Shutter Work

Timber cars of the NSWGR had timber shutters fitted to each window, comprising an upper and lower pair. Originally, these were finished in polished timber but over the years, almost all of them ended up being painted brown, probably to help hide the numerous repairs they had accumulated. Some of these shutters have had a hard life – check out this poor old chap.


Every shutter will undergo a makeover, starting by plugging all the old holes to provide firm timber for when where the handles and other small nickel-plated brass fittings are re-attached.


But the worst of the repairs are where the latches are located. This is one of the good ones, with only 4 neat dowel plugs being required. To give some idea of the age and how much work these shutters have done, we counted one shutter with 3 timber plugs of varying sizes within each other each.


Some shutters needed to have the whole corner removed with new timber spliced in place.


Repairs come in all shapes and sizes, this one had part of the edge broken off somehow.


This joint needed to be rebuilt by routing out the crook timber, gluing new timber in place, clamping then machined to the correct profile. Note the dowel plug also. We threw everything we had at this one!

Routed out:


Glued and timber plugs put ready:


Double heading G-clamps:


Machined to the correct profile once glue set:


Where louvers were missing, some of the timber required replacement ahead of reinstalling new louvers. Not sure if the damaged timber was caused by the missing louvers or if the louvers went missing because of the broken timber.


With the glue dried, this repair was machined to the correct profile.


Replacing scores of missing louvers requires some specialty skills to fit them in without needing to disassemble the whole shutter frame. The trick is to steam the new louvers; a boiling stovetop does the job very well.


5 minutes or so on the boil is all that is required to have them nice and flexible, and a strong pair of hands flexes them into place no problem at all.


Don’t forget to set the louver straight before it dries out again, otherwise you’ll never get it straight again. A couple of the old broken louvers make greater spacers to hold the new louvers straight while it dries out.


The shutters were painted with two coats of gloss before being returned to the shed and allowed to cure for several weeks ahead of installation.


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