Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Rebirth of a Newcastle icon.

Having completed over 45 years of service Class leader set 621/721 was placed into the custody of The Rail Motor Society by RailCorps Office of Rail Heritage in October 2009.
Although having been in storage, and not operated for a short period only minor servicing was required before the set was run as a members special to deliver it to its new home at Paterson on October 5th 2009.

The new set was well received at Paterson and talk soon turned to its future tour operations and its restoration to represent an era from its past service days.

Set 621/721 carried four main liveries during its service career and it was no surprise when it was announced that it would be returned to the colours it wore when first entering service.
Having already commenced restoration of its own set 629/729, Goodwin Alco Pty Ltd offered to assist TRMS with the 621/721 project via the sponsoring of its costs for paint and preparation materials as well as providing labour to complete the painting works.
The 620/720 class cars originally had a full body covering of Indian Red relieved with yellow end whiskers and lines above and below the side windows. Cars were denoted with standard NSW carriage shaded lettering. The photo below shows set 621/721 just delivered to Newcastle on August 21, 1961.

Shortly after its delivery 621/721 was used for a charter trip to Gulgong to celebrate the local railway centenary and upon its return to Paterson quickly became the subject of restoration activities. With body restoration works already underway set 621/721 is seen being shunted away from the running lines.
In addition to repainting, damaged body panels and framing has also been repaired to ensure many more years of reliable running can be had. Body panels suffering from electrolysis and damage where either stripped back and patched or replaced.
Working in the summer months generally provides fine weather but unfortnately hot days can also be the norm. To beat the heat whilst working outside the shed the team took the initiative to set up some shelter. The removal of fibreglass panels around the door steps and treads allowed the team to access and repair the frame areas as necessary.

With the framing repaired, the step moldings were remounted and painted.

The preparation activities were a great example of voluntary groups working together with team members from TRMS, Goodwin Alco and Maitland rotary working together to get the job done.
Sanding of panels was done by man and machine all over the bodies and countless sheets of paper used to prepare the old paint and panels.

The cars are sheathed in an aluminium skin which is rivetted to the framing. Many rivets found to be loose have been replaced with a special hard wearing countersunk type recommended by the Broadmeadow car builders who used to maintain them.
As with all painting jobs the key is preparation. Here we see one of the many sheets of paper being applied to mask the window glass and avoid paint overspray. 74 windows to mask means a lot of tape and paper was required.
In some areas of pitting or where repairs were required the body was stripped back to bare metal. To ensure good paint adhesion an etch primer was used to treat the new metal.
With an overall coat of grey primer applied the team are ready to apply the top colour coats.

The car ends and sides were sprayed yellow below the windows to enable the whiskers and lining to be marked out and masked. Outside the shed recently completed 629 shows off the finished product.

The sign writing team use their in-house template stick to ensure that all the lines are in the right place.
To ensure smooth and accurate curves special automotive tape was used and can be seen defining the outlines.
2 coats of the Indian red body colour were appplied and should ensure a good, deep finish.
With the line masking in place the whole of the cars are painted.
When the paint has dryed the masking comes off and after a few small touch ups the work moves upstairs.
The original silver roof colour not only looks great but also acts as a heat deflector to help keep the car interiors cooler.

The end of the job is getting close so the detail aspects like replica builders plates, paint highlights and the shaded lettering are applied. The builders plates and shaded lettering were specially produced and provided by Goodwin Alco.

Original NSWR insignia mirrors from the Goodwin Alco collection have been reinstated in the toilets.
With the shaded lettering applied and final touch ups the transformation of this heritage set is complete.

On Sunday January 17 2010 621/721's return to service in original livery was unveiled when it operated a tour for ARHS NSW to Nowra and return.

Early in the morning the set headed south from Paterson through familiar territory to Central to pick up a full load of passengers. Its journey further south on the Illawarra line to Nowra is likely to be the first time that these units have traversed those metals.

It is hoped that this outing will the first of many journeys for 621/721 telling the story of an era past and one previously not experienced by the latest generation of rail enthusiasts.


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