After some years of fruitless search we have located some rubber boots for the brake mechanism on the inside of the brake drums on the trailers. We bought four for £45 and then just like the London buses some more came along at £70 for four, so it looks like we had a good deal! And the list of vintage parts required to complete the trailer is now down to nil.
For display purposes we have been on the lookout for items to 'load' the lorries. We have recently repainted and lettered G.W.R a barrel ramp which will probably go on the Thornycroft, and Paul Fathers has kindly donated a small G.W.R sack truck, the type that went out with the lorries to facilitate loading or unloading at the customer's premises. This needs some surgery to restore, however we also have parts for a second of these trucks which we may rebuild some time in the future for use on the Scammell.
The main load on the Scammell flat trailer is intended to be the G.W.R small container. This has been moved in front of the Storage Shed doors, ready to go inside for restoration as soon as there is space, and in the meantime we have fitted a temporary corrugated iron roof to keep off the worst of the weather. We also took the opportunity of clearing out the chicken roosting shelves and burning them. One turned out to be made from a G.W.R poster board but was so riddled with woodworm it went on the bonfire with the rest.
Back in November, Bob and I were visiting Bewdley Station, when members of the Wagon Team asked us to sort out the contents of 7714's storage van which they were repairing at the time. This we duly did, and what a time-warp it was, taking us back to the seventies and eighties when we worked on the engine. We had left the van rather like the Marie Celeste upon completion in 1990. We found a few forgotten tools but more importantly a box of Mechanical Horse parts. This sparked off a revival in interest and a determination to get the unit finished and hopefully running.
We thought a couple of valves were sticking in the engine. Being a side valve engine, they do not get in the way of the piston when they are stuck open. On the other hand the piston does not tap them shut. We expected to have to take off the cylinder head to get to the errant valves, but Bob suggested taking off the access cover at the side of the engine to see if we could free the valves. We took off the exhaust system, exhaust and inlet manifold with the carburettor and were able then to remove the access cover. Turning the engine over it was apparent that only one exhaust valve was stuck. After much fiddling we managed to get the valve to drop with a specially made forked tool to push the spring and its valve downwards.
Turning the engine over it still did not have full compression on all cylinders which was a disappointment. It seems to suggest that the valves faces or seats have gone rusty and do not seal properly. John Giles of the Mechanical Horse Club was of the same opinion. This was an unwelcome set-back as we will now have to remove the cylinder head, a major task in itself as the cylinder head invariably gets an almost unbreakable hold on its studs. The recommended procedure is to turn the engine over so that the compression lifts the head. But without compression we do not have this option, which rarely works in any case. The second method is to start the engine with the nuts undone a turn or two. Again we do not have this option.
Without compression it will not start. If the cylinder head still refuses to move the final method is to couple up to a loaded trailer and accelerate as hard as possible, again not an option for us. We will have to resort to the risky method of hammering the living daylights out of the cylinder head (it is a brittle cast iron casting) in the hope that it will free itself and then gingerly lever it up and off its studs, risking damaging the machined faces. I am not looking forward to this job.
For some while we have been thinking about progressing the pole carrying trailer. Having made it safe by rectifying a bodge repair done while still in regular use, we managed to free up the rusted-on brakes and the turntable and lubricated all the moving parts. I made up brackets for the mudguards to replace the originals which were broken off, and attempted to order replacement mudguards. This is not a frivolous detail but an important means of keeping the harmful sun and rain off the tyres. So far I have not been able to get any sense out of the stockist nor the manufacturer both of which don't seem sufficiently interested to deal with my order!
Our thanks goes to Roland and members of the Class 50 Diesel Group who, with the aid of the JCB and much manual pushing moved the trailer from its position trapped in the pallets of stored materials in the compound. It is now outside the storage shed where it is easily accessible for weld repairs and painting.
Charles, our number one painter will no doubt find plenty of work preparing and painting this impressively large lump of rusty ironmongery.
Bewdley Drive Security
Normally 'the Friends' do not get involved with projects at other stations on the line (the Northwood Pagoda being a notable exception) but Chris Bond located a large amount of speartop fencing at Trowbridge and asked us to help. The former railway site was to be redeveloped and he had persuaded the contractors to let the S.V.R have the fencing free of charge with a view of re-using it to secure the entrance to Bewdley Station.
Chris and I went to Trowbridge for a meeting with the site foreman to discuss how best to remove the fencing for re-use. As a result, at the end of November, sixty-six panels were delivered to the compound at Kidderminster for reconditioning!
The end uprights were too corroded for re-use, but Chris will order steel bar in pre-cut lengths to replace them and we agreed to rebuild sufficient panels to close off the bottom of the drive along with replica roadway and pedestrian gates. This needs sixteen panels, two short panels and a pedestrian gate.
Chris did some more detective work and located a pair of G.W.R cast iron gate posts which were still in use at the entrance to a former goods yard now in use for industrial purposes, near Banbury.
Once again a visit bore fruit and the site manager agreed that we could remove and replace the posts with a modern alternative.
This is a much cheaper option than having replicas cast, and in any case having original G.W.R posts is a far better heritage solution.
It is planned to retrieve the posts in the near future with a contractor doing the donkey work as these posts are very heavy, will take a lot of digging out and the roadway is in constant use!
The 'Friends' input for the project is the reconditioning of the necessary fencing panels (eighteen in total) and the construction of a replica pedestrian gate in 'speartop'. This involves drilling and cutting a point on each of the panel end uprights, and welding them to the prepared ends of the original panels. We are not going to de-rust or paint the panels as this work is drawn out and tedious by manual methods. Present thinking is to get the panels grit blasted once repaired, and painted black by a contractor. This work will be paid for by the S.V.R so no costs will be incurred by 'the Friends'.
At the time of writing the panels are being prepared for the new uprights to be welded on. This means welding on a short section of top and bottom rail to repair the piece lost when the rails were cut down. Drilling, cutting and welding the new end uprights will begin soon.
Once installed at Bewdley, the fencing and gates will enable the road access and the path to be closed and locked to secure the site when necessary.
At the moment the site is wide open at all times and vulnerable to theft or vandalism, particularly now that the S.V.R office has moved away.
In BR days the station access road began at the junction with Stourport Road. When the council adopted the roadway its gates were removed and the original concrete posts left at the bottom of the station drive for possible re-use by the S.V.R. I have no idea what subsequently happened to them.