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Rolling stock, restoration and new build projects

Discussion in 'Heritage Rolling Stock' started by 240P15, Jan 25, 2018.

  1. toplight

    toplight Active Member Account Suspended

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    Yeah I learnt similar when I was at school and my dad taught me a lot. I think you work at the GWR at Winchcombe don't you and I used to work there myself about 15 years ago.

    I was very, very fortunate when I started the coach I am working on now (see my avatar picture). When I first acquired it, it was a total wreck and I just had a dream that it could be done but not really sufficient knowledge to do so. Luckily then a very experienced ex Swindon works coachbuilder got involved at the start and trained me how to do it all properly and what equipment you needed. He is still working on it with me now and has felt pleased too to pass the skills on, not just to me but others in the group also.

    When I was starting mine, he was just finishing Mike Little's GWR autocoach 178 so it was perfect timing that I came along with another 'project' otherwise he told me he would have stopped once 178 was done.

    So I have got very experienced now using things like Planers, Thicknessers, Bandsaws, Sawbenches and so on, and there is no job now on it that I feel I couldn't do, but if it wasn't for having that person showing me how to do it all then I wouldn't have known, so you really have to gain the skills you can, whilst there are still people around like that, that can show you.

    For example we have had another guy also ex Swindon works join and they are working on they brake gear of a Mark 1 at the moment rebushing all linkages etc and it is just so useful working with people like that, that did it for real and were trained how to do so, so you can ask questions etc.

    When they trained coach builders, coach finishers, upholsterers etc at Swindon works the apprenticeship was typically 5 years working full time alongside experienced staff so you can tell how long they felt was needed to learn the job.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2018
  2. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Part of the furniture

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    I do yes. In different circumstances I could have learnt welding/woodwork skills there from professionals who volunteer in the workshops, but I chose not to. One day I'd still like to, your situation sounds like my dream scenario!
     
  3. gwalkeriow

    gwalkeriow Well-Known Member

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    I find that much depends on a persons aptitude, some people just seem to be able to pick up any skills unfortunately these people are all too rare. Many of the volunteers at Havenstreet have arrived with nothing but enthusiasm, so you start them of with simple tasks. It soon becomes apparent who are the ones who are capable of more, so you test them with more complex jobs. You end up with a good spread of skills between the volunteers. Some are more than happy to get on with the simple but essential tasks, it all helps the workshop to function. Nurture the ones who are eager to learn and develop but do not neglect everyone else. I learnt to coach paint by a combination of experimentation, watching others and asking questions, likewise with welding!

    We have a couple of apprentices at Havenstreet, seeing them develop and flourish is a very satisfying feeling, as is knowing that the workshop will continue turning out fantastic vehicles long into the future
     
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  4. Kinghambranch

    Kinghambranch Well-Known Member

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    This is all well and good Toplight but when is this coach of yours going to be finished?! ;) I recall seeing it many years ago at Blunsdon and it looked ready for the bonfire then. I know it looks much better now but can you please hurry up and finish it?! Only joking of course ;) as this is clearly a labour of love for you, but it will be wonderful to see it perhaps one day in all its glory! It's a Churchward Brake Tri-Composite I believe?
     
  5. FearOfManchester

    FearOfManchester Member

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    It sounds like a big ask Toplight but perhaps you should think about doing a few instructional videos with your Swindon man on some of the more complex woodworking techniques that may have left the conventional carpentry world, I'm sure there's a few processes and techniques that were created in carriage workshops of Swindon and the other great works that you've learnt from these coachbuilders, as we all know, once they're gone, they're gone.
     
  6. toplight

    toplight Active Member Account Suspended

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    I can do so maybe if you would be interested. The coach is in the shed on the Swindon and Cricklade at Hayes Knoll so the public are allowed to look around so you can come and see it if you want. When I first started we had to buy a surface planer, saw bench, thicknesser, mortising machine, bandsaw, routers and router table which are all essential for this type of work and non of which had I used previously even though I had worked for a short time in the C and W of both the East Lancs and GWSR.
    It would be nice also to get a spindle moulder but at the moment I don't have one.

    Of course these machines are used for many forms of woodwork so there are plenty of videos on youtube about how to use each one and setting them up, how they are used etc so I would recommend to start there. I had thought about for example doing a video on making/fitting the mouldings on the side of coaches as I have seen some real bad ones on occasion.
    Here are some pictures, before and after 111_1138.JPG 117_1768.JPG 108_0808.JPG View over Rebuilt End of the coach showing new framing secti.jpg 122_2242.JPG DSCF6472.JPG 120_2098.JPG 121_2150.JPG
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2018
  7. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Part of the furniture

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    Well I certainly would be for one! Super job you're doing there, will it enter normal traffic at the S&C one day? Look forward to seeing it finished and gleaming one day at any rate, I'd love to do the paint job on something like that!
     
