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Preservation Archive Part 5: May to August 2006:

Removal of Freightliner Couplings, Part XXVII, and Removal of Frame Extension, Part VII, 30/04/06-01/05/06.

I got the cutting gear out on Sunday with the simple aim of cleaning up the remnants of the thick central plate from the north end dragbox, to match the south end which I'd done a fortnight earlier.

Having done that, I looked around for something else to cut off, and settled on chopping off the remaining central stub of the frame extension at the north end. This, of course, formed part of the conventional dragbox on the wagon in its modified form, so there was no going back now!

Photo © P. Hetherington 30/04/06
That done, I thought I might as well carry on and cut out the pieces of angle on the inside of the conventional dragbox. This took rather a long time due to the difficulties of actually getting at them - in the end I generated quite a few inch squares of scrap metal.

On the basis that if I was going to immobilise the wagon for a bit, I might as well do it properly... I returned to the south end of the wagon and chopped off the central portion of the frame extension from that end too!

Photo © P. Hetherington 30/04/06
Meanwhile, Shawn carried on with the removal of the horizontal top plates from the north end Freightliner dragbox. By the end of Monday the last plates were off, with just a little tidying up with the grinder needed before we're ready for welding on the new gusset plates. The equivalent horizontal top plates are still there at the south end though...
Photo © P. Hetherington 30/04/06
After that, Shawn decided to grind flush the central portion of the north end headstock where I'd cut off the frame extension. A quick coat of primer will keep the rust at bay, but of course we have some bits to weld back on before we can paint these areas properly.
Photo © P. Hetherington 01/05/06
Meanwhile, I started Monday by chopping out the redundant pieces of angle from inside the south end conventional dragbox. The access was a little easier at the south (non-tensioning) end but it still took several hours.

These angles need to be replaced by two pieces of channel - seven inches wide by approximately two (bottom) or three (top) inches high - as the pieces of angle were too close together for the coupling hook to go any further in, and didn't give enough depth.

As a temporary measure I've made a rough-cut inner plate out of a piece of scrap steel channel (ex-Freightliner dragbox!) to allow us to re-assemble the drawhooks on a 'loose fit' basis if the wagon needs to be moved for any reason.
Having done that, I think I've finished the gas-cutting phase, unless we find any stubborn nuts and bolts later on. So, having got the kit handy, I did a bit of heating and bending.

Firstly I straightened some of the brackets designed to catch the brake rigging if it falls off, as a few of them were a bit crooked.

Next, I had a go at straightening the handles of the load-tensioning screws. I get the impression that these can never have been totally straight even when new, but they're now as good as they're ever likely to be and certainly straight enough to avoid getting your knuckles skinned between the screw handles and the wagon body.
And finally... a few weeks ago I bought some steel strip with which to make a new lamp bracket and three new vacuum dummy brackets. I still have to drill holes and finish them off, but I bent them to shape and cut the three vacuum dummy brackets to length. The twist I've put in the vacuum dummy brackets is less than that in the one surviving bracket on my Conflat (which explains why I made three brackets...) - but more than that on another wagon I looked at nearby, so I came to the conclusion that it probably isn't that critical.

All in all a good two days' work. There is really nothing much left of the Freightliner modifications now, with 'only a bit of grinding' to do before we can start putting things back on. There is, however, one element of the Freightliner modifications which we haven't yet touched. I leave the reader to work out what this is... my only clue is to look through the archives to see what we were doing this time last year. Hasn't time flown?

Photo © P. Hetherington 01/05/06

New Stuff, 06/05/06, and Removal of Freightliner Couplings, Part XXVIII, 07/05/06.

Photo © P. Hetherington 07/05/06
First job on Saturday was a trip to the Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre at Ruddington to pick up two replica works plates. I decided to get two replicas cast so that the surviving original can go on my living room wall (well... maybe). As the original was used as a pattern they're very slightly smaller due to the shrinkage. Thanks to Alan Watson of the 2028 Simplex Association for organising these for me.

