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This is the diary of the overhaul of Great Eastern Railway Number 5 to return it to operable condition after years in store - a process that was completed in nine months.

The carriage was built in 1898 for the then Princess of Wales, Princess Alexandra, the wife of the future King Edward VII.

GER No. 5 was moved from storage at Haverthwaite on Wednesday 17th June 2009 to the Appleby Heritage Centre which very kindly made space available to the FRT to carry out this project.

Work began in earnest a couple of weeks later with one or two working parties visiting each week; the project was finished in time for the carriage to be moved to the Beamish Museum in County Durham to enter service on Easter Sunday 2010.

This picture shows one of the well attended working parties at Appleby, with (left to right) Tim Owen, John Dixon, Adrian Tomkinson, Fred Jones, David Rimmer, Keith Brewer, Derek Milby, Tom Bradshaw (seated) Alan Johnstone, Jim Kay and Alan Middleton.

July 2009

The first job was to inspect the coach, and remove accumulated rubbish and unwanted items. The first of a number of purchases was a new broom!All the doors were opened for the first time in many years, and an electricity supply run in to the coach.

A major job began straight away - preparing the external teak panels ready for varnishing, initially by sanding. The resultant sawdust was collected to make into a glue paste to attempt invisible repairs on the various cracks that had opened up in some of the teak. Interior panelling was removed to enable strengthening pieces to be glued and screwed onto the back of the cracks. Trials were carried out with different types of glue pastes to find the one that worked the best.

All the cork flooring inside the coach was removed, and the buffers, drawbars and couplings, and external apparatus (such as vacuum brake hoses, communication cord controls, etc.) were removed for refurbishing and to allow the panels to be sanded and the life expired headstocks to be replaced. New headstocks had to be designed, as did a way of converting the old gas lighting to electricity, including finding a way of routing the new cables. The first of the old gas light fittings were removed along with the gas pipes on the roof and work began to strip paint from the interior ceiling panels.

Work began on the underframe, wire-brushing components, whilst the important job of overhauling the door locks also commenced. A broken door window frame was removed -
to have the broken glass replaced by safety glass.

August 2009

Work continued on sanding down the external teak panels, along with the beading and window surrounds, and repairing cracks from the inside, before replacing the interior panels.

Rotten floorboards in one saloon were replaced, and work began overhauling the doors themselves, whilst the jobs of stripping ceiling paint, overhauling the locks and preparing drawings continued.

A passing visitor took great interest in the project and donated £10! Thank you!

September 2009

At last the saloon ceiling paint stripping is over! Next job - removing the paint around the door edges...!

Work continued on the scraping and sanding of the external panels whilst repairing the cracks from the inside, and on converting the lights from gas to electricity.

The door overhauls included fitting new "scissors" under two of the opening windows - this is the device which balances the weight of a droplight carriage window to enable it to "spring" upwards.

October 2009

More scraping and cleaning the external teak panels - the halfway mark was passed at the start of the month, hurrah! However commitments elsewhere within the Trust meant that some time was lost during the month.

Plus more panelling repairs, more door repairs, and more work towards converting the lighting! It's a long job...!

November 2009

The coming of winter started to affect the project - some of the external panels were too damp to be worked on even at the start of the month.

Despite the weather, the cleaning of the interior and exterior panels and door edges continued, and a start was made applying gold size - a kind of undercoat/sealant which prepares the wood ready for varnishing.

Meanwhile professional carpenter Tony Vollans of the Appleby Heritage Centre commenced construction of the new headstocks.

December 2009

Work continued on the teak panels, tweaking the darkness of wood stain over the glued sections, cleaning and applying more gold size weather permitting.

One of the new headstocks was fitted to the carriage, the other was nearly complete.

The weather closed in and the Christmas party that had been organised for the Appleby restoration team - which they had long been looking forward to - had to be cancelled as no-one could make it through the drifts to get there...!

