Bombardier Ilford Depot Visit 29/05/15

Posted on May 30th, 2015

On Friday 29th May representatives from the Southern Electric Traction Group visited Bombardier’s Ilford Carriage Works to assess progress on the restoration of the Bluebell Railway’s unique 4VEP EMU No. 3417. As those of you who are following the unit’s progress on Facebook and Twitter will be aware, the first vehicle – Driving Trailer No. 76262 – has already been processed through Ilford’s state-of-the-art paint facility. Bombardier have informed us with a wry smile that this first coach required “more prep” than they were expecting. It also acted as the test bed for the vehicles yet to be processed so that the rubbing down, prepping and undercoating can be carried out as efficiently as possible on the remaining three coaches. To say that we are impressed with the results would be a gross understatement; the body work looks better than new. All the rust and blemishes on the bodysides have been removed, the nose ends are similarly devoid of blemishes. It would be no exaggeration to say that Ilford have achieved as near to a mirror finish that we have ever seen on a Mark One vehicle. The before and after head-on shots below speak for themselves:

 

Before: Driving Trailer No. 76262 stands at a gloomy Clapham Junction prior to dispatch to Ilford

Before: Driving Trailer No. 76262 stands at a gloomy Clapham Junction prior to dispatch to Ilford

 

After: Driving Trailer No. 76262 stands at Ilford in pristine undercoat.

After: Driving Trailer No. 76262 stands at Ilford in pristine undercoat. © Mark Broomfield, 2015

 

The body sides have been finished to the same standard. During the tour we were told that the depot management had insisted that the Driving Trailer took two trips to the paint shop because “the first finish we got just wasn’t good enough.” This kind of dedication is not only impressive but a testament to the professionalism that Bombardier has brought to this project.

Before: detail on the coach side. Not the obvious gap around the window frame and paint build-up.

Before: detail on the coach side. Not the obvious gap around the window frame and paint build-up.

After: Cleaned nuts and bolts, window frame now snug and fully sealed in the bodyside. © Mark Broomfield, 2015

After: Cleaned nuts and bolts, window frame now snug and fully sealed in the bodyside.
© Mark Broomfield, 2015

We were then shown the current state of Motor Luggage Brake Second No. 62236 which is undergoing prep work and the first stages of painting in undercoat. As you will see from the images below, the coach is mid-way through being painted.

MLBS No. 62236 "half-in, half-out" of undercoat in Ilford's paint shop. © Mark Broomfield, 2015

MLBS No. 62236 “half-in, half-out” of undercoat in Ilford’s paint shop.
© Mark Broomfield, 2015

MLBS No. 62236 shows evidence of many coats of paint - from red oxide and Rail Blue applied when new at York works, through BR blue & grey right up to the blue applied by Wimbledon in 2003.

MLBS No. 62236 shows evidence of many coats of paint – from red oxide and Rail Blue applied when new at York works, through BR blue & grey right up to the blue applied by Wimbledon in 2003.

Well Rubbed Down: MLBS No. 62236 shows the quality of the metal underlying all the paint.

Well Rubbed Down: MLBS No. 62236 shows the quality of the metal underlying all the paint.

We noted one unexpected problem with the roof of No.62236, where the roofing paint is starting to flake and peel back to expose the underlying steel. Bombardier weren’t previously aware of this but have agreed to scrape and repaint the effected areas in order to maintain the integrity of the roof. They will also examine the roof of all the other coaches in the unit and apply remedial work where required.

Exposed and peeling patches on the roof of MLBS No. 62236. Bombardier will rectify this as coaches are cycled through the paint shops. © Mark Broomfield, 2015

Exposed and peeling patches on the roof of MLBS No. 62236. Bombardier will rectify this as coaches are cycled through the paint shops.
© Mark Broomfield, 2015

Once the painting of the MLBS is complete, the task becomes somewhat more complicated. The condition of the Trailer Standard Open coach No. 70797 and the country-end driving trailer No. 76263 are markedly poorer than the first two coaches and thus will require a greater degree of work. During open storage at Clapham Junction, these two coaches stood facing west, and so received the brunt of wind and rain that crossed the site. Regardless, Bombardier inform us that they are entirely confident that their skills and equipment are a match for the task. Having seen the kind of work they have delivered thus far, we wholeheartedly agree with them.

Other News:

Away from Ilford, Gordon’s Minions have been continuing in their efforts to address other areas that will need to be dealt with before a 400-series EMU can once again grace the metals of the Southern Region. At the time of writing we have sourced almost all the required components to replace the existing Cab Secure Radio (CSR) cab-to-shore radio system with the required Global System for Mobile Communications – Railway (GSM-R) system; GSM-R having gradually replaced CSR over the past few years. In addition we are working towards sourcing the components needed to fit the unit with it’s own “black box” On Train Monitoring and Recording (OTMR) system. Again, this is mandatory before Network Rail would allow the unit to move under it’s own power on the National network. As soon as we have firm details regarding either of the above, we will of course make announcements both on our website and via our Facebook and Twitter pages.

We have updated our donations page to allow you to contribute towards the 4VEP’s restoration fund without having to move away from your keyboard! No more cheques, no standing orders and all the money you donate will go towards the upkeep of the last remaining 4VEP. Click Here Now!!

Finally we are continuing to meet with potential sponsors who are keen to speed the return of this icon of the Southern Electric to the mainline where it belongs.

We hope to unveil the next leg of the 4VEP’s restoration in the next few months.

We may be going far further off-region than Ilford. We may well have some unusual help to get the VEP to it’s next location.

It might be someone else in the heritage movement who owes the 4VEP a favour; after all, one good turn deserves another.

We will be keeping you informed.

Regards,

Gordon’s Minions