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Bluebell Ashbury Supporters and Helpers

The Restoration of Composite carriage 368


368 First Class Seat
Left: Composite No.368 awaits attention in the shed at Horsted Keynes, 1994.

Right: A re-trimmed first class seat installed in the otherwise unrestored coach.


Composite No.368 (LT 515) was built by Ashburys in 1898, with seating for 30 third and 24 first. The first class had been down-graded in 1940, involving removal of the folding arm-rests, which are now being reinstated.

Work on this coach started prior to the return to service of the first two coaches in the set, with all of its roof, interior and partitions stripped, to eliminate the dry rot which had affected much of the soft-wood in the vehicle. Fortunately the teak framing was largely OK, and has been treated professionally. The mechanical and underframe components were stripped from the vehicle, and the battery boxes and brake cylinders overhauled.

368 before stripping the roof
Composite No 368 seen in early 1997 before having its roof stripped off

This vehicle became the main focus of the group's attention in 1999. The teak structure has received a number of repairs, but was generally in good condition, only one section of cant-rail requiring complete replacement.

Mouldings being fixed to 368 With teak panels back on both sides, all the external mouldings were made and were fixed in place (Photo Left, March 2000) following six initial coats of varnish being applied to the sides. The manufacture of the complex bolection mouldings around the windows was also well under way at that time, with all the third class ones finished, and with the jig modified for the first-class ones, which are 2" wider.

Lincrusta panels surrounded by American Walnut The doors were overhauled, some being fitted with brand new ventilator hoods which we have made from second-hand teak. The new floor was fitted once the work underneath was completed, and we then moved on to overhaul the bogies. The new roof timbers were then fitted, following the steaming of new roof-hoops from Ash, and the replacement of the partitions, again with new timber. The roof has been canvassed using traditional materials.

368 close coupled to 394 The final large area of work was the manufacture of the American Walnut panelling for the first class compartments, fitting the lincrusta to the ceiling and bulkheads (see photo right, Martin Lock) and repairs to the view frames, as well as fitting the seating, electrics, steam heating and communication cord. The return to traffic took place in May 2002, as the centre vehicle of what then became a three-coach close-coupled set (photo left, Martin Lock).



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