Shutter Runners

Work is underway getting the shutter runners into a presentable form. Years ago, these TAM’s had polished timber shutters, runners and sills but somewhere along the way, the railways started painting them brown. Altogether, we require over 90 shutter runners for this car.

We start by taking a pair of runners from the pile, which resembles a casualty ward.


One face retains the shellac, which is stripped using methylated spirits to avoid clogging the sand paper.


Each metal catch is removed, stripped to bare brass and polished. Both timber faces are sanded back to reveal the beautiful Australian cedar wood grain, then the catches are re-fitted. Each catch is uniquely fitted, and care must be taken to ensure each returns to its original spot!


Over the years, some of the original runners have been damaged, so numerous repairs are required along the way.


The runners are then painted with 4 coats of clear finish for longevity.


Many of the original runners were either beyond repair or have been lost over the years, so the tedious process of manufacturing new runners is also being tackled. Each catch is stripped and polished, and then its footprint is marked in the timber using a sharp razor blade.

A chisel burrows out its housing.

Care and perseverance produces a nice neat fit for each catch.

Back at Eveleigh, each compartment is having its timber trim removed to strip shellac.


With the trim removed, the compartment looks like this.


Trim re-fitted.


French polished and buffed and jewellery re-fitted. Working fans are a god send for the volunteers working on this carriage during the hot summer months.


A repair has been made to a damaged compartment door frame.


All the floor quads have been salvaged and painted ahead of laying the new flooring.


Steve has used off-cuts from the lounge pressed metal ceiling to replace the missing sheet in the Redfern end of the car.


The roof near the centre car doors is also progressing nicely. A sneaky vent will cover the former hot water service flue.


It’s all go in TAM heaven! More updates soon.

Spring Update

We’ve spent several days fitting all the windows to the car, making a striking difference to its appearance.


Steve’s doors are also re-fitted and the final timber trim is machined and attached in situ to ensure a good seal ahead of final painting.


At the ends of the car, the new safety glass is fitted.


Work has recommenced to fit-out the former toilet at the Redfern end of the car. A full retention tank toilet system is being installed in the former attendants’ compartment near the centre of the car (well clear of the bogies to simplify the plumbing arrangements). Hence this end “toilet” will likely remain only as a stand-by toilet and a handy store room. The tricky task of machining a one- piece plywood polygon roof is complete.


A neat and functional trap door is installed for access to the roof cavity.

One of our diligent workers has started panelling the Redfern end of the corridor. We’ve all scratched our heads about what we can put here, but he’s never let us down before so we’ll wait and see what eventuates in this space!


Buffing the French polish is underway in compartment 17/18 while the bunks and seats are enjoying a holiday with our volunteer upholsterers. When the repairs are complete, the beds and seats will be re-fitted to these refurbished compartments.


The fan switch blocks and other jewellery also look great refitted.


Then Evan gets busy stripping the next compartment ahead of refurbishment. Somewhere in its departmental life, plastic laminates appeared on certain shelves in these compartments, which Evan is removing to restore the polished cedar timber.


Some panels were removed from the car for refurbishing, with some spectacular results.


Other panels require a lot more work than just a rub back and polish.


Chris and Co have stripped and scrubbed clean all the half-size shutters. With nearly 100 shutters in these timber cars, this is no small task but their endurance is paying off.


The Rowling workshop at Engadine has been busy plugging the old holes as well as any other timber repairs as required, including numerous broken louvers.


Some of the original cedar bunk timber panels were sourced from storage, and the bland departmental green paint stripped back to reveal the beautiful Australian timber grains synonymous with these cars. Timber repairs will be performed and these panels will be French polished and installed on the lower face of the refurbished bunks. It doesn’t look much at this point but.


…the results of a few days toil are nothing short of spectacular.


Cameron has been busy constructing the structural timber work at the lounge end of the car.


Thomas is working his way around filling all the window sill screw holes with putty ahead of final touch-ups.

Brett’s pressed metal ceiling painting works continue with the section near the centre doors.


And we finish yet another Saturday/Sunday double working bee with the familiar smell of smoke and hot oil, as the Lachlan Valley Railway’s 3237 returns from running a “Sydney Steam” train trip with 3801 Limited. Eveleigh is a multi user facility, and the LVR are just one of the many groups that currently call Eveleigh home.


Time To Shine

We’ve spent the last month or so painting the external body work of the car into gloss enamel, but we’ll come back and paint the frame once the diaphragms and buffing plates are installed. In the mean time, we’ll focus on the many smaller jobs that need to happen.

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The door jams are stripped of components and undercoated, and will soon be painted into gloss.

Each door has also been stripped, repairs made where necessary, the whole assemblies painted, and new safety glass will be installed.

Each fan in the compartments is controlled by a switch mounted on a cedar block. The blocks are showing their age, so some refurbishing was called for. They first had the label removed and shellac stripped.

