Tag Archives: LU150

Dynamic testing of Met 353 – November 2012

As recently restored 353 had not previously run in its current form (using a modified PMV underframe), it was necessary to bed in the suspension and brakes; and to build confidence in the performance and dynamic behaviour of the vehicle. The tests were undertaken on the Great Central Railway over a three day period, with mileage accumulation carried out on day 1 (Monday 19th November). For the initial test runs the carriage was sandwiched between two locomotives (Cl45 D123 and Cl20 D8098 ) to enable rapid reversals at the possession limits and build up mileage as quickly as possible.

Once safe operation at 25 mph had been demonstrated on the first day, the carriage was tested to 40 mph, then to a maximum higher speed of 50mph on day 2 (Tuesday 20th November). The Class 20 locomotive provided the motive power for the high speed test, and with the light load of the carriage was very quick in reaching the desired speed. Day 3 (Wednesday 21st November) was booked as spare in case there were any issues earlier in the week. In the event this was used for additional mileage accumulation.

The following amateur footage shows the test train leaving the outskirts of Loughborough during one of the high speed runs.

The GCR was chosen as it has relatively straight and even track; ideal conditions for undertaking brake calculations and measuring vertical and lateral accelerations. The railway had been granted a derogation from the Office of Rail Regulation  for undertaking the high speed test. The Institute of Railway Research carried out the safety assurance work for the carriage and conducted the instrumentation and testing of the vehicle with support from London Underground and Festiniog Railway representatives.


Met 353 – Completion of restoration

The gleaming carriage, finished with gold leaf and carrying no fewer than ten coats of varnish, bears little resemblance to the sorry-looking hulk which arrived at Porthmadog, North Wales in August 2011 after being used as a garden shed.

Craftsmen at the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway this week completed to schedule the 15-month, £200,000 restoration. The carriage travelled from Boston Lodge Works and over Britannia Bridge in Porthmadog before being loaded onto a waiting lorry for transport to the Great Central Railway in Loughborough. Next week the carriage will undergo dynamic testing on the GCR as it is too large to be tested on the narrow gauge F&WHR.

Restoring Met 353 – Testing of safety critical components

Wheel Sets

During May safety critical components such as the draw hooks and wheelsets were carefully cleaned and NDT tested (Non Destructive Testing). This important procedure highlights any defects within metalwork that could later lead to failure of the part in service. Thankfully the majority of components passed the examination, however a number of brake block carriers failed and replacements duly sourced. When complete the carriage will have a dual (air and vacuum) braking system fitted, allowing it to be compatible with a range of heritage rolling stock. Interestingly, a number of ex London Underground A-Stock components have been recovered for re-use on the carriage braking system. Items include an auxiliary reservoir tank and two pressure gauges formally fitted to 6136 and 5136.

The profile of the wheels was checked last year and the shape found to be fairly good – A moderate amount of wear was discovered but well within intervention limits. There are currently no plans to re-profile the wheels (now close to P8) and they should be good for another 100,000 miles!


Restoring Met 353 – Loan of carriage door

Carriage Door

It can be very difficult to undertake an accurate and faithful restoration if original components are missing, or the information required to reproduce them unknown. One such challenge has been to identify the type of door latches once fitted to Met353. As none of the originals survived it was most fortuitous to recently find a complete door from another early Metropolitan Railway carriage, Met212 built by Ashbury in 1881. This has been kindly loaned to the project team by the Quainton Railway Society (QRS) and the detailed information gained from inspecting this example is proving invaluable to the build. After some careful cleaning and dismantling, it quickly became apparent the lock mechanism was designed by Edwin Robert Wethered, an inventor once based in Woolwich, London. It closely matches his patent: 407,268 submitted in 1889.

Met212 at Aylesbury © Albin J. Reed

Notes: Met212 was one of the last 8-wheeled stock carriages to be operated by the Metropolitan Railway. It was later modified for use as a sleet clearing vehicle and survived into London Passenger Transport Board (LPTB) ownership in 1933. Once withdrawn from railway use, the carriage body was grounded next to staff allotments alongside Aylesbury train station. A door was rescued by QRS before the carriage was finally broken up in 1967.


Restoring Met353 – A craftsman’s perspective

One of the first challenges has been to repair the teak frame of the carriage; and undo the damage caused by many decades of human use and exposure to the elements. Surprisingly, in spite of being a timber frame, most of the damage has been caused by rust.

