Heritage Underground Trains
The Q-stock cars at Acton depot, before restoration work started
Q-stock Update - March 2012
Paul Hopper reports on recent progress and future plans
All four Q-stock cars are still currently in Acton Works. They are being worked on in sequence, commencing with 08063, which is in the best general condition due to the work carried out by the London Underground Railway Society in the 1990s.
Asbestos removal has largely been completed, enabling restoration work on the vehicles to begin. The only major outstanding issue is whether the roof panels containing asbestos in 4184 need to be disturbed to facilitate work on the wiring.
Rewiring has started on 08063, and non-destructive testing (NDT) of the bogies has been completed with a satisfactory outcome. The bogies have also been stripped and repainted. NDT has also been completed, again satisfactorily, on 4417, and this car is next in line for restoration work, which hopefully will commence once 08063 returns to the Depot in spring 2012.
Once 08063 returns to the Depot, the specification for work to be undertaken by volunteers will be drawn up, and “jobs” advertised in the email newsletter and in Friends’ News. The vehicles to be included in the permanent Depot display will sanded down and repainted. Floor lagging and trim will be refitted, and the vehicles deep cleaned.
The Museum is currently undertaking a review of the collection and space utilisation at the Depot. The Friends have bid for space for three cars – Q35 08063, Q38 4417 and Q23 4184 – to be incorporated in the permanent display in the Depot. 4416 is an exact duplicate of 4417, save for orientation, and it is not proposed to undertake any further work on this vehicle.
In the event that space is at a premium, and only two cars can be accommodated in the Depot, no further work would be carried out on 4184, as its Q23 sister car 4248 in Covent Garden represents the class. The Museum, and the Friends, will give further consideration to the future status and location of any cars not included in the Depot display.
The target date for completion of the Q stock restoration work remains December 2012, so that the vehicles will be ready for public presentation in 2013.
Q-stock Update - April 2011
Car 4417 has had most of the remaining asbestos panelling removed from its underside, except for two pieces that have been sealed. The Q35 car (08063) has had smaller quantities removed and now requires replacement insulating panels to be made so that the function can be restored to fuse boxes required for the lighting circuits. These have all been traced and a wiring plan produced, which for this car retains most of the existing cable. However, the challenge is to improve the earthing arrangement for each light fitting to meet currently required standards. A prototype modification has been tried which looks promising.
Q Stock Restoration Background
The Friends are indebted to London Underground’s REW Trains Division at Acton Works for continuing to work on the Q-stock restoration as time permits with other workloads.
In late 2010, the Museum and Friends carried out an in-depth review of progress with, and realistic objectives for, the ongoing Q-stock project. Here are the conclusions.
The Friends had previously committed themselves to restoration of the four Q-stock cars (above the solebars), as a first stage towards possible full restoration to operational condition. Friends’ funding has been secured for the first stage of restoration to this “Museum static display plus” standard. The cars are currently at the Underground’s Acton Train Maintenance Unit (TMU). Asbestos has been largely removed from one car (4417). The removal and monitoring of this work is being done at no cost to the Museum or to the Friends as a “pro bono” activity by Forest and 4Rail.
Further work has been progressing slowly, due to other demands on TMU resources.
At a meeting in November 2010, attended by Friends, Museum and TMU representatives, it was established that an opportunity now exists for TMU to do work on the Q stock in the first half of 2011.
The Q-stock in Acton Works, in December 2009
Advice from professional fundraisers is that appeal for funds for full restoration is unachievable in any foreseeable time-frame, due in large part to the difficult economic climate, which is affecting almost everyone’s disposable incomes. There are also concerns about the practicability and acceptability to London Underground of operating Q-stock on the Underground railway in the longer term under its own power, and to financing its ongoing maintenance. Making the cars suitable for operation at the Underground’s proposed higher traction current voltage (750V) and providing compatibility with new signalling systems is likely to incur further substantial additional costs.
Hauling the cars as empty stock for display purposes at appropriate locations on the sub-surface railway might be possible; but London Underground has indicated that such a proposition would require careful evaluation from the safety and certification points of view. There are serious doubts about whether such an option could be cost-effective.
A Way Forward
Against this background, the Friends and Museum have therefore agreed the following set of proposals as being realistic at the present point in time:
- Proceed with an agreed TMU schedule of work on all four cars. This includes: asbestos removal; wheel testing; bogie cleaning and painting; body examination and appropriate repairs; preparation for body painting; and implementing a saloon lighting scheme.
- Return all four cars to the Depot after the TMU work is completed. Carry out the restoration of internal saloons, guard’s compartments and driver’s cabs, using volunteer labour supplemented by contract staff when required – progressively on 4417, 08063 and 4184. This will bring them up to ‘static Museum display plus’ standard as a three car ‘train’ of individually unique cars.
- Store 4416 (duplicate car to 4417).
- Paint exteriors of cars 4417, 08063 and 4184.
- Develop excellent interpretation material to highlight rolling stock developments during the past 80 years, from engineering, operational and passenger perspectives. This would include the use of the information available within the comprehensive Q- stock Conservation Management Plan and the display of equipment, either already available as stored items within the Depot or removed from the cars themselves.
Friends intend to fund the restoration and interpretation of the three cars, as outlined, with the finance already available.
This way forward will deliver the excellent restoration of cars 4417, 08063 and 4184 for static Museum display in the Depot. The suggested interpretation of the static display will provide excellent support for the Museum’s education and visitor objectives. There is also potential for the ongoing restoration work at The Depot to provide vocational skills training, as well as the involvement of volunteers.
