Sunday, July 17, 2011

Fixing the gutters

As I alluded to in my previous blogs, I've had a significant change in life with a move for the whole family to Adelaide so I can take up a new job. All the demands of a new job has meant that I haven’t been able to find time to update carriage restoration work. In fact, there hasn’t been much time or opportunity to actually do anything of late but, on the drive across from Sydney, we did manage to spend a couple of days at Wellington doing some work. This was an opportunity to fix up the gutters which, as you will see, were in need of some attention. 

One of the first jobs I completed when I got the carriage back in 2005 was to put a waterproof membrane across the whole roof to protect it from further damage. Originally there were two layers of canvas that had been soaked in paint and linseed oil covering the timbers but, by the time I got to it, this roof had not been maintained for well over a decade. The top layer of canvas had mostly flaked off and the second layer had broken through in places to reveal the timber underneath.
First I scraped the whole roof removing loose and flaky canvas then applied a special primer that the membrane would stick to. I chose a product called Emerclad which was like a thick paint. For joints and cracks I applied a special bandage soaked in Emerclad to maintain the continuity of the membrane across the gap. This extended down into the gutters that run the length of both sides running the bandage across the bottom of the gutter and up the outside.

This system has received no further attention from me for the last five years but on a recent visit Mick Saffioti pointed out that there was something wrong with the gutters and water was getting through. I got up and checked and, sure enough there was a problem.

The gutters before my attention
Looking along the length of the carriage you can see that the membrane is still good, holding water along most of its’ length. The problem is that the outer edge of the membrane has separated from the wooden gutter and water was able to get into the gap.

In close up the membrane can be seen as still capable of holding water but it has separated from the wooden gutter along the edge.
Looking across the roof the Emerclad membrane was mostly in good nick but there was some cracking that would require patching while I was up the ladder fixing the gutters.

Cracking across the roof
After a day and a half up and down ladders with all the paints, primers, bandages and tools, I was exhausted but the job was done! This time I extended the bandage and membrane up and over the outer lip of the gutter so that, even if it does separate again, water won’t be able to get in quite so readily. I managed to get some patching done as well elsewhere on the roof but I really need to completely recoat the roof next time I’m out there. I guess that roof maintenance is something I need to pay a bit more attention to in the future!

The new gutter

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A quick visit

My life is about to undergo a significant change. I’m taking the family to Adelaide for a new job. It’s a daunting prospect but full of promise and possibilities. But at this stage, it’s a matter of packing up our lives in Sydney and moving over.
And where does Clarabelle fit into this new life I hear you ask? She’s definitely coming with us, with the prospect in a year or so of having a small acreage in the Adelaide Hills where we can relocate her. But at this stage the best I can manage was a quick drive up to Wellington to drop off a few bits and pieces that I’ve accumulated for her that don’t need to go to Adelaide with us just yet.
I managed to coordinate this trip to coincide with a mate of mine passing through on his way to a big party in Gundagai. Mick Saffiotti lives in Brisbane and has been a Guard for QR since he was a young man. He is also a keen collector of all things QR including carriages. In the past he has turned up odds and ends that will go towards completing Clarabelle and I have no idea how to get a hold of them otherwise. He’s also a good mate who will fetch “Pick Up Only” items from the Brisbane area if I win them on Ebay. In fact he came bearing a beautiful old luggage rack that he had picked up for me some time ago. We spent a happy couple of hours nattering and poking and prodding the old girl, swapping the kinds of info that are impossible to find anywhere else. We even had a cup of tea at the table in Clarabelle with his long-suffering wife Julie. I learnt a hell of a lot in those few hours!
Me, Mick and Clarabelle

The untouched southern end. This is what remains of the original paint. Another detail Mick pointed out was the significance of the ‘RP 7-87’ that can be made out on the solebar on the corner closest to the camera. It means the last repaint was in July 1987.

After Mick and Julie left I had half a day to myself with few tools on hand so I slapped some paint on the interior of the western wall opposite the bathroom and dining area. Every little bit counts!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Moving Clarabelle

Many people have asked how easy it is to move a carriage like Clarabelle around the country so I thought I’d put together this photomontage of the last time we moved her from Western Sydney to Wellington back in 2005.

In short, it’s a relatively simple operation because Clarabelle (1072) is a Queensland carriage and they have a smaller loading gauge than NSW or Victorian Railways. That means that for Vic Rail or NSWGR carriages, they have to be taken off their bogies before being put on a truck and remain within the loading parameters for road haulage. So we’re talking two trucks (one for the carriage, one for the bogies) and two cranes at either end of the journey. But, as you can see, Clarabelle can fit onto a truck with her bogies on and remain within road haulage loading limits, so it’s one truck and no cranes ... and just a little bit more than a little elbow grease! It does require a specially adapted truck and we used the ever-helpful Mario from Australian Train Movers.