In the 1890s, the normal way to construct the wooden framework of a railway carriage was to use traditional joints such as ‘mortise and tenon’ and ‘lap joints’. In the absence of any effective glue, steel woodscrews were used to keep these joints together. Where further reinforcement was required  steel brackets were added, held in place by bolts or coachscrews. Over time these steel screws and bolts have rusted, and as they rusted they have caused considerable damage.

Image 1 (Left): Comparison of severely rusted coachscrew with complete example
Image 2 (Right): Rusted screw with resulting split in wood

As the screws and bolts slowly rusted, the expanding corrosion inexorably forced the wood apart, bending and splitting it. In some places, such as the tops of the corner posts, the fixings have split and splayed the timber in every possible direction.

To repair this sort of damage, the rusty fixings must first be carefully removed, the splits stabilised, holes plugged, and finally the surface replaced with a structural veneer of sound material. Once complete, the repair will be visually unobtrusive and should last for many years.

The above information was kindly provided by David Gunn, a Festiniog Railway craftsman working on the restoration of Met 353.


Collecting for 2013 – Caledonian Road station’s whiteboard artist



It’s not every London Underground worker who has a song written and recorded about her, but that’s what has happened to Kim Kalan.

The bubbly customer service assistant at Caledonian Road station, on the Piccadilly line, has been brightening up the ticket hall with her intricate whiteboard drawings  – with an accompanying cheerful message for passengers.

As well as being praised by customers, Kim’s colourful drawings were noticed by local musician Eoin Quiery. He was so impressed he decided a write a song about her, which has been recorded on the latest album made by his acoustic rock band, Burning Wheel.

Called Kimmie Song, it can also be found on YouTube and other social networking sites.

It all began in a small way,” said self-taught artist Kim. “When we used to display notices to the public about delays or other problems, I started to put little drawings on them to brighten them up.”

She then moved on to the whiteboard drawings, working on them in her breaks and often coming in early before her shift begins.

Using white board markers she covers a wide range of subjects, ranging from the Mona Lisa to the World Cup and Armistice Day, always coming up with something special to mark Christmas, Easter and other seasonal occasions.

“I do it purely to make the day better for my customers,” said Kim, who affectionately refers to them as “my lovelies.”

She added: “What’s important to me is the positive effect my drawings and messages have on people; I’m not after any sort of recognition.”

Passengers regularly praise her drawings, including a local professional artist who said he could not do what she does with the white board markers. Other passengers have asked her to draw portraits of them.

Asked what she thought when she found out that Eoin Quiery had written a song about her, she said: “I was very surprised. How often do people get a song written about them?”

Kim, whose mother Sandra works in the station’s ticket office, also writes science fiction in her spare time. Her first fantasy book is complete and Kim is currently waiting for an agent.

My ambition is to become a full-time writer,” she said. “In the meantime I will continue with my ticket hall drawings and am so glad that they have met with such a brilliant response from customers.”

You can check out more of Kims work at www.kimistic.co.uk

Words and photos by Stephen Barry, Museum Friend


Collecting for 2013 – Oyster card holder swap shop

What does your Oyster card holder mean to you? Did you get it for free, buy it especially, or receive it as a gift? Do you use it as a wallet or just to keep your Oyster card safe?

Oyster wallets come in all colours, patterns and styles, from simple plastic holders to fancy leather and fabric cases. Companies across the capital have created their own holders as forms of advertising, with wallets being handed out all over the city every week.

As part of the LU150 celebrations, and in partnership with Andy Wallace from Transport for London, we went out to Acton Town earlier in March to find out more about what people store their Oyster cards in. If they were willing, we asked members of the public to swap their current holders for a new one, collecting the story behind the significance of the ones they donated.

Some of the stories were great, from wallets people have had since Oyster started in 2001, to pretty ones given as gifts, as well as holders purchased overseas. We’ve so far collected around 70 wallets for the Museum’s collection, all with their own great stories and anecdotes attached.

If you’d like to donate your Oyster card holder to the Museum, get in touch!


History of Met 353 (1974 – 1980s)


Whilst the restoration is on-going at the Festiniog Railway further research is being undertaken into the history of Metropolitan Railway carriage 353. Acquired by London Transport in 1974, several colour images have recently come to light showing the transportation of the carriage from Shrivenham and its subsequent storage at Ruislip depot.

Using a Central Distribution Services (LT) lorry the carriage was collected from Knapps dairy farm (located just off Shrivenham high street, Oxfordshire) in August 1974. It had been kept in the corner of the farmyard for over 34 years, but now required rescuing due to planned redevelopment of the farm site. Although exposed for many years to changing weather conditions, the carriage remained structurally sound and when inspected was found to be in surprisingly good condition for its age.

