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GWR 9581 (Formerly 5043) Wheelchair and Buffet Progress 2019 January - June.

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The Wheelchair accessible Buffet Car is being created by rebuilding the bodyshell of the already much modified GWR 3rd 5043. The finished carriage will be a catering vehicle, and thus should be numbered as such in the 95XX or 96XX series. With the bodyshell design based on GWR Diagram H33, the number of one of these carriages, the long scrapped 9581 was chosen to be carried in service. At a meeting held on 6th November 2018 between the ES Project Manager, 5043 Project Leader and several experienced Fundraisers from the SVRCT and LNER Carriage Group, it was suggested that it would save confusion if 5043 were to become 9581 with immediate effect. With the rebuild more than 50% complete, this was agreed and the Accessible Buffet car is now known as 9581"

RG 10/11/2018


Progress Update 12th May 2019

The past 6 weeks have seen considerable progress on the final quarter side, made urgent by the imminent erection of the working platform to enable the roof to be repaired. Firstly the new doors were delivered to Bewdley by the joiner from Newent. He then spent two days trying to educate us in the finer points of carriage door fitting (not easy as the doors curve and the styles are angled), our technique isn't perfect but has improved considerably. A single, and a pair of double doors are now in place and working correctly, they still need panels and the myriad of fittings that the GWR saw fit to bless them with.

Meanwhile the galvanised steel outer panels were cut, fitted, drilled, pressed and finally screwed in place. All but the panel above the gangway are now finally attached, the end steps and corner capping are on. The floor joists in the entrance vestibule were repaired and this section of floor fitted to create a safe entrance through the end door during the roof repairs, when the side doors will be obstructed by the scaffolding.

Thursday 9th May was something of a red letter day as, besides being the 115th anniversary of City of Truro's alleged 100mph dash down Wellington Bank, our "window man" Dave C completed the rebuild of the 10th and final toplight assembly. This major work took nearly 18 months of dismantling, straightening, plugging, drilling and tapping before they could be assembled into the essential fixed window components that hold the sliding shutters. Meanwhile the composite wood/aluminium frames for the main windows have been made, and the final fitting  and glazing are works in progress. Dave's next job will be to repair 10 pairs of glazed shutters!

Other work has mainly consisted of preparations for the forthcoming roof repairs. 17 steel semi-elliptical carlines are now holding up the roof in place of the mostly life expired GWR oak ones. Great Western fans shouldn't worry however, as they are as close as possible to being replicas of original GWR roof strengthening irons, and are designed to fit to a copy of the woodwork that held the roof up for the whole 90 year life of 5043.  The difference will be that there's now more steelwork, the wood will simply support the ceiling! With the roof securely supported, the remaining internal partitions were removed to storage as they were in the way and needed to be relocated. A superb new set of "shell" ventilators was made for us by South Devon Railway Engineering, and Bill, our painter has been degreasing and priming these to ensure they enjoy a long life on the roof. The replacement rolled lower panel sections that go behind the gutters are also to hand, they'll be pop riveted in as direct replacements of those fitted 30 years ago by the 2857 society who's  excellent repair job we're now copying; with a few tweaks to make the final appearance look more "authentic GWR". More when there's some more progress to shew.

RG 11/5/2019


Progress Update 25th March 2019

Saturday 23rd March was a nice day for a change, and the final section of new side framing was fitted, also repair work on the end frames was completed.

MC 25th March 2019


Progress Update 13th January 2019

By the start of December 2018, the replacement of one half of both bodysides of 9581 was more or less complete, with both sides replaced to the half way point, and the original framing at that end repaired for further service. New steel exterior cladding was fitted to all of this end, and the windows glazed. It also had its new steel roof supporting hoops (carlines) in place, making that end of the roof secure but its cladding had not received any remedial attention. At the other end the original structure of 5043 was still all in place;-one side painted in green primer (the green side) whilst the other (the red side) still bore traces of the BR maroon livery applied by the 2857 Society. During December 2018  repairs to that end framing were carried out to enable the original to be retained, thus both 90 year old ends will be fit for further service!

