Good news - all fitness to run examinations were completed before the July/August running season began and work still continues to catch up the backlog of maintenance.

Most work has been concentrated on keeping the coaches in running condition for the five days a week operation. Help comes from Ken Hills with various plumbing and maintenance. We all keep the toilet tanks in the running set topped up as and when appropriate.

All the stock of upholstery material has now been used and the BSK and a half of SK 25040 have been re-upholstered. Ollie has been beavering away quietly to correct the difference of half an inch between the old seats and the re-upholstered seats. Yet another example of how BR Standard coaches are, after all, not quite standard.


If anyone works out and is looking for a challenge, come and help Ollie, Doug, Terry and Geoff move the benchseats around.

As reported elsewhere, John Whale and the midweek gang continue to do good work on the BSO 9208 also known as 'Grace' and its (or is it her?) Bristol side is being transformed into chocolate and cream.

Dave Burton, John Miles, John Payne and Steve Walters, with the aid of a CORGI contractor who carried out the gas fitting, have stripped the kitchen out of the Restaurant Car and fitted a new gas range and stainless steel panelling. This was a good job well done in a very short timescale (rumour has it that the new gas range gave 'Chef' a quick singe). Time out was taken again to sort out another problem with the generator which suddenly failed to start.

Ollie has found time to continue with work on the Toad brake van. The next job will be to renew a number of the floor timbers before the Permanent Way gang's equipment falls through the floor.

The ballast hopper also needs our attention in order to repair one door that has rusted through in a number of places, overhaul the vacuum cylinder - and replace the footboards.

Dave Bryant is working away in the MPO sorting out the missing woodwork and the many small items needed to bring the finish of the vehicle up to real showroom standard (it's rumoured that he gets his inspiration from the Daily Mail).

As can be seen from the names appearing above, the Carriage and Wagon Department welcomes help from all whether skilled or not. Apologies if anyone has been omitted! It's planned to organise another trip to Long Marston shortly to help clear out John Painter's CCT and extra hands will be very welcome!


Yet another visit has been made to Long Marston and during this visit old upholstery removed from the running set was returned for storage and better quality items removed from the coaches at Long Marston and transported to Bitton, then installed in the running set. Further work was carried out on weatherproofing the coaches there. Help was gratefully received from Ben Wathern, James Webb (who travelled from Oxford), Doug Banks (who drove the van) and of course Ollie Holmes. Also the Stratford and Broadway lads were good enough to turn out to unlock the gates for the team.

In spite of some awful weather, John Whale and the midweek gang have continued slowly and carefully replacing and resealing windows in 25299, one of the coaches in the running set. Ron Conn is working on the headlining in the corridor around the toilets in another coach 25040. As soon as work at Avon Riverside is complete we will be able to park “Grace” and “Doris” in the up platform for their offsides to be repainted. Dave Bryant has given the running set a thorough clean before the Mother’s Day operation and attended to a number of jobs on “Ruth”.

The toilets in the Bicester Coach have nearly been returned to working order, thanks to help from Ken Hills, John Payne and John Miles. Just a small amount of pipe work remains to be completed.

A full “fitness to run” examination was carried out on the Bicester Coach by Doug Banks and Terry Jones under Ollie’s guidance and watchful eye.

Further work will be carried out to complete the re-commissioning of the toilets in all coaches and to install the re-upholstered seats so that 35255, which has very worn upholstery, will be transformed. If Funds are available we will complete replacement of all worn upholstery in the coaches in the running sets. Ollie’s second home - the C&W Van - needs a new roof canvas urgently.

The Carriage and Wagon Department welcomes new members to help. No particular skills are required, just enthusiasm and willingness to work. If you have only a few hours a month to spare, we will welcome you!

February 2004

First a story to soften the hardest hearts (or promote a fit of uncontrollable laughter).

The other Sunday was not a good one for Ollie. In the course of dismantling the toilet tank in the Bicester coach he received a very cold shower. Hold that picture for a moment because, as an avid reader, you will remember the incident of the lavatory door lock which imprisoned a passenger during one of the Sherry and Mince Pie trips (see the January update below). Well, unfortunately the same problem also happened to the, by now, very wet Ollie!!!! The good news is that Dave Bryant has now fixed the lock, so there is not likely to be a repeat. Unless you know different!

January 10th was the date of the wandering toolbox. During the trip to Long Marston, Geoff’s toolbox was somehow forgotten when everyone left! Thanks are due to John Payne and the guys from the Stratford and Broadway group, who made a special visit to recover it. The toolbox is now back with its rightful owner. During that visit more progress was made on defending the coaches that are stored there against the elements. Also a number of bench seats, backs and wooden trim were collected from the items stored there to exchange/replace worn/broken items in the running set. We welcomed Terry Jones to the gang for the first time and we hope to make use of his graphic design skills in the future. James Webb braved the vagaries of Thames Trains to join the group at Honeybourne station.

Unfortunately work on sealing the windows has run into a problem as the weather damage has proved more difficult to repair than first suspected. The replacement of the many broken studs and timber trim is very time-consuming but the midweek gang have come to the rescue.

