Bluebell Ashbury Supporters and Helpers

The Test Run for Nos.387 and 394

Test run
The first two coaches at Kingscote on their test run. (Lewis Nodes)

Following their seven-year long restoration, these two coaches undertook a test run behind "Birch Grove" on 25th January 1999. Apart from the inevitable minor faults, this was very successful. These problems were attended to, and the electrical system completed, during the following week, thus enabled our supporters to enjoy a private day out on the coaches prior to their public launch into service on 13th February 1999.

Brake coach restored
The Brake coach, No.387, at Kingscote on the test run. (Lewis Nodes)

The test run started with a run up to Kingscote from Horsted Keynes, with a stop just outside the latter station to carry out a steam heat test and examination. All was found to be well with the steam heat, excepting for a couple of minor adjustments which were done in the next week. The photos above and below were taken at Kingscote, where the recently rebuilt canopy can also be seen.

Full third 394
The Full Third, No.394, at Kingscote on the test run. (Lewis Nodes)

The test train entered Kingscote on platform 1, but also ran into platform 2 which has a platform built to modern standards and therefore slightly higher than the others on the railway. Clearances were found to be satisfactory between the coach running boards and the platform, which had been one area of concern. One of the wheel bearings was a bit warm, which put a slight damper on proceedings. However, it was judged to be safe to return to Horsted Keynes.

Test run at Horsted Keynes
The test run train pauses at Horsted Keynes. (Lewis Nodes)

Back at Horsted Keynes the Monday shunt was in full swing and we would have been rather in the way. So after picking up some packing and a jack, we proceeded to Sheffield Park where an examination of the problematic wheel bearing could be undertaken. Whilst it did not prove possible to remove the bearing, the problem was diagnosed as faulty machining of the white-metal slipper leading to poor distribution of the lubricant. This was rectified during the following week. Following a look around the loco yard and a cup of tea in the loco lobby, it was back to Horsted Keynes.

Test run approaches 3-arch bridge
The test run train approaches 3-Arch Bridge. (Lewis Nodes)

Held at the signals We were held at Three-Arch Bridge (site of the outer home signal) because the shunt was occupying all three platforms at Horsted Keynes. And there we stayed for some time, discovering the advantages of the location for photograpic purposes, and examining the condition of the bridge; something of a landmark on the line.

Test run at 3-arch bridge
The test run train at 3-Arch Bridge. (Lewis Nodes)

We finally got the all clear and the train was soon tucked up safely in the shed for the remaining work to be completed.

The following week the batteries were installed and the various adjustments made as has been described above. On Saturday 30th January the coaches conveyed our volunteers and supporters on their inaugural run, which started at Horsted Keynes, and passed through this station twice more, non-stop, during a complete circuit of the line before returning there again. Tea and a buffet were served in the brake van during each run-round stop at the termini. Friends from the LURS brought down some genuine Metropolitan destination boards which adorned No.394 for the day.

The full set of Lewis Nodes' photos taken on that day are available via the Villa Team's Photo Index Page. The coaches ran in public service for the first time in over 30 years on the Winter Steam-up weekend two weeks later.

This really only marked the half-way point in the project, although work was already well under way on the other two vehicles.

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