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Bluebell Railway General Discussion

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

  1. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    We're rapidly heading into marine engineering territory here! Naval practise, during the Victorian era, was very much pre and post HMS Warrior. Even with steam powered capital ships, the Royal Navy was still being supplied in quantity with timber hulled vessels (at the end, most notably the many hundreds of coastal defence vessels, including the often overlooked - diesel powered - MFVs) right down to the end of WWII.

    In terms of shipping tonnage, our rapidly expanding merchant fleet during that era shouldn't be overlooked, as even within it's 'first division', the last of the proud ocean-going sailing ship lineage, Cutty Sark, came as late as 1869, a full decade after HMS Warrior. Concerning our coastal fleet, I'm woefully ignorant. Doubtless we've several fellow members infinitely better versed in the history of UK shipbuilding than me.

    Overlooking the phenomenal industrial revolution era growth in the UK beer brewing sector, which the Midland Railway certainly didn't, there's an interesting aside regarding cooperage, in that modern wineries and distillers make a big deal out of the 'notes' imparted to their produce by 'second life' barrels. In this regard, old whisky (ditto whiskey, ditto bourbon whiskey) and brandy barrels are highly prized within the top-end of the industry .... as are the contents, by many of us, but that (as they say) is another story!

    Here's what it looked like beneath the platforms ar St.Pancras, before they tarted it up:
    download.jpeg-10.jpg
    [Image courtesy stpancras.com]
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2021
  2. Mark Thompson

    Mark Thompson Well-Known Member

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    Is certainly true about deforestation, but its not just the Navy that was responsible. My own neck of the woods (Sussex Weald) was denuded at an alarming rate from the 16th century onward. Timber, mainly oak, for shipbuilding, both naval and mercantile, for charcoal in the burgeoning Sussex iron industry, and for buildings themselves (even my own house, though built as recently as 1825, is still oak framed). All this, by 1900, had reduced the ancient and enormous Andreswald to a fragment of its former self. Time and again, looking at photographs of this, and other area from Victorian and Edwardian days, I'm struck at how bare the landscape looked then, compared to nowadays. The hedgerows were there, but apart from the occasional copse, not much else. WW1, and its ceaseless demand for pit props just finished the job, and immediately after, the Forestry Commission was set up as a matter of national urgency.
    So that ready market of empire hardwoods really did begin appearing just in the nick of time, and our own dwindling supply of domestic hardwoods is probably one of the reasons why, apart perhaps from the earliest days, oak never caught on as a material for carriage construction.
     
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  3. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    I remember as a young child (say 40-odd years ago) that the V (for Victoria) on the downs near Plumpton was very striking. If you look now, while the immediate area around has been kept clear of trees to preserve the landmark, it is now far more wooded outside the immediate area than I remember from even forty years ago.

    https://www.google.com/maps/@50.903...4!1svsoPs3oq5elJRHH-9SIoQw!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

    Tom
     
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  4. bluetrain

    bluetrain Well-Known Member

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    According to David Jenkinson ("British Rly Carriages of 20th Century"), the Pre-Grouping companies mostly used teak and oak for carriage frames, with deal for flooring and for internal partitions. External panels were normally of teak or mahogany. Teak was the usual choice when the livery was varnished wood, while mahogany was generally preferred when the livery was painted. The LBSC was an exception to this general rule, using a varnished mahogany livery before changing to umber & cream shortly after 1900.
     
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  5. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    I have read that when the LSWR Brake 3rd was restored the source timber was oak. Given that what goes on at The Bluebell tends to be authentic that seems like a reliable indicator.
     
  6. Nick C

    Nick C Well-Known Member

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    I've been following a YouTube channel recently of a family restoring a WWII coastal defence vessel - and one of the problems they've found is getting hold of long enough lengths of oak to replace damaged timbers. It's quite impressive how well the wartime timber has survived compared with the later additions though!
     
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  7. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    I think I'm right that at that period the LSWR tended to use oak frames with pine panels for its carriages.

    Tom
     
  8. MellishR

    MellishR Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    A lot of iron was needed by the army for weapons. With the army and navy competing for the oak supply there wasn't much left for anyone else. (Apologies for extending this thread drift.)
     
