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Monday, 30 September 2013

A Last Look at the new Chassis

click to enlarge
Before the floorboards are screwed down here is a last look at the extent of the new chassis timbers.   Everything in the top picture is new hardwood except for the two pieces on the left.   It was marginal whether they too were renewed but they were spared - mainly because they were originals and were the best of a bad set of components.   They are seen in detail below.   Each of the chassis timbers has now been topped off with damp proof course to help preserve the timbers from rot .

Had a visit today from the head of North Yorks Moors Railway wagon restoration team.   He had a jolly good look and declared that it was an excellent restoration.
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Saturday, 28 September 2013

Not Compo After All

This sunny afternoon I was pottering in the wagon when I saw three chaps peering over the fence, obviously interested in the tower.   I told them they were most welcome to have a look around and to sign the visitors book.   After their circuit of the tower I could not resist asking them what was their story - so distinguished and interested was their demeanor.   In fact I said they looked like something out of 'Last of the Summer Wine'.   It turned out that one of them was local and the others were visitors from East Anglia.   Jokingly, I asked the visitors if they were doing missionary work in the north of England.   They laughed politely.

Whilst signing the visitors book they watched part of the Restoration Man DVD and noted the bit about me being a retired police officer.   The local chap asked if by any chance I was Truly of the Yard.   I denied it but said that if they went to the signal box they would see the rest of the Summer Wine Gang.   "Including Nora Batty?" one of them asked, hopefully.

I knew I had seen the local chap before so I tackled him about this.   Had I perhaps seen him in Booths supermarket?   His face was familiar.

"Well" he said, "I was Archbishop of York but now I'm retired and a priest of last resort when they're stuck."

Not Compo after all then!

Meet the Rt Reverend Dr David Hope, Lord Thorne - and a jolly good sport:

Friday, 27 September 2013

Tower Portraits and the Wagon Door

I had warned the US TV producer Jonathan Taylor that it was hard to get a good portrait picture of the tower now the coal truck was in the way.   "Not at all" said Jonathan.  "Come with me".

At the bottom of the station drive, particularly with benefit of the pole cam is an ideal vantage point - especially in the late afternoon sunshine:

click to enlargeThis was taken from ground level so the fence intrudes a bit.   Just a few feet higher - from a set of steps -  should be the ideal portrait location.   Thank you Jonathan - you know your business.

Today I have been working on the inside of the truck, reinforcing the top of the tuck body with 60mm x 40mm hardwood with a steel strip on top of it.   This has created an immensely strong box.   I wondered if creating the side door opening would weaken it.   This involves two angled vertical saw cuts.   Voila!   An instant bottom hinged door despite which the walls either side of the door opening are rock solid.   What an amazing design.
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Be Proud

Among today's visitors was an architect from Surrey.   I shall spare his blushes and not name him.   He was gushing in his praise for what has been done here.   His comment in the visitors book, in that distinctive clear handwriting that architects use, was:

Superb.   Be proud.

Our architect, Stuart Green and his colleagues at Commercial Systems International in Hull will be chuffed with that - and so they should be.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Dallas Comes to Settle

Today we were 'shot' by the team from Dallas for the US TV programme You Live in What?

Here is Geraint the sound man getting all worked up about fixing Pat's microphone.   You would not belieeeeve where the transmitter box went.

Since Restoration Man the HD cameras have got smaller but the lights have got bigger.

We raided Booths for lunch.   These jet setting TV people were impressed.

This expensive gadget is a pole cam - it enables amazing shots to be taken from ground level to quite high up.   The actual camera is at the far end and the black box above the pole is the monitor.   The camera is flown, much like a helicopter.   It opens up a whole new range of opportunities for spectacular shots.

Here is the pole cam in action as the 1348 northbound arrives at Settle.   As the train departs the camera swings round to the left to show the water tower.   On the left is Jonathan Taylor the assistant producer, from Dallas but living in Paris.   It's another world.

A most enjoyable but busy day.
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Saturday, 21 September 2013

The Packet of Seeds has Flowered

  Long time followers of this Blog will remember, back on 11th February (qv) there was a posting about an 80p packet of seeds that had been sent to us after the Restoration Man follow-up programme.

The elderly widow of an engine driver had sent us a packet of seeds to sow in the area that Pat was gardening on the programme.   Well, we did just that and here is part of the result.   The flowers have provided a meal for the bugs and beasties but they have appeared in profusion to remind us of how much we owe to the viewers of Restoration Man and what joy they brought to us.
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Shades of Grey

  Another eye catching title, which will probably earn me no end of rude spam.
I know it is a best selling she-porn book but I could not resist airing my wordly awareness.

Here is the truck in its first coat of grey.   If the dry weather holds it will get another tomorrow.   I am a bit biased but I reckon it is beginning to look the business.   I am using grey polyurethane floor paint for two reasons - 1) if it is good enough for factory floors it is good enough for the wagon sides and 2) it is amazingly good value - a 20 litre barrel of it (picture 1) is £23 on E-Bay - carriage included!