Then several layers of shellac were applied and French polished, and the “FAN” label is re-attached.

The sills have had several coats of brown paint and are now awaiting installation.

Each of the nickel plated window runners has been lovingly cleaned with steel wool and polished.

Then paired and set aside ready for installation.

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We’ve also started on the shutter runners, which all need to be sorted, repaired, sanded and painted before we can even think about installing them.

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With all these different jobs bubbling along, it won’t be too much longer before this old TAM is out and about for the enjoyment of the people of NSW…although some volunteers appear a little more eager than others! It’s great to see younger generations showing an interest in restoration works.

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More updates soon.

Fan Fits

The volunteers have been working in pairs to install the fans that were restored previously (refer TAM Fans post). The tricky part here is that the bolts extend through into the next compartment and hold that fan in place also.

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The sills in the corridor end of the car were inspected and it was decided to carefully remove them to perform some small timber repairs while preserving the majority of the original Australian red cedar. Chris gave the sills a quick rub back with the sander located the nails holding it down.

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The crook edges of the sills were cut off and new timber spliced in place

NSWGR TAM sleeping cars were built by 3 different manufacturers – Eveleigh Carriage Works, Meadowbank and Ritchie Brothers – resulting in slight variants between the different cars. However, one thing that was standard to TAM cars was the use of a “one-third” size battery box mounted on one side of the car underframe, and a “two-third” size battery box mounted on the other side. The reason this was done seems to be lost to history, but L516 will be fitted with a single standard size battery box to standardise our carriage fleet.

The volunteers have completely rebuilt the battery box for this car and the weekday metal work guys have been busy fitting it to the car.

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The original 24V DC carriage electrical system fitted under the frame comprises a battery box, a DC generator and a generator regulator board, all of which was stripped from the car and replaced by 240V AC when L516 was a works car in her last years of service with the railways. So its been a massive job to reinstate the original 24V electrical system. A new generator regulator board has been manufactured and fitted by our weekday work team.

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The electricians soon follow, slipping the timber board off to install the regulator components. From left to right are the regulator box, diode, and on the right is the current sensor circuit.

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Under the car frame, any remnants of the old 24V DC cloth coated cable were documented before we removed it in readiness for the new cable runs.

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At great expense to 3801 Limited, we are leading the heritage movement towards modernising carriage toilets by progressively installing retention toilet tanks on all the cars in our care. With the arrival of the plastic container for L516, the weekday metal work volunteers will start manufacturing a steel frame prior to installing the tank to the car.

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At the end of this Saturday/Sunday double working bee, and in the glorious afternoon sun, we welcome Lachlan Valley Railway’s 5917 back into the security our shed as many engines have done over the years. Goodwin Alco’s 4501 looks on.

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The 59 had hauled a private charter train to the Hunter wineries.

A look back (2012) – L516 wiring and fitting electrical work

The great thing about working at Eveleigh is the broad range of skill sets and age groups that you come across.

Electrical engineering student Brad Benson joined the project to help complete the wiring and electrical fit-out of the car, and was quick to master some new skills. The fan and berth circuits were drawn through behind pressed metal mouldings and timber panelling.

Pretty soon, we were starting to put the whole show back together for the first time in several years, and the TAM is another step closer to being completed. Timber discs for the lights were sanded and undercoated ready for re-fitting roof lights in the compartments.


A common misconception is that these car rooves are “white”. In fact the original colour is “Manilla”, Australian Standard Y45, which is a slightly yellow tinted colour. With Brad’s help, the high gloss has returned to the inner rooves of L516 (really TAM502) for the first time in many decades.


Meanwhile, dining car AB91 provides some good ideas for how to light the gutted end of L516.

L516 (Existing):    


Chris is keen to see what might look good, but I think we better sleep on this one.

A look back (2012) – Rewiring L516

L516 is a project that has been at the heart of our volunteer working bees at Eveleigh for several years, but has been put on the back-burner with other projects taking the limelight. But with the SFN overhaul safely behind us, L516 is again progressing to the day when she will be carrying paying passengers.

Regular bloggers from old will recall that L516 began as TAM502 built by Ritchie Bros. Towards the end of its working life it was part of a breakdown train with 240V fluorescent lights and a generator fitted for the work. This unfortunately meant the original 24V DC lighting circuits were almost completely stripped, while any remains were cut off so short that is was almost impossible to re-draw circuits through behind the panelling. Many circuits remained unidentified and cut in several places making tracing the existing circuits almost impossible.


The most simple and straight forward circuit to begin with was the number boards, which was knocked over in a day.

By the end of the week, with 3 out of the 4 circuits near completed, making the car not only look and feel like an old TAM, but also shedding some light on the remaining inner-car jobs that remain for the carpenters and fitters.

Autumn Progress

With four reconditioned fans bearing down on us, Brian and Daniel have been busy manufacturing and preparing the new timber mounting discs to replace the old ones that had fallen apart. When the paint is dry next week, we will look at installing the fans using these discs.