  9. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    The Sussex iron industry was very important from Roman times onwards, though there are relatively visible few traces left. It went into decline towards the end of the eighteenth century, I think due to a combination of diminishing supplies of timber to make charcoal, and competition from northern foundries that had supplies of coke (from coal) that was cheaper.

    Tom
     
  10. CH 19

    CH 19 Well-Known Member Friend

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    Luckily though we still have the hammer ponds, formed and used to provide hydro power for the ore crushing hammers I believe, at Horsted Keynes. They are to the left of the cinder lane from the school to Broahurst Manor. Not sure if they are on private land but my late Dad helped clean them up for the local angling club.
     
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  11. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    I wonder, along the same lines, whether the etymology of Cinder Hill is also a reference to the iron (or charcoal) industry.

    Tom
     
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  12. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Of foundries, perhaps, but not so their output. Even today in Brighton and Hove alone, many thousands of items of 'street furniture' (e.g. drain grilles, manhole covers, lamp posts etc.), plus domestic gate posts and lavatory cisterns proudly proclaim their Sussex heritage. Lewes seems to have been a particularly productive iron working centre.

    Naturally these days, a Facebook site (no log-in required) exists on the subject:
    https://m.facebook.com/Everys-Iron-Foundry-Lewes-272618163392373/

    Perhaps of particular interest to Tom might be the images of the ornamental ironwork supplied to Sheffield Park Gardens.
     
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  13. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    There's plenty of evidence of Every's work around the railway, particularly various iron stanchions holding up platform canopies. But I think the production of iron from iron ore largely ceased by the early nineteenth century; later foundries started from iron produced elsewhere.

    The original railings around St Paul's Cathedral were from Sussex (now replaced).

    Tom
     
  14. 60044

    60044 Member

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    I'm currently trying to sort out the purchase of a couple of hundred cubic feet of Khaya, or West African mahogany which is far superior to Sapele, for example. and was mentioned in a book from the early 1920s as being suitable for carriage building and is still available in boards 2-3" thick and up to 12" wide by 12-14ft long. If anyone else wants some, please get in touch with me by PM and I will be happy to try to help.
     
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  15. Southernman99

    Southernman99 Member Friend

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    On a site visit to Sykes timber yard in Atherstone. We were shown a selection of African mahogany. To be honest is was the whole log. The centre board was 42" wide, 16ft long and was sitting at about 1 1/2" thickness. The other forgotten material used was plywood.
     
  16. 61624

    61624 Part of the furniture

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    Long enough but not quite thick enough, sadly, The carriage (NER FO 2118) has bottom rails around 3" thick by 7" wide wi#th three joints per side. The waist and cant rails are equally chunky at 5" x 4" a even the window pillars are 3-1/2" x 4"!
     
  17. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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  18. Southernman99

    Southernman99 Member Friend

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    Drifting more OT for Bluebell matters.

    I do often wonder how long we can continue to obtain the type and size of timber we need to restore and overhaul certain carriages. The GW SVRA have recently had laminated door stiles made for 6045. Glue-lam and engineered timber is becoming more the norm in the construction industry for larger bulks of timber. For body uprights that need to have the tumblehome. Could modern engineered or laminations be a viable option. Modern glues are more robust and our coaches aren't going through the day to day rigmarole that they used to and more often than not they aren't stored outside in all elements.
     
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  19. Mark Thompson

    Mark Thompson Well-Known Member

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    I know that the Stroudley group used something along similar lines for the roof boards of no. 328, in order to obtain a timber width no longer available. The days of one-piece bottom and cantrails are also long gone, though with scarf joints being used, this doesn't seem to be a problem.
    I do recall the subject of glue-lam coming up some years back on the Bluebell's .io group, referencing replacement timber signal posts, although I can't remember anything constructive coming out of that, but that is one particular field where obtaining timber of an appropriate size is becoming well nigh impossible, now.
     
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  20. 61624

    61624 Part of the furniture

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    I agree. The built up (glue-lam) technique has already been in use for some time and its use is bound to increase. Teak of sufficient widths to provide one piece panels has been impossible to source for years now, even in short lengths, so for example the panels supplied by the LNERCA for the NNR Quad-arts had to be built up from smaller widths, and they seem to have survived ok so far. The big sections used for bottom rails, door pillars and so on may have to be built up from something more readily available but faced with teak where it is visible in the final installation.
     
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