Vanfit B761651: Part 1

Something of a misleading title to this update, as there have been snippets on the restoration progress made on this wagon in earlier compilation postings. However, since the completion of a collection of smaller projects (cosmetically restoring vans B777654 and B764248, partially reflooring MoD open No.4730 – which is now back in traffic – and starting to strip the brake gear on van B786075), our efforts have been focused solely on this vehicle in the last few weeks, with particular credit due to Wagon Group volunteer Philip Halstead, who has undertaken most of the physical work seen so far on this van and provided the first three images in this report…

DSCF4534Above: The corrugated steel ends, generally in very good condition, have been cleaned back and patch-primed as required, with some attention also given to the headstocks.

DSCF4536Above: The ends then received a coat of topcoat to finish them off. This van requires replacement shunter’s blackboards to be made and fitted into the brackets that can be seen above the nearest buffer, which will be done as part of the overhaul. In practice, this feature seems to have been seldom used, remaining unmarked whilst vehicle destinations were simply chalked on the bodyside instead!

DSCF4544Above: A start was then made on the metalwork on the last remaining side. Some slightly soft timber has received some wood hardening treatment, which will be painted in due course to complete the bodywork renovation. The generally excellent condition of this van  has meant very rapid progress has been made with the overhaul so far.

151004 NVR 001Above: Attention then turned to the roof, the seams of the roof covering being in poor condition. A day was spend stripping the old covering, which had been adhered directly to the roof using bitumen adhesive. The life-expired covering will be replaced with a 2-layer roof felting system, that will allow the felt and the roof boards to expand and contract at different rates without breaking up, plus hopefully make it a lot easier to renew the felt in future when replacement is required!

151004 NVR 002Above: Close to the end of a long day, the old felt is completely gone (the remnants hanging down the sides were removed shortly after this photo). The van is now temporarily under cover in the shed to keep the rain off whilst the roof boards are exposed, with plans in hand to install the new covering as soon as possible.

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August and September…

During August and September, progress continued to be made on several fronts at the railway:

150829 NVR 001 (19)Above: ‘Vanfit’ B768248 received its full complement of original-style 1950’s lettering to match the appearance of neighbouring van B777654. This small but important job completes ‘Operation Tidy Up’ for the time being, this pair of vans now creating an excellent impression in this very public area.

DSCF4503Above: Philip had previously undercoated the unsightly graffiti on ‘Vanfit’ B761651 in the yard, and followed this up with topcoat after freeing up some unyielding door hinges, all in time for the tank-engine themed Autumn Steam Gala. The condition of the roof has now been inspected – the good news is that the timber roof boards appear to be in good order, the bad news is that the seams of the roof covering are poor, and a new roof covering will therefore be required. About one third of the chassis and one axle has also been scraped back to remove the loose rust and scale that had accumulated. In addition, much of the brake gear of ply-bodied ‘Vanfit’ B786075 has been removed, cleaned up and greased, ready to be reinstalled. B761651, above, will require the same treatment before it re-enters traffic.

150826 NVR 034aAbove: To help pay for our wagon restoration activities, in early September we held a very successful “Steam Freight” driving and shunting experience course, using the Gresley ‘N2’. As can be seen, open wagon ‘B494730’ (in reality MoD No.4730) was successfully extracted from the carriage siding with our thanks to the shed staff, and returned to traffic in time for the driver experience course. We were pleased to see that all the attendees seemed to really enjoy the day, and we hope that we will be able to hold another similar event, using a different locomotive, at some point in the future.

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July Roundup

July has again seen progress on several fronts, namely MoD open 4730, and BR ‘Vanfits’ B777654, B768248 and B761651…

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Above: The new floor planks for MoD ‘Highfit’ No.4730 were successfully treated with preservative and installed, allowing this wagon to return back to active service and another job off the list.

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Above: B777654 received the finishing touches to its cosmetic makeover, in the form of the remaining items of door ironmongery.

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Above: Neighbouring van B768248 has also now been finished off, with the corrugated ends receiving bauxite topcoat, and ply patches being installed to the lower bodysides to seal up the holes and provide a paintable surface, which were then primed and topcoated to match the rest of the van.

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Above: After some persistent ‘nagging’ via the members’ newsletters, it was good to see that somebody has come forward and started to paint the second-hand bookshop coach to complement our two finished vans next to it. Sadly I am unable to credit the person(s) responsible as I don’t yet know who has undertaken the work, but it can be seen above that this is already making a massive visual improvement in this previously neglected and down-at-heel area. What a difference!

Above: Our new project for restoration to running order, BR ‘Vanfit’ B761651, was brought into the yard recently so work could begin. Unfortunately the side bearing the heavy graffiti was facing our visitors viewing the yard from the platform, therefore not creating a particularly good impression. With this in mind, Philip spent some time obliterating the unwanted ‘paintwork’ with some primer undercoat, so at least it now looks like ‘work in progress’ rather than a target for vandals. He also spent some time cleaning accumulated rust and grime off one side of the underframe. A mechanical inspection is now required before we proceed much further, but the bodywork seems to be sound and so we hope that this vehicle will be at least relatively trouble-free.

