The carriage ran in public service for the first time in preservation on Friday 23rd October 2009 for the Bluebell's Giants of Steam event, being hauled by Bulleid Pacific 34059 "Sir Archibald Sinclair" on that day, and BR 4MT tank No.80151 over the next two days.
After a test run earlier in the week, on 29th August the carriage was run on an evening train for the volunteers who had helped in the restoration. The team photo above (Jon Bowers) shows just how large the total involvement was, although the core team who had undertaken most of the work was somewhat smaller.
The second photo above shows the carriage at Kingscote, and that on the right shows one of the run-pasts with the three-coach Bulleid set assembled for the evening (Richard Salmon).
Tom Waghorn has posted a gallery of photos of the evening (including the second of the three photos below) and Dave Clarke has two sets of photos, showing the test run on the Thursday, and the celebration of the completion of its overhaul. The carriage was open as part of the "Behind Bluebell open day" a couple of weeks later, and Derek Hayward's photos show more of the interior.
A final few jobs remain to be completed for which the carriage needs to return to the maintenance pit, but it should enter service soon.
With a tremendous push by the whole (ever growing) team to finish off the interior, and then final painting and lettering in the hands of volunteers Dave Clarke and Stuart Fielder (seen here doing the signwriting on 5 June, prior to the final coats of varnish) the carriage emerged from the paint shop on 13th July. At this stage, as seen in the photo below, there was still one bogie to be changed, the carriage's north bogie being ready to fit having been overhauled by Ray Medhurst's team. Subsequently the coach has been over the pit for mechanical adjustments, and has also had steam-heating and vaccum brake tests. A return to service at the end of August is expected. (Photos - Dave Clarke)
These photos by Dave Clarke show Bulleid brake 2526 now entering the final phase of its restoration. The roof canvas has received 4 /5 coats of diluted undercoat and the fitting of torpedo vents, cant rail strip and rain strips is nearly complete.
The saloon, compartments and corridor are virtually complete. The chrome kick strips have been installed and the first of the pictures fitted in the view frames. The major outstanding jobs in the passenger section of the coach are the connection of the steam heat controllers in the compartments, threading the communication chain and completion of the remaining seat cushions. The guard's compartment and brake still need to be fitted out.
With all the sidelights now fitted, and the ends coming together well, including the gangway connector in place at the south end, and that for the north end nearly ready to go up, the team have had a busy few months of fruitful activity. In the interior, fitting out is progressing in the saloon and the southern of the two compartments.
The first photo above (from Dave Clarke) show the south end bogie which was run out for overhaul on 13th October. Ray Medhurst, fresh from the BASH project, is taking that on. The second of Dave's photos, from August, shows progress in fitting panelling and mouldings around the sidelights on the interior.
All of the steel sheeting on the coach sides is now complete, and only one door remains to be hung. The electrical side is progressing, and thoughts are turning to the preparation of the ends to take gangway conectors.
A lot of effort in the last couple of months has gone into the fabrication of under-seat steam heaters for the saloon. These are now being installed.
The project has benefitted from an influx of manpower, partly from some of the team who had worked on the LCDR coach. The ceilings in the mid-vestibule, toilet and the short corridor towards the brake are coming along nicely, and the inner roof in the brake has been transformed.
The photo on the left (by Dave Clarke) shows Stuart Fielder's work in the middle vestibule, as of 7th January.
The photos below, also from Dave, show that the ceilings in the compartments are progressing well, and that he, Roger Lamb and Dave Chappell have made good progress stripping of old paint and painting of the inner roof in the brake van area which is, in parts, up to first undercoat. The wiring is in place, and can be completed once the painting is further advanced.
Work re-started on this project about a year ago, initially concentrating on sorting out some problems with the steel bottom sides. With 1464 finally outshopped in April, the team helped on Mk.I buffet car 1818, before getting fully back into the restoration of 2526.
The photo on the right shows the repanelled east side of the brake end, with the guard's door re-hung and the luggage doors re-instated (these had been removed and sheeted over in departmental days). The photo below shows work progressing on the re-instatement of the main passenger saloon, with Andrew Baker seen pinning the revarnished veneer panels back in place between the windows.