Dave Bryant has carried out his post Christmas spring clean of the running set. This is something which he does very thoroughly; overcoming the need to find various vehicles dotted around the Bitton site. This work was done in spite of the fact that, at the same time, Dave also had to carry out a very unpleasant cleaning job in the station Gents toilet.

On a genuine note, the gang would like to express their appreciation for the advice and assistance received from John Miles, John Payne and “Twiggy”. Also thanks are due to John Miles, Gordon Ashton and Nigel Seville for remaining after their day’s work at Riverside to enable the re-positioning of the coaches. As has been said before, the railway is very much a team effort!

January 2004

In the December issue it was reported how well the work on the Bicester coach had progressed thanks to the efforts of a number of members.  Unfortunately, we omitted to mention the sterling work that has been put in on the plumbing department of this coach (and other vehicles) by Ken Hills.  This was particularly remiss as Ken travels down from London to help. So many apologies - sorry Ken and thanks for all the good work!

Secondly a warning to others. Will all of you who have items removed from coaches for repair etc off site please return them immediately! If these items are not returned, the next issue will name names, and publish embarrassing photographs. We have no shame. Directors, Trustees, Officers etc will not be exempt!

If you do have occasion to remove any item for repair please ensure that it is documented and one of the C&W team knows about it (Weekdays: Dave Bryant, Dave Cole or John Whale. Weekends: Geoff Clark, Ollie Holmes, John Miles). If you find any C&W item lying around - particularly wooden mouldings - treat it with the utmost care and advise any member of the team. These are extremely expensive items to replace, both in cash and work terms).

Fortunately, the care which is usually taken with operations on the railway (and by our passengers) has meant that no significant damage has needed attention after the Santa running period. This is just as well as the restoration and repair staff have been fully engaged running the railway during December. However, there are a number of sticking windows, doors and door locks needing cleaning and lubrication. Unfortunately it appears that the toilet door lock on one of Bicester coach toilets has a short spindle and its use during the Sherry and Mince Pie operation led to Guard John Payne having to make an emergency rescue. We’re not sure whether its was two old ladies locked in the lavatory ....... but it shows how careful one has to be!

Our attempts to find a good quality, reasonably priced upholsterer have yet to be successful. Therefore January 10th will see another trip to Long Marston to attempt to identify as many compartment seats in good condition as possible from those which are stored there. Attention will also be paid to the DMU trailer car to make it ready to move as soon as the MOD permit.

Most Sundays (and some Saturdays) will see work continue on the running set coaches to improve their general condition. Particular attention will be paid to the sealing of roof vents and leaking windows. The weekday gang will continue with painting when weather permits and replacing footboards and handrails.

If you can offer any help at all, please contact anyone named above.

December 2003

Thanks to excellent cooperation between John Whale and the midweek gang, Dave Bryant, Steve Walters and the weekend gang (Ollie, Ben, Simon, Doug and Geoff Clark), there has been very good progress preparing the coaches for the Santa operation. All serviceable coaches have now been given fitness to run examinations., and attempts have been made (not always successfully as yet) to seal leaking windows, roof ventilators and gutters.

Various vacuum and steam heat bags have been replaced and all batteries examined, topped up and fully charged.

Work on the Bicester coach has also progressed, with toilet tanks tested, one removed for repair – and the steam heat re-assembled and tested. More work will be needed to get this fully working, but thanks are due to John Miles and Twiggy. Steve Walters has connected the batteries, wired in the charger and charged them. Now, if we need to use the coach as a reserve, it will run with lights, although it may be a little on the cold side.

John Payne reports that some work has been carried out on the track at Long Marston and it may soon be possible to move the DMU trailer car to Bitton in January. David Cole reports that Rampart have made good progress on the Multi Purpose Open and that the coach should be back with us early in the new year.

November 2003

Now that the main running season has been completed, few additional problems have appeared.

As has been reported elsewhere, the Mid Week Gang have made progress in painting the 'off-side' of the coaches, which makes a huge improvement to the appearance for people using the Railway Path and our prospective passengers at Avon Riverside.  The four coach running set is now complete except for lining, and work has started on the Wine and Dine Set.  Each coach side which we can complete ourselves saves the AVR about £500 (the cost of professional painting) and improves the presentation of the railway.  So thanks to everyone who is helping on this project.

Thanks also to Steve Walters who has replaced the footboards on the GW 'Toad' brake van - and wiring the Bicester coach continues to ensure that its lights will be fully working for the winter.  And whilst on the subject of the Bicester coach - work is still required to complete its steam heat connections and to re-connect its toilets.

Other members have also been doing their bit to keep our rolling stock up to scratch.  In particular, Ollie continues to beaver away keeping the running set up together, oiling and greasing when the coaches stand still long enough.  He managed to complete a full maintenance check and service on the goods stock prior to the Thomas weekend.  Dave Bryant has continued to attend to the inside of the coaches, as and when he has had time, in between cleaning and attending to the shop.

As with other departments C&W are eagerly seeking additional help.  Whether you are skilled or unskilled there is a job for all and your assistance will be gratefully received.  The most urgent requirement is for a skilled upholstery repairer.  The best commercial quote received so far has been £4,000 to re-upholster one coach - so if you know anyone who could help us on this, please contact Geoff Clark or David Cole.

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This page last updated by Tony Wray on 27/3/2004.