Push Gathers Steam to Restore a Historic Loco
J515 Updates from the Seymour Railway Heritage Centre
Rare Arnott's biscuit van restored
With recent public announcements,we are now able to tell what is really going on.
For around 15 years we have been looking at the possibilities of restoring and operating State Car No.5. Some funds have been put aside for this purpose but the enormity of the task, approvals and priorities have always deferred any significant action.
Mid last year we decided to attend to refurbishment of State Car No.4 and so it entered the shop for external repaint and associated works. It is being repainted into its original style and the end platform mods are being removed to near as built style.
Then in November last, in discussions with Victorian Goldfields Railway we jointly determined to have a go at presenting a Royal Train to compliment the Tudor to Windsors exhibition running in Bendigo between March and July 2019. Estimates of work required to ensure the two state cars would be ready came out at $75,000. Representations for funding assistance to this level were prepared hoping for approvals by the end of 2018 leaving around 10 weeks for completion of the program. Like many funding things, approvals came much later than ideal in early February. With five weeks available the rush was on to achieve everything required in half the estimated and programmed time.
So the rush is well and truly on. The costings allowed for a fair bit of contractor support which has now expanded to the absolute maximum practical to support the volunteer input. The dead line is Friday 15th March for an inaugural run on the Saturday from Seymour to Bendigo.
Details of the train running and the opportunity for public travel will be released in coming days in other forums.
For now, here is where we are up to.
State Car No.5 is still being grit blasted. On the left end some of the body is already in primer (done last night following yesterdays progress). 18 February.____________________________________________________________
From the balcony out the front of B Box, we can observe the blaster man reaching up to do the edge of the roof. He has nearly finished this side, the other being finished yesterday. The near end remains and then the bit down the middle of the roof._______________________________________________________________
Another closer shot this time and it is easier to see that the blasting is usually done in two passes. In the case of this car, the first is taking off the grey and white leaving blue and primer under that for the second run. They normally tackle an area of about half a square metre at a time and when that is finished, they mark out another patch which is generally a rectangle and so on till the end._____________________________________________________________
With State 5 outside for the finishing of the blasting there is a automobile car in the shed. Actually Steve is backing out after delivering a big order of paint for State 4. It is being painted in enamel whilst State 5 is being painted in two pack paint which will be delivered by the manufacturer's agent.__________________________________________________________
One of those unusual shots with the shed partly empty. P23 leads T342 in 2 Track whilst hidden in 3 track is J515. The bogie in 3 track is one of a pair that are to be put into 3BS in coming weeks to address tired springs. It being quicker and easier to do a swap than change out springs and packing. It is also convenient as these bogies came from 1BS when it was transferred to standard gauge. 1BS and 3BS are identical in configuration and weights so there should be minimal issues doing a straight swap. The bogies from 3BS will then go into the pool for refurbishment. ___________________________________________________________
With State 5 finished in terms of blasting we have taken the opportunity to keep the blaster man going by getting 1AS done. This car has been in the shed for restoration and it is cheaper to keep blasting going than pause for a month or two and then get the man back. Wednesday 20 Feb.____________________________________________________________
Moving right along, next day the roof of State 4 is the focus. Even a quick look showed there were going to be issues here. The more and harder one looked the more it became apparent that this was not going to be a quick fix. With cracks in various places and some areas showing signs of lifting, the paint was scraped back for some analysis. The verdict was as bad as it gets. All the paint will have to come off but the underlying canvas seems to be sound and will probably stay. ______________________________________________________________
Steve who has the joyous distinction of being the Carriage Manager is still poking about hoping to not have to strip the lot. Even he could not convince himself that there was an easy solution. Here along the gutter the existing paint layers could be pulled of by hand in long strips. From the outer edge of the gutter for about 150 mm up into the roof, the paint layers have only bonded to themselves and not the canvas.__________________________________________________________
With the decision made and labour committed, we are in to it. Where the paint has been removed the canvas shows as the yellow areas and some of the original "paint" (we are not exactly sure just what the VR used in 1912) shows as brown._____________________________________________________________
Looking down the length of the car its 70 odd feet length just spells more work; and then there is also the other side. What this picture does show though is the soot screens fixed over the clerestory vents/windows. These are quite old and are made from woven steel mesh in timber frames. Other E cars had screens made of tin plated steel with old steel fly wire. In each case they hide the vents and as we do not run steam locomotives in hot weather when the vents might be opened we have traditionally removed them as refurbishments are done.________________________________________________________
So the screens are gone on this bit showing the rippled glass in this area. In other parts nearer the centre of the car which align with the staff sleeping compartments, the lounge area and state rooms, there is lead light panels fitted.
