A job which has taken up a fair bit of time was the speartop railings for Bewdley Station drive as mentioned in the last Newsletter. All panels had new pieces welded to the top and bottom horizontal rails to repair where they had been cut down with a disc grinder from their upright posts. These new pieces were shaped with a lug on the end which corresponds with a hole in the new upright posts. Originally the lugs were riveted over, but for convenience we welded them in, the weld being between the adjoining posts and consequently unseen.
The upright posts were originally from a very shallow channel section which would have been specially rolled for the fence manufacturer and this is not obtainable, so we used a flat section of the same width and overall depth which looks much the same when assembled and gives a nice strong structure.
All new steel was painted in red oxide primer. The original ironwork will need to be scraped down, wire brushed and painted by Bewdley staff prior to installation.
In order to help with the cost of the project we decided to seek sponsorship for replica cast iron pedestrian gate posts. We wish to record our thanks to Neil Turley who generously sponsored one of the gate posts.
On 23rd May, Bob and I helped retrieve a pair of G.W.R yard gate posts from the site of Blackthorn station. These will become the main gate posts for the drive at Bewdley. Two pedestrian gate posts are due to arrive from Steelway at the beginning of June and when we have fitted hinges and the hasp this should complete our involvement in the project.
Meanwhile, Bob, Charles and I have been working on a number of poster boards for the station. We completed the necessary replica ones some while ago, but the original G.W.R items take quite a bit of restoring as the corner joints of the frames need rusty nails and screws removing and the joints remaking with dowels. The boards also need a fair bit of gluing, filling and rubbing down to obtain a similar finish to the brand new replicas. This has taken up several weeks of our time but the end result is worth it.
There has been more progress on the Mechanical Horse tractor unit. Steve has kindly agreed to rewire the unit with cable that we bought for the purpose a number of years ago. The cable is cotton-covered, PVC insulated and looks identical to the original, even to two-colour coded cotton braiding! The runs to the headlight, rear light and Geecen Speed Pilot (speed indicator lamp) are sheathed in aluminium wire as original.
Steve has carefully researched the wiring routes and I had to tax my memory to think back to 1974 when we took out the old life-expired stuff! He has also serviced the instruments and switches so for the first time in over forty years the unit has electrics that can work. I had dreaded the re-wiring job and my fears were justified as the connections in the voltage regulator turned out to be different to the wiring diagrams we have.
At last I have been able to obtain a pair of steel mudguards for the pole carrier trailer (price £120-00). These have been painted in what we think is the correct shade of G.W.R departmental grey, together with their fixing brackets etc., and fitted to the trailer. This small addition makes the trailer look far less agricultural and a little more cared for. The wheels were removed and the wheel centres, hubs, brake drums, axle and springs all de-rusted and painted grey. Some of the brake linkage has been renewed due to severe corrosion, and new rubber boots modified and fitted to the back of the brake drums.
The remainder of the brake system is seized solid and will need attention in due course. Finally, the twisted centre bolster has been straightened and has new stays fitted, and while in the mood for metal bashing we removed the stand which is intended to prevent the trailer from tipping over. We constructed a replacement unit of correct design and fitted the jockey wheels which we recently purchased from John Giles. This trailer had been much modified by its original owners and we are intending to put it back to original specification.
As for the flat bed trailer, we have made a replacement brake cable which consists of about eight feet of ¼" diameter wire cable with special ends sweated on. I turned up the ends on my little lathe. The old cable was rusty and had a number of broken strands - not good for safe braking! Fitting this and the rubber boots on the brake drums were the last mechanical jobs to do on this trailer. A run of armoured cable from the undercarriage to the rear light clip has also been fitted. Only painting the right hand side rail and lettering out remain to complete the restoration.
It is interesting to note the original lighting specification for the unit and trailer. The unit had one headlight only, positioned to the offside of the centre, and two large rubber sidelights. The headlight does not need to dip as the beam is set low. The single red rear light was fixed to a detachable number-plate and was only 1¼" in diameter, but had a window at the bottom to shine white light onto the number-plate. When the unit was working on its own the rear light and number-plate were fitted to a clip at the offside rear of the unit, but when running with a trailer the assembly could be moved to a clip at the offside rear of the trailer. No brake lights, indicators or reflectors were fitted. This lighting arrangement remained legal until the early 1950's and is how the Scammell is to be restored as it will not be taken 'on the road'. The horn was a bulb horn, not electric, but the single wiper on the driver's opening windscreen was electric but could be operated manually if need be. No starter was fitted. The engine was cranked by hand.
These rather primitive features together with the boxy wooden cab make the vehicle look positively archaic by modern standards and a most interesting heritage item.