The Storage Shed
Another 'quickie' job which we have pushed in before the weather turns really bad is to progress the storage shed project to the logical next stage.
As most members will know this was a big investment several years ago and has proved to be worth every penny. The building is classified as a temporary building, in that it is of lightweight modular construction designed to be taken down and re-erected with ease, but the downside is that the materials it is constructed from are not of Brunellian thickness. Once corrosion sets in it will not take many years for the building to deteriorate. Definitely not a case of put up and forget.
So we have painted all the steelwork structure on the outside of the building, and to keep the rain off - especially the water dripping off the roof that splashes back up the sides, we have decided to fit guttering. The section of roof above the lean-to extension has already had nice cast iron guttering fitted, and as this is a traditional design, stable and long lasting, we have decided to complete the job using more cast iron.
The guttering is of 4" ogee section and supplied by Ashworth's of Wednesfield, our 'regular' supplier. Fortunately we had a few pieces reclaimed from the kiosk which once stood on the concourse and had been fitted with traditional guttering by our group. We were able to re-use all these pieces so we ended up with two 42ft runs of guttering and four downspouts for just less than £450. This may seem a lot but quickly pricing up nasty plastic stuff, I found we would have to pay £535.62! How could it possibly be so expensive? Well, we did save a bomb by having six down-spout lengths in stock - they are the most expensive pieces. In any case plastic is perceived as being quick and easy, cheap and cheerful and doesn't need painting (which is just as well because paint doesn't stick to it very well.) The downside is it looks modern and can easily buckle all over the place because it expands and contracts so much with change of temperature - especially in 42ft runs. And it's not all that cheap after all. Sometimes there is no getting away from it; the Victorians knew what they were doing!
The guttering on the main part of the building is bracketed to the steel structure, but on the lean-to where the steelwork is inside, we have fitted a wooden barge board (made to G.W.R profile, of course) to bracket the guttering from. The end result is a nice looking job which will prolong the life of our building considerably, and is another job ticked off the 'to do' list.
Lighting for Footpath Project
On completion of the speartop fencing, we soon began to look for a new project to enhance the station at Kidderminster. The pathway from the car park to the station has been improved by the afore-mentioned fencing and with the construction of the museum's signal box and associated equipment, but this has highlighted the ugly and inappropriate lighting alongside the path. This consists of Dalek shaped plastic illuminated bollards more at home in a Tesco car park than a heritage railway.
We are fortunate enough to possess a short 'No. 1' G.W.R gas lamp post which was donated by Derek Harrison, who was the Friends' Publicity Officer in the early days before his untimely death. (The story of the post's acquisition is rather amusing. Derek bought it off B.R and used it as a laundry post at his lodgings. We were able to take it by replacing it with a more conventional post).
This post has been supplemented by a second identical post and a top purchased 'at a snip' from Ebay, and has also been restored to G.W.R colours ready for erection somewhere. The obvious place is alongside the path to replace the Dalek invasion! So we have taken the step of ordering three additional posts and four tops from our friend Dave Redfern of Steelway Rail, and will shortly begin the installation.
It has been reluctantly decided that real gas lamps were not a very practical, so we have created an arrangement whereby the incoming wiring runs through conduit from the post into the bottom of the lamp, closely imitating a gas pipe. Just inside the lamp body an adaptor screws into the conduit and a 12mm copper pipe acts as a conduit taking the wiring into a triangular manifold. The pipe and manifold closely replicate the original gas fittings in shape and size. On the underside of the manifold are three brass lamp holders fitted with small bulbs where the gas mantles would have been. This cluster of bulbs is sufficiently like a set of mantles and not like a single obvious electric bulb, hopefully to give the impression of a gas fitting at a quick glance. Even when lit the three small lamps should look suitably effective, and have the advantage of throwing a good amount of light down onto the path below rather than up into the eyes of the person walking along (which is what the Dalek lights do).
The result should be well worth all the trouble and enhance the period feel of the station rather than detracting from it. The path is where most of our visitors get their first look at our station and at the Severn Valley Railway - as we all know first impressions count!
The project will cost over £4000 so we are most indebted to the officers of the Coalyard Miniature Railway and the Station Fund who have each made sizeable contributions to this scheme.