Oak – air dried for Toad B brake van restoration

Rescued and restored by the Mid Suffolk Light Railway in 1995 and in continuous service as a passenger and demonstration goods train the Toad B LNER brake van is due for renovation. Sutton Timber were approached by the restoration team at the MSLR and asked to supply oak for the works.   Chosen for its strength and stability,  80mm and 100mm air dried joinery grade oak was specifically selected.

The oak has been air dried by Sutton Timber for a period of seven years.  Air drying is a process achieved by exposing timber to normal atmospheric conditions and drying it naturally. As a result this  gradually reduces the moisture content of the wood, preventing shrinkage and maximising strength. Hence the quality and grade of joinery oak allows this 19 feet long carriage with a 10 feet 6 inch wheelbase, weighting twenty ton to be supported.

Originally built at the Doncaster Works of the LNER in 1928/9  the name ‘Toad’ comes from shortened telegraph messages (each wagon had a simple code name).  Their purpose was to provide additional braking and a hut or (van) to house the guard at the rear of the train. The body of the coach was wooden framed and panelled using teak, ash or oak.  Once an integral part of the UK freight scene, brake vans have now dwindled to the point of extinction mainly due to the standardisation of continuous brake fitted wagons.

Furthermore with the endeavours of organisations like the MSLR this era of British history is preserved.  Not only a museum,  the Middy is a place of education holding regular events to encourage all to learn about this bygone age.  It runs regular steam trains and has a programme of carriage and wagon restoration complementing its efforts to recreate this slice of Edwardian England.

It is great to see our timber being used for this unusual project.  Also it is really satisfying to be able to help customers who often find it so difficult to get the right quality timber to do the job.  John Reeve from the MSLR said  ‘thanks to the oak supplied by Sutton Timber the restoration work is now well underway’.

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