This is the image most people have of Snowplough 18 when it was sat alongside Pickering Station car park for a number of years.
As can be seen here the timber work is looking worn out and a definate droop is apparent to the slope.
I decided after having a survey caried out on its condition that major repair work was required on the mainframes and to the structure of the plough slope.
The image below illustrates the condition of the lower timberwork, in some places the mainframes were so bad that you could put your hand through what should have been an oak beam 5 inches thick.
I contracted Rail Restorations North East of Shildon to carry out the works and so on the 21st of February 2009 plough 18 was loaded onto Duncan Milners lowloader at Newbridge yard and departed for Shildon via the A64, A1237 York Ring Rd (passing the bottom of my garden) Onto the A59 and the A1 to Shildon in a section of the former wagon works.
From here I left number 18 in the hands of Dave Foxton and his son Steven to carry out the work.
This was to entail the separation of the body from the frame, removal of the ballast decking cast iron slabs before the body could be lifted off. Each slab is 8ft long by 6 inch by 3 inch thick and are interlocked together, with a single layer in the rear cab section and a double layer to the front, each slab had to be manhandled out of the door.
The body was removed by using the overhead crane then pushing the chassis out from under and then lowering onto stands.
The chassis was rebuilt first.
Note the new tierods and to the lower right the cast iron slabs waiting to be reinstalled.
Once the underframe was complete attention then focused on the repair work required on the plough slope.
However prior to this the body was reunited with the frame to ensure that all bolt locations remained true and no distortion of the timbers would result.
The slope work would entail the removal of all the slope timbers and replacement in Pitch Pine as per the originals, however all the substructure framing was also in need of replacement. This kept Steven the main worker on the plough very busy making up new sections.
As can be seen above, the condition of the timberwork was not good by any means.
Some parts of the framing have been reused but not neccessarily in the original positions. If it was possible to reuse any of the original timber to form a smaller section then this was done.
On completion of the slope works the original work contracted for was just about complete, but I felt that the opportunity to replace some of the more awkward posts around the plough that were showing signs of rot and decay should not be missed. This considering the standard of the timber work carried out up to date.
The fitting of new corner posts and splicing in of new sections to other posts was then carried out.
Fitting of new Oak packing pieces to the buffers was one of the last jobs and the plough was then reloaded onto Duncans lowloader for return to Newbridge yard on the NYMR on the 8th of September 2010.
Compare this photo of the rear buffer beam with the one earlier.
Now all that remains to be done is for the side skirt panels to be remade, a new steel undertray to be fitted under the toe of the slope, refit the cutting edge, secure the steel sheet over the nose, refit the skylights, some attention to the doors and other body timber panels, repaint into NER Indian Red and whatever else turns up in the process.
Its all a long time since the plough arrived by rail from Gateshead back in 1975. Even then things were not as straightforward as they seem. It can just be seen that the plough is facing Whitby. It was meant to arrive facing Pickering. So it went back to Thornaby were it was turned and returned the next day.
During the work carried out prior to going to shildon I recovered numerous fragments of broken wagon plates as additional ballast weight. Unfortunately none complete, these would have been from wagons being scrapped at York in 1909 when Number 18 was being built.
However I did recover some of these other plates:-
As part of my research into Number 18s history I have come across a number of photos of it. For a major part of its service life it was paired with Number 20 also built at York in 1909 and which also survives at Beamish although not on display. It is in the reserve store and is almost impossible to photograph.
Number 18 also featured in the British Transport film “Snowdrift at Bleath Ghyll” in the 1950s and a link is available elsewhere on this site to view this film. This was one of the rare times 18 and 20 were apart. One day they may yet be seen together again.
The eventual aim is to restore number 18 to a similar appearance to that of the 3rd surviving North Eastern Railway Snowplough Number 12 in the possession of the NRM and on display at its Shildon museum.