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Vintage Coaches. Pre and Post 1948 Carriages

Discussion in 'Heritage Rolling Stock' started by iowcr3429, Jan 17, 2020.

  1. toplight

    toplight Member

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    I love the vintage coaches but restoring a wrecked departmental one back to full health is a long, long hard slog, especially when you are doing it as volunteers. You never have enough time and nearly all of it can require attention.
    with large amounts of material needing to be completely re manufactured. Some railways like the SVR and Isle of Wight make it look easy but remember they have large resources and some full time staff.

    The NNR for example I understand has about 5 full time paid C and W staff which makes a huge difference in how quickly projects can be progressed.

    With the Isle of Wight I witnessed when I worked there for a week, they have many retired chaps able to work there 3 or 4 days a week, some a mixture of paid days and volunteer days. Also it is a railway where the railways own income is being spent directly on the old coaches. In comparison most other vintage coach groups are effectively separate from the railway and have to raise their own funds.

    The biggest difficulty is not so much the money for the materials but just the time to work on them assuming you are working Mon to Fri somewhere else and have family commitments etc.
     
  2. paulhitch

    paulhitch Part of the furniture

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    Presence of excellent craft skills be they in wood, metal or paint always makes things look easy which, for others, they are not. Equally as important in its way is everyone working for the same organisation. Thus a section, unconnected with C&W can ask nicely for a bit of skilled help. The feeling of everyone rowing in the same boat is great.
     
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  3. gwalkeriow

    gwalkeriow Well-Known Member

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    And all rowing in the same direction!
     
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  4. Robin

    Robin Member

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    The SVR has a number of paid carriage staff who I understand are particularly involved in maintenance. However the majority of the restoration and major overhaul work falls to the volunteer groups. Certainly the results can make it look easy but the reality is that it is a slog as you say.

    To take a current example, Collett corridor composite 6045 which was in Departmental use as a Staff & Dormitory Coach is close to completion after a five year restoration. Pictures of some of the work involved can be found in the restoration blog at http://www.gw-svr-a.org.uk/6045-restoration.html
     
  5. Robin

    Robin Member

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    Following on, others have referred above to the quality of restorations carried out the SVR and how they are made to look easy. For historical reasons going back to the Nabarro era, the SVR is made up of a number of separate organisations, which suggests it is not necessary to have one organisation in order to row in the same direction.
     
  6. paulhitch

    paulhitch Part of the furniture

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    Helps very much though.
     
  7. Steve B

    Steve B Member

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    You must have missed me then!

    But the point to be observed here is that the "vintage" carriages have a different level of comfort and convenience compared with the modern ones. The modern ones are probably amongst the newest carriages (and to a new design - not replicas) to be found anywhere on "heritage" railways in the UK. So much so that the word "heritage" probably shouldn't be used in the same context. But in contrast to much of the offerings on the big railway today they are classy - varnished wood interiors that you can see your reflection in, etched glass and marquetry on some of the more recent ones, carpets, nicely padded seats, gangways that allow you to move around (and give a bit of elbow room), large windows, a generally smooth ride, at seat service, heating when necessary. And so on.

    The "heritage" experience in contrast is basic, unlike on the standard gauge where even the non-corridor older stock can be more sumptuous. Hard seats, no gangways, small windows (although plenty of them and they open), no heating (although I might be mistaken there), no carpets, a noisier and rougher ride. So no great surprise that the average passenger favours the modern stock for a two hour journey each way. And that suits me because (a) I like solitude, (b) don't mind hard seats, (c) I like to see and use the older stock in use - I'm an enthusiast, and (d) I like to be able to move from one side to the other and take photos through open windows without annoying anyone else. I've noticed that there are others who will seek out a "private compartment" for other reasons - it might be that they have a dog, or restless children, and don't want the hassle of trying to prevent movement and keep silence for several hours.

    But looking at the F&WHR and drawing conclusions for elsewhere is probably a non-starter. The service they provide caters mainly to the tourist public, and for most the whole experience is so out of the normal run of everyday life that it is not so important that a lot of it is not historic. But the F&WHR do have a tremendous heritage offering, and they bring the toys out to play regularly, particularly on gala days, and that can satisfy the enthusiast.

    Steve B
     
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  8. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    On the Bluebell, the majority (though not all) of the older carriages are owned by the company; however, there are independently owned vehicles that see regular service (including the GN Saloon and one of the Bulleids). So I don't think ownership is a factor for us either way. The carriages that get used and restored are those that are operationally useful.

    The significant challenge we have though is the regular mileage-based maintenance, not restoration. Put bluntly, the older carriages need their exams at shorter mileage intervals than Mark 1s. Door and lock overhauls are also more expensive per seat on a compartment vehicle than a corridor vehicle simply because there are more to do. While many volunteers are involved in carriage restoration, significantly fewer get involved with the day-to-day work of inspection and maintenance: the key to seeing the vintage carriages used more is for people to volunteer to help maintain them.

    Tom
     
  9. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    That's certainly what we've found as well, sometimes we have people scratching around for work in the workshops, but our maintenance team is desperately short of people to do regular running repairs and FTR exams.
     
