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Bluebell Railway General Discussion

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by Jamessquared, Feb 16, 2013.

  1. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    From the e-Newsletter, progress on Car 54:]

    Car 54: A Top Job on the Toplights

    When Car 54’s previous owners started restoration work at Carnforth, one of the tasks they embarked upon was the toplights. They were stripped into component parts, and glass, handles, and rain strips were removed from some of the fixed sections.

    When we acquired the Pullman, one of the first jobs was to make sure we had a complete set of toplights. This was important because we do not have any suitable spares. These toplights are bigger than on any of the other cars for which we do have spares.

    The first job was to remove the green scale that had built up as a result of them being exposed following stripping of paint and lacquer by the previous owners. Next, we polished the inner brass frames. They took a lot of work as we found some bad areas of corrosion that required removal before proceeding further. We then re-tapped the screw holes. As the screws were the same size as those found on the other cars, we still had some left following previous restorations.

    After this work, we had to make wooden patterns for the new glass. Once we had the glass and acquired the putty, the long job of reassembly started, as well as making sure the screwheads line up, which is a challenge in itself.

    We are repolishing the inner brass sides, which will then be waxed instead of lacquered. A coat of etching primer is being applied to the exterior side, which will then have undercoat and topcoat applied before fitting. As part of the restoration of the toplights, we are also remaking the missing handles, catches, and rain strips.

    By Derrick Warner
     
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  2. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    A bumper final issue of the e-newsletter this year. Firstly, an infrastructure update, with news of the impending track replacement south of Horsted Keynes (another 520 yards), and beyond that, preparations for a bridge replacement on Freshfield Bank.

    Infrastructure Update: A New Bridge Planned at Freshfield

    With the Santa Specials, it is unusual for the Infrastructure Department to do any track laying in December. There was a small exception this year as we have been asked to extend the tram road adjacent to E road in OP4.

    This is a short section that is not connected to any other track and used for servicing wheelsets and bogies. Steel reinforcing is required to cope with the loads that will be put on it. Wood is used to ensure that the groove for the wheel flanges is not filled with concrete. By 12 December, one truck full of ready-mix concrete will have been poured on the west side and between the rails. If we did the east side at the same time, we would be unable reach to trowel off the centre section. This area will be concreted at a later date.

    Early in the New Year, Infrastructure will be relaying 26 60-foot track panels at Three Arch Bridge. Most of this section is in a deep cutting and suffers from drainage problems.

    Sleepers, rail, fishplates, and other items have been moved trackside in preparation. Posts have been accurately knocked in at intervals to ensure we know the exact line the relayed track should take. This will not be a totally straightforward job. Most of the formation will require a Terram/ polythene/Terram sandwich under the ballast to allow water to run into a new drain that will be dug down the length of the cutting south of Three Arch Bridge on the west side.

    The existing drainage ditch on the east side is not sufficient to properly drain the track bed by itself. Six cross drains will also be dug under the track formation, emptying into the new drainage ditch.

    At the southern end, the new track will connect up to track already relaid. At the northern end, it will still be some way short of Horsted Keynes station limits. Track relaying tends to happen in units of 13 panels: the load of one delivery of rail.

    Much preparation goes into planning and preparing for track relaying. One of the next will be the foot of Freshfield Bank. The decision has been made to entirely replace Palmer's Bridge. Although we have put in replacement bridges in the process of extending the line (such as New Coombe Bridge), this will be the first time we will have replaced a bridge under the running line.

    Drawing on our experience of stabilising the embankment at Poleay Bridge in 2017, the new bridge will be constructed in-house. The photos show the formers for the bridge sections. The longer former will be used to cast two sill beams that will lie across the end of the embankment and act as supports for the deck slabs that will cross the gap. The shorter former will be used to cast deck slabs, each of which will encase six universal columns to bear the load. We need to cast a total of three deck slabs, two parapets, and four sill beams.

    Dick Beckwith, our bridge engineer, has overseen the design of the replacement bridge. The formers have required a great deal of detailed design to ensure that they can be reused as needed. Andy Palmer, Gary Whitaker, and Norman Ray have spent many hours over this detail.

