Work in Progress - DRSA volunteer activity


This page showcases the activities of the DRSA's volunteers. This page relies heavily on the contributions of volunteers, especially team leaders. Carriage and Wagon reports are by David Bell unless otherwise stated. Thank you to all our contributors.

Note that there is also coverage of the restoration of brakevan LDS55625 on its dedicated page.

We have discovered, the hard way, that the content management system with which we maintain our website has a mechanism for truncating pages which exceed a certain size. This discovery meant we lost data from sometime in 2015, to April 2018, including the all important in-depth study of David Bell's 79th birthday cake. In future we will periodically remove chunks of the WIP page (the only one big enough to be affected) and place them in archive pages, as below:
Archive page 2 Dec 2018 to Sept 2019
Archive page 1 Apr 2018 to Nov 2018

In 2015 the Work in Progress page superceded the various departmental pages which were linked to the Activities section. The old pages can still be viewed (C&W, Lineside, Station Maintenance, Traction Group).


Carriage & Wagon Thursday September 17th 2020


A perfect fine, late summer day, ideal for outside work, greeted 6 C&W team members at Meldon.

Three members concentrated their efforts all day sanding down and applying filler here and there on the North side of Lab11, by way of the staging; whilst Geoff Horner patch primed the South side. We have one 110volt sander and this was run off the dual voltage small generator. Until the future becomes clear we are limited to using cordless tools as we are no longer permitted to use our 240v tools.

Meanwhile Alan Harris disappeared within the FK carriage and did some serious hammer work on something by the sound of it, followed by some painting. Other jobs included topping up Lab11 fuel tank from cans and fitting a replacement electric wall heater in the saloon.

The LMS brake van was checked. It is still parked at the visitor's site. Apart from it now standing knee deep in weeds and grass, all was well. Thanks to the weeding and grass cutting mentioned a couple of weeks ago, we can now see that Lab11 is actually standing on rails!


Station Maintenance Wednesday September 9th


Alan Harris and Geoff Brooks soldiered on with painting the entrance gates and fencing, on platforms 2 and 3 respectively. When eventually the station re-opens to the public, it will look very impressive and welcoming.

The rest of the team - Baxter, Vodden and Kelsey - went on a jolly to Meldon to retrieve the scaffold platform, so that the renovated Platform 1/2 sign could be re-erected. Unfortunately, although the sign itself looks OK, once it was up it was clear that something is out of square in the mounting hardware, so it will have to be re-addressed at some point.

The refurbished platform number sign, taken from an angle which disguises the mounting problem.
Photographer: Jon Kelsey
Date taken: 09/09/2020



A couple of shots taken in the yard at Meldon:

When, or if, the administration sale is completed, someone will get a very tidy class 205 Thumper, nicely refinished by DRSA's volunteers.
Photographer: Jon Kelsey
Date taken: 09/09/2020



Photographer: Jon Kelsey
Date taken: 09/09/2020



Station Maintenance Wednesday September 2nd


A team of 4 today, in the circumstances cautious of starting anything too substantial, but keeping the flag flying. The refurbished platform 1/2 sign is ready to put up, but we chickened out pending arrival of the Meldon scaffold tower. Tom Baxter took a breather from counting nuts and bolts to wander around with a camera, capturing the team members working, or at least appearing to.

Paul Vodden made a start on tidying up the platform 3 running in board. In such an exposed position in the Okehampton climate its woodwork has a tough life.
Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 02/09/2020



It's a pleasure to see Geoff Brooks back as a regular member of the Wednesday team, after a couple of difficult years.
Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 02/09/2020



The website editor painting a sign, with a miraculously clean paintbrush. "The train now standing in platform 2 ..."
Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 02/09/2020



Fred the assistant website editor head-butted some of Geoff's painting and carried a go-faster stripe on his forehead for the rest of the day.
Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 02/09/2020



Station Maintenance Saturday August 22nd and Wednesday August 26th


Saturday saw work on unblocking Platform 3 drains, with C&W help, as well as continuing fence painting and gardening. Yet more fence painting took place on Wednesday, on both the Platform 2 and Platform 3 entrances. Work also took place on the Platform 1/2 sign, and rearranging the temporary tool store in the museum to make it a bit easier to find stuff.

On Thursday several of the C&W team members showed up at Meldon, only to be thwarted by the weather.

