Latest News

This page has the older news and photos of work on Auto 169 with the newest at the top.

December 2010

 Work  continues with 'attention to detail' on the sections lined up for assembly once the chassis is in an accessible place and the bogie repaint has occurred. Production on some replacement seat components has started which will be useful later in the project.

The final shaping around toplights and windows is now taking shape 11/12/2010

 We wait patiently for space at Williton to progress the bogie repaint and to start reassembly work, but accept that demand for space is huge. We have recently received donations of some hardwood off cuts and are always on the lookout for such items that would be useful particularly later in the project. Please contact us at Williton or via our website.  

 We have  recently received details of the original purchase Ex B.R Horton Road Gloucester and early days of restoration of the carriage. Once sorted, we will update our website with the expanded history of the carriage.

 Remember there are a number of small items that could be produced in a small home workshop or shed. 

 If you have a small wood lathe we have numerous chair legs and spindles required. Please get in touch.  

Above  Chair components being manufactured
Below Final shaping of the toplight exterior moulding
N.B. Mid week working parties have now reverted to Wednesdays and Fridays usually at Williton, but please contact us  beforehand if coming along for the first time. 


August 2010 The last few months have seen us continue to make good progress with our project with work being undertaken in two main areas. Firstly the remainder of the outstanding work on the carriage frames is being completed at Bishops Lydeard with work underway on 2 days each week resulting in the completion of the outstanding stripping and repainting now nearing completion. 



(Images © Brian Hart)

At our Williton Workshop we have progressed from our trial bending of  timber for the replacement roof hoops  and to date have now produced 3 sets of steamed timber laminates and sucessfully glued 2 of them. We plan to make another 4 sets and assemble them before the colder winter weather which precludes the use of the temperature sensitive specialist glue.

During the Spring and Summer months we  have been undertaking an exercise to ensure we have the capabilities to produce the replacement parts that we have not yet attempted and we are pleased to report that we have successfully produced  Door, Window and Seat components and we feel confident that we are unlikely to  find any area of the project that we cannot handle 'In House' .

Negotiations continue to return the chassis to Williton as some stage in the not to distant future and when that happens we want to be in the position to begin reconstruction of some of the first section of body work. To this end, we are now turning our attention to sorting the finer points of reassembly of the main wooden components and revisiting some areas that from experience learned during the restoration, can now be improved upon.

Dec 2009

Having been given the opportunity to get most of the major repair work on the underfames of the carriage undertaken at the SDR workshops during September and October the carriage was hastily made ready and approved for movement to Bishops Lydeard for onward road transport over a weekend in late September.

During the visit the rebuild of the Driving end underframes was completed along with the opportunity to needlegun almost all of the framework most of which has been repainted also. Some 'spare' time was available so the Luggage end' bodywork was carefully separated from the frames and moved along the chassis allowing the first opportunity for close examination of the frames at that end. This revealed a much better situation than we had found at the driving end and has allowed the much lesser repairs required to be completed.

During the visit we have also had the wheels examined for tyre wear and thickness and the very good news is that profile is virtually 'as new' and thickness is also very good with at least 2 or 3 turnings left which should remove that item from the shopping list for quiet a few years. The axles were ultra sonic tested when we first took delivery so all in all we now have a good solid foundation to progress the rebuild.

The completed frames returned to the WSR on 5th November and are currently stabled at Bishops Lydeard. Work continues on the main wooden framework and section 2, which has also had a new floor section built from scratch recently, is looking more and more complete thanks to the regular midweek working parties. To confirm our commitment to progressing the restoration/reconstruction of the carriage in the best possible way we have now taken a lease on one of the small units (Number 7) on the Roughmoor Enterprise Centre adjacent to the station at Williton alongside our DEPG friends and whilst not a large floor space we are establishing a dedicated joinery workshop to allow continued progress in a more ideal environment. We welcome all visitors during any work days (usually Wednesday or Saturday).