    One final note about Horsted Keynes: the team has been doing clearance work there in the top car park.

    By Bruce Healey
     
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  3. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Then a review of the year in C&W:

    https://files.constantcontact.com/e0ef1eef101/c249d966-97e5-4b12-9768-ff53128eb22d.pdf

    This article gives a good sense of the state of the current overhaul projects (Car 54, the two Victorian 4 wheelers 949 and 328, the Maunsell Hastings line brake 3687 and restaurant car 7864; and Bulleid five plank wagon 12058).

    and a sense of the scale of what needs to be achieved each year just to keep the current fleet operational:

    C&W Department: Challenges for the Coming Year

    By the time you are reading this the General Election will be history and just maybe we can take a long-earned rest from national crises. In the Carriage & Wagon Department, we have our own challenges—called “opportunities” these days—one of which is, “How do we continue to keep up with the maintenance workload of the fleet of around 40 carriages?”

    The cornerstone of the maintenance attention of all our carriages is the six-monthly exam. This exam takes place in C&W on a pitted road in our newly commissioned E Road in OP4, and it is vital for keeping our fleet of carriages safe and reliable. The six-monthly exam is a significant piece of work centred mainly around the following:

    On the underframe:

    • Keeping the brakes adjusted and efficient and renewing brake blocks.
    • Checking that everything is still bolted up and secure.
    • Checking the gangways, buffers, couplings, and draw-gear for wear and malfunction.
    • Checking wheels for defects and wear and bearings for signs of problems.
    • Testing the steam heating equipment and checking for faults.
    • Checking batteries and dynamos for condition.

    On the body above sole bar:

    • Examining doors and locks for operation.
    • Examining the seating and tables for defects.
    • Checking windows and general interior.
    • Checking the toilets.
    • Checking the lighting.

    And then of course the inevitable repairs …

    The above list is neither detailed nor exhaustive, but it gives you a flavour of what is involved. Similarly, all the above gives you an idea of the opportunities for your input!

    Does any of this important, interesting, and varied work sound like something you might like to do, given a little training? Do you have a discerning eye for mechanical things working sweetly? If so, why not take up the challenge and join our merry band of people keeping our lovely carriages in tip top condition?

    You may find yourself working on old compartment stock, Bulleid corridor stock, Maunsell stock or, the stalwart of British Railways trains, the Mk. 1. It all has to be kept safe and reliable with a six-monthly exam. If you can take up the challenge, then please email volunteering@bluebell-railway.co.uk and you’ll be put in touch with us.

    Whatever challenges (“opportunities”) you decide to take up, the C&W Department wishes you a happy and successful New Year.

    By Bob Pamment, Rolling Stock Director.

    Tom
     
  4. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Then an update on Van C No. 404:


    BY404 Update: Beginning to See the Light

    We have made more progress recently on the BY404 guard's brake van despite the weather, and although there is still more to do, we are hopeful that the exterior will be finished soon.

    At the end of another year, we are beginning to see the light so far as major work is concerned, but the inside of the van isn't seeing the light because all the windows have been boarded up to prevent the inside from getting damp again. This boarding-up was done because all the droplights have been shunted off-site for more intensive work than can be done at the side of the line behind the box at Horsted Keynes. This latest bit of fun started once the lights had been removed, revealing a catalogue of horrors that needed to be attended to before a paint brush went anywhere near them.

    Six lights are now ready to put back in place but not before the door interiors are finished. The four left to do are in somewhat better condition and will take less time than two that had to be completely re-jointed. One needed a completely new side rail that can be seen in the third photo below, and it required an interesting bit of routing. Originally, and somewhat optimistically, we started on what was going to be just a cosmetic restoration (in other words, a lick of paint). However, you can't paint what isn't there, or what is just literally falling apart, so the job has taken far longer than intended.

