Sunday, October 28, 2012

Working on the deck

This last week my mate Andrew Browne came over from Sydney to help me get the deck finished. He worked alone through the week while I was at work and managed to get all the subframe sorted ready for a joint onslaught on Saturday. By COB on Saturday we managed to get most of the decking laid and the palings up around the outside. Still need to sort out some finishing touches and add the stairs at the western end but we're getting there!

From the outside at the end of work on Saturday

From the inside

And, on another note, if you have lusted after Clarabelle and wanted a similar carriage for yourself, here's your chance. The Mary Valley Heritage Railway is selling off some of their excess stock, including 1071, a sister carriage to mine. Details here:

I would love to buy another one of these but do not have the time, money or location to look after it. Besides, there are only so many carriages in a loving wife's life that she can stand!

If perchance you do go ahead and buy one of these carriages, stay in touch and let me know how you go with it. It's a lot of fun if you're into this kind of thing!

Monday, October 15, 2012


This week I thought I'd go through what's involved in bringing the exterior of Clarabelle back to life. This series of shots explains it all!

This is the area I decided to focus on. It was painted by me with a cheap acrylic paint several years ago after stripping off the remains of the original paint and giving it a good sanding. But the cheap paint hasn't lasted and needs replacing.

First I go over the whole area with my sander and 40 grit paper. I call this the investigator stage where I use the sander to ask questions about the integrity of the remaining paint and the underlaying surface. This is where I find any problems that need attention.

Here I've raked the seams of the matchboard and cleaned them out. More problems can be revealed at this stage, particularly gaps between the matchboard that will need to be either closed by repinning or filled with a suitable filler. This job is best done with No-Gaps, exterior grade, or similar acrylic filler.

Once more with the sander taking back much of the surface to bare wood. It always amazes me that the timber is in such good condition after almost 90 years service and almost complete neglect for the last 20 years! I've also filled a few problem areas here using an epoxy bog then sanded smooth. I'm not too particular about getting all the old paint off - if it survives two rigorous sandings with 40 grit, it probably deserves to stay! What is important is to make sure that the edges of any remaining paint work are feathered into the surface so that there are no tell-tale edges that will shine through the new paint work.

I use a 3-in-1 sealer, primer and undercoat which also serves as a good surface filler. And a lesson from my model building is that an important reason for undercoating is to identify any further problems with the surface that can be fixed before putting on the top coats.

Three coats of top coat are required because red is a notoriously difficult colour to get a good coverage with. The amount of paint also adds to the density of the final finish. And, because I'm now playing for keeps, I'm using a much better quality exterior grade acrylic paint that should last a lot longer than the old cheap stuff. Yes, the drop light needs further attention and painting in a different shade of red (Deep Indian Red) but I'm pleased with the surface and finish this process can achieve.

I'm keen to hear your comments on this process, particularly if you have had experience of restoring a similar old wooden surface. Do any of you have tips or recommendations to improve my technique?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Anti-Graffiti Coat

Managed to spray on the new anti-graffiti coat on to most of the side exposed to the road.

You can see that the left end which has not been coated is a brighter red and that there is overspray on the windows which will have to be scraped off but hopefully, if she does get hit again, any new graffiti can be removed with a high-pressure hose.

Fingures crossed, we'll never need to do that!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Putting her right

It’s been a long weekend here in Adelaide and while most people were fretting about which football team would win one of the two grand finals, I was out at Clarabelle with Chester sorting out the graffiti and putting her back together again.

She probably hasn't looked this good since 1980!

I’m such a schmuck! It’s taken me this long before I realised I can buy an inexpensive spray gun and paint a whole side of the carriage in around 20 minutes instead of two days! It does mean some cleaning up of overspray on windows and touching up the drop lights in a different shade of red but I’d need to do that anyway. Spraying also makes getting at the underside easy – so easy that Chester did most of that!

Close up detail of the colour scheme

Now to let her stand for a week, let the paint harden and then coat with an anti-graffiti spray I tracked down. The campers are back in the area now so hopefully we’ve seen the last of the graffiti vandals for a while!