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Preservation Archive: Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6 - Part 7 - Part 8 - Part 9 - Latest reports

Preservation Archive Part 2: May to August 2005:

Removal of Freightliner Couplings, Part IV, 02/05/05:

Photo © P. Hetherington 02/05/05.
Having removed the securing nut on Saturday, Bank Holiday Monday was spent removing the south end coupling and numerous small components. The north end coupling had come apart quite easily, but the south end had already taken about 12 hours of effort just to remove the nut, and it wasn't about to give up the fight now.

Inside the coupling housing are two small buffers which limit the lateral movement of the coupling. The coupling itself widens out at its pivot point, and this wide section jammed fairly solidly between the buffers - the springs of which are impressively strong and certainly impossible to compress with basic hand tools.

Photo © P. Hetherington 02/05/05.
Shawn hit on the idea of winching the coupling out, so we put the handbrake on hard, chocked the wheels for good measure, and winched away merrily, getting the coupling more and more stuck as we did so. Eventually we realised that we were also pulling the coupling downwards; some re-configuration of the winching arrangements resolved this and after much further winching and a little cursing it eventually came out in a bit of a rush and landed in a heap on the floor. I imagine being a midwife to be a similar experience...?

Photo © P. Hetherington 02/05/05.
In between winching, scratching our heads and dodging the traditional May Day Bank Holiday showers, we spent the rest of the day removing some other small parts from around the coupling housing, including the air pipe brackets (at both ends) and the aforementioned buffers (two at the south end and the one remaining one from the north end).

The buffers had a wedge on the outside of the housing which kept the spring on the inside under compression, and with one exception (pictured) we had to hacksaw these off as they were rusted solid. Apart from that, all of these components unbolted surprisingly easily.

Finally, we removed the BR 'double arrow' logo from the west side of the wagon by removing the plate it was painted on. These were not part of the original design and removing them allows access to clean out the slots for the side stanchions. 38 years of accumulated rust and grot was unceremoniously removed from the slot on the west side (I think most of it landed in my hair), and the stanchion securing pin - remarkably still in situ despite serving no function for all of that time - now goes through its hole once again.

Photo © P. Hetherington 02/05/05.

Photo © P. Hetherington 02/05/05.

Photo © P. Hetherington 02/05/05.

Removal of Freightliner Couplings, Part V, 21/05/05:

The rectangular pads which damp the longitudinal movement of the couplings were mentioned previously, but the ones removed so far were on the outer ends of the couplings and thus only handle compressive forces. A similar series of pads was built into the back of the coupling housing to deal with couplings under tension. The pads are made of rubber, sandwiched between a series of metal plates, and are apparently common to other types of coupling.

Photo © P. Hetherington 21/05/05.
Work started at the south end (pictured) but quickly switched to the north end due to a stubborn nut (and the fact that the wagon hit me on the head). The first step was the removal of two small steel blocks, each held in place with two bolts. Three of the four bolts at the north end were rusted solid but the angle grinder soon saw to that.

Photo © P. Hetherington 21/05/05.
Once the two steel blocks had gone, the next stage was to remove the heavy steel casting, seen here with a chisel wedged under it to try to get it moving. Gravity, friction, rust and the wagon underframe conspired to make this as awkward as possible but I eventually teased it out with a crowbar.

Photo © P. Hetherington 21/05/05.
Having removed the aforementioned casting, the sandwiched rubber pads and metal spacers were removed. One of the metal spacers is seen here.

So, apart from four pieces of thick steel angle each held in with three rusty and barely accessible bolts (as seen to the left of this photograph), all of the removable bits of the north end coupling have now been removed.

Photo © S. Nicholson 21/05/05.
Before removing the pads as noted above I sliced a hefty chunk out of one side of the coupling housing. It was cruel punishment for my angle grinder (a gas-axe would have been more suitable) but it was fun!

Photo © P. Hetherington 21/05/05.
The two cuts were positioned to maximise the size of the portion removed. To the left, the coupling housing is welded to the frame extension, and to the right, the steel angles bolted to the inside of the housing limit the position.

A similar cut on the other side will follow; the purpose of this is to separate the rear portion of the coupling housing from the frame extension at the front, thus allowing the two to be dealt with separately.

Photo © P. Hetherington 21/05/05.
Having cut most of the way through the whole exercise was finished off with a sledgehammer, thus making a mighty din.

A quick look at the rear portion with the pads removed suggests that it might be quite easy to remove by simply grinding out a few welds where it attaches to the wagon frame. Watch this space...