David Ellis and Tom Baxter celebrating unblocking one of Platform 3's drains
Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 22/08/2020



The Platform 2 entrance area is now looking very smart, thanks to the efforts of Alan Harris, Geoff Brooks and David Bell.
Photographer: Jon Kelsey
Date taken: 26/08/2020



Sadly the goods shed is no longer part of the railway, but it still enhances the Platform 2 scene.
Photographer: Jon Kelsey
Date taken: 26/08/2020




Station Maintenance August 5th and 8th


Station Maintenance is split between Wednesdays and Saturdays, for the convenience of the volunteers. On Wednesday, Geoff Brooks was painting the endless platform 2 fencing, Paul Vodden was brush cutting around the station road entrance, and Jon Kelsey was hacking at the rotten platform 1&2 sign. On Saturday Alan Harris continued the painting effort. Our thanks to Tony Hill for a couple of photos taken on the Saturday.

Stalwart volunteer Alan Harris painting the fencing and notice case at the Okehampton station downside entrance, with Tom Baxter observing.
Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 08/08/2020



A very tidy and cared for station approach road thanks to vegetation cutting and clearance by Paul Vodden.
Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 08/08/2020



Carriage and Wagon August 6th 2020


Work under way to rejuvenate Lab11's paintwork.
Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 06/08/2020



Fine intermittent drizzle met the C&W members as they assembled first thing. Luckily it was not enough to deter us and after lunch we were treated to some sunshine.

An attempt to top-up the LAB11 diesel fuel tank from cans was frustrated as the rotary hand pump had seized up. Undeterred, the usual C&W prowess in such matters overcame the problem with a 10mm spanner, a few suggestions from a team of three, dismantling it, cleaning up the components and reassembling them. Fuelling was delayed by a mere 30 minutes!

Work continued filling-in and rubbing down on the South side of LAB11 whilst sanding progressed on the North side, after staging had been erected. Later in the day the heavy steel staging, which had lain semi-derelict nearby, was moved with difficulty closer to the North side of the coach and can now be used to complete the preparation of that side.

A welcome working visit was made by committee member Tony Hill who, together with Geoff Horner, did some useful weed and brushwood removal around the coach working area to eliminate tripping and stumbling.

The drilling of the holes in the SR brake van buffer oak plates was finally completed, exhausting 3 rechargeable batteries in the process. An ongoing light duty for your correspondent has been to fit "boot proof" plugs and trailing sockets to various power leads and wind them onto serviceable reels and formers. This has been completed.

Preparation work on the North side of Lab 11. Looks like David Bell is about to get a soaking from John Coxon.
Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 06/08/2020



General view of the Carriage and Wagon site and workshop at Meldon
Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 06/08/2020



Carriage and Wagon July 30th 2020


A beautiful cloudless day greeted the members of the C&W group at Meldon who were able to take coffee and lunch "al fresco" for a change. Work continued sanding down the South side of LAB11, in addition to some painting on the FK coach underframe and drilling out holes for the bolts on the SR brake van oak buffer plates.

It has been decided that LAB11 will be given the usual coat of primer where remedial work and rust removal has been carried out, then receive protective coats of non-water based grey undercoat and topcoat; unless we can get it under cover first before winter arrives.

A check was made of the ex LMS brake van which had been left by DRCIC in an exposed position close to the visitor's site. We were pleased to find it in good condition.



Station Maintenance July 29th 2020


A regular Wednesday team of half a dozen SMT volunteers is crystallising. After his health problems of the last couple of years, we welcome Geoff Brooks' regular attendance. Geoff teamed up with Alan Harris and David Bell to continue the 'Forth Bridge' painting of the fencing around the platform 2 entrance. Meanwhile Paul Vodden attacked the vegetation around the main entrance with the brush cutter, and Jon Kelsey continued bodging rotten woodwork on the platform 1/2 sign. Tom Baxter supervised.

At the moment, hardly a day goes by without someone 'official' rocking up to look at some aspect of Okehampton Station. It's all very interesting. Today it was two blokes who said they were from the administrators, and very charming and friendly they were too.


Carriage and Wagon July 23rd 2020


An eager group of C&W members met in the open air at Meldon, being denied the use of the workshop until the Dartmoor Railway CIC administrator gives permission to enter. Access to the quarry has now been kindly renewed by the owners. The day's work was concentrated on LAB11. Staging was erected and work started stripping and rubbing down the external paintwork. The aim being to give the coach a protective coat of sorts until cover is available, which at the rate things are going, may be a long time! Unfortunately the weather turned against us shortly after lunch, so the staging was dismantled and everything packed back into Lab11 - and we all went home.

