The Picnic Saloon Trust

   Registered Charity Nº1024538

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SUMMER 2018.

The varnished and rubbed down mouldings.

Work this summer during the excessive July temperatures of 35 degrees C and more has included the cleaning of as many of the small mouldings used as possible in preparation for the later refitting. The mouldings are essentially triangular having been cut from mahogany and are no more than 8mm thick. The hypotenuse side is carved lengthways in 3 grooves. As much of it was held on with up to 2 inch pin nails and it is at least 90 years old a lot of it snapped on removal so it is of varying lengths of up to 11 feet long. I added some pieces from our spares stock to try to ensure there will be enough. Along with some thicker, window, mouldings these have all now received 3 coats of varnish, each rubbed down between coats and the over-run and drips sanded off the backs to allow easy re-fitting. Here they are laid out on sacrificial strip wood to help the drying process, as well as any drips (on right).

The curved pieces at the back are for the end panels where they meet the curve of the ceiling across the Saloon.

The centre axleboxes.

As always we are trying to plan ahead and spot any potential areas that may cause delay either in preparation or in supply of something by an outside organisation. Sometimes, it's a matter of grabbing an opportunity when someone is doing something and so it was that the centre axleboxes were removed back in February for examination by Quainton's Engineers. These have been an area of concern for some time because the boxes are too small for the hornguides (known incorrectly in this case by some as W irons) and so fall sideways a bit. The excessive play isn't more than a couple of inches but it's enough to require a modification. Having removed the bearings it is obvious that there are problems to resolve here, too, in time but for now the bearings need their white metal sorting out. Our good friend, Dave Horsley, kindly took on the task of sorting out the whitemetal and they have now returned. In the photograph one is upside down - the one on the left has LNWR deeply cast into it.

When the underframe was recovered from Wolverton Works all those years ago it was missing a centre axle and the then Works Manager, the late Bill West, didn't like the axles they found for us and had the wheels pressed off and pressed on to new Mk1 axles which were then turned down to the correct size for us - all at no cost to us!

Towards the end of that very hot July where temperatures frequently climbed to over 35 degrees C, even with a fan running, we removed the four passenger doors, as distinct from the double luggage doors. As anyone who has ever lifted a LNWR door knows, these are heavy things and require two strong men to assist whilst a third removes the three hinge pins. The interiors of all four need stripping of that French polish and varnishing with some wood replaced. Here are the four doors lined up against a bench in the workshop. The first door was misguidingly simple to dismantle with only one of the 15 side screws breaking off - I thought that I might "get away with it" if I just glued the head back in position later! As the first door was being reassembled and parts in wet varnish were drying a start was made on the second door where no less than nine of the fifteen screws all broke off - core drilling out the old screws and finding replacements was now needed and part of the process is shown here. In the last of the next five photos you can see the line of plugged holes.

The four doors

X marks the spot

An extracted old screw

Plugging a hole

The row of plugged holes

Work on the overhaul of the doors is best done with the door lying flat as I can get the best purchase with screwdrivers on stubborn screws against a solid surface rather than one that might move whilst working off a ladder or steps. If I don't dismantle everything there will be corners that I cant get into and it will show when all is reassembled and back in the coach. It also makes it easier to put things in baths of Gunwash to soak the old French polish for 10 minutes. Gunwash is a chemical available to the trade and is a nasty mixture of Toluene and Methanol with a pungent, acrid aroma which needs using outdoors or in excellent ventilation and with suitable ppe (personal protective equipment)

All this dismantling has produced a growing list of carpenter's names. Interestingly, we have only found the odd name across the Saloon but the doors are covered in them. One possibility, created by the occurrence and their locations and backed by some, so far, limited research elsewhere, is that these names date from the 1920's rather than construction in 1894. We now know that there was a fire in the Saloon because of the fire damaged frame timbers in one corner. As the ceiling covering was introduced to the world at a Geneva trade show in 1921 the supposition is that something caused a small fire and traffic was such that it was worth restoring the Saloon and by this time carpenters were putting their names on their work which was made on benches away from the Saloon. Why? Well, there are two possible reasons - it could be to identify who made a particular piece so that if during assembly your work doesn't fit they know who to blame but it could also be to prove how many items you have made this day or week if you are paid that way.

Here are a sample of the names found. The first one has two names with the second partly illegible.

Two faint names

A nice clear name

Another clear name
Glued and clamped door frame repair
Door awaiting restoration and door three after

Sometimes broken or damaged wood is found though it often isn't noticeable until its been through the Gunwash bath. This can be particularly frustrating if the item first appears to be in good condition but, after cleaning, is found to be heavily damaged as has happened with the long window cill mouldings which have upturned curving ends. Frustratingly, all our spares are of different lengths but with similar damage so it is possible that some sort of mosaic will need to be attempted, though I have just thought of one other place to look for some spares - we shall see!

This photo on the left shows part of a door frame where there was a split after glueing and clamping overnight. Normally, I would add to the strength by drilling a small 1mm hole with a modeller's dremel and inserting a veneer pin. I pre-drill holes against the 120 year old wood splitting. Unfortunately, in this case the split is just above the top edge of a slot for a new panel to be slid in.

The photo on the right is of the first door fully restored stood in the workshop next to door three which is, as yet, unrestored - a 'before & after'.

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