    Much of the structure is sound, but closer inspection revealed things that had to be properly restored before any paint could be applied. So far we have renewed three footsteps, guard's door skins outside and inside, a section of flooring in the south cabin, all the roof ends holding the canvas in place, blocks for vac pipes at both ends, plug pockets at the south end, various exterior boards that had too much rot to be saved, and some exterior edge mouldings machined to match the original.

    New destination plates and backing boards have now been fitted, and tooling for the fly press was made to sink the dimples in the return on the guard's door skins, a job that can't be done with the Gabro press in the C&W Works. The locks on the guard's doors have been repaired and serviced, and we are fitting a new top to the guard's desk.

    We are trying to get the guard's cabin fit for habitation first so BY404 can get back into traffic, so various fittings in there are being tidied up. The frames for the periscopes are being given a birthday, and the upper mirrors are being replaced as well because the silvering is in poor condition and would likely be an operating issue once the van is back into traffic.

    There is still more painting to do, and we are active most Wednesdays behind the box at Horsted Keynes—even if it is raining—as there is still painting to do inside. We are hoping to have the van ready for the 60th anniversary celebrations in 2020, when one of the cabins will be used for an exhibition showing aspects of filming at the Railway over the years.

    Once fitness to run is agreed to, you might start to see the van in regular use because Operations is keen to get it back into traffic.

    By Mike Hopps​
     
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  5. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    And finally, a round up across the whole railway from the PLC Chairman:

    Santa Season Brings the Magic

    The Santa Season is well upon us now, Christmas trees line the drive at Sheffield Park, stations are decorated with tinsel and our locomotives are clean and shining with Santa headboards!

    We have been fortunate with the weather too, which has been relatively mild, and I certainly appreciated this when I was driving on 8 December! It was really pleasing to see families arrive, be welcomed by our staff and then travel to Horsted Keynes for the traditional Victorian games and mulled wine.

    Horsted Keynes is the central hub of our Christmas season, with services departing Sheffield Park and East Grinstead and meeting at Horsted Keynes. The station is ideally suited for this system, with ample space and excellent operational flexibility, and I’m pleased to say our Santa trains are over 96% sold out. Our Santa offering is one of the key revenue earning events of the year, and our Customer Service and Marketing team has done an excellent job in advertising and preparing for the event.

    Members may have noticed some work going on in our overflow car park at Sheffield Park. Traditionally, we have been able to share car parking with our neighbours and Sheffield Park Gardens. However, this year we needed to be self-sufficient, so the Railway has invested in extending our overflow car park. This work not only has proved popular with our visitors, it has allowed the Railway to be completely self-sufficient for future events too: an important consideration as we enter our 60th year and celebrate our Diamond Jubilee in August 2020.

    Infrastructure: Track Replacement Scheduled

    On 2 January the Railway will close for six weeks for annual engineering work. This year will see another quarter of a mile of track fully replaced from just north of Waterworks to just south of Horsted Keynes.

    This stretch of our line is next on the priority list, and it will involve complete removal of the existing track, drainage, and formation before a new formation is laid, new drainage installed, and all new track laid.

    The decision was taken many years ago to install flat bottom rail on our running line as this is now more cost effective to purchase, easier to install, and more importantly easier to maintain. Track currently costs approximately £125,000 per quarter mile and this investment, alongside the excellent installation by our Infrastructure team, produces a first class job and one to rival any Network Rail project.

    Once this work is complete, nearly all of the section between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes will have been relayed, with approximately one mile to complete over the coming years. Our attention will then turn to the running line north of Horsted Keynes.

    Carriages and ... Wagons

    The Carriage & Wagon Department has been very busy in the past few months preparing our coaches for Santa Specials. A lot of work and effort goes into the regular maintenance and inspection of our carriages, all of which is recorded and carried out at set time or mileage periods.

    Overhaul work continues in the main workshop, with Pullman Brake Car 54 proceeding well as staff and funds permit. This car will be a valuable asset to the Railway and our Pullman Golden Arrow dining train, providing a brake vehicle for the train and disabled access.