Having stripped the lettering and lining off the South side of Lab11, staging was erected.
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 23/07/2020



Not to be forgotten, oak plates for the SR brake van West end buffers were marked out and fashioned by the end of the day.
Photographer: John Coxon
Date taken: 23/07/2020



Station Maintenance July 22nd 2020


A cautious restart has been made on regular maintenance sessions at Okehampton station, with a 6 person group in attendance today. Most of the effort went into repair and repainting of the disabled entrance to platform 2, and its surrounding fencing. Sorting and relocation of the tools and materials formerly stored in the GUV and CCT continued, and work started on refurbishing the platform 1/2 number board. The day was punctuated by an encouraging visit from a Network Rail employee carrying out a drone survey of the line.

Paul Vodden and Geoff Brookes at work at the Platform 2 entrance.
Photographer: Jon Kelsey
Date taken: 22/07/2020




Carriage & Wagon May 15th 2020


If only. However, we did visit Meldon for a short time, and can report that there's no sign of any damage, or vandalism.


Carriage & Wagon March 12th 2020


Ten members of the C&W team met at a wet and windy site. Undeterred, work started in different directions. The damaged West end roller shutter had worked loose during the past few weeks of gales, so Ron Kirby and John Coxon worked out how to fix it before the end of the day; and the next gale! Other members worked on, in and around the SR brake van.

After a lot of shoving and heaving the stove was lifted back on board and cleaned up ready for a coat or two of stove paint. A suitable sheet of steel was "procured" for sizing then fitting under it. The tricky bit will be to reinstall the chimney and make it rain proof.

Phil Hull having returned after a break of a few weeks spent the day removing more corroded-in bolts on the brake van Eastern steel clad platform, much to the relief of John Coxon. Having done all the work last week, he left his giant angle grinder in Phil's care and gleefully scuttled off elsewhere.

Unfortunately yours truly forgot to bring his, all singing and dancing, electric jigsaw, so that cutting out the first oak slab for the buffer took ages using the workshop model available. The other buffer beam (West end North side) area and steel plate were chipped clean and made ready for a coat of primer next week.

Meanwhile Nigel Green gave the North side of the brake van main frame a long awaited first coat of gloss black paint whilst Geoff Horner chipped away at the running gear North side East end.

Nigel Green gives the North mainframe a coat of gloss. Note part of broken broken buffer spring.
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 12/03/2020


Patrick Doyle takes a breather before shuffling the stove into the cabin.
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 12/03/2020


Phil Hull, surrounded by a selection of his finest tools, attacks yet another corroded-in bolt.
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 12/03/2020


Geoff Horner watches as the first buffer slab is cut to size.
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 12/03/2020


Right hand side of buffer beam etc primed and the left hand side ready for priming. Both parts of broken spring visible. Could this be the last of the surprises that the brake van has to offer ..
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 12/03/2020




Station Maintenance March 11th 2020


The day's highlight was a visit from Geoff Brooks. Poor Geoff has had more than his share of health problems recently, and it was good to see him looking quite well. He is hoping to get back to light volunteering duties in the near future.

It looks as if the five month monsoon season could finally be approaching an end, and we were able to do some outside jobs in reasonable comfort. Several of the large signs around the station are looking pretty ropey, having reached a stage of deterioration where if we don't repaint them now we'll be repairing wood rot in a year's time. The first of these to be tackled is the Platform 1/2 sign. It put up a stubborn fight, but was eventually removed and is now drying out in the CCT ready for refurbishment.

The most visible job was the removal of those ghastly, pointless, and (typically) unfinished gates erected at the four platform ends last year. They will now yield useful repair material for the station fences. It felt like an exorcism.

Of course, it may all be pointless, as we wait for politics and commerce to put an end to the uncertainty about the railway's future. But the feeling within the team is that it's better to do something than nothing, and anything we do now gives us a head start if things work out in our favour. No doubt the C&W team has a similar outlook.

Carriage & Wagon March 5th 2020


A small team of C&W volunteers assembled at Meldon, having driven through flooded roads after an overnight downpour. Further refuelling of the LAB11 generator took place using Jerry cans and the very useful portable hand pump. Work was then concentrated on the SR brake van. The Southern buffer flange, plate and mounting at the West end were given a final clean-up and a coat of primer. Little time remained and the oak plate will be cut out and fitted next week.

