Once a upon a time a binge might have included excessive drinking but not these days. Not for me anyway. So, “what are you on about?” I hear you say.
BINGE in the way of needing an acronym for everything refers to Beamish Industrial Narrow Gauge Engineers. BINGE is the volunteer group that works on the narrow gauge railway at Beamish Museum in County Durham under the leadership of the Keeper of Transport. Its not a tremendous coincidence that the majority of us are also Festiniog Railway Volunteers or that the Beamish Railway has operated, on loan, assorted examples of the smaller FR motive power.
Less well known, probably, are the restoration efforts of the group. Again these are a mostly a collaboration with the FR, this time with the Heritage Group. The FRHG vols have restored an impressive array of slate waggons for the gravity train with a load more wagons still to be restored. Having tired of doing some waggons more than one all their recent activity has been directed towards building a toy box to keep the toys in. This is a really impressive shed now approaching completion.
It is a very splendid facility that should mean waggons get overhauled just the once and then, stored out of the weather, they should only need TLC for many years to come.
That said the line of un-restored waggons is long and will take a long time to work through the pending line.
As a result a deal has been done for four granite waggons and a ballast tipper to come to Beamish.
The deal is something along the lines of “you do the upper works up and you can use them for a bit” [there is a formal deal in place for their restoration, loan and return] These two photo show you what arrived. In one you can see the four granite waggons which are slate wagons with boxed in bodies fitted so they can carry stone whilst the foreground of the other shows the very moth eaten side tipper.
As delivered they were only used very sparingly as a major area to be worked on is refurbished couplings. Moving them involved some avant garde innovation. It wasn’t quite blue hairy string but it was close.
One wagon (978) has been tackled and completed so far. This involved completely stripping it down, removing the granite extensions and boards then then refurbishing everything bar the wheelsets and axleboxes.
We’re not doing the wheelsets because our line is proper 2ft whereas the FR is 1’11 5/8″ and the worn (knackered) profile suits us. The FR waggon gang has evolved from making the best wagon out of several knackered ones and has cast new wheels and has stocks of CNC machined axles so they’ll get a wheel overhaul on their return to Wales.
978 was completed in time for the 2016 Great War Steam Fair in April. Seen here in the workshops it was moved down to the railway for the steam fair and ended up carrying timber rather than granite.
With one granite done it was decided that the next one to be done would the steel bodied side tipper #830.
As you can see in these photos its looking a bit worse for wear as it arrived. Its now been moved from the running line up to the workshops.
[Beamish is a bit like a model railway with the historic public areas where we try to keep things in character but then off scene in the fiddle yard there are modern and well equipped workshops]
Like most things it had to get worse before it could get better!
Reduced to just the chassis and even on that bit several bits need patching or replacing. The floor varied from see through to non existent.
There was much needle gunning and wire brushing of bits as well as cleaning of parts ready to re-use. Plan “don’t touch the wheels and bearings” has gone out of the window with waggon #2 in the restoration. We’ve found that 830 has one bearing so worn the wheel flange rubs on the floor so, not wanting it to wear through our new floor it’ll be getting new whitemetal poured in and machined.
All this destruction was our early November working party.
For the late November bash there were only two and a half of us (one doing half a day rather than a short person) and we managed to do something a bit less destructive
All the bits of the wagon that are being re-used have been grit blasted and primed and then given a further coat of paint. New steel has been bought for the floor and the hopper and we’ve started making the new hopper. In the pictures its been tack welded together and the angles temporarily bolted to it. Lots of holes now need to be drilled through these parts as well as a load of holes in the new floor which should keep the last WP before Christmas busy as we’re aiming for a hot riveting session early in the new year.
At the moment we don’t have an operational steam loco but that should change during 2017. More about that in another post sometime.