  8. toplight

    toplight Active Member Account Suspended

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    Will be a few years yet, we are fitting out the interior at the moment. Here is what I started with, and a finished one at the Severn Valley. There's is in the 1920s colours which I like, but when new it would have been painted Maroon like the Steam Railmotor at Didcot. When I first started it was certainly a WIBN project, and I hope one day it will be like the bottom photo. There is also a Taff Vale 4 wheel coach at the SCR also which I have worked on a bit and a few other projects, so we plan to run it with the Taff coach too which is already completed.

    102_0292.JPG 101_0139.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2018
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  9. 240P15

    240P15 Active Member

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    What a FANTASTIC job you and many others do toplight! The hat off!
    I feel often very shame that I not can be an an active volunter in these projects.:( (I would so if i not suffered from disease)

    Even if it very much hard and painstaking work behind a restoration project, I guess (hope) it must be with joy and pride when you see the fabelous finish project!:)

    Thank you very much for your photos!

    kind regards

    Knut
     
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  10. StoneRoad

    StoneRoad Active Member

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    @toplight - that is a wonderful job in progress, I'll look forward to more updates and the finished job. Maybe I can get time to visit ...

    Best Wishes from another carriage restorer ...
     
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  11. Kinghambranch

    Kinghambranch Well-Known Member

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    Beautiful, just beautiful. (the transformation progress & the 2nd example at the SVR).
     
  12. gwalkeriow

    gwalkeriow Well-Known Member

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    Will this be the only one or will you tackle another one or two or..........................? It would be a pity to waste all of those skills that you are building up.
     
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  13. toplight

    toplight Active Member Account Suspended

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    If you see the photographs of the work on the roof being done you can see scaffolding on both sides and one end of the coach at roof height so we could replank the roof. We were very lucky with that. We looked at the cost of either buying or renting scaffolding and the cost was huge, and if you rent it of course it costs more the longer you have it, so we contacted the local Swindon newspaper and wrote a begging style article saying could anyone help and lend us some for free, that it was built in the town etc. ?

    A young guy phoned the next day who had his own small scaffolding business and yes he could let us have it for free and his Grandfather had worked at Swindon works so he was supportive of the railway etc, so he came and put it all up for free for about 3 months. I think we were lucky that it was winter when they are less busy and in the middle of the recession. We did a further article in the newspaper following up that this company had helped us, and then a third one when the roof was finished. So the guy really helped us out and he told us the three articles/pictures in the newspaper had led to 18 further jobs for him, so he was very pleased too.
    So it pays sometimes for groups to just ask for the help !
     
  14. FearOfManchester

    FearOfManchester Member

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    well it would be selfish of me to say that it would be JUST me that is interested ;) you should look at putting some vids on YouTube, it seems to immortalise videos pretty well, or a narrated photo blog may be easier. looking from the photos it looks like that coach did not have long for this world if you hadn't poured some love into it, I noticed a bit of roof sag coming on! Surprisingly I am actually pretty much familiar with all the tools you mentioned, chain mortisers being a rather more rare piece of kit among wood butchers i imagine. I actually had it in my head that there was some certain woodworking dark arts that were created in carriage workshops such as Swindon and scarcely left them, techniques that were born in the time of wood bodied carriages but also died with them too. But it seems to be relatively normal carpentry tools, just a hell of a lot of time, money and patience, and you'd need patience for all those nails I see in those mouldings! I won't get you started on the sanding either! ;) one rare technique that I am not familiar with and I thought was used in wooden carriage construction is steam bending if you've come across it? A rather difficult art to master I believe. The interior work is also what eludes me, replicating some of the fittings on these elderly coaches seems impossible, the veneer and Inlaying that you see in Pullman coaches for example requires a lifetime of experience to get right! Anyhow it's fantastic what you are doing and how far you have got, and I suppose it makes it easier that there is an already restored example to go off of.
     
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  15. toplight

    toplight Active Member Account Suspended

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    Yes steam bending was used when they made the roof hoop sticks. Normally Ash wood is used if you want to bend wood a lot. There was a big machine I believe to bend lots of hoop sticks at Swindon works. I have seen a photograph in a book somewhere of it.

    There was also a very large machine installed that staff seemed to nickname "The Loch Ness monster" and that was for cutting the bottom sides. These are two big timbers (typically 9" x 3" cross section) that run the full length of the coach on either side which the body is built on. They have cutouts in for all the doors and mortise holes for each door pillar and uprights etc so the machine could do all the mortice holes and cutouts etc for the full length of a coach or van etc so they were all accurate and inline. GWR Hawksworth coaches, however, don't have a bottom side as he changed the designs so the upright timbers went into metal fixings welded directly to the chassis.