What is immediately proposed will not prejudice further work to restore the cars to operational condition in the future, if the required funding becomes available and the many practical issues can be successfully addressed. This will, however, be a longer-term possibility than was originally envisaged. Such a proposal would require restoration of the second Q38 car (4416), to provide a second, operational driving motor car. (It is considered very unlikely that restoring car 4184 to operational condition would be cost-effective, in view of the anticipated repair work involved.)
The Friends are now in active discussion with TMU to complete the initial work, which should see the Q-stock cars returned to the Depot at Acton in Spring/Summer 2011.
London Underground, the Museum and Friends remain committed to heritage train operations in 2011, and beyond, using the 1938 tube stock and Sarah Siddons; and to developing an exciting programme of events for the 150th anniversary of the Underground railway in London in 2013.
London Transport Museum and the London Transport Museum Friends are working together on a joint project to restore, hopefully to operational condition, the Q-stock Underground cars normally kept at The Museum Depot at Acton.
Initial project planning work on the Q-stock restoration was funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant in 2005.
The restoration is now being carried forward in a two-stage project. The London Transport Museum Friends already have significant funding available - from a substantial bequest, from other reserves and from generous donations and pledges. In total, these sums amount to near £400,000.
Using this money, the Friends have made a start towards restoring the four Q-stock cars to what is called "static museum standard plus". This initial stage of work aims to restore the cars to display condition, internally and externally above the solebars. It will also include any additional attention to mechanical and electrical items within and beneath the bodywork that is sensibly done now, to avoid any work being done twice when further funds are available for a full restoration to operational condition. This extra work is the "plus" factor.
A full technical specification for the first stage of the restoration work was completed in 2008. A detailed audit of the cars and their equipment has also been undertaken, along with a photographic record of the cars in their unrestored state. In 2009, the cars moved to London Underground’s Acton Works for work to start on the first stage of restoration, including the removal of asbestos and testing of the wheel-sets. This work is proceeding slowly, as it has to be phased in with other, more urgent, work on operational tube stock maintenance. Once it is completed, the cars will return to the Museum's Acton Depot, where they will again be on public display. It is the Friends' intention to involve volunteers in as much of the restoration work as possible.
Jointly with the Museum, the Friends have been developing plans to restore to operational condition the four cars of District Line Q-stock, dating from the 1930s, currently stored at Acton Depot.
In November 2007 we received news from the HLF that it had decided not to offer a grant towards the Q-stock restoration.
Since this news was received, discussions have taken place between the key players in the Friends and the Museum. These discussions have resulted in a redefinition of the project, to which both parties remain firmly committed. Key elements of the new way forward are:
• Widening the scope to a Heritage Trains Project, led by the Friends but with the whole-hearted support and participation of the Museum. The widened project would embrace not only restoration of the Q-stock cars, but also the ongoing maintenance and operation of the 1938 tube stock set and other opportunities for heritage Underground train operation that are expected to present themselves.
• A two-stage approach to the Q-stock restoration.
What does this two-stage approach mean, so far as the Q-stock is concerned? We have significant funding already available, from a generous bequest from the late Bob Greenaway, from Friends'reserves and from other recent donations and pledges. In total, these sums amount to roundly £400,000. By using this money, we believe that we can make an early start towards restoring the four Q-stock cars to what we are calling "static museum standard plus". This initial stage of work would aim to restore the cars to display condition, internally and externally above the solebars. It would also include any additional attention to mechanical and electrical items within and beneath the bodywork that is sensibly done now, to avoid any work being done twice when further funds are available to progress to a full restoration to operational condition. This extra work is the "plus" factor.
Work is proceeding now on redefining a detailed project plan, based on the wider project objectives and the two-stage approach to Q-stock restoration. A technical specification is being produced for the first stage of the restoration work, which will be discussed with potential contractors. It remains our intention to involve Friends and other volunteers in as much of the restoration work as possible; we will be following up as soon as practicable the many offers of help that have already been made.
Restoration of all four Q-stock cars to operational condition remains the ultimate objective. Committing now to "static plus" is a positive move in that direction. An operational restoration will require considerable further funding, currently estimated at £1.6 million, from external sources. Fundraising plans are being put in place to achieve this, drawing on the expertise of a number of senior transport industry figures and other interested parties.
To support the project, The Friends have republished a commemorative booklet, marking the withdrawal of the Q-stock trains from passenger service in 1971.
About the Project
London Transport Museum and the London Transport Museum Friends are committed to a joint project to restore the Q-stock Underground cars at the Museum Depot at Acton. The Q-stock restoration plans are part of a wider joint project to support the conservation and operation of heritage Underground trains generally, under the overall project title “Moving Tube Heritage”. The Friends provided most of the funding for the restoration of the Museum’s four-car 1938 tube stock set, which now operates special runs for the public at weekends. The dates and booking details for these trips are advertised on the main Museum website: http://www.ltmuseum.co.uk/whats-on/events/vehicles-on-the-move
The four Q-stock cars, which have been kept in unrestored condition at Acton, date from 1923-1938. They are typical of trains operated on the District and East London Lines up to their withdrawal in the early 1970s. The four cars are:
- 4416/17, flare-sided Q38 driving motor cars built in 1938, withdrawn from passenger service in 1971 and later used on engineers’ trains. The cars transferred to the London Transport Museum in 1993.
- 08063, an unpowered Q35 trailer car built in 1936. It was withdrawn from passenger service in 1971 and presented to the Museum in 1997 by the London Underground Railway Society, whose members had undertaken some restoration of this car.
- 4184, a Q 23 driving motor car dating from 1923, withdrawn in 1971 and later displayed outside the factory where it was built in Gloucester. Following factory closure, this car was presented to the London Transport Museum by the Gloucester City Museum in 1990.