    When we talk about the C&W Department, we primarily focus on the carriage aspect and don’t talk much about the wagons. Freight trains were a very common scene on railways, moving goods between cities and from the docks and countryside. But heritage wagons have taken a secondary role in the C&W Department, as our attention has to be on passenger carrying vehicles. However, our Railway has a large fleet of wagons, and now a volunteer group has recently convened to return a number of these to service.

    Locomotive Update

    Back at Sheffield Park, work has proceeded both inside and outside the Loco Works. Outside in the new maintenance shed, P tank No. 178, O1 No. 65, and S15 No. 847 have all recently been through their annual boiler exams. This is likely to be the last annual boiler exam for the S15 as the loco has now run more than 50,000 miles in six years. As a comparison, when No. 80151 first ran on the Bluebell Railway, it completed around 65,000 miles in 11 years, so it’s fair to say the S15 has played its part. A more detailed explanation of what’s involved in the annual boiler exam process is explained in the next issue of Bluebell News.

    Inside the Loco Works, we are proceeding very well on No. 34059 "Sir Archibald Sinclair". The main focus has been the installation of the more than 2,200 stays. This job is now well advanced, with the backhead and both firebox sides 85% complete.

    Attention has now turned to the throat plate where the process of drilling, reaming, taping, and installing the stays has started. Alongside this work, we have ordered the new smoke tubes and flue tubes, which will be delivered in early 2020. Work also has begun on the chassis, where the pistons and valves have been removed, including the valve gear. Volunteers are now cleaning these up and assessing what work may be required.

    A mechanical intermediate overhaul of H class No. 263 is almost complete, with the grinding of the crank axle to be completed once the in-house designed machine has been manufactured. We also have made a start on stripping Terrier No. 672 "Fenchurch" to assess the condition of the boiler. Once the boiler is removed, we’ll return the chassis to the running shed and carefully dismantle the boiler so we can assess the inner and outer firebox platework, the boiler barrel, and the tubeplates. This loco is 150 years old in 2022, so our aim is to have her running for that anniversary.

    Marketing Matters

    All of these overhaul and maintenance activities across Infrastructure, C&W, and the Loco Works would not be possible unless we marketed the Railway and sold tickets to our visitors, so we must recognise the work done by our Customer Service and Marketing team.

    There have been some internal changes within that team recently, and it’s very pleasing to see them bearing fruit, with all our 2020 events advertised on our website and tickets on sale for our 2020 Wealden Rambler and Golden Arrow services. We also have started to make more use of social media, so for those of you on Facebook and other channels you will see us popping up much more often now. We are also looking at ways to better market our retail and catering offerings, and changes for 2020 will be announced very soon.

    I’d like to thank you for supporting the Railway throughout 2019, and I look forward to welcoming you in 2020 for our Diamond Jubilee year. It will be a very exciting anniversary. I’m sure those early pioneers never dreamed of us still running 60 years later! Let's look forward to running for another 60 years—in 2080, steam railways will look even more ancient against the modern trains and motor vehicles of that day.

    Happy Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your families from all of us at the Railway. Here's to seeing you in our 60th year!

    By Chris Hunford, Chairman, Bluebell Railway PLC
     
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  6. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    A bit of self indulgence to end the year: since I've now had my last rostered turn of 2019, I added up the totals for the year - I've had 43 turns, of which 32 were loco duties. (The other 11 were various shed turns: running foreman, spare or workshop turns).

    Across the 32 loco duties, it came to 1440 miles, of which I drove 461 miles and fired 700, the remainder observing (generally while the third man fired). That's across 9 locos - all eight of our own that operated in the year, plus 30587 that visited. Six days on No. 65, five on each of 263, 541, 80151, four on 73082, three on 847 and the remainder on 323, 178 and 30587. 323 is now out of traffic and with 847 in limited use, I wonder if I will get on either of them again any time soon: the two locos I passed my firing test on. :(

    Oh well, roll on 2020 which is a gala year: my first turn (a footex) is the first weekend of the year :rolleyes:

    Tom
     
  7. Johnb

    Johnb Resident of Nat Pres

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    That’s quite an achievement for a part timer who doesn’t live just round the corner. Having to listen to Ian Wright’s jokes too!
     