January 2010

Three working parties had to be cancelled due to snow and ice.

The job of routing and filling the cracks was completed, whilst the task of applying gold size continued - both ends were completed by the end of the month. One completed side panel was sanded off where a repair had been carried out in order to reapply the gold size over the total of the panel and remove the variation in the stain.

Interior renovations, including the stripping of old varnish, and cleaning the bogies continued. The insides of the doors were cleaned out and painted.

Buffer collars and headstock caps were added to the first of the two new headstocks.

February 2010

The saloon ceilings were cleaned, filled, undercoated and top coat painted and the ceiling of the corridor that links the two saloons was made good. Elsewhere inside, work continued on cleaning most of the remaining old varnish, replacing interior beading, repairing the droplights and one of the saloon windows and the door locks.

The areas behind the interior panelling were cleaned out and and given a coat of aluminium paint, before the interior panels were replaced. Two of the new light fittings were fitted - and a test fitting was carried out of the new glass bowl light covers.

The second new headstock was fixed into position. The drawbars were painted in primer and then in black and work continued on cleaning up and painting the underframe with primer. The bogies were shotblasted by a specialist contractor and were then also primed. Reassembly of the headstock fittings was finally completed.

Most of the remainder of the external gold size was applied and a white spirit/varnish mix was applied to the two coach ends.

A dozen chairs were purchased for the saloons.

March 2010

The new exterior teak beading was delivered and fitted. The milder weather enabled plenty of varnish to be applied to the outside of the coach. Replacement interior beading - a close match to teak called sapele - was delivered and fitted.

The roof was cleaned off, primed and then two coats of specialist white top coat paint applied. This entailed the coach seeing the outside air again - being towed outside to allow the paint to be applied. The addition of a white roof certainly enhances the look of the vehicle.

The new veneered ply was fitted inside, and the replacement blue leatherette attached in place. Undercoating of the underframe and bogies was completed followed by the top coat of black. The bodysides were varnished, and with the white roof, this really made a step change in the vehicle's appearance.

The electric light system was completed and tested, whilst the repairs were concluded on the droplights, which were then installed. A vacuum round inside certainly helped, and more chairs have been acquired for passengers.

The final week saw the re-fitting of the window droplights, getting the leatherette finished, and re-fitting the buffers and drawgear. A new carpet for one of the saloons was also fitted. Examinations were completed on the brake gear and the axleboxes. A new seat was added to the guard's compartment, all the remaining underframe items and stepboards were painted, the vacuum system and emergency brake linkages reinstated and the windows and interior cleaned. All the interior woodwork received a coat of varnish mixed with white spirit; two information notices were fitted to the saloons.

In total 366 (long) volunteer days were put into this project during the nine months. Carrying out this work as volunteers in a polytunnel during the coldest winter for thirty years was a remarkable achievement and everyone who took part should be very proud of the end result.

The project was finished in time for the coach to leave Appleby and travel to County Durham for Easter. The coach has been hired by the Beamish Museum to carry the first passengers on its newly upgraded running line. A job well done!

An able team is pushing this overhaul forward to completion

Tom Bradshaw commences work on the doors
The scaffolding is up and work is well and truly underway. Compare this with the view at the bottom of the page to see the progress made with the teak panelling.
John Dixon glueing a patch ready to be screwed into the interior of the external panels
Fred Jones scraping away on another panel section
Trevor Bradshaw routing a crack in the external panelling ready for filling with a mix of cascamite and teak sawdust
One of the new headstocks being prepared in the Appleby workshop
Derek Milby uses a hot air gun to clear condensation prior to starting work in chilly conditions!
Keith Brewer working on one of the two new headstocks
David Rimmer attaches upholstery to one of the doors
Nearing completion - look at that stunning varnished teak!
Shorty after arrival at Beamish, and ready for service for the first time in 38 years!


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İFurness Railway Trust

Overhauling the FRT's former Royal Saloon GER No. 5