The End of Summer

With the seats and bunks now safely back in the car, the group gathers pace and the project is really starting to come together, feeling more homely and less like a building site.
Steve made a huge effort to fix up the panels that hold the dickie seats in the compartments, stripping the panels back to bare timber and doing numerous repairs to fix years of neglect and damage. It doesn’t look like much now but these little chaps were a look of work to fit. Its a shame the fine upholstery skills make them look too good to sit on!

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Father and son duo Steve and Todd have finally gotten back to finishing off the side doors. Renown as being very heavy to carry, the majority of the weight in these large side doors comes from the steel plate on the outer face. Here is a naked door with steel plate re-fitted and drop light in place perched upon fresh rubber stoppers.

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The inner door trim refitted improves the appearance no end in just a few hours. Each component had been stripped back to bare timber to produce this immense finish. Note the toilet space on the right.

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The “new toilet” area near the centre car doors is progressing also. Brett has been busy repairing rotten timbers stemming from its shower days when L516 was used by railway crews both in service and on the Bicentennial Train in 1988. Having started life as the attendants compartment, converting this space to a toilet is now the third use of this part of the car.

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Out of interest, sister Ritchie Bros TAM505 also spent many years as a departmental car as part of a breakdown train and was coded L1126. Now residing at the Junee Roundhouse Railway Museum, L1126 is another surviving example of how this same “Attendants Compartment” space was adapted as a kitchen preparation and servery. The Junee Roundhouse is a well-established museum with many exhibits to inspect. Its well worth a visit to those with a soft spot for old carriages and locomotives:

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Back at Eveleigh, a few days of painting sees a dramatic change, while the mirror and light fittings are a nice touch.

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The toilet and associated plumbing now look like they belong here too.

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One last panelled wall needed to be stripped back to bare timber as it’d had a hard life of high traffic near the main doorways but Todd works his magic making it look like new again.

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The old “BERTHS 1-10” lettering disappeared in the process of stripping the wall. We’ve opted for something more appropriate for the re-configured car. Roy’s hand-painted sign writing is amazing, why bother with decals when you can have the real thing?

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Daniel has been proudly re-assembling the refurbished MBE seat wall. We had this in place temporarily earlier on in the project to see how well it would work and if it would fit, but we disassembled it to build it properly and to a high standard of finish. Here is the wall stripped down.

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Then the refurbished wall returns looking better than ever. We’re looking for 2 pictures to put either side of the mirror showing this car in her Bicentennial Days – L516 was the go-to crew car back then. Ideally, we’d have one photo of L516 behind 3801 and the other behind Flying Scotsman so drop us a line if you’d like to donate any of your own high res photos to go here:

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Standing back to peruse the space, it’s high time for the lounge to start appearing.

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A few of the narrow timber panelling strips that go on the narrow window columns have disappeared over the years, necessitating new ones to be made from timber stock.

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The new lounge tables are manufactured one at a time and painted using hard-wearing 2-pack clear varnish that also shows off our glorious Australian timber grains.

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The area is swept out and masonite laid throughout to provide a smooth base.

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Ten timber luggage cupboards are manufactured and sat in place. Polyflor kindly provided the vinyl flooring. This hard wearing, long life product will ensure that this is an easy area to clean and will keep this lounge looking fresh for years to come.

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Qualified wood machinist and volunteer stalwart Chris shows Daniel the ropes constructing the frames for the bench seats.

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Each frame is secured to the car body and also to the luggage cupboards while maintaining clear access to the steel tie bars for future maintenance inspections.

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Todd then secures the cushion backs of the lounge bench seats, remarkably without uttering a single swear word or profanity. The trusty battery drill is indispensible for this type of work. You know the project is nearing completion when woollen socks replace work boots as the car builders footwear of choice.

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With lower cushions sat in and tables slipped into place, the lads make it look all too easy trialling their new surroundings. It would be nice to have a few more girls involved in these projects though.

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Cameron wastes no time starting installation of nearly 100 refurbished timber shutters. This first one has him a little puzzled.

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But soon he’s fitting them two at a time and the colours of the car really start to make this look like something special.

This remarkable collection of volunteers (young and old) are doing all this work in their spare time during the weeknights and on the weekends for the love of trains and no pay cheques. To give some perspective of just how much time goes into this view, each timber shutter runner pair required 1 hour to manufacture the runner and fit all catches (these are brand new runners), each louvered shutter pair required 3-4 hours of preparation and repairs, followed by 1.5 hours fitting each shutter set. This is all excluding painting the individual components prior to assembly.

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The Erskineville end of the car is gradually being turned into a modest kitchenette, using villa board to protect the framework from any spills in this wet area.

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During this time, Brett has been quietly beavering away fitting up and painting out the old toilet at the Redfern end of the car. This won’t be plumed into the retention tank but it is being done up such that it could be converted in the future should the need arise. In the mean time it’ll make a handy lockable storeroom.

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Brett only emerges from the gloom late in the evening to show off the MBE seat wall complete with newly fabricated frame for the lower cushions.

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Boy oh boy. This project is progressing apace. Those interested in being among the first to ride in this freshly restored carriage better start making enquiries with the 3801 Limited office because it’s not far off finished!

Watch this space. More updates soon.

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