L516AutumnProgress - Pic01

In the mean time, fitting new felts to one side of each window becomes the bread and butter for the boys. The other side of each window will have felts fitted too when the windows are being installed, as each window it fitted individually – they are all a little different.

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The half-sized TAM windows have a polished nickel plated handle fitted on the left hand side, so young Cameron gets busy fitting those using his keen carpentry skills.

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But the focus has been to resolve the troublesome problem on the lower edge of the sub letter board. Over their long operational life, the crisp lines of timber cars invariably succumb to the elements and end up looking rather ordinary. So we’ve taken the time to rout out a section of timber the full length of the car on both sides and replace it with brand new timber like this.

L516AutumnProgress - Pic04

This is no small task, but at least big jobs make the days go quicker.

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When it is sanded and the screw holes are filled with wood filler, the satisfying crisp lines return to our old TAM once again.

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This same problem has been approached on other cars using an alternate approach of installing timber fillets immediately below the letter board with successful results. 3801 Limited are supplying funds and resources to reactivate HFA703 in the near future.

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Currently, the mechanical work is the main priority. Each bogie is receiving a full overhaul, compliments of our skilled mechanical team.

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There are normally several projects on the boil at Eveleigh at any given time. The Lachlan Valley Railway are using the workshops for their original purpose by carrying out mechanical works on both 5917 and 3237.

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In fact, quite a few groups call Eveleigh home. 42101 is finally nearing the completion of its restoration, which has been long and extensive.

L516AutumnProgress - Pic10

Lachlan Alco’s 4464 and her 2 siblings 4473 and 4486 all enjoy shelter in between operating trains out of Eveleigh.

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As do 4501 and 4833, which are both having ICE radios installed to meet modern radio requirements. Running heritage trains is not as laid back as it might have once been.

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4918 also has ICE radio installed so that we can continue bringing the train to the people of NSW.

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We look forward to riding behind the old 49’r aboard L516. But not until all the restoration works have been completed on L516 – more updates soon.

Window Work

L516 has 44 timber framed windows, all of which were in need of a little TLC. To make sure that the windows are painted properly, we followed our usual lead and slipped all the windows out, before our volunteers started removing the old felts to avoid them getting paint on them as well as identifying old felts that need replacing.

L516Windows - Pic01

The old screw holes were dowel plugged ready for when the window latches are re-fitted later on in the project.

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Following a thorough sanding, a good paint system starts with 2 coats of undercoat.

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L516 will be painted in Indian red with a custard stripe across the window line. This colour scheme is a slight variant of the “blood and custard” colour scheme that the railways employed.

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Painting onto the glass guarantees a firm durable seal to protect the timber, with the excess trimmed off when the paint dries.

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Back at the shed, Mark and Thomas work together to attach new felts. The felts allow the window to slide freely in the runners.

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While Brett and Todd attack the massive task of servicing and polishing all the window latches. TAM cars have 22 full size windows, 22 half sized windows, 44 right hand latches, 22 left hand latches…and a handful of other nickel plated sundries.

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We’ll probably take a break from all this monotonous work before we start work on the 88 timber shutters!

Car Ends – Part 2

Steve has been rebuilding the Redfern end of the carriage roof.

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Half of it looks alright.

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But the other side is a bit of a sad story.

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Somehow it seems to look worse from the inside.

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The old timbers were clearly beyond repair, so Brett sourced and started manufacturing new replacement timbers.

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This repair has been a headache for a long while now, but Steve handles it with his usual confident bull-at-a-gate approach, rebuilding this whole section of roof. Steve started by cutting out the rot with a circular saw and splicing in new timber.

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Before building out the roof hollow with solid timber, forming individual timber slices to match the roof profile in the traditional fashion.

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It takes a while, and it isn’t easy, but his efforts have the roof looking good as new.

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But the wow factor really only hits you when you see the whole job completed. Steve truly has done another magnificent job restoring this carriage roof end to a high quality finish. His efforts are an inspiration and it’s this satisfaction that keeps us coming back for more resto works each weekend.

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It’s just as well too, because the volunteers are the backbone of maintaining all the carriages that currently call Eveleigh home. Altogether, there are almost 30 carriages in our care, both publicly and privately owned.

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Tank Time

Any steel water vessel eventually succumbs to time and corrosion, and alas the time has come to replace the water tank on L516. The group went about removing the old water tank using a few choice tools:

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Time was taken to photograph key components to make the reassembly a little easier.

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While a new tank was sourced, the tank straps were stripped and repainted.

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Before Ross and Todd spent a day test fitting the tank (with the help of our trusty bottle jack).

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Garry sourced and installed vibration suppressing rubber, which is fitted between the tank and the steel straps.

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Then the new plumbing was installed. We are looking forward to the day when we can enjoy running water and a cup of tea in L516.

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