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LMS 3-Plank Open 474558 Refurbishment

A volunteer wagon project, started in March 2008.

November 2009

474558 Outshopped


LMS 474558 has been out-shopped in LMS light grey with small lettering.

There is photographic evidence of a later vehicle in this lot being out-shopped in this style. The LMS changed their wagon livery to bauxite in 1937, but the small lettering style was introduced in 1936.

Our grateful thanks go once again to Stuart Fielder for doing the sign writing.

The detail photos below show a close up of the lettering and the resin replica Metropolitan Cammell Build plate which was kindly provided by Richard Salmon.

M474558 Fitting new sides M474558 during shunting

September 2009

474558 Awaiting finishing touches


Work carried out recently has included refitting the door closers. The plate supporting the closer on the wagon side has been extended as it was originally on this vehicle. Another reversion to as-built condition has been the fitment of hardwood blocks for door stops, in place of the later BR modification which saw steel plates used.

The vehicle has had its number plate put back on and a Lot Plate fitted to this side. The other side will have the Metro Cammell Saltley Works build plate fitted.

The only work remaining is to secure the door spigots and chains, then some LMS style lettering to be applied.

July 2009

Outside once more, the latest progress on 474558 can now be seen. The new end planks have been fitted and work is now being carried out on cutting the side planks to length and bolting them to the door hinges.

The eagle-eyed amongst you, will notice that during its winter stay in the shed, another BR modification has been removed, namely the vacuum brake cylinder and associated fittings. There are now just two brake shoes operated by handlevers from either side, as 474558 was, when first built in 1937.

A few days later 474558 is being shunted from C road to B road as part of the C&W weekly shunt, in order to allow newly painted Bulleid Coach 2526 to emerge from the paintshops.

M474558 Fitting new sides M474558 during shunting

Autumn/Winter 2008

474558 was brought inside the shed along with its sister wagon M480222 to avoid the worst of the winter weather.

During this period, the wagon teams attention focused on bringing M480222 up to the same level of work as 474558.

By the end of 2008, the issue of ownership was resolved; a group of C&W dept. members having purchased it from the previous owner. This enabled work to re-commence with a few jobs being completed on 474558, such as bolting down the fitted floor planks, and cutting the new end planks to size ready for fitment.

July 2008

With the new buffers installed and the underframe painting largely complete, work could begin on cutting the new floor planks to length and jiggling them around to find the best fit along the wagon. The plan was to work from each end and meet up somewhere near the middle. This usually results in a narrow width plank in the centre to make up the remaining gap which arises from modern metric timber not being readily available in imperial wagon sizes.

To the uninitiated, it is not just a case of laying the planks down one after another. There is inevitably some piece of ironwork, rivet head, or other obstruction that requires a hole or rebate or notch to be made in each plank so that it sits down flush with its neighbour. The planks are therefore numbered with their respective positions once they have been 'fitted'.

At this point an issue arose over the ownership of the wagon and the gang were told to suspend work on it. Our attention was then transfered to the 1949-built 3-plank wagon, M480222

M474558 New floor laying M474558 New floor laying

June 2008

Due to the wagon's planned future use in Heritage Goods Trains and as there was no "medium" wagon in the "Grouping" train, the opportunity was taken to remove some or all of the later BR modifications, restoring it as near as practicable to its 1937 as-built condition. The self contained buffers were a BR addition, probably added at the same time that it was vacuum braked, this originally being an unfitted vehicle.

Here, Martin Skrzetuszewski is removing the buffers from the North end using the gas equipment which is the only expedient way of removing those old securing bolts.

M474558 Buffer Removal M474558 Buffer Removed

With the self contained buffers removed (outer four holes), it was possible to see the original holes in the headstock, where the LMS pattern spindle buffers used to be fitted.

Loco Dept member Martin Cresswell had generously sponsored a wagon from Bristol Docks in 1981 to be dismantled for spares. After 27 years on site, good use was made of the buffer castings, rods and rubber spring assemblies from it. These were cleaned up and fitted. The extraneous holes left in the headstock were later filled using old bolts, which were welded in by Eddie Carter and ground flush with the headstock.

M474558 Buffer Mounting Holes M474558 'new' Buffers

May-June 2008

Let the needle gunning commence ! With the weather decidely uncertain at times, it was a case of needle gun a bit, then prime a bit to avoid the rust reforming during tea break. The West side was started first, followed by the North end and East side.

M474558 West Side M474558 East Side

A rather nice find upon needle gunning the V-hangars, was the stamped letters 'LMS'

M474558 East Side

Here we can see the three stages of underframe refurbishment, to the left - untreated, in the middle - needle gunned but unpainted, and to the right - needle gunned and painted with red and then grey primer. Also visible are the tools of the trade for wagon restorers, a pneumatic needle gun, ear defenders and gloves. Out of shot to the left is a chair !

At this point in the job, an incentive is always welcome, and on this occasion it was the delivery of the new tanalised floor planks.

Tools of the trade M474558 New floor arrives

May 2008

M 474558 in the rain


Now stripped of its woodwork, 474558 sits rather forlornly outside in the rain, waiting for a break in the weather, so the hard work can begin.



April 2008

As pieces were removed, their positions and assembly sequence were recorded, like this door retaining clip.

Once the rotten floorplanks were removed the LMS designed underframe became visible. As can be seen, the coupling hooks from each end of the wagon are connected to rods which transfer the forces along the wagon length to the large spring assembly in the middle of the wagon. The smaller spring assembly to the left is to assist the wagon side door in closing.

M 474558 Door securing latch M 474558 LMS underframe

Disposing of an old floor is easy, when you have Mr Loadall as a friend.

M 474558 Old Floor

March 2008

Both of the LMS design 3 Plank Opens to be found on the Bluebell were shunted into the C&W Yard early in 2008, red carded for having rotten floors. A brief survey quickly confirmed this by virtue of the daylight visible through them !

474558 was the worse of the two wagons floor wise, and this picture shows the extent of the damage caused by the storage of coal/ballast/spoil in the vehicle over the years.

Several of the side planks were also rotten or split and in need of replacement. Rather than attempt a piecemeal replacement of planks which had produced certain 'challenges' on the Pipefit, an early decision was made to replace all of the woodwork. This decision was made that much easier by the knowledge that upon completion of the refurbishment, the wagon was being released from Engineering use and was to take a place in the Heritage Goods Train.

Combining the timber requirements for this vehicle and its sister vehicle M480222 also allowed a bulk timber order to be placed.

M474558 Another Rotten Floor M474558 Rotting Side Plank

All Photos by Andy Prime unless credited otherwise.

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