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UPDATE from the Carriage and Wagon Department at Great Yeldham

News from the Carriage and Wagon Department at Great Yeldham

We are now working on a new carriage. We were just repairing and making spares for carriages but now No.5 (a composite carriage) has been started in earnest so we can bring you up to date on what is happening at Great Yeldham

There are many things that have to happen before we can start to build a carriage.

Firstly we need to check all the information about the particular type of carriage. Because there are no full size detailed drawings of the carriages, Tony Ely draws up the type of carriage and then transfers the measurements from these drawings to "setting out rods”.


Setting out rods

The side of the carriage is drawn in plan full size onto a board the length of the carriage. All the frame members, their shapes, internal wall positions, doors and doorways, also mortises and tenon’s are also drawn full-size. The “rod” would show the solebar, all outside mouldings and all steel panels. Once the first rod is done, other rods are then made for the width, height and any item that needs to be detailed.

To you use the rods: place your timber on the rod and transfer all the marks that you require onto the timber, if you have one or many they will all be the same. Also from the rods you can get the length and size of timbers, the various mouldings, the sizes of steel panels, glass and doors.

Keep the “rods” and you can construct another identical carriage any time you want one.

Once transferred the "setting out" can be checked before anything is cut.


What happens next?

Tony Ely then produces a "cutting list" of all the timber and also all the other items required i.e. screws, bolts, steel panels.Then estimates and quotes are sought. Based upon these, contact the suppliers or fabricators before getting authorization from the L&BR Trust to spend the required amounts to place the orders. Once this has been obtained, Tony then organizes deliveries to site. Some people think that these items just turn up!


Pitch Pine Pews

Back in the summer, Tony's son Robert heard that they were removing the pews from his local church, St. Matthew's in Ipswich. Robert was married there in 2014 and it was where Tony and Sheila got married 50 years ago. These pews were pitch pine as used in the 1898 L&B carriages. The East Group made an offer and it was accepted.We stripped out 41 pews as well as all the floor and joists under the pews.

So far using this wood we have machined the floor boards out of the seats, seat slats and seat legs out of various rails, the roof boards out of the flooring and the seat frames cut out of the floor joists.

There are some short boards from the backs of the pews. These were two rows of boards about 15" long and 4" wide. Rather than discard them we are machining the ends and gluing them end-on to form 1 metre long and 1.8 metre boards. When glued up, we will have enough short boards to cover the inside walls and partitions of the carriage.

The purchase of these pews has saved a considerable amount of money on the project.


We had the timber for the carriage delivered the week before Christmas and with the wood from the pews we have all the timber required. We use a clear preservative to treat all the timber against rot and woodworm and this is applied by brush. All the soft wood in the carriages to date have had this treatment.

The work carried out so far by the team is as follows:

1. All the roof boards are machined and painting has started. This involves "treatment", prime, 1st undercoat. The second undercoat is now being applied

2. The floorboards have been machined and treated and are now ready for drilling the holes for the floor bolts.

3. Seat frames have been made and are in the process of being sanded.

4. Seat slats have been prepared and sanded for treatment

5. The third class seat legs now await treatment

6. Wall boards are being machined and glued up.

All the above items were made out of materials from St. Matthew's Church.


Regarding the new wood:

1. All the side frames, ends and bulkheads have been cut ready for setting out.

2. Roof ribs are made and ready for moulding.

3. The base of the lamp tops (roundels) are in the round awaiting moulding.

4. Setting out full size working rods are in the process of being completed.

5. The area where the carriage will be assembled is now ready for the sole bars and cant rails to have their splices marked out and machined.


1. 3rd class seat legs all machined.



2. Seat frames in waiting.

3. John Myhill and David Gandell setting out the support blocks in the carriage area.  Those are seat slats to their left.


Setting out the support blocks that take the cross sleepers has to be done very carefully as when the body is ready for the underframe this passes under but must not hit the blocks. The blocks are approximately 20" high, then comes a set of folding wedges 3" high, then a 5" sleeper on top. The rails are are on the floor ready for the underframe to roll on. The sleepers are levelled across the width and length of the carriage. After the body is built and is ready to be set on the underframe, steel plates are bolted to the sole bars in the door openings..A tube is passed through from one side to the other and a new set of blocks set up between the others with jacks on top. There are 14 on this carriage. The body is jacked up and the sleepers removed. It is then lowered onto the underframe. And that's all there is to it!




4. Floor and roof boards in the paint shop.



5. Two samples of wall boards, one painted face and the other showing the back. (4 short boards make one 1 metre board). The short boards are finger jointed and glued end on, behind is a pile of short boards awaiting gluing up.



6. The carriage assembly area. The support blocks and cross sleepers are in place with the sole bars and cant rails on top ready for splicing.


I wish to say a big thank you to all involved at Great Yeldham for all the effort that has been put in.

If anybody is interested in seeing how things are done or would like to help, let me know. Volunteer days are Tuesdays and Thursdays at the present time.

The EAST group are also attending shows in the area.

We are hoping to have an open weekend later on the date as yet to be fixed.

Tony Ely (Chairman EAST Group)

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