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Reports and photos from more working parties added to Working on W233W - latest update 28 June 2016 which is possibly the last blog of 233 restoration work as it is now just about complete!

18 August 2013

Friends and supporters of our projects had the opportunity to take a trip in our recently acquired autotrailer on the evening of 17th August. The weather had slowly deteriorated all day so that by departure time of 19.00 there was constant rain in South Devon. However that didn't dampen the spirits of the travellers. The evening train had dual purpose being comprised of 3205, Great Western Saloon 9005 along with our Autotrailer. Railway vehicles virtually at opposite ends of the passenger carrying spectrum. The Former being occupied by a party of 20 friends celebrating 40 years of marriage of our supporters Jennie and Mike Dunse and 233 being occupied by 12 hardy souls armed with folding chairs and picnics. Discussions in the 'Auto' were centred around potential seating arrangements in the almost empty saloon, whilst I suspect the discussions in 9005 centred around the current state of the property market. The trip was undertaken at a very leisurely pace with long stops taken to stand around in the rain and examine each others mode of transportation. Return to Buckfastleigh was at about 21.30 by which time typically the rain had just about stopped, so at least the detraining could take place without getting any wetter. The evening was enjoyed by all, and now we can get started on the work of getting 223 back into operational service as soon as possible. Apart from the obvious locating and refitting of seating, amongst other things we will be refitting the auto operating gear, communication and whistle operating arrangements. Doors and window fittings will need some routine attention also, however it is very noticeable how well the carriage rides on its B4 bogies. Look out for further updates as work progresses and please get in touch if you want to help us. Work can be undertaken on almost any day (by arrangement) but at present main working parties are on Wednesdays, contact us for more details (chairman5542ltd(at)

Many thanks to all at the South Devon Railway who helped in any way with the operation or organisation of the train.

Our short train headed by 3205 awaits departure from Buckfastleigh.

Dining opulence of saloon 9005

Auto 233 awaits the 19.00 departure in the South Devon rain. The hanging baskets remind us of Summer!

Photos John Wood

Wednesday 14th August, Wednesday working party 2.

Main passenger saloon, tided up and bits moved into luggage compartment for safe keeping, swept through and surfaces wiped down, all ventilators will open. First class saloon tided, swept through and surfaces wiped down, further work required for all ventilators to open . Driving compartment and vestibule swept through and surfaces wiped down. All ready for Saturday's trip to Totnes. History file left onboard for information.

Chairman's first class compartment seating.

That is where W233W is going.

Main saloon looking towards luggage compartment.

Main saloon looking towards driving compartment.

Photos Brian Hart

31 July 2013 Another Wednesday, another work party. The program of reinstating all the doors to full operation has been completed although remedial work will be needed to one door and several droplights before the vehicle enters public service. 233 is seen here with all doors open and steps extended and the end of work for the day

The vacuum brake has been tested and is operational.

In the unlikely event that we ever forget what we are working on, the vehicle number is carved into the door uprights.

Photos M Dunse

24 July 2013 5542Ltd's latest acquisition, Autotrailer 233 has arrived at Buckfastleigh for fast-track restoration. Arriving late on Monday 21st July and placed in the carriage sidings, 233 has already received the attentions today of the first work party. We will keep you all updated as work progresses. Still on board from its days as a research vehicle was this little piece of provenance: A fault log book!

Photos Mike Dunse


The Directors of Locomotive 5542 Limited (June 2013) are pleased to announce that we have reached agreement to purchase former British Railways (WR) Auto-trailer W233W. Hawksworth Auto-trailer No W232W built in Swindon in 1951 in lot 1736 to diagram A38. Length 64ft. W233W (ADB150375) is on display at the Midland Railway - Butterley. Once used by BT Research Department as Test Car 1. Now in Maroon livery. It was stored outside Matthew Kirtley Museum, by the 7F Preservation Group, Midland Railway Centre, Butterley prior to our purchasing it,

W233W at Butterley in maroon livery.

The carriage which spent much of its B.R. working life in the West Country later became the main freight test vehicle at the Railway Technical Centre, Test Car 1.  It was acquired in late 1971 and is seen here sometime in 1972 coupled to two BSC bogie tippler wagons. The exhaust pipe from the temporary portable generator, which was fitted in the original luggage compartment, can be seen protruding from the open window. Photo courtesy of  

In this later picture, probably sometime in 1973, the Test Car has now been fitted with a permanent generator to supply power for the test equipment. The new radiator grille can be seen at the far end and the former driving position can be seen at the near end. These end windows were very useful when running as they enabled the test engineers to observe the wagon under test.  It has also been fitted with modern hydraulic buffers but retained its GWR bogies at this time.  Photo courtesy of

Test Car 1 stands in the yard at RTC in 1972 attached to a hopper wagon. This formation would probably have just arrived back from a Leicester run as the Test Car would normally be marshalled next to the class 47 with the vehicle trailing. Dave Coxon

The vehicle still had its original steps which could be swung out by use of a large lever in the central cross corridor. Here's a snap of testing staff boarding the vehicle via the steps - location unknown - possibly Manton on the line between Kettering and Melton. Dave Coxon

Test Car One in GW chocolate and cream livery on the occasion of the Great Western's 150th anniversary in 1985. The coach never carried this livery in service as it was built under BR's ownershipPhoto courtesy of

Test Car 1 was fitted with a driving position at one end - to the right on the middle photo, complete with bell. It was maroon when it first arrived and was originally fitted with a temporary portable hand cranked diesel generator in the former luggage compartment.  It was gradually equipped with all that is necessary for testing work, 240v generator, kitchen and workshop. It was painted chocolate and cream for the GW150 celebrations in 1985 (above) but was de-commissioned in 1998.


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