    For our own steam bending we have done some. We made a wooden box for parts to go in and we fill it with steam from a small carpet cleaning machine and then clamp the parts to an old wagon angle iron to dry out. You can see the parts here that we have done and I need to make some capping strips for the roof in the same way soon.

    The coach was originally acquired directly from British rail in Carmarthen in 1980 by a gentlemen and came by rail to Swindon then. It was one of two, he purchased one and the other was scrapped in Leicester in 1980 although he did save 4 doors and fittings from it and we have incorporated the best bits into the rebuild, so a few doors from the other coach have lived on and we can tell its number as they are stamped onto the door. He didn't really do much at all with it (I think he thought the railway would restore it for him) and it sat there for about 21 years before I contacted him about it, he has since died, but like lots of these things had he of not saved it when he did, it would have gone for the chop (as the other one did).

    One of the things that has been interesting (which I wouldn't have even noticed) is that workers at Swindon works had their own small metal stamps with their name on it and they would sometimes stamp parts they had made, often on the back etc, so we quite often find the names of people who made parts originally and at least one of them I was able to trace on the census where he had lived and the house is still there.

    121_2107.JPG 120_2097.JPG 121_2157.JPG

    This is a little original technique (see photo below) using two wedges to force the roof boards together so they are tightly together whilst you screw them down. You remove two boards then put one new one in position so the wedges have something to push against. You can make the wedges also have tongue and grooves ( or loose tongues) too so they stay in position, however we did find the wood shrank a bit later in hot weather.
    120_2100.JPG
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2018
  16. Sawdust

    Sawdust Member

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    I've recently used folding wedges like that myself, only this time to cramp up thin tongue and grooved boards fitted on the inside of a roof to form a backing for the ceiling.

    Sawdust.
     
  17. martin1656

    martin1656 Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    When we did the NBO on the KESR, we did very much the same, forming the ends except we used adhesive to glue and form the ends, the roof was also a matter of cutting out rotten timbers, and screwing in new planks , this was the last coach i worked on, as i left shortly afterwards so didnt get to finish it
     
  18. GWR Man.

    GWR Man. Well-Known Member

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    Steam bending for roof hoops using thinnish strips of ash laminated together to make the right thickness, with the steam box on the right hand side which is heated with a wall paper steamer.
     
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  19. toplight

    toplight Active Member Account Suspended

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    I notice you mentioned about the roof sagging, yes it was sagging originally, something like 6 inches in places where 3 of the compartment walls had been removed in departmental service. We had to put them back which wasn't easy as when built they would have been put in first before the roof. Where it had sagged it had also pushed one side outwards a bit. On compartment coaches the compartment walls help support the roof and keep it in shape, so when removed the support is removed. On open saloons they tended to use metal angle iron supports to strengthen the roof hoops and even then often had an issue with sagging.

    So first we had to get it back in the right shape and we did this by stretching some string tightly along the top of the whole length of the roof. We put a nail in at one end and tied the string to it and then a heavy metal weight at the other end. Once it was tight we could see where and how much the roof was sagging, and then we slowly jacked it up a bit with acro props and bits of wood to get it straight again. It protested and groaned a bit so we had to do it gently and we did get some cracking in a few of the hoop sticks which we then had to strengthen either side. Then once it was back correct again we were able to put the 3 missing partitions back.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2018
  20. toplight

    toplight Active Member Account Suspended

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    Another few tips I could pass on for budding coach builders !

    If you see the photograph I posted earlier with the wooden wedges to tighten the roof boards.

    1 First you see the Bit and brace. Today we usually use screwdrivers, but often it is better to use a bit and brace (and they were used all the time in the past) because you can apply more torque to screws etc, that is both putting them in and taking old ones out. For example if you have a stubborn rusty old screw to get out that won't budge, you can press down on it with the bit and brace using one hand and your body weight and then turn it at the same time and it will normally come out then, whereas with a screwdriver alone it wont as you can't press down hard enough.

    2 Next tip, when you put screws/coach bolts into wood, particularly big ones, you can dip them in fat (lard), get yourself some lard from the supermarket and just push them in the lard and when you screw them in they go in easier and are less likely to sheer off.

    3 In the photo you can see in the drill, we bought some bits that do both drilling and countersinking at the same time. You can set the depth of the drill with an allen key, (to the depth of the screw). It saved then a lot of time drilling/countersinking all the hundreds of holes you need to drill.
     

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