In other news, our “Steam Freight” driving and shunting experience with visiting Gresley ‘N2’ 0-6-2T is booking well. I believe there may still be a limited number of places still available, so if you fancy a full-day, ‘hands on’ driving course a little different to the usual offerings, then please check out the details on the Official NVR webpage here. You can even meet the Wagon Group team in person..!

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Progress on many fronts!

This update could be the largest ever to date! Below can be found the results of several working sessions over the last couple of weeks or so – most photos courtesy of Wagon Group volunteer Philip Halstead:

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Above: Tim and I fitted the new plywood doors to ‘Vanfit’ B777654. This turned out to be a pig of a job, unexpectedly taking up most of the day. However we also managed to get the new floor planks for MoD open No.4726 cut to length, ready for fitting as soon as possible – photos of this to follow once they have been installed.

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Above: A couple of weeks later, Philip followed on behind and topcoated the previously installed and primed doors, completing this van, apart from a couple of minor details which will be installed shortly.

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Above: Philip has now turned his attention to the neighbouring van, 1952-built B768248. The eastern end was cleaned up and patch primed, the corrugated metal ends generally being in better condition than those of the aforementioned B777654. As can be seen, this van already sports replacement doors which saves us a job!

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Above: The western end was cleaned and patch primed to match, as was the timber panelling to the platform side of the van. Ply patches will be required to the lower body sides to provide a more secure mounting for the door catches and an easier surface to paint…

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Above: …however the platform side of the van was painted in topcoat, ready for the ply patches to be fitted and painted at a later date.

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Above: That said, this pair of vans is now beginning to look really quite smart, a massive improvement on their neglected and unloved previous appearance. We just need someone to come forward and sort out the neighbouring second-hand bookshop Mk1 coach. BR ‘crimson and cream’ livery would be nice…?

Above: We return to ex-LMS CCT No.37071, which was externally restored back to James Bond “Octopussy” condition by ourselves, with the interior works now being undertaken by others. For the first time in two and a half years it now finds itself outside in the daylight, and so Philip took the opportunity to grab a couple of portrait shots in the open.

Above: The other side of No.37071 in the loco yard, heading up a line of wagons…

Above: …of which one is our next project, ‘Vanfit’ B761651. It is intended to restore this van to running order, although we need to check the reason why this van was ‘red carded’ (banned from running). We are hoping that the only reason is due to the unsightly graffiti, although it will of course receive a thorough check over to be sure there is nothing more sinister in store. This van otherwise appears to be in remarkably good condition, needing little more than a repaint, and possibly a new roof covering – to be confirmed…

Above: The southern side of B761651, also in apparently good condition apart from some faded and flaking paint.

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Above: Not only has B761651 been brought in, but also 1961-built plywood ‘Vanfit’ B786075 – our grateful thanks to everyone who helped out with this task. This van is also in reasonable order and should be a relatively quick turnaround. Unfortunately this one will probably require new doors, which as we found with B777654 at the top of this posting, are quite time consuming both to build and install. These two vans, along with ‘Vanfit’ B759852 already running in the operational goods rake, will form the beginning of our new project to bring back the NVR BR van train…

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‘Vanfit’ B777654: Part 4

Thanks to some solo working from Tim and Philip on different days, ‘Operation Tidy Up’ rapidly progresses towards completion of the first of the vans – BR ‘Vanfit’ B777654. Photos courtesy of Tim Hobman and Philip Halstead.


Above: The new set of ply doors have received a coat of primer, in readiness for being installed.


Above: B777654 has finally regained its identity after many years of fading and flaking paintwork rendering it illegible.


Above: The lettering is now complete to the public platform side, including tare weight, wheelbase, and ‘XP’ markings in the original 1950’s style.


Above: The next day, Philip cleaned up the remaining (western) end of the van, and primed with red oxide.


Above: A few days later, he returned and applied the topcoat, completing the publicly-visible sides of this vehicle (apart from the doors).


Above: This van is beginning to look really quite smart, and the new doors will finish the job off nicely once installed. Quite a transformation when you consider that previously it looked like this:

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Driving and Shunting Experience Course with Gresley ‘N2’!

It’s back! After the successful “Steam Freight” driving and shunting experience course with BR Standard ‘5MT’ 4-6-0 last year, the Wagon Group have been asked to arrange a similar event with a very special visitor – Gresley ‘N2’ 0-6-2T locomotive No.1744, during its short visit to NVR in September. Places are limited and there won’t be many opportunities to take the regulator of this engine whilst it is at the Nene Valley Railway, so don’t delay, book now for this full-day, hands-on, driving, firing, guarding and shunting experience!

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Friday 4th September 2015.

£385 per person (up to 8 places available) Full-day steam driving and shunting experience course with Gresley ‘N2′ 0-6-2T locomotive No.1744 and the NVR goods train, over the NVR line from Wansford to Peterborough (proceeds to the Wagon Group). Full details can be found on the Official NVR website HERE.

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Vanfit B777654: Part 3

A couple of progress update photos from Philip to add to the report below, as he has topcoated the previously cleaned and primed eastern end.




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