Meanwhile at the Eastern end, some bolts holding the steel platform to the mainframe were removed, in an attempt to reduce the buckling of the plate, caused by corrosion between it and the main frame. This required grinding out the bolt heads, cutting into the remains and drilling the countersunk edges out before punching the bolts through. This involved a lot of flying sparks, brute force with club hammer and punch, plus a lot of noise. The job had been put off for a year or so as being either 'too difficult' or 'can it be avoided?'. The next step will be to clear out the accumulation of heavy corrosion, then clamp the plate down and fit replacement bolts. However ...

Priming in progress. By the end of the day the buffer, flange etc. were completed.
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 05/03/2020


Countersunk bolt heads being ground away by John Coxon. Note the buckled plate.
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 05/03/2020


Drilling out the edges of the countersunk bolt heads. Patrick Doyle assisted, between bouts of rubbing down woodwork filler, whilst Geoff Horner watches with interest.
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 05/03/2020



Carriage & Wagon February 27th 2020


A bright brisk day greeted a small C&W team of 4 at Meldon. However, spirits were high with the prospect of gaining entry to the workshop again, after being locked out for over a month. Various tasks were undertaken sorting and securing moveable DRSA equipment and tidying up after what seemed a hasty exit by the DRCIC staff a couple of weeks ago.

After the LAB11 generator was topped up by jerrycan, work restarted on rust chipping on the buffer beam at the West end of the SR brake van. Enough progress was made to be able to prime the metalwork and cut out and fit an oak pad on one buffer position next week. Meanwhile the redundant coaching stock was examined to see if a section of metal moulding could be salvaged to replace an area on the end of LAB11. Urgent external work needed on the latter is being hampered by the lack of covered workshop space in which to park it.

Departure at the end of the day was delayed by finding that the LAB11 Yale door lock was jammed. Dismantling and a touch of 'expert fiddling' solved the problem in true C&W style.


Carriage & Wagon February 20th 2020


Despite strong winds and rain a small group of C&W volunteers turned up at Meldon. They were, yet again, unable to gain entry to the workshop as the keys are still unavailable thanks to the administration process. However, enthusiasm undaunted, the small team worked on the interior of DRSA's S13436 Mk2 FK carriage, easing the sliding doors and the communications cord system.

How it's supposed to be. The FK in the sunshine at Meldon. A little while ago.



Station Maintenance February 12th 2020


The Station Maintenance team was in action today, with five of us in attendance at one point. It was eerily quiet. Much of the work was security related in one way or another, and some explanatory signs were put up for the public. Stalwart Alan Harris scrubbed a winter's worth of damp and mildew from the disabled toilet, leaving it gleaming.

Green shoots of recovery on Okehampton Station?
Photographer: Jon Kelsey
Date taken: 12/02/2020



Carriage & Wagon January 16th 2020


The C&W team was met by a howling gale and driving rain at Okehampton station, only to find it far worse on arrival at Meldon, resulting in being treated to sudden spells of rocking in Lab11 during the coffee and lunch breaks. Nevertheless, quite a lot of work was done in the "well aired" workshop. Despite the promised shunt being postponed again and thus the Thumper power car not out-shopped, a team of the fittest and most determined members, undaunted by working in a confined space, removed both damaged buffers at the West end of the SR brake van LDS55625; without damage to themselves. This time they used a length of staging frame placed crosswise and built-up with planks and blocks. The determination and ingenuity of the C&W team is limitless!

The buffer on the North side was found to have a broken spring which, from the signs of heavy corrosion at the break, occurred in the dim and distant past. As stated previously LDS55625 is full of surprises.

Other members continued with fitting internal woodwork trim to the cabin and filling-in on the exterior cladding. The first topcoat of gloss black on the Southern mainframe was completed whilst more zinc based primer was applied to metal work above this area by the remaining 2 members. Undeterred by the elements two staunch members worked across in the visitor's site at the viaduct. During lunch the weather seemed to have worsened, and so afterwards - we all went home!

Ron Kirby loosens off the nuts on the North side buffer.
Photographer: Geoff Horner
Date taken: 16/01/2020



South side buffer showing heavy corrosion after removal.
Photographer: Geoff Horner
Date taken: 16/01/2020



Carriage & Wagon January 9th 2020


A full turnout of the C&W team met in good spirits despite recent news of the DR sale by BARS. Various jobs on the rolling stock under cover were completed, including top coating the mainframe on the SR brake van LDS55625 on the South side and finishing off rust and paint removal on the buffer beam at the West end. Work continued fitting out interior woodwork on the cabin and painting. As is his custom our local hero spent the morning on the visitors area.