FoSCL stalwart Dr John Disney got off the 1044 train, having travelled from Leicester, to lead a FoSCL guided walk.   I had started the grey paint on one end of the wagon.   He asked me if it would be finished by the time he returned.   At that stage I doubted it but then I thought - if he can spend his day doing heroic voluntary work for the S&C largely for the benefit of others, the least I can do is to crack on with a bit of painting.   So - thank you John - four sides in shades of grey.
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Friday, 20 September 2013

Meet Purrcy

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Meet Purrcy, one of the water tower residents.   We got him from Cat Rescue, when his name was Alan.   As that is the name of our son-in-law we felt there was room for confusion so he became Purrcy.

He is pictured here on the occasion of a visit by members of the Bradford Blaize Rotary Club.   Disturbed from his slumbers in the roof room by the visitors his expression is eloquent.
"WTF.   Can't a chap get some kip around here?"
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Wednesday, 18 September 2013

On TV Again

We have TV cameras here again next week - this time from the USA.   The series is entitled You Live In What?   Much as Restoration Man is produced by Tiger Aspect for the UK's Channel 4, You Live in What is produced by AMS Pictures of Dallas, Texas for HGTV (Homes and Gardens TV) in the USA.

There is no doubt whatever that Restoration Man has brought passengers to the S&C- from all over the World.   Hopefully, exposure in America will  have a similar effect.   If it is as much fun filming for You Live in What? as it was with Restoration Man we shall be very lucky indeed.

The Wagon is Rebuilt

 Dodging the showers, the fourth and final side of the wagon was completed today, save for very minor bits and pieces.  Here it is, in a rare pool of sunshine.

I can hardly believe that this has been achieved in just three months.

It still needs painting and lettering but the essential work has now been done.

Several people have remarked how well it fits in with the overall ambience of the water tower and grounds.
Click picture to enlarge
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Monday, 16 September 2013

Guarea Cedrata

The wood for the wagon planks is Guarea Cedrata.  Google it if you must.   It is an African hardwood and is way way stronger than the original planking of the wagon.   Among its uses are ship building and veneers.   We have been very lucky to find a supply of it just along the road at Wonder of Wood in Stainforth.

Dodging the downpours the third side of the wagon has been constructed of Guarea Cedrata today.   The fourth and final side (the northern end) of the wagon should be finished tomorrow.   The job is then essentially finished.   Phew.

I had envisaged that the wagon would be a two year project but thanks largely to Ged Pinder's joinery skills and enthusiasm it has progressed well beyond expectations.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Serious Progress with the Wagon

 The Aviemore wagon is fast acquiring sides.   This three quarter view shows the tippler end door now assembled and working.

Presently the planks are done in black acrylic primer and the metalwork in zinc phosphate primer.    

This is the side of the wagon that faces the station drive - the most public side therefore.   As can be seen there are five 7" planks per side, each with a 30 degree detail at the top, as was done originally, to shed the rain.

The big red corner piece has been cut down from seven plank size to five planks, so reducing its weight and giving the opportunity for seriously rusted ends to be removed.   The black end-post to the left of the picture is one of two.   Lowering the body has meant the original oak posts can be re-used by cutting off the rotten ends.

This is the side view.   What a contrast with the near wreck of a wagon just three months ago.   Settle Coal's Brian Thornton called by today.   He it was who went to Aviemore with his low loader to collect the wagon.   He recalled covering it with a giant tarpaulin for the journey to Settle 'to stop the bits blowing off it'.

Thanks to a lot af hard graft, help from several local  businesses and from volunteer joiner Ged Pinder especially the job is almost finished.
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Friday, 13 September 2013

Bizarre but Cool

Picture the scene this morning.  Mum, Dad and a perfect set of kids - one of each - walking up Station Road.

Dad, rather patronisingly I thought:   "What a bizarre house that is."

Son:   "Cool though."

Daughter and Mum:  "Yeah".

Made my day.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Are You the Maintenance Man?

One of the results of trying to make our home look less like a home and more like part of the railway  is that people just wander in.  That is quite fun really and you do meet some very interesting people.   Almost daily there is somebody from Australia who has come to the UK simply because they saw Restoration Man on TV at home and have decided to visit the old country - the S&C and our water tower in particular.   That is hugely satisfying for us and we have geared up for it by creating a circular footpath round the outside and a visitors book plus a modest pictorial then-and-now display in an outbuilding - and a TV/DVD showing the Restoration Man programme.

We funded this restoration from the proceeds when we sold our half of The Folly -  a magnificent Grade 1 Listed building in the middle of Settle.  At The Folly we became quite used to total strangers as visitors.

