Series: 3903 - 3931
Constructor: Nivelles / B
Location: Nene Valley Railway - GB
Accessible To The Public: Yes
Exterior Condition: Poor but undergoing restroation
Interior Condition: Average, all original parts exist. Under restoration.
Restoration Status: Yes - Commenced 2008
History: This car was built in 1949 as one of a class of 30 YT coaches to a pre-war design in Belgium to replace those vehicles lost in the war. The only difference is the lack of marquetry on the wood paneling internally.
The car spent most of its working life on the Nord Express (Paris - Copenhagen) and the Arlberg-Orient Express (Paris - Bucharest, Romania).
Withdrawn from service in 1976, the coach was moved to the NVR in 1979 for a BBC television film. It was then used as volunteer accommodation before being declared unfit for use.
Notes: Work so far has concentrated on the roof, the window mechanisms and the exterior bodywork (one side).
Further work will include substantial work on the interior (complete, but in a poor condition at present) and both vestibules, which require serious rebuilding. There is also extensive restoration required to the undercarriage and bogies. None of the restoration is impossible, however it is all very time consuming and labour-intensive.
Interior in 2010
As you can see, the pillar on the right has been removed.
Unfortunately however, the removal of this piece reveled extensive corrosion to the areas surrounding the buffers. The only way to tackle this problem is to remove the buffers, gas axe the corroded material away and weld a new plate in place.
The buffer plate is corroded beyond repair. The actual buffers can be seen through the hole in the plate.
Interior work also continues with another new member methodically removing and repairing each window before he begins to strip the rest of the coach.
The two broken windows have been re-glazed and one compartment now has a fully operational window.
The working window in the first compartment.
Parts of the window mechanism.
The handle to wind the window up and down.
Some of the interior paneling has also been removed and re varnished. Fortunately there is little or no damage to the majority of the panels.
Pictures show the newly restored panel on the left against an un-restored panel.
Moving back onto the exterior of the coach, one side of the coach has been stripped of paint and the majority painted in green primer. Some sections around the windows are even in blue undercoat.
Photo showing the early stages of removing old paint and putting the new coats on.
As the days are getting shorter, we are losing valuable hours of working time. To help reduce this problem to some extent we have installed a row of lights cable-tied into place along the interior corridor. This should keep the work hours the same as the summer time, weather permitting of course!
Work continues on the vestibule end fabrication, but with a new working member having joined the team, work is now commencing on the corridor side.
Many windows are completely seized and many of the window recesses are heavily corroded externally in the corners, but more extensively on the inside. The opening windows drain internally, with the water exiting the coach via small holes where the chassis joins the coach sides. Rust in this area has caused the plate to corrode and pop the rivets, leading to flaring of the side plate. This also, being structural, requires extensive attention.
Firstly, the internal wooden paneling has been removed, allowing the window mechanism and fittings to be extracted. Each wooden part is labeled, but many have a Wagon-Lits stamp from when they were built, with car number and window number included.
With the fixed window the internal sills are heavily corroded, these are in two parts, the cover unscrews, while the main support is welded and has to be cut out.
The window corners are then carefully cut out, when beyond repair. Following this we then needle gun around the window aperture, prime and undercoat to protect the plate after rust treatment.
Prince William School, Oundle, visited for one week and provided excellent service in removing the battery boxes from the coach, continuing the fabrication of the vestibule ends and making a number of small parts.
The images above show the battery boxes prior to removal, existing conduit heavily corroded and disintegrating.
Cutting off the seized bolts.
Once the battery boxes are removed, they will be grit blasted by a contractor.
April - June 2009
Extensive corrosion of both end vestibules:
In order to proceed with removing corroded metal the steps had to be removed.
A decision has been taken, following consultation with the Nene Valley's full time carriage staff, that the steel work on the vestibule ends is beyond repair and total replacement is better.
Each pillar has been accurately measured and drawings made.
The drawings have been used to produce the steel that form the vestibules. Each being identical to the original.
A lot of work has gone into the main pillars, originally Wagon-Lits would have used a press for these parts as the majority of the pillar is a quarter round profile, but becomes square towards the top.
In order to create an exact copy of the original, two sections had to be formed separately and then welded together.
The new pillars being cut to shape by a volunteer with a plasma cutter.
After the pieces had been cut to fit together perfectly they had to be welded together.
The two halves to the new vestibule pillar after being welded together.
July - October 2008
The restoration of the roof is now complete, the coach having taken pride of place in the newly commissioned heavy overhaul workshop. All tank fillers and inspection panels have been removed for restoration. While in the workshop rotten metalwork has been cut away from the end vestibules, taking care to measure and draw all metalwork profiles in order so that new profiles can be pressed.
The external doors have been removed for renovation.
The main water tanks and hot water boiler have been lifted out and the boiler pipe work dismantled.
End Vestibule Stripped down to the frame:
Corrosion on the main frame.
Fortunately plenty of sound metal still remains as shown above.
Vestibule with doors removed for renovation.
Hot water systems prior to restoration.
Wagon-Lits coaches had to be self contained as the many Wagon-Lits express sleeping car trains exchanged coaches to different locations along the way. This could involve a coach waiting some time before being collected by the next express.
The coach, of course, contained an attendant (conductor) who kept the coach warm by keeping the boiler stoked with coal from the hoppers on the vestibule ends. The hot water was heated in the same way, in a small boiler on top of the main boiler. In the summer, this small boiler was stoked independently, but in the winter, heat from the main boiler also heated the small one.
Corroded roof sheet removed:
Below are some more pictures from the time the coach spent inside the new heavy overhaul shed:
3916 being shunted into the new shed
The small electricity box next to the battery boxes and the step into the coach with manufacturing details.
Two shots of the far end Vestibule where work has not yet commenced.
The end product of a winters work; the roof almost completely restored. First photo still in the shed and the second after removal the following spring.
February - July 2008
The coach continued to stand in the open and attention concentrated on fund raising and removal/restoration of body work fittings. The fittings mentioned above were carefully removed and then grit blasted, prior to rust treating, primer, undercoat and gloss.
Parts prior to restoration:
Parts after restoration:
November 2007 - January 2008
Work progressed to the interior of the coach. The plan is to complete the corridor and then make a start on the compartments. There are also two windows that will need replacing. So far work has centered around removing paneling around the windows, refurbishing all the metalwork in the window mechanisms then screwing it back in.We have also removed the fake ceiling put in when the coach was modernised to reveal the original Art Deco one which has made the coach seem a lot more spacious.
August - November 2007
As can be seen above and below, when one of our members first attempted to get to grasps with this coach it was in a pretty bad state. While not structurally the most dilapidated part of the coach, the visual state of the roof left a lot to be desired. It was not water-tight and more importantly was relatively cheap to sort out.
This was first sanded and wire brushed back to bare metal, before a treatment of rust prevention was put on. On top of this we added primer and the white paint now present on the coach roof.
Unfortunately, the weather beat us to finishing the job, so the remaining third was left to the Spring when conditions are a bit more pleasant to be sitting on top of the coach!
Below are some more photos of the work that has taken place on the roof:
The newly 'paint free' roof.
One of the cleaned roof vents.
The roof how it looked originally and the part of the roof under paint.