Unfortunately the workshop is not large enough to take the whole carriage so we are currently negotiating with the WSR Company to locate the frames at a suitable place to allow reconstruction work to progress unhindered. Our presence within the Swindon Shed will probably reduce over the coming months as we relocate our operation, but we will discuss this further with the 'new management' when they take office. As ever, new helpers or contributions towards our restoration funds are always welcome, please get in touch.

See Underframe Overhaul for the full story of the work done at Buckfastleigh.

Seasons greetings to all.
169 returned to WSR

 News 08/08/2009

A number of opportunities and circumstances have come together to over the past couple of weeks  culminating in Saturday 8th August being spent preparing 169 for transportation to the South Devon Railway for completion of the Driving end riveting and replacement work along with possibly completing the luggage  end also.

The 'window of opportunity' was very small and once the decision to go ahead  with the  required work was made we needed to temporarily replace the front bufferbeam and various support brackets to allow the carriage to be made ready for a one trip only authority move from Williton to Bishops Lydeard on Sunday. This was to be  ready for loading onto road transport for onward transfer to Buckfastleigh later in the week.

Not only was the speedy rebuilding work required but the remaining half of the carriage  bodywork used to store new wooden components and patterns needed to be emptied of all contents.  A working  party of seven managed to complete all the tasks and the carriage was pronounced fit for the journey  at 4pm. This operation has been a fine example of what can be achieved when all departments work together with a 'can do' attitude with the minimum of formalities and maximum co-operation. Many thanks to all  departments on the WSR for making this short notice operation happen.

We expect the work to be completed  in not more than 12 weeks and should allow the beginning of the formal reconstruction work to commence  when the chassis is returned in the Autumn. Whilst the extent of the required work was being assessed on Wednesday the opportunity to closely measure the wheelsets was taken and all wheels and tyres were found  to be in good condition with between 46 and 50 mm of tyre thickness, profiles were also good with one of the axles being measured at 'as new' profile. If time and finance allows we will have them all returned to 100% correct profile to save time and expense later.

See Underframe Overhaul for the full story of the work done at Buckfastleigh.


   Bufferbeam temporary rebuild completed                                    Carriage removed from shed ready for transfer

July 2009

Major progress was made today on 'Section 2' with the trial assembly of the next 18 ft section including all the major verticals along with the Sole plates and Waist Rails. All parts fitted well with only minor adjustments being required. We are now really beginning to see the benefits of our new production methods.


© John Wood

The pictures above taken 25/07/2009 show the new section and also illustrate the 'Narrow Coach' arrangement which is partly a space saving idea whilst we are working mainly on side components but also as opposite sides are much closer together allow any anomalies between sides, which are generally a 'mirror image' to be more immediately noticeable and thereby hopefully avoid unnecessary errors. If you are interested in our project we will be in attendance at the WSRA Steam Fayre next weekend 1st&2nd August at Norton Fields. We will be running a Tea and Cake Stand along with fund raising stall and project information so please do drop in for a chat . Unfortunately we still await an estimate for remedial work on the frames and chassis. 

May 2009

We have recently been in discussion with West Somerset Restorations about the repairs required to the carriage frames/chassis, including rebuilding the front end and shotblasting the exposed areas.

To this end we have dismantled a further 20ft section of the old bodywork and also been working hard on removing all ancillary underfloor items to allow the shot blasting to proceed as quickly and easily as possible. Work today(09 May) included removal of one of the vacuum brake cylinders which was found to be in virtually 'as new' condition, quite remarkable considering that it has been in situ and unserviced since at least 1962.

Other work included cleaning and repainting of various parts removed.  We have also turned our attentions to producing a routing template to allow us to tidy the main window surrounds, ensure the chamfered window ledges are all equal which should ensure a much more pleasing final result with sills and uprights 'in good lines'.  We will also be fund raising at the Gloucester Warwickshire Railway Gala by way of a 'Tea Bar' at Cheltenham Racecourse Station.  Do drop by for Tea and a chat if you are visiting. 

