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GWR 9581 (Formerly 5043) Wheelchair and Buffet Progress 2020.


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Progress Update February 2020

Work on 9581 has moved on a phase, with most of the more spectacular jobs, i.e. rebuilding the bodysides and roof, now more-or-less finished. With the onset of winter weather the LNER Group’s workforce has been concentrating on the interior of the carriage.

Photographs 1-5 shew stages in the refurbishment of the floor. As supplied from Swindon in 1928, our carriage, then known as 5043 was fitted with a floor joist arrangement appropriate to its status as an 8 compartment 3rd with side corridor and 2 toilets. These joists lasted in their original form to the present day despite the subsequent removal of most of the compartment walls. The floor, constructed of 1” thick T&G softwood overlaid with a GWR standard layer of sawdust and adhesive (known colloquially as “compo”) was not considered strong enough for 9581 because the point loading of wheelchairs is considerably higher than that of standing passengers. The old floor was therefore carefully removed in small sections and immediately replaced with panels cut from 18mm “Buffalo Board”;-a high quality resin bonded grade of plywood intended for just this use. A second layer in larger panels will be added at a later date to add even more strength to the finished floor. The T&G was mostly still in good condition and re-used in constructing the internal walls (as described below). The joists were found mainly to be in very good condition despite their 90 year age, but a small number needed repair, and five extras were added to suit 9581’s new arrangement of internal walls.

Photos 6-13 concentrate on the internal walls. As of 8th Feb these are now all made and in place ready to receive their fittings, once the rest of the heavy construction work is finished.  Whilst the size of the door frames and corner posts dictated the use of new timber, we had enough suitable T&G softwood, mostly saved from 5043’s internal walls and floor, plus a little left over from previous projects to construct both end walls for the saloon, the entire kitchen, and part of the toilet. Unfortunately we ran out of recycled timber leaving one end and the side of the toilet to be made from Buffalo Board;-at least it’s strong enough to support the several handrails and baby changing unit that will be required WC fittings!

Photo 14 shews some of this fitting out work; - it’s the frame for the kitchen ceiling. Part of this ceiling has to be lowered to accommodate the water tank that can just be seen resting on its steel supports, anybody taller than 6’ 6” in their safety boots will have to duck their heads!

Photo 15 was taken in the passenger saloon. The two horizontal strips of timber above the windows are the top and bottom edges of the wiring conduits that will run along both sides of the entire carriage. This conduit will be finished with a thin plywood cover and painted white to match the ceiling. In the background a short length of steel conduit can also be seen, this was put there to prove that the legally required communication chain will fit neatly below. The customary notices threatening a £5 fine for improper use will “decorate” the wiring conduits.

Photo 16 depicts Colin, our lucky volunteer who has taken on the long and intricate task of providing a set of internal fittings for each of the eight side doors on 9581. Upside down on his bench is a decorative top cover of the type that originally incorporated an advertising panel. Whilst much material was recovered from the 16 side doors of 5043, not all proved to be reusable. Colin is therefore restoring the more substantial and therefore restorable top and middle horizontal members, but the vertical pieces, being of smaller section and often in more vulnerable locations have suffered badly from the ravages of time and use;-they’re being replaced.

Photo 17 looks over Dave C’s shoulder at what appears at first sight to be an empty bench. Closer examination reveals several small and unidentified components from one of the twenty sliding windows that he’s currently refurbishing. It’s true to say that the recreation of 9581 wouldn’t have been possible without Dave’s efforts in restoring, firstly ten sets of aluminium toplights (the small windows seen in Photo 15) and now the accompanying sliding windows that will shortly replace the plywood rectangles seen to be doing their best to keep the weather out. It should be mentioned that these window assemblies were recovered from scrap Mk1 carriages and supplied to us by our friends from the Llangollen Railway. In common with most traditional railway equipment they were received in rundown condition having “enjoyed long and busy lives”. One at a time, Dave carefully dismantled them, removing bits of broken glass, old sealant, paint, and seized machine screws. Bent components were straightened, missing bits replaced, oversized holes plugged, re-drilled and tapped for new slotted screws. Finally each unit was reassembled with new glass and sealant, and then fitted in place in 9581. The sliding windows, which were even more difficult to dismantle, are now nearing completion. In addition to all of the above they needed replacements for the worn out/missing runners, coil and leaf springs and a new set of “skates” all to keep the windows operable.

There are many more members of the LNER group whose efforts haven’t been mentioned in this update, either because they took the photos, or were working elsewhere at the time. Their work is equally important to the 9581 Project and will be covered in future updates.

RG/CG 9th February 2020


1 Removing the old floorboards for recycling

2 A view of the cleared floor joists

3 Simon and Mike cutting new floor panels

4 Simon about to lay a new floor panel

5 The new floor

6 Richard making fine adjustments to a wall fastening

7 Roger putting another plank in the wall

8 Roger adjusting a wall support

9 The new Kitchen wall

10 Closeup of the kitchen wall shewing the recycled floorboards

11 Samantha holding up the new toilet compartment's corner post

13 The toilet compartment and corridor as seen from the site of the bar

15 Wiring conduits will run above  the windows

16 Colin restoring one of the inside fittings for one of the 8 side doors

17 Dave refurbishing a sliding window

12 Installing toilet wall

14 Framework for kitchen ceiling