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British Railways
Bogie Scenery Van No. 4601

Restoration and interior conversion

Arts Council England

SR Elephant Van No. 4601 as restored - Richard Salmon - 18 May 2018

A circus ring has been installed at the southern end of the van and will be the focal point of attractions for the younger visitors - Dave Clarke - 29 May 2017

Above: 4601 as restored to its early British Railways' livery thanks to Arts Council England Funding,
and two years' work by Bluebell volunteers (Richard Salmon, May 2018)

The adapted vehicle now provides our younger visitors with a safe, all-weather area at Horsted Keynes in which to play and also contains material regarding its history.

The vehicle has been restored to original condition externally to further enhance the railway environment, but has been fitted out on the inside with appropriate play equipment, and superb artwork by Matthew Cousins ARA. The project formed part of a programme to improve visitor experience on the railway.

Dave Clarke's photo (left) shows some of the play facilities and artwork inside the van (May 2017).

November 2015

SR Elephant Van No.4601 - Martin Lawrence

4601 in green undercoat in the shed, September 2015 (Martin Lawrence)

In August, with all but the floor timbers removed, the van was shunted outside and down the yard to allow the steel framework to be grit blasted by a contractor.

SR Elephant Van No.4601 - Martin Lawrence SR Elephant Van No.4601 - Sheina Foulkes SR Elephant Van No.4601 - Martin Skrzetuszewski

Left: The framework of the van prior to grit blasting (Martin Lawrence). Middle: Gritblasting in progress (Sheina Foulkes). Right: The blasting produces a clean "silvery" surface (Martin Skrzetuszewski)

4601 was then returned to position inside the carriage shed where all of the cleaned steelwork was treated with anti-rust solution before painting up to undercoat. The two curb rails which had been removed prior to grit blasting were fixed back in position on top of the sole bars. There was a significant amount of rust build-up between these and the top of the sole bars each side. The rails were cut into manageable sections and bolted in place using mastic strip on top of the sole bars to help prevent water ingress in the future. The sections were then welded back together.

SR Elephant Van No.4601 - Sheina Foulkes

4601 in primer and grey undercoat (Sheina Foulkes)

A template was made from a set of the original roof sticks and new ones were machined by our timber supplier. These were trimmed to fit and bolted to the metal roof hoops.

SR Elephant Van No.4601 - Martin Lawrence The long side hardwood planks which run between the two sets of doors on each side have been repaired. To obtain replacements of this length these days would be extremely difficult. The rest of the planking will be machined from utile: the planks for one side are now on order.

The replacement roof sheets and their connecting straps have been ordered. The sheets are with a contractor for the rolling process and are expected to arrive shortly.

The floor is being removed and replaced gradually so that there is still sufficient floor to stand on to allow other work on the van to continue. The original floor comprised conventional style boards which were laid across the width of the van, and an extra layer of one inch thick boards was laid longitudinally on top of these, presumably when the van was designated for use as an elephant van. Contrary to previous reports for these vans, there was no steel reinforcing floor. The original floor is removed using a circular saw, and once the timber is removed, the securing bolts are cut off and the top of the exposed underframe is cleaned off. This is then painted up to top coat for protection before the new boards are shaped to fit, painted up to top coat, and then bolted into place. Much of the painting of the new floor boards has been achieved by members of the 9F Club - we are very grateful for their help.

The design of the interior is progressing, with the assistance of a professional designer. A small team is spearheading this aspect with the aim of distilling our many ideas into a workable scheme.

Right: 4601, mainly in grey undercoat. One of the curb rails is in situ while the other, painted green, is ready for refitting (Martin Lawrence)

May 2015

SR Elephant Van No.4601 - Martin Lawrence

4601 inside the C&W workshop, May 2015 (Martin Lawrence)

A full survey of the van has taken place, with a record of measurements and plenty of photos having been taken before any dismantling was allowed to start.

9F Club members have scraped a lot of the loose rust off the underframe, and estimates are being sought from companies with regard to grit blasting the van framework once the timber components have been removed.

The floor was found to have woodworm so has been treated with Cuprinol 5-Star. An investigation of a rotten part of the floor has shown it to comprise two layers of timber boards which are separated by a sheet of what appears to be a bituminous material.

The roof sheets are being cut in half to make them manageable before removing from the van. There are discussions taking place on how we can best replace the roof as its construction is not an easy one to replicate. It's important that it looks right, and there are a few ideas being considered.

After marking up, the various metal fittings such as door handles, grab handles, hasps and staples, and ventilation bonnets are being removed. There is an on-going programme of cleaning off the paint and grit blasting these before painting them in Bonda primer. The glass has been removed from the sidelights, together with the steel protective bars from the inside.

Three of the four sets of side doors have been dismantled and the planking stored. Work is progressing on the freeing up of the seized door hinges on the sides and ends of the van.

Most of the nuts on the bolts securing the planking to the sides have actually undone cold with a spanner, and the rest will be cut off to release the planks.

April 2015

SR Elephant Van No.4601 - Martin Lawrence

4601, having been emptied of S&T equipment, is shunted out of the up yard at Horsted Keynes ready for placement inside the C&W works. (Martin Lawrence)

Go to the web page for this vehicle.
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Valid HTML 4.0 Transitional! Page created by Nick Beck, 12 May 2015.
Last updated by Richard Salmon, 3 February 2022.
Text © Sheina Foulkes and Martin Skrzetuszewski.
Photos © as credited.
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