Latest 3417 Activities

3417 wearing the headcode for a Fast Down Weymouth service at Clapham Yard.
3417 wearing the headcode for a Fast Down Weymouth service at Clapham Yard.

We have had a busy few weeks, both on and away from the unit. Last week saw several meetings regarding the future of the unit; we hope to have news on the outcome of those conversations within the month.

One of Gordon’s Minions has written an article for inclusion the July edition of the ‘Bluebell News’, published by the Bluebell Railway for it’s membership – this includes an exclusive piece of news regarding the unit. Once the membership of the Bluebell Railway has been informed of our progress we will be releasing the news to the wider public. Keep your eyes peeled!

The unit has benefitted from the recent warm weather, and minions have been dispatched to open windows and doors to allow fresh air to ventilate through the coaches. Making sure the unit is aired as considerably improved the previously damp interiors of the the country-end two coaches.

For those of you who use social media sites, please feel free to add yourself to the Southern Electric Traction Group’s Facebook page and to follow No. 3417 on Twitter (search for @Gordon_3417); both pages are updated regularly.

Lastly we wanted to share this, seen in the June Edition of ‘Railways Illustrated’; could it be that they know something Gordon’s Minions don’t? Or has someone been overheard discussing plans….?

Is it news, or is it just gossip...?
Is it news, or is it just gossip…?

 

Keeping You Updated…

Good afternoon!

This is the latest minion communication, designed to keep you all posted on the current goings-on regarding No. 3417.

After the work carried out some weeks ago, all has been quiet regarding attention to the unit. We will be carrying out an inspection on the unit within the next two weeks to confirm that nothing has deteriorated since the last viewing.

Behind the scenes, however, things have been extremely busy. As you will all be aware, there are many significant obstacles standing in the way of returning the unit to revenue-earning condition. The SETG have been hard at work trying to find ways around those obstacles.

In the past few weeks we have had productive meetings with various individuals within the railway industry who are keen to see the unit back in front-line use. Those discussions are ongoing, but we would like everyone to know that there aren’t just a few enthusiastic amateurs commited to this project. We are fortunate to have access to some senior industry figures and are making full use of them in order to bring the potential uses of the 4VEP to as wider an audience as possible. Our hope is to have something concrete to report to you all within the next month.

As an aside, and to round off this small “holding pattern” blog entry, have a look at the videos below. They feature a privately owned Class 33/0 ‘Crompton’ locomotive and a 4TC slamdoor set owned by London Underground Limited. The train worked from London to Swanage & return in support of this year’s Swanage Railway Beer & Diesel Festival – elegant proof that where there is sufficient imagination and will to succeed these venerable Mark One workhorses still have a place on the modern railway!

The videos were shot by Justin Foulger.  Enjoy!

PS: As much as we like slam doors on the mainline, please rest assured that when No. 3417 returns it won’t be wearing faux-LNER teak vinyls.

Friday 21st March 2014

Unit No. 3417 basks in glorious spring sunshine as the internal clean progresses.
Unit No. 3417 basks in glorious spring sunshine as the internal clean progresses.

Today two minions spent another productive few hours aboard No. 3417, this time completing the internal clean. The fruits of the previous work was immediately obvious – the unit no longer smells stale inside!

The first job involved walking through the unit,  opening windows and getting more fresh air into the carriages. It’s rewarding to see how much better the unit looks after simply  removing accumulated dust and detritus.

After this the internal clean continued, taking in Motor Brake Luggage Standard No 62236 and the country-end Driving Trailer Composite N 76263. The comparison between the rebuilt and un-rebuilt ends of the motor brake is striking. The re-built end, converted at Eastleigh when 4VEPs lost their full-length luggage space in the late 1980’s, is completely water tight. There is almost no sign that the unit has been out of service for a considerable length of time. However, the un-rebuilt end has not faired so well. As the picture below illustrates, there has been a significant amount of water ingress via leaking doors and windows. Coupled to the lack of light and heat this has lead to extensive damage to seats, cushions, quarter pads and the internal window fittings. The fabric used to cover the seat cushions, and the quarter pads, has perished badly and will require replacement.

Water ingress through a leaking large sidelight has allowed the quarter pad beneath the window frame to become damp, warp and detach.
Water ingress through a leaking large sidelight in MBLS No 62236 has allowed the quarter pad beneath the window frame to become damp, warp and detach.
Despite some water ingress, the standard class accomodation of DTC No. 76263 looks remarkably well kept.
Despite some water ingress, the standard class accomodation of DTC No. 76263 looks remarkably well kept.

The same is true of other seating bays in the motor coach and country-end driving trailer. The upside is that this problem is well known in Mark One pattern coaching stock and units, and can be solved by re-seating and sealing the windows properly. This is on the (long) list of jobs to do once we can get the unit under cover.

Despite the loss of a considerable amount of material from quarter pads and seat covers, overall the feeling is positive that at last the restoration of the unit towards full working condition has begun. The internal condition of the unit matches the exterior condition and can best be summed up as “faded but sound.” There are considerable technical obstacles to overcome, but the SETG and the Bluebell Railway are committed to ensuring the long term future of this now unique piece of Southern Region heritage.

We hope to have an announcement from the Bluebell Railway soon regarding the care and operation of the unit. in the meantime, thank you for your continued interest and support!

Monday 17th March 2014

The Story So Far…

In the beginning there was a 4VEP called Gordon. It was much loved, but there were many people who were too busy to look after it properly. It sat at Clapham Yard and slowly became faded. People thought it had been forgotten, but they were wrong. Minions arrived and were told “fix this VEP, because it’s the last one left.” They agreed, and the Southern Electric Traction Group was born. Now, read on.

This is the new Southern Electric Traction Group workshop page. This is where SETG technical staff (known as Gordon’s Minions) will keep you updated on the work being carried out to bring 4VEP No. 3417 back to serviceable condition.

Work carried out so far:
Cleaning.
Coach No. 76262 (Driving Trailer Composite)
Cab swept.
Coach swept, ventilated. Cushions placed in luggage racks to prevent water damage from leaking passenger windows.

Coach No. 70797 (Trailer Standard)
Coach swept, ventilated. Cushions placed in luggage racks to prevent water damage from leaking passenger windows.

This comprised about 4 hours work for two minions, revealing £1.67 in coins found under seat cushions, discarded beer bottles and a pair of discarded ladies knickers (we’re not making this up).

20140317-142614.jpg
No. 3417, open for business and cleaning!
20140317-142632.jpg
Seat Cushions in the racks in Trailer Standard No 70797 – note minion in background.

The above two photos show all the doors open on No. 3417 for the first time in nearly a year, and below the results of a long morning sweeping and moving seat cushions out of harms way.

In the near future the SETG are arranging with SWT staff to bring No. 3417 back under cover, pending completion of drainage work within the carriage cleaning shed. Once under cover we have more work to carry out, including:

Restoration of the toilets to working use.
Assessment of trim and interior fittings for restoration or replacement, including both driving cabs, doors and the guards compartment.
Examination of the train power line, brakes, hoses and jumper cables.
Re-fitting 3rd rail pickup equipment to the unit to allow traction & auxiliary power to be restored to the unit.

Because of the current location of the unit only persons with DC Line Personal Track Safety qualifications can access the unit. Offers of help are always appreciated, but at the moment we can only allow qualified staff access to the unit.

Donations towards the work to be carried out are a massive help, and will speed the day when No. 3417 can once again do what it was designed to do – run under it’s own power on the mainline.

From here on we hope to update regularly – and we hope to have an announcement soon regarding the future of the unit. Stay tuned!

Thanks for reading.
Regards,

The Minions

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