A long, heavy deluge of rain forced us to take an extended lunch taken in LAB11 and the opportunity was taken to discuss in what form our future activity would likely be, either in our support role or something more ambitious. Hopefully a shunt next week will out-shop the Thumper power car, park the LMS brake van and the class 08 under cover, thus providing plenty of work for willing hands; including removing the buffers on the SR brake van.


Carriage & Wagon December 5th 2019


A depleted team of C&W volunteers, to be augmented by a couple of latecomers during the day, met at the station; despite the prospect of working in the cold. A first task on arrival at Meldon was to check the fuel level in the LAB11 tank. A difficult task requiring a torch, much bending and peering to read the gauge. We were relieved to hear that we have sufficient for a few weeks. Without the LAB11 generator providing power for lighting, working in the ambient winter daylight available in the workshop would be almost impossible.

A brave pair, joined later by John Coxon, started work stripping the external top coat on the South side of LAB11 out in the open air. However, by lunchtime it was decided that, discretion being the better part than valour, due to a bitterly cold wind; some other jobs under cover were preferable! However, Alan Harris, after returning from his work at the visitor's site, chose the leeward end and side of LAB11 to start painting the underframe for the rest of the day. Perhaps his new rather distinctive kinky woolly hat, knitted by Maureen, offered him the required protection.

The remaining volunteers finished the undercoating on the mainframe of the SR brake van and applied the second and final topcoat to the running gear (axle box and spring hangers) at one end; then priming after chipping rust etc. off the gear on the opposite side. Finally, a new replacement brake pipe coupling was fitted to the East end to complement that previously fitted on the West end.

Carriage & Wagon November 28th 2019


A full team of 10 C&W volunteers met at the station as is usual, on a damp chilly morning. Undeterred by the weather, having had a coffee for starters in LAB11, work started on various tasks. Attention was paid to adjusting the Thumper 1132 driving car compartment door locks and all were finished by the end of the day; signalled by the satisfying sound of the slamming of multiple heritage carriage doors. Alan Harris carried out his checks on the Visitor's centre first thing then did some painting here and there. Some final touches were applied to more paintwork of the internal door trims on the, now gleaming, Thumper power car by John Coxon. Never mind John, the Christmas Trains await your driving skills for the next few weeks!

The remainder of the team worked on the SR brake van LDS55625, painting the interior of the cabin, applying undercoat to the main frame and filler to the external woodwork. Undercoating on the North side of the frame is complete and a good start made to the South side. Further slackening of the buffer bolts at the West end and chipping rust in that area, including the running gear continued all day. An attempt was made to move the van with a pinch bar in order to provide more room around the damaged buffers and was a dismal failure. So we had another cup of coffee and all went home!

Reflected in the gleaming paintwork, John Coxon paints door trims.
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 28/11/2019


John Davis basks in the warm glow of the floodlighting whilst painting inside the brake van cabin. Note door ajar to allow (cold) fresh air circulation - in moderation.
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 28/11/2019


Filler being applied to the veranda top rail by Patrick Doyle - to prevent the fare-paying punters getting splinters.
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 28/11/2019


Your correspondent painting the South mainframe, having made the ergonomic mistake of painting away from the paint tin.
Photographer: John Coxon
Date taken: 28/11/2019


The platform barrow. "Bodywork requiring some attention, good set of tyres. MOT not required".
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 28/11/2019



Carriage & Wagon November 21st 2019


A large party of cheerful volunteers assembled at the station despite a cold Easterly wind and steady rain. John Coxon however, entered the warm cab of the class 08 locomotive for the day, driving the DRCIC work train with a rather unusual load. (see below)

The remaining 9 volunteers proceeded to Meldon where the LAB11 generator was started and lighting in the workshop connected. An initial discussion was held on the removal of the buffers on the West end of SR brake van LDS55625, but with the power car still in place nothing further was done due to lack of space. It seems that, with the DR Christmas trains about to start and the preparatory work needed, it is unlikely that the DRSA LMS brake van and class 08 locomotive will be released from their DRCIC duties for refurbishment before the new year. This could mean a race to finish either of the brake vans in time for the summer season.

Applying undercoat to the North side of the SR brake van mainframe started, together with priming the running gear on the South side and undercoating the interior woodwork of the cabin. The paintwork in LAB11 guard's compartment was given a fresh coat, whilst more internal work was carried out on the doors of Thumper 1132 driving carriage parked outside. As LAB11 has a Mk1 body, Ron Kirby under the supervision of Geoff Horner continued to investigate the condition of the internal anti-crush pillars at both ends of the coach. This is being done by removing internal panelling and photographing any corrosion.

