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One rivet at a time…

In keeping with the spirit of the new year, I am currently learning the hard way how slow and painstaking railway restoration work is. It is great to chat away on the social media about how ‘they’ should do something about….(name your favourite fantasy engine/project) . Well, this time I have been well and truly caught and forced to put my time and effort where my mouth is.

It all started when I rashly expressed the view that ‘we’  (i.e. the Glos Warks GWR mainline) should ‘do something’ about its fabulous but mostly rusting wagon collection. I remember I was on the footplate at the time and the driver said nonchalantly, “well, there’s a nice 6 wheel milk tanker in our yard. Why don’t you start with that?”

Notice the ‘You’ here.  In the heritage railway field we too often talk about ‘they’ as if it is someone else’s job to magically turn rusting Barry wrecks into steaming giants again.  General Haig’s finger is clearly pointing straight at me.  ’Your Railway Needs You.’   It has certainly is cumuppance time for me, though.  ’There’s the wagon, there’s the tool shed – off you go!’

Gulp.  Where do you start?  Not having a clue about this, I went for maximum visible effect. Lets get the plating off the chassis so we can clean it all up underneath.  It will at least feel as if we have made a start.  So armed with an angle grinder and various hitting things, we set to and got some of those rivets out. Well, not all of them, some are hidden away under the tank so you can’t get at them.  Which means we either need someone who is a whizz with a gas axe or we need to lift the tank…

Paul Richardson holds aloft the first bit of plating in triumph!

Paul Richardson holds aloft the first bit of plating in triumph!

….And it’s got 3000 gallons of water in it because its being used for winter boiler washouts.  Can you see how easy it is for these projects to founder, as initial enthusiasm gives way to stark reality and obstacles?   That’s why some locos take 30 years to get steaming.  And people die of old age in the process!

Dave Atkins getting stuck in with the angle grinder

Dave Atkins getting stuck in with the angle grinder

But is one little milk tanker going to defeat us?  No, absolutely not, especially as I have now raised my head above the parapet and the shame of defeat is too much to contemplate.  And I even went so far as to say that ‘we’ or ‘they’ needed a demonstration milk train and there are 2 more decaying milk tankers elsewhere on the railway, not to mention a rather lovely LMS 6 wheel ‘STOVE R’ to go with them, all of which need lots and lots of work.  Stupid, stupid, stupid!

Just stick a brass plaque on the side of one of them for me when I die…..

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One Response to “One rivet at a time…”

  1. Ah, the wisdom of spoken promises in retrospect eh Howard! You knew it wasn’t going to be easy but you’ve set yourself a challenge and by jingo, I expect you’ll achieve success! If ever there is a brass plaque put on the tanker “after you die”, well, I don’t think I’ll be around to see it!! Wishing, from an armchair position, your continued progress and ultimate success. (That 47xx they’re building, hmmm, a future marry up?) job??

    Posted by Derek Smith | January 9, 2014, 2:16 pm

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