Clarabelle sitting in Mario's Yard in Western Sydney

Mario backs up his specially designed low-loader

The whole trailer tilts up and the tailgate folds out to form a gentle ramp

... and Clarabelle is simply winched on board

Crossing the Blue Mountains, coming down Victoria Pass

Nearly there!

Mario backs up the truck and lines up the trailer with
the 16 meters of track that my dad and I laid previously ...

... and with a little help from a local tractor ...

... and some of my muscle and bulk!

There she is, safe in her new home.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

New Rub Rails

On the original, just below the windows on the inside, there was a piece of varnished timber at about elbow height. These are rub rails, designed to take a bit more punishment from the travelling public than the rest of the lining.

Some of the new rub rails in the main bedroom

All the remaining ones I have are silky oak and they range in condition from reasonable through to unusable. Many were missing when we got Clarabelle so, for continuity, I stripped the remaining few out of the main bedroom and made new ones from some timbers my dad had laying around under his house. This last trip to the carriage at the end of December I managed to fit them.

Most are white cedar (I think) but one is red cedar and two are maple. I've actually cut them deeper than the originals and spent quite a bit of time at home sanding and varnishing them to a high finish. I think they look pretty good now!

A close up, the red cedar in the middle, white cedar either side

Finding the right screws to attach them with was a minor adventure in itself. Hardware stores don't stock slot-head brass screws anymore but a hunt around on the internet and I came up with Bronze and Brass Fasteners who provided beautiful 2 1/2 inch brass slot-heads at a reasonable price and an excellent postal service.

I now have some silky oak left over from making the table which I'll save for some rub rails further along the carriage. And I should give a big thanks to my mate Andrew who carefully shaped the blanks into the finished shapes for me. Thanks mate!

The new rub rails on the other side of the carriage

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Wrong Colour!

A couple of blogs ago I commented on having found good colour matches for the original colours 1072 was painted in. This trip I finally got around to using some of those paints for the first time and, as these pictures will demonstrate, I goofed on one of them!

On the interior, I’m happy. The “King’s Gold” from the British Paints range and the “Deep Indian Red” from the Colourbond range are just about perfect matches, as you can see elsewhere in the blog. But I said that for the main colour for the exterior, originally a Tuscan Red, the best match was a colour called “Headlands” from the Colourbond range. Well, as you can see here, “Headlands” leaves the carriage a bit in the pink!

The three panels on the left are painted in the wrong colour, except for the droplights picked out in Deep Indian Red. Compared to the Heritage Red that I had previously used on the right, you can see that the new colour is just not right!

I’ve actually got a long history of trying to track down the exterior colours for 1072 which was complicated by my original lack of appreciation that the main red being different from the red on the droplights. The latter red is Deep Indian Red as used on the internal trim. This tale of two reds became apparent when I visited the Ipswich Carriage Works Museum in 2009 where 1074 is preserved in original condition and livery.

So anyway, after a period of painting a largish area of the carriage in ‘Headlands”, I was able to confirm that this is indeed the wrong colour. I picked this colour based on those little sample cards you can get in the paint shops. I pressed on for a while, painting away in what felt like the wrong colour just to confirm that opinion. As you can see, it took me a fair bit of painting before I was convinced that I was wrong!

But all was not lost! Previously in my search for the perfect red, I had purchased a litre of Colourbond “Bright Red” base, which was obviously a mistake! The toplights I painted with this looked like they belonged on a fire engine. But seeing that Headlands was not red enough and I had some bright red to play with, I combined the two and voila! Still not perfect but close enough to use as an undercoat to the eventual correct topcoat, when I figure out what that is.

The new hybrid red, a bit more like it! I've only used it around the windows here but you can see that it is see it is a better match to the Heritage Red and more like the original Tuscan Red.

So I’ve used this better hybrid colour to cover details in my latest fix-ups; in this case the last 3 drop lights to be attached to the carriage. It’s all one step back but two steps forward!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A new table

Just spent the last week of 2010 working on the carriage and have lots to show you over the next few blogs. And, to whet your appetite, here is a shot of the dining area with the new table installed.

I built the table at home based on a single slab of Silky Oak that a friend gave to me. I had it remilled and thinned to 35mm then spent quite a bit of time routing channels lengthwise on the underside and then back filling them with Maranti as well as routing channels across the grain into which strengthening battens were screwed. All that in an effort to prevent the slab curling, warping and splitting. I've edged the whole thing with Maranti and added a shim of Jarrah between the edging and the main table piece just to give a small highlight. I added another shim of Jarrah on the underside of the edging with a rounded strip of Tassie Oak fixed below to take the angle off the edge where legs and knees are most likely to come into contact with the table. All joints were made good with biscuits where possible.

The table is attached to the wall via two very heavy duty angle brackets that I recovered from under the seats that were originally in the carriage. A third bracket attached to the floor supports a central leg on the aisle end of the table.