazing is almost complete, with just one pane to install. The opening driver’s windscreen gives a degree of air-conditioning! The destination box will read ‘Circular’ – the delivery photos show that it would have read ‘Crosville’, with route information on a board mounted inside the nearside windscreen. This practice was criticised at the time, as it obscured the driver’s vision to the nearside of the bus, so we wonder if blinds were later fitted? Photos that I have access to show some panels painted the same colour as the body, with even more signs evident inside the windscreens – so perhaps the vision obscurity was not considered to be problematic?!
The firewall/bulhead was already complete, but is set off nicely with the crimson paintwork of the bonnet, as seen here.
The dash panel has been installed – this will be laquered and will have the instrument panel (below) mounted centrally, as per the original installation.
The painted instrument panel referred to above.
This is the transfer for the body manufacturer, Brush (Falcon Works, Loughborough), which is to be reproduced and fitted above the driving position. We are hoping to find a copy in better condition in order to copy this and restore a small but important detail within the saloon.
The nearside dog-guard was in the process of being made when we visited on Wednesday.
A general view of the rear 3/4 offside of the bus. The access lift is to be installed in the coming weeks, which will entail cutting back the lower panel (which was anticipated) to incorporate it. Painting of the rear of the bus can then be completed.
This view shows the more or less completed nearside paintwork. Note the completed white roof and black gutter strip too.
I like to include an image with each report on 716 to remind us of how far this project has come! arguably we now have a replica body incorporating a few original components, rather than a restored body, but it is 87 years old now and a lengthy period of that time was spent on a building site then in a collapsed barn! I’ve included the first post on the purchase of 716 below for those readers who haven’t seen this.

VK 5401

Peter Barlow, one of the long-established Beamish Tramway Group has unearthed some slides showing the little Dodge bus during its years in the hands of the VK club. Peter was one of the club’s members, alongside Les Brunton (another stalwart of the Beamish Tramway Group), long before the idea of the bus becoming part of Beamish’s collection was explored.

All images copyright Peter Barlow and reproduced here with his permission.

VK 5401 was a regular visitor to Beamish – seen here at Home Farm, on the site of what is now the British Kitchen food outlet and animal hemmel.
Beamish Hall was part of the museum in the 1970s, the bus being posed outside the entrance to the hall, which at that time was shared with the Durham County Council Adult Education College. The hall is now a privately owned hotel and wedding venue.
The Dodge was based for a period of time at the old brewery premises in Ovington, Northumberland. It is seen here in the summer of 1971.
The bus was maintained at Ovington, seen here outside its shed whilst undergoing radiator repairs in 1971.
This view was taken in the autumn of 1971, showing VK 5401 inside its shed at the old brewry in Ovington.
A charming view of VK 5401 in what can be considered its natural habitat! This is the road between Wylam and Close House in the Tyne Valley.
The final two views provide some Beamish history. This image, dating to 1973, was taken on the road from Home Farm down to the site of the present tram/bus depot. The road is no longer in use. The building in the trees is that seen in the earlier view at Home Farm.
We move to 1978 now and see the bus climbing what would later be developed into the Colliery road, which at the time accessed Home Farm more directly, with a track (to the left here) towards Foulbridge. The tramway was yet to be extended through this scene. In the background the cottages from Hetton have been erected and the first sidings on the Colliery standard gauge railway can also be seen.

Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle J2007

J2007 is currently in the workshops for a planned two-week maintenance programme, which includes fitting new interior panels to replace the water stained plywood sheeting fitted from new. This has revealed quite extensive water ingress through leaks in the roof. The re-covering of the roof was planned for this programme, having been patched over a number of years now. As a result of the water damage, the bottom rails of some sections of the body frame are being replaced (they are slender steel box section) and the interior of the body frame is being treated with Waxoyl to reduce the rate of damage in the future. It is also clear the body has suffered from its own size – it rolls to a fair degree when negotiating the Pit Village Street. It is aimed to extend the life of the bus by another 3 – 5 years with this work, after which it really will be a case of rebuild or replace. Our plans for the future include the restoration of a further Leyland Cub bus (which we already own – West Riding 560) to replace J2007 in daily service.

Kerr Stuart 721

By Wednesday lunchtime, all of 721’s brass tubes had been removed and good progress was being made on removing the rivets that secure the tubeplate into the barrel.
Matt and Zoe are working on removing the tubeplate rivets and bolts securing the main steam pipe. Both tuebplate and steampipe will be renewed.
With the rivets ground flush, Zoe uses the air-hammer (windy-hammer if you prefer!) to push the rivets out – a more preferable tool to using a hammer and punch. The boiler now awaits removal of the tubeplate (which is now just held in by friction) before an NDT can be carried out and further inspection of the interior carried out.


One of the more unusual locations for a narrow gauge locomotive is the tram depot! Here Samson is seen being warmed in readiness for its 2020 steamtest.
The new bufferbeam has been completed and can be seen here, with the centre buffer protruding from the centre. Some testing is required to establish any potential for buffer-locking, though it has been designed to be compatible with the rolling stock in use at Bea#mish.
A close-up view of the new bufferbeam and coupling face. A pin and link is located within the latter to provide the coupling itself. The rear bufferbeam is to be modified and a tender bufferbeam fitted to match this, so that propelling moves are less prone to couplings becoming mis-aligned. The front boiler band is on my desk so that I can add the white lining – so Samson ‘2.0’ will be clearly identifiable in photographs in the future!

Great North Steam Fair 2020

We are very pleased to confirm the first visiting locomotive for the Great North Steam Fair (April 2 – 5). More are to follow this announcement, along with some news on the theme of the road steam at this year’s event…

The locomotive in question is standard gauge (its been a while since we’ve had a short-term standard gauge visiting locomotive), and it will be based in the Colliery. Thanks to the cooperation of the Tanfield Railway we will be operating 1911 built 0-4-0ST Keighley Gas Works No.2 throughout the steam fair. This is a new locomotive to us, being very similar to the Tanfield’s Sir Cecil Cochrane that visited us during the first year of the revitalised Rowley Station in August 2010.

We are very grateful to the trustees and volunteers at Tanfield for making this loan possible, and look forward to welcoming No.2 to Beamish next month.