Thursday, February 02, 2012

The End

The wagon is finished at last.

The outside painted and sign-written.

Unfortunately Ollie has hidden the wagon away in the yard among old, derelict wagons where no-one can see it, so I could only get a couple of photos to put here.

I think it's a fine job. I've learned a lot from the process and certainly would do things differently another time but it looks good and is a credit to all who've worked on it.


Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Final Stages


We are approaching the final leg of renovating the wagon. While I've been cutting and preparing the planks for the doors Ollie and Andy have been at work making, painting and installing the washer-plates that go on the backs of the planks.
Those are the four hinges for the side doors lying in the middle between the two piles of planks.

The tops of the sides and ends are finished off with steel strips to protect the timber. We cut and drilled them to receive the hold down screws and, in the side walls, for the coach bolts that run from top to bottom of the planks and through the side members attached to the sole-bars.

There's not much left to do. All of those nuts on the outside of the wagon holding the planks on and the corner plates are to be replaced with correct size nuts as if they were Whitworth threads.

Unfortunately Whitworth coach-bolts were prohibitively expensive. I'd love to have used them to be true to the wagon's origins. Maybe in future renovations we'll be able to use Whitworth bolts, but that will mean either paying a lot of money for them or making them ourselves, which would take a long time.

Ollie already has wagons lined up for renovation, including a BR Standard brake van, a Toad and two five plank wagons which are steel frames in need of a lot of work, but at more than 100 years old each is a historical vehicle.

Saturday, November 05, 2011


Today saw some more significant progress of work on the wagon.

The planks for the ends and sides were painted with undercoat when I arrived at Bitton today and I began cutting the chamfers at to accommodate the curve of the corner plates on the ends of the end planks.

painted planks

When Ollie arrived we began putting on the first row of end and side planks.

end planks clamped in

Timber is living stuff, even when it's cut into planks. What were straight planks when they were cut have dried and twisted enough to make fitting them a slow and careful process. We began with one of the end planks, putting it in place and clamping it to the headstock and to the end supports before drilling the two holes for the bolts into the end supports. It was a slightly nervous procedure because the plank was twisted enough to show, but as we tightened the bolt the twist was pulled straight and the plank lay along the edge of the floor.

drilling the bolt holes

Next we put in the first side plank, which we clamped down to the sole bar. Then I went into the wagon and Ollie lifted the corner plate into position. They are heavy and I had quickly to clamp it to the end and side planks. Then we adjusted the position of the plate so that it sat level with the bottom of the planks and perpendicular.

corner plate clamped in position

When we were satisfied that it was positioned right and square we drilled through and bolted it to the end plank. Then we checked again that the side plank was firmly in place and the corner plate still square to it before drilling and bolting through the corner plate and into the side plank. Lastly we drilled through the holes in the J irons into the end of the side plank by the door opening and bolted it into place there.

the first side plank in position

We did that four times. Once for each corner.

one end ready for planking

Now the wagon is ready to receive the rest of the planks, but we ran out of time today and that will have to wait until next week.

it's looking good

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Floor and side planks

I haven't written anything here for a while.

Work on the wagon goes on but is pretty slow now.

The floor is fully planked now and the brake mechanisms fitted. Ollie moved the wagon from it's little track into the shed, where we're planking it and finishing it off.

Fitting the drop-doors was not so easy as I thought it would be, but it's done now and they work. Next we'll be preparing the end planks. They're cut to length ready to bolt to the end stanchions. They have to have chamferred ends to accommodate the corner plates, then we'll cut and fit the side planks and lastly the side doors.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Brakes and Planks

While we've been working on the frame and planking of the wagon elsewhere the brake mechanisms are being repaired. They are nearly ready for installation now, but some straightening has been necessary.

We've spent the past couple of Saturdays laying the floor planks. This is not so easy as it might look. The frames are held together by bolts and it was necessary to bore holes in the underside of the planks to accommodate the bolt heads. This meant cutting each plank to length, putting it into position on the frame and hitting it down onto the bolt heads with a mallet to mark each bolt's position, then remove the plank again to cut the hole for the bolt head.

I had to rebate the undersides of the planks each side of the doors to allow for the bottom legs of the side support knees.

Next I'll fit the drop doors and the planking between them, then it's on to the ends and sides.

Friday, August 26, 2011

On Our Knees

During the past couple of weeks we have installed the draw gear.

These were very heavy and had to be jacked up to fit them.

