Almost the entire SRT Rolling Stock Group attended our workshop day on Saturday OctoberCoach 7 in the sun
31st, in amazingly fine weather. The plan was to cut, drill and assemble three track panels of ex-Bressingham rail to allow a trial move of Coach 7 (the 1915 Belgian tramcar trailer), before the upcoming Big Shunt.
So we drilled for fishplates and for the studding which holds the rails to gauge, used metre-gauge studding rods and nuts instead of sleepers, and manhandled the three panels – one curved and two straight – into place. It was remarkably like laying G-gauge track for a garden railway, but very much harder and heavier.
Then, with the help of our expert scout Richard on the knots, we used a (slightly bizarre) arrangement of strops, high-tensile rope, and the Wenhaston stump puller to pull the coach up the hill a bit (it sits on a gradient of about 1 in 40), to check that was possible. We didn’t want to let the coach down onto the level track, only to find that we were defeated by its 6.5 tonnes, and couldn’t get it up again.
All was well, however, so we levelled the track with lots of scrap wood, and the entire team pushed and pulled at the beast, while John (whose back is not up to pushing and pulling since we strained it lifting sleepers at Wenhaston) removed and inserted chocks at regular intervals for safety. It says something for the weight involved that we had to push the coach DOWN the hill, but once the grease axleboxes had freed up, the going was easier.
The coach ended up most of the way out of its temporary scaffolding shed, as
you can see in the photo: it’s the first time we have seen it entire since the completion of the body, and it looks very nice indeed. The underframe is a little tatty, though – that’s the next job.
So, after slewing the original track over (to line up with the doorway for our van underframe to exit), tidying up and sorting out an awkward joint which used to be under the coach and thus inaccessible, we set-to to push it back “up the hill” – which proved remarkably easy – as the weight, once moving, had considerable momentum. I don’t think we want to do this kind of thing too much until the handbrake, at least, is fitted.
So – two more panels to make, to join the new track to that inside the workshop, and we are good to go. At the end of the day, the
team trial-lifted one end of the van underframe by hand – successfully – so it’s not impossibly heavy, despite all the extra metalwork.
While some of this was going on, by the way, panelling and woodwork continued inside. That team had a bit of a surprise when they first felt the coach move underneath them!