  8. Middle_C

    Middle_C New Member

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    Don't know about that, pity Muriel his wife!!
     
  9. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Member

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    Just reading on the railways email group that HK and SP are all but cut off due to flooding and damaged bridges.
    This was one of the posts worth checking if you are planning to go this weekend.

    The water bridge over the river just beside the waterworks has apparently partially collapsed.
    Just been for a drive so the present position is that the only way between HK station and say Haywards Heath is to go via Ardingly then past the college – this is naturally very slow with several car transporters blindly following their sat-navs.
    All other ways from HK to HH are blocked.
    As reported Keysford Lane closed and likely to remain so until at least the New Year.
    There is a one mile tailback south to the bridge just outside Lindfield – believe it’s closed completely now.
    The bridge and road by the river at Monteswood lane completely flooded with at least one abandoned car.
    The road by the Sloop inn totally flooded to a depth of several feet.
    Anecdotally I am told the main road is flooded beside SP station – could someone please confirm?
    Also understand the road beside Weir Wood reservoir on the way to EG completely under water so it’s through Forest Row or Turners Hill or nothing.


    The police now seem to be putting up tape which makes it very difficult to ignore the signs which most locals used to do.
     
  10. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    And the next Bluebell appeal is for...........

    upload_2019-12-20_18-6-45.jpeg
     
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  11. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Just for clarity, my understanding is that the reference to a "bridge partially collapsed" does not refer to part of our infrastructure, but is in the surrounding area.

    The remaining Santas (this weekend and up to Christmas Eve) are still scheduled to run, but the Sheffield Park Santas readjusted to start and finish at HK rather than SP. See https://www.facebook.com/events/469022723657318/permalink/574553589770897/ for the official word.

    Tom
     
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  12. Ploughman

    Ploughman Well-Known Member

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    Is that at Chesil Beach?
     
  13. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Member

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    I had heard about the HK start I did wonder where the cars would park as that field is often a sea of mud. However I did see images of the SP overflow car park well under water before last night's deluge so I appreciate options are limited. EG was the third highest rainfall in the last 24 hours on the lunch time weather.
    .Hope the weekend manages to go well for all concerned.
     
  14. Dan Hill

    Dan Hill New Member

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    I work in the Brickyard on the otherside of Treemans Road to the railway and I heard a whistle around 16:20 this afternoon before I clocked out (along that stretch of track adjacent to Treemans road is a SW board).

    I went into work this morning under Keysford Lane Bridge (after finding Cockhaise Brook was flooded) but there was a lot of water around it abut it was too early to fully see if anything untoward had happened to it.

    There is a bridge just outside Lindfield over the River Ouse that I heard may have partially collapsed or had part of the banking slip, which may be the one Tom was referring to as this is not too far from that area.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2019
  15. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Sounds like it has been a "bit of day" more generally in Sussex - the M23 is shut in both directions, as is (or was) Balcombe tunnel on the Brighton Mainline, in both cases due to flooding.

    Tom
     
  16. Dan Hill

    Dan Hill New Member

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    I believe the M23 is at least partially open again now and limited train services were running between Brighton and Haywards Heath and Three Bridges and London which heard on the way home so at least around half 4 the Tunnel at Balcombe was still closed. I did see that a lot of the Hastings Main Line has suffered a lot landslips and flooding as well.
     
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  17. Frits

    Frits New Member

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    I read on the Bluebell website that the BLuebell railway aquired 2 mk3 sleeper carriages. Does anyone know which carriages they are replacing?
     
  18. Charles Parry

    Charles Parry New Member

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  19. Frits

    Frits New Member

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    I thought that as well. Any idea what will be happening with the old sleepers?
     
  20. Mark Thompson

    Mark Thompson Well-Known Member

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    Talking about the LMS designed sleepers reminded of this scene from "I know Where I'm Going" (1945). Wendy Hiller's night journey to Scotland. Beautifully filmed, with some nicely surreal touches:
     
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