Photo © P. Hetherington 07/05/06
Next it was back to the GCR in Leicestershire, and the arrival - at last! - of a vacuum cylinder for this wagon. There have been a few false starts, not all reported here, but Dave Turnock of the Churnet Valley Railway eventually sourced this one. It's still under warranty too, despite being second-hand, so it can go straight on the wagon needing nothing more than a lick of paint.

And yes, I know it's the wrong way up. It won't be like that for long.

Photo © P. Hetherington 07/05/06
A vacuum cylinder is no use to me without a pair of trunions to hang it from, and so having failed to find a second hand one of the right type (every other wagon seems to have three holes instead of four!), I sought quotes for having one made. Having been scared off by my local engineering firm's rates, I asked Dave if he could try his local firm, Ecam Engineering in Cheadle. They came up with a good price, and here it is. The original (cast or forged?) trunion is in the foreground; the new one behind it has been fabricated.

Photo © P. Hetherington 07/05/06
And so to Sunday. Shawn completed the tidying up of the north end underframes, while I made a start on the south end (pictured). These pieces of metal welded to the frame are the remnants of the Freightliner dragbox, and I made three cuts flush with the frame: one either side of the piece shown, and one out of shot to the right. You can just see a hairline crack between the original frame and the later plate; hopefully the nearest plate is now just about ready to come off with a hammer and chisel.

Photo © P. Hetherington 07/05/06
The other job on Sunday was the grinding flush and painting with primer of the outer face of the south end headstock. This now matches the north end which was done the previous weekend.

Photo © P. Hetherington 07/05/06
Finally, we loosely re-fitted the drawhooks at both ends of the wagon. This is purely so that the wagon can be moved if necessary; it won't now be receiving any attention for a week or two due to the annual S&T 'work week'.

Removal of Freightliner Couplings, Parts XXIX & XXX, 28-29/05/06.

Photo © P. Hetherington 28/05/06
Work resumed on the rather tedious job of removing the last bits of the south end Freightliner dragbox. On the left, the first piece has already gone - as indicated by the remnant of weld in the foreground - and the chisels are being used to work the second piece loose. On the right hand photo this piece has gone.

This piece was, in fact, a remnant of the thick vertical plate which sat in the centre of the dragbox. Curiously, in each case there was a small spacer above this, apparently not welded to anything.

Photo © P. Hetherington 28/05/06

Photo © P. Hetherington 28/05/06
By the end of Sunday (left) the left hand side had been cut and ground flush with the frame into the corner, and a cut had been largely completed across the centre of the wagon.

By the end of Monday (right) the right hand side had almost been done to match, with just one small piece not quite freed from the wagon.

To be continued...

Photo © P. Hetherington 29/05/06

Removal of Freightliner Couplings, Parts XXXI, 04/06/06.

Photo © P. Hetherington 04/06/06
It was far too hot to be angle grinding wearing a hat, goggles, ear defenders, dust mask and three layers of clothing - so that is exactly what I did. Well, mad dogs and Englishmen, as they say...

On the left, another chunk of Freightliner dragbox is about to fall off, and on the right it has gone, with another piece on its way.

Photo © P. Hetherington 04/06/06

Photo © P. Hetherington 04/06/06
Another couple of pieces came off the east side towards the end of the day, leaving just the large central plate (which needs cutting along the back), and one small piece on the left which in theory should come off, but is being stubborn.

Nearly there!

Photo © P. Hetherington 04/06/06

Removal of Freightliner Couplings, Parts XXXII, 11/06/06.

Photo © P. Hetherington 11/06/06
Well, if last weekend was hot, this one was unbearable! It was impossible to do very much or for very long. Still, I managed to get those last two chunks of metal off (left), so there is now absolutely nothing left of the Freightliner dragboxes. Hurrah!

On the right you can see the pile of scrap which I've generated by cutting off the south end Freightliner dragbox. The north end generated a similar pile. This should give some idea of the scale of what we've done so far!

The next job is to grind flush the insides of the conventional dragboxes and get the new steelwork ready for welding in. However, I'm away with the Standard next weekend and visiting friends the weekend after, so there will now be a short interlude.