On arrival at Ruislip depot the carriage was moved undercover and added to London Transports historical relics collection. Various restoration options were explored over the following years including the idea of sectioning one compartment for public display. Thankfully the carriage was preserved intact, and after 37 years in storage is finally being restored to operational use.


Collecting for 2013 – North Acton’s Station Garden

Two supervisors at North Acton station have created an award-winning garden that provides all-year-round colour to the delight of passengers.

The Central Line station’s glorious displays scooped first place in the Cultivated Garden category, as well as coming runner-up in the Best Overall Garden section, in last year’s annual Underground in Bloom contest hosted by TfL.

The man-made flower beds are the work of supervisors Terry Murrell and Bharat Vagani, built with the help from other station staff including contract cleaner Abraham Soubair.

It all began in a small way back in 2005 when Bharat, a veteran of 22 years with London Underground, put up some hanging baskets on the platforms to brighten up the dingy surroundings.

When Terry Murrell, with London Underground for five years, transferred to North Acton from Embankment, Bharat persuaded him to share in his vision of bringing a lot more natural colour to the station forecourt.

Months of hard work followed. Working by hand, they brought in around 15 tons of soil to create the extensive raised beds, which are edged with railway sleepers. All of the work was done in their spare time, including days off and during annual leave.

It was a true labour of love as the station has no vehicle access and all the soil had to be brought down a long slope from the nearby road.

As well as nurturing the flower beds and hanging baskets, Terry and Bharat grow up to 24 different varieties of vegetables in pots.

They receive a small annual ‘gardening’ grant from London Underground but contribute their own money to buy additional plants and garden tools.

Their hard work has not gone unnoticed. As well as winning numerous Underground in Bloom awards the green-fingered duo has received several commendations on the TfL website.

They have also been filmed for The Tube, a six-part documentary on the activities of London Underground staff, being shown on BBC Television.

Passenger response has been extremely positive. “Customers often take photos of the gardens, while one woman recently offered us a job looking after her garden,” said Terry.

“Another elderly lady, who uses the station twice a week, said the flowers reminded her of the displays she saw at suburban stations 40 years ago, and has helped make her feel safer when travelling.”

He added that their efforts have spurred one regular customer to tackle his own small garden, which he had neglected for years.

“It has been very satisfying to plan and create the gardens and to know that our customers appreciate all our efforts,” said Bharat.

“We are doing it for them, so that they feel happy when they come through every day and see splashes of colour, whatever the season.”

Words and photograph by Stephen Barry, Museum Friend


Collecting for 2013 – Finchley Central’s Platform Garden

Mark Kirwin, a supervisor at Finchley Central, has created a colourful, award-winning garden on one of the station’s platforms.

Practically single-handed he has transformed a derelict piece of ground into an oasis of colour that regularly scoops top awards in London Underground’s annual Underground in Bloom competition.

It all began in 2008 when Mark decided to do something to ‘green’ the suburban Northern Line station.

“I decided to tackle a piece of waste ground about the length of one-and-half tube carriages on the southbound platform, as it’s an area that gets the sun most of the day.”

With help from his partner, Ian, who is extremely knowledgeable about plants, the pair first had to prepare the ground. Working in their spare time, they dug out the area, put down a plastic membrane, covered it with shingle, ballast and stones and brought in 300 bags of soil.

“I started with a blank canvas with the intention of creating a country-style flower garden right here in London, which I think we have achieved,” said Mark.

A wide selection of colourful flowers have been planted out, including annuals and perennials so as to give colour all year round, with pots filled with bedding plants in the summer.

“I had a plan for the garden right from the start and have generally followed a colour scheme using shades of orange and purple,” said Mark.

For three years from 2008 the garden came second in the Cultivated Gardens and Tubs category in the Underground in Bloom competition. In 2011 it received the contest’s top accolade by being awarded the Dennis Sanger Chief Operating Officer Special Award, beating off competition from stations across the Underground network.

Mark said: “I was absolutely delighted to receive the top prize after picking up three second prizes in previous years.”

The country-style garden regularly receives praise from passenger, with children appreciating the animals and other small sculptures that are hidden amongst the plants.

“One woman told me that she always comes to the station at least 15 minutes before she needs to get a train, “ said Mark. “This is so she can walk up and down the platform to smell and admire the flowers.”

Mark has put in an irrigation system so that when he is on leave the other station staff just have to turn on a tap to water the plants to prevent them from drying out.

Text and photo by Stephen Barry, Museum Friend