  10. michaelh

    michaelh Well-Known Member

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    But looking at the F&WHR and drawing conclusions for elsewhere is probably a non-starter. The service they provide caters mainly to the tourist public,

    But don't all heritage railways provide a service catering mainly to the tourist public?

     
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  11. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    I think there are good reasons for not drawing too many comparisons with the FfWHR, it is a very different beast to most other railways, but yes, all lines cater mainly to the tourist public!
     
  12. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    The option on the WHR is some very plush modern vehicles, including open sided ones or some ather basic heritage vehicles for a 2 hour journey.

    I remember though being at Minfford one evening & there were a group of 'non enthusiast' passengers who seemed to be having great fun in a vehicle that made a slate wagon seem luxurious
     
  13. paulhitch

    paulhitch Part of the furniture

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    The FR/WHR is one place where I would shun the older carriages (unless I was treating myself to first class) as the thirds have a wicked, agonising, rounded beading at shoulderblade height, a "treat" shared with the V. of R. vehicles. Imperial Austria knew a great deal better for, instead of a half round beading, the top rail is chamfered back and the the result is quite O.K. Better than O.K. are the replica Pickering vehicles built by the F.R, for the W.& L.L.R. Plenty of upholstered vehicles are less comfortable than these.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2020
  14. Southernman99

    Southernman99 New Member Friend

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    Robin. The major restorations, 6045 case in point are carried out by the owning groups more often than not. 9615 is pretty much a brand new coach above solebar but this work has been carried out by the company. The overhauls are carried out by paid staff with volunteer help. The day to day maintenance is paid staff work again with assistance from only 1 or 2 volunteers. On a normal day, myself and my 3 colleagues in the carriage shed will inspect all 24 carriages that are running the normal service, we will also be undertaking maintenance and repairs on a set in the carriage shed so that makes it upto 32 coaches a day, plus checking over the other spares we have in preparation for events. We also now have a painting area where, when weather permits, we carry out a door overhaul and fix any long term issues and a full repaint. in 2019 we completed 3 coaches from April to September, 2 mark 1's and a revarnish of the gresley buffet. That is not including any Obbo trips or other specials as well that need inspecting. On the SVR we operate to a 6-8 week cycle of maintenance. This wont suit other railways but it suits us.

    Whilst the restoration is the starting point of a coaches journey. As soon as it leaves the paint shop it is deteriorating and will need constant upkeep. Without trying to be horrible to our customers who pay our wages and keep our railways running. They break things which need fixing.


    If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.
     
  15. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Resident of Nat Pres

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    That's interesting, on the GWSR the guards are responsible for the daily checks, do SVR guards have less to do in the morning then?
     
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  16. Steve B

    Steve B Member

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    Yes of course!

    What I was thinking, but didn't actually say (partly because dinner was on the table...) was that the tourist public look for a ride that is clean, unworn, tidy, well presented and comfortable! The vintage stock that I have ridden in at places like the Bluebell have met those criteria (I've even had a good night's sleep in SECR 1050!) so there is no reason why they can't meet both the criteria of preserving the historical, and providing what the punters want, as well as pleasing the enthusiast. Some of the F&WHR's vintage stock, marvelous and delightful though it may be, doesn't in all honesty meet everyone's perception of what comfortable means - although I would hasten to say that I've always found the interiors clean and tidy etc. so, in my opinion they are wise to create the modern stock they have. And besides, there isn't enough of the old stock to provide the service (and never has been).

    Steve B
     
  17. Southernman99

    Southernman99 New Member Friend

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    We dont perform the guards "pre flight"checks. We inspect for damage and repair defects reported by the days previous guard.
     
  18. Robin

    Robin Member

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    Thanks, that's a very useful explanation.

    9615 was part of the SVR's short-lived GWR main line set in the mid-1970s but has obviously been out of use for a good few years since then. I believe it is one of the GWR carriages owned by SVR(H) so it would make sense for the company to be overhauling it; the Charitable Trust's 'Platform' magazine in 2018 said they were helping fund it.
     
  19. jma1009

    jma1009 Member

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    I think that one of the joys of visiting a preserved railway is seeking out a special carriage to travel in.

    A Ffestiniog 'bowsider', or a bug box, or on the Talyllyn one of the original 4 wheel carriages. On the Isle of Wight Steam Railway one is spoilt for choice; the 4 wheelers are charming. The bogie carriages on the IOWSR equally.

    Had a trip to the Gloucs Warks Rly from Toddington in September last year in a formica Mk1; so would agree with much of what has been posted on here, but still had a lovely day out - though a better coach would have enhanced the experience.

    In the days of slam door stock on the Brighton - Portsmouth Line and up to Victoria, my Dad would always direct us as kids to a single (?) 3rd class compartment on the 12 coach trains. So old habits and aspirations die hard!

    Cheers,

    Julian
     
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  20. Nick C

    Nick C Member

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    On the 4-CIGs there were two - each DTC had one standard and three first class compartments. In the last days the first class at one end of each unit was declassified, so we always made a beeline for that, watching for the yellow stripe as it came into the platform - with the occasional groan when you realised they'd put a draughty VEP on instead...

    It's 15 years since most of the slam-door units went, and 10 years since the last ones (on the Lymington branch)...
     

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