The weather on the last Saturday before Christmas, 22nd December 2018 seemed promising, and with a reasonable forecast for the following week, the LNER Group commenced the demolition of the remaining portion of the green side. We started by removing the side doors and inserting props to hold the roof up (Photo 1). Further accrow props were added to ensure that the roof was secure before side sections came off (Photo 2). The bottomside here was found to be rotten (Photo 3), and the entire side came off rather more easily than expected! The old bottomside timber was removed and recycled as loco lighting up wood, exposing the top flange of the steel underframe. This needed no more than cleaning and painting to make it fit for further service. Then a replacement hardwood bottomside was fitted (Photo 4). It was jointed to the existing new bottomside (fitted in 2018), mortised and tennoned to the existing underfloor joists and attached with new countersunk 20 mm bolts to the underframe. With a sound base to work from, and in a now practiced operation, the old and decayed cantrail was then replaced with new material. The cantrail forms the top of the side, and thus supports the roof, so its important to take care when doing this!

By the morning of January 7th, we were ready to fit the new side frame, that had been prefabricated a few months previously. By late afternoon on Tuesday 8th the side was all in place, secured and supporting the roof (Photo 5). Since then a number of steel cladding panels have been cut to size, drilled and temporarily fixed in place (Photo 6). Once all are in place, the window apertures will be accurately marked out before the panels are taken off, finally cut to shape, then dimpled to take the countersunk woodscrews that will then finally fasten them in place on 9581.

RG 13/1/19

5. New side frame

6. Making new panels

1. Missing doors with props

2. First side section removed

3. Rotten bottomside

4. Fitting new bottomside

GWR Wheelchair Buffet Progress 2019 July - December


Progress Update 3rd February 2019

Following their first fitting, the galvanised steel panels were accurately marked out so that the windows could be cut to size and shape. Whilst on the carriage, the hole positions were marked on the wooden framework before the panels were removed for final cutting to shape, hole enlargement and "dimpling" (with a special purpose made press). Meanwhile the wooden frame was drilled to accept the panel fastening screws and countersunk to accept the projections at the back of the dimples. The panels were then re-fitted, bedded on mastic with stainless steel woodscrews. Finally the joints in the upper row of panels, which on these GWR carriages are not covered with beading were, in accordance with now standard practice, MIG welded to prevent future movement causing cracking of the paintwork (which not only looks unsightly but leads to water leaks)

Once the welds had been ground flat and treated to prevent rusting, the toplight assemblies were bolted in position, not a quick and easy job as the galvanised panels have to be accurately drilled and countersunk first to accept captive bolts before the toplights were finally permanently fastened with special nuts. At the time of writing, glazing of these windows was in progress.

Whilst this was going on, our carpenters were hard at work preparing to fit the internal wooden cladding, making droplights, glass retaining strips and other odd jobs, whilst Dave, the "toplight man" was starting on the final three needed for the other side of the saloon.

RG 3/2/19.

Side panels shaped, welded and treated

Inside the future accessible saloon with cladding bearers going on.

Shutters first trial fitting


Progress Update 23rd February 2019

With the completion of the window frame fitting and glazing the tarpaulins have been moved over to reveal the completed side ready for the trip to Kidderminster later this week for turning.

MC 23/2/2019   

Completed side

Newly completed section


Progress Update 3rd March 2019

On Friday 1st March 2019, 9581 made a return trip to Kidderminster to be turned. The move was combined with several other stock movements including the pre-return to service test run of a Mk1 that had just received bogie overhaul work, and the movement of a riding van to Bridgnorth. Wheelchair Open Third 4399 was collected from Bridgnorth C&W, where it had received a major bodywork overhaul and alterations to provide much needed wheelchair access, and conveyed to Kidderminster works for mechanical and body finishing and painting prior to release for traffic. The guard, of course, needed a vehicle to work from and Toad 17410, recently overhauled by the LNER Group and Kidderminster Works, was used.

On 9581's return to its working platform and carefully positioned so that the final remaining quarter of the old 5043's sides could be replaced. On the following day, Saturday, the LNER Gang supplemented by a member of 2857 descended on it. The old steel panelling was removed in sections, starting with that covering the former doors, the frames of which were removed and replaced with steel props to hold the roof up. The remainder of the section was then dealt with in a similar manner. All of the oak framing was in very poor condition and only fit to be recycled as fuel for steam locomotives.

