Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Its another dull and damp day at the Works and the forecasters tell us this is in for the rest of the week. However there is a noticeable air of optimism on the site as the evenings draw out and Christmas seems a respectable distance behind us.

I've never understood why we put the clock back in Winter. Apart from the real sense of depression that it creates in me, it costs money when at the drop of a hat we need an extra hour of lighting at the Works. If you ever saw the number of light fittings at the Works you would know that this is no small thing. I challenge anybody not to say that they don't shrink a little inside on that night when the drive home in the evening is in the pitch black for the first time. Spring seems a very long way off then and I still don't understand why we do it every year. It can't be the farmers, as they have more lights than enough on their modern plant and even deliberately harvest some crops at night. Scottish school children are also cited as a reason but how many walk to school in 2011 anyway? I'm sure the Scottish Assembly would be happy to do their own thing if it suited them. Where's that blue painted Mel Gibson when you need him?

So please Mr Cameron, can we stick to BST this year? It'll save money, reduce our carbon footprint and make me and all us southern softies much happier. What more reason do you need?

Meanwhile, back in the present, there is a palpable spring (groan) in our steps down here. After years of being derelict there are moves afoot to reopen the former wheelshop area as a general repair workshop. There are some big holes in the floor to fill in but Arlington are biting on the bullet and that can only be good news.
The yard is as full as I've ever seen it and we are having to turn away storage work. The obvious answer to that is to lay more track and we are planning to do just that in the summer. Small piles of sleepers are appearing on site at strategic locations. That will make the Google Earth satellite views even more out of date.

The prospects for 2011 seem brighter than ever before as the word gets around that the Works is a good place to do business. We have almost come to the end of the 444 programme and everybody seems happy with how its gone and are looking forward to the next batch of units to come in. More shunting turns for the ED and 07

The 71A Crompton is due to be unveiled shortly and it looks simply fantastic. I can't believe just how good it looks even though I know how much hard work has gone into it.
We will be even recreating the famous "school photo" taken of what was thought then would be the last Crompton to be overhauled here by BR. I bet the people in that photo never thought we'd be doing another one in 2011.

Yet another reason to feel cheerful

So to quote Spike Milligan

Spring is sprung, the grass is ris
(I wonder where the birdies is ?)

Now back to checking traction motor cases for serial numbers................

Sunday, 6 February 2011

In a move that kept below the radar of the enthusiast grapevine, KRS was able to purchase and take delivery of a Mk2 coach from Serco Railtest at Derby on the 3rd of February.

So given that Mk2s are sat mouldering away on many storage sites (including ours), what is so special about this one?

Well ADB 975290 was known most recently as Serco Railtest's Test Car 6 and was fitted with a large generator set and numerous fittings to make it compatible with such things as HSTs. It was also passed for 125mph running so it far from a run of the mill Mk2.

It started life at Derby Works in 1964 as 13396, one of a batch of 18 Mk2 FKs (corridor first) that were delivered to a Southern region that still used steam locos extensively. As such it was fitted with dual brakes and heating allowing it to be either steam or diesel hauled. Fittingly it was delivered in Southern Region green livery.

These coaches were the most modern on the region and were used on long distance express trains including the boat trains to Southampton. A clue to this can be seen in the brackets still in situ that used to hold wooden boards with the train names painted on them.

Blue asbestos and a reduction in the express trains in the 1970s lead to withdrawal after less than ten years of front line service, but 13396 was fortunate in that it was sent to Derby for conversion into a test train vehicle. This work was completed in 1973 and although the interior was reorganised, much of the orginal polished wood panelling remains.

BR Railtest and Serco continued to maintain the coach to very high standards until early in the 21st century and it remains in good order to this day. As and when time permits we will clean the interior of any remaining asbestos and repaint the coach into its orginal green livery, in keeping with its status as a true Southern vehicle.

In the short term we will use it as a meeting room, whilst keeping it in good order so that it can be put back into mainline use at short notice. A tidy pressure ventilated Mk2 with an onboard generator is a very useful vehicle and we are hopeful that its mainline days are not over.

In the meantime, a little bit of our southern railway heritage has been saved.