On a Saturday and a Wednesday in early May, volunteers managed to tick off a number of outstanding jobs, and make good progress with others. The exterior of coach 7 (apart from the doors) is now close to completion – a second coat of gloss red, and a bit of quite tedious work cleaning up the rubber window surrounds, remains to be done before the SOUTHWOLD RAILWAY lettering is signwritten onto the waist. Bob has excelled himself on the fiddly window surrounds. Toby continues with the interior door mending – and the end is (though still a bit away) in sight. Missing sections of aluminium, moulding on the upper ends are complete and painted, as are the two headstocks. The door exteriors are about two thirds done. Much of the accessible underframe is cleaned, and some is painted.
After Chris cleaned, opened and checked all the axleboxes, the team moved the coach a few feet down the track panels – we can confirm that the wheels do turn, and also that the coach is very heavy indeed – trying to push its 6½ tonnes back up the slope was “interesting”. So a second SR vehicle has run on original rails.
Meanwhile Stewart was modifying and refurbishing the half-seat which fits into the Southwold end – it needed to be shortened to allow the Guard enough room to operate the brake gear. This seat is now resplendent in black metal and varnished wood.
On the wagon underframe (van 40), Terry continued with the second headstock, while James drilled the solebars for fixing bolts, and rebated the sapele base plates so they fit against the solebars. The solebar brackets are done (by Peggs of Aldeburgh), so these vital timber pieces can be fitted, permanently, into the steel channel, and the baseplates then bolted on as well. There will still be a number of 2×2 packing pieces to fix (these bring the underframe level up to the underside of the floor), and the main corner post brackets to fit, plus a bit more work on the headstocks (including heavy steel plates protecting the coupling aperture), and coupling fitting: but then, after a final coat of paint, the underframe will be complete, and ready for the body.
A bus-load of Southwold Railway Tour visitors came to see the workshop on Bank Holiday Monday – they were, I think, quite impressed by the variety of work being done. These regular public visits serve, apart from being good PR, also to make sure the team clear up and put tools and materials away, which is good practice anyway. Bernie particularly has worked hard on making the workshop into an interesting place for the public to see, producing information boards, plans, and photos on display to explain the
exhibits. Bernie also works at the East Anglia Transport Museum, and has driven forward many similar schemes there. It’s worth going (apart from the enjoyment of the trams, trolley-buses, and buses, plus a railway) to see the beautiful job he has made of the SR van body and information notices about the SR.
There has been some behind-the-scenes action on moving locomotive “Blyth” forward, including plans being formulated to present it in a more accessible way to our public in conjunction with a re-launch: more news on that in the summer.