Photo © P. Hetherington 11/06/06

Dragbox grinding, Part I, 01/07/06.

Photo © P. Hetherington 01/07/06
Another scorching hot day; lots of water was consumed and a bit of work got done. Most of the grinding on the inside of the south end dragbox is now done, with just two small pieces at the top still to do. Progress is slow, because the access is so awkward, but we're nearly there!

Dragbox grinding, Part II, 16/07/06.

Photo © P. Hetherington 16/07/06
Another far too hot day! I finished grinding the south end dragbox, and made a good start at the north end too. Another good day like this one should see this job finished and the wagon ready for welding.

At the south end, I also ground flush the area where I'd cut off the non-original coupling chain hook a few weeks ago. Unfortunately when I did the original cutting I made a bit of a mess of one of the triangular end pieces, so this will need building back up with weld. I'll get this done at the same time as the dragboxes.

Photo © P. Hetherington 16/07/06

Dragbox grinding, Parts III & IV, 30-31/07/06.

Photo © P. Hetherington 03/08/06
I'm sure the weld is tougher at the north end of the wagon. Anyway, two days' work saw the dragbox grinding finished, and one side of the remnant of the coupling chain hook ground away, with a good start being made on the other side.

Having all but completed the grinding, I thought I'd try the new steel channel for size. We have an interesting problem here; there is no physical way to get it in! Presumably when the wagon was originally built the headstock went on afterwards? Anyway, there seem to be two choices; cut the brand new dragbox channel in two, or cut slots in the wagon frames. Neither seems ideal, so I shall seek expert advice before continuing.

Grinding, 03/08/06; dragbox rebuild, Parts I & II, 04/08/06 & 06/08/06.

Photo © P. Hetherington 03/08/06
On Thursday I completed the grinding of the area where the coupling chain hook had been removed, and for good measure removed the 'double arrow' plate from the east side of the wagon; the west plate was removed over a year ago! This was a fairly quiet day as most of it was spent doing 'other things'.

Photo © P. Hetherington 04/08/06
Having sought expert advice (which, in a nutshell, was "just get on with it!"), I concluded that the only sensible way to get the new steel into the dragboxes was to cut slots in the original wagon frame. These have been positioned where the frame was a little wasted anyway, and where a gusset plate will ultimately strengthen the area once the slots are welded back up.

Photo © P. Hetherington 04/08/06
Having cut the slots, the new channel sections turned out to be about a quarter of an inch too long, so a sliver was cut off the end of each piece. By the end of Sunday all four pieces had been slotted into position, although they're not finished yet as the top two pieces need drain holes, and the bottom two need to be cut down to the correct depth.

Dragbox rebuild, Part III, 13/08/06.

Photo © P. Hetherington 20/08/06
It was a damp and miserable sort of day - just the sort of day when you'd like a nice indoor job to do. So I spent the day drilling holes in bits of steelwork.

First up was the new lamp bracket I'd made a few weeks earlier. I have to confess that this isn't perfect. For a start the steel is metric and hence slightly on the thin side, although this shouldn't matter. Secondly I got the bends slightly too far apart, so it steps out by about 1/8" more than it should, although I doubt anybody will notice. And thirdly, I drilled the holes slightly too far apart, which might be a problem when it comes to fitting it; a bit of trial and error should determine which wagon it fits on best; with two wagons to repair and three of the four lamp brackets being original, I have some flexibility.

Anyway, this new bracket still needs the ends cutting to length and rounding off, but it's 'nearly there'.

Photo © P. Hetherington 20/08/06
Next I drilled three holes in each of the three vacuum dummy brackets I'd made previously. These are virtually ready for painting now, though I do need to tidy up a couple of rough edges with the grinder.