Meanwhile another member of the group measured and marked out the steel section to make the new cantrail (the rail that joins the top of the side to the roof) which must be drilled and fitted in place before any further major structural work, but there is plenty of tidying, including removing the old ceilings and finishing the end framework to keep us occupied.

RG 3rd March 2019

9581 is seen at Bewdley awaiting its trip to Kidderminster

9581 is slowly moved onto the turntable

Turning 9581

9581 stands in Platform 2 at Bewdley
"the other way round"

About 30 years ago the 2857 Society
protected these compartment walls
by covering them in steel sheet.
On Saturday 2nd March the steel came off

The side seen with most of the steel removed
(in manageable sized sections)

The compartment sides are seen for the first time in 30 years. They were extremely fragile and within 10 minutes they had been removed. During this process they fell to bits.


Progress Update 9th March 2019

Saturday 9th March was a windy day, and was spent replacing the original rotten and life expired wooden cantrail. On 9581 we're using Hawksworth practice by using a composite cantrail of steel angle for enhanced strength and hardwood to attach to the side frames. By the end of the day the steel was in place, temporarily supported by the white steel props, see photos below. This work resulted in a greatly strengthened vehicle.

Meanwhile, on the inside of a newly exposed roof panel we found an excellent example of Lysaght's trademark. This mark is occasionally found on the insides of GWR panels and we believe that Lysaght supplies much, if not all of the GWR's galvanised steel sheet. The "CAUTION" notice, a transfer, was found in GWR guard's compartments and instructed staff on the correct use of the brake setter, over enthusiastic use of which could cause the train to stop in a violent and possibly dangerous manner.

RG 9th March 2019

New cantrail

New cantrail



Final section of side framing fitted

Repaired end framing


Progress Update 2nd April 2019

Monday 1st April saw the arrival of a number of new doors and on Tuesday a pair of central doors where trial fitted, also the final section of lower steel panels where temporally attached.

MC 2nd April 2019

First trial fitting of doors

First batch of doors

Last section of lower panels trial fitted

2 Views showing the completed steel work 3 doors and sliding light frames fitted Note first window glazed.

With the last of the partitions removed a view of the whole length of the carriage is possible. Note the new carlines.

Last end panel and foot steps fitted only the panel and steps over the doorway left to do.


Progress Update 8th June 2019

On Friday 31st May 9581 was shunted about 10 yards northwards to enable the scaffolding to be erected around it. This seemingly simple operation involved a trip out to Platform 3 whilst two large vans and a steam locomotive (Warwickshire) were relocated to allow this to happen. A happy side effect of this move the southwest door was brought alongside the working platform and the opportunity was taken to replace the temporary door with its brand new replacement. All four doors on the former compartment (red) side of 9581 are now the new ones.

Monday 3rd June saw the arrival of the scaffolders who erected an excellent working platform for us to repair the roof and replace the gutters. Unfortunately the next day was wet, but the forklift was available so we moved the replacement steel panels "upstairs". In the following two dry days, one redundant tank has been prepared for lifting out and the edge of one roof side fettled and the new edge panels adjusted and put in place  ready for fixing to the roof panels and cantrails. One gutter section (1/4 of one side) has been drilled prior to fixing in place.

Meanwhile work continues with painting the roof vents, now in white undercoat, the manufacture of new droplights, and the refurbishment of a set of sliding "shutters" (windows!) to go in the toplight frames.

RG 7/6/19

9581 with the scaffold roof level platform

2 Views of the roof


Progress Update 29th June 2019

As soon as the scaffolding was completed the weather did its best to hold up work on the roof, raining for the next two weeks followed by very high temperatures. Despite this the four old water tanks have been removed and the holes covered with new steel riveted in place, new side panels where the roof meets the cantrail have been fitted and repairs strips over the roof sheet joints are close to completion.

MC 29/6/19

Last tank awaiting removal

Centre Tank hole cover plates fitted

2 Views showing the new  roof sides panels and joint strips

View of roof from car park