All vehicles, stores and equipment now protected

Smartwater

Volunteering

Volunteering within the Birmingham Railcar Workgroup could not be easier. We have no formal membership, no fees and no fuss. Our organisation is simply a collection of like minded people working together to preserve a piece of 1950's British heritage. We are always interested in involving new people, and can facilitate this in four locations in the UK:

Lancashire (North West)

Five of our railcars are located at the East Lancashire Railway at Bury near Machester, which has been the main location for our activities since 2014. Here, we operate in partnership with the Bury Diesel Multiple Unit Group who own a further two DMU sets based on the railway. Our working members here are involved with all of the sets on the railway. Members are also involved in driving and operating the vehicles on heritage services.

Telford (Midlands)

Four of our railcars are on loan to the Telford Steam Railway, two of which are used as locomotive hauled coaching stock. Volunteers are always required to maintain the vehicles and operate them in service.

Norfolk (East)

Our newest restoration emporium is at the North Norfolk Railway at Sheringham, where a single Class 104 vehicle is currently undergoing a very thorough overhaul with a view to using it on this seaside railway after completion.

Established in 2014, the small team is fresh and interested in hearing from anybody who may be able to help expand our activities here.

Denbighshire (Wales)

Since 1993 three of the group's railcars have been on long term loan to Llangollen Railcars Ltd, who restore and maintain one of the most prestigious fleets in the country on the Llangollen Railway in Wales. They are a very successful organisation and have a volunteer recruitment system in their own right. Volunteers are welcomed for roles in maintenance, crewing trains and public facing roles.

Kevin Dowd

Railcar Restoration

Railcar restoration is a unique experience, even within the railway world. Railcars combine the cosmetic and interior refurbishment that the travelling public enjoy (usually associated with carriage restoration) with the mechanical and engineering systems that diesel locomotives offer. Railcars are therefore unique in railway preservation for offering the "full package" of an entire self contained train.

We regularly undertake maintenance work as well as progressing our major restorations.

All of the group’s work has been achieved entirely with volunteers: a small but dedicated team that has, at times, been as small as just three people. Extra volunteers greatly speed up the process of returning vehicles into service, as the list of tasks to complete a restoration is a challenge. The group is very interested to hear from anyone who may be considering volunteering at any of our active locations.

Paul Moxon

What is Required?

No railway experience is required, and existing group members come from all walks of life, contributing as much or as little as they wish. Some can help at weekends, others attending once every few months. There is no binding contract, and no fee! Group members volunteer as a form of enjoyment, and many volunteers would agree that the work is often an effective “escape” from everyday life. Alternatively, volunteering is a great way to keep active (in all senses of the word) upon retirement. Volunteers of all ages are welcome, we currently have members ranging from their 20's to their 60's.

Despite what people may think, much of what we do is actually no more than developed DIY. Full instruction is given to any new member who does not have a background in railways. Training is available for more complex work which can be greatly satisfying for those who want to learn new skills.

There are many more railcars to restore, and volunteers are required to keep the dream alive. The more volunteers we can recruit, the faster results will be. Why not come down and give it a try? Meet new people down at the railway whilst at the same time resurrecting a unique British built vehicle.

To arrange a meeting, drop us an E-mail and we'll get you started helping keep our heritage alive for others to enjoy.

Mark Barnett

Activities

Nearly any skill can be harnessed in railway preservation, below are just some of the work that's involved.

Woodwork
We are now at the stage where many wooden components are made from scratch using lengths of hardwood. Other components nearly always need repairs, and there are lots of them, as Class 104 interiors are made almost entirely from 1950's timber.

Metalwork
Our vehicles are made from steel which at 60 years old can be extremely corroded! There is always a mixture of areas requiring repairs, or in the case of M59137, whole vehicle re-panelling can be found in a restoration.

Painting & Bodywork
Considerable time and effort is spent on getting the best possible external finish for our vehicles, and the body preparation work and following coach painting culminates in a very satisfying end result. Countless other components, some seen and some hidden, require painting to preserve them for future use.

Chris Moxon

Engines & Mechanical

Each powercar has two Leyland horizontal bus-style engines underneath. At 60 years old, these need the attention of fitters as part of our rolling maintenance program and entire engine rebuilds are now not uncommon. There are many other components associated with the braking, air and control systems located underneath our vehicles, all of which are looked after by our group.

Electrical
Many of the systems we deal with are electronic and haven't seen use for many years, these control systems can cause major problems if they fail, so their maintenance and repair is important.

General & Cleaning
More general DIY and household skills can be used in simply returning components that haven't been clean for 30 years back to their original condition. This is more time consuming than it sounds so even those who may not feel they have any skills to offer may in fact be of great use.

Paperwork
Operating a full size railway cannot be done without some important aspects being taken seriously. There are therefore systems in place regarding maintenance and records that require keeping up to date in a professional manner. This involves a modest amount of paperwork and is necessary for us to continue our hobby safely.

Fundraising
This is a new area currently undeveloped within the group. We are currently on the lookout for those who may be able to lead in coordinating a system aimed at fundraising (online or elsewhere) to assist the physical activities of the group. This role would be ideal for a candidate interested in helping but unable to assist in other areas, perhaps due to living too far away.