April 2009

Work continues on construction of 'section 2' with the waist rail and top window rails now marked out and awaiting the first stages of production. We are spending some time producing a range of formers and templates to assist production of components using the experience gained on 'section 1'. This will  allow the main components in the remainder of the carriage to be produced in a fraction of the time spent on earlier parts. Much of what we are now producing needs little or no fettling prior to trial fitting.



     Above  New timbers marked out ready for cutting.  Waist and Top Window rails

March 2009

Whilst the first weekend of the WSR Gala in full swing outside, inside we were busy using our new formers to produce 12 body framework pieces. These are the below waist ones that fit where the droplight windows are located and have a different design than the 'standard' ones due to requiring clearance for the window itself to lower between the body sides. We have modified the design slightly to remove the previous weakness that the original design had at the narrowest part. We have also continued to make good progress with shaping the major body frame components, mainly due to the success of the new former arrangement with 4 also shaped  on Saturday.

February 2009

Work is now progressing well on 'section 2' of the body framework. We have now 'upgraded' the shaping formers for the full length and below waist  uprights, from the prototypes used on the first section. The number of components in each former has reduced from about 10 to 3 and this allows us to produce the curved components in about a third of the time previously taken. We also hope other labour saving devices will allow tenon production to be simplified and speeded up. The first results are looking promising, reducing the amount of 'fettling' time required on each component. If you are visiting the WSR during either the WSR members open day on 8th March or during the Spring Gala please call in and see our progress at first hand, you never know you may feel inspired to lend a hand? 

January 2009

After a few weeks enforced Christmas and New Year break work is now underway on the 2nd section of body framework with the short upright frame pieces being cut and shaped  to add to the sole plates which are progressing well and now only require the mortices for the main floor supports in the edges.

November 2008

Progress continues slowly. We are currently making formers for the router to slide along with the special bit used for rounding the edges of the window frames. This involves having the appropriate panel laid down, strapped up then some screws put in to keep it square and as a result the operative can work with the router with the machine the correct way up and employing the use of gravity . Work also continues on the cant rails.

September/October 2008

A successful autumn gala stall raised much needed cash and as the stall was next to the coach in Williton shed this provided a focus Interested persons were able to go inside 169 to inspect the unrestored interior. Progress is slow but steady and we continue the making mortices on the second sole plate section together with the sloped halving joints to hold one piece of sole bar to the next. The rubbing down of partitions continues.169 remains back inside the shed thank goodness.

August 2008

The Rally stall was a big success despite the uncertain weather. Cups of teas with fresh milk (as opposed to UHT) were certainly in demand. We were again the only loco owning group on site. Ongoing jobs continue on the auto trailer including preparing and painting interior roof vent fittings and continuation of making mortises on the second sole plate section. 169 is now at last back inside the shed.

Jun/July 2008

The evening fish and chip special on the GWSR was a success but not without a degree of concern that the fish and chips were actually going to turn up at Cheltenham Racecourse station. They eventually did with a police escort!

Work on our box van B752355 had been completed with the fitting of new seals on the vacuum cylinder. On testing with the 03 shunter the vacuum was maintained first time. This vehicle is currently awaiting a ‘fitness to run' inspection and then will join the heritage freight train. Ongoing jobs continue on the auto trailer including making mortises on the second sole plate section.

April/May 2008

We are doing really well on the box van B752355 and it looks smart in a new coat of bauxite. The brake cylinder has been dismantled and found to be in good order after all these years; of course the rubbers and diaphragm need replacing and then it needs to be put back in place, maybe this will take less time than we spent getting it down? Then someone asked if we could sheet a coach at Minehead...  So some progress on 169 but more will be made when all our attention can be focused on it.

January/February/March 2008

Progress has been made on the box van with the renewal of 2 sets of doors nearing completion. We spread ourselves thin with work continuing on 5542. News on 169; The cant rails have received further attention and much trial and error fitting and refitting has taken place. A driver's door is looking like nearing completion. The first seating partitions have been refurbished and fitted. We will have a stall to support fund raising for 169 at the Spring Gala in the Swindon Shed at Williton, so see you there!



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This site was last updated 23-03-2012