Last Saturday we finished bolting up the end timbers that embrace the draw springs then we installed the iron knees that support the ends of the sides adjacent to the side doors.

I had spent time the previous Saturday cutting out rebates in the side members of the frames to let the knees contact the planks. Ollie had ordered the planks and they were delivered during the week.

So using one of the side planks we were able to fit the knees in position, locate them correctly on the length of the frame using the "hockey stick" irons that fit to the cross tie bars, then mark and drill the holes to take the bolts through the frames to bolt down the knees.

With all the knees in place we can now begin planking the wagon.

This week's task is to measure and cut the floor planks and drop them into place so that we can work from them to fit the planks.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Drop Door Hinges

Originally the wagon had two drop doors in the centre section of the floor either side of the central spine. The floors had been rebuilt during the wagon's life and it no longer had the doors when we acquired it, but the lock/release mechanisms for the doors was still in place and Ollie wanted to re-instate the doors.

To do this we needed to make new hinges and fit them, as well as to re-fit the lock/release mechanisms in the new frame.

This photo shows the new hinges in place ready to be cut roughly to length before installing the lock/release levers. The hinges are new steel work, though the pins of 1" diameter bar are very old stock and may well be iron rather than steel.

Before fitting the lock/release mechanism we had to find its ideal location in the length of the frame. I thought this would be centred in the frame but in the event it is offset slightly to one end so that the screws that hold the locking shoe will not foul the tie bars close by.

Once we had determined the position of the shoes we screwed them into place in the underside of the sole-bars.

All was now set to locate and fix the lock/release mechanism. I am always tempted to measure things and then drill holes to locate them, but in this kind of work, where parts are old and worn and even misshapen it is better to proceed by fitting: trying each part in place relative to other components so as to get a better fit.

To get a proper working height for the hinges I ran battens across from the centre spine to the sole-bar and tied up the hinges to them, thus putting the underside of the hinges in the position they'd be in when holding up the door in the closed position.

We then held the locking bar up against the underside of the hinges and with its release lever locked in the locking shoe and marked the positions of the hinge-bolts on the sole bar. We then drilled the holes out and I chiselled the square portion that locates and holds the square end of the hinge bolts.

Here you can see the hinges supported on the release bar. The hinges will be shortened so that when the release bar lever is kicked inwards they will drop past the bar allowing the door to open.

The last job was to apply a little paint to the nuts and washers holding the lock/release mechanism hinges, and then Ollie couldn't resist a trial placing of the wagon's number-plate.

Draw Gear

Construction moves on. We now have the new (second hand) draw springs and draw bars ready to fit. They were taken from another wagon that is not fit for renovation and so is being dismantled.

Here you can see the new draw-spring looking like a cross-bow lying under the wagon.

We laid out the draw-springs, old draw-bars and connecting basket - that thing in the middle that contains springs to help absorb the shocks as the wagon is pulled along.

We only needed to lay out one end as the ends are identical, so all measurements could be made to the centre-line of the frame. We needed to know that the draw-springs would fit because they are slightly different from the originals, in the end there was only a 3/8th inch difference in length.

Here you can see the new and old draw-bars side by side on the ground. The new ones are heavier section than the old ones but are of comparable construction. We cut the new ones to the same length as the old and then cut new threads (1 3/4 inch) on the new ones.

Here is one of the new ones threaded, with a hole for a split-pin in the end of the threads, and primed ready for final painting.

I am writing this on Monday 8th August and Ollie plans to install the draw-gear on Wednesday. I'll be at work so won't get any photos of that.
More About Dust Seals

I've been away on various jaunts and so haven't written here for a while, and haven't done a lot at the railway either.

A few weeks ago I finished fettling the dust-seals for the wagon's axle-boxes.

The first job was to test fit each seal to its respective axle-box. I numbered them all because I found that each one fitted slightly differently, but they were all a bit like this:

I found that the shoulders of the seals were not quite high enough to engage against a protrusion inside the axle-box body. So they'd needed raising, which I did by gluing strips of wood on the tops of the shoulders:

You can see the strips of wood there. Once they were well glued in I had to check each seal against its axle-box, sanding off the extra wood until the seal was a snug fit.

Finally each seal had to have a protective metal strip fixed to each cheek to prevent undue wear and tear in use from the steel pin that holds the seal in place:

The seals are now all finished and in place on the wagon with their bottom surfaces flush to the bottoms of the axle-boxes.