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Saturday, 29 June 2013

The Clever Carpentry Begins

Meet Ged Pinder.   Ged is a retired joiner and wood wizard.   He lives in Kendal yet comes to Settle every Saturday as a full member of the Last of the Summer Wine Gang at Settle signal box.   As soon as Ged saw the wooden wagon his eyes lit up and he could not wait to get his experienced hands on it.   Here he is removing rotten wood from the top of the left hand solebar.

As can be seen from the picture below, the wood is like the curate's egg - good in parts.   Sixteen feet long by 5 inches wide hard-wood is havings its top few inches cut away to leave a perfectly smooth surface onto which we shall graft new wood to make what was a part fractured solebar as good as new.
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A Visit from Driver Graham

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One of the delights of living at the water tower is the opportunity to meet such interesting people who come to see the place.   None more so than those who worked on the Settle-Carlisle line in steam days.   Meet Ian Graham who brought along two consignment labels for the good truck.   Not only that, he brought with him a superb photograph of himself, then aged 24, as an exhausted fireman on an 8F steam locomotive 48708as it neared Ais Gill Summit on 26th June 1960 with a heavy load on anhydrite from Long Meg, bound for Widnes.

You can just make out young Ian leaning out of the cab taking a breather having fired this powerful locomotive up the Long Drag.   He told me how relieved they were to reach Ais Gill and a well earned rest for a while.   Ian became a driver working out of Kingmoor at Carlisle

The consignment label will eventually take its place on the restored wagon:
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How to Build a Wagon

Among the followers of this Blog is Keighley and Worth Valley Railway stalwart Eric Rawcliffe.   Having seen the dire state of part of our wagon's chassis Eric took pity and e-mailed me the following link:

It is an extract from 'The Proceedings of the Elsie Wright Appreciation Society'.   It does not sound at all likely as a source of help in this instance does it?

In fact it contains a detailed account of how they built these wooden wagons back in the 1930s, written by Albert Wright in 2003.   Born in 1918, Albert Wright worked in the wagon works of SE Stevens in Doncaster from 1934 to the outbreak or the Second World War.   Accompanied by diagrams, the seven page account details how he and his mate could build a wooden wagon in three days - in what order things were done, how they cut every mortise and tenon, what wood they used and the sizes of things down to the last fraction of an inch.

What a timely piece of information!

Friday, 28 June 2013

Buffers Removed

     Dismantling continues.   Here we see the pair of buffers from the southern end of the wagon lying on the ground.   Notice the mighty great coil spring lying below the wagon.   Each buffer had one of these behind it.

The metal parts of the buffers are so massive they have hardly rusted and should scrub up nicely.

The iron brackets between the wooden chassis members are badly rusted but for our purposes will probably do.   The near corner of the wagon is in a bad state because of rot and rust and is in need of a lot of attention.

The third picture shows the completely rotted ends of the main inner cross member.   The newer piece of wood was a temporary repair but we shall dispense with that and replace the cross member entirely.   This will mean removing all the chassis components at the southern end of the wagon in order to remove and replace that cross member but we shall know then that the chassis is sound and square once more.
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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Baffling Buffers

I have spent much of the day trying to remove the buffers from the truck.   This is not just a matter of four large rusty bolts to be removed per buffer.   Behind the buffers is the enormous - potentially fatal - spring loaded energy sufficient to stop a train.  The buffers must come off so that the rotten head-stocks can be replaced.   By the end of the day one buffer can see its way clear to freedom.   The remaining three should be easier.

A surprise visitor was Network Rail's Patrick Cawley - in charge of structures and buildings over a large area and presently working on Birmingham's New Street station.   Patrick was instrumental in the acquisition of what turned out to be the navvy hut.   He had seen it on the telly but this was his first chance to see it in reality.   It was really quite pathetic how two grown men got all sentimental about a hut!

By coincidence Patrick was able to see a real live steam train hammering through Settle - sounding a little short of breath actually, Scots Guardsman with a train full of people behind it.  Also to see how busy Settle station is - passengers by the coach-load.   People taking the train just for the sake of it.  There is a message for the marketing people there somewhere.   Railway heritage sells.