What one does notice is that although the body size and basic features are very similar to Yarra, the presentation of Yarra is much superior to State 4 The lead lights and the timber work in Yarra is much more pleasing to the eye leading passengers to often think that it is a royal carriage. One wonders about the thinking of the Railways and the change of style in but six years. Yarra being built in 1906 and State 4 in 1912. __________________________________________________________
A few days later on Wednesday we got to the far end. In this case this is the platform end and one of the panels if the plain timbered end of the clerestory had a square key lock mechanism. We had no idea what this was for so the obvious thing to do was open and see. ._________________________________________________________
A closer look. These are the inverter / ballast units for fluorescent lights in some compartment which must have been a later addition. Although a bit hard to see in the darkness beyond, the top side of the dome that is the ceiling light for the end platform can be discerned.__________________________________________________________
If you have a reader of this blog for more than a couple on months, you should recognise the legs and hat. This is Kevin who is usually found building track but has taken up the challenge to boost resources working on State 4. He has been a part time painter in the past and has gladly applied those dormant skills for the cause. Here he is rubbing down the primer getting ready for the top coat which will be sprayed in the interests of time and efficiency.___________________________________________________________
Before we have a bit of a sticky at progress with State 5, we go back a few days and see T378 and X31 side by side on adjacent tracks waiting for their next roles. The X with B74 coupled behind is attached to the front four cars of the Geelong train running the next day. In the next closer track are the 4 rear cars. Hidden behind the X is Parlor Car. Early Saturday morning the first move is for T378 to take Parlor Car to the shed at the turntable in preparation for its conversion to standard gauge in the very near future.___________________________________________________________
There is just something about hood units long end leading. They always look good. You might have noticed that all our operational hood locos are always long end leading out of the depot. This is quite deliberate as it puts the driver on the inside of the curves. Having the driver on this side (all our shunting is done driver only like most other operators) makes hand signals practical and reduces some of the risks associated with shunting. ___________________________________________________________
It is quite unusual for our volunteers to follow one of our trains and take photographs. This time many were on the train and three were back inn the depot busy working away on State 4 and the standard gauge train which will be out again in a couple of weeks.
This and the next few shots were taken by one of the train staff who when he had some free time grabbed a few frames.
After arrival at Geelong, the passengers have headed off to the festival and the train stands before the locos run around._______________________________________________________________
The back half of the train in the train shed.
The classic lines of VR horsepower albeit looking a bit dusty. The locos and cars were all washed before we let them out of the depot but you would not think so!_______________________________________________________________
Now this is a view you don't see every day, unless of course you travel on a standard gauge train between Melbourne and Seymour. I can't tell you which bridge this is. It is either Moonee Ponds Creek or it is the Maribyrnong River bridge. We like the low sun catching the top of the valley sides._____________________________________________________________
Arrival back in Seymour was after "dark o'clock". To save having to run the train locos X31 and B74 around the train, T378 was used to lift the cars from the loco depot and push them back into the cars shed. The X and B then followed once the cars were all put away.
378 is lifting the cars up the hill in the first move._______________________________________________________________
So now back to carriages. State 5 is in the bottom of No.1 track and getting lots of attention. Externally it is bog, bog and more bog. All the defects and undulations in the steel sheeting are being eliminated with bog followed by sanding. The difference in colours represents different brands of bog. For the first couple of days we used up all sorts of existing stocks before the main delivery of 40 tins turned up.
By the amount of bog you might think we are fixing every little imperfection but that is not the case. Railway carriages (and for that matter locomotives) are not treated like show cars that are bogged and sanded to the nth degree for a perfect flawless finish. These vehicles are working machines and we look for a balance between the show room automotive finish and a smart good looking item of railway rolling stock. That said, it is more important to get a superior finish on a smooth sided vehicle like State 5 as the ripples and so forth will always show and will be highlighted by the gloss finish. Carriages with rivets like the 1937 spirit cars and locomotives with lots of panels and or doors do not have the same concern and are therefore generally easier to complete.______________________________________________________________
After the first "coat" of bog, sanding with 40 grit paper quickly knocks off the high spots and shows up the places where more bog is required. This is where we are at as James is filling the low spots. If you have done the first "coat" well the second will only be around 10% of the volume of the first round. Sanding again will follow this time with 80 grit paper. A coat of hi-fill paint will then be applied which will deal with the remaining small imperfections. Another sand down with much finer grit paper will then see the colour applied._______________________________________________________________
So, that is where we are up to._______________________________
No prize for guessing what we will being doing for the next couple of weeks.
State 4 and State 5 have to be in traffic on Saturday 16th March; no excuses!
As well as external repainting, the interior carpet and curtains in State 4 are being renewed.
State 5 will have internal panelling replaced in a few places, some windows renewed, the running gear inspected and the wheels changed out.. The electrical system will be tested and air conditioning equipment serviced and made operational.
On top of that Parlor Car will be gauge converted.
Then there is S303 to receive an exam, four carriages to have their annual exams and State 5 to go through the full recommissioning process.
No time to slack off or rest.
This article first appeared on srhcblog.blogspot.com
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