Before ARIES can take her place in the Wealden Pullman, considerable restoration works are required. Whilst her former owners cared for her well, it is nearly 50 years since she last ran in service & time has inevitably taken its toll.
Because the K&ESR's own Carriage & Wagon workshops had a fully committed work program, it was considered vital that the initial restoration work on ARIES did not have a detrimental effect. Prior to removal from her former home in Devon, ARIES was surveyed & she travelled direct to our chosen contractor for initial restoration works to be undertaken. The contractor was also responsible for the groundbreaking work to restore the Brighton Belle to main line service, so ARIES had some good company in their workshops!
An appeal in the K&ESR members' magazine The Tenterden Terrier resulted in a good number of generous donations to the ARIES Appeal, which enabled the contractor to continue with the planned programmed works. Lifting of the vehicle from its bogies enabled repairs to the steam heating pipework. The drawgear was overhauled & a missing buckeye coupler & associated components have been replaced with new or overhauled. The vacuum brake cylinders were removed, cleaned, seals changed, re-assembled & tested. Brake gear that was damaged when ARIES retired to her static role has been repaired.
The bogies themselves were disassembled & bolsters cleaned & painted into topcoat and a leaf Spring replaced. The wheelsets were sent to a subcontractor for tyre turning in order to remove surface pitting that had occurred during the 45 years since ARIES last ran in service. New centrepins were made to replace those cut when the body was lifted into place in the pub car park in 1968.
Descaling of the underframe, battery & associated electrical equipment housings was progressed for painting.
Representatives of the K&ESR made various visits to our contractor to view progress with the works. Restoration of external bodywork will be the next focus, which is likely to occupy many hundreds of hours. Investment here however will ensure that ARIES remains, with little more than routine maintenance, in good order for many years to come. This is particularly important given the limited downtime available in the Wealden Pullman schedule each season.
Following completion of mechanical works, ARIES was transported by road to her new home here at the K&ESR.
ARIES on arrival at Wittersham Road Station, 2nd June 2015
In March 2016, ARIES formed the centrepiece of 'Members Day' & was open for internal viewing, having been "dressed" to illustrate just how she will eventually appear in service. Four chairs and a table were 'borrowed' from THEODORA and created tremendous interest in the project
ARIES on display, coupled to Pullman Car Theodora at Tenterden Town Station, March 2016
A table, seemingly set for dinner in ARIES, March 2016
ARIES subsequently returned to the security of the Rolvenden Carriage Storage Shed until space could be found in the busy Carriage & Wagon restoration workshops at Tenterden. This wait came to an end on 16th March 2017, when ARIES was hauled by our recently repainted Class 14 locomotive to Tenterden
ARIES in the K&ESR restoration workshops
Work underway to remove the steel exterior cladding
Quotations have been sought for blast cleaning of the inside and outside of the steel roof sheets and hoops. This has the potential to significantly reduce the time that this aspect of the restoration will take (and achieve a better finish), but does of course increase the financial cost. Whichever route is taken, it will be messy!
Removal of life expired external steel sheeting is currently paused due to the discovery of some residual potential asbestos contamination - we are currently awaiting quotations and methodology from licenced asbestos removal contractors. In the meantime, overhaul of various components off the vehicle continues....!