Monday, 24 June 2013

The Wagon De-bodied

  During the past week the wagon's body has been removed from its wooden chassis as the pictures show.   The body will be rebuilt like-for-like but with new ironwork and hard-wood boards.   It will look the bees knees, trust me.

Judicious jacking of the solebars has straightened out the fracture that had happened on one side during lifting at Aviemeore.   The bottom right picture shows where the break was - now barely visible.   The plan is to remove the top four inches of this solebar - mainly rotten, to graft in a hard-wood replacement and to bolt it right through vertically.   This should make for a strong-as-the-original result.
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Settle Station gets new Fence

  These may be just about the most boring photographs ever Blogged but they depict a milestone for Settle Station.   Ever since the 1980s when the former sidings of Settle station were sold off - the line was going to close, remember? - there has been a wire mesh fence between the station and what was to become The Sidings Industrial Estate.   The wire fence belonged to the various freeholders of the industrial units.

Time had not been kind to the fence or its concrete posts, the death of which came last December when an ambulance on an emergency call drove straight through it.   Hee-haw, hee-haw, crump!

This looked like being a near impossible one to solve, the responibility for the fence being in too many ownerships.   Meanwhile, Settle presented a dismal image for visitors.   Network Rail came to the rescue and agreed to replace the fence in Midland Railway style.   And here it is - boring maybe but beautiful compared with what it replaced.   It is in fact a continuation of the water tower boundary fence.   Many many thanks to Network Rail - Patrick Cawley and Chris Chitty in particular.   And the fine team of men who did the work - boss 'Peachy' and his men - including Tom and Jerry (yes, really).
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Sunday, 16 June 2013

The Wooden Chassis Revealed

Ever wondered how the wooden chassis of a railway wagon might look?   No, me neither to be honest.   In fact it is as clever a bit of geometry as can be.   Later wagons had steel chassis but the earlier ones were wood, as below.

Today I removed the floorboards - rotten and therefore dangerous.   This revealed what we really needed to see - the wooden chassis.   Something over half of it is in quite good order and there will be an expert examination tomorrow by Robert Handy of The Wonder of Wood Ltd.

You can see that the chassis consists of what most people would call buffer beams at each end (headstocks) and four longitudinal members - one at each side (solebars) and two down the middle.  Shorter pieces of wood brace these longitudinals.

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By 1909 there was serious concern about the many types of wagon on Britain's railways and their variable states of repair.   The Railway Clearing House (RCH) decided to act and drew up a specification for all the railway companies and private owners to follow.   They set 1923 as the date for compliance, after which non compliant wagons would not be allowed on the main lines.   The two drawings below show some of  the requirements:

Our wagon is clearly a 1923 compliant layout with a couple of modifications.   The buffer springs on the diagrams show transverse leaf springs.   Our wagon does not have the transverse leaf springs, though perhaps it did originally.   In fact it has different types of springs at each end:

At what is now the southern end of our wagon are coil springs, one behind each buffer.

In the middle of the wagon are the 'coupling springs' made of rubber and metal composite materials.   This is the very clever gadget that takes the entire load of the train instead of that going through the wooden chassis.

At the northern end behind the buffers are rubber and metal composite shock absorbers.   The rubber parts are marked BR Standard - implying they are later replacements.

Although some of the chassis timbers are beyond salvation I hope to be able to retain as much of the original timber as possible, replacing the rotten bits with properly profiled new wood.   Fortunately, those bits that need replacing have corresponding good bits on the other side which we can copy.

If your head is hurting after all that, go and have a nice cup of tea.
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Saturday, 15 June 2013

BonusTrees from Scotland

  Among the debris in the bottom of the Aviemore truck were a number of self seeded trees - including two Scots pines.

Some local people were quite upset that we felled trees by the tower so here is the Lord Almighty telling us something I reckon.

Scots pines are mighty, tall and majestic trees.   I have just the place for them I think.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

The Truck from Above - not for the Faint Hearted

   These views from the top of the water tower show the inside of the frucking tuck in all its awfulness.   They also give a further idea of its size.

