Sunday, November 14, 2010

Gettin blinds

While considered these days to have limited creature comforts, the 620/720 cars were equipped with all the latest features considered to be required for the suburban and branch line operations of their time. With the exception of air conditioning and a buffet service, all features offered and expected on other trains were provided including padded rollover seats, arm rests, ash trays, vestibule fans, gas heaters, Iced drinking water, toilet and wash rooms, luggage racks, opening windows and shades.

On the later country cars metal shutters were fitted to passenger windows to help minimise the glare and heat of the sun which could make passengers very uncomfortable particularly on a long afternoon branch line run. It is believed shutters were selected for the later cars to simplify maintenance tasks for the country based maintainers and as they also allowed air flow whilst in the down position with the window up and without the flapping of blinds.


In the early cars intended for suburban and outer suburban runs spring tensioned cloth blinds were fitted. Evidence exists of several colours and patterns being used and the last style in use prior to the Cityrail makeover which saw the blinds removed used a gold & tan coloured cloth decorated with a “Scout” insignia like pattern and trimmed with brown edging.

blind test

Fortunately The Rail Motor Society managed to save some blinds from disposal many years ago and via a mutual sponsoring arrangement has made some available for the restoration of The 629/729.

blind del

Unfortunately most of the blinds bear stains from their in service life and while traces of Brylcreem are rumoured to have been found most of the dirt has been identified as “road crud” which has mainly rested near the bottom of the blind cloth.

With the blinds mostly secured in the raised position this crud has fallen down through the body cavity and onto the top exposed service of the tightly wound blind. While most of the blinds are in good order, these stains mean that the whole blind has to be dismantled for cleaning as well as any minor repairs required.


Repetitive jobs like these can be best completed in spare moments at home and being away from the “coal face” a more casual approach to their completion implemented.

After establishing a worksite in the shadow of the garage and consulting the GA “GA” it was assessed that CSB (Cold Stubbie of Black) working would be the best way to get through the repetitive chore of stripping the 52 blinds required for the passenger windows.

production start

First the bottom rods which slide in the window runners and secure the bottom of the blinds were removed. These were found to be mostly steel but a few had plastic rods substituted.

bottom pole out

The blinds are secured to the top spring rollers with staples, many of which have rusted from exposure to moisture.

staple lift

These can generally be teased out using a flat blade screwdriver but many break and the remaining pieces have to be removed by long nose pliers.

staple out

With the technique refined and the throat lubricated time flies as the rollers are removed.

roller out

One end of the roller has a fixed pin which fits into a bearing casting up inside the window opening….

fixed end

..while the other end has the slotted end of the spring ratchet mechanism.

ratchet end

A few blinds were found to have irreparable damage including this one which had a cracked timber roller and provided a rare glimpse of the spring arrangement inside.


The labelling of various manufacturers was found including Stewart Hartshorn of Renfrew Canada (dated 1934), Tiger from Sweden….

can & swede

..and a few unnamed of Taiwanese origin.


Those of Swedish origin included instructions on the correct tack size to be used and the installation procedure….


…while some also wore NSWTD branding.


With the blinds disassembled the rods have all been inspected, straightened as required and stacked….

rod ends

…as have the spring rollers which now wait for reassembly.

roller ends

Next the cleaning process will commence. Has anyones Mum or Aunty got a Whirlpool?