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


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Progress update for 18th July 2020

Following the relaxation of the National Lockdown it’s been possible to create a “Covid-19 Safe” environment in which to allow a few volunteers to return to work on volunteer projects under strictly regulated conditions. The process by which this was achieved was complex and is certain to be reported elsewhere, sufficient to say here that we’re glad to be back and we hope to gradually allow more of our usual volunteers back as conditions allow.


Importantly the SVR is preparing to re-start train services from 1st August using traditional compartment stock in a way that allows passengers and staff to remain socially distanced. We urge you to consider bringing your own “Social Bubble” for a socially distanced train ride in your own pre booked compartment. There’s a choice of three itineraries for a day out which can be booked here https://svr.digitickets.co.uk/tickets. The fare is £75 for a compartment seating up to six people (plus dog!) of any age as long as they are in the same social bubble and therefore represents a bargain!


A small contingent of volunteers from the LNER Group returned in two “bubbles” from 1st July and useful progress has been made on essential and overdue jobs. The overriding priority was to finally weather proof the five new doors that had been fitted in place on the carriage. During Lockdown the pressed steel top panels, which fortunately had already been trimmed to fit, were drilled and pressed for woodscrews as homework. Once restrictions were eased sufficiently they were galvanised by a contractor who was, thankfully, still operating. Fortunately the weather during lockdown was kind and the doors survived with no discernable damage, so they were very quickly cleaned, the utile frames drilled, countersunk and treated to a further coat of Danish oil. The bottom panels, which were of galvanised steel, were finished off and all assembled in record time with mastic and stainless steel woodscrews. Photo 1 shews the double doors (identified for maintenance purposes as “3 and 2”) with all panels fitted and finally watertight. Doors 1-5 have all been similarly treated. The brand new droplights had started to suffer from deferred maintenance, drying out in their exceptionally prolonged exposure to strong sunlight. Fortunately they responded well to treatment which included a good clean, rehydrating the timber by dousing them with water, and then when surface dry by applying two coats of Danish oil.


Other essential work was also tackled. Most of the window seals leaked during the heavy winter rain and it had been hoped to sort this problem as soon as the weather improved, however…….!  While the doors were being sorted, other volunteers examined these seals, and began remediation. Whilst a few were obviously short of sealant and this was rectified, most of the fixing screws were loose, probably as a result of standing for two summers and one winter. So the screws were tightened, resulting in much sealant squeezing out of the joints, and we’ll see what happens when it next rains.


The ceiling boards were found to be loose, probably due to the rush to get them up before lockdown. Securing these properly with more screws and tightening the existing ones is a job in progress.

The attaching of the electrical fittings that were refurbished as homework has also begun. Photo 2 shews an underframe mounted battery charging socket, used when required by the Carriage Maintenance personnel. Photo 16 shews a number of components required to make the electrical system work :- the Distribution Fusebox, Balance Resistor box, Voltage Regulator and Charging Socket, all fitted in place on 17th July.


That brings the situation up to date; so there now follows a report on some of the homework that has happened over the past 3 months. Colin, Mike, Dave and Bill S have been preparing various small components for use when the time comes, and here are a selection chosen because we had the photos!


Photos 3 and 4 shew some of the door interior fittings that Colin has been either refurbishing or making from new, with the aim of having a full set ready to go on once the heavy work is finished. The finish is mahogany stain and the lighter top panels are sycamore. They set the standard to be followed when fitting out the interior!


Photo 5 is particularly interesting as it shews some essential fittings that should never be seen. They are the working parts of the main saloon ceiling lamps and identical to those in SVR Based GWR Restaurant Cars 9653 and 9654. However few people will recognise the parts in the photo as they are normally hidden by a white painted spun metal cover. These “pyramids” were made on Mike’s 3D printer of a heat resistant long lasting grade of plastic commonly found in Lego Bricks.


Photo 6 shews the blank for the dynamo tensioning arm, awaiting further work including the boring of the hole for the pivot pin, and threading the rod to take the two adjusting nuts.


Photo 7 Bill S made a set of replica ceiling vents for use in the saloons, kitchen and WC. Usually painted white to match their surroundings, this one is seen in the very early stages of preparation for painting.


Photos 8, 9, and 10 shew some stages in the refurbishment of a set of budget locks, used to secure the doors. Other than dirt, the main problem was the springs which, being steel, had turned into piles of rust. To replace them the covers had to be removed, resulting in several broken screws that needed drilling out before the holes could be re-threaded.


Photo 11 shews the main distribution fuse box. It’s in a weathertight cast iron case and to be found mounted on the carriage underframe close to the voltage regulator.


Photos 12 and 13 shew some of the small, unseen components used to suspend the gangway arches on the ends of the carriage.  They wear out, and thus several were missing from the items in store! These simple looking bearings are a difficult shape to hold, and proved quite a challenge to turn on Mike’s lathe.


Photo 14 shews the circular terminal blocks for the jumper leads that pass between carriages and allow the lights along the whole train to be controlled from one switch. Although in good condition, several terminal screws and nuts were missing and had to be replaced from stock.


Photo 15 Shews a door hinge part way through modification. On carriages built by the GWR before about 1930 a more complicated stepped variety was used which looked tidy but fitting them was much more time consuming than the later flat design. A further complication was that they were “handed” and we were short of one for a right handed door, meaning that another hinge had to be modified to suit; this photo shews the modified hinge after brazing on a new piece but before trimming to shape, drilling and polishing.


Dave C has also spent much time at home continuing with the overhaul of the glazed sliding shutters, unfortunately no pictures are available.


Unfortunately due to “Covid-19 safe” working practices and the budgetary constraints resulting from the SVR’s loss of at least 4 month’s income, there is little chance of catching up the time lost on overhauling 9581. Hopefully over the next month or two the future may become clearer, meanwhile we plod on! In the meantime we urge you to consider bringing your “Social Bubble” for a socially distanced day out and train ride in traditional British compartment stock, which can be pre-booked here https://svr.digitickets.co.uk/tickets. The fare of £75 is for up to six people of any age and therefore represents a bargain!


RG 18th July 2020





1. Doors 2 & 3 with exterior panels. attached

12. Spring location collars for gangway.

14. Jumper lead terminal blocks.

2. Charging socket.

3. Interior door tops.

4. Interior door top and waist rail.

5. Three bulb lamp innards.

6. Blank for dynamo tensioner.

7. Ceiling vent.

8. Dismantled Budget Lock.

9. Drilling out broken screw.

10. Refurbished budget locks.

11. Fuse Box.

13. Gangway support collars.

15. Hinge modification.

16. Power distribution.