A study in panelling and scattered tools

Until now, we have been planning to complete the Coach 7 body by doing the panelling in the ends last. Or, perhaps, we’ve been putting it off? Anyway, our feeling that it was not going to be a nice job was amply confirmed by the day spent wrestling on our knees.
The original blockboard timber panelling having rotted away, we had several sheets of high-grade plywood cut to measurements of the apertures. These are complicated by the fact that the wall of the coach slopes outwards, and is also angled from side to side. Further complication arises from the presence – at the Southwold end – of the handbrake column. But – one would think that at least the sheets would be handed versions of each other. This turned out not to be the case.
Several hours of juggling and chiselling later (because the depth of the panels varies as well), and some of the sheets were in place, and temporarily affixed into what turns out to be extremely hard – and therefore hard to drill – steel channel. At this point, we realised that the sills and supports under the end windows – which we were vainly attempting to match up to each sheet – were not really attached to

The end yet to be done

anything very useful. The imposing visible woodscrews were screwed into thin air.
We kept our tempers (just), and proceeded to tray to hold the sills in place, plus hold the sheets in place, plus take account of the irregular floor – all at once. You can imagine the result.

Not relevant to this post – but nice, anyway! (On loan to the Trust)

However – after about seven hours, four ruined knees, and two bad backs (and amazement at the number of times that all the carpenters’ pencils can be left in the workshop when you want them) – we have a reasonably-good fit on most of the sheets, allowing measurement for the last two. They will all have to come off again, for Sadolin treatment, and then be re-set.
Then, we only have to do the whole thing again at the Halesworth end, without the handbrake, but with the added joy of a bench seat which is firmly in the way (and which we don’t want to remove, as it’s very well fixed indeed, and said fixings are not exactly accessible).
I would say that great fun was had by all – if I could. But I can’t.

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