Alright for some - spending the day in a warm cab! John Coxon speeds on his way.
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 21/11/2019


Eat your heart out DB Cargo UK. Santa's brand new sleigh en-route to the North Pole, via Meldon for some undisclosed reason. Strewth.
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 21/11/2019



Carriage & Wagon November 14th 2019


A cold, wet and windy day greeted a reduced number of chilled C&W volunteers at the station. Even the (younger and) more hardy DRCIC team had lit the stove in the DRSA ex-LMS brake van on the PW train before venturing up the line.

Despite this, the space heater was fired up and a fair amount of work was completed. The small petrol generator was warmed up, then had an oil change and checked over. Yet again a small oil funnel had to be bodged out of a small plastic bottle cut down and short length of small bore tubing fitted through the cap. This particular "locally manufactured item" always seems to disappear by the time the next oil change is due.

Our painting machine Alan Harris gave the Thumper power car running boards an extra coat of paint for luck, having finished his usual trek across to the visitor's site. John Coxon, taking a break from driving and work on DRCIC stock, finished the day touching up internal paintwork on the doors of the Thumper; after supervising the dismantling of the staging around the Thumper. The nuts on the damaged buffers on the west end of brakevan LDS55625 were loosened off in readiness. Hopefully, the Thumper will be outshopped next week and we will have more space to work safely in the area of the buffers whilst removing and refurbishing them.

A large tin of grey metal undercoat has been procured for use on the SR brake van LDS55625 underframe and steel work next week, if it isn't too cold. Another job will be to replace a defective electric heater in the LAB11 saloon after vociferous complaints by the C&W luncheon club, despite being given generous slices of Geoff Horner's birthday cake.

Carriage & Wagon November 7th 2019


Another day of cold, windy unsettled weather. John Coxon waved goodbye to us from the cab of the Class 08, clutching yet another plastic cup of free coffee from the buffet; as he drove the DRCIC permanent way train in the up direction at short notice. The rest of the C&W volunteers made our way to Meldon and a warm LAB11 to drink cups of our own coffee from flasks. Although somewhat reduced in number, we achieved a lot during the day.

Work was completed easing door locks and drop down windows on the Thumper driving car. John Davis and Patrick Doyle spent the entire day painting the inside of the SR brake van cabin, whilst the remaining two volunteers chipped away at rust and paint, in addition to completing the last priming of the mainframe on the North side. Work has progressed on cleaning up the oil boxes and running gear ready for painting. Although painted at sometime in the past the springs will be cleaned off then merely oiled.

Meanwhile Tony Hill delivered the sad remains of an SR pattern platform barrow which he had discovered amongst the bushes somewhere, apparently suffering from about 50 plus years of neglect. Basically only the steel frame and wheels have survived in good condition, with just a hint of oak framework remaining. It appears to be a similar model to the one currently displayed on Platform 1 at Okehampton. Delivery entailed opening the Western roller shutter door on the North side and the strong Meldon wind nearly blew your correspondent out of the open door at the other end!

Alan Harris, having completed work over at the visitor's site and some colourful painting on the Thumper power car, cleans up the Eastern platform of the SR brake van. Note the stove's steel back plate waiting to be installed and the competed priming of the North side mainframe.
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 07/11/2019


Geoff Horner takes a break from cleaning up the running gear and discusses the final internal cabin paint scheme with Patrick and John. The wheels of the barrow can be seen in the mid-distance.
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 07/11/2019



Station Maintenance November 6th 2019


The Station Maintenance Team's main job for the day was to collect a surplus cabinet we have acquired from Crediton Museum, and deliver it to the second museum room on Platform 2. It's now in place, and currently surrounded by loose platform fittings like sacktrucks and suitcases being sheltered from the depredations of the Christmas activities. When we're back to 'normal' in the new year we'll refurbish it and get it into service.

New museum cabinet
Photographer: Jon Kelsey
Date taken: 06/11/2019



Carriage & Wagon October 31st 2019


Unsettled weather greeted the C&W volunteers. Two remained all day at the station working on DRCIC stock, whilst the remainder found a warm and comfortable LAB11 awaiting them for morning coffee at Meldon; during which John Davis provided a tasty slice of cake each, in lieu of his absence on his birthday.

