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WD Brake Van 55577

Page updated on: 14/09/17 at 19:19



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Vehicle history

55577 was a 1930 Lancing-built Southern Railway Pillbox 25 ton capacity Brake Van which ended up as a burned out wreck at Stewarts Lane.

The Southern Railway’s Ashford Works in 1942 built a van for the War Department to an identical design carrying the number WD49010. It headed first to Longmoor, then to RNAD at Gosport until leaving there to join the SVR fleet in July 1990.  55577 was bought to break up to provide parts for her younger sister, 55577's remains now reside in storage at Bewdley, with donor parts, her number and builders plates on WD49010.

September 14th 2017

The van has made a huge step forward today. It's now ready for the gala with just a few minor touches give to be carried out. It will cut quite a dash as part of a small goods train. Image added 

K Moseley

August 2nd 2017

One of the brake cylinders from the Southern brake van has been removed and sent to Kidderminster for overhaul.

Graham Phillips

August 6th 2017

With the Autumn Steam Gala approaching, the pressure is on to get this finished, so hopefully the brake cylinder will be back from overhaul by next week and ready to go back on. She has also had her second coat of a lot of the sign writing applied, although the torrential down pour that we suffered at Bewdley on Saturday affected the ability to do this.

National Preservation

August 13th 2017

While the dismantled brake cylinder is on the test rig at Kidderminster Carriage Works, at Bewdley the brake van has had a bit more signwriting done and new brake vacuum pipes fitted.

Graham Phillips and Kevin Moseley.

July 31st 2017

The vacuum pipes are on and all work, except now one of the brake cylinders appears to have an internal leak. One curiosity about the construction of this van is that with most of the joints almost inaccessible and almost impossible to get a spanner or set of stilsons on, they were all threaded joints, with the exception of two, these being where the two take offs for the vacuum cylinders are, with these joints easily accessible and perfect for a threaded joint, they are of course welded. The Wagon Department have got the valve off and will next get the cylinder off so that both can be overhauled. It still needs new wooden support blocks making and brackets refitting.

One side of the van has been signwritten, experimenting with some new paint to see if we can get away with one coat.

Several images have been added to the gallery.  

National Preservation forum report, Graham Phillips and Kevin Moseley.

July 22nd 2017

All the pipes for the vacuum brakes are now cut to length and threaded, except for one where we will check the length required and cut it to suit once we start assembling it all. It also now has a fully functioning heating system - image added to the gallery.

K. Moseley and G Phillips

July 15th 2017

Just when you think that all is well with the brake van project you do a brake vacuum test and find leaks in places that are hard to get to!. The team refitted the new vacuum pipes and found the leak was worse than ever, and had obviously disturbed another pipe and made a small hole bigger. Major corrosion has only happened where two brackets with wooden saddles on the deck, and where the pipe goes through the floor, have created water traps. The way the pipes are screwed together and in to various elbows and T pieces, everything has to be taken apart in sequence. Not surprisingly, the bit they wanted off wasn't the first in the sequence. Using the 36" Stillsons and plenty of heat, they eventually got the rusty pipe off.
Meanwhile, the inside of the brake van is almost completely painted and parts of the outside have had a second top coat.

K. Moseley and G Phillips

July 13th 2017

One set of entrance steps painted and the inside of the van is now paint in progress.

July 9th 2017

A July 2017 update has been loaded on the SVR Wagons website.

July 8th 2017

Brake Van 55577 is now outside with the running boards fitted and in undercoat.
A vacuum test revealed a leak on one of pipes to the brake cylinders, so both were removed and new ones made.
The upper half of the interior is painted, the middle black line was added today, with the lower half still in undercoat.

July 1st 2017

An image added of the van enjoying the open air! Now the brake van is outside, there's room to get to the running boards, so they were being cut, primered and trial fitted (Graham Phillips).

May 31st 2017

Interior painting continues, the stove and its tray have been painted. The stove pipe has had the flare welded on the bottom and been trial fitted through the hole in the roof. The running boards have been removed.

(G Phillips)

May 29th 2017

Two images added. The van now has windows. Two new floors have been fitted, the Wagon Depatment's has a 'rustic look' whereas that fitted by the LNER Carriage Group is described as a 'ballroom on wheels'.

(G Phillips)

May 15th 2017

The van is really coming along apace now. Once the Department get it outside it will be finished off. Image added (Kevin Moseley)

April 10th 2017

55577 was on show during the Open House Weekend and, although it it looks almost complete, there is still a lot of work to do.
Three of the four veranda doors have been fitted. A stove has been sourced and will be installed when all the internal panels are fitted. The roof has had another couple of coats of paint, but still needs at least two more.
More details at

Graham Phillips

March 22nd 2017

The Wagon Department now has a web site and a Facebook page which is visible to anyone. 
This page will continue to be updated, but with more references to updates on the webpage rather than repeating the information here.

