Wednesday January 27th was, luckily, nowhere near as wet as forecast (they don’t call this the Sunshine Coast for nothing!), so we were able, with a large and enthusiastic team, to split into three. Before that, we collected two large gateposts kindly donated through the good offices of John B, and with the help of Peter J’s pick-up: we then loaded ten large planks to go to the SOLD workshop in Lowestoft, where we hope that our friends can plane them down to the proper dimensions for the body of Open Wagon 41

SRT-owned trackbed – last clearance on this section

The trackbed team then went off to Blyford Lane to finish the last unimproved section of SR trackbed we own: this includes tidying some blackthorn and hawthorn trees which are almost recumbent – and we have to stop all tree work at the end of next month until September. John H’s chainsaw made short work of these, and John B’s firelighting expertise enabled the results (with some disease apparent) to be neatly disposed of.

Bob painting Open Wagon 41’s re-gauged wheelsets. Couplings and brake cross-shaft in background

Meanwhile, the Rolling Stock Group split itself into two, with some volunteers preparing the axle ends to take the axleboxes, and painting the wheelsets and the underframe of Open Wagon 41, while others – Robin V and James H – took on the nasty and cramped job of sanding down paintwork inside the Motor Rail cab. The multiple layers of paint and rust eventually responded to belt sanding and finishing off with a palm sander. We vied with each other to see who could destroy the (quite expensive) belts the fastest (James H managed it in 3 seconds), by snagging on sharp metal edges. Wearing safety equipment, we were both tired and dusty after a couple of hours of this – there’s not really room for two big blokes, a great deal of wire, and a 110-volt lamp which insisted on falling down at all opportunities. But the job was done (except for a little more on the bulkhead), and the metal was treated with Rustbuster, in case we had missed any rust

A study in yellow, blue and red! Robin undercoating Open Wagon 41’s axleboxes. Motor Rail in left background

The trackbed team returned late morning (we somehow managed to have a late morning tea, immediately followed by lunch – let it not be said that we don’t enjoy ourselves), and proceeded (after the said extended repast) to take on various jobs. The workshop storage area was improved, the four cast axleboxes undercoated (in a startling red, as we had already run out of dark grey), and the steam loco frames moved (with considerable difficulty – they are very heavy indeed) to a more convenient position.
The day was further improved by news from the SRT shop that we had received our first donation to the Trackbed Fund directly as a result of the Heritage Railway magazine article – for which we thank them. We hope it’s the forerunner of many more.

Progress with trackbed, Open Wagon 41, and the Motor Rail