Removal of Freightliner Couplings, Part VI, 12/06/05.

Photo © P. Hetherington 12/06/05.
I had been intending to collect a vacuum cylinder for this wagon on the 11th but I got a phone call at the last minute to say that it had been stolen!

This set me up for a fairly fruitless weekend. I cut a few more bits off the north end coupling in an attempt to gain access for grinding out the welds, but I now think that gas cutting gear is the only safe way to remove the remaining metalwork at this end. Given that I will probably have to hire the cutting gear, this will have to wait until I have a totally clear weekend to maximuse the use of the equipment.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of other jobs to keep me busy...

Removal of Frame Extensions, Part I, 19/06/05.

I decided that it was time to tackle the north end frame extension. Before we could do that though, the load tensioning screws needed to be made to work - not because this was an urgent job itself, but because I needed to stand on the frame extensions to do this safely.
Photo © P. Hetherington 19/06/05.
After a lot of thread cleaning, oiling and heaving on a large set of stilsons, I am pleased to say that all four load tensioning screws now work - possibly for the first time since 1967! As a bonus, two of the locking nuts work too; the other two will be tackled 'as and when'.

Photo © P. Hetherington 19/06/05.
We removed both of the buffers from the north end of the wagon and cleaned and primed the backs of them.
Photo © P. Hetherington 19/06/05.

Photo © P. Hetherington 19/06/05.
Then we merrily hacked away at the frame extension with an assortment of cutting and grinding discs...
Photo © P. Hetherington 19/06/05.

Photo © P. Hetherington 19/06/05.
...until one end of the buffer beam was ready to accept a coat of primer and, eventually, a buffer. If you close your eyes, it almost looks like a Palbrick!
Photo © S. Sanders 19/06/05.
We still have to carry out a similar exercise at the other end of the north buffer beam before the other buffer can be re-fitted. Hopefully this will be tackled next week.
Photo © P. Hetherington 19/06/05.
We've left the centre portion of the frame extension for the moment as we're not yet ready to tackle the dragboxes.

Removal of Frame Extensions, Part II, 26/06/05.

We carried on where we left off, cutting off the eastern end of the northern frame extension and grinding down the places where it had been welded on to give a flat surface.

Photo © P. Hetherington 26/06/05.

This side took a lot longer than the other, as the welds appear to have penetrated better. I did the cutting, Shawn did the grinding and I think he drew the short straw.

On this photo, incidently, Shawn has finished grinding the weld and is 'persuading' the remaining piece of metal to come off.

Photo © P. Hetherington 26/06/05.

Whilst I was cutting, Shawn removed the one remaining trunion (the thing the vacuum cylinder hangs and pivots on) so that it can be used as a pattern to replace the missing one.

Thanks also to Simon for helping out with this little job. He only called by to say hello, as evidenced by the clean clothes!

Photo © P. Hetherington 26/06/05

Then, when Shawn was busy grinding, I set to and adjusted the brake rigging, and cleaned and oiled all of the pivot points, the result of which is that we can now get the hand brake off properly so the wagon doesn't screech and squeal every time it is moved!

Photo © P. Hetherington 17/07/05

The final job of the day was to re-fit the north eastern buffer, so that both of the buffers at the north end are now in their final positions. The wagon is now 7 inches shorter than it was!

Photo © P. Hetherington 17/07/05

Underframe Painting, Part I, 17/07/05.

Something of an interlude from cutting bits off, a day was spent preparing and priming the wagon frames in the area where the vacuum cylinder should be. The reason for doing this section early is simply that, once the vacuum cylinder is sourced and fitted, access to this area will be awkward.

My one conclusion from this day's work is that preparing underframes is a slow and filthy job...

Photo © S. Nicholson 17/07/05

Surveying, 07/08/05.

Surveying. It doesn't sound very impressive, does it? So there are no photographs, and there is nothing to see. However, what I now have is, I hope, a comprehensive set of measurements for the Freightliner modifications, mainly taken from the non-tensioning end (but both ends were essentially the same). Hopefully these are sufficient to produce a reasonably detailed set of drawings for the historical record, thus allowing me to cut the remaining bits off with a clear conscience.

By the way, not being a welder myself, I got a quote for having a new trunion made using the old one as a pattern. All I can say to this is - Ouch! So, the search for a second-hand one continues...

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© 2005-08 Phil Hetherington
Last Modified: 10.10.08