The roof goes on, painting a 50/50 mixture of white gloss and linseed oil and fixing the end battens. Images added

March 4th 2017

On the roof, work is underway stripping off the old canvas bedding compound with a hot air gun and a scraper. (There's a bit of a leak through the shed roof in heavy rain and by coincidence, it's right above the chimney hole in the brake van roof, so there is a bucket there to keep the floor dry.) Inside, work is underway refitting plywood panels. Underneath, painting is underway on the chassis and brake gear in green primer. Three images have been added to the gallery.

Graham Phillips

February 19th 2017

The second pair of veranda doors and one of the guard's seats are being repaired.
The brake and sanding gear is now refitted and fixed down to the floor.
Almost everything is now undercoated.

Graham Phillips

January 23rd 2017

55577 has had some attention to the roof, with some damage being cut out of the timber, and a new piece grafted in to replace it, involving a good bit of planing and sanding to make it fit in such a way that it won't puncture the canvass when that is fitted. The end of the north end veranda is in the process of having some new uprights made to support the plywood sheeting as the old ones were found to be in poor condition, while some attention has also been given to her brake gear.

National Preservation forum

January 15th 2017

55577 has had some surgery on the corner posts of the van doors and the end of the van, these patches have been fitted and the volunteers are now hiding the joins. The floor is now pretty well done, with the finishing strips being screwed down in both verandas, while work is marching on with the cleaning and repainting underneath. 

National Preservation forum

January 9th 2017

The main floor of the brake van has been laid and just about finished. More of the side planks are in place and the hole in the side caused by the removal of rotten planks is just about sealed. Various bits have been painted and bolts are being made. The next big job will be cleaning the roof and fitting new canvas to the roof. 

Here is also a view of what goes on underneath the van. Lots of linkage going off to various places to operate the brakes via the screw threaded shaft that comes down from the hand wheel in the van. There is also linkage that operates the sand hopper. It is all well on the way to be cleaned we de rusted and painted.

Kevin Moseley and Graham Phillips. Images added.  

January 5th 2017

The floor of is painted ready for the plank floor to go down. Images added.  

December 19th 2016

The handbrake pedestal has been lifted to replace the floor underneath it. This was held down with 4 pretty impressive bolts. Unfortunately time has not been kind to these, their original 3/4" diameter wasted away down to in some cases about 3/16". Being made of poor, low grade war time steel, it is no wonder these have only lasted 75 years!

Other work included making and trial fitting the cant rail, cleaning & painting underneath and roof ventilators undercoated.

National Preservation forum and Graham Phillips

December 11th 2016

In order to get the first floor plank to fit flush to both the angle iron that supports the veranda door/wall and over the rivets on the floor, volunteer Graham Phillips has turned the first plank into a work of art. Sadly none of this hard work will ever be seen as it all under the plank. Image added.

Kevin Moseley

December 4th 2016

The rotten floor planks have been removed from the cabin and the same for the river side wall. The south end veranda and sand box now have a nice new coat of red paint. Attention will now turn to fitting a new floor, no small job with the handbrake pedestal in the way.

National Preservation forum

November 19th 2016

The bottom stringer for the cabin door frame is made and ready to fit, it just needs painting first. The steel angle that it bolts to is badly rusted, but would be very difficult to remove and replace, so another steel angle has been let in to the timber. Once it's all assembled with the bolts passing through the timber and the two angles back to back it will be plenty strong enough. 
Floor planks have been cut for the veranda.
More rotten timber has been removed from around the ducket, the other cabin end has been undercoated.

The outer thread and nuts gave no hint to the hidden corrosion within the planking until removal - see the image added.

Graham Phillips and Kevin Moseley

November 16th 2016

More rotten planking was removed - Kevin Moseley (images added)

November 6th 2016

Three images from Graham Phillips added, with descriptions.

October 30th 2016

The vehicle epitomises the eternal dilemma of just how far do you go with a restoration.
The rust has built up between the two layers of steel on SR brake van 55577's door post until it's broken the bolts and forced the bottom plank inwards.
Ideally, we would like to strip everything back to individual components, paint it all, then reassemble it, using as much original material as possible.
There's a big queue of other wagons waiting their turn though, and the longer we spend on this one, the longer all the others sit outside in the rain, so we will have to compromise and try to do a tidy job in a reasonable time, then move on to the next one.

(Graham Phillips)

The floor in what is now the south end of the van, is complete, and attention has turned to what is now the north end (If this all sounds familiar, the van has been for a spin, and is now facing the other way)

(Ian Hollis)

October 15th 2016

The vehicle was shunted to Kidderminster and turned so the repairs can take place on the other side.

October 1st 2016

55577 is looking very red on one end now.
Odds and ends like lamp brackets and number plates have been painted.
All the veranda floor boards have been cut with a lot of holes to miss the bolts. The snag with the planking is most of the hard work that goes into some of the planks will never be seen as it's underneath the planking
The sanding gear has been reassembled underneath as well.

(Graham Phillips and Kevin Moseley)

September 17th 2016

She moved into the Goods shed at Bewdley for repairs in July 2015, requiring work on the chassis and a very extensive re-build of the bodywork.

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