On one occasion Pat went to Settle market - it happens every Tuesday since 1248.   She didn't lock the door as she was not going to be away for long and this is Settle, not Detroit.   When she returned there were two ladies sitting in our lounge.   They were Thora Hird / Last of the Summer Wine clones, complete with plastic rain hats.   They had wandered in, thinking it was a museum.   They were saying to each other how clever it was to make a museum so homely - just as though somebody actually lived there.   They shared their enthusiasm with Pat who eventually had to break the news to them that, actually, she lived there.   They were mortified.   Pat had to make them a cup of tea to calm them down.

The Thora Hird effect has spilled over to the water tower.  Among several visitors today were a couple from Newcastle.   I was working on the truck dressed in my paint besmirched boiler suit.   Mr Newcastle said "Are you the maintenance man?"   I let him down as politely as I could.   The honest answer would have been "Yes"!  I hope they enjoyed their circumnavigation of the tower anyway.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Calamity Jane meets Paint Your Wagon

    I have spent much of the last three days painting the boards that will become the wagon sides.   How appropriate then that whilst Painting My Wagon the cast of Settle Amateur Operatic Society's forthcoming production of Calamity Jane arrived, by prior arrangement, to pose for publicity photographs around the navvy hut - the nearest Settle has to a passable Wild West structure I suppose.
Here's Wild Bill Hickok and his deadly enemy from the US cavalry (those trousers look an impractical colour to me).

The director was with them barking her orders.

"Come on luvvies.   Do try to look menacing.   You're supposed to hate each other."

Never a dull moment.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Wagon Progress - Almost There

Inspired by Albert's visit, Robert Handy of Wonder of Wood Ltd pulled out the stops and today delivered the side planks (sheeting in railway terminology) for the wagon body.   Meanwhile I cracked on with giving the metal components a good coat of zinc phosphate paint, courtesy of Manor Paints. 

This is how the wagon now looks, with its upper iron works ready to accept the side planks.   This is the tippler end.   The massive, and heavy, hinge is the horizontal piece on the top.

Just three of the 7 inch wide planks that will make up the wagon sides.   They are made from hard wood, unlike the originals so should last for almost ever.

For comparison our cars give a sense of proportion to the wagon.   It is flippin' big.
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Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Albert Wright

Click to enlargeMeet Albert Wright.  Albert used to make wooden wagons at Doncaster in the years leading up to the second world war.   Back in 2003 Albert was persuaded to write down everything he could remember about how these wagons were built - before the knowledge was lost.   The wonderful result can be seen online and has proved to be hugely useful in our restoration of the Aviemore wagon.

Not knowing what had happened to Albert I contacted his family via their website and lo and behold I got an e-mail  from Albert's younger brother Clifford.   To my delight Clifford was not only able to tell me that Albert was a frail but game 94 year old but also he would dearly love to see our wagon.   They came to Settle today and Albert was able to inspect our efforts - which he pronounced to be 'first class'.

Though wheelchair and zimmer assisted and normally needing oxygen Albert was like a new man - insisting on seeing the wagon from above and below.   He was like a child with a new toy, reminscing about construction details.   He recalled working underneath wagon chassis by candlelight inside the inadequately lit Doncaster works.   A tallow candle would fit inside a half inch nut which would be perched on top of an axle.

Gold dust of tips and techniques poured forth.

After wartime service Albert returned to the Doncaster wagon works where his job was to break up the very wagons he had built.  They were a valuable source of oak for the timber starved post-war UK.

Brother Clifford told me that today had made an old man very happy.   Albert, who thanks to our lift was able to go to the top of the tower, was more animated than he had been for months said Clifford.

I have been wondering about a name for our wagon.  Albert it is.
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Tuesday, 3 September 2013

How the Wagon Was

I cannot remember if I posted this at the time but here is a reminder picture of our wagon being lifted at Aviemore.

It can be seen that the poor thing was in a sorry state -  its sides caving in and its back broken.

Train Drivers

Today I have been painting the iron strap-work of the wagon and there have been a steady stream of visitors - including two train drivers, one from the UK and one from Germany.

The UK driver, Roger Thomas, works the schoolboy's dream of a route - from Bristol to London, Paddington - Brunel's Great Western flagship line.   His railway career went back to the days of goods trains consisting of trucks like ours.   It was fascinating to hear of the dangers of operating these unfitted freights - in other words no continuous brakes.   At the top of one very steep descent the banksman, whose job it was to set the hand brakes on enough wagons to keep the train from running away had not applied enough braking force.   Roger was the fireman and their runaway train, which should have descended the bank at 15 mph was gaining speed rapidly.   When the runaway train got to 50 mph his driver declared that he was going to jump.   Roger decided that he was staying put.   He said he had never been so frightened in his life.   They both stayed in their cab and after a hair raising ride on twisty track they regained control.   He was not sorry to see the back of unfitted freights and much prefers his high speed train to Paddington.

The second was Anton Hofmann, a recently retired driver on the German railways.   He had served for 40 years and was now a tour guide specialising in railway tours.   To my delight he presented me with a miniature medal of the Gewerkschaft der Eisenbahner Deutschlands (GED) - left.   He said I could consider myself an honorary member for the work done at the water tower and on the truck.   An honour indeed.