Alan Harris splashed paint here and there, after his usual work over at the visitor's site, whilst attention was paid to easing door locking and drop windows on the Thumper 1132 driving car stored out in the open. Daylight available in the workshop was so poor that the LAB11 generator was started up first thing to provide lighting in addition to powering various tools.

The remaining volunteers spent the day chipping rust and paint, whilst Patrick Doyle and John Davis refitted and primed more of the internal cladding on the SR brake van.

Nothing photogenic happened.

Carriage & Wagon October 24th 2019


A brisk, mainly dry day greeted ten C&W volunteers who set off for Meldon. A partial shunt had been completed previously at Meldon and Lab 11 had been parked in the usual overwinter place. Because of heavy lineside work in progress, the DRSA LMS brakevan 731411 has been commandeered by DRCIC for lineside work trains. This included recovering timber after some serious tree felling. The brakevan will enter the workshop for an overhaul at a later date at the same time as the thumper 1132 power car is out-shopped.

Work started on the interior of Lab 11, including installing emergency battery lighting, after the on-board generator was checked over and started to provide lighting and power. Lab 11 will enter the workshop for an external refurb' once there is room for it and there is no longer the essential need for the overwinter use of the generator. Meanwhile it will provide a welcome warm accommodation for the exclusive C&W luncheon club.

FK S13436 has had a Fitness To Run check by Julian Pope on the braking system at last and we await the report.

Alan Harris carried out his usual tasks over at the Meldon DR visitors facilities, then returned to put finishing colourful touches to the paintwork on the Thumper.

The usual team of four continued work on the SR brake van LDS 55625 refitting the internal cabin lining, scraping and chipping at various points and priming the bare metal of the Northern main underframe. It is planned to paint the van in the London and South Western Railway scheme of red and 'chocolate' finish before going into service. A vote was held as to the re-roofing material to be used, as a suggestion was made to use aluminium sheeting. This was voted down and traditional canvas will be used. This stage however, is still in the far distant future ...

Our regular C&W correspondent, David Bell, applying grey primer to the north side underframe of the SR brakevan LDS 55625
Photographer: Geoff Horner
Date taken: 24/10/2019


Lab11 now parked overwinter with a rather splendid set of steps fitted, replacing the usual wonky cut-down ladder.
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 24/10/2019


John Coxon chats with Graham Isom whilst Brian Mills (DRCIC) unloads cut timber from the DR Sturgeon flatbed wagon. Note the DRSA brake van proudly carrying out the sort of duty it was built for.
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 24/10/2019



Carriage & Wagon October 17th 2019


A bright chilly day saw the C&W volunteers meet at the station then separate into two groups. One to work on the DR(BARS) stock and five other volunteers to Meldon, where work was concentrated on the DRSA owned SR brake van LDS55625. Patrick Doyle removed all the sheets out of the newly fitted internal cabin lining and gave them a lick of primer on the reverse sides, whilst Geoff Horner and your correspondent chipped away on the main frame. By midday the North side of the frame was finished and given a power tool wire brushing, ready for priming next week. In the meantime Phil Hull fitted washers here and there to improve build quality of various fitments, then started chipping rust and paint on the buffer beam at the west end. Later the remaining three pairs of hands chipped away here and there on hand rails and the upper steelwork on both sides.

Meanwhile Alan Harris, having completed his morning's work over at the viaduct visitor's site, resumed painting the underframe of the Thumper 1132 power car.

A final little job entailed three of the fittest volunteers rescuing a steel filing cabinet, in good condition, which had been discarded some weeks ago behind the workshop.

David Bell with power tool brushing down.
Photographer: Geoff Horner
Date taken: 17/10/2019


Patrick Doyle stripping old paint.
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 17/10/2019


Having removed the drawers from the filing cabinet to lighten the load, the Hatton Gardens heist team returns in triumph with their loot. Brian Mills DR(CIC) looks on with interest.
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 17/10/2019


Carriage & Wagon October 10th 2019


The C&W volunteers split into 2 groups on meeting first thing at Okehampton station. Five members remained to work on the class 31 locomotive doors and DR special event rolling stock. The remaining 4 went to Meldon. As painting the Thumper car is virtually finished, work concentrated on the SR brake van LDS55625. DB started chipping rust on the North side together with Geoff Horner but having such a small area left in the middle of the frame Geoff was left to it and DB moved to the South side and started chipping away higher up on the body frame and grab bars. Meanwhile, John Davis decided that a first lick of primer on the new internal cabin woodwork was due. However, this was frustrated by insufficient paint of the right type to hand and so that will have to wait until some is procured by next week. Undeterred he spent his day applying filler to woodwork and then chipping rust off grab rails. Patrick Doyle trimmed various new bolts in the woodwork with the angle grinder, then joined in with the other 3 at rust chipping. The noise by then was almost unbearable and cease work at the end of the day was a relief on the ears.