It will take some restoring but when it's done we shall have a very useful amount of storage room inside it.
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The Eagle Has Landed

        The Aviemore truck has landed in Settle.   The pictures are preliminaries to show the nature and scale of the job,   It had sat on its isolated siding at Aviemore for many years and it is all credit to those involved in the removal of it that it has arrived in one piece.  

we knew that its wooden chassis was in a dire state and it can be seen that it has broken its back on one side.   Nothing that cannot be fixed though.

No sooner had I arrived and seen it in situ a FoSCL member from Settle came and drooled over it.

"Wow" he said.   "A Charles Roberts wagon with Morton brakes and Attocks axle boxes.   How fabulous.   What a find!"  

As with the navvy hut, we shall do a lot of thinking and research before we do anything else.   Ideally we shall seek out the original plans so that we can get things right or the wagon world will not forgive us.

The first picture shows some lettering on one side of the wagon.   Nothing to get excited about - it said Speyside Railway and was relatively recent.

We have already located a serial number on the wooden chassis which will give us something to go at.
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Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Wagon on the Motorway

Text messaged by low-loader driver Brian Thornton at 1134 today whilst Pat and I were walking in Regents Park:
"On way home.   Eta 1900   Brian

This sounds like good news.   Aren't modern communications wonderful?   Fingers crossed that modern low-loaders are too!

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Wagon Rolls

Keith Holyland at the Speyside Railway in Aviemore reports that our wagon has made its very last rail journey from its disconnected siding at Aviemore Speyside station to a position near their workshops where it can be craned onto Settle Coal's low loader for transporting to Settle.   This meant craning it from one track to another, then another- not without difficulty because of the state of its wooden chassis.

With the help of a pinch bar the wagon actually moves on its own wheels.   Pictures later.

I all goes to plan the wagon should arrive in Settle next Wednesday morning.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013


Nothing serious (as it turns out) but I went to Airedale Hospital as an out patient today on an urgent GP referral.   As these things go is was a totally pleasurable experience.

There were two highlights:
1)   I discovered I was the consultant's very first patient in her role as consultant.   Somebody has to be.     Jolly good she was too.
2)   A sample of my blood was taken painlessly.   When having such procedures you are never quite sure where to look.   The nearest thing to me was the needle lady's name badge.   It read Airedale NHS Hospital Trust  - Lynne Sunshine.   I could not resist asking if she was born a Sunshine or if she had married one.   She told me she had married one, for a while - but had decided to keep the name.   She went on to reveal that a fellow Airedale blood extractor had the surname Fog.   They were, of course, called the Weather Girls.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Where Did Our Water Come From?

Last Saturday Pat and I took former S&C signalman up the line a little way so that he could point out to us the source of the water tower's water.   As a relief signalman Derek was qualified to work any of the S&C signal boxes and knows the line intimately.   Indeed, he once walked the entire line from Settle to Carlisle.

One of his signal boxes was the one that dealt with the sidings off the main line leading to the Hoffman kiln and Settle Lime works.   There was once a foot crossing over the main line between the Hoffman kiln and the signal box.   You can still drive up to the now permanently locked gated crossing.   Derek told us that the source of our water was just to the north of the Hoffman kiln on the up line side.   He told us that there were two holding tanks for water which was piped along the track to Settle.   These tanks were fed by a stream that crossed the line of the railway, the overflow from the holding tanks went under the line and on to the River Ribble.

Here is an impression of the Hoffman kiln in its heyday - and lo and behold, there is one of the tanks to the left (north) of the kiln.   Presumably it also served the needs of the kiln.  The kiln was built in 1873 - specifically to exploit the potential of the railway, then being built.

The location of the tank, well above the level of the track, would have added considerably to the pressure of water by the time it had been piped to Settle - easily sufficient to lift the water to the top of the water tower.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Seasonal Visitors to Settle station

  June 1st and not long to Appleby Horse Fair.   By happy chance this was the colourful scene in the car park at Settle station as Michael Ransley and caravan waited to collect a friend off the 1545 from Carlisle.   He told me his journey this year had started in Cornwall.

In good journalistic style I asked for the horses' names.   You need to know that the black and white one on the right is called Tarateeno andthe one on the left is called Findus Lassagne.   Food for thought.
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