Photo © P. Hetherington 20/08/06
And so back to the dragboxes. The two top pieces will sit 'U-shaped' in the dragbox, so need drain holes. I measured the better dragbox on my Conflat, and decided that a 1.1/4" hole was large enough. The drain holes sit off-centre, presumably to avoid dripping water on the drawhook shaft. Both of those for the Palbrick have been drilled; the Conflat will ultimately need the same treatment as the top dragbox channels are in a pretty poor state.
Sorry, no photo. Having drilled the top pieces of channel, the next job is to get the lower pieces to sit correctly in the dragbox. This involves cutting them to depth - but a closer look at the Conflat revealed that this wasn't going to be a simple job! In the centre, the lower channel seems to be 2.1/4" deep, but the lower edge then tapers to either side, the outer dimension being something like 2.1/16" with the taper running for a distance of 6.3/4". This should allow it to sit nicely within the '[' and ']' channels which form the sides of the dragbox, the top and bottom of these channels being tapered on the inside.

Obviously the channel isn't 6.3/4" deep, and there is a certain amount of interpretation involved in measuring off a fully assembled (and slightly rusty) wagon, but these figures do seem to give something like the right angle. I marked out the channels for both dragboxes, but I didn't actually make the cut as the light was fading.

Incidently, the other cut is likely to be different, as the 'outer leg' of the channel won't sit on the tapered edges of the longitudinal framework, but on the inside edge of the headstock. So presumably it will be a straight cut at something like 1.1/16", but some more careful measurement will have to happen before I commit myself!

Dragbox rebuild, Part IV, 20/08/06.

Photo © P. Hetherington 20/08/06
The day was spent cutting the 'lower' dragbox channels down to size, and fettling them to get them to fit properly. The problem is that the leading edge needs a straight cut, whereas the trailing edge needs an angle on each side where it fits up to the wagon's underframe channel.

The tricky part is getting the relationship between the two cuts right; by the end of the day the north channel seemed to fit reasonably well, but the south channel still needed some work.

Photo © P. Hetherington 20/08/06

Dragbox rebuild, Parts V & VI, 27-28/08/06.

Photo © P. Hetherington 27/08/06
A large part of Sunday was spent getting the lower dragbox channel to fit properly at the south end of the wagon. For some reason this end decided to be awkward and wouldn't sit steadily in position without a lot of fettling.

On Monday the upper channel was finished off, by cutting off a 3/16" slice the length of the 'outer' edge, rounding off the 'outer' corner, and tapering the outermost 3" of the 'inner' edge. This allows the dragbox channel to fit neatly inside the wagon underframe - itself made from steel channel though of a different size.

The upper channel was then lifted into place - strangely, after all of the hassle with the lower channel, it seemed to fit first time! - and temporarily jammed up with various nuts and washers. This allowed the drawhook to be loosely fitted - just to prove that it would fit!

Photo © P. Hetherington 27/08/06
The north end then received similar treatment and both dragboxes are now nominally ready for welding. There are a few other little jobs to do first though.

I'd like to clean up the inside of the dragboxes while they're still relatively accessible. In particular, the corrosion on the 'back wall' of the dragboxes - which isn't structural - is the worst anywhere on the wagon, presumably because access was so awkward that the wagon's 1980s refurbishment missed it. I've tried just about everything else and have concluded that a needle gun is required to get in there - now I just need to get hold of one!

Photo © P. Hetherington 03/09/06
The other task on Sunday was to wire brush the vacuum cylinder ready for painting. I removed the old paint from the sides and top, but ran out of time before I could repaint it. An overnight shower meant that it needed wire brushing again on Monday - but fortunately it only needed a quick 'once over'. Then it started to rain again so I painted it in primer quickly!

Photo © P. Hetherington 03/09/06
On Monday I also finished off the new lamp bracket and three vacuum dummy brackets I'd made a few weeks earlier. Most of the effort went into the lamp bracket as it needed its ends trimming and rounding off.

At the end of the day four vacuum dummy brackets and three lamp brackets - including some originals - were painted in primer. Each wagon needs two of each; the 'extras' are destined for my Conflat when its turn for restoration comes.

Back to Part 4: February to April 2006

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© 2006-08 Phil Hetherington
Last Modified: 10.10.08