By next week we hope that the "big shunt" has taken place and we will have the full team of volunteers available to work on the LMS brake van and the 08 locomotive in the workshop, together with LAB11 outside to supply power for lighting during the rapidly shortening daylight hours. However ....

Geoff Horner chipping away at the last of the rust, paint etc. in the area of the brake piping. By the end of day very little remained to do.
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 10/10/2019


Patrick Doyle trimming bolts with the angle grinder whilst John Davis waits patiently with ladder ready to apply filler to the woodwork.
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 10/10/2019


Patrick moves elsewhere with the grinder whilst John gets on with filling-in. The nearby bag wasn't at risk and survived intact!
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 10/10/2019


General view showing the freshly painted East end of the Thumper power car, now ready to be outshopped.
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 10/10/2019



Station Maintenance October 2nd 2019


Actually we were in attendance last week as well, but so little of note was achieved that it wasn't possible to wring even one sentence out of it. Today we were at full strength, three. Of these, Tom Baxter managed to find himself a nice little job mucking about with an old generator, which eventually went brumm brumm very nicely. In fairness it will be a useful piece of kit, but it left the other two thirds of the team painting Oke Station's wooden stake fencing again. I (JK) had to leave early to return to planet Earth, so poor old Paul Vodden bore the brunt of it. When I left he'd undercoated about 10 feet of it, with just another 14 miles to go, so it's possible he didn't quite finish. This really is an enormous task. We were very chuffed when Alan Harris spent a recent Saturday working on it. Can anyone else lend a hand?

Carriage & Wagon September 26th 2019


[Our thanks to Geoff Horner who submitted the following in David Bell's absence]

Due to holidays, illness and other commitments a reduced team of five gathered today at Meldon. A sub-team of John Coxon, Nigel Green and Ron Kirby finished the painting of the East and West ends of Thumper 1132 and then carried on with the painting of the North side internal door trims and the underframe. John Davis continued cutting and fitting the plywood inner lining to the cabin of the SR brake van whilst Geoff Horner continued the task of chipping the rust from the North side underframe. In Alan Harris's absence on holiday one unsung hero also attended to the 'facilities' at the Meldon buffet! Finally we wish a speedy recovery to our usual correspondent David Bell after a fall whilst shopping in Exeter last week.

Station Maintenance September 18th 2019


A glorious, cloudless day, and unlike last week there was a little bit of progress to report, though none of it was pretty so we didn't take any pictures.

Useful Brownie points were earned by refixing a castor under one of the buffet cookers. Hanging on by just one of four bolts, and bent and unstable as a result, it must have been annoying the buffet staff for years, and took about 20 minutes to fix.

Repairs to the (bus!) ticket machine used by the Travelling Ticket Inspectors should also earn us a bit of credit, at least with Alan Harris, a former bus man who appreciates these things.

The effort to fix the marker lights on D4167 wasn't quite so conclusive, though progress was made. Otherwise it was back to the painting, and worse, preparation for painting. There's quite a lot to do.

Carriage and Wagon September 12th 2019


A very small team of volunteers on a fine Autumn day, due in part to sickness and holidays. Half the members remained at the station all day again to continue work on the DR special events rolling stock, including internal painting in the buffet coach.

The remaining three C&W volunteers spent the day at Meldon, in an unusually quiet workshop, fitting prepared cladding to the South side of the SR Brake van and chipping rust etc. on the North side. A warm damp Autumn morning resulted in heavy condensation on the bare metal of the underframe and prevented painting with primer. Apart from the sound of chipping and woodworking the only other sign of life was the running of the generator later in the day to provide some extra lighting and sharpen some tools on the grinder. Stalwart/unsung hero Alan Harris spent the morning across at the viaduct visitor's centre, then continued painting the underframe of Thumper 1132. It's doubtful if there will be a rush of volunteers to clean DR toilets whilst he is away for the next week or two!

Bolting-on the last two pieces of the jigsaw puzzle on the North side of brake van LDS55625 by John Davis. Seen from across a jumble of DRCIC equipment. An original Ashford identification underframe marking uncovered today revealed that it was originally plain 'S55